Friday, April 29, 2005

So Much Magic, So Little Time

I know I say this a lot, but I mean it every time, and here it is again: What a week! Work, work, work, work, WORK! We've all logged in some miles and earned our keep this week, that's for sure, and it's all thanks to you. You've kept us busy throughout the dreaded month of April! I say "dreaded" because April is notorious for tax time, and chances are, everyone digs deeper into their pocket for Uncle Sam.

Betty and I enjoyed our trip to San Francisco last week. The weather was beautiful and perfect. Not too many people, and Lewis Black's show was so great, my jaws still ache from laughing so hard. If Lewis ever comes to your area, drop what you are doing and go see his show.

New products keep coming in faster than I can even keep up with this week! There are tons of new DVDs, including the new Greg Wilson, Aldo Colombini, Ross Bertram, and more. Check out the website for details! Another item we're excited about that will be coming in the next couple of weeks is the new Gilligan's Prediction. Stop what you're doing right now and head on over to the website and see this thing in action! I predict a total sell-out of our first shipment, so pre-order yours today! Another thing to talk about is Jay Leslie's terrific new kid show item, "To the Moon!" Created exclusively for Hocus Pocus, every kid show worker will want one of these as it is perhaps one of the best sucker effects to come along in quite some time! This is a quality piece of apparatus that is well-built and you'll be able to perform it in mere minutes! Jay has only produced 12 units, which we've acquired so get your today!

I just purchased a small private collection of antique magic that I'll be sending to Hocus Pocus Online Members soon. Currently, we are looking to also purchase older magic. If you have any older magic props you are not using, give me a call toll-free at 800-407-4040. I'm willing to pay cash or give you store credit -- your choice! We're also looking for the following items:

Collector's Workshop Khyber Kobra
Collector's Workshop Jumbo Card on Seat
Collector's Workshop Gilded Cage
Origami Illusion
Charvet No Assistant Black Nest of Boxes

We have a new employee starting here on Monday. Her name is Nancy Weismann, and it is her voice you'll be hearing on the phones. Nancy comes to us from the Vendo company. Nancy's a very nice and professional person, so when you talk to her, make sure you give her a warm Hocus Pocus hello. I think we've also found our replacement for Jason London. Although we're not at liberty to reveal who it is yet, you can rest-assured that he is a full-time working professional who has made his career out of magic! Mike and I are very excited to have this individual climb aboard, and I predict a long and happy future with him! We're in the process of working out the final details with him, and once done we will be making the announcement, so stay tuned!

After doing this for 30 + years, you sometimes wonder how well you are doing. We're kept in check by customer comments and suggestions, and we read and listen to them all. This morning I opened up my email and found this letter from a long time customer, and it really put a spring in my step:

Hey - this is a letter that is to say "thanks" for all the things you've done to help me along. You are an amazing entity in this realm of magic business, and, well, I truly hope you know what you are worth. As far as I am concerned, there is no magic shop except for your little realm sitting there in Fresno.

I pass the word on the various group boards I am on about Hocus Pocus every time a person comes along and asks for a dealer that is good. Anyone starts talking about buying new routines, I tell them about you. I do it on boards, I do it verbally for folk I talk with and to. Still, I wish there was more I could do to help you. Word of mouth is one thing, buying the routines is another, really doesn't support you the way you deserve to be upheld in this crazy business.

I wonder how many performers in our business really appreciate or understand the depth of what you do for us/them? I cannot think of any other dealer who is so directly dedicated to providing the best in material, the best in trade situations, the best in customer satisfaction than you. And, I've dealt with two or three major sources on repeated business. Over the last few months we have briefly touched base on them. And, each and every one of those dealers is not half the merchant you are. There is no doubt about this, Paul, you are simply, THE BEST.

I appreciate the time you take out of your schedule to spend the moments on the phone or emails in talking with me. I know you are consistently busy and have amazing levels of other wheeling and dealing you have to attend to in order to ensure that your shop has the most up to date materials, the most reliable effects, the most consistent inventory in order to meet the demands of a mail order clientele that you it from an inside order fill to a drop ship from a manufacturer countless miles away. Having done a share of shipping and receiving many years ago (when I was working temp jobs at a younger point in my life), well, I know the type of dedication and hours it takes to stay on top of that type of duties.

Another point of impressiveness is the trust you have in your staff there with you. I do not see that very often in any form of small business organization. There is a well given distribution of authority at your place...which should, theoretically, help you handle the higher end of the management easier. How you do this, with a wife, with kids, with a family...amazes me. What you are running is something that seems to demand your attention 24 hours a day of your being. You must live doubly hard to achieve these things. Wow. That is pretty outstanding about you.

