Archive for May, 2009

Congratulations Are In Order

Posted in Uncategorized on May 29, 2009 by hocuspoc

I hope everyone had a long and restful Memorial Day Weekend. I know I certainly enjoyed my time off, although I think those 4 days went by way too quickly. Friday, Betty and I traveled south to a small town called Kingsburg, where I visited one of my favorite nurseries, picked up several new plants, and headed to another spot in Parlier, California, called Ortega’s. This place is unbelievable! Acres and acres of pots, fountains, bird baths, and statuary. You could truly spend hours there and not see everything they have to offer. I picked up a couple of hand-painted pots (Betty’s favorite) to put the plants that we just bought from the nursery inside. Now home, to plant, pot, and work in the yard. Saturday, I found a new nursery and picked up some more goodies for the yard. Sunday, we took a one-day trip to San Juan Bautista, had a picnic, and checked out the street fair. We then checked out a movie, and before you knew it, the four days had passed like lightning.

This week, there have been some people who have accomplished some remarkable things, and I thought it would be nice to recognize and congratulate them for those accomplishments.

MAGIC & MUSIC

My good friend, Bruce Kalver, also known as the current S.A.M. President, phoned the other day to tell me that his son, Eric, just graduated from the Berklee College of Music and has started a business creating music for different types of acts, especially magic. He does everything from composing to arranging it, and then he records it for you to use in your shows. Bruce sent over a piece of music to listen to, and it is great! He has just finished creating music for Mike Miller’s new Pool Act. Eric says that his music is created to enhance an act without overpowering it. He speaks with you about your act and what style of music you are thinking of using and what tricks you are performing. Then he creates specialized music for you. He is also working on a CD of music for popular tricks and illusions that should be available soon. What better way to add the mark of professionalism to your act than to have your own custom music? If you’d like to talk to Eric about music for your act, check out his website at: www.erickalvermusic.com

SMOKE-FREE!

More congratulations are in order to our own Ken Walker and Mike Giusti who have successfully decided to break the smoking habit. Ken is 2 months smoke-free and Mike has just reached the 2 week mark. I know how hard it is for both of them to give up this highly addictive habit, but they both have the right attitude, and I have complete faith that they will kick the habit permanently.

EMBARKING ON A NEW CAREER

Congratulations also go to my oldest son, Cole, who recently landed a job working for one of the United States’ most respected accounting firms in the Bay Area. He is home visiting for the next week and a half before he returns to the Bay Area to begin his new job. Betty and I are extremely proud of him, and Cole is very excited to embark on this new chapter of his life. Has has worked extremely hard to get to this point, and he has definitely earned his new position.

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Wilcox Green Room Illusion

On the home front, I was like a little kid again when UPS showed up this morning with a brand new package for me. I am excited to acquire a very rare Wilcox Green Room Illusion. A cabinet displaying a female mannequin face is shown, and as you stare at the face, it slowly melts away and turns into a skull! Another application would have a plate of grapes that morphs into a wine bottle. Just about anything that can fit into the cabinet can be made to transform into something else. This is the kind of stuff I really like! I opened the box, set it up, and had everyone come and watch the illusion in action, and they all loved it! Now residing on the showroom floor, it becomes another piece of magic history in our museum. Remember, any time you are in the area, you are more than welcome to stop by. I’ll be more than happy to give you the tour and set up the Green Room Illusion for you.

Before I go, I thought I’d share this cartoon with you, courtesy of one of our friends. I think you’ll find it as humorous as I do.

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Until next time,

Paul

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Memorial Day Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on May 21, 2009 by hocuspoc

Today’s blog will be short and sweet as, in a few minutes, I’ll be heading out the door to enjoy a long Memorial Day weekend. My oldest son, Cole, moves out of the dorms this weekend into a temporary apartment for a few months in order to work a Summer job with an accounting firm in the Bay Area. He will be coming to Fresno on Monday, however, to spend a few days before going back to start work. I’ll be working in my back yard and trying to stimulate the economy in the nursery business. I’ll be traveling to a few of my favorite spots to see what new things I can add to my yard. Betty and I will also take in a movie or two and maybe a side trip to San Juan Bautista for a day. All in all, it will be great to get away, and I’m looking forward to the time off.

