Category Archives: Performing

Comedy Magician, Asi Wind at the Comedy Nest

We don’t get out a whole lot. We used to when we were younger, but now, after a day at the magic shop we are happy to go home and relax. But Asi Wind, New York  Mentalist and Mind-Reader, was giving a one man show at the Comedy Nest at the old Montreal Forum and we wanted to see him as we had heard about him of course but never had seen him. It was a two hour show with an intermission and no one left at intermission. He got a standing ovation. It was a Monday night and there was a pretty good turn out.The bottom section was filled and part of the upper section. We were thoroughly entertained and as magic dealers, we understood some of what he did, but he had us badly fooled for much of it. He was funny and talented and did a terrific number with Rubik Cubes.

Besides enjoying the show, we enjoyed meeting a lot of our customers and friends there. So all in all it was a great evening.

Oh, and it turns out Asi too will be going to the Sorcerer’s Safari Magic Camp and we look forward to spending time with him there.

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Filed under Asi Wind, Comedy, Magic, Performing

Clowning Around With Magic

When I was a kid my parents always took us to the Circus. Unlike today’s circus, it was full of lions and tigers and bears and horses and elephants and dogs. It was usually at the old Forum in Montreal, famous for its Hockey Games with the Montreal Canadians in their heday. I’m going back to the days of Rocket Richard, Guy Lafleur, Floyd Currie and Dickie Moore to name a few, but I digress. The thing about the circus was there were two things that made me nervous, the guy being shot out a cannon and the clowns.

Funny thing is, one of my favorite tricks in the magic shop is Card-toon, especially Card-toon 2, whereby the spectator names any card which is then located face up and removed from the deck and placed on the table so that we remember the chosen card. Then the magician shows his audience the back of the cards, which has a cartoon drawing of a little stick man with  a deck of cards at the circus. The magician tells the audience that he didn’t mix the deck because each back has a slightly different picture and by his flipping the cards they will see an amination. As the magician flips though the deck the spectators see a little stick man climbing into a cannon, lighting the cannon, and then he goes flying into the air with his cards flying all over. He manages to grab one of them and turns it over and guess what! Its the same card as the one on the table that the spectator chose. I much prefer this delightful little effect than the terrifying one at the circus.

If I was nervous about the clowns, its because they weren’t like the two charming young ladies that were here today. I know I would not be afraid of them as they were so sweet and thoughtful. They bought a lot of magic stuff, but not before they figured exactly where it would fit into their shows. They were studying theatre arts. They are working clowns and do well, and I can see why. I guess clowns don’t have to be scary.

Many years ago Phil did a lecture for Clowns Canada in New Brunswick and it was a real hit. Many of the clowns had never thought of using magic in their act. He still  has some lecture notes on the subject, Clowning Around With Magic . It is informative and deals with stage clowns, birthday party clowns and walk around clowns and how and what is suitable for each one. Check it out! By the way, Clowns Canada is having a Clowns Canada Carnavale 2013, September 27 and 28th in Mississauga, Ontario.

And then there are the magicians that do a lot of clowning, but that’s another story!

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Filed under Children's Magic, Comedy, Evelyn Matlin, Kid Show Magic, Performing, Show buisness

A Treat At The Magic Shop

Last Friday was not our ordinary day at the magic shop.  It’s spring break. We had a visitor for the day, my grandson, who is now seven years old and has been doing magic since he is two. The last time he was here was about a year ago and by chance David Acer came into the shop and 5 minutes later Richard Sanders came in. Not planned. It was a riot and my grandson was doubled over in laughter with their antics. This time he came to the shop well armed with his magic case, under lock and key. We picked him up at his house and when he got to the shop he read the sign outside the door. Open 10-3 on Fridays.

“What time is it?”

“Ten past ten.”

“It says you open at ten. Where are the magicians?’

We had a good laugh and told him with the internet, sometimes we don’t see a magician all day. So he got busy checking everything out hoping a magician would come in. Finally one did. Someone we know well. Jonathan Levey.

I thought he would be excited to see a magician so that he would see some tricks, but no, true to form, he wanted to do tricks for the magician. He actually did a coin trick  with a penny (Miracle Coin Block)  for Jonathan that fooled him and  in the reciprocal manner of a magician,  Jonathan took the penny to show him a vanish. He vanished the coin from one of his own hands  and made it appear in the other. The most magical thing of all  happened when Jonathan opened his hand, expecting to see the coin he had transfered there. Instead, there were two coins in his hand, a dime and a penny and his jaw was hanging open, as he had no idea how the dime got there. We all had a good laugh.

