Archive for August, 2015

Million Dollar Act Plays Gus’ Garage

Posted in Uncategorized on August 28, 2015 by hocuspoc

Our big appearance billed at Gus’ Garage on Mosasco in Bakersfield was a hit. We were billed as the Million Dollar Magic Act and our audience was extremely receptive and very responsive to our comedy & shenanigans.

Our friend Mark Price, aka Gus Flamingo, emceed the event and we couldn’t have asked for a more accommodating host. During the second half of the show, my grandson Zachary got a chance to get into the act when Gus pulled him up onstage to assist with his egg bag routine. It’s always fun to watch Mark work.

The lovely and talented Linda Davis, my trusted assistant always has my back and is so very funny. I’m extremely lucky to have her working with me. She’s practically a scene-stealer. Our rehearsal and fine-tuning of our act really paid off. Although, I’ll admit, we did have one minor mishap. But we played it off to laughter with the audience never knowing it wasn’t part of the show.

As usual there was great support from the local theatrical community and Mark’s social media push got additional new audience members in attendance.

Laurie, Mark’s wife, took lots of pictures during the show. Thanks Laurie. And, a longtime loyal customer, Bob Meigs, drove over 4 hours to come see the show. Thanks Bob!

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, I tell you the story of our evening in photographs.

Linda makes a final note on her backstage roster.

Linda makes a final note on her backstage roster.

Looks like everything is set to go for the BIG show.

Looks like everything is set to go for the BIG show.

I'm really liking Gus' stage.

I’m really liking Gus’ stage. Most everything is set and ready.

Batting the breeze with Gus Flamingo before the show.

Batting the breeze with Gus Flamingo before the show.

My little friends are taking a rest before showtime.

My little friends are taking a rest before showtime.

Time to get dressed. Betty, I need your help!

Time to get dressed. Betty, I need your help!

Okay, take a deep breath. It's time to deliver a good show.

Okay, take a deep breath. It’s time to deliver a good show.

It the dove act.

It the dove act. Doves from Nowhere.

Linda is all over the map.

Ah yes. The Dove Cannon will transport this little guy into the heavens.

Time to magically transport this little fellow.

Time to magically transport this little fellow to the other side of the stage.

Making a large cage full of live doves disappear.

Making a large cage full of live doves disappear.

This Milk in Light Bulb will get them applauding.

This Milk in Light Bulb will get them applauding.

A cone full of milk instantaneously disappears -- just like it said it would in the catalog.

A cone full of milk instantaneously disappears — just like THAT!

My comedy Split Deck routine. Linda acting really sets the mood.

My comedy Split Deck routine. Linda acting really sets the mood.

If you think THIS is funny, you're really going to love the finish!

If you think THIS is funny, you’re really going to love the finish!

Million-Dollar-Magic-Garter

The garter trick always surprises them.

Our Passe Passe Bottle routine. Linda lays it on thick.

Our Passe Passe Bottle routine. Linda lays it on thick.

She's realy giving me a hard time. But, just wait, it's coming.

She’s realy giving me a hard time. But, just wait, it’s coming.

Voila! Even though she stole a bottle behind my back, the trick still works!

Voila! Even though she stole a bottle behind my back, the trick still works!

The Hindu Sword Basket illusion is where I get even with Linda.

The Hindu Sword Basket illusion is where I get even with Linda.

Entering the mysterious basket from the Far East.

Entering the mysterious basket from the Far East.

And now, pay back time. By the time it's over, no one can believe that anyone could fit INSIDE that basket.

And now, pay back time. By the time it’s over, no one can believe that anyone could fit INSIDE that basket.

My grandson and the amazing Gus Flamingo.

My grandson and the amazing Gus Flamingo.

Gus drives home a point as Zackary looks on.

Gus drives home a point as Zachary looks on.

I feel like a million bucks. I had fun performing at Gus' Garage.

I feel like a million bucks. I had fun performing at Gus’ Garage.

Million-Dollar-Magic-Act-02

We hope to come back again one day to play Gus’ Garage.