Anyways, this is a brief email to touch base and pass on my thoughts and thanks to you. I am proud to be a part of your clientele and represent you to the fellow performers I meet in this world...even if it is on a "word of mouth" basis.

There's a lot I could say...I'll keep that for another letter someplace further along the way.

The best to you -


Wow. It's letters like this that make it all worthwhile. Thanks to all of you and to you, Kym, who have helped make Hocus Pocus what it is today.

Until next time,


Thursday, April 21, 2005

On the Road Again

"On the Road Again" is a great title, because if you remember last week, we headed south to Hollywood, California for the great, semi-annual Magic Castle Swap Meet. As tradition merited, we had our annual Friday lunch at Musso & Frank's. Everyone was there: Gerald and Chuck Kirchner, owners of Magic City, Robert Baxt, R. Paul Wilson, Joe Porper, Pete Biro, Lou Hirchorn, and Louis St. Pierre of Hollywood Magic, the legendary Carl Ballantine, and late guest arrival, Geno Munari of Houdini Magic shops! One of the great highlights was seeing Joe Porper and Louis St. Pierre renew their friendship as they hadn't seen each other in 30 years. Our sides were splitting as they rekindled old stories of shooting pool together and even being tossed in jail! Joe then demonstrated his latest product, the Folding Key (you may have noticed it on the web site already) and blew everyone away! This is yet another example of the genius machinist Joe really is!

After lunch, the whole gang walked across the street to Hollywood Magic with Louis! I was honored when Louis took me upstairs to the famous "Locked Room," where I was privvy to one of the largest collections of antique magic and books I've ever seen in one place! Louis is a great guy and really loves magic! Afterwards, it was back to the hotel for a little R&R with Louis, Chuck, Gerald, and the rest of the gang.

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Louis St. Pierre and me

After we all got some rest, it was dinner with the Princess of Magic herself, Irene Larsen!

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Louis St. Pierre, Chuck Kirchner, and Irene Larsen

Later, it was showtime at the Magic Castle, where I had the pleasure of seeing a truly unique young man named Arthur Trace! He performed a manipulation act with a large, abstract painting. I've seen a lot of magic acts in my lifetime, and I have never seen anything like this! After the performance, Dale Hindman was informing us that the AMA was going to sponsor Arthur to go to FISM with this act! I guarantee you will be hearing a lot about this exceptionally talented young man!

The next day, Saturday, we got up at the crack of dawn to stand in line for the Swap Meet. I always get to talk to my old friends like Frank Thurston while I wait in line. There weren't as many dealers as usual this time around, but there were still some good deals to be had! The next Swap Meet is in September, and you can bet we'll be there!

This week has really flown by! Lots of new things we're really excited about, including Devin Knight & Al Mann's Glass Box Prediction! This will be available the first week in May, and already everyone is talking about it. We've already started taking pre-orders. Go to our website and read all about the details! Just click on the banner and you're there!

Another exciting product we received this week is called "Child's Play," and it's anything BUT! I predict this will be one of the hottest products we've had in a while. It's so practical and easy to use, you'll have this with you every single day. Terrific for a guy who is a table-hopper, mentalist, and even stage performer! The price is so low, I still can't believe it! Can you tell I like this item? Check it out on the website as well.

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Dirk Losander and Luna Shimada

Congratulations to Dirk Losander and Luna Shimada! I just hung up with Losander, and he announced that they are expecting another child! Yahoo! It couldn't happen to two nicer people and parents! We send them all our well-wishes.

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Lewis Black

Oh yeah, and the "On the Road Again?" Betty and I are heading north tomorrow to San Francisco to see Lewis Black, one of my favorite comedians (Mike is extremely jealous as Lewis is Mike's favorite comedian of all time)! Just looking at his picture makes me laugh! Betty and I will be having dinner at our favorite restaurant, Scoma's, and walk by the beach before seeing the show at the Warwick Theatre.

So there you have it: quite a full week, and who knows what's in store for the week to come? There's always something exciting happening at Hocus Pocus!

Until next time,


Thursday, April 14, 2005

Topical Tax Time Tips Today!

Hey everyone,

I know that today is tax day, and for those of you expecting a refund, what better way to spend your windfall than on some of our great magic items? (And of course, for those who have heavy tax bills, what better way to relieve those tax day blues than with some of our great magic items?) :-)

We're happy here. Today, Betty and I head off for Hollywood, California where we will be having lunch at the famous old Hollywood restaraunt, "Musso and Franks" with many dear magic friends, including Chuck and Gerald Kirchner from Magic City, Louie St. Pierre, owner of Hollywood Magic, famous comedy magician and actor Carl Ballantine, Robert Baxt, Lou Hirschorn, R. Paul Wilson, and a host of others.