Last year, when my grandson was here, there happened to be a huge box in the shop, so I cut out a door and windows and he played happily in and out of it. When he left I got rid of the box, but another came in a few weeks ago, and I saved it for him. Being busy with other things, I left him to his own devices. Then he called me and told me to watch. At age 7 he devised a manner of visibly getting into the box, and invisibly escaping from it. I had watched Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde from Paris and, to my amazement, the escape the magician used on the show was very close to the one my grandson came up with.

My grandson had a treat spending the day in the shop. We had a treat, because he was there and Jonathan had a treat because he managed to fool himself.

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Filed under Children's Magic, Grandparents and Magic, Magic, Performing

Magicians and Fame

Being in the magic business for over 35 years I know there are excellent magicians here in Montreal, some are full time magicians and they make a good living at it. I would bet if I mentioned their names most of you would not know who they are, and furthermore, they probably don’t care. They are not out to make a name, they are out to make a living and may actually enjoy the anonymity and live ordinary lives and do the magic they love to do.

Yet some achieve fame. I was reading the Montreal Gazette on Saturday, and read Josh Freed’s column, whose humour I always enjoy, and his topic was the linguist divide amongst the strikers, here in Quebec between the English and French. For those of you who in far away lands a strike started  100 days ago by univeristy students who objected to a rise in tuition fees. The strike is still going on and has been violent at times.  Now there are other issues but I’m not going there.

Coincidently, just after my last blog,” Two Solitudes” Josh Freed used the same term in his article …”Why the two solitudes of strikers?”

By this time you must be wondering, “What has all this got to do with magic?”

Josh goes on to name the various English institutions that have disappeared from Montreal and he names Steinberg’s, Eaton’s, Ben’s,  Morgan’s, Dominion’s and Magic Tom. Magic Tom! Magic Tom passed away in 1990 and he is still making the newspaper! Anyone who knows what all the above institutions are, whether they were interested in magic or not still know who Magic  Tom is. Magic Tom Auburn achieved fame here in Quebec. He entertained children and then he entertained those children’s children and grandchildren. I remember once he came into the shop and a grandmother was buying some magic for her grandchild and she saw him and said, “I remember you from television. I used to watch you all the time when I was little.” She was thrilled to meet him in person. When she left Tom said, “I get that a lot. It keeps reminding me how old I am.” Everyone knew Magic Tom.

When I consider Magic household names here in  Quebec, I would have to include Alain Choquette and Luc Langevin. Television gave these three magicians exposure so that had much to do with it. But they had to have the talent and love of their audience to stay on TV to achieve that fame.

Comments anyone?

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Filed under Evelyn Matlin, Magic, Perfect Magic, Performing

Boom Years for Restaurant Magicians Part 2

Last week I wrote a blog on boom years for Montreal magicians and asked for anyone with more info to write in. Here’s the reply from Jonathan Levey who has offered some solid advice to those interested in trying that venue. Here is what he has to say…

“Great article on the Boom Years, Evy.

I will have to thank Mark for mentioning a few of the restaurants I worked and you for posting this info.
If you have the chance, kindly consider adding a few more restaurants that I worked during the Boom years.

Those were the days when Jim Sisti’s infamous The Magic Menu (which actually started out in newsletter format!) served as vital inspiration and gave us practical tips and information on how to actually find and secure the venues on a long-term basis. As well, The Magic Menu provided us with precious tips and insights into how to negotiate our contracts and more effective ways to perform table-to-table magic within the (often) tight physical constraints of the dining room areas. In addition to Sisti’s Magic Menu (of which our own beloved David Acer was a regular contributor) other books which inspired and taught us were: Kirk Charles “Standing up Surrounded”, Paul Diamonds “it Takes Guts Dammt!”, and Charles Greene III “Restaurant Magic” (audio tape!), as well as Michael Ammar’s Negotiating Fees (also on audio tape at the time).

These great resources provided me with the insight and encouragement needed to secure and perform at the following restaurant-type establishments for most of the 1990′s, for a minimum of 6 months and on average for 1-2 years+: Le Lutetia (inside the Hotel de la Montagne), Thursdays, Moby Dicks, The Atlantic Pavilion, Jardins D’Hivers (inside the Montreal casino), La Tulipe Noire, Mikes, Nick & Marios, Holiday Inn Pointe Claire, and the Ramada Inn.

