Archive for October, 2010

Boo, Gobble Gobble, Ho, Ho, Ho!

Posted in Uncategorized on October 29, 2010 by hocuspoc

Here we are in the holiday trifecta zone. In just 2 days, we’ll be celebrating Halloween. Time to don your favorite costume, celebrate with friends, and give out the candy. And then, we’re just a few weeks away from Thanksgiving! Time to carve the turkey and give thanks for all our blessings. Believe it or not, one of the local radio stations starts playing Christmas music 24/7 this Monday! That’s right: Christmas music. Then, before you know it, the holiday of holidays will be upon us! The early Fall is always my favorite time of year. Temperatures finally drop, the leaves change and/or drop, and Daylight Savings Time begins, where we gain an hour every day. So, keeping the holidays in mind, we thought we’d feature a few of our favorites for your consideration:

I first saw this in Hollywood a couple of weeks ago and liked it so much, I bought it on the spot! After doing some research and contacting the distributor, I knew this was something I wanted to offer you. For the magician who has everything, check out this gorgeous Magic 2011 Calendar featuring Spiral binding, 34.3 x 49 cm (13.5 x 19.3 in.) and a full 28 pages, each suitable for framing. This is a must have for any magician’s abode. This calendar is printed on parchment paper. Each month features a full color reproduction of vintage magic posters. The pages are perforated on the top and bottom of the pages! This allows the calendar to become a beautiful set of classic posters ready to frame and adorn your wall to be enjoyed for years to come. We have them in stock now for immediate delivery. You may want to buy several to give as gifts to your magic friends as well. You can find them right HERE!

    Next, some very exciting news from our friends Sean and Rebecca Bogunia, it seems like only yesterday that Sean Bogunia sent me the first Ultimate Dancing Hank. We were honored when Sean chose Hocus Pocus to be the exclusive dealer; it was one of the biggest selling items we ever had the pleasure of offering. Just when we thought he could never top it, Sean Bogunia has done it again! Just as in the past, we were thrilled when Sean again asked Hocus Pocus to be the exclusive dealer to bring you, this, his latest miracle!

    Sean has been feverishly working and promises us delivery no later than mid-November, which is only a couple of weeks away. I think this is one of the best items Sean has ever produced! If you would like more information on Sean Bogunia’s uITRa Dancing Hank, just click HERE!

    The Wait Is Over!

    Dave Powell’s Ring Grinders ready to be shipped!

    After several production delays, Dave Powell’s Ring Crunchers arrived yesterday! The first 36 he has produced all shipped exclusively to Hocus Pocus, so if you were one of the lucky ones who pre-ordered, yours has been shipped and is on the way (if it hasn’t already arrived). Believe me when I tell you, the wait was worth it; the craftsmanship on this is outstanding and Dave’s innovations and improvements make it the best, and it’s the only Ring Grinder on the market where everything happens in the spectator’s hands and not the magician’s! We still have stock for immediate delivery, so check it out HERE!

    On the home front, we have a new addition to the family. A few weeks ago, our beloved pug, Mugsy, unfortunately passed away. Betty, Max, and I were devastated. Our older dog, Buddy, wandered around the house wondering where his friend had gone. To cheer him up, we’ve been bringing him to work every day for the past few weeks, where he got right into the swing of things and made friends with everyone immediately. Within a few days, he had the UPS delivery man bringing him treats and we also found him sharing my sister’s and Karen’s lunch. Betty and I are both dog lovers and really missed having that second dog around. So, I went online to look for a rescue dog that needed a good home, and I came across Buster!

    Buster

    Buster is a 7 month-old French Bulldog. So this last Tuesday, Betty and my son Max drove to Lindsay, California, about an hour away, and went to visit Buster and immediately fell in love with him. So Buster has now become our new addition to the Gross household. We’ve already started teaching him tricks and finding out he’s a pretty fast learner. If you’re a French Bulldog owner and have a few tips, I’d sure love hearing from you. I’ll keep you posted on Buster’s progress.

