Monthly archives for July, 2012

High School Course Ending Soon and TWO REVIEWS: The Real Deal & Professional Backdrop System

Howdy All!

I’m excited to say that once again, I have BEATEN my pre-release deadline for my latest product, “How To Make A Ton Of Money Performing In High Schools!” I have shipped all pre-orders to Hocus Pocus via Priority Mail, so I expect Hocus Pocus to receive them tomorrow or Monday and then they’ll get shipped out to the pre-order customers. THANK YOU for ordering! I know in this day & age, pre-ordering sometimes gets a bad rap due to certain bumps in the road, so I always try to beat my own deadlines.

With that being said, even though the product is available NOW, I am going to extend the $50 savings deadline til NEXT FRIDAY, one week from today’s (July 27, 2012) post, so if you want to save $50, place your order ASAP. High schools are a REALLY rewarding market from an artistic and financial standpoint IF you have the right programs, and I give you two COMPLETE programs with the course covering two red hot topics high school clients need and want for their events.

On to this week’s reviews. I’m doing two reviews this week because both are going to be short as there are no magic secrets or techniques to dance around, so I can be pretty open & honest with both.

The first is..THE REAL DEAL by Paul Romhany. It retails for $49.95 (but you can save if you are an online member!)

MY THOUGHTS: I’m going to right to it because there are no angles, no physical techniques, etc to go over. In short, this book gives you a ton of practical, real-world advice for becoming and remaining      a working pro.

Here’s just some of what is covered in this massive book:

- passports and visas
- contact lenses
- microphones
- sound systems
- packing for the cruise gig
- Apps you must have (and I agree!!)
- using mobile devices overseas
- general performing tips for beginners
- avoiding jet lag
- seat assignments
- air sickness
- air points
- avoiding air headaches
- fear of flying
- carry-on essentials
- how to become a better performer
- making more money from magic
- good posture
- travel mistakes to avoid
- voice tips for performing
- health on the road
- tips for touring your own show
- better business cards
- self-promotion
- using your website to get work
- social media tips for performers
- tips for radio interviews

And that’s just a small section out of the table of contents…and that’s just a speck of what Paul writes about…and there’s a loooooong list of contributers who have all contributed their own road stories, pro tips, performing tips, money tips, marketing / advertising tips, and oh-so-much-more.

To read the ad copy suggests the book will include a bunch of amusing road stories and while there are really cool pro working stories, the fact is this book is so much more.

This book belongs in any working pro’s library. It’s what I consider to be foundational – if you aspire to be a pro, you NEED this book. I’ve been a full time pro for 9 years and I was horrified at all of the things I discovered I WASN’T doing after reading this book!

It’s going to be real tough to top this book as far as “best releases of 2012″ goes. I may have to create a new list, “best trick or prop or routine” list as this book is unreal.

10 out of 10. Buy this book!!

On to the second review – it’s the Professional Backdrop System available from Hocus Pocus for $899 (unless you’re an online member in which case you can save a ton!!) Three colors are available – red, blue and black. I chose the blue.

I’ve used backdrops in the past – usually a photographer’s frame with the backdrop cloth threaded on it. It always looks good, but takes time to set up – often 5-10 minutes. That doesn’t sound like a lot but on those stressful multi-school days, time is important! So, I bought this with time-saving in mind.

QUALITY: The quality of the cloth material is out of this world – nice, neat stitching, good quality material, and the metal expanding frame is built very well, too. The engineering is very impressive. The provided carrying bag is nicely built too and – this is big – the bag is big enough that you can easily get the cloth and expanding frame back into the bag without a specific, hard-to-remember folding pattern for the cloth – just stuff in to the bag. This is good as with a camping tent, for example, the damn bag is so small you must fold the tent JUST SO to get it back into the bag. It’s REALLY annoying! So, the builders of the backdrop really got that right.

SET-UP TIME: After some struggling (which I’ll detail in a later paragraph) I can say that after some rehearsal, I can get the backdrop up in about 3-4 minutes and broken down and packed into the provided bag (also great quality) in about one minute. I expect my time getting the thing up & ready will go down, too, as I become more familiar with it.

INSTRUCTIONS: I’m glad this was a backdrop and not a trick, as the directions are horrendous. Check out Step 9′s instructions:

“CAUTION” When does not fold or spread: Don’t fold or spread. Stop folding or spread. PLEASE UNFOLD. And spread again or fold again, please.”

And I thought Step 7 was pretty out there, too:

“FOLD: Hold the frame evenly with both hands. And down slant by same power.”

Are you freakin’ kidding me?? I read that to my wife and she said, “Hey, it’s like that Star Trek episode where those aliens spoke in stories!”

