Archive for the ‘Alexander Great’s Sorcerer’s Saturday’ Category

This week’s column is a bit of a departure from my usual themes.  I thought I would take a break from magic theory and discuss the topic that accounts for about 25 percent of the emails I get, and that’s – How To Get Press.  I do appreciate your emails, especially during my long stints on cruises, darting off here and there. It’s amazing how long you save these blogs and comment on my drivel, or at least how late you read my blogs! I’ll always answer your questions, but it may take me awhile.

In Las Vegas where I live, acts that work the strip live here and want to keep their names in the press daily.  The Great Houdini once said, “If you can’t get your name in the newspaper every day, you’ll never be famous.”  Anywhere else in the country it works a little differently. You can always tell when one of the big timers is in town.  If his press people have done their job, the press are often tripping over each other to interview him, shoot some pictures of him doing a trick, etc.  In spite of what you may think, you don’t have to be a Criss Angel, Penn & Teller or a Copperfield to get press coverage of your magical activities. Read the rest of this entry »

I met a lady who was a professional event planner.  She invited me to her house, which was huge. I then realized you could make a lot of money as a professional event planner.  These people know a lot of things and they have more leeway than you might realize.  From the years of the dot-com boom ’til the housing bust, Americans went on a huge party spree. From 1999 to 2007, the average cost of an event climbed from $18,900 to nearly $30,000, according to research firm The Wedding Report. But it wasn’t just about nuptials—more people hired planners for sweet 16s, bar mitzvahs, reunions, and anniversaries. But in the wake of the recession, with many folks still struggling to right their finances, the party may be over. In 2009, the cost of the average wedding cratered at $19,500; in early 2010, it rose to $23,867—still far off its high. “The last 24 months have been very challenging,” says David M. Wood, president of the Association of Bridal Consultants.  Today’s world is one of compounding complexity and digital speed.  Markets and technology are becoming globalized.  A new kind of terrorism, one with potentially worldwide devastating consequences, is creating fear in most every heart.  Think this might affect how people spend on events?  Just walk into any florist and ask, “Do you do weddings” and watch him salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs.  Communities are experiencing confusion and vertigo in values.  Families are being stressed as never before.  As a result, many event planners have had to adapt by bending over backward for today’s cost-conscious customer. Meredith Park, director of sales and event management at Central Park Events in Portland, OR, offers a range of services and prices, from coordinating on just the day of an event for $750 to full wedding planning, starting at $1,500. In fact, today’s clients can ask for just about any level of service they want. “Everything is negotiable,” Park says. Read the rest of this entry »

The Magical Art, in other words “the magician’s art,” appears to be a separate art, distinct from the world of ordinary mortals. Some speak a different language, they have a knowledge of a kind which is only known to a small percentage of the world’s populace, and the majority of such magical folk enjoy every minute of belonging to this fascinating art of magic.

Whatever is done magically, whether it be as a professional, semi­professional, amateur, writer, or inventor, the magical fellow or lady is rewarded in some way. It is not always the fee that is important; there are many other ways of being rewarded besides cash in hand. The professional works for his fees; he has to, it’s his living, and without the fees he starves. The semi-professional has the best of both worlds; he enjoys his normal occupation with its regular income, plus the pleasure of performing magic whenever he feels like doing so, and also getting paid for his services as a magician. The amateur often performs for charity, giving pleasure to his less fortunate fellow humans; his reward is personal satisfaction at doing a good job, and giving enjoyment to others and raising money for a worthy charity. Read the rest of this entry »

Everybody is promoting events on the internet these days.  But what about postal mail?  Is it really cost effective to promote an event with direct mail?  When I got started promoting my magic career, there was no internet. The postage cost to mail a one-ounce, first-class letter was 22¢. Now, it’s up to 48¢.  I used to have a threefold brochure listing “Magic For All Occasions” that I would mail by zip code.  There was so little competition then that I would actually get calls from just mailing these.