    This afternoon, my oldest son, Cole, will be coming into town to be in his friend’s wedding. We’ll have dinner with him tonight and catch up on what’s going on in his life over the weekend. He lives in the Bay Area and has recently become a die hard Giants fan, and he’s been watching the World Series with bated breath as they are 2 and 0 over the Texas Rangers. The Giants have been in the World Series only 3 times before and have never won it, so if they do, Cole is going to be beside himself!

    Have a fantastic Halloween.

    Until next time,

    Paul

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    Lots of Company, Lots of Fun

    Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 by hocuspoc

    It’s been quite the week here at Hocus Pocus. Saturday afternoon, Betty and I picked up Paul Romhany and took him on a tour of Fresno. On Sunday, we took him to the last day of the Big Fresno Fair, because we knew he couldn’t leave without sampling the Cinnamon Rolls, something that brings us back every year. Sunday, Paul accepted the challenge of counting the number of gnomes in my back yard. It’s funny; no matter how many times you count them, the numbers are always different. Is it possible they are multiplying?

    The new Koi pond

    Dragons, gnomes, wizards, frogs, and Koi

    The entrance to the Secret Garden

    Alice in Wonderland

    After our back yard tour, my good friend Tim Mannix arrived from Hollywood just in time for barbecued hamburgers, which we found out were Paul’s very favorite. For a little guy, he can sure put ’em away!

    Paul and his favorite food. No, he didn’t eat them all.

    After dinner, we stayed up until after dinner talking about magic until the very late hours. The next morning, Monday, we all arrived at the store, where Paul immediately went into high gear and sensory overload as he wandered through the warehouse and showroom. While Paul kept busy, it was time for me to pick up Chuck Kirchner, owner of Magic City from Long Beach, California to attend Paul Romhany’s lecture Monday night. Many of you took advantage of our “Talk to the Pro” offer and phoned all day Monday to speak to Paul, ask questions and share stories. This was something new we decided to offer, and due to your response, we’ll be doing again and again.

    Another visitor that day was Doc Solar, just finishing his 2-week gig at the Big Fresno Fair, arriving in fashion with his spectacular Medicine Show trailer. He gave us an in-depth tour of the trailer inside and out, and we were amazed that he built the entire thing from scratch himself!

    Doc Solar, Paul Romhany, Tim Mannix, and me next to the Doc Solar’s Traveling Medicine Show trailer

    Another view of the trailer

    Checking out the inside of the trailer

    One final peek

    The day passed very quickly, and before we knew it, it was time for Paul’s lecture. We had a full house and everyone enjoyed themselves. Paul put on one of the best lectures we had all seen in quite some time. He shared many of his pet secrets and stories of his many cruise ship travels.

    Paul in my office wearing Doug Henning’s jacket

    Paul with the world’s largest Mental Epic and his new book, the Mental Epic Compendium

    Paul producing a ladder from a briefcase!

    Linking Coat Hangers in a Charlie Chaplinesque fashion

    Paul performing his Linking Hearts for Chuck Kirchner

    When the lecture was over, everyone headed to my house and it was past midnight again before any of us went to bed. Tuesday, Paul and Tim showed up at the store and, like a bunch of kids, we had an incredible time fooling around, sharing stories, and talking shop.

    Paul sitting at my desk being “Paul” for a day

    Paul and Tim clowning around in the showroom

    One of the highlights of the day was when the UPS Freight truck arrived containing a version of Blackstone Sr’s “Duck Inn.” Tim, Paul, and I waited anxiously outside the door like little kids awaiting Santa Claus’ arrival. I think the freight truck driver thought we were a little crazy… Off the truck and into our warehouse the crate arrived and we immediately began opening it.

    The freight truck arrives

    The crate has arrived at last!

    Almost there!

    It’s in perfect condition!

    Ta-Daaaaaa!

    If you’re not familiar with the routine, after producing several ducks, Blackstone would have them all march into a tiny little house. A shot was fired, and the house immediately fell apart, showing all the ducks had vanished! All I can tell you is the method is a true demonstration of misdirection. Those of you who know how this works know exactly what I mean. This piece will now be on display next to Harry Blackstone Jr’s “Topsy Turvy Girl.”

    Duck Inn and Topsy Turvy Girl

    The Topsy Turvy Girl illusion was performed by Harry Blackstone, Jr. on Broadway and during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade many years ago. Both pieces will be on display for all visitors to see here at Hocus Pocus.