Of course, as most of us “old-timers ” know, if it wasn’t for the ground-breaking success of the skilled and charismatic Tom Auburn (aka Magic Tom), securing restaurant work in the city of Montreal would have been a much harder sell.

To those younger magicians seeking to work in a restaurant venue, I believe many of the above books and audio tapes, though admittedly somewhat outdated, will still serve the budding restaurant magician as relevant, informative and inspirational. Perhaps there are new “how to” books on the market these days that will add to your arsenal. A trip to Evy and Phil’s Van Horne Perfect Magic store in Cote-des-Neiges (…or is that Phil and Evy’s store?), will allow you to browse their shelves to find such treasures. One thing for sure is that it’s a great place to start your journey. Because, as Evy and Phil will tell you without pause… “if we don’t have it, we can get it… within days.” …and they mean it too!”

Thanks for sharing and thank you also for the praise for Perfect Magic!

Just so you know, Sisti’s Magic Menu is still available;  Negociating Fees by Michael Ammar and Restaurant Magic By Charles Green as referred to by Jonathan are now in CD format. Since then there are more books and DVD‘s to choose from if you are interested.

If you have info on who did what when and where re restaurants, let me know.

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Filed under "Magic Tom" Auburn, entertaining, Magic, Perfect Magic, Performing, Restaurant Magic, Show buisness

Restaurant Magic – Boom Years in Montreal!.

There once was a time, in the 70’s and 80’s and even before and after, that Montreal was a haven for restaurant magicians.  I’d like to name them all, but I don’t know or remember them all. Mark Aronoff, an ex-Montrealer who now lives in Ottawa, helped jog my memory and filled some facts I didn’t know.

I know for sure Magic Tom (Auburn) did walk around magic at the Sheraton downtown for Sunday morning brunch. When George Schindler was in town Phil and I took him to see  Tom and it was a delight. Magic Tom was also a regular at Piazza Tomasso for children’s parties. I remember him  performing at my nephew’s birthday party but I believe that was in the late 60’s. Tom was also a regular every week-end in later years at Grey Rocks in the Laurentians.

Mark filled me in with the following details about himself and some magicians he worked with, etc. I’ll just quote him…

“Hi Evelyn,

Nice speaking with you today. I forgot to give you the name of the restaurant that I worked at before Le Biftheque. That restaurant was Mille Fleurs Restaurant & Reception run by Phil Bloom, it’s gone now but was located at 5011 Buchan Street (near Pare). I did their Sunday Brunch for several months. This is where I met Michael Seltzer, who then hired me for Le Biftheque restaurant for Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings. Later, while working at Le Biftheque, I met the marketing people for Restaurant La Maison Kam Fung and was hired to do their Saturday and Sunday Dim Sum in the mornings. After a few months I brought in Joey Incollingo to take over one of the days at Kam Fung. I guess we should thank Doug Henning for this resurgence of Magic in the 80’s.

Take Care,

Mark”

Joey  Incollingo was also doing magic at St. Hubert Bar-B-Q. Also filling in for Mark Aronoff at the Biftheque was Mehdi, Ted Outerbridge, and Mike Etcovitch. Later Philip and Henry worked at Le Biftheque as well.  Philip was a ventriloquist but also a magician.

In the conversation that he refers to he said that Aladin had a regular Sunday brunch gig at the Sheraton. He had a small stage show and then did walk around magic. Mehdi had a similar set up at the Ramada.

Jonathan Levey worked at Le Tulip Noir and also at the Hotel de la Montagne.

Ted Outerbridge did table hopping at Wings and Things on Sherbrooke St. W and later at Mother Tucker’s.

Mike Etcovitch and Jack Frank did magic for a restaurant on Decarie, near Piazza Tomasso. (Nifties).

Blair Marshall had a weekly gig at the Delta.

Brian Zembic, the Wiz, did magic for Thursdays and was popular with the night crowd.

Michel Corriveau opened a magic Restaurant on  Blvd St. Laurent and Gary Kurtz and a host of other magicians worked there.

Mehdi, Richard Sanders. Patrick Kuffs, and Jonathan Levy also worked at Bourbon Street.

