The Problem With Magic Instructions

The problem with magic instructions is that people , especially magicians, don’t read them. Especially if they are written in Chinese or Japanese and you don’t speak either language.  I stand guilty as well. When something comes in from Tenyo, instructions  used to be in English. Now they send an instruction sheet in English along with the item or give you the code for  instructions on line. The item  does come to you with instructions with Asian writing and are extremely well illustrated, so one may be tempted to try to figure it out without actually reading the English instructions. Mistake!

I got a call the other day from a customer who had purchased a Tenyo item from us. He was furious, as he paid a lofty price (some Tenyo items are expensive) and he said it didn’t work. One thing I know about Tenyo is that their magic works. Most of it is excellent. I couldn’t believe it didn’t work. It’s not like this person was a beginner. He’s a pro.

“Did you read the instructions?” I asked.

“Of course. And the first time I showed it to someone, he caught on right away.” was the reply.

He was really upset.

“Calm down. It’s only a magic trick. If it doesn’t work or is so obvious that it can be detected, send it back. But let me check it out  here.” I said.

Of course I gave that job to Phil. So Phil looked at the illustrations and tried to follow them and low and behold he saw that it didn’t work. Then he got the English instructions and read them carefully and followed them step by step. “Aha, now it works.”

I phoned my customer and asked if he was sure he read the instructions. It turns out he didn’t. He thought looking at the illustrations would be sufficient. He called back later, after reading the instructions and apologized. “It works perfectly.” he said.

Phil always said, “When you buy a trick, read the instructions first. See how the trick works and then forget about the instructions and make it your own!” I think that’s pretty good advice!

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That Magic Flame

Do you remember when you were a kid and saw a good magic trick? Something lit up inside of you. Wonder, curiosity, awe, and bewilderment. You saw it. It happened. But  how? Its impossible. Then one day you got a magic set, perhaps for Christmas or a birthday. Some of the secrets were revealed to you, and now you could create that feeling of wonder in others. How powerful is that?

Somewhere along the way you got busy with other things. School, music, whatever. Then you might have been surfing TV and saw Penn and Teller’s Fool Us or America’s Got Talent and that little spark that lit you up all those years ago rekindled. “Hey, I used to do stuff like that? How come I stopped?”

That’s the story of someone that came in the other day to buy magic. He had bought some on line and in Walmart and finally decided it was time to go to a real magic shop. He was delighted to find out that he came in during our 40th Anniversary Sale and would be getting a 20% discount, 10% automatically, another 5% because we had whatever he was buying in stock and another 5% because he came in person. He had started as a young kid and then felt compelled to go back to it. He handled a deck of cards well and felt the difference between a regular Bicycle Deck and the Gold Standard.

The magic flame may have dimmed over the years, smouldering just under the surface, waiting for the right time to come forth and when it does, watch out. The message here is don’t get rid of your magic even if you lose interest from time to time. You never know when that flame will flare up again. It  ofter happens to people who become uncles or grandparents. Has it happened to you?

Another message. Get a child you love a magic trick or kit and light the flame. He or she will never forget you.magic table.jpg

While on the subject we received a new kit with a table. Check it out.




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Computers, Magic and Christmas.

It’s coming up fast. It’s been hectic here. I started writing this morning and now it’s 4:00pm and I haven’t written anything. It’s great seeing everyone, so today our computers decide to work very slowly. Ouch!  Anyhow, they did pick up and all is well, but it was frustrating.

The Tenyo stuff arrived today for you Tenyo fans. If you’re doing Christmas shows and you want to add anything, click here. I spoke too soon. The computer is running slow again. What did we do without computers?

Anyhow, come in and see us while our 40th Anniversary Sale is on.

  • 10% on everything in the catalog
  • an additional 5% if we have it in the shop
  • and an additional 5% if you buy in person.

The Sale lasts until Dec.3rd and we’re open Saturdays too, from 11am to 5pm.

Hope to see you or hear from you.




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Old Magic Classics/New Magic Audiences

As I was putting my pick of the day on Facebook, not that I do it everyday, I realized that some magicians may be passing by some great classics because they are not the latest or hottest items on the market. For example, some magicians come into the shop and get all excited when they see we have effects or DVDs by Shin Lim, who does have  some great stuff. The old stuff doesn’t get the hype. That’s exactly the reason you should be using it!

My pick of the day was Diminishing Cards. We have a few versions of it. Viking’s is top notch quality. Viking makes beautiful equipment. We carry their Silk to Egg Deluxe Set and routine, which is another classic. We have cheaper models but if you want professional stuff this is it!  What makes it so special? Besides the exceptional egg, it comes with two 18″ silks and something special that the others don’t have, plus a great routine.

We also have their Brass Bill Tube which blows people away. Have you used your bill tube lately? I did a demo for a guy and he went nuts. I said, “Shall I put it with your other stuff?” “Oh no,” he replied. “I’m not that good a magician. I would never be able to do it.”  I showed it how it was done and he said,”Sold!”

