Archive for June, 2008

Let The Sideshow Begin!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 26, 2008 by hocuspoc

It’s no big secret around here that I am a huge fan of the Sideshow. Ever since I was a kid, I remember the Sideshow that arrived every year with the big Fresno Fair. Those HUGE banners that showcased two-headed cows, sword swallowers, fire-eaters, bearded ladies, you get the idea… Now, after all these years, I am an avid collector of Sideshow memorabilia. If you’ve ever visited our warehouse/offices, you’ve no doubt seen the walls lined with these authentic and reproduced Sideshow banners. My office is filled with shrunken heads (not real ones, of course), Fiji Mermaids, a real Frog Band, Flea Circuses, Pickled Punks, and even a two-headed chicken. Add to the mix that famous Sideshow impresario Bobby Reynolds recently moved to Fresno and visits quite often, I am in Sideshow heaven.

It was with great honor that we were graced with a visit from Sideshow performer and magician, George the Giant! George The Giant is not a larger than life performer because of his size, though he stands an impressive seven foot three inches in height. It might be because it has been mentioned; George is one of the most complete sideshow performers today, by performers and audiences alike.

George has appeared as Colossus in Tim Burtons movie “Big Fish”, “Tough Luck”, “Firecracker”, and “Relative Strangers”, as well as his many television appearances like “The Tonight Show,” “Touched By An Angel”, “The Guardian”, “The Strip”, and “According To Jim”. Currently, he appears on the network TV hit “America’s Got Talent,” and you can catch his appearance next week performing a stunt with lots of firecrackers, and that’s all we’ll say…

While George was here, he shared stories of the Sideshow and had a ball looking at all the memorabilia and banners displayed throughout the shop. Billed as “The World’s Tallest Sword Swallower,” George offered us a real honest-to-goodness Sword Swallowing demonstration.


George the Giant


Swallowing swords for fun and profit?


Ooooh, boy!


I must be crazy doing this!

George has been performing Sword Swallowing, Fire Eating, the Bed of Nails, and other Sideshow feats since the early 1990s, and he even brought along with him his Chupacabra Sideshow display, which you can see below:


Chupracabra. Real or?

After all this fun, I had to go back to work and George had to hit the road to go to his next venue, but he didn’t leave us empty-handed; he left us with George the Giant T-Shirts, Coloring and Activity Books, and a George the Giant Sword Swallowing giveaway card with a plastic sword in George’s mouth, all of which will be proudly displayed in my office for everyone to see.

I’ll be taking off tomorrow for an extended weekend. Hope you all have a fantastic, fun-filled and safe one as well.

Until next time,

Paul

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103 Degrees?

Posted in Uncategorized on June 20, 2008 by hocuspoc


I have to laugh when I look at my calendar as it says tomorrow is the official first day of Summer. I’ve got news: it’s been Summer here for the last 2 weeks! The temperatures here have climbed to a scorching 103 by mid-afternoon. It’s supposed to be 105 today, 105 tomorrow, and back down to the mid-nineties next week. Ooh, a cool-down. We’re doing everything we can to stay as cool as possible, but it has been a tad difficult. I think my swimming pool and air conditioner will get a good workout this weekend; we’re going to do everything to keep from melting.

On the home front, my son Max is excited to get his very first job! He’ll be working as an intern for an auto enhancement company. As I’ve said before, Max is car crazy, and he’ll be working with a company that does custom tires, rims and other hi-tech car customization. Betty and I are proud of him for going out and vigorously pursuing Summer employment. Today’s his first day on the job and to say he’s excited is an understatement. This would be his equivalent to my working at a magic store when I was his age.


Nani Wilson, me, and Mark Wilson

Exciting news from the Magic Land of Allakazam: Mark and Nani Wilson have been sending me glowing reviews of their son Mike’s Show “Cirque Shanghai” Chinese Acrobat Troupe. I know how proud Mark and Nani are of Mike’s success. Of course, he had great teachers. Other Allakazam news: I’m very excited about the new project that Hocus Pocus and Mark and Nani Wilson are working on. The final prototypes arrived just the other day, and Mark has given the thumbs up, so we’re moving full-force. That’s all I can tell you about this for right now, but keep your eyes glued to the web site for this new release. I will tell you that it is a classic of magic with Mark’s perfected handling that will suit anyone’s act.


Allakazam Hat is rapidly disappearing

Speaking of Allakazam projects, there are only 3 Allakazam Hats left. A limited run of only 50, these went super fast, and if you were one of the few who have not yet grabbed one for yourself, this could be your last chance.


Gambling Instinct


Phork

Around the shop, we’re still staying extremely busy, which we appreciate. There are several brand new item that are worthy of your attention, including Phork, the new self-bending fork effect! There’s a brand new demo video that Mike has put up of the Phork in action. Also, Gambling Instinct from our friends at the Magic Wagon is worthy of your consideration. The folks at Magic Wagon continue to amaze me with their incredible quality workmanship and creativity. These are just a couple of things that I think are particularly interesting, but don’t stop there; check out the Hot/New section of the web site to see all of the newest items hitting our shelves.

Mike has now seen the Incredible Hulk more times in the last week than I can count (this is not exaggeration, it is fact). His enthusiasm was so infectious that even my son, Cole went to see the movie, and now they’re on my case to see the film. Mike has even offered a money-back guarantee if Betty and I don’t like the film. Interesting, considering that he has no financial interest in the film at all. Every day, instead of our usual good-morning greeting, Mike’s first words are, “Have you seen The Incredible Hulk yet?” So this weekend, I guess I’ll take the plunge even though I’m more of a Batman fan. I’ll try to think green.