But hold on un momentito. The per capita income of the U.S. when I started back in 1984 was $2,231…and…the per capita income now is about $25,400. That means, first-class postage has risen in price by 617%…but…our average per capita income has gone up.

So, when you adjust for inflation, it is actually cheaper to buy a stamp now than it was more than 30 years ago. Trust me, for a “certain” reason, this is going to be a very exciting piece of information (after you finish reading this blog), which pertains to you. But, meanwhile, just for fun, let’s examine the cost of buying a first-class stamp each year all the way back to 1900. Read the rest of this entry »

In 1729, Baltimore was an unincorporated town composed of less than 3,000 buildings and 12,000 residents. By 1791 the big-shouldered boom town was bustling with ship riggers, barrel makers, carpenters, and flour merchants. It wasn’t until December 31, 1796 that the 67-year-old town of Baltimore was officially converted into Baltimore City.  In his booklet, “Magic in Early Baltimore,” Milbourne Christopher noted that the first conjuror to perform in a Baltimore theater was Signior Falconi. During the 1780s, the Italian illusionist dazzled the locals with his amazing feats of legerdemain. One of his most impressive wonders was a Turkish-garbed automaton, which answered questions by way of signs, and predicted the numbers on dice rolled by volunteers from the audience. While Christopher noted that other nameless traveling sleight-of-hand artists had no doubt performed in homes and at the local taverns prior to Falconi’s appearance at the Old Theatre, local magicians were a rarity between the years 1700-1900.

Even in the History of Conjuring and Magic, the internationally known Baltimore magic historian, Dr. Henry Ridgely Evans, conceded that by the early 1880s local amateur conjurors were still “as scarce as hen’s teeth.” At that time there were only two or three wielders of the magic wand, including Evans himself. May 16, 1908 became a landmark event in magic history.  On that date, at Baltimore’s Ford’s Opera House, illusionist Harry Kellar handed over his wand to Howard Thurston, naming him as his successor. From that moment onward Baltimore would become known as the “Magic City.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Each year I attend The Red Diamond Congress to learn.  Sometimes I even purchase a booth and exhibit.  This event is also known as the Exhibit & Event Marketers Association or The E2MA. This year it took place at the Renaissance Orlando at SeaWorld.

This year’s conference was dedicated to highlighting the fascinating world of enterprise engagement in business and its many strategies and tactics.   The event was designed to help organizations in all areas of business profit from this emerging new field that many experts believe will rival advertising in scale.  There were co-located education and exhibit programs addressing key areas of engagement.  This brings us to a question:  Should you take an event planning course?  After seeing just how technical this field has gotten, I think you’ll find the answer to be a qualified “Yes.”

Although I’m not really an event planner, I have worked with a great many of them over the last 30 years and have been slowly educated on the unfaltering exactitude of pulling off something as temperamental as an event.  In a lot of ways it’s like the magic shows that I do.  Entertainers like myself spend every waking hour and minute fretting and tweaking everything right up ’til the second the applause starts,  just so they can come off with the illusion of effortlessness. Read the rest of this entry »

I received an email from Alexandrite Arthur Jameson asking about The Multiplying Bottles Trick.  He wanted to know if I thought it was a good trick for him to perform in his stage show.  Since he took the time to write me and ask about it, I thought I’d include my response and a darn good routine for all of you peruse.  If you’re not familiar with the trick you can view it here.  The Multiplying Bottles, I am told, is credited to Arthur P. Felsman, a well-known Chicago Magic Dealer of the early part of the century.  It laid dormant then until the 1940’s when it was revived by Percy Abbott.  I first witnessed the effect presented by Paul Daniels on a video. The production of nine bottles from the two tubes seemed like a novel trick.  I made mental note that here was an item for future consideration. The price of the set kept many from buying so I knew that once I had my own I would have few competitors.  My dear friend Peter Pit did a great Multiplying Bottles routine.  You can see all of his magic on a DVD called Memoirs.

