Monthly Archives: March 2014

Real Magic at Perfect Magic

Sometimes it happens that I don’t know what I’m going to write about for the blog. I never worry about it as I learnt from experience that I don’t have to. Often a post walks right into the shop and all I have to do is write about it.

Last week-end there was an order from a customer on our site and one of the items was Losander, the Art of Levitation Vols. 1, 2, & 3. Phil asked me if we had it in the shop and I said I didn’t think so. He said, “But our inventory says we have one.” I said, ” So the inventory is wrong.”

When we got to the shop on Monday Phil went to the DVD’s and physically checked all of them. I try to keep them in alphabetical order. He couldn’t find it. I went to double check. I couldn’t find it. I went to our page that had it to see what it looked like. The heading said vols. 1,2 & 3 but the photo on the DVD said Vols. 1 & 2. I looked it up at Murphy’s and they had 1, 2 and 3. We put it on our list to order it and fixed up the site to match.

Soon after a customer walked into the shop and wanted a gaffed deck, Double Backed, Red/Blue. We had it. Then he took Heinstein’ Dream (a great and easy torn and restored card routine, by the way).  I took the 2 articles and placed them beside Phil so he could make the invoice and he said, “I can’t get out of this program now so you will have to do it on your computer.” The problem being that my computer wasn’t set up to do invoices and it takes me a while to get to the program because I have to get the right password etc, and I knew it would take time.

” It’s going to take a few minutes, ” I said. The customer said, “That’s okay.” I said, Why don’t you look around or something?” He said, “Fine.” My back was to him as I worked on my computer, getting the program up when I heard him say something like, ” What can you tell me about this DVD, Losander, The Art of Levitation 1, 2 and 3. Both Phil and I dropped what we were doing, and dropped our jaws as well.  I turned around and he was holding Losander, The Art of Levitation DVD 1, 2 and 3.

“Exactly where did you find it?” I asked in disbelief.

“Right here, just before The Art of Manipulation.”

This is the thing. The customer said he had no plans to come here, but was not far so he thought he would drop by. If he hadn’t we would not have found the DVD. The second thing is that if things were normal, like they ever are,  and if Phil had access to his computer, the customer would have bought what he wanted and we wouldn’t have found the DVD. If I were computer savvy  and could get where I wanted right away, I wouldn’t have told him to look around while he waited. And we wouldn’t have found the DVD. But for some reason, must be magic, he went straight to that DVD and pulled it out. I even asked him if he heard us talking about it, and he said no, which must be true as we had stopped talking about it 5 minutes before he came in.

Everything just fell into place, like magic! Go know!

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The Power of Magic

A man came into the shop the other day looking for magic for his 8 year old son. My own grandson is 8, but he is very bright (says the grandmother). I asked this man if his child is a bright kid. He said yes, but he has ADD. (Attention Deficit Disorder). He said he got a magic kit and he is interested in it and he wants to encourage him. He then said his teacher wanted him to do a  trick for a show and he said if he could get an assistant he would do it. He said the kid is quiet, not aggressive, kind a lay back. He asked a girl in his class if she would be his assistant. She was shy and said no.

When the kids in the class asked him if he was going to do the magic tricks he said no. They asked him why not. He told them he didn’t have an assistant and he needed one. Five guys volunteered to be his assistant. He chose one, who happened to be a maybe not exactly a bully, but the father described him as manipulative and bossy.

So on the weekend his son invited the kid over to rehearse for the show and the two of them spent 5 hours together practicing and made plans to get together again the next day. The father said he could not believe his ears and called his wife over to listen to their quiet little son, directing  this tough guy on how to do things, how the hold the box so the audience wouldn’t see the secret, giving him strict orders never to reveal the secret, and the tough guy was listening to everything he was told and was following their son’s instructions. “NO, NO, NO, not like that…like this.”

I can imagine how those parents must have felt. But as you all know, there’s POWER in MAGIC!

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Magic and Magicians in the 21st Century.

Houdini photo signed by Bess, (Mrs. Houdini), and given to Tom

Houdini photo signed by Bess, (Mrs. Houdini), and given to Tom

Today I had a good laugh. When we started out 37 or so years ago, learning magic was a whole different ball game. It often involved a book. Further more, reading it was also involved. Oh, you could buy a trick with instructions and figure out that trick, usually reading the instructions was a last resort. DVD’s or VHS’s were not yet available. That’s how old we are! Books and tricks. That was it. You could also take a course or lessons.