And how could we possibly forget Ronald MacDonald? He was in every week buying balloons and magic? I included a youtube of a Ronald McDonald but not our Ronald McDonald.

I’m sure this is the tip of the iceberg, and some of it may be wrong…so please feel free to correct me and make additions to the list.

Regarding other Canadian cities, I know in Vancouver that  Tony Eng was a regular at  the Japanese Village; Roy Cottee performed at the Japanese village in Ottawa. Jon Charles performed regularly at a restaurant in  Edmonton. And I know Toronto had magicians performing because we were in a restaurant that had one, who wouldn’t perform at our table because he recognized Phil and was intimidated by performing for another magician. He told us that later when we asked why he didn’t come to our table. Our guests were disappointed.

So if you have information about yourself or any other magician you know that worked in a restaurant, I’d love you to share that information with us.

A big thank you to Mark Aronoff, for his help!

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Filed under Magic, Memorablia, Performing, Restaurant Magic

There’s No Business Like Show Business Part 2

Home sweet Home! We’re back at work and a shipment has already arrived from Murphy’s which I should unpack, but If I get involved in real work I won’t get back to the blog. Besides I may forget. It’s already becoming a blur. Last week I week I wrote part one, the trials and tribulations of Show Business, Phil’s first 3 out of 9 piano gigs that he had.  I will continue with the rest.

Before I do, in case you don’t read the comments or didn’t read the blog, I must relate one of my readers comments as I think it’s the epitome of the subject. In his younger days he was in a acting troupe and when the technical director was on the phone with the person in charge of the venue they were invited to perform at, he asked about lighting for the stage. The person on the other end said, Yes, there were ONE…TWO…  TWO WINDOWS! Don’t tell me you didn’t laugh at that!

Gig 4: They were expecting us. They had a real piano. It was the one Phil was to play. Everyone was already there ready to celebrate New Years with their hats on and blowing their horns. It was festive, indeed. Phil sat down to test the piano and played away. I could see he was happy. I went over to him and said, ” So you’re happy?” “Yes, he said, but it would be better if it was tuned, but hey, you can’t expect everything!”

Gig 5: No problem.

Gig 6: A problem. And I think it was Phil’s fault. They had a beautiful grand piano, a large hall pretty well filled. Phil was having a grand old time and so was the audience. He was playing and singing and his mike went dead. I went up to the stage and pushed the switch and it played, but when I took my finger off it stopped. NO WAY was I going to sit there thoughout the concert holding a switch. Phil has a back up in his car, but the thought of interrupting the show was not an option for me. Fortunately the activity director had a wireles mike which worked great! Whew! Phil had not recharged the battery, but he thinks their wireless sound system interfered with his wireless system.  I don’t think so.

Gig 7: Excellent all around

Gig 8: We had played here before. It’s a ritzy place with a grand piano on  a dance floor. Phil looks at the dance floor. No piano. “Where’s the piano?” asks Phil.

“You want a piano?” she asks.

I nearly fell over laughing. It was just too much. But all ended well, as they had only moved it to a different spot.

Gig 9: Perfection. You forget all the others when this happens! The Activity director thanked us over and over and sent an email the next morning, saying how everyone had such a wonderful time…blah …blah blah…!

Did you have any experiences you’s care to share? Just write it in the comments. We’d love to hear from you! As they say, Misery loves company!

Happy New Year everyone!

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Filed under Performing, Phil Matlin, Show buisness

Magicians, Clowns, Entertainers! Get Booked for Next Year’s Christmas Shows!

First and foremost I want to wish all my readers a happy and healthy Christmas and Chanukah and a have a great 2012!

This is my 68th post.  I hope you’ve enjoyed them and that perhaps they might have helped you in some way or brought back a memory or two.  But enough looking back. We have to go forward.