    And so they say, all good things must come to an end. Wednesday morning, it was time for Chuck to depart, and then in the afternoon, both Paul Romhany and Tim Mannix left for Southern California. It was great, after all these years, to finally meet Paul in person. What a great guy! Betty and I thoroughly enjoyed having Paul visit; he really became a part of our family. Thank you, Paul. I can’t wait for your next visit to the United States.

    Last, but certainly not least, today is my beautiful wife, Betty’s birthday. Nobody’s luckier than I am to be married to you. Happy birthday!

    Until next time,

    Paul

    Home From Hollywood

    Posted in Uncategorized on October 14, 2010 by hocuspoc

    The last two weeks, I’ve been to Hollywood twice. Last week’s visit was for the Magic Castle Swap Meet. Friday afternoon, Betty and I arrived in Hollywood and met with good friends Tim Mannix, Robert Baxt, and Jay Leslie to have lunch at Musso & Franks. While there, all three entertained Betty and me with their newest projects and creations. One of which you might have already seen on the web site, Quantimental RV by Jay Leslie, available HERE! Jay was very excited to finally unveil this project that he’s been working on for months! It was funny to get periodic emails from him as the project progressed. After seeing the final project, I share his enthusiasm over this project as well!

    Jay Leslie clowning around with his Colossal Color Changing Knives, and they really work!

    Back to the hotel, where Robert Baxt entertained us with his latest offering, a CSI Murder/Mystery mentalism routine, which was a lot of fun and quite commercial. You’ll be able to find it on our web site very soon, so stay tuned. This one has it all: Audience participation, and it’s the quintessential  packs small/plays big effect. Watch our web site for this to appear soon!

    Robert Baxt playing the part of a little girl spectator with Tim Mannix

    Finally, my good friend, Tim Mannix entertained us with his hilarious Mannix Manic Sponge Ball routine using Robert Baxt as his female assistant. We all had a great laugh, as you can see above, and you’ll be able to find this routine on our web site soon as well as Tim is making all the final preparations to make this available to you. Talk about commercial and packs small/plays big, this is suitable for kids and adults!

    Before we knew it, it was time to put away our toys and head to the Magic Castle for Dinner with Mark and Nani Wilson, Greg Wilson and his wife, Ayako, Mark Nelson, and Tim Mannix. We all shared stories about the prior week’s 50th Anniversary of the Magic Land of Allakazam. After a great meal, we all headed to the Palace of Mystery to watch a highly entertaining show featuring Michael Finney and James Dimmare. After the show, we all got together and even the Amazing Randi, who was in town, joined in for a group photo:

    Tim Mannix and I outside the Magic Castle

    From left to right: Mark Nelson, Amazing Randi, Nani Wilson, Greg Wilson (center), Mark Wilson, Betty, Me, Tim Mannix, and Michael Finney

    It was a great night and one I’ll remember for the rest of my life! The next morning, bright and early, I was first in line for the Swap Meet. I think there were more people at this particular Swap Meet than any other I’ve seen. I picked up a lot of great items, which I’m sure you’ve seen pop up on the site, and one piece in particular I’m very happy to acquire is a very rare Conradi/Horster Table seen below:

    The detail of the base is incredible! I had several people stop me on my way out of the Castle asking me where I found it and one person tried to talk me out of it before I could even load it into my car! If you want to know more about this item, simply click the image above.

    As we were leaving the Swap Meet, Greg Wilson stopped me and asked me if I wanted to stop by his parents’ place to pick up some Allakazam Commemorative Anniversary Programs to be able to offer to our Hocus Pocus customers. This is an incredible and historical account of magic’s most beloved family, and you can get your very own limited edition copy right HERE! 100% of the proceeds go to the Allakazam Preservation Fund, and here is a little bit of information about it from Greg Wilson himself:

    Hi Allaka-Zammers and Fans!

    WOW, The week at the Magic Castle was a wonderful kick-off to the 50th Anniversary of Allakazam Celebrations! But the party is not over… not by a long shot! We’ve only just begun to discover the treasures and bring back the spirit of friendship and cooperation that made The Magic Land of Allakazam such an important landmark in Television and Magic History.

