Monday, December 13, 2010

San Fransisco - Iowa - updates

If you didn't know let me tell you now. This past weekend, in fact, since Thursday, James (aka Jim) was in Des Monies, Iowa for the AIF (Association of Iowa Fairs Convention. He flew from SF to Minnesota then into Iowa. He was lucky not to take the same way back because midway through the weekend a blizzard hit the Midwest. Minnesota was hit particularly hard. His flight back went through Phoenix. No snow there!
From the airport to the hotel through the convention and back it was rare to find Jim without a table. suitcase, potted plant, chair, ladder, or even a woman's shoe balanced on his face. His humor went a long way to get the Kent Family Magic Circus noticed.
In the picture to the left Jim is in a hospitality room at the convention demonstrating his awesome awesomeness!

He played up the California boy who never saw a blizzard and that played well. He was able to play it up so well because he wasn't playing. He is a California boy who has never seen a blizzard.

He made quite a few contacts and even booked one fair with potentials still in the wings. He said they could've landed more gigs but the dates of the fairs who wanted us conflicted with our booked schedule.

Snow stopped the use of the main hotel doors.

Jim was not sent alone. Long time fan Vaughn Ver Steegt (left)has been hired on as our regional rep and will travel with Jim to a few more conventions. Having two voices promote the show really seems to be working out well. Jim and Vaughn really made a great team and I look forward to seeing how well they do at the conventions coming up in January.
In the picture to the left Jim meets a beautiful woman and tries to woo her.

It might be hard to believe but it was cheaper to drive three hours to SF to send Jim off to Iowa then it was to use our nearest Airport in Sacramento. I dropped him off early Thursday morning had a magnificent breakfast at an 80 year old diner I ate at 20 years ago.

Sunday it was time to pick him up and since he would arrive in the evening I thought it would be fun to go to the SF zoo. Victor Jr. didn't want to go so it was me and the two little princesses.
We had a wonderful time. Though I must admit there seemed to be fewer animals there than I remember 23 years ago and when I was a kid even furhter back. No more elephants due to social pressure and no hippos (though they are expecting to get one). I was dissappointed with how "politically correct" the zoo has become but it is in SF!
The girls knew no different since the only other zoo they've been to was in Dodge City, KS. In many respects, though smaller, it was better.
To the left Princess Olivia is excited because she just got to see an Anaconda. She discovered they have rather big heads.

23 years ago Mami and I took a picture in front of this building . The bench and building are still there. The building has been painted and the banners block the engravings in the wall. Below is the picture.......

of Mami and I on our first date. We went to the SF zoo, the movies, and lunch in Japan town.

Now married nearly 22 years with seven kids....who would've thunk!

Olivia morphed into a spider.

An Amelia into a peacock. BTW there are a bunch of peacocks walking freely around the zoo. The girls would walk with and sometime after a peacock bopping their heads as they go trying to be a peacock.

See the Lion....they only had two. Very majestic!

Here was an animal I couldn't identify. It looked dangerous.

Aping and Ape.

Each pen or cage had a "Fun Facts" card. Amelia read everyone.

At the front gate the zoo had Santa taking pictures with anyone who wanted to do it. Not the most authentic. This was their thrid or forth Santa this year. The one we made appear at the Hemet mall was the most authentic looking.

Thus ended our day at the zoo. But since we were near Ocean Beach we went out and played on the beach until the sun set. It was pretty.
After that we killed time before Jim's flight by going to Japan Town and doing a little shopping for Japanese ingredients for Mami and then it was off to our favorite noodle shop. Amelia surprised me by eating some of my very spicy soup and then eating the wasabi from her sushi. She ia a growing pepper-head.
Our timing was perfect. We finihsed dinner, loaded into the van and just as we were leaving SF my phone rang. It was Jim and his plane had just touched down. Twenty minutes later he was with us and we were on our way home.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Hometown Christmas

This past weekend we performed at "Hometown Christmas" in Colusa, CA. It is the first time I've seen a west coast Chrsitmas festival with a Northesteran feel. SInce the merchants were putting it on the use of Christian songs and the name of Jesus was not a fearful thing to mention.
Here is a local dance group shaking it like a polaroid picture.

Belle trying to stay warm with Olivia in the van.

Fianlly Belle and I strolled about the festival. SPoiled dog was in my arms most the time.

Jim rocking it in his new costume.

Perky Peguin having a ball. Poor Victor has to act as body gurad.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

2011 Season's Show is going to be off the charts awesome.

The kids have really taken to getting ready for the 2011 season with some really intense practice sessions. Not only the kids but the animals too.

We have the tightwire set up out back and the kids spend no less than an hour a day on it regardless the weather and almost everyone can cross without a fall. (we have it set a 36" off the ground). I even got the nerve to do it and I made it across seven times. Granted I fell about 20 to get to seven. The hard part is to train oneself to fall to the wire and not the ground.

The three boys have been working ontheir form on the pull up bar for the trapeze and wehave hung a real professional fullsize catcher's trapeze in the garage to further help the kids work on form and strength.