I also have Palmo Ball -Stillwell Style, made by Viking. It’s like a dye tube but a little different. Its a great little gimmick for silks. Fits nicely in the hand,  Try it, you’ll like it. Oh, and speaking of gimmicks if you’re looking for a finger flasher we have their  Flint flasher, which is dependable and easy to use. (We carry Morrissey’s as well, also dependable.)

There’s not a new item mentioned in the above. Will you use them? Yes. Will your audience be impressed? You bet!




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The Magic Filter

Last week I wrote about the overwhelming amount of magic in the market today. Tomorrow there will be even more. There’s no end to it. As Albert Goshman said about the food in the Brown Derby, “There’s a lot of it and some of it is good.”

I, as a magic dealer, meet magicians at every level and in every category, from children’s parties , corporate magicians, street magicians, restaurant magicians. to hypnotists, mentalists, you name it. When they come into the shop, and know exactly what they want, that’s one thing. Do I have an Arm Chopper? Yes.

If  they don’t know what they want, and I know them, I will steer them in the right direction. If I don’t know them, I ask a lot of questions like, how do you classify yourself, beginner, intermediate or expert. People are usually honest about that.  Who is your audience? Friends and family, do you do shows,  etc. Close-up, parlour, stage,  bar, restaurant. I narrow the field for them and for me. What is the price range? No use showing a $200.00 trick when they only want to spend $20.00. Do they mind practicing or do they want instant gratification. Easy to do. No work at all. Are they readers, or visual? Do they need something with a DVD. So we spend a little time trying to understand the magician before we get down to brass tacks.

Sometimes, and here’s the problem, they see something on youtube. That’s what they want. Do I have it? Let’s say I do. I ask the above questions because I know what is involved in doing this particular trick. I could take the money and run but I don’t. Sometimes they have never even touched magic before. Could they do Paragon 3D or Nightcrawler? I don’t think so, even though they are both excellent effects. I ask, “Do you want to do the magic or just learn the secret?” If they want to do it, I will tell them its not for them, yet. Let me show you something else. Usually a Svengali Deck will do the trick, pun intended. I know a novice will never do those other tricks and will probably be turned off magic. I’m more interested in making a customer than making a sale. Everything looks so easy on youtube.

A kid came in with his mother. I don’t think he was even 12. He wanted The 100th Monkey. I said to his mother, “I don’t think its for him. It’s a great mentalist effect but not cheap (over $100.00) and I don’t know if he can carry it off. Perhaps I can show him something else.”

She said, “He wants it. Give it to him. He’s very determined.” So I did.

Next time they came in, I asked how that worked out. Fabulous. So I don’t know everything it seems. But I’m learning!


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The Overwhelming Amount of Magic

As a magic dealer, I am overwhelmed by the new magic that comes out on a daily basis. Especially because I do the banners on our home page of Perfect Magic and edit the write-ups for our catalog. There seems to be no end to it.

I remember a time when Albert Goshman (think Sponge Balls – Magic by Gosh)

Anne Deslauriers Goshman Susan Trott

Same gang (Jane Poupart, Albert Goshman  and Susan Trott.)

came to Montreal to perform at Magie Montreal when we had our Conventions, back in the 80’s. He stayed in our home and we took him to the Brown Derby in the Van Horne Shopping Centre for dinner one evening. Unfortunately, neither Albert nor the Brown Derby are with us any more.

The Brown Derby was a delicatessen that served all kinds of Jewish food, from smoked meat to Matzo Ball soup and anything else you could think of. When Albert was there he created a sensation, as all the waitresses stopped working to watch him do his sponge ball routines.  Why do I bring this up now? One of the waitresses asked him if he enjoyed his food. He said “Well, there was a lot of it and some of it was good.”

That would be an appropriate remark regarding the  magic market today!


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Yom Kippur Magic

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for the Jewish people is, needless to say, a special day for Jews all over the world. This past Yom Kippur was especially special. Between the morning service and the afternoon service there is a  break and some people go home to nap or go for a walk, etc. At the Shaare Hashomayim, where our family attends, they have speakers to discuss different topics and its usually excellent speakers that are invited to speak during the break. I heard it said that the invited speakers were as likely to come as the Prime Minister of Canada is likely to give the sermon. Who do you think  spoke this year at the synagogue? You guessed it. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau. It was a surprise for most. The Rabbi, invited him, as he was the Rabbi on Trudeau’s trip to Poland where they visited  the Holocaust Museum and Auschwitz.

