Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

2009 Was a record years in many ways for the Kent Family Magic Circus.
It had it's ups and downs and it's sideways.
But I will say more on this soon.

For Now have a Happy 2010 and you may you be bless and may you bless others.
Forgive all those who have wronged you.
Love those who love you.
Love those who hate you.
Forget harsh words said against you.
Swallow you pride.
Don't be lazy.
Serve. Help. Aid. Guide. Share.
Be generous.
Endeavor to be the best you can be.
Honor God.
Cheers and may you find true Joy in 2010!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

SF Variety Artists Holiday Get Together 2009

Last year was my first time attending Jay Alexander's holiday party for magicians, variety artists and circus performers. It was held at the Historic Lefty O'Douls Pup on Geary Street right off Union Square in SF. (The bar is nearly 100 years old and was started by Lefty O'Douls a player for the old SF Seals. The walls are covered in SF baseball memories and whether on purpose to make a statement or accident The picture of Barry Bonds' record breaking 73rd home run in the season is hanging in the bathroom. And because Marilyn Monroe was once Norma Gene DiMaggio her image and a statue of her adorn the joint too. The place is SF's baseball shrine. The food,in particular the corned beef and cabbage was spectacular. Drinks in the joint are outrageously priced whether spirited or not, though the food is fairly priced. )

The gathering seemed a bit smaller than last year and a few faces were absent. But in there stead I saw many new faces, for me (since I am a relative new face to this group myself...though being from the Sacramento valley I can't really lay claim to being a Bay Area Performer, though we do several shows in the area each year).

I was accompanied by my good friend Bill Jackson and my son Juggglin' Jim.

The event is a no host event though Jay was defacto the host. We all just had to buy our own food and drink, and I liked that, even though I am of Scottish descent (watered down with English, German, Canadian, Cherokee, Jewish, Irish, Black, and Japanese by marriage. Normally I don't like my Scotch watered down but in this case I suppose it's OK ;-) ) I joke often how Scottish folk are cheapskates...if you can't pick on yourself who can you pick on.

We arrived early in SF knowing that at 6pm parking is free on the streets...the meters turn off. So we pulled in front of Lefty's about fifteen minutes before 6 and waited around Bill's mini-van until the big hand was on the 12 and the small hand was on the 6. Then we locked up and slalomed around the homeless people that seemed to be spaced every eight to ten feet with various means of getting your attention where by getting it they would ask for your money. One gent dressed in rags and dirt used a puppet to garner attention. He didn't even try to be a ventriloquist, he just moved his lips, and so did the puppet, who was dressed just like his human buddy. There wasn't enough spare change in the collective pockets of everyone on the street to provide for the large number of beggars. I was astounded at the larger numbers this year over last. (SF has many programs to provide shelter, medical and even free paychecks for the homeless, and with the economy being what it is I suppose those factors have driven the numbers up. Seemed like there were even more than there were in the '80s when I worked in this town. Heart breaking. Sometimes scary.)

Since I had worked in SF many years ago I wanted to see my old haunts and my old work places so I took Bill and Jim on a quick walking tour. Though the downtown layout hadn't changed much the shops within that layout had. The book store, the Woolworths, the Izokaiya, the soup shop and many other places I loved to patronize back then were all gone. There were newer, sometimes hipper joints occupying there window fronts now. Such is progress?

Back at Lefty's we lined up to get our food; cafeteria style. Then Jay spotted me just as I spotted him and we waved briefly across the room. We joined him and his lovely family in the back. His wife and kids were with him. They also had another guest with them. Their family had recently taken up training dogs for people with special needs; guide dogs. The one they currently had was a beautiful white lab.

Like last year we were one of the firsts to arrive. So by the time the majority of the crowd came in we were rubbing our overstuffed bellies and picking our teeth (metaphorically speaking).

Two by two, one by one, and group by small group, people began to arrive and the small talk, catch-up talk, and introductions began. There were many new faces and a few old, or more correctly familiar...though my face was older. I participated in the small talk and even had a few deeper conversations I find more pleasure in watching people.

I will skip the details of any conversations as they will remain what they were private, even the superficial ones.

I was a little heart broken that I didn't get to chat with SF's most wonderful children's performer, a clown I met many many years ago at a fair. I will omit his name but I seemed to get the brush off from him and when I looked on facebook he was missing among my friends list so I man guessing somewhere along the road I upset him about something. I can't imagine what and since he brushed me off, though politely, I guess I may never know what it was I did and will never be able to make amends for it. Sad! (I do have to admit that I can brush people the wrong way personality has that brashness that come across smug to some or mean to some....unintentially.) But as the saying goes you can't make everybody happy all the time...unless your name is JC! (JC Dunn is the world's nicest man and couldn't make anyone mad with him if he was trying...and he would never try.) Still I will miss my former friend. He is an awesome performer and in my early days he gave me much good advice.

On a happier note I met some fabulous new faces like Jim Farrbinder (SF Ghost Hunt), Allen Gittelson (Mindbender), Sylvia Brallier (Comedian, hypnotherapist), Tobias Beckwith (Manager), Lawrence Lemon (Magician), Patrick Martin (illusionist) and many other's whose names escape at this writing. Plus I meet a number of familiar Faces Frank Olivier (many titles), Glenn (Big Al Capone- magician), Jay Alexander (Magician of the Mind and more), Brain Asman (Balloonist), Karen Quest (Cowgirl Extraordinaire), Mitch (magician), and many many others who escape my cerebellum at this time.

I have always found it strange that when this number of entertainers get together that at this event no one does any entertaining but that is the nature of this event. I hawever did do a trick or two for Bill, Jim balanced a chairor two on his face and Jay's son Max did a clever PTEO mentalism trick with the selected item appearing as a picture on his dad's cell phone. It was neat.
I've always like that trick as it is one of my friend JC's favorite tricks to do.