Amelia wins every hula hoop contest she has ever been in for endurance and number of hoops she can do. So it's a natuaral for her do develop that into a routine. Right now she is working on the corkscrew. That is where you take the hoop as it spins around your hips with your hand and then move it above your head then spinning it on your hand then back down again. She is also working on spinning the hoop on her arms and neck while keeping the hip hoop going. She's ccatching on fast.

Olivia is working on hand stands and head stands.

Belle the Wonder dog has learned to jump from one platform to another through a hoop in two days. We've even started to raise the hoop high up and she makes it every time. She was scared of the hoop three days ago, and now today! Wow. What a smart dog.

Bobbi the cockatoo practices her "dancing routine" daily. Working on some new ideas for her too.

Victor Jr. besides the trapeze, headstands, high wire, etc. he has been working on taking CC's place in the "Shoot" illusion where he shoots a ribbon tied to a dart propelled by a gun-powder shell from a rifle through a card and through me trying to hit the bulls eye on the target behind me.

Mami does her daily juggling practice of a doll, a spatula and a plunger so she doesn't loose her edge and won't drop in the new season.

The zip line for Miles to swing or fly onto the stage to add drama to his bullwhip routine has been ordered.

Jim heads off to convention in Iowa. There he will be joined with our Regional Representative Vaughn Ver Steegt to promote the show and fill in some of the blanks in our 2011 tour schedule. he leaves next Thursday. Vaughn is the newest member of the KFMC family (By our relationship with the Lord he is my Brother). He will be testing the waters with marketing, sales, and sponsorships. He and his whole family are wonderful people.

We are hitting eight conventions over all. And we are moving from California to Kentucky, which puts us in the middle of our markets. The next few months will be insane.

And any hour now the artwork, our new artwork for 2011, by that awesome artist Phillip Powers will be finished. It's so exciting. he always does fantastic work and I have been thrilled with the preliminary stuff so far. I will post the picture when it is fact, I will be posting the picture everywhere and getting banners made, etc so you will be seeing it everywhere.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Read this and rename our show!

I got a very interesting email today. A fair we had included in a mass emailing this past week sent me an email informing me that they can't use us because they have booked a similar act as ours. I was flabbergasted! I will explain why in a minute.
First some background. Choosing the name "Kent Family Magic Circus" has turned out to be a curse in many ways. I found this out slowly over time. You see people see things differently and read things differently. Some people are headline readers, others just glance at pictures, while others take in the whole story, if you don't mind me using a newspaper as an example. The first will only get a quick splash of an idea of what the story is all about. The second will get a visual idea of what it is all about. The third will know the whole story.

In regards to the first person there is still an even greater danger. Depending on a number of reaons they may emphasize one word in the headline over the others. Benny Hill used to use a joke, "What's this thing called love?" making it funny by saying, "What is this thing called? Love."

There is one more thing that comes into play that I must mention before I get to the point. There seems to be a schism between magicians and other arts, most particularly circus. Because anyone who picks up a trick deck of cards or a self working trick can call themselves a magician and the rest of the arts world knows this magicians are often considered to be on the lowest rung of the arts ladder. This is unfair because there are so many great peformers who have such skill and showmanship that they would equal any other artist in those areas. In my own experience I have had circus people, when introducing us or talking about us as, "The Kent Family Magic Show" (changing cirsus to show) Even though magic is becoming less and less in the show. Because of the "magic" they can't include us in the close-knit world of circus.

On the other hand most magicians, perhaps because there are so many, have real complexes about just about everything that they will leave the "magic" part off and call us, "The Kent Family Circus". It's hilarious to experience all of this because it happens almost always when a magician is introducing or talking about us. This includes some pretty awful performers as well as some pretty good ones.

OK, so here we are. I started off as a magician and it plays a big, though diminishing, part of the show. Most of the "tricks" I have, over time, relegated to my kids. But there is so much that falls into other categories. The tight-wire, juggling, and trapeze are without a doubt circus. Though juggling crosses over into vaudeville as well. The bullwhip stunts and lasso tricks are rodeo and western thrill show fare. The fire-eating, walking on broken glass, nail bed, human block head, etc are from the side-show. The Foy routine we do is 100% pure early vaudeville. Cynthia's singing is pure universal. Belle the wonder dog and her tricks are circus and vaudeville. While Bobbi the Cockatoo is circus, magic and vaudeville. Victor's escapes fall into magic, even though he doesn't rely on "tricks" or "gimmicks" very often. Amelia's mind reading is from magic but her clowning and contortionism is from circus and side-show. The comedy is universal. But Olivia and her snake Buttercup are right out of the side show with a magical twist. Miles' new stunt of zip-lining onto the stage for his opening of his whip routine is from the stunt show world. Where his fire-whip comes into play is any one's guess.
My point is I doubt seriously if that fair manager had booked a show anything like ours so when she said she had booked a similar show I was flabbergasted. So I wrote back and, very respectfully, told her so. She wrote back and I discovered she was a "headline reader" and thought that by booking a circus she had booked a similar show.
That leads me to a challenge, perhaps even a contest. Name our show. If you could name our show what would you call it?

Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week

A couple of days before Thanksgiving the kids from our Church's youth group volunteered to serve dinner (and dessert) at the local fire-department for the needy. Miles can't resist to do his pose!

The Friday night after T-Giving Carlos Sawyer, a young man I taught magic to over 14 years ago gave a public show at a coffee shop in Chico, CA. Bonus to me was I didn't have to spend that evening in the uncomfortable position of being with my extended family. (If they read this it will make our next get together so much more fun.)
Carlos did a great job and filled the coffee shop up with happy customers.

My friend Bill (on the right...the bald guy) got to be a volunteer at Carlos' show. The other volunteer, the guy on the left was a stoner who sat about three feet from me and right before the show he actually pulled out his stash and rolled a joint. He totally didn't care that everyone saw him do it.

This past season Belle the Wonder Dog traveled the country with us learning how to socialize and get used to the stage and traveling. I worked with her a little bit during our travels but really got to work on her the last few days. In just one day she has gone from being afraid of the hoop to jumping through it. What a smart girl.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November newsletter- Catching you up on everything

After what can only be described as an incredible year with the show breaking every record in every category for ourselves you would think that our slow month, November, would be, well, slow. It has been anything but that. Granted we have only performed one show, Lunch with Santa at the Hemet Mall (our 6th or 7th year....I need to look that up). But there has been all the side things.
The first side thing is what I do every Novemeber, market the heck out of the show. I get to gether via the internet with my graphics guy, Phil Powers, who is responsible for all the wonderful art in the show over the past three years. He and I put our heads together then he puts pencil and paint to paper and we get awesome new posters and banners. Then there is the countless emials, letter, packages, and phone calls to potential and previous clients to book that show! Of course there is all the time needed to draft the letters and emails, and design the packages. There is also the beginnings of cleaning up and restoring props from their miles of knocks, dings, and dents from the road. We also spend a heck of a lot of time developing new stuff. Like the trapeze, our biggest endeavor ever. (I made a rhyme...hehehe.)
On top of those things there is also one very big thing that no other year in a long time that has occured. We are moving. And not just around the corner. We are getting the heck out of California. We have found a house in Kentucky. Our original goal was to move to Bowling Green, KY. But, quite by accident, we found the perfect house in Berea, KY. Over the months we have prayed and thought about it. We have made mental lists of the benefits and minus' of moving and as of today with all the ducks lined up in a row we pulled the trigger and made things official.
While on this point I will share the lists with you:
on the side of staying in California...the weather is the best in the country, I have family here (my parents are just around the corner and are always there to help.), I have two very close fiend here, JC Dunn and Bill Jackson (I will miss them so very much), we have a great church family here (though we are what one would call super close with any of them, they have been helpful in many ways and you can always count on them when you need help), we are familiar with everything here.
On the list of reasons to leave: only 10-12% of our income come from with in 100 miles of our home, 10% of our income come east of Nebraska, Kentucky is really beautiful, southerners are so kind, we know quite a few people from our travels in KY, we will be closers to relatives in Ohio, we will have more space inside and outside of the house for our show and our stuff, general cost of living is cheaper, we will be closer to Cynthia, we will be withing 8 hours of at least 12 major cities, 12 hours drive from NY, etc, we won't have to deal with the crappy politics of California, three are no CHPs doing fundraising in KY, the tax system in KY is business friendly, Rand Paul, You get to keep Boxer, Brown, Pelosi, and Feinstein four of the worst women in politics, the roads in KY are so much better than the roads in California which have cost me two trailer axles-one hub cap, my front end alignment and a lot of money, Oroville has an unusually high number of pancreatic cancer cases (way above the national average), guns aren't thought of as evil in KY, moonshine, bourbon, we will get light snow, we are on the east coast and south during the summer anyways and if it's humid...who get nicer cuticles, southern food, Waffle House, when the it rains the mountains behind our house has mist rise off of it, our new back porch, no Nevada desert or Utah desert to cross just to get to a show, moonshine...oh I mentioned that, Nashville is 4 hours away, Branson is 4 hours away, Our property is 44 and half time larger than what we have, the house is twice as large, there is a big workshop, space fro a trapeze to be set up, did I mention there are no arrogant CHP is KY, etc etc etc. Oh yeah CC found a great church there. In fact there is a Baptist church on almost every corner., there is space to park our fleet.

Onward ho.
The AFA (Arizona Fair Assoc.). Life is ironic. I have only belonged to one fair assoc before, Oregon's fair Assoc. I went to it's Convention about 5 years ago and even bought a trade show booth. I got diddly squat in the form of bookings there and had to race a snow storm on the drive home. The years I didn't belong to the association I was booked in Oregon regularly. The year I joined...not a single booking. As time went on a truth was revealed to me...actually it was more of a re-revelation. Trade show booths are useless. Money makers for the association but usesless. