Friday, October 27, 2006


Well, it's almost here! Halloween, that is. I remember years ago, before there were all these Halloween Specialty Stores, Halloween was one of the biggest holidays for a walk-in magic shop. You would start buying and planning a year in advance for all your Halloween sales. Starting every year, on August 25th, we would move every single stick of non-Halloween inventory, lock, stock, and barrel, out of our shop and fill it with Halloween merchandise. In five short days, on September 1, we were Fresno's official Halloween Headquarters! We were so packed with customers, you could barely move from one counter to another! We used to hire a security guard just to stand watch at the door and do crowd control. We were located in a shopping center at the time, and the lines would go clear around the shopping center. I wish I took pictures. Then, on November 1, the day after Halloween, we would have to close for one full week to remove all the Halloween inventory and fill the shop back up with magic items to prepare for the oncoming Christmas season. It sure was a lot of work but definitely worth it! Today, we are no longer in the Halloween business with the advent of the Internet, but the magic business keeps us busy all year 'round!

Gene Simmons

Kiss. The famous rock star, Gene Simmons, paid a visit to Fresno yesterday to promote his new line of men's and women's colognes. The promotion was held at Gottschalk's department store. My daughter, Renee, who manages the men's and women's shoe department was his official liaison. She called me to tell me what a gentleman he was and even went out of his way to spend an extra 2 hours with fans, taking photos and signing autographs. Renee took several photos herself, and hopefully I'll be able to post them here next week.

Speaking of my daughters, my youngest daughter, Aimee, just turned 21. OH NO! To celebrate, she and her sister, Renee, took off for Las Vegas this morning. I really do hope that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas...

My oldest son, Cole, will be visiting us from St. Mary's College this weekend to help celebrate Halloween. He spoke to Betty last night to tell us he's coming down, and he already has his itinerary filled for the weekend. We're hoping to at least get a couple of hours with him before he has to go back.

Max now has a new interest (go figure). Besides cars, girls, and various pets, he just acquired 3 quail. When the Fresno Fair was here and we went to the exhibits, Max went nuts over the quail exhibit. He took the phone numbers off the cages and called them. The rest is history, and history now resides in our back yard alongside our doves.

The Prestige

This week, Betty and I took in The Prestige with Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman. If you haven't seen it yet, RUN OUT AND DO IT TODAY! The movie is terrific, and the ending is even more so! With movies like The Prestige and The Illusionist, it's fantastic to see Hollywood take a closer look at magic and its rich history. There are so many details in The Prestige that you magicians should be able to recognize them all. In fact, it was so good, I'm thinking about seeing it again.

That about wraps it up. Don't forget to set your clocks BACK (yea, we gain an hour!) this Saturday evening before you go to bed. So stock up on your Halloween candy and get ready to trick or treat!

Until next time,


Friday, October 20, 2006

What a Weekend!

Sorry for not posting last Friday, but as you all know, we were in Hollywood, CA. to attend the 2nd Annual Magic Castle Swap Meet. Betty and I left early friday morning followed by Mike and his girlfriend, Julie. We arrived around 11:30 AM and headed over to Musso & Frank's for what's now become our traditional luncheon. Everyone was there, including Pete Biro, Joe Porper, Glenn and Melinda Farrington, Chuck and Gerald Kirchner of Magic City, Lou Hirschorn of Disney Studios, LA radio personality Shotgun Tom Kelly, Rick and Josette Burr, Steven Steele, Robert Baxt, and Carl Ballantine. We started the lunch off with a toast to Carl Ballantine, wishing him a belated 89th birthday and presented him with a special gift, a custom embroidered hat with his name and WGM printed on it. He immediately put the hat on and as always, kept us entertained throughout the luncheon.

The official Hocus Pocus Hollywood Hangout

From left to right: Shotgun Tom Kelly, Gerald Kirchner, me, Chuck Kirchner, Glenn Farrington, and Carl Ballantine (seated)

All the gang at the Hocus Pocus Luncheon

A view from the other end of the table

Josette Burr chats it up with Joe Porper

Mike and his girlfriend, Julie

After lunch, we headed back to our hotel where a group of us sat and caught up. We talked about the magic business and how it's changed over the years. Before we knew it, it was time to get dressed and head over to the Castle, where we had one of the finest dinners ever! After dinner we caught the Palace of Mystery show. Whit Haydn was the MC, and this was the first time I'd seen him perform in his new character. He was great and brought the house down several times. Other performers were Eric Buss, who did a hilarious Pogo Stick routine and his lounge singer closer had everyone rolling! Next was Murray, the CD Guy, who performed several illusions and some unique effects using CDs. After that, we all caught some acts in the Parlor of Prestidigitation and the Close-Up Room. Before we knew it, it was almost midnight. Time to go to sleep to rise early for the Swap Meet.