Upcoming Appearances

Our next performances in Bakersfield are at Stars Dinner Theater on September 19th and 20th with Tim Mannix and Mark Price billed as the 3 Amigos of Magic. It is a return engagement will be a really fun show. Please come if you can. We’d love to see you there.

3-Amigos-of-Magic-2015a

Also, the 3 Amigos of Magic will also be performing here in Fresno on November 20th at Bullard High School for a fundraising event sponsored by the theater department of the high school.

As always, have a great weekend my friends.

More news later,

Paul

 

Duffle Bags, Carnies & Mosasco

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2015 by hocuspoc

Our good customer, Chilean magician, Gerardo Parra paid us another of his annual visits this week. After attending Magic LIVE Gerardo and his wife came and spent two days at the shop perusing our showroom seeking new props to add to his show. As always he was like a kid in a candy store. According to  Gerardo, “There is always too much to see!”

Gerardo Parra, our loyal customer and Chilean magician extraordinaire!

Gerardo Parra, our loyal customer and Chilean magician extraordinaire!

Where he gets the world’s largest duffle bags, I’ll never know, but he manages to stuff them to the gills making sure they don’t weigh over 60-pounds each. And another mystery, how in the world does he work his magic on the airlines? Airlines have trouble just delivering people with just a few bags domestically.

Judging from my expression, Gerardo must be angling for another deal.

Judging from my expression, Gerardo must be angling for another deal.

Gerardo flies internationally with multiple GARGANTUAN bags — and doesn’t lose even one! Now that’s impressive!

The real magic is how Gerardo stuffs these duffle bags so full.

The real magic is how Gerardo stuffs these duffle bags so full.

One day maybe I’ll get him to divulge The Real Secrets Of Airline Bag Management. Until then, it will have to remain a mystery.

Bobby Reynolds, The World’s Greatest Showman

Another visitor this week, our longtime friend legendary showman Bobby Reynolds, now 80 years old. His friend Shay is producing a documentary of Bobby’s life as a showman for posterity. Along for the ride was Bobby’s hairless dog.

Rather than recreate the wheel is an excellent overview of Bobby’s life as chronicled by staff writer, Steve Chawkins of the Los Angeles Times from August 2002.

Carny King’s Sideshow Must Go On

Fairs: Fillmore retiree lovingly tends to his collection of freaks and oddities, though public interest has waned.

Master-of-Magic

Like many other retirees, Bobby Reynolds still likes to keep a hand in the business.

In his case, that means changing the formaldehyde for Ronnie and Donnie the Two-Headed Baby and firing off one-liners like the one about his date with the half-man, half-woman.

“Guy asked me did I have a good time,” he says. “I told him, yes and no.”

At 80, Reynolds is one of the last remaining grand old men of American sideshows. He lives on a scrubby nine-acre spread in Fillmore. His living room is painted black and rigged up with an overhead rack of stage lights. Pictures of the immortals–P.T. Barnum, Tom Thumb, Kokomo the Mule-Faced Boy–line the walls. On a long table sits a fluid-filled bell jar holding a mustached object that Reynolds halfheartedly insists is the head of Pancho Villa.

Bobby Reynolds and his dog Henry in 1966.

Bobby Reynolds and his dog Henry in 1966.

“It was in a museum in Mexico and there was an earthquake,” he says. “Bada-bing, bada-boom.”

The times have not been kind to free-spirited entrepreneurs like Reynolds. When he was young, as many as 200 sideshows crisscrossed the country, displaying their freight of contortionists, five-legged sheep, scantily clad girls, and “human blockheads” who shoved screwdrivers up their noses and spikes in their tongues.

But carnival and fair operators came to reap a lot more profit from big, expensive rides. And the public’s appetite for what used to be called “human oddities” dwindled.

“Now it’s not OK to put on a fat lady and charge to see her,” said John Strates, the third-generation operator of a carnival train that chugs up and down the East Coast. “A two-headed baby is not politically correct.t You get e-mails about sideshows right and left.”

Bobby and his two-headed baby.

Bobby and his two-headed baby.