We had a long drive back to the valley so we snapped a few pictures and left arounf 9 something.

lawrence Lemon and the old guy.....
Karen Quest and the old guy...

Jim a t work....

Jay Alexander, His kids, me and in the back is Patrick Martin.

Tobais Beckwith, Sylivia Brallier, and an old guy....

The old guy and Frank Olivier.....

Friday, December 18, 2009

History can be fun.

I've always liked history though I have a terrible mind for dates. However, I have a theory that memory is directly related to interest. Since I took up the idea to do a kind of tribute to Eddie Foy and his family in our show for the simple reason that he had 7 kids (really 8...11 if you count infantile death...and a soul is a soul) and I have 7. he and his kids toured and performed together. Seeing the Bob Hope movie about them got me interested in a unique angle or hook for next year. So I decided I should learn about the man and his family and so I paid handsome sums to get a hold of a biography and auto-biography of Eddie Foy. That and Internet research were the start. Turns out the movie was nothing like the real Foys. And so I wanted to know more.

I found an old Vitaphone (original talkies) of six of the seven younger Foys performing their vaudeville show "Chips of the old Block" ...that gave us an insite into what the little Foys grew into and I was able to see the kernel of their characters on stage.

I got a hold of 100 year old sheet music performed by the Foys...that gave me an insight into them as well.

In Foy's autobiography I discovered while performing in SF with his first wife (later to die in childbirth with the child) and a partner and his wife they decided to try their first and last try to be producer. Turns out he flopped at it. But that effort brought him to the gold town of Oroville, current home. It was 1882. That got me thinking. The State Theater here in town was built in 1928, I believe. So there had to be a theater preceding it. Turns out there were many. The American (the first theater in town), the Metropolitan, the Atkins, the Orpheum, and of course every honky tonk and dance hall had a kind of theater. So the research has to go deeper.

By process of elimination ((by date)) the Atkins and the theater in the Union Hotel were the only ones that (as of now) that could've been the theater Foy used. Here are photos of them now and then.

the Atkins then

Vacant lot today

Orpheum then

Parking lot today. (Notice the then Exposition Center is now a shadow of what it was retrofitted and mad earthquake safe....the second level was removed, the facade was removed ...the sloping path was cut into two levels)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

More on Oroville an Eddie Foy

In an earlier blog I wrote how Eddie Foy before there were seven little Foys to preform with had visited the town I lived in over 100 years ago. In fact, it was 1882 and he mentions how he did a one night stand at the Opera House there. The show he brought in was his first an last attempt to produce a road show. He didn't have the experience to run the business end of it and, though the show was good, it didn't bring in enough crowds to support it so it died.
Well, curious me wanted to know where that Opera House was and did it still exist today. So I went on a search and found the Atkins Theater and stables... remember it was still very much a "western" town then. (There was an Odd Fellows convention and the arc and parade flaot was theirs. )

Now, there were many small honky tonks and show rooms in bars and such but as of my research to date this would've been the only thing that can be called an Opera House back then. Today the building is long gone and there is a parking lot where this joint once stood. I am told by old timers that this place stood until the 50s and served as a movie house and then a plumber supply store and now a place to park your car.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


December has been a slow fact, the slowest moth we've had in years. We've had a record years in a every respect except one....the slowest booking one ever...December. January is always slow for us. We take that time to meet up with old friends make new ones, visit the Magic Castle, catch some basketball games, etc. And Bookings for February onward are looking great. In fact, we are working with a management group that might be able to expand our show all the way to Europe and Australia. But December is slow.
We have been rehearsing our 2010 program. In fact, nearly every day one of us is coming up with something new we want to try. In our Foy number Victor Jr saw the youngest Foy boy (albeit he was 17 in the film of their old show "Chips of the old Block") do a Cossack style dance and so he's been practicing it five times a day...Jim might do it too.. Jim is adding tumbler juggling and balancing even bigger things on his face. Cynthia has been practicing a very authentic melody, "Bye Bye Pretty Baby" for the Foy show I mentioned. The strain of the high 20's era singing voice is taking a lot of voice training for her. Then there is all the new magic. Anyone can go out and buy a trick and call themselves a've more than likely seen hundreds. But to create a moment the audience remembers, be it comical, serious, or touching is of little regard...that they are moved to remember you and the trick. So a lot of work goes into making the magic portions of the show magical, funny, etc but most of all memorable.
Still we have come off of non stop shows from May through November and the slow down is a bit tough. Maybe we should take it as a blessing and relax, but it's really hard to do.
So maybe I should take what time I have before things get busy again to clean my office....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Circus (1882)

Picture source: Library of Congress

"John Robinson's great show arrived here yesterday morning and performed in the afternoon and last evening to full houses. A slight accident in upsetting the band wagon in disembarking that vehicle from the cars delayed the appearance of the usual street procession. People came into town from long distances, as they always will, to see the circus, and times upon the streets looked lively. John Lowlow, as a clown, has no superior, if any equal in the profession in America, and is not only entertaining to hear him , but instructive. He is one of the few of the higher artists in that difficult role. The circus absorbed many a dollar which had been put aside and long lain hidden for a rainy day and which had been earned by patient toil."
-Oroville Mercury News 8/4/1882
Came across the above article while researching Eddie Foy and Oroville's old Opera House.
Did a bit of research on the John Robinson article mentions an elephant attack in 1841 in Ohio. Apparently there were three genrations of John Robinsons that ran the circus.
Well....back to my Foy studies.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"Too Sweet" who ever thought?

Before I get to my main point I just want to say it is cold!

Also thanks to buddy JC for a great lunch today.