Speaking of movies, Betty and I caught the Michael Caine film, “Is Anyone There?” last weekend. If you read the article in last month’s MAGIC magazine, then you know it’s about an elderly magician and his friendship with the son of the owners of a rest home. Out in limited release, if it comes to your city or town, check it out; it’s worth your consideration.

I want to thank those of you who called and emailed about last week’s blog and your interest in the older illusions. I always welcome your questions and comments.

So that about wraps it up. Hope you and your family have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.

Until next time,

Paul

The Thrill Of The Chase

Posted in Uncategorized on May 15, 2009 by hocuspoc

It’s no secret to most of you who know me that I was bitten by the collectible magic bug early on. I can still remember the day I walked in to Buma’s House of Magic in San Francisco for the first time and bought my first piece of antique magic. I was only 14 (maybe 15) at the time, I don’t remember, but there was something about that Thayer Birdcage Transposition that appealed to me more than all the newer props that sat on the shelves. From that day on, my desire to collect antique magic began. Through the years, Buma taught me all about antique magic, the manufacturers, and the history behind each and every prop that I purchased. There were even times where he would take me with him on different outings to purchase collections for his House of Magic. The education that I received was invaluable. He was a great influence, a wonderful teacher, and a good friend to me. I miss being able to pick up the phone and talk with him about anything that had to do with magic, old or new.

Now today, finding pieces like that are not easy; you have to hunt for them just like a chase. The thrill is the chase itself, and when you’ve finally found that piece you’ve been looking for, it’s a feeling you cannot describe. Such was the way I was able to acquire the latest 2 very rare and historical illusions. Starting 3 years ago, through my good friend in Mexico, Jorge Jijon, my chase began again. Sending me some photos of items he was interested in selling, I saw a very rare Carl Owen piece called “The Witch and the Pumpkin.” Immediately, I began correspondence with Jorge on how to acquire this exceptional illusion. At the time, he was not prepared to part with it as it belonged to his father, who performed it in his own shows. Time passed, and last month, after several emails, Jorge and I finalized the deal. A few days ago, Fed-Ex Freight arrived with five massive crates. Inside two of the crates was the Witch and Pumpkin illusion, manufactured by Carl Owen in 1941 in almost mint condition! You can see from the photos below what an incredible piece this is:

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The illusion played out like this: A large pumpkin displayed in a small latticework platform is displayed. The magician’s assistant, dressed like a witch, climbs on a stepladder and steps into the pumpkin, which is impossible due to the fact that the pumpkin is so small. The pumpkin is then removed from the stand and carried offstage. An extremely strong illusion that still would play well to the most skeptical of audiences. To see it close-up and the craftsmanship is really something to be appreciated.

The second illusion acquired from Jorge was the Geisha Illusion, one of two ever built by the great illusion builder Edmund Spreer! Spreer, a well-known illusion builder for Fu Manchu, built this second version in 1957 for magician Paco Miller. This beautiful ornate cabinet would be rolled onstage, shown all around, then the sides and front doors open to show the cabinet completely empty. All doors are then closed, the cabinet is rolled around on all sides, the front door is then opened to reveal a beautiful Geisha inside! Written up in the book, “Illusion Builder to Fu Manchu,” the author falsely guesses as to the methodology behind the Geisha Illusion. However, I can tell you now that I own the piece, that the method employed is nothing like what the author guessed, and is much more diabolical and still works perfectly! Looking at the pictures, you’ll notice the ornate design of this incredible illusion, and I’d like to point out that ALL of the artwork that you see was done by hand without any stenciling! I can tell you it was built to troop and weighs like a Mack truck. I was lucky that my friend, Tim Wisseman, was here delivering some items, and he was able to help out in setting up this piece:

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Both illusions are now set up in our showroom here at Hocus Pocus along with other historical pieces such as Mark and Nani Wilson’s Dancing Doll, Blackstone Jr.’s tuxedo and Vanishing Birdcage, Blackstone Sr.’s Vanishing Alarm Clock, and many other great pieces. I’m always happy to give the tour of our mini magic museum to anyone who visits Hocus Pocus. It took a while to acquire these latest items, but it was worth the wait! It’s exciting to think about each piece’s history, who owned it, who performed with it, and who loved it as much as I do.