Trudeau came in with his security, of course. It was unexpected and exciting. He shook hands with the people.  Phil was there with our two youngest grandchildren and when he was shaking hands with Phil, Phil said to him, “You have a friend and I have a son-in-law and they are both the same person.” Justin said, “Who?” and Phil told him and Justin said “Really?” and he looked at the kids and said “Of course, those are his children.” “And my grandchildren.” replied Phil.  Phil said Justin put his hand on his shoulder and his handshake got firmer as the security men came to move him along.  Talk about excitement. When my granddaughter got home she ran to her friends house to tell her she met the Prime Minister, who by the way, gave a heartfelt and moving speech.

Oh, and by the way, the 3 invited speakers for the break, accepted the invitation and were there to speak during the break.


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Presenting Magic

There are a lot of young hot shot magicians these days. They can handle a deck of cards and do tricks that would dazzle anyone.

So one of these hot shots comes in the other day and asks what he could get to take him to the next level. So we had a little discussion of what he does, who he does it for, etc. After our little chat I suggested he buy a book on Presentation, as I could tell from our conversation that it was not at all what he was focusing on.

He turned his nose up at that. He wanted a gimmick. Something that would enable him to do even greater feats of magic. A book means he has to read. I wonder if a DVD on the subject would be more appealing. Can anyone out there recommend a book or DVD on presentation that would interest a 12 year old? I haven’t given up on him yet.

We once had Eugene Burger here for a lecture and he had wonderful advice on presentation. His book is no longer available, but he has a DVD on the subject. I’m wondering it Magical Explorations DVD is too much for a 12 year old, even one who is serious about magic. Any thoughts on the subject?


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Looking Beyond Magic Instructions

All tricks come with instructions. Otherwise we would have no idea how to work the magic we buy. Sometimes instructions are easy to follow and sometimes it takes a bit of figuring and then there’s always the magic dealer to help you out if you’re really stuck. But once you have it, it doesn’t and shouldn’t end there.

The person writing the instructions doesn’t know you and your personality. Nor does he have your imagination. I once wrote about someone that came in and showed me a routine he did with Nickels to Dimes that blew me away and I got Phil away from his computer to watch him, a feat in itself! It was a 2 minute routine and was amazing. You may wonder, if you’re familiar with Nickels to Dimes what he could possibly do. What if the cap became loose and didn’t hold what it was supposed to? You might bring it back to your magic dealer to replace it or as this fellow did, turn it into a miracle. That’s all I’ll say about that.

We have a trick called Coin Slide. It’s a beginner trick and costs under $3.00. If you are not familiar with it, it can make a coin vanish, appear, or change to another coin. The routine I use to demo it to adults is to ask them for a quarter. I tell them I will change it into a Toonie for them. They are keen on that. I take their quarter, put it in the slot, slide the sleeve over it and then remove the sleeve and lo and behold, it has changed into a dime! I give them the dime and say “Gee, it didn’t work. Let’s try again. Got another quarter?” It always gets a laugh, I give them back their quarter and that works well with adults. That’s not in the instructions.

Last week some kid asked Phil if he had a quarter. The kid said, “If you give it to me I can double your money.” Phil gave him the quarter and the kid put it  in a Coin Slide. Without the use of the sleeve he tossed out the quarter and another one appeared in it’s place, which he also tossed out. Then the kid asked him for a quarter again and  put it in the coin slot, heads up, and in a flash it without cover of the sleeve, it had miraculously changed to tails. We were floored. Did I mention that this 10 year old kid is our grandson? In case you’re thinking, well he got help from us, let us clarify. We had nothing to do with this. We gave him the trick 5 years ago and he has not mentioned magic at all. We thought the magic thing was over for him, at least for now. How wrong we were. His sister told us that he always carries a magic trick in his pocket.

Sorry folks, what he did is not in the instructions. It was in his imagination and he made it happen. He is working on other routines with it as well. Take another look at your magic tricks! There may be more to them than meets the eye.


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So You Think Magic Is Just For Fun

A few weeks ago I posted “Where Magic Takes You.” My point really was that you introduce a child to magic, the child becomes a man, the man’s boss is impressed with the man’s magic. It counts. This brings me to Michel Deslauriers, a friend and customer of ours for many years. He read the post and made this comment and I got his permission to share it with you.

“I’ve been doing magic practically my whole life but it has never been my full time job. What it has done is given me a ton of skills that I take to my job. Things like presentation skills, the ability to ad lib and even the ability to sell.”

I think that says a lot for magic. Thanks Mike. You said it better than I ever could. I could say it but people might think I am pushing magic. I am. Not only because that’s what we sell, but because of the effect it has on the recipients. School has started. Give your kid an edge with magic. Not only will it increase his confidence but it will increase his learning ability. Magic lets your brain in on a whole new way of thinking. You even learn how to get out of awkward  situations when you mess up. Someone even wrote a book about it called “Outs”.  So if you have to get a birthday, Christmas or Chanukah gift for a kid, instead of getting him  or her another electronic gadget or game which will soon be passé, get him a magic trick or a Gift Card from Perfect Magic and we’ll steer him or her in the right direction.

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