Reynolds isn’t out on the road much these days. This fall, he and his Reynolds’ Believe It You’re Nuts show will be the centerpiece at a collegiate art festival in Maryland. Afterward, he might swing down to the Carolinas. He says he could get more work, but he ruefully acknowledges that the golden era of sideshows is long past.

“They’re trying to make Disneyland out of fairs,” he says, “and it ain’t working.”

At home, Reynolds helps out his 11th wife, Ruth, who had a stroke a couple of years ago. Her previous husband was a circus man named Big John Strong. Her grown kids and a couple of his from assorted marriages drift in and out. One recent afternoon, Reynolds was visited by a Mormon missionary–Reynolds became a Mormon last spring–and a 7-foot, 2-inch sword swallower from Bakersfield named George McArthur.

Bobby Reynolds and George the Giant.

Bobby Reynolds and George the Giant.

“Meet George the Giant, the Goliath of the 21st century!” Reynolds orates by way of introduction.

McArthur, 32, has been on the road with Reynolds, who taught him the fine points of swallowing swords. And fire. And lightbulbs.

“They were calling me a freak when I was 10 years old and 6-foot-7,” McArthur says. “Now at least I’m paid for it.”

From time to time, some of Reynolds’ fellow performers have lived in trailers on his ranch. Dave Twomey, known professionally as Happy the Clown, was there recently after treatments for cancer. Jimmy Webb–a.k.a. the Ugliest Man in the World–was a longtime guest, as was a hirsute woman who eventually grew disenchanted with life as a freak.

“When your bearded lady starts to shave, you know she really wants out of show business,” Reynolds observes.

Continuous-Sideshow

For him, that is inconceivable. Reynolds is on all the time. In the space of two hours, he dons a pith helmet, a fez and a top hat. He does coin tricks, spews carny patter, bursts into a medley from “Fiddler on the Roof” and hauls a dummy out of his closet for a quick display of ventriloquism. In between, he relaxes with an endless chain of ancient one-liners.

“I’ve been married so many times I got rice marks,” he says. “I got three rings: Engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering…. ”

Filming Bobby Reynolds visit to Hocus Pocus. Shay, the cameraman holds Penny.

Filming Bobby Reynolds visit to Hocus Pocus. Shay, the cameraman holds Penny.

Growing up in Jersey City, N.J., he started his professional life at 13 as a pitchman for a Coney Island attraction called Professor Heckler’s Trained Flea Circus. By night he slept in a cardboard box under the boardwalk. By day he reveled in his spiel, which he will still rattle off at the drop of a pith helmet:

“Fleas that juggle, jump through hoops, play football, operate a miniature merry-go-round, tiny little fleas hitched to a chariot and they actually run a race…. It is without a doubt the most fascinating sight the human eye has ever witnessed!”

At one time, Reynolds had 14 shows plying the midways of America. His “museum show” featured items that were purportedly pickled, like Van Gogh’s ear. Another had strange animals, some with extra limbs. Like other showmen of the day, he displayed actual fetuses, like the two-headed baby, ostensibly to illustrate the evils of drugs and alcohol.

Over the years, Reynolds has performed himself. Among other things, he did an act with a tap-dancing chicken–a chicken trying to shake off the pieces of tape Reynolds had stuck to its feet.

“We were supposed to be on the [Ed] Sullivan Show but I got drunk and missed the rehearsal,” says Reynolds, a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for 21 years. “Who knows what would have happened?”

Bobby was on the rode so much, they named a highway after him.

Bobby was on the rode so much, they named a highway after him.

Now and then, Reynolds, like other sideshow operators, ran into legal difficulties.

In 1985, his “giant rat” was confiscated at the Ventura County Fair. Police deduced that the 100-pound beast was not a killer from the sewers of Paris, as advertised, but a South American rodent called a capybara.

Reynolds says the case was dismissed when he showed the judge a magazine caption calling a capybara “the swamp rat of Brazil.”

That isn’t how the arresting officer remembers it, however.

“He’s just so full of smoke,” said Steve Bowman, a private investigator now retired from Ventura’s Police Department. “He pleaded guilty and paid a $500 fine.”