Is it possible to be too sweet or too much of a well oiled machine? Well, if it is for TV the answer is yes. The producers at Discovery have decided that our family is "too sweet", "get along too well" and have "too well oiled of a machine" to be of interest to the network at this time. They would like us to be a bit more "New York" but don't want us to become that.
I said we would roll with it and so we roll on.
So that is the update on the TV thing.
I guess I should return the Porsche and the Rolex (Just kidding..I wear a Timex and my car is a 15 passenger van.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

December 2009

December has been, so far, very busy with the office chores of chasing the bookings for 2010.That includes updating the website (so far it has received over 24000 visits and 74000 page visits...that means those 24000 went on to visit enough pages on the site to drive the number up to 74000). The job is arduous since the kids are constantly adding stuff to their acts no to mention physically changing every day. There has been the whole choreography of the new numbers in the show. The new costumes. The new art. The new photos. The marketing packs design. their mailing. etc etc etc.
Then all the projects and opportunities that are up in the air and we await to see where they fall. The TLC TV show, the Dominican TV Show, the new management company out of FL that is taking over some of our booking work, the whole Foy Tribute, and the list goes on.
So you wonder, "what about the shows for this month?" We are doing our fair share but most of those will deal with the 2009 program and we can do that in our sleep.
I have started taking Prevacid for years of heartburn that I just won't stand for anymore..I suppose it is the price of capitalism (if the government doesn't take it away and give it to others.)
Below are a couple of new pix with the new costume for 2010. Note the custom jacket is based on the 1910's loose fitting vaudeville comedian and the addition of the top hat is all Circus with an Alice in Wonderland flare. It was a task indeed to find a good quality yellow bell "bull" top hat. Especially one that fit's my XL head. The tie is also turn of the century and based on the Foy pictures in his bio.
Jim has been taking music used by the Foys and adjusting them for us. We have found 100 year old (or near 100 year old) music sheets from their shows. Jim will create and arrangement and get a band or mini-orchestra together and recreate the music which we will sing and dance to. "Greatest Father of the All" (written by the eldest Foy boy, Bryan and William Jerome). "Bye Bye Pretty Baby" used by the Foy kids when they were young adults in their show "Chips of the old Block" (not a typo...of not off) and "My Chinatown", which needs a complete rewrite of the lyric in the verses due to what would be considered racist today.
Our seamstress, Jane Miller, is a remarkable lady doing all the costumes this year giving Mami a break. Since Mami has become Homeschool teacher for the kids extra work in the area of costume making would kill her.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Grandma Kent

Here is a photo of Grandma Kent Circa 1895.

If you are surpirsed about her wearing sneakers...well, she was ahead of them all back then, a true visionary. her maiden name was Adidas.

OK I'm Lying. In the 2010 season we are doing a tribute to the Foys. Eddie Foy, the father of the performing group of seven kids known as the Seven Little Foys, performed a clowning drag character in the show. We wanted to keep some of that authenticity so with much ado we have carefully created a look similar to his back in the day. Below is how the look came out untouched. Because "Drag" hold completely different connotations today We decide to go with a more clownish look to reflect the clowning feel that Foy was famous for.

And they aren't Adidas...they're Reebox.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Eddie Foy played Oroville in 1882

I edited this one because I had a typo in the title....Eddie Foy "P"layed in Oroville in 1882...not he layed in Oroville...which would be bad grammar.

A second note. After speaking with an old timer I discovered that the Opera House that once stood in Oroville stood where the lower parking lot for the Municipal Auditorium is today. It apparently was around up to the late 1940s or 50s. Gonna hunt down a photo.

If you have been following our blogs or our advertising you know that our 2010 season will have us presenting a special tribute to Eddie Foy and the Seven Little Foys. Eddie Foy was an acrobat, dancer, singer, comedian, actor born in 1856. He performed all over the United States mastering his arts. I have a bunch of historic material and to my surprise as I was reading his autobiography I learned...from his pen to my eye....that he had performed in my current home-town here in Oroville, California back in 1882. Forty six years before there was a state theater. He refereed to the theaters in these "former gold rush" towns as opry houses so I will have to find out where it was and what is standing there now. He also mentioned a number of other towns that I really never thought of as having a theater of any kind back in the late 1800s.

By the way it was in 1913 that he and his kids took to the vaudeville stage and became famous enough to have a movie made about them starring Bob Hope in the 1950's. Though the movie was very very historically inaccurate it was how I found out that 100 years ago another man set out with his seven kids to perform.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brushes and Name Droppings