I hope you enjoyed this little bit of magic history. If you’re interested in starting your own magic collection or purchasing these types of items, you might want to visit our Private/Estate section of our web site. This is a new section which lists rare, some one-of-a-kind, and some no longer available items. Who knows; you might just develop the bug like I did.

If you have any questions about these items or perhaps some of the Private/Estate items you’ve seen online, feel free to give me a call at 800-407-4040, 559-266-5150, or email me at sales@hocus-pocus.com.

Until next time,

Paul

Back From The Castle

Posted in Uncategorized on May 7, 2009 by hocuspoc

You might remember that last week, we were heading south to the Magic Castle’s Swap Meet. It was quite a weekend! We arrived Friday afternoon to meet up with Chuck and Gerald Kirchner from Magic City, Inc., Robert Baxt, and Jay Leslie. We all met at Musso and Frank’s, our favorite place for lunch that has become a tradition. Afterwards, it was back to the hotel to talk about magic and the business. Before you knew it, it was time to go to the Magic Castle for dinner and entertainment. Betty and I met up again with Chuck along with Mark and Nani Wilson and had a great dinner. Mark had just returned from a trip to Japan and shared stories of his travels and his son, Greg’s new show there. Then it was time to head into the Palace of Mystery. Afterwards, it was downstairs to the Inner Circle Bar where I met up with good friend, Glenn Farrington, who wowed the crowd with his incredible close-up magic. Late now, and it was time to head back to the hotel to get some rest before the Swap Meet Saturday morning.

At 8:00 AM, Robert Baxt called me to ask if I would help him set up his table for the Swap Meet, which I was more than happy to do. I felt that this would be a very busy Swap Meet due to the fact that tables were already sold out weeks in advance. Boy, was I correct! The place was swamped! More sellers than I had ever seen and more rare and unique items, so off I went on a spree! I bought Harry Anderson’s Sword Through Neck, vintage Warner, Abbott’s, Magic Hands pieces and more! One of the biggest items I brought back was a Rice, Checkers, and Globe built by John Gaughan for Peter Reveen’s illusion show that traveled the globe back in the early 1980s! Still in magnificent condition, I was thrilled to be able to acquire this. I have not yet decided whether I will part with this or not as it is such an important piece of magic history. Check it out below:


Rice, Checkers, and Globe

After several hours, it was time to pack up the car and head home. Fortunately for me, my good friends, Frank Thurston and Jay Leslie, helped me gather up all my findings and pack up the car. This was where the real magic came in; my car was literally packed top to bottom, side to side with not an inch to spare, but we got it all in there. After packing the car, my wife wanted to go to Sprinkles Cupcakes. If you haven’t heard of Sprinkles Cupcakes, you’ve not lived until you’ve tried one. Overhearing our conversation, Frank Thurston said that he was going there as well, so off we went on a cupcake caravan. Located about 5 miles away from the Castle in Beverly Hills, it was nice to sit back and relax before the long drive home. We waited in line, which I hear at times is out the door and around the block, and bought our cupcakes. Back in the car and homeward bound. It was a great weekend, and I can’t wait until the next Swap Meet in the Fall.


Sitting outside Sprinkles, cupcakes in hand (the Red Velvet is the best, by the way)

There are so many great performers that I have admired over the years and looked up to and been inspired by. Many of them I’ve talked about here before. One of the greatest and original magic acts I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing was Marvyn and Carol Roy’s Mr. Electric act. Sadly, one half of that dynamic duo passed away earlier this week: Carol Roy. Carol was always so full of energy and one of the nicest, most genuine people you could ever meet. I remember reading her column “It Ain’t All Glamor” in Genii magazine and laughing out loud at some of the behind-the-scenes shenanigans she wrote about regarding Marvyn’s and her travels. She was the consummate performer, vivacious, beautiful, and how she squeezed into that jumbo light bulb, I’ll never know. They both shared a love for magic and each other. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Marvyn and their children in this most difficult time. Thanks, Carol — you were the real electricity in Mr. Electric’s act.

Please enjoy Mr. Electric on the Merv Griffin Show back in the 1970s below:

Until next time,

Paul