Tonight, we'll be having dinner at the Magic Castle with the Queen of the Castle herself, Irene Larsen, and catching Goldfinger and Dove who are starring there in the Palace of Mystery Show.

I also want to thank all our listeners who heard us on the Magic Broadcast earlier this week when The Mike on the Mike show starring our very own Mike Giusti had Robert Baxt and me as guests as we discussed fond magic memeories of my hero, Harry Blackstone Jr. and gave away tons of valuable prizes from our list of exclusive magic like the Baxt Cell Phone Suprise and Paul Kozak's Superior Salt Pour gimmick! Congratulations to all the winners!

As a matter of fact, Robert has been visiting this week as we work on his Cell Phone Surprise trick to ship next week. He's grimacing in this photo because those hammer/magic wands he's holding in that box are heavy (and funny). Later, Robert had a few spare moments and decided to make some extra dough on the streets of Fresno plying his three card monte skills. Beware if this man offers to let you win:

Other guests visting this past week included Australian magician Pete Brown who, on his first trip to the United States, dropped by to see us and walked the aisles and aisles of Hocus Pocus to purchase all the great stuff we have here, that he can't get "down under."

Pete and me.

For the rest of you, you may have noticed a new look to our website, and there are more changes on the way. We want to do our best to make your online shopping experience as pleasant as possible, and I ask you to let us know what you think about our site.

On top of all the other things that were going on this week, did I mention we shipped several hundred PSI Sharpies? Jan, my sister, who's in chargeof shipping in the warehouse, tells me her fingers are raw from packing and shipping them all. In my sleep I'm still seeing PSI Sharpies. Yikes!

That's all for now. Looking forward to telling you all about our trip next time!


Friday, April 08, 2005

Now We're Having Fun!


Robert Baxt here! I'm hijacking the blog from Paul. He is so overwhelmed with response to the latest products we have here like the new Terminator Wallet and Baxt's Cell Phone Surprise (a little self-promotion never hurt) that he's probably never gonna' know that I'm doing this.

I've actually left my home in Hollywood, CA. down the street from the world famous Magic Castle and I'm here in beautiful Fresno, CA working on my latest release with Hocus Pocus.

Mikey-pooh here. Now it's my turn to do what I do best: take what's Paul's and make it mine, ALL MINE, BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA and all that stuff!

I've been having tons o' fun lately with Daniel Garcia's Torn DVD, Daniel's take on the now-classic Torn & Restored Card plot. Having practiced it for about a week now, tonight it will make its debut at one of my weekly restaurant gigs. Upon showing the first and second restoration sequences to Paul and some of the employees here at the shop and FRYING them completely, I'd say the signs are pointing to "all clear!" Keep in mind that Paul HATES card tricks and was blown away when I showed it to him. If you are a fan of the T&R Card and have not purchased Daniel Garcia's Torn DVD, do so immediately and without fail (it also contains Daniel's original VHS version converted to DVD as well)!

Also, some HUGE news:

Tune in to the Magic Broadcast this Tuesday for the Mike on the Mike Show, hosted by yours truly, where my guests will be none other than Robert Baxt and Paul Gross! Not only will you be hearing tons of performance stories and some terrific magic history, you'll also have a chance to win one of the following six prizes we are giving away:

1. Ascanio & Adventures of 51 Magicians & a Fakir Books

2. Portable Card Sword by Jay Leslie

3. Bill in Ice by Chance Wolf

4. Baxt's Cell Phone Surprise

5. Electronic Crasher

6. Kozak Salt Pour

That's $820 dollars worth of quality magic! Each and every product and description can be found by going to the Hocus Pocus Web site...

Tune in to the Magic Broadcast to find out how to win!

I'm out!

HEY WAIT A MINUTE! Robert Baxt typing again, how did Mike Giusti hijack my hijacking of the blog?!?! (He's not just good, he's VERY good!) Just wanted to add that the next project for Hocus Pocus and me will be my booklet, "10 Ways 2 Be Funny" for magicians and other performers. It'll be available before Summer. So until the next time Paul leaves the computer unguarded, I just want to say a big sincere "Thank You" to Paul and Betty and the whole Gross Family as well as the staff: Mike, Jan, Nick, Louie, Jay, and all the rest for making me feel so welcome here!