Bobby Reynolds and John Strong with Freddy the two-headed calf.

Bobby Reynolds and John Strong with Freddy the two-headed calf.

Another remarkable Reynolds story is pictured above.

The 1978 photo is of Bobby Reynolds and John Strong at the Bakersfield Kern County Fair along with Freddy the live two-headed cow found him in Rockdale, TX.

After discovering the calf, and with no sideshow himself, John took advantage of his future stepfather’s sideshow immediately hightailing it to the Kern County Fair in Bakersfield where he partnered with Bobby joining his already operating exhibit.

Reynods-Animal-Oddities

The LIVE two-headed cow started grossing $1200-a-day on the weekdays, even before the weekends! That was 1978! In today’s dollars that would be the equivalent to $3600-a-day.

Sadly, on Saturday morning, when feeding time came, it was discovered that the cow had died during the night. Bobby was so distraught that he gave it CPR immediately trying to revive it. With tears the size of dollar signs running down his cheeks, Bobby kept going from the right and left mouth attempting to resuscitate this calf. But, alas, this cash cow was dead.

Paul Gross, Tim Mannix, Bobby Reynolds & Gerardo Parra.

Paul Gross, Tim Mannix, Bobby Reynolds & Gerardo Parra.

Donate Now to Help Preserve Bobby’s Contributions

Bobby Reynolds is a living legend whose pitches and performances are still being used by countless performers today.  This project is an opportunity to share his experience with sideshow fans young and old; as well as, generate interest from newer generations of enthusiasts and show people. The outdoor amusement business would not be the same without his contributions, revisiting his career on the road will be significant to the preservation of Americana folklore.

If you like to donate to support the documentary campaign, Believe it You’re Nuts, just click on the link below.

Bobby-Reynolds-Donation-Button2

More Magic on TV

Recently, Patrick Stewart of Star Trek Fame appeared on the Late Late Show with James Cordon. Their take on a Siegfried & Roy type of magic act clearly went over big with the audience.

You may recognize the Allakazam Hat (luckily it didn’t fall off the table) that we produced in association with Mark & Nani Wilson as part of the magic act. That’s because Mark Wilson’s Magic International supplied the props.

Million Dollar Magic Act Appears on Mosasco (Gus’ Garage)

Tomorrow night Linda and I appear at Gus’ Garage on Mosasco in Bakersfield billed as the Million Dollar Magic Act. Thanks Mark Price (Gus) for promoting and having us appear. We’ve practiced about as much as we can practice, and we believe we’re ready to give a great show.

Million-Dollar-Act-Promo-Banner

Gus’ Garage on Mosasco is a new performance venue for variety performers, created by Laurie & Mark Price aka Gus Flamingo.
Mark (Gus) is billing us as the Million Dollar Magic Act. Here is Mark’s most recent Facebook post:

Mosaco-Act

No matter how large or small the crowd is, we’ll give a great show. If you’re in the area, come out and see us.

Globetrotters from New Zealand

We got a visit from our customer Tony Wilson and his wife Mary today as they tour the globe. All the way from New Zealand, they’re taking a 9-week tour of the globe including an 4-week European River Cruise, FISM in Italy, Magic LIVE in Las Vegas, Zion National Park, today at Hocus Pocus Magic, 3 days at Yosemite National Park, and finally five days at Disneyland.

Mary Wilson, Paul Gross, Tony Wilson & Betty Gross in the Hocus Pocus showroom.

Mary Wilson, Paul Gross, Tony Wilson & Betty Gross in the Hocus Pocus showroom.

If you’re in our area or near us, stop in. we’d love to see you.

As always, have a great weekend my friends.

More news later,

Paul

 

Back from Magic LIVE

Posted in Uncategorized on August 14, 2015 by hocuspoc

We’ve just returned from attending Magic LIVE. It was great seeing everyone and catching up with magic friends and customers alike. I am told that there was a lot of coverage (pictures, videos & reviews) on Facebook for those that did not attend. If you weren’t able to attend, maybe we’ll see you NEXT year.

