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Paint vs Natural Wood

Can anyone explain why magicians believe stained wood products have more value than painted? Some believe that painting something reduces the value. In reality the process of painting is much more time consuming. Granted, nice pieces should be shown off when there is exceptional craftsmanship. If the project has dovetails, inlays or uses exotic woods you wouldn’t want to hide the craftsmanship. Exceptions include stage shows where the performer needs colorful or bright props. The inside, of a prop, may be in contrast to the outside to either accentuate the properties of the effect or for technical reasons. The other reason paint might be applied over dovetails is because the functionality of the construction demands strong joints without extra material used inside or out. In this case the dovetails or finger joints serve a function and are not necessary to the performance of the effect. Consider this: The focus of a stage illusion is what action and storyline take place. Perhaps in the movies, and epic film must rely on the scenery to tell the story. To a certain degree this holds true for the magician. In the end however, the magician must be the focal point of the performance. So while it holds true that the magician needs his equipment to make the illusion it is also true that the equipment is secondary to the performance. What does this have to do with paint? Magicians need to make the best impression on every effect. Whether close up or on the stage.
Is it safe to say all close up tricks should be stained wood? Dark stain and paint are often used to hide bad wood or wood that doesn’t match.

Certain styles of Die boxes and the dice require construction where natural woods are not an option. So the next time you see a Die Box or other effect that is painted just ask yourself if it looks good. Paint is not the enemy.

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Do you perform repeat shows and need a formula for your line-up?

If you perform for the same clients more then once you need a formula.
This is what I used for our illusion shows.
Frist half: Opening – audience participation – skill, like sleight of hand with balls and silks – rabbit or dove appearance and vanish – audience participation then one of seven floating assistants (or volunteers)

– intermission –

Second half: A cut & restored or mutilated parasol type of effect – an illusion like mismade or melting through metal – production number (usually a silk production with a rabbit finally) a mentalist routine – audience participation (like a bank night out or lie detecter) – an escape (strait jacket, 100 foot rope tie, handcuffs or?) – the final illusion – applause – get the check (my favorite part) These shows were over an hour long and I had a route. We performed about 80 illusion shows a year.

Each year, I would fill the time with effects that followed the formula. Each year it was the same show—-but—- completely different.- different costumes – different music – but always the same formula.

Almost all the big names have their own formula too, I’m just applying my own to the size show that fits in a 24 foot box truck including sound, a lighting truss and curtains.

Your formula will probably be different but the inportant ability it gives you is to pick your effects in a matter of an hour instead of mulling it over. Having a formula also narrows down what you have and what you need. You will save time and money when you use a formula.

Just so you know, I’ve performed every trick we sell and they work as advertised. If you have a need to build something different then we have listed contact me and I’ll see what we can do.

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My balloon broke (what to say to a kid)

My way to answer MOST children when their balloon breaks while you’re packing and heading out the door. (One foot is out the door) After the “official” balloon making is over I explain that I need the remaining balloons for another party. Then someone approaches as you’re headed out the door and you know another one will be right behind them. (Remember you are in the middle of packing and leaving.)

Statement: My balloon broke?!?
Response: So did mine! (that stops them right there) You know…when I make balloons I give them all away. I gave away 20 balloons today. So, my balloon… the one I gave you, broke….(Pause)…OUR balloon broke. We both had it for a while. Be happy…It’s going to a better place. Here’s what you do. Think good thoughts… I want you to put OUR balloon in the trash so it will be recycled. Some day it might become part of a car or a toy. Recycling is a good thing. Thank you very much. You are very helpful. Unfortunatly, I really have to get out the door so would you also tell
anyone else to do the same thing if they break theirs, too? Thank you. (Remember, your hands are busy loading the dolly so it’s not like you’re just standing there with the ability to dig in the bottom of your case because, you can’t).

Now, before I get hate mail from all of you who think I’m being mean… “Why don’t you just make the kid another balloon”. I heard that! Please understand the circumstances. You are in the middle of heading out the door and there comes a time when enough is enough. The party started late, the pizza was late, the host asked if you could start late, you’ll be late to your next show, it’s 100 degrees and the kids are rubbing their
balloons against the grass. You told them earlier “Hold them in the air”. You told them again and again, “It’s time to leave”. So now Mr. smarty pants, do you see the wisdom here? Instead of looking like a schlubb who begs off by saying “I’m sorry, I have to go” what you’re doing is A.