Over the years I've meet many famous people but four encounters stand out...perhaps because with three of them I didn't actually get to meet them.
Ronald Reagan:
Once apon a time over 20 years ago I worked for the Donatello Hotel In SF. It was an upscale joint and on a certain evening so long ago Ronald Reagan was slated to give a speech there. It was a fundraiser of sorts and it was after his presidency. Well, my co-worker and I (I should mention that even though she was an anti-Reaganite she still wanted to see him and when she had seen him she was just as excited as a true-blue Reaganite) stood outside the hotel near the back close as we dared since we knew there would be secret service. His car pulled up and after a couple of suits with ear-pieces came out, out stepped the very tall Reagan. He was much taller than I expected and he was fit. I called out his name and he turned and gave me an my co-worker a smile and that famous Reagan wave. It was cool.
Janet Jackson:
Miss Jackson if you're nasty (reference to one of her songs). Again it was during my Donatello Days. Across the street from my hotel stood another ritzy joint and apparently Miss Jackson and her entourage was staying there. Well, it was a daily deal with me to take a stroll after eating my dinner or lunch while at work. SF is such a fascinating city to walk around. As I was coming down the hill past the side entrance of the hotel across the street I noticed a steady trickle of people exiting out the door and walking to the unmarked bus parked on the street 50 feet away. My path would put me next to the bus in about 30 or so steps. Just as I reached the 20 or so step mark I noticed a lovely woman coming out the door, Janet Jackson. At the same time we noticed each other and it was in the next second that she ran to the bus and got on it before I could even wave, nod or rush up begging for an autograph or ask for a costume malfunction. By the time I reached the bus the doors closed an it began to pull away.
Jimmy Stewart:
Ever wonder why Jugglin' Jim is James? Well, I admired James Stewart a lot. His whole life in Hollywood without a scandle. He was a WWII vetran bomber pilot and considered it duty and an honor to serve and never bragged or searched for book deal. He was a conservative and good friend of Ronald Reagan. He was married once and stayed that way. Back in the radio days he actually left the show Six Shooter because the sponsor changed to a cigarette company and he thought it a bad idea to market cigarettes in a show that had such a large children audience. Well, when I heard he was going to be at the Monterrey Film Festival back in my college days I knew I had to go. Though I couldn't afford the cost of the benefit dinner in his honor I could afford to be in the audience of the showing of Harvey, celebrating it coming to video tape. His limo ran late so the ushers sent everyone inside except for the press. I became a member of the press real fast. They let me stay with a knowing wink. I was able to get a great picture of him.
I mailed it to him and he autographed it (in gold ink) and sent it back....It hangs in my office.
Alex Trebek:
While living in Nara, Japan the USO (a client of mine) called me up and asked if I would be willing to show Mr Trebek around Kyoto....a town he really wanted to see. We met at the Bullet train station and spent the whole day hanging out, eating, and shopping. he really is a very nice man.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

There and back Again---And so the 2009 Season Comes to an End

There are still bookings for us this year. We will perform all the way to very last breath 2009 has to breath (that means New Year's Eve)...we always do. But the 2009 Fair-festival Season is over for us. It was long, it was hard (sometimes), it was relentless, it was AWESOME!
Though technically the fundraiser show we did for the school in Madera on Friday wasn't a festival nor fair, and neither was the show at Hemet Valley Mall where we made Santa Appear, nor are the shows tonight or tomorrow for Jubilee on the Ridge in Paradise, but since they came on the heals of the fair and festival season I considered them part of the season. The crazy travel schedule sure felt like it too.
We left our NorCal lair and drove the 4 hour drive to Madera and performed the fundraiser show for Lincoln Elementary. It was their first time doing it and it went over big. Bigger crowds then they expected and more money than they were counting on. The pre-sales of tickets had them worried because they were scant. But the door sales surprised them pleasantly.
Since we were carrying our newest illusion and also Christmas themed stuff for the Santa arrival show on Sat. we put them in the show.
This is how the opening of the show went. Miles dressed as Milo the Clown walked out on stage and did some Schtick to get the audience hyped up. Then while waving his arms about befitting his deed he noticed a rope hanging from his sleeve...he pulls it. And Pulls it and pulls it etc. It gets stuck. So he pulls hard and one of his legs raises. Upon inspection he finds the other end is in his shoe. So he pulls it until the rope out his sleeve is pulled through put near the end it gets stuck and his other leg lifts. He finds the other end is now stuck in that shoe....?????
So he pulls that end (what is this a three ended rope?). Again all the rope is gathered up through that pant leg as he pulls and out but it gets stuck again. Soooooo he pulls real hard and out pops his underpants. With that cue the curtain opens to a scene with a Christmas tree, various other decorations and a large doll house. The tree gives him the idea to decorate the house so he opens the house up and removes a box of decos. The house is empty. He takes a long string of fuzzy garland and decides it's perfect. But being a clown silliness takes over and he does a silly striper dance with it. Jim walks out and taps him on the shoulder. That snaps Milo back into attention for the task of decorating the house. He gets a hammer and begins to tack the garland up (with all the appropriate hitting of the thumb, etc) Mid way across the roof of the house pops up and I am standing int he house yelling, "Whose making all that noise?" The surprise went over really well and got a gasp from the audience. Miles' Milo was a hit too.

We were done and loaded by 10pm and drove the 5.5 hours to Hemet in SoCal. (Actually we made it to Perris...20 miles away.) We stayed at a hotel in Perris and got a restful 3 hours sleep. We were at the Mall in Hemet by 8:30AM. The kids started setting up and a few moments later our producer from Discovery Network showed up to get more video and audio for the project the network is doing about us. One piece of footage was the personal interviews of each of us. My interview was down at a parka cross from the mall. It was early so there wasn't much noise....OK there was. We had so many retakes because just as I spoke a helicopter flew by, or a motor cycle drove by, of a group of kids from a party getting set up across the park squealed, or the helicopter again, or a motor cylcle, or a car with no muffler, there was no end. Did I mention the ambulance, fire truck and other emergency vehicles that passed as well. Somehow we eeked out an interview. The rest would be done in the mall offices.
The show went over well. Though not the biggest crowd to ever come out (the first two years we did this the crowds were well over 300) it was a good sized crowd: about 180 people.
The mall had us play MC for a puppet group that performed a beepop program before us....very fun...nice folks too. We also sprinkled the show with drawing give-aways with the climax of a Wii system (we would let Santa choose the ticket for that one).
Finally we made Santa appear. The method to make him appear I will not share but his exuberance caused him to really put energy into his entrance in such a way that the surprised looks on James and I weren't fake....that translated to the audience and they exploded.

Discovery also filmed Victor's 100 ' rope tie challenge.

Loaded up by 2;30 we were on the road again...this time NORTH!

In Bakersfield I handed to controls over to Cynthia (who in spite of the ankle came with us for the Discovery interview and ran our sound) and she drove us to Modesto. I dozed for around 15 minutes during that time but the little voice in me wouldn't let me sleep. In fact, every time I tired to sleep I was jerked away by that voice. The doze was enough because when I retook control I was fine. Cynthia was asleep 5 minutes after returning the controls. My neck still hurts from the can anyone sleep in a car. (I did once. I have a friend, Bill, who is one of the scariest drives I know. While on a magic tour trip 14 or so years ago I did most of the driving. But all that driving and performing and very little sleep made me hand over the controls to him on that our. Exhausted and believing it would be better to sleep through this and hope to survive than to stay awake and be scared....I slept.)