    It was only with the love and support of all of you, the Zammers and Fans, that we could show Mark and Nani (not to leave off Rebo and the rest of the original team, Jackie, Leo, Chuck, Johnny, and Torchy (Harland)) just how important they are to our lives, and how their combined creation, Allakazam, has touched each of us in a special way.

    For the lucky ones that were able to make it up to the Castle during Allakazam Week, thank you for your kindness and time. I hope you enjoyed yourselves. For the rest of you that wanted to come… but were sadly unable to… DON’T WORRY! We are working on bringing the experience and the “goodies” to you. YES, WE ARE WORKING ON A DVD about the whole experience! But it is not ready yet… Will be soon… but not today. Sorry to tease you like that.

    BUT THE GOOD NEWS IS… we have a few of the Commemorative Anniversary Programs! Yes these are the incredible full color, 44 page, books created by me, Greg Wilson, with the donations of time, love, and support of Steve Mitchell, Mark Nelson, Mark R., Bev Bergeron, Leo Benkhe, Mike, Nani, and Mark Wilson… and all of you Zammers and Fans that supported us each in your own way.

    So many people wrote in with your memories, praise, and thanks! I really want to thank each of you for helping to make this such a wonderful event for the Original Allakazam Team! That’s why I saved some of the incredible Allakazam Anniversary Programs.

    I wish we could just give the Programs away free, but the work we are continuing to do to preserve the collection, and find the treasures is more expensive than you would think. There is a big plan in the works, just can’t tell you about it all yet.

    Therefore, I asked Paul to help us sell some of the remaining Programs to aid in financing our continued research and preservation. It is really an incredible book. 44 pages in full color, complete with original stories, thoughts, and memories from the original cast, Mark, Nani, Mike, Rebo, Leo, Chuck, John Gaughan, and more. I found some great photos that have never been printed or shared outside of the Wilson family for 5 decades! You can read the commendations and appreciation from fans all over the world, and from the top pros like David Copperfield, Siegfried and Roy, Rich Bloch, Diana Zimmerman, David Berglas, Irene Larsen, and so many more!

    I am asking for $20 per Program, but there is a limited supply, and with printing costs so high for this quality of Program, we have no plans to re-issue. This is it! Get them now, get 2 or 3 Programs! Then, you can share them… give them as gifts to spread that Allaka-Spirit!

    This is a real “feel good” purchase. If you purchase one or more of the Limited Original Anniversary Programs, we will make your hard earned gift of $20 go a long way in the preservation of ALLAKAZAM.

    Which brings me to the closing thought of the Program… “Where did you come from, Stranger?” a poem written by my Great Great Grandfather more than 100 years ago. The words are so touching and relevant even today, you just have to read it yourself!

    This little book is more than just a history of the show. It is a touching and insightful look at why Allakazam had such a profound impact on all of us.

    Please order yours today! Thank you for your continued love and support.

    Best Allaka-Wishes,

    Greg Wilson


    On a final note, we are all extremely excited for the arrival and lecture of Paul Romhany this Monday, October 18th at 7:00 PM. Paul will arrive this Saturday afternoon, and he’ll be a guest at our place until Wednesday, all the way from New Zealand, his home country. We are expecting a packed house and lots of magic! Tim Mannix is also arriving on Sunday, so between the three of us, there probably won’t be much sleep during those 5 days. I’m sure much magic and mayhem will ensue, so if you are anywhere within the Fresno area, we’d love to have you join us Monday evening. Just give us a call at 800-407-4040 or 559-266-5150 or email sales@hocus-pocus.com to reserve your seats.

    So that about wraps it up. Full report of the Romhany lecture and visit next week.

    Until next time,

    Paul 

    Alla-Ka-Diddle-Dee-Dee, Allaka-Diddle-Dee-Doo!