Yes, you read that correctly. Stan Allen announced that Magic LIVE 2016 will commemorate MAGIC’s 25-year anniversary. Cole and Max really want to go back and have the dealer experience. No official word on this yet, but we will keep you posted on any developments.

Betty and I mostly went to participate and to peruse all that’s new in the magic world. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up seeing much that was new and exciting except for 3 items, one of which I purchased almost immediately from Jeff of Magic Backdrops.

I purchased this prop for my own use in my show. As regular readers of this blog know, I continue to revive my magic act after a 26-uear hiatus. What’s the new and exciting item I purchased? Well, it’s a fantastic levitation than can handle up to 400 pounds!

To road test it, we even put a 300-pound man (Tom Yurasits) on it and it worked like a dream. There will be video coming shortly. And yes, I am very excited about adding it to my show.

Meeting Jordan O'Grady at the Divers Lung booth.

Meeting Jordan O’Grady at the Divers Lung booth.

 

Our customer and friend Mike Sears, before the Diver's Lung.

Our customer and friend Mike Sears, before the Diver’s Lung.

 

Mike Sears (AFTER) the Diver's Lung experience.

Mike Sears (AFTER) the Diver’s Lung experience.

 

Another victim of the Divers Lung, Steve Axtell.

Another victim of the Divers Lung, Steve Axtell.

 

Axtell Expressions newest puppet, President Obama.

Axtell Expressions newest puppet, President Obama.

 

Stan Allen interviewing Copperfield at Magic LIVE 2015.

Stan Allen interviewing Copperfield at Magic LIVE 2015.

 

Mike Michaels Appearing Motorcycle on display in the Dealer's Room.

Mike Michaels’ Appearing Motorcycle on display in the Dealer’s Room.

 

David Copperfield clearly enjoying himself in the Dealer's Room.

David Copperfield clearly enjoying himself in the Dealer’s Room.

 

A panoramic shot of the Farewell Celebration for Magic LIVE 2015.

A panoramic shot of the Farewell Celebration for Magic LIVE 2015.

Gus’ Garage on Mosasco

We’re just about a week away from appearing at Gus’ Garage on Mosasco in Bakersfield as the Million Dollar Magic Act. My buddy Mark Price (Gus) has assigned that moniker to us. This week will Linda (my assistant) and I will be fine-tuning the act making sure we put out best foot forward in “The Garage”.

Million-Dollar-Act-Promo-Banner

Mark says he’s been getting some great support from the local theatrical community and even has weekly regulars frequenting the theater.

Last week I shared that Garage on Mosasco is a new performance venue for variety performers, concocted, masterminded and spearheaded by our very good friend and comedic tour de force, Mark Price aka Gus Flamingo.

The Hindu Basket Illusion with Linda Davis.

The Hindu Basket Illusion with Linda Davis.

It does seem to go over BIG. Even after all these years.

It does seem to go over BIG. Even after all these years.

Mark (Gus) is billing us as the Million Dollar Magic Act. Here is Mark’s most recent Facebook post:

Coming to Gus’ Garage on Mosasco. (Saturday August 22nd) A very rare opportunity to witness the professional magical duo of Paul Gross & Linda Davis. Their act is a classic in Magic. Full of colorful props, amazing magic and plenty of old fashion belly laughs. You’ll love this show, and so will your friends and family. Seats are very limited, so get your tickets early. 661-304-8920.

They’re on Cloud 9

Cloud 9 is still receiving lots of attention and rightly so. Watch the video. It’s a very impressive prop that can only elevate your magic.

55945-fullLG1

 

Free Worldwide Shipping

We have in IN STOCK and ready to ship anywhere in the world absolutely FREE!

As always, have a great weekend my friends.

More news later,

Paul

 

Magic LIVE, Gus’ Garage & Pinball Machines! Oh My!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 6, 2015 by hocuspoc

Looks like Betty and I will be returning to Las Vegas again to attend Magic LIVE. We just got back from Vegas having gone to see Aerosmith. This time it was NOT cancelled, so one of their most ardent fans, Betty, got to see her favorite band. Me, I’m not such a fan, but my wife loves them, so I am a fan.