Now is the time to prepare yourself to get booked for next year. The best way to do it, is if you are booked for this year, especially if you have a good show! I speak from experience. As I have mentioned in my earlier blogs, Phil (my husband) who thinks he’s the boss of Perfect Magic, also happens to be an excellent Ragtime & Nostalgia piano player. I’m his agent. Every Christmas we’ve been going to Kitchener to visit our dear friends Roman & Joan, who used to live in Montreal. I felt that if Phil did nothing for a week, he might get lazy, so I suggested that I try to book a few shows for him. He agreed. When I started making calls, it was difficult as no one knew him there and they had to take my word for it and take a chance that he was great, not only as a piano player, but as an entertainer. Whoever took the chance, was extremely satisfied.  I found that the best time to call to book for the following year was in January, about 2 weeks after the show. The show and the feedback from the audience is still fresh in the mind of the person responsible for hiring entertainment. I call them and ask if they were happy and after they give an affirmative answer, I tell them I am booking for next Christmas and they have a choice of the date. Most of the people are thrilled to do it and get it out of the way. Then I ask them if their budget can take a sleight increase. As long as its not too big a hike, they go for it. If they can’t, and they have been booking him for years, we keep it at the old price. I’ve had occasions where they said there have been budget cuts and they’re only allowed half of what they used to pay him. I tell them we’d love to do it anyhow, but we can’t and they understand. Sometimes they say they won’t have a budget until March, so I’ll call them in March if I’m not booked by then. This year Phil has 9 shows in the 6  days between Christmas and New Years. He says I’m trying to kill him, but he loves it.

It’s much easier to get booked the second time if they liked you the first time. Phil always changes his shows. He has a basic format, but the songs change.  It’s hard to break in for the first time, but you have to keep trying. If you are trying for a school show and the person in charge always says no, keep on trying. I found that personel changes from one year to the next. The new person may have a completely new attitude. Now when I try a new place, or if its a new person and they don’t know who I am, I give them a list of references with names and telephone numbers. Sometimes I say I’m phoning on behalf of Phil Matlin, and they say they know who he is as activity directors have meetings and they all talk about him. That makes it easy (as long as what they say is good!). As for what to charge,  you can always get a better price for your Christmas shows than your normal price.  So Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukah, and keep on truckin’!

P.S. Even though we are closed for the holidays your orders will looked after as soon as we get back, which is on the 3rd of January. I probably won’t write a blog next week, but if I do, those who subscribed to the blog (see upper right corner under my photo) will be notified on email as usual.

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Clowns and Magicians Often Ask Me this Question.

How Much Should I Charge for A Magic Show? That’s the question I hear many times from up and coming magicians. I don’t have an answer because it depends on many things. What kind of show? How far away is it?  How many people? Etc.

But I have learned a few things after 35 years. If it’s for a birthday party or kids show you should have references. How do you get references? When you are first starting out, you can do volunteer work. There are hospitals, libraries, senior residences, clubs,  family get togethers, etc.  You have to start somewhere. Ask the activity coordinator for  a letter of recommendation. Have your recorder on to capture all the comments after the show. A web site helps. You know more about that end of it than  I do.

After you get your feet wet, go out there and ask what you think is fair. Don’t sell yourself short. Lets say you have been getting $125.00 for a show. You think its time for more. You ask for $175.00. Sure. No Problem. Then you start cursing  yourself for asking too little. But there is a wonderful thing in magic. It’s called add-0ns.

If you feel your client would have paid more, you can tell them for a additional fee you can make animal balloons and every child will get one. There are DVD’s and books to teach you how.

You can hire a face painter to work with you for after the show. It happens to be the in thing now and guess who just happens to have in stock in the shop now the best line of face painting supplies by Wolfe Face Art & FX.   There are books and DVD’s on the subject as well. Of course you’ll have to pay the face painter but you can work out a deal where you can both make something on it. You can do Hand Shadows  Do you do oragami, or paper cutting  or towel folding ?

What’s towel folding? With a plain white towel you can make all sorts of wonderful animals. What’s more if the parents are willing to spring for it you can bring a towel for each child and teach them how to make it. And they can keep it. That takes time, it keeps the kids busy and happy and that’s what the parents want.

There’s Chapeaugraphy  and even juggling, but whatever you do it has to be entertaining and appropriate for the occasion. You may have to learn a new skill or two, but the more you have in your arsenal, the better off you are. You pick and choose what you have to offer according to the age and size of the audience.

Now, what if your client says  $175.00 is too much. Ask them what their budget is. If its close, and you usually include balloon animals in your act, you can say, well you can do the show for that price but you’ll take out the animal balloons. They might agree. And by the time the party comes around they may decide on the balloons anyhow. People spend a lot of money on their children.

If you have any other ideas or suggestions feel free to share. Hope you had a great Halloween. Christmas is just around the corner.

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Filed under entertaining, Evelyn Matlin, Performing