Emotionally bonding with the child (or hysterical adult) so they know you understood their pain and you followed up by offering a solution in having them recycle it . The child now feels they feel like the’re helping. The last impression you want to leave is a 5 year old standing there with a broken balloon dangling from their hand as you are pocketing a fistful of cash. Ok, Ok. Don’t listen, just make all the kids “one last balloon”, why not move in the spare bedroom, just don’t blame me if you’re late to your next show.

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Can you teach everyone a trick during your show?

I realise that some of you make a living teaching classes. Teaching during a show is a different issue because a show is a show and a classroom is a classroom. If you are hired to do a workshop then the format, for kids, should be A. Do a trick. B. Teach them how it works. C Have them construct it and practice it. D repeat. If you are hired to perform then that’s what you do. When you are exposing tricks for no reason (the audience is NOT encouraged to practice, to make and to perform the effect) then all you are doing is a cheap exposure which lowers your status as an entertainer.
Cheap exposure = cheap magician. Teacher who involves mechanicle principles, history, presentation ect. = valued educator.

Here is the short answer;
Teaching magic really is different then performing magic – and – in you’re case (with the grandparents there, or, with this being a birthday party) I think a show, a real show will be a lot more fun and a lot more interesting for everyone, and no one will feel left-out. (You can just repeat the above paragraph… unless they aren’t getting it, then you may need to continue , as below.

So here is how an extended phone conversation usually developes:

Q. Will you teach everyone a magic trick during/after the show?
A. You know, most people come to a magic show to b|:e amazed or entertained. When magicians, and not just myself- any magician, teaches a trick, the mystery just disappears. The audience is neither fooled nor amazed. Teaching tricks takes all the mystery away from a performance. There is a real difference between a demonstrator and an entertainer. So it’s generally not something I do and I don’t know any professional magicians that give away their secrets either because it’s how we make our living. Now, I have been know to teach a magic class, in proper and when I teach a class they have signed-up for lessons, which shows that they are interested in learning magic. Each lesson can take an hour and a half to learn one trick because they learn the trick then they actually construct one, then they learn to perform it correctly. So teaching magic and performing magic are two different types of activities.

I do however, have the answer – I have a great magic set I usually present to the birthday boy during the show, as an extra bonus.
Performing magic is a great way to help kids gain confidence and learn problem solving skills. The kids who perform magic become good at planning and organizing because you learn to be one step ahead and think on your feet.

The magic kits are only $17.50. I have a picture on my web site if you want to look at it. It’s recommended for children over the age of 7 because of the motor skills involved. I like it. Also, if you wanted to buy them in quantity I can get a dozen or more for 15.00 dollars each. I can also gift wrap the one for your son, if you only want the one 🙂

Now, let me tell you about the rest of the show….

EXPLANATION. I use references to all magicians NOT teaching tricks so the caller understands that it’s common practice to perform without tipping the modus operandi. The important point here is, we really do lose our mystique and importance by telling how tricks work. I don’t know of any singers that come to an event, sing, then give singing lessons. They are hired for their talent as a singer, not a vocal coach. I support the magicians code of ethics Never Tell How A Trick Is Done. If you’re a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, you should know that keeping secrets is part of our by-laws..

” There is a big difference between a demonstrator and an entertainer.” and you can’t do a good job teaching magic just by showing the gimmick, you need to lead the students on a learning experience.

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Pictures vs Line Drawings

My personal opinion is that drawings should be used for technicle manuels and not magic advertisments. They are appropriate for inexpensive items but not good quality magic. When I see most drawings I don’t know what I am buying, quality wise I would never buy a briefcase from a store just by a drawing alone. Imagine, You enter the office supply store, go to the isle that has calendars and briefcases, look at drawings of briefcases, pick one out, go to the register and pay for it then it’s sent in the mail. Would you buy a pair of shoes through the mail using a drawing? Sounds silly but every day magicians buy expensive items from dealers based on drawings. We don’t believe in drawings for items over $20.00 or for something other then playing cards or a common item where it’s expected that you know the quality.

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The Popcorn Poem, (print out and hang on your wall)

I told the PTA “Don’t give those kids that popcorn”!
They said… “I’m sure It will be all right”.
The popcorn went airborne.
And the parents, completely out of site.

At least it wasn’t Ju Ju Beads,
They hurt, when they hit your face.
And the parents just keep quiet,
Not wanting to be disgraced.

I don’t know who to yell at – kids – parents – PTA.
Just who do you put in their place?
Because I couldn’t see a blankety blank thing,
The kids were throwing popcorn in my face.