Today Magicians are a different breed. Of course the technology has changed, but that technology has also changed us, and the magicians. Instant gratification. If we can’t wait 4 seconds for something to come up on a screen, how can we be expected to read a whole book, or even part of it when we know its out there somewhere and we can google it and find out what we want, in a second.

A young man came into the shop and asked if we had a certain prop. Yes, we had it. Did we know how it works.

Yes, we know how it works.

Well, I bought it and it makes a noise when I work it. Is it supposed to make an noise?

No, its not supposed to make a noise.

At this point I figured he bought a rip off as the effect comes with a DVD and clearly explains how it works. I asked if he got the DVD with it. He said yes. I said that it was explained on the DVD. I asked if he watched it. He gave me a look and said,”Do you know that the DVD is a whole hour long? No I didn’t watch it!”  It was as though he thought I was out of my mind to think he would give up an hour of his life to watch a DVD just so he could learn a trick that he paid almost $100.00  for.  I told him to go home and watch it.

How many hours does he spend playing computer games? I should have asked.

So what’s next? I guess electrodes will come with the trick and you attach them to your brain and you automatically know how to do it. Don’t laugh!

I’m from the old school. I like written instructions if they are well described and illustrated. I’m not crazy about replay. Maybe if I knew how to work slow motion I would change my mind.

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The Magic Business and Getting Booked

Blue and GoldSo magic is your hobby. Its fun. Your family and friends are entertained. Its great and you get to be the center of attention. But there is a problem with magic and magic tricks. You have a choice. You either get new friends or get new tricks. We, of course, as magic dealers like the latter choice.

If you are a professional magician, and actually make money doing shows, that is not such a big problem, unless, like Alain Choquette or Luc Langevin, whose regular appearances on TV with regular watchers requires that you do different things each time you perform.  But if you do shows, like kids parties or restaurant magic, you don’t need a million tricks. Your audience keeps changing, so you can do the same tricks. But then again, not always. If you do a birthday party one year and are called back the next, you should do a different show. Dazzle them again and you might get called back again. Its easier to get rebooked (if you’re good) than getting booked the first time, which brings me to Phil and his getting booked for his Ragtime Piano show. Guess who does the booking. Yes, it is I. I’ve learned a few things over the years.

1) Unless you pick up the phone and start calling, nothing happens. You stop, it stops.

2) Because someone says no to you one year, is no reason to stop calling. Phil used to do a Christmas Show in Kitchener year after year and suddenly they stopped hiring him. They wanted something different. Every year when I’d make my calls, I called them only to be rejected. I did not stop calling. Last year, they said okay, they wanted Phil back, but on the afternoon they wanted him he was already booked. This year I phoned and said, “Last year you wanted Phil on a specific date. I’m calling you first so you can have your choice.” and she booked him on the spot.

3) Today I was going down my list and passed an organization with a note beside it not to call because they had such a bad piano that Phil refused to play, and he’s played on many a  bad piano. He calls them PSO’s. (Piano Shaped Objects) but this took the cake. So I didn’t call them. This year I thought, “Hmm, maybe they got a new piano.” and I phoned. “No”, said the receptionist, “we did not get a new piano, but we are getting one. I know that because the company phoned and asked when they could deliver the piano.” The point is that things change and all it is is a phone call.

4) Think about different venues. There are birthday parties, school shows, Christmas parties, etc. Have you thought about Boy Scouts? There’s a whole world in itself! World Wide! Someone even wrote a book about it called the Blue and Gold.

5) And sometimes, organizations who hired you year after year, change the person in charge of recreation, and you are left in the cold, so you have to continuously work at soliciting. One successful magician I know says the magic is the easy part. 75% of his time he spends on getting booked.

6) I once went to a sales seminar and the speaker said you can count on at least 10 nos to one yes, so when you get a no, you should look at it as something positive. The more you get the closer you are to getting a yes! How’s that for positive thinking?

7) Of course, websites are great and testimonials, if you can get them, but at some point you have to pick up that phone, or  better still, have someone do it for you. It’s easier for someone else to say how great you are! It’s difficult to promote yourself without sounding like you are blowing your own horn, but if you learn how to do it you’ll save a lot in agent’s fees.

So dig in your heels, pick up that phone and start calling.

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