The gang at the Magic Castle

We all met at 8:30 AM and stood in line talking with people like Jay Leslie, Chuck Kirchner, Dave Baram, and Burton Sperbur, anxiously awaiting the doors to open. Once the doors opened, it was complete pandemonium! I immediately went downstairs to meet Joe Porper, where he showed me his new coin bender, which you can read about HERE! He also showed me a new deck switcher and several items soon to be released. As always, Hocus Pocus will be the first dealer to bring all these items to you. Joe and I even gave Mike a birthday present: one of Joe's new Salt Pour gimmicks, which Mike still walks around palming everywhere he goes!

Eagerly awaiting the opening doors

Joe Porper, the master of all he surveys

The crowd pours in to check out all the vendors' wares

Inside the Seance Room

Upstairs, I ran into my good friends, Dick and Gwen Barry. Dick is one of the most creative people in magic, as he's always coming up with something new. He was excited to show me his new and improved version of his Snake Basket, which you can find HERE. He told me that he was only producing 18 of them, and we could have 12. The rest were for his customers. I immediately took them all, and we're almost sold out of them! After visiting with a few more friends and picking up some hidden treasures, it was time to go. Can't wait until next April to attend the next one!

Dick Barry showing me his new Snake Basket

Todd Karr, me, and Pete Biro

Robert Baxt and I working on a hot deal over the phone

So in other exciting news, after many years of requests, we have finally added a new section to our web site. It's called Meet the Staff, and you can see everyone who works for Hocus Pocus and learn a little more about them HERE! It's just another window for you to peek into the goings on here at Hocus Pocus and the people behind the scenes. Now you can finally put a face to all the names.

In the meantime, the holiday sales have already begun here at Hocus Pocus as it's obvious that many of you are planning well ahead. Remember, it's adding little touches like these that will set you apart from the competition. So as we head into the holiday season, start pre-planning for your events now.

This weekend is Betty's birthday. I'm going to take her out to her favorite restaurant tomorrow evening and hopefully, sometime this weekend also catch The Prestige with her.

So there you have it, another exciting week and weekend at Hocus Pocus and another exciting weekend to come! Thanks again for taking time to read this blog and thanks to you who keep sending me nice letters, emails, and comments.

Until next time,


Monday, October 16, 2006

Await the Return

We've just returned from our weekend in Hollywood at the Magic Castle, and we will tell you all about the juicy details this Friday, October 20th. Stay tuned.


Friday, October 06, 2006

The Final Countdown...

It's official! One week from today, Mike and I will be in Hollywood gearing up for the semi-annual Magic Castle Swap Meet! Mike's bringing along the camera, so there'll be lots of photos to post, and of course, we'll let you know of all the happenings while we were there. Don't forget, if you have the chance to attend, it is next Saturday, October 14th (which is also Mike's birthday).

On the home front, Max was excited to be able to participate in the Fair with his part in the Blade Box Illusion. However, when he began rehearsing, he found he was too tall to fit inside the box. Not that he didn't give it the ol' college try; he really wanted to do this. It killed him to have to give up the opportunity and offer it to someone else more... small.

Just got this email from Paul Stone about an upcoming event he's been advertising in all the magazines. If you're a professional entertainer, we highly recommend this event to you, and as a special bonus, if you decide to sign up and mention Hocus Pocus, you'll receive a $50.00 discount on your registration fee for the event.

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The Magic Round Table Forums have been growing exponentially since we first announced its return. We've added such notables as Marc deSouza, John Mendoza, Peter Loughran, and even the Magic Broadcast! We encourage your participation simply by clicking on the link below:

HOT BUTTON, HOT DEALS! This is a new feature of the web site located on the front page, and it is dedicated to major deals every week on many new and exciting products! For example, this week we showcase The Black Widow and That Bottle Production at a vastly reduced price. Every week there'll be something new as the items will change, so do yourself a favor and check it out every week as the prices are good for only that amount of time.

Spoke to Robert Baxt again yesterday, and he and Ballantine still plan on visiting to play the horses at the big Fresno Fair. They plan on showing up on Wednesday or Thursday, and then we'll all caravan down to Southern California for the Magic Castle Swap Meet. It will be great having lunch with them at Musso & Frank's along with the likes of Joe Porper, Pete Biro, Gerald and Chuck Kirchner, Doug Malloy, Rick Burr, Los Angeles radio personality Shotgun Tom Kelly, Glenn Farrington and his wife, Mike and his girlfriend Julie, and of course, my wife and me. Who knows who else will show up; this luncheon gets bigger and bigger every year, and everyone has a blast!

It's been extremely cold here as the weather was 56 degrees and foggy this morning. We're starting to switch to sweats and jeans and putting the short sleeve shirts and shorts in the drawers. I absolutely love this time of year and relish it because it never lasts long, although the cool weather is a welcomed change.

Before I go, don't forget to check out the web site as a ton of new products have hit the shelves this week, and they are certainly exciting. Do yourself a favor and watch the video of the late Billy McComb performing his Half Dyed Hank routine at the Magic Castle HERE!

So there you have it! Another exciting week at Hocus Pocus and another exciting week to come! I hope you and your family have a safe and fun-filled weekend.

Until next time,