Nice try, guys. You didn't think that I'd let you get the last word in, did you? This is Paul, and I wanted to let everyone know that it's been a lot of fun having Robert around this week. The week has indeed flown by. In other exciting news, we will be carrying the entire AB Stagecraft Line of Mentalism from Mr. Paul Alberstat. As many of you know, Paul is a full-time performer, and all of the material from the AB Stagecraft line is real-world, audience-tested material. Watch our web site starting Monday for these products to begin appearing!

Talk about products appearing, have you checked out the web site lately? I've had Mike running so fast and so hard this past week, that I think he's lost 10 pounds in the process. When I cautiously approached his desk today to ask him a question, here was the look he gave me:

What does that mean? Just joking. Mike's one of the hardest working guys here. I know because his fingers hit those keys so hard and fast, his fingers are 2 inches shorter than when the week started.

Don't forget, next weekend is the big Magic Castle Swap Meet, and as always, I'm looking forward to our lunch on Friday, the day before. The whole gang will be at Musso & Frank's: Robert Baxt, Carl Ballantine, R. Paul Wilson, Joe Porper, Pete Biro, Chuck and Gerald Kirchner from Magic City, Louis St. Pierre - owner and Godfather of Hollywood Magic, Betty, and myself. Remember, if you are at the Swap Meet Saturday and you see me searching through all the great things there, be sure to stop me and say hello.

So there you have it and there it is: Fun, Fun, Fun! I can't wait for next week. And hey -- don't forget to listen to Mike, Robert, and I on the Magic Broadcast on Tuesday, April 12 at 9:00 PM!

Until next time,


Friday, April 01, 2005

No Foolin' Here!

Friday, April Fool's Day, and my son, Max, is in high gear. As you may remember awhile back, I told you he was the joke and novelty king. Last night, the phone at home was ringing off the hook. I asked Betty who it was who kept calling, and she told me it was Max's friends placing their orders for some April Fool's Day pranks! You should have been there this morning to see Max loading Betty's car with boxes of novelties and jokes to deliver to his friends at school this morning. It was hilarious, but it also made me very proud. Max is definitely a chip off the ol' block.

What do you get when you mix R. Paul Wilson and Joe Porper? Simple: the new Terminator Wallet! Last November, Mike and I had the pleasure of witnessing the first working models from Paul and Joe! Even then we knew they were on to something special! The prototypes themselves were amazing, and now it's perfection! If you are looking for a way to bend signed, borrowed coins without any funny moves, switches, or awkward moments, the Terminator Wallet is made just for you. Joe and Paul are producing only 35 Terminator Wallets as an exclusive to Hocus Pocus, and as I write this, we have already sold 11! If interested, give me a call or check it out on the web site.

Something else I'm really excited about are the Gladiator and Knight Swords Through Neck! We received them yesterday and the quality is outstanding! This is not the typical Sword Through Neck you're used to seeing; these things look and feel like real, heavy, Victorian-style swords! Even the blades look real (not like tape measures) and are as close to solid metal as you can get! You'll have no fear waving these things around while onstage to prove they are genuine. Definitely worth taking the time to check out!

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Special guest Robert Baxt will be gracing us with his presence here at Hocus Pocus for two weeks beginning Monday, April 4th. He's working on his new DVD for the fraternity: "How to Be Funny" as well as his next exclusive to trick "Baxt's Cell Phone Surprise" in which a non-stooged cell phone goes off during your show and you take a real, honest to goodness, not a plant, cell phone from an unsuspecting spectator and destroy it to thunderous applause! So, when next you phone us, you might just hear Robert's signature "Hello, Hocus Pocus, this is Robert Baxt speaking." I'm sure Robert will not only bring his trademarked professionalism, but high humor as well. We all look forward to his appearance!

Two weeks from today, I'll be heading to Hollywood for the Magic Castle Swap Meet held on Saturday, April 16th. If you're there, say hello. Of course, we'll have photos like last time, so look forward to the coverage in the coming weeks.

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In life, we all have the pleasure of meeting and knowing great people. I had the pleasure of knowing Jason London for the last 5 or so years. Jason is a great guy with a terrific sense of humor and an incredible knowledge of magic. This week, Jason had a fortunate opportunity to accept an offer he couldn't refuse (as the Godfather would say) to work for Pelco Co. Pelco is one of the world's largest security companies and this is one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for both Jason and his family. We'll miss Jason as I'm sure all of you will and hope you'll join us in wishing Jason all the very best in his new endeavor.

Tonight, I'll go home and tippy-toe around the house, in hopes of avoiding myriad traps Max has undoubtedly set for me.

Until next time,