    Posted in Uncategorized on October 7, 2010 by hocuspoc

    Betty and I standing next to the original Allakazam Road Sign

    We’re off to find the Magic Land of Allakazam where all wishes come true. And boy, did they! For those of you who don’t know, those were the words of the beginning of the Allakazam theme song. As promised, here is my full review of last week’s 50th Anniversary Celebration of the Magic Land of Allakazam at the Magic Castle. Betty and I arrived around 6:00 PM at the Castle and had dinner and immediately followed downstairs to the Inner Circle where the celebration was in full force. The Inner Circle was packed with friends, fans, and performers alike. After a champagne toast and speech by Mark Wilson, a giant cake with a giant picture of the Allakazam Hat was served to all. Before you knew it, it was time for Mark, Nani, Greg, and Mike to head upstairs to get ready for the big show in the Palace of Mystery. Nani was kind enough to have reserve seats for Betty and me as I sat anxiously awaiting the show to begin.

    The Palace of Mystery had been transformed into a duplicate studio that the Magic Land of Allakazam was shot at. The music director came out and introduced himself and explained to us there would be a complete reenactment of the show’s beginning, complete with music, the audience singing the theme song complete with the song’s words in captions on two large screen TVs. As the theme was sung and each character was introduced. First it was Nani, then Rebo the clown, son Mike, and finally Mark was magically produced from an empty cabinet! Mark then proceeded to talk about the Magic Land of Allakazam and give a brief history and then, in typical Mark Wilson style, he entertained the crowd by telling a few jokes, accompanied by rim shot punch lines. Mark and Nani then performed their now-famous Allakazam Egg to the audience’s delight. Mark and Nani had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands.

    Mark then introduced his son, Greg, who performed his classic billiard ball routine, which was artistically beautiful and technically flawless! Greg then proceeded to perform his parents’ classic effects from the Magic Land of Allakazam, Magic Circus, etc., including the original Haechen Doll House, Asrah, Magic Castle, and one of my personal favorites, the Allakazam Train! As he performed each illusion, he gave a bit of history on each prop and the original costumes designed by Nani and worn by her during performance. Before you knew it, the show came to an end, and the entire cast received a well-deserved standing ovation. I was very impressed with the production of the entire evening beginning with the moment you walked up to the Magic Castle (the original Allakazam starred archway welcomed you to the event), in every corner, nook, and cranny, there were original costumes, props, scenery, artists’ renderings, and video monitors broadcasting the original episodes of the Magic Land of Allakazam. So no matter where you went, you were surrounded by great memories of Allakazam! They say that you can’t go back home, well for those few short hours, I did! It’s a night that I’ll never forget. Special thanks to Greg Wilson for the incredible amount of work, love, and devotion he invested personally in this project to make it as memorable as it was for all involved.

    A collage from the published commemorative program

    TV Guide announcing the premier of the Magic Land of Allakazam

    Mark and Nani Wilson

    Tomorrow, Betty and I will make our return to Hollywood for the Magic Castle Swap Meet as we do every year. We’ll be having dinner with Mark, Nani, and Greg at the Castle and reminisce about last week’s event and share some of those special Allaka-Memories.

    Until next time,

    Paul

    Happy Anniversary AllaKazam!

    Posted in Uncategorized on October 1, 2010 by hocuspoc
     

    Happy Anniversary!

    Today is the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Greatest Television Show EVER!  Mark & Nani Wilson’s “The Magic Land of AllaKazam” debuted on October 1, 1960.

     It was on that fateful date in 1960, when my mother said to me, “Paul, come take a look, I think you’ll like this new TV show.” And the rest, as they say, is history. I was hooked on magic exactly 50 years ago today, I’m still hooked on magic today, and I have never looked back.

    To mark the occasion and celebrate Nani and Mark Wilson (two of my very favorite people in the entire world), Betty and I drove to Hollywood yesterday and arrived at the Magic Castle last night for the 50th Anniversary Magic Land of AllaKazam celebration.

    Standing outside the Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA

     

    And what a celebration it was. I wish you could have all been there; it was so great. The Magic Castle is filled with a once-in-a-lifetime group of performers and entertainers who have been selected by the Wilson Family to join them in the week-long festivities PLUS Mark and Nani are making personal appearances all week. There are performances the rest of this week and if you’re in the L.A. area you need to see one of these shows – seriously, you owe it to yourself.

    I have SO MUCH to tell you about this event, but I have to save it for next week when I promise to give you all the details; right now, Betty and I need to get on the road and drive back to Fresno.

    Hooray for Hollywood, but it’s always good to come home again.

    Until next time,

    Paul