We ate at BK on the way back and i have to be honest...I AM SICK OF FAST FOOD! I think all of us are.

All in all it was a good trip. Amelia got the sniffles on the way home.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veterans Day Parade

As is a tradition we went to the Veterans Day Parade in Oroville, CA....we want the little ones to see and understand the important roll the military and veterans (in particular) have in the freedoms we have (but are quickly surrendering to the slow socialization but many who hate the military in the first place.)

The amphibious vehicle was the little ones' favorite.
The back of Mami, Victor and Amelia's heads as it goes by.

These guys were fun too.

Who says Cali doesn't have Fall colors?

I think the thing the young ones liked the most was the candy thrown out by the paraders. We tried to teach them about each group as they passed. The national guard was their with their modern equipment and the veterans with their historic vehicles and equipment were present as well.
You did know that Veterans day is the anniversary of the end of WWI?
The armistice was signed the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month...our parade started at 11 AM PST.

Back home it's now my once a week (during non-tour days) lunch with my good magician friend JC Dunn as the older ones load the trailer for the shows this coming weekend.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Blue Grass Fundraiser Santa

Tonight my kids did someothing pretty cool. Jim put on a bluegrass gospel show at our church. His plan was to have friends from his old college to come an djoin him. But they flaked. One was worried about their car not making it, two had rides with him. One other changed plans at thelast minute...and of course they changed their plans at the very last minute. But Jim scrambled and got his good friend Lucas and his Church-Worship group buddy Mr C and with a little begging Princess Cynthia to join in. The final product was only somehting God could have orchestrated. If the old college chums had come we would not have herad the great melody of Cynthia and the Harmony of the others with her.

We have to ad this song to the show...

This Friday we will be in Madera, CA to perfrom a fundraiser for a school down their. New stuff to add to the show then. If you are in the area email me for the school address.

Saturday we will be at the Hemet Valley Mall to make Santa appear. It's our 5th visit over the last 6 years. We have new illusions for this show as well. a couple we have only used in our theater shows.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween at Calico....not like it used to be

Calico Ghost Town was the last non-pc place on the planet...gunfights, tobacco spitting contests, greased pole contest, costumed cowboys, bar girls, etc. But most of that is gone. It's still an awesome place and holds a ton of history but the PC has snuck in and the inner politics of the town can get ridiculous to observe. But that's what you get when a California county owns a place like Calico. Don't get me wrong. i still very much love Calico I just miss the old days.
Above is Henry Fencepost...piano drunk....on our stage acting as a barker.
The potery shop ladies. The vendors are the heart and soul of Calico and have to put up with the politics of the county. Still these ladies are wonderful. They are always so kind to the kids.

This is a special order the potery ladies did for me. It's a squaw with 7 kids and the brave (note the rolling his eyes up standing behind her.

make a jack o lantern

A lobester dog. Even the pets get nto halloween out here.

We once again had 5 shows and SRO audiences. All very gracious. Still the numbers seemed smaller for the town in general than years past. Is it the economy? Is it the changing feeling of the town? Who knows.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Calico 2nd Week plus tidbits and summer 2010

We started our 2nd week at Calico to SRO crowds and enthusiastic crowds at that. We are minus Miles and Cynthia this week due to important tests at school and Cynthia's leg. But in spite of the missing cast we have plenty of material and the crowds loved the shows. James even introduced a new stunt. (see below)
This picture is from last week. Notice the burned bales of hay. See our blog from last week.

While home for 2 days the kids had fun with Mami making zucchini bread with our own home grown zucchini.
Back in Barstow we stopped by the best donut place on the planet (and we have tried them everywhere) Frosty's in Barstow on Main Street. Got a dozen and partook of them at Calico.

Amelia picked this costume out of the catalog from our wholesale suppiler.

This was Olivia's choice....snake optional.

Ou stage.

James introduced balancing a Christmas tree on his face tonight. It was a hit.
After balancing a chair, wheel barrel, ladder and such on his face we announced a new item. "Since it is Halloween, it's only natural, if you go into any store and take note of the displays, that we bring out our Christmas decorations and balance that on his face."
On Summer 2010:
We will be back at Beechbend park in Bowling Green, KY. We will also be back at Quassy in CT. We will be back in Cambridge MN for the fair there and have been invited to the fair in Delaware Co. NY. We are in talks about Laurel Co in London, KY and the rumor is we will be back at Ulster Co in NY. We also have an invitation to do a Christian program in NC. We are also trying to get back in ME and are in search for events in TN, NC, SC and OH. We will publish a whole list of our schedule later this fall.
On the Theater:
We have withdrawn our offer for the theater because of the politics involved. Bad people with "nice" facades played dirty games and we don't want any part of that. We were hoping to save the theater but new faces want to try old ideas that have proven time again to fail at that facility. Many in the group are anti-capitalists and believe having a private owner is evil somehow and that community or government owned would be best. Though they weren't the majority they were the loudest and like the scorpion on the back of the buffalo crossing the river they can't help but destroy themselves along with the buffalo because it's in their nature. The choice was clear...have a private take over and try a new market based approach or try to raise donations in an area that can't do it even in great economic times, or get the city to buy it and run it adding to the tax burden of the community. It's a shame but unless it goes private it I see it closed in a year or sooner. Too bad.
Five shows tomorrow...good night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Marathon Madness-----11 shows in 3 days.

