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.