It did take me a bit to figure out how to secure the cloth to the frame so it stays in place during the expansion of the frame (mind you, the sucker gets tall REALLY quick and I don’t plan on carrying a ladder with me to gigs).

All in all, a really nice, professional addition to the visual appeal of your act…just don’t expect a lot from the directions!

I’ll give this a 9 out of 10 – REALLY high quality product but I am taking away a point for the horrendous instructions!

High School Course, Murder By Magic and REVIEW: Read-A-Libre By Lay Leslie

Hi all,

This week’s blog will be a little rushed as I’m heading out the door to perform and have been swamped all week with hypnotherapy clients and putting the finishing touches on “How to Make a Ton of Money Performing in High Schools!”

I’m REALLY happy with how this is turning out, although it’s a little frustrating as I’ll be writing along and think, “Oh, I never to cover topic X, Y and Z, ” so it keeps getting longer and longer! I sat down when I started working on the project with a long list of toics I wanted to cover, and the darn list keeps getting longer!

The good news is I should be finished with the course by the end of the weekend or sometime next week at the very latest. Those of you who have placed pre-release orders, THANK YOU!! I’m sure you’ll LOVE the course and getting two completely scripted programs ain’t bad either!

I also want to thank my friend Paul Romhany for his kind words about the new high school course. He’s seen big chunks of the as-yet-not-quite finished project and his support is so appreciated.

Paul also mentioned in his blog last week my Murder By Magic. Right now, it’s not available on the Hocus Pocus website, but if the interest is still there (and apparently it is because people are asking Paul his opinion), I may re-release it. If you’re interested, email me at If interest is high enough, I may allow Hocus Pocus to put it back up.

On to this week’s review: it’s Read-A-Libre by Jay Leslie. It’s available from Hocus Pocus for $375.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You get the two stacks of READ letter blocks, gimmicks, the tube, a DVD of the performance script and written instructions.

QUALITY OF PROPS: I own Jay’s standard version of Cube-A-Libre with numbers 1-6. This version is exactly the same in terms of quality. The props look great and the matte yellow against black background color scheme is great for big audiences.

However, Jay himself readily admits that the material he uses to make the props is susceptible to scratches so he recommends caution.

With my original version of Cube-A-Libre, Jay provided a cardboard box to carry the prop. I eventually  bought a custom, lined wooden box from Jay for the prop and as a result, years later, my Cube-A_libre still looks great.

No box is provided with Read-A-Libre, not even a cardboard box. I found this to be quite irritating. I would have GLADLY paid the extra money to have a custom carrying case included with the prop rather than have to place a separate order. Again, it’s not the money but the irritation.

Props like this need to be looked at as an investment and I know most prop builders do not provide cases in order to keep costs down, but I really feel an option should have been made for working guys like me who already know the prop’s going to travel.

HANDLING: The props handling is smooth and reliable just like the numbered 1-6 version.

ROUTINE: Here’s where things get…interesting. One of my pet peeves of the ‘classic’ way of performing Cube-A-Libre has been the fact that many performers have wayyyy too many phases so the impact is lessoned. In my classic numbered Cube-A-Libre handling, I have 4 changes, which is just about right for a tight 5 minute routine.

In other handlings, I’ve seen 7 or 8 changes and it just gets old. I saw a DVD performance of such a presentation and the first few changes blew everyone away but by the end, you couldn’t hear a peep.

Jay’s routine for Read-A-Libre is like that. Parts of the the routine are very good, but other parts are just too esoteric, in the effort of trying to connect an educational lesson to the prop. I’ve performed in thousands of schools and I’ve used Cube-A-Libre hundreds and hundreds of times so I can say without a shadow of doubt that a routine of 7 or 8 changes is too much for most school or library audiences.

That said, I learned the routine, promptly cut it half, took the parts I liked and at the first performance, got a very strong reaction.

MY RATING: I like half of Jay’s routine and I LOVE a customed Read-A-Libre for reading theme shows, but I gotta take a couple points off for the ‘no box’ thing and the fact that half of the routine just meanders in a way that will confuse kids and bore them. Half the routine is very good and the props look and work great. 8 out of 10.

It’s HERE! A Virtually ignored market in magic!

Hello loyal reader!

It’s been a CRAZY couple of weeks as I’m racing to the finish putting the final touches on my latest release, “How to Make a Ton of Money Performing in High Schools!” This baby is something I’m really proud of and comes on the heels of my best-selling Elementary School course. Take advantage of my pre-release offer and save $50 on a market most magicians are not even interested in getting into! I make between $800 and $2000 for a 45-60 minute gig and I know guys making a LOT more than me! Check out the details…

What if I told you about a magic market that would enable you to perform some of your favorite ‘street style’ effects but for BIG audiences?

What if I told you this market paid REALLY well?

What if I told you this market, compared to others, was virtually untapped, with less competition from other magicians than virtually any other market?

That market is…HIGH SCHOOLS!

That’s right, high schools are a wonderful source of income for magicians…IF you go into them with the right kind of programs.

I’m Cris Johnson, writer of the Hocus Pocus review blog and full time performer. I’ve been performing in high schools for nearly 15 years all across North America and I can tell you it’s one of the most rewarding markets in terms of both pay scale and personal performing satisfaction that I’ve ever gone into.

First, the pay: performing in high schools can be very, very profitable. I myself typically get between $800 and $2000 per gig, depending on many factors. I don’t know about you, but performing in a local high school for one show is a lot easier than busting my butt performing for 4 or 5 birthday shows to make the same money! Add to this that the market is not as competitive as other markets (I’ll cover that in a moment) and you have almost unlimited earning potential…IF you have the right kind of show.

Second, the personal performing satisfaction. For years and years, magicians have been told that corporate gigs are where it’s at in terms of pay scale with trade shows (a sub-set of the corporate world) being perhaps the most profitable. I’ve performed at a few trade shows (Four, I think) and while the pay IS good, I personally do not enjoy performing for people who have no desire to watch me. In schools, your audience is thankful to be out of classes so they’re in the right mindset to watch a great show!

As far as the reason why this market is less competitive as compared to other markets, it’s because teenagers can sometimes be a challenging audience. They want to be treated as adults, NOT kids and performing a show with magic based on the “magician doesn’t see it” principle will get you DOA fast! Most pros recognize this – in fact, one producer of extremely popular effects once told me on the phone that he wanted no part of teen shows…and this guy was a superstar in the corporate world and now sells magic to many of the world’s top working pros!

So, because of the challenging nature of some teens, we have several magic tricks we can’t even consider using in most cases.

Obviously this means no ‘blooming flowers,’ no 21st Century Silks and so on. But since teenagers’ cognitive abilities are not fully formed yet (most people’s cognitive abilities are not full formed til their mid-20’s) this means many classic mentalism routines don’t appeal to teens, either. What we have is an uncomfortable middle ground of material to choose from: the teens want their magic to be edgy but we can’t go TOO edgy because of the adults – this means no ‘needle thru the arm,’ among others!

Adding to our potential difficulty in performing in high schools is the fact that in most cases throughout much of the school year, schools do not have the time to bring in a performer for a ‘fun show.’ There are exceptions of course, but the vast majority of the time, to be considered for a high school gig, a performer must have some kind of educational message with their show.

The good news is this: I’ve taken my 15 years of experience and packed it all into a comprehensive course called “How to Make A Ton Of Money Performing in High Schools!”

Like my previous best-selling course on elementary schools (which continues to sell to magicians all over the world to this very day), I have left no stone unturned. Here’s a sample of what you’ll learn when you crack open the main manual:

·         Mistakes I made and how to avoid them!

·         What school officials want from a performer

·         What to expect at the gig

·         What kind of audiences you can expect

·         The mindset of your audiences (this differs depending on the situation)

·         Sound system tips (both using the school’s or your own)

·         Booking tips

·         Sales letters to make the phone ring

·         Phone scripts to captivate prospects

·         Length of shows

·         Multiple show options for more earning potential

·         Keynotes, breakout sessions and workshops and the differences for each

·         What kind of tricks to use

·         What to avoid

·         How to put your program into a structured format and just plug certain effects into that format

·         Humor: avoiding the potholes and landmines!

·         Email responses made E-Z

·         Dress for success: options

·         What kind of messages schools want for a presentation

·         “Hot topics” schools want addressed NOW

·         How & why to make it personal

·         Trouble-shooting at the gig

·         And MUCH more!

The second main element of this course is the fact that I hand to you on a silver platter (made of paper, of course) TWO complete scripts for high school shows with educational/motivational content!  

Both of these programs are considered ‘hot topics’ in the high school market and will continue to be red-hot for years and years to come.

You’ll receive the word-for-word scripts, details on the tricks that I use and why, and most importantly, once you understand the structure of my show and why I chose certain effects over others, you’ll be able to ‘plug in’ tricks you may already have. I readily admit some of the effects I use are a bit on the ‘pricey’ side, but that’s due to my personal taste. Once you understand my structure, you can readily substitute other stuff in quite easily. (The really cool thing is the BEST tricks are CHEAP!)