We just finished 11 shows over the coarse of 3 days...more like 2 1/2 but whose counting.
Every audience was SRO and that was even when the town was nearly empty. I thought for sure our 10:30 AM show would only have a handful of people. Then they flooded up to our stage area. Likewise Sunday Evening 4pm...surely that would be always has been in past years...everyone is on their way home...there shouldn't be anyone here....5 minutes til showtime and there are 4 people in the front row. I walked the town around 10 minutes before curtain and the ghost town was living up to it's name. But Before the overture ended every seat was filled and there were standers all around. Were they ghosts?
With that many shows under our belt our total (not counting strolling shows) shows since June 27th is 189!
Only one worry (besides the thwarted fires yesterday) is that just as we left the town to go back to the hotel (we drive home tomorrow) the van's "emissions" light came on. it did it once before after getting some bad Arco Gas. That was on the drive to Texas. But this time it isn't related to gas. We hadn't filled it up in several days...still had at least 7 gallons in it. So we have to wait a couple of engine cycles to see if it is a temporary thing or a problem I need to take to my mechanic. No power loss so we will see.
We are doing the microwave meals tonight at the hotel. Fast food has gotten to be a bore to us and sit down restaurants take too long and over the years we have run into too many really bad servers. By cooking our own we can relax, watch tv, take showers, etc as our food cooks.
Rock and roll.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Fire Fire Fire

What a day!
We are at Calico Ghost Town and it's ghost Haunt time. We've been doing this for 15 years! Over those years the audience has watched my kids grow and the number of my kids grow. They have watched as our show developed and as we introduced new things. About 10 years ago we introduced fire-eating. Over those years we have yet to set anything that wasn't suppose to be on fire on fire at Calico. Well, today that would change. Over all those years hay bales have lined the stage and we have done the fire-eating routine without a single problem. But in the first show today we set two of them on fire. Water from our water bottles and a couple of sodas donated by audience members and finally our fire-extinguisher put it out. Nothing serious. In fact, the word spread and made the next show even bigger. Instead of being a bad thing it turned out to be the talk of the town and lots of jokes and ribbing came out of it.
By the second show we had removed all the bales of hay and the kids raked away any extra hay...mostly. wouldn't you know it the only area that had hay left on it was next to our sales table and setting on that hay was a cardboard box containing our skunks that we sale. And wouldn't you know it a spark from the fire-blow found it's way there and up it went. It too was quickly put out but my nerves were shot. So just in case for the rest of the show we soaked the area around the stage with lots of water. No more flames to deal with.

Earlier this summer we ran out of the crystal metallic wands I make for sales and give-aways. So I found a supplier of plastic traditional wands. Well, I discovered today the the dry hot heat of the Calico sun caused the plastic wands to soften and bend. Fortunately they could be reshaped and only a couple were lost to the sun. we keep them in the shade now.

We were visited by my aunt and Uncle who introduced Calico to us when I was a kid. Never did I think, back then, that we would be regular performers there. Aunt Lucky, Uncle Larry and Cousin Pam all came out. They always make a good audience. Uncle Larry was looking good having lost over 60lbs recently.

Miles, Victor Jr Amelia and I headed off to go through the haunted mine today but Vic Jr and Amelia chickened out at the last moment leaving Miles and I to go through alone. Smartly, we followed a couple in. Smart because they gouls and monstors in the mine would jump out to startle them and we wouldn't have to put up with screams in our ears and lights flashed in our face. That's a tip for all of you too.

Five shows today...4 tomorrow.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Calico Ghost Haunt Day 1

Morning came too early and the hotel bfast hours too short. Since we didn't have to be at the park right away we were planning on swimming but the pool was ice cold so we hung around the room then went running around for supplies and new Reboks...since the outlet mall is out here I wait until we perform here to get my favs. Turns out the cost was no different than any regular store. Got them anyways.
This is like our 14th year or so at the Calico Ghost Haunt. We have become fixtures there and for us it is nice to see old friends and see what changes have occurred since our last visit. We have seen the town change alot over the years. We miss some of the stuff that Political Correctness has pushed out as well as the stuff California regulations and laws have pushed away...I really am beginning to hate this state. But we keep putting the same morons in office over and over and aver again. UGH!
Only two shows today. Evening shows. The first show was small since it was only 30 minutes after the park opened. The second was at 7:30 and was S.R.O. Very nice. Tomorrow would be off the charts.
By the way, what is up with our family cars this year. Anyone familiar to this blog knows about the Chevy van's troubles at the end of the Eastern tour. Then James' Saturn began having trouble that according to the mechanic will be terminal or very expensive...our choice. Well, yesterday as we were settling in the hotel I get a call from Mami, old faithful (the 99 Chevy van that has Titus' wheelchair lift) over heated and was being towed into the shop by AAA. Turns out a hose blew off and the oil was dreadfully negligence due to the crazy schedule.
Tomorrow's shows start around noon so we can sleep in a bit.
An interesting thing: the hotel we are staying at is the same htoel we stayed at our very first Calico trip 14 years ago. It was a different brand than it is now and it was a real dump back then. Today it is a nice middle of the road hotel. Sadly the park lost it's relationship with Hampton inn and Holiday inn express which were very nice indeed. This one is Ok but I guess we've been a little spoiled the past few years.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Calico a comin' ---- updates