So that about wraps it up. Think cool, think green, and have a good weekend.

Until next time,

Paul

Happy Father’s Day

Posted in Uncategorized on June 12, 2008 by hocuspoc

As I write this today and look at the calendar, I can’t believe that half the year has already gone by! Normally, I talk about things going on here at the shop and all the future irons I have in the fires, but I wanted to forgo that today.

Can you hear his words of wisdom? I’m talking about your dad, of course. How many times have you gone to your dad for help, advice, or just to talk? Where would we be without our dads? I noticed that it’s time to recognize all the dads around the world because, as you are probably already aware, this Sunday is Father’s Day! Let me tell you a little bit about my dad:

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Marvin Gross, my dad.

My dad was instrumental in the creation of this business, believe it or not! When I was a mere 18 years old and decided I wanted to be in the magic business, my father was right there supporting me all the way. He taught me to work hard and do what it takes to be successful and not be afraid to go the extra mile. Although he may have had his doubts about my success in the business at first, he never once voiced them. Not once! Instead, he supported me, helped me get a bank loan, and he even came and helped me paint the walls and hang shelving at my first store! I learned from my dad how to be a good businessman, but more importantly, how to take care of my children and how to be a good husband. He was always the best audience whenever I got the newest magic tricks and wanted to perform them. If I could fool him, I knew it was perfect. If not, back to the drawing board.

My dad had a great sense of humor and was always the center of attention at any party or get-together he attended. He attracted people like a magnet. He stood a full 6′ 6″ tall, a bit intimidating when you first saw and met him, had a boisterous voice, however, he had a heart of gold. He would give you the shirt off his back and the last dollar in his pocket without hesitation if you needed it. He was honest, hard-working, and never selfish. He had literally hundreds of friends who I didn’t even know, and he was never a stranger anywhere he went. He was always there for my sister and me no matter what we were going through! Always supportive and overly patient, a trait of his I wish I had inherited, he was a great provider, and we always had everything we needed and then some.

He worked long hours, sometimes up to 14 hours per day, sometimes weeks on end without any days off to make sure his family were well taken care of, and he never complained. No matter how busy he was, he always had time for his family.

When we were kids, our Father’s Day tradition was to let Dad sleep in on Sunday morning followed by the breakfast of his choice! Then we would go visit my grandparents, and the highlight was going to Foster’s to get a Root Beer Freeze! Sounds simple but it was a great time for us all!

It has been 18 years since my dad passed away, and I still think about him every day. Referring to his words of wisdom whenever it comes to making a life or business decision, I always find myself reflecting and repeating the words of advice and love he always gave me.

So, tomorrow, I’m going to do something that my dad always did for us: I’m going to take a day off and spend it with the family. Saturday, we’re having a family barbecue with all my family, aunts, uncles, siblings, children, etc. to celebrate an early Father’s Day and my daughter Renee’s engagement. The pool will no doubt be full of kids and the back yard will be at capacity. I can’t think of a better way to spend my Father’s Day weekend.

So, if you’re a dad, happy Father’s Day, and if you can, wish your dad the same.

Until next time,

Paul

Getting While the Gecko’s Good

Posted in Uncategorized on June 5, 2008 by hocuspoc

The phone rings. It’s an order for the Gecko. The email alert goes off. It’s another order for the Gecko. The fax machine receives a fax. It’s yet another order for the Gecko. Gecko, Gecko, Gecko, that’s the buzz word at Hocus Pocus these last few days. In case you are living in a cave, Gecko by Jim Rosenbaum, is the hottest ticket in magic-dom at the moment. Nothing else this year has even come close. This is an exciting project that Jim let us in on about a year ago in its early stages of development, even sharing early prototypes with us. He has had major input from major players in magic to help bring his vision to completion.

I truly believe in this product and think that if you’re looking for a utility device that has multi-functionality and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, the Gecko is for you. Please check out the online video demo on the web site to see all the possibilities the Gecko has to offer and get your Gecko on today.


Cole: a chip off the ol’ block.

Many of you have noticed a new voice on the phone here at Hocus Pocus, and I’m proud to say that my oldest son, Cole, is filling in during his Summer break from college. He’ll be answering the phones, taking orders, and even helping out in the shipping department from time to time along with assisting Ken in customer service. Who knows; maybe he’ll be sitting in the captain’s seat before too long… Make sure you introduce yourself the next time you call.

Paul Romhany’s latest effect, Lemon Tree, just arrived and all pre-orders are shipping today. We still have a limited supply left if you are interested in something completely different for your shows. I begged Paul for over a year to release this routine, which he finally agreed to, but only in a limited amount.


Robert and Yumi

Congratulations to Yumi Homma and Robert Baxt on their wedding announcement, which was just received in today’s mail. August 2nd is the big day, and they’ll be enjoying an afternoon wedding at a private residence. Betty and I are very happy for Robert, and we think the world of Yumi. We look forward to spending their special day with them.

Going to take this Friday off for a little rest and relaxation after a very busy week. Make sure you tune in to VH1 tonight for the finale of Celebracadabra. Check your local listings for times. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

So remember, the secret word is: Gecko. Gecko, Gecko, Gecko.

Until next time,

Paul