A few years later, Bert Pratt asked what he could build me in return for a favor, and I suggested a table for Multiplying Bottles and soon a wonderful table some five feet long, 18 inches wide, and 30 inches high, with padded upholstery like an expensive brand with a black felt top was ready for use. Not to bore you with details of the development of the routine, but let me outline the scene as it would be presented: Read the rest of this entry »

Would you follow cooking tips from your auto mechanic, or take tax advice from your plumber?  What about event planning tips from a magician?  I’ve been performing magic for more than 30 years, and in that time I have seen it all:  from the energetic, super-organized planner racing around with clipboard in hand, checking off everything on her list, to the stressed-out procrastinator tearing her hair out while desperately dialing every contact on her phone to see who’s available to make a last-minute run to the printer for more programs.  As I’ve stood by waiting to perform my magic for meetings, parties, and everything in between, I’ve noticed a thing or two about event planning.  For one thing, I’ve realized that event planning is no joke—it’s not a profession you can just jump into and succeed at (although plenty of people try).  Event planning takes serious dedication, organization, and a certain finesse.

I am not an event planner.  Still, after all these years observing event planners and observing the details that do (or sometimes do not) go into all sorts of gatherings, I amassed a series of notes that I eventually compiled into a list of event blunders that all event planners should avoid.  Even the best event planners sometimes find it difficult to step out of their roles as planners and look at their events from a fresh perspective.  Entertainers like me can offer some useful “outsider” advice, some of which experienced planners may already consider on a regular basis, and some of which perhaps was considered at one time, but was pushed to the back burner and forgotten.  Newbies out there may not have even considered a lot of the tips I offer.  So if you haven’t already done so, check out the blunders to avoid in the Event Blunders blog series that I wrote over the past year, but before you do, listen in as I discuss event planning with corporate comedian, online entrepreneur, and host of the informative and entertaining podcast, The Savvy Event Planner, Tom Crowl. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone has heard of Mandrake the Magician. Well, this week I thought I’d tell you the story of Velvet Mandrake, his lead assistant.  You will get a feel for the adventurous life of a magician’s assistant.  This information was told by Lon Mandrake, her son.  In fact if you want to, you can compare her adventures with another assistant’s memoirs, those of my wife Elena.

Velvet was born in Chicago, Illinois, and was brought up in a show business background. Her mother and father were a vaudeville team in Chicago, and she was one of Mandrake’s best assistants.  Velvet had acting and dancing lessons and performed with dance lines at the Chicago Theatre and in plays, including touring plays such as “Maid in the Ozarks.” For a change of pace, in 1946, she joined Harry Blackstone’s magic show as an assistant for a season. You can read about Blackstone’s main assistant Arial Freed in this article.

It turned out to be great fun as there were several young women on the show and they got along splendidly. They traveled by train to many major cities in North America. Velvet remembers Harry Blackstone Junior at age nine visiting his father and being given candy by the young assistants after each show. Coincidentally, they also performed in Vancouver, British Columbia this particular season which many years later would become her home. Read the rest of this entry »

You may want to consider registering a special event domain for your event.  This has several advantages and makes planning easier and more effective. Whatever it is – your big wedding, any other big family event, a festival, a course/training event, a celebration event in your local community, an international seminar or conference event, a campaign event/promotion event, a school class event – it is much easier to find a proper domain name for an event website than for a permanent website.  In many cases you can use the formula: [] or .net,, etc.

You can use the formula: [] or [] or for your wedding event [] or [] You can use this formula or similar ideas for domain registration for events of any kind, whether special events, annual events, or more frequent events.  Think of: A course day for training: [], A sports day: [], and so on for all events.  If your event is an ongoing event, year after year (don’t think of your wedding!) and you can get a really good domain name, then register this domain name, and use it year after year for the annual event. This is fine for the branding of the domain name, as well as for the re-use of printed material, internet links etc.  Read the rest of this entry »

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