From a performer’s perspective, I will say that it was a VERY impressive show. Steven Tyler is pushing 70 years old and gave a fantastic and exceedingly energetic performance, for over 2 hours. Wow!  What great energy he had AND he sounded terrific. He’s still GOT it. I was very impressed.

It was held at the MGM arena with over 16,000 cheering fans. Here’s is a picture that Betty took on her phone.

Steven Tyler delivers a stellar performance in front of a packed crowd at the MGM Arena.

Steven Tyler delivers a stellar performance in front of a packed crowd at the MGM Arena.

Magic LIVE 2015

We’re getting excited about attending Magic LIVE. It’s being held August 9 – 12th in Las Vegas at the Orleans Hotel. And although we are not going as dealers, we will be there as attendees and both my sons, Max & Cole, will be joining Betty and me — each for 2 days — then they’ll take turns overseeing the helm back at Hocus Pocus.

It’s been fourteen years since that first gathering, and this seventh version of what started as a “never-to-be-repeated” convention is bound to be another great place to meet-and-greet the Who’s Who in Magic. Be sure and say “hello”, stop for a chat or talk shop. We’d love to see you, our customer, and fellow magic enthusiast!

Gus’ Garage on Mosasco

Linda and I will be appearing very shortly at a new performance venue, Gus’ Garage on Mosasco, a new performance venue for variety performers, started by our friend and comedy magic genius, Gus Flamingo aka Mark Price. Tim just performed there a few weeks ago with his family show and now it’s my turn. Linda and I will be pulling out the stops with our comedy magic featuring dove productions as well as a beautiful Owen Magic prop, the Hindu Sword Basket.

The Million Dollar Magic Act as it is being billed by Gus Flamingo.

The Million Dollar Magic Act as it is being billed by Gus Flamingo.

At the completion of the Hindu Basket, Linda has changed costumes and I present her with a bouquet of flowers.

At the completion of the Hindu Basket, Linda has changed costumes and I present her with a bouquet of flowers.

Mark (Gus) is billing us as the Million Dollar Magic Act. Here’s Mark’s most recent facebook post:

Coming to Gus’ Garage on Mosasco, Saturday August 22nd, a very rare opportunity to witness the professional magical duo of Paul Gross & Linda Davis. Their act is a classic magic. Full of colorful props, amazing magic and plenty of old-fashioned belly laughs. You’ll love this show, and so will your friends and family.

This act may not be worth a million bucks, but you'll say, "Thanks a Million!" to Gus Flamingo for inviting you to his Garage.

This act may not be worth a million bucks, but you’ll say, “Thanks a Million!” to Gus Flamingo for inviting you to his Garage.

Seating is very limited, so get your tickets early! Call 661-304-8920. to reserve your tickets for the Million Dollar Magic Act.

We scheduled to go on at 8pm. Please come out and see us.

We scheduled to go on at 8pm. Please come out and see us.

Zagorsky Pick-up & Delivery Service

Alan Zagorsky of Owen Magic Supreme will be paying us a visit tomorrow. His visits are always too short, but we’re glad he’s coming back to see us. Alan purchased one of the pinball machines we had on consignment and is returning to pick up another, my Hokus Pokus pinball machine. I’ve had this pinball machine for years and now it’s time for it to go to a new home, namely the Zagorsky residence.

Hokus Pokus is a pinball machine from April 1975, manufactured by Bally Manufacturing Company

Hokus Pokus is a pinball machine from April 1975, manufactured by Bally Manufacturing Company

A close-up of the Hokus Pokus machine.

A close-up of the Hokus Pokus machine.

Glad to see it's going to a good home.

Glad to see it’s going to a good home.

In addition to picking up the pinball machine, Alan will be dropping off some more goodies he found in the depths of the Owen Magic warehouse, so be sure to stay tuned to our email updates as we will be listing these treasures in the next week or so.

As always, have a great weekend my friends. See you at Magic LIVE!

More news later,

Paul