The fact that I’m handing you TWO complete scripts for the high school market for one fee in this course must mean I’ve lost my mind because it’s taken me YEARS to fine tune these suckers. In addition to the word-for-word scripts, here’s what I include with the scripts in the ‘post show analysis’ of each:

·         WHY these particular topics are so relevant to high schools

·         The different situations and booking scenarios you may encounter for each

·         How the mindset of the teen audience drastically changes for each

·         How to integrate some of your own personal history into the scripts…and why this is so critical to your success!

·         Metaphor: the why’s and how’s

·         Effects you can substitute (yeah, I know I said this already!)

·         And MUCH more!

In addition to all of this, I also provide any purchaser of this program with unlimited email support. You can send me questions til the end of time and I’ll always be there for you.

Before I close, I have to chime in with a really cool feature of being a magician and performing in teen markets. A few years ago when the economy tanked, a fellow performer friend of mine, who has strong ties in the corporate speaking world, confided in me that the world of corporate speaking largely took a nose dive – not for everyone of course, but for many. As a result, many of these people began looking for other sources of income and began peddling their services to high schools.

What happened was interesting. When I was booked for many of my high school gigs after the corporate guys came into the market, I heard several interesting experiences from my clients. Many of these presenters were:

·         Very demanding of their clients

·         Baffled in terms of connecting to teen audiences

·         Stunned to discover that the messages they delivered to great effect in the corporate market bombed in the teen market

This means the potential is there for performers like YOU to seize the opportunity that high school performing brings! As a magician and/or mentalist, YOU have a ton to offer to schools! Right away, YOUR services have the potential to be:

·         Visual and FUN

·         Interactive

·         Amazing

·         Personal

·         Captivating

In short, you already have many of the skills necessary to rock in the high school market and shoot your earnings through the roof…all is possible with the right kind of program. I’ve done all the work for you with my 15 years of trial-and-error. You can take my experience and shave years and YEARS off of your learning curve!

In conclusion, my new “How to Make a Ton of Money Performing in High Schools” course includes:

·         The massive Main Manual with performance, booking and show structure advice

·         TWO red-hot motivational/educational word-for-word scripts that you can use

·         Unlimited email support from me

·         15 years of experience that can and will take years off of your learning curve!

Regular retail price is $299.95, but take advantage of my pre-release special and save $50, making your investment just $249.99.

Happy Fourth, NEW Product, and REVIEW: Blackmail by Bobby Motta & Peter McKinnon

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Even if you’re not living in the U.S., it’s still technically the 4th of July, so have a great day.:)

My newest book, “Cause & Effects: Vol. 3″ is now available, as once again I’ve beaten the pre-release deadline and got all orders out the door early.

Early next week I will be releasing details on my next product and this one is going to be a doozy as I blow the lid off of a market most magicians won’t even consider doing AND the profit potential per show is HUGE, so stay tuned!

On to this week’s review: Blackmail by Bobby Motta & Peter McKinnon. It’s available for $34.95 from Hocus Pocus.

EFFECT: Predict anything – no nailwriters, nothing to ditch! You show a black envelope (both sides if you want) and state you predicted something. The spectator names anything and the spectator can remove the card from the envelope, showing you did in fact predict their thoughts.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive a supply of envelopes, enough for well over 100 performances, as each envelope is good for a surprising number of performances. You also receive some card stock and a well-produced DVD.

QUALITY OF PROPS: Everything with Bobby’s name attached to it is of the highest quality and this is no exception. While the principle has been around for decades, Bobby & Peter went to great lengths to have superior materials used for this release.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: Bobby & Peter leave no stone unturned. I took notes while watching the DVD and here’s what they cover:

- 2 live performances
- number of uses for each envelope
- envelope psychology (no “look, an ordinary envelope” here!)
- troubleshooting
- writing tips
- handling tips

Effects include:

- a lottery ticket presentation
- a perfect card prediction effect
- a spectator as mindreader stage type effect
- and more…

MY THOUGHTS: I had the opportunity to see Bobby perform this effect a few times during his stage show in Toronto last year. I was completely fried, as the principle, which he credits from Corinda’s 13 Steps, was unknown to me at the time. Again, while this is based on an old principle, I personally hate putting together my own props, so for me this is heaven.

Also, like I mentioned, Bobby & Peter have gone the extra mile to make these gimmicks much more reliable than using stuff you’d get from your local store.

This is just so clean that I’m so amazed more people aren’t using this. I use a nailwriter in a few different presentations but honestly, this is so much cleaner and quite frankly easier in terms of handling. I particularly like the fact that not only can you show both sides of the envelope (especially in a stage situation) but the spectator can remove the card from the envelope.

This is about as perfect as it gets in terms of mentalism.

I’m giving this a 10 out of 10 and Bobby Motta stands as the rare magic creator who puts out stuff that I love every time. Right now, this release is on the short list of releases that can top my ‘best of’ list at the end of the year.