We are heading out to Calico Ghost Town this weekend. For those of you who don't know about Calico let me tell you about it. It's an old silver mining town that went ghost in the early 1900s. It has bounced around to different owners including the Knotts Family (Knotts Berry Farms) but is now part of the San Bernardino County Parks System. We have been performing there for nearly 15 years on various special occasions. This weekend and next is their big Ghost haunt where they turn the old Maggie Mine into a ghost- mine with all kinds of spooky stuff. Also the town is gussied up for Halloween and there is trick or treating at the shops there. It's an old west town so it has a unique feel to it.
We will perform from Friday-Sunday this and next weekend at our regular stage at the Livery stable at the top of the town. Come out and see us if you can.
While getting ready for the Calico gig and recovering from the Discovery Shoot and the Silverado Days gig I have been hard at work building a new illusion to make Santa Appear at the Hemet Valley Mall in Hemet, CA. It's our 5th time in six years and I needed something new for the show. So off to my workshop. My father, a wood worker, cut out some nice legs for the prop today as I built the platform and cart for the trick today. Should have it done in a week.
Meanwhile James spent the day loading the trailer. Miles and Cynthia did the school thing. The little ones did the homeschool thing as Mami did the hone-school teacher thing. Titus did the school thing too.
We are beginning to fill the summer calendar with rebooking coming from several of the gigs we did this year. New request for info have come from Michigan and New York and one from Cali this week.
Our graphic artist is hard at work creating an awesome new logo family artwork for out 2010 banner, cards, website, etc. I have seen the prelim stuff and it is incredible. Since we are tying the Foy Family theme into the show we have recreated the 1913 costumes for the show.
Our seamstress is hard at work on a second set of those costumes and a new vaudeville style jacket for me for 2010.
2009 has so far been an exciting year and it looks like 2010 will be even better. The new costumes, illusions, stunts, members, and the expansion of our tour are all proving to be very exciting. Titus and Mami joining the show only makes it better. We are also looking at adding an RV to our fleet.
Thanks to all of you who prayed for our well being and God's guidance over this past weekend. It was a really neat experience and your prayers were felt. AS for where the whole TV thing will go is in His hands and in the hands of those editing, and deciding at the network. If it happens, then Praise God. if it doesn;t happen, then, Praise God. (Though it would be fun to do.)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New Illusion-----and---bathrooms

In spite of our insane tour schedule recently I have to get a new illusion built in less than a month because a mall we have regularly performed at to make Santa Appear in SoCal has hiredus again. We have used up all our methods (and we have 5) to make Santa Appear so we need something new. Though the prop I am building isn't a new idea, the Doll House Illusion, we will have to customize it because of the subject being made to appear. Like almost evey illusion in our show I am building it myself. My father is a hands on guy with mechanical and woodworking skills and passed those on to most of his kids. I even did the labor of adding 1000 sq ft to our current home (plumbing and wiring as well). I will post pictures of the progress; just cut out the wood today.

An interesting topic popped up the other day. While being videoed Cynthia was asked in the interview segment about bathrooms. Our current house has 2. And for some reason there is rarely a problem with it's use and no arguments have ever come up about them. My wife and I exclusively use one and the 7 others use the other. HMMMM. Since 3 are home schooled they wake a little later than the 2 who go to high school. So no morning rush. Titus is in diapers. And Jim has no regular schedule. I think the only time there is rush on the can is when we get back from a trip and everyone has to go at the same time. Most the time who ever is in the most pain gets it first and other times as we turn onto our street individuals will "call" it. So they get first use unless someone is in obvious serious need. Mami and I are so close that

Monday, October 19, 2009

Video Taping for Discovery Network

Mami, Gentry (our producer Director) Victor

Producer Gentry and Promotor of Silverado Days, Pat.

Jerome-Amera man and cool dude

Jim and Gentry

Jim and Jerome (Jerome smiles a lot...just not on camera)

Brian the sound man. For many of themobile shots and quick on the side shots they used the smaller cameras and sometimes a boom mike. For filming the show they had another nice guym, John, with a really cool rig (camera stablizer) and a big camera on him. There was one other camera man, Will, an incrdible man.
All these guys have great resumes and have worked an some great shows for Discovery as well as network TV.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Filming has started

We have arrived in Socal. The drive should've been 8 hours if we were driving at the speed limit....but Cali has a special law for vehicles pulling trailers....55mph always. So that killed the time. Plus the extra passengers made rest stops and food stops longer so that killed the time. Then We hit LA area and the last 26 miles took over 2 hours!! There are people who do this every morning and every night...can you imagine that commute?
As we rolled into the hotel parking lot the video ameras started rolling on us. It's a little weird being shaddowed by cameras and sound guys and a producer. But it is fun. For those of you who don't know Discovery Network is venting us for a possible serries. We will be followed, interviewed and then our shows taped. I must admit that after the long drive all I really wanted to do was crash and sleep. BUT, after things started moving along I got into it. So did the kids. So did the wife.
The whole crew was very nice.
The producer had us do some prelim videoing of our own. So we filled 3 tapes with all kinds of stuff......preparing for the show, the drive, getting ready for bed, everyday life at home, etc etc.
Well, it's shawer and bed time.....night night!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunburn--Successful Corporate Gig

For the last couple of years we have bee performing for a mid-sized brewery in Northern Cal. Instead of the traditional company picnic they have a big festival and celebrate like a carnival. We have been blessed to be part of it and both years we have put on some pretty nice shows. The crowds are great. And as the day goes on the crowds get easier and easier to please (I did mention it's a brewery).
The sun shone bright in Cali today and the wind blew steady so I got sun-burned in the face and the breeze only aggravated the sun burn because as I ate fire the licks of flames licked my face (no problem really if you understand the physics of it all. But I do have to me extra careful due to the wind. Most fire-eaters won't do it on a windy day. I guess I'm nuts.
The kids did a bang up job and made out like bandits as the event had lots of cool prizes for the various games. It didn't take much to win a prize. Oh, and the food. They had two whole pigs. And I had my first taste of pork cheek. The TV food people rave about it.....and for good reason. It was incredible. Each cheek carries just a little bit of soft, tender reddish meat and it's fabulous, juicy and awesome!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mami and Titus make their Debut...and a stand in for Cynthia

Tonight we performed a fundraiser for our local High school's girl's basketball team. Since we were traveling all summer I was out of the loop for most of the preparations for the show and the folks in charge dropped the ball with absolutely no advertising and no promotion of the event. Each girl was to sell 10 tickets...only a few did. It mattered little to us since we were doing this as charity for the most part (we did sell magic tricks and stuff). But it was discouraging the minimal effort everyone involved gave. Still the crowd that came (around 75 people) were a good crowd and really showed their appreciation for the show.
As a matter of practice and "getting used to performing" Mami, my wife, made her debut appearing in the opening routine and then juggling a little bit int he show. Titus, my son with no fine motor control and unable to talk or walk, made his debut by waving his hand over a box turning a dove into a rabbit then waving to the crowd...they adored him.
Also new, since Cynthia couldn't perform due to her tendon surgery recovery thingy, her friend, Sabrina performed her tricks. She did a very good job.
The people at the high school (coaches, teachers) were very nice. I just wish they could've spent some time promoting this thing. last year it was BIG!
By the way, the show was great.

Monday, October 5, 2009

One hour from Cali.

The wind was insane today. We drove across New Mexico and a good chunk of Arizona with head winds ranging between 40-60 mph. Gas mileage was in the toilet! Surprise gusts made driving an adventure. Still we made it to western AZ and will drive home tomorrow. That trailer tire was low again this morning and I can't see any damage so I am thinking it has a bad seal on the rim. At the gas station in Nowhere, NM the air pump took air out of the tire instead of in. They had to reset the compressor or something but I was able (after about 10 minutes of holding the nozzle) to get the tire filled up. It's going back to Les Schwaab when I get home.
Jim, Miles, Amelia, and Victor Jr made it back to Cali by way of Southern Air.
Besides the wind the drive was pretty uneventful. Except for a fox that ran across the hwy at about 20 miles an hour and then dashed into the brush of the high desert. Olivia thought it was pretty cool.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Paris to Dallas to New Mexico

We slept in today! Still we got up was hard to sleep in. We had to get the kids to Dallas since their flight back home is early Monday....and Dallas traffic is crazy.
It rained all the way through Texas. By New Mexico is was much nicer.
It's a lot of fun riding with a four year old. They see things from a whole different perspective and they always want you to look...usually it's when I am trying to negotiate a curve while passing a truck at 70 mph in the fog. Still it is really a lot of fun to be traveling with Olivia.
I still can't believe how hard core Texans are. I mean the way the sat in the rain and watched our show...a few watched it more than once IN THE RAIN. Only in Texas.
Olivia just came over and reminded me it was bible reading time. Every time we are in a hotel she searches out the bible so we can read it. Cool, huh?!
Texans love Texas. I have never seen such statehood patriotism than in Texas. The lone star is seen on almost every home. The Texas flag is more prominent than the US flag. And I have to add, I saw a black Ford Mustang Drive by and the Texas lic. Plate really suited it.
Our family has a silly tradition. When we drive by a cemetery visible from the road we wave and say , "hi dead people". We do it for the humor. When I told my friend , JC, about it he thought it was nice of us to do that. Different perspectives I guess.
OK OK so I am rambling so let's ramble somemore.
Had to add air to one of the trailer's tires. I didn't see a nail or any other foriegn object in the tire so I will just keep an eye on it.
Saw a gas station in Dallas where it was $1.99. California sucks!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Start the season with rain...end with rain

When we started our tour back on July 2rd in Ohio we skirted rain by a day on both sides. But the 4th was a big rain day actually causing the cancellation of fireworks in MO. And here is Paris the threat of rain hung over us and it opened a can of whoop-butt on us today with three shows in the rain. The last two so bad we worn minimum costume (the little ones in street clothes) to avoid damaging them. What drove us nuts is that people showed up! The first two shows were SRO (Standing room only). The third (in the rain ) had around 75 folks....the forth (in serious rain) had 50 or more. This all meant packing up in the rain. So now we have to pray for cool weather so we don't get mold on the stage or drops by the time we reach Cali.
The four will fly out of Dallas on Monday so they will sleep in Dallas tomorrow as Olivia and I head out to Amarillo or Tucumcari, NM. Rain is the name of the weather for this area tomorrow so keep us in your prayers as we make the drive to Dallas.
James befriended a number of band geeks today and the frequented almost every show. Made for a lively crowd. Actually the crowds in all 4 shows were lively. Great compliments from the managment and staff as well. We had fun.
Gonna sleep in.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Eiffle Tower---Big Shows---A Cold?----more

That's a baby Zebu chasing Olivia.

Pointing to Paris on the Texas Map.
Great shows today. The fair was very busy and the audiences were awesome. But it was cold...I mean really cold. It was 99 the day we arrived and just 5 days later it's freezing...or at least feels that way. Bought an under the terrarium heating pad for Mr Squeezers.
I've been worn down all day and my throat has began to feel like the onset of a cold. This town has already had a whole school shut down due to the swine flu and I met one of their students who had the flu but is "over it" as she claimed while giving us a horse I'm paranoid.
Hard to believe how fast time flies. The folks in Texas are awfully nice...still Kentucky wins over all.
I picked up a ton of V-C and some NyQuil to see if I can't head this thing off. V-C really works for me (I know it doesn't work for everyone). And NyQuil assures drying out and restful sleep so let's hope and pray it gets nipped in the bud...I have 3 days of driving coming up on Sunday.
Jim added a three machete juggling routine to his act. The machetes are from a local ag store and were only $4 EACH but he says the are better balanced and weighted than the pro juggling ones.
The girls have been doing a duet of "The Lord's Army" song all season. In the first show Olivia got a case of the giggles and the song turned into a laughfest while they sang and that caused the audience to join in the giggles and laughs and before long it was hilarious.
Shopping, sightseeing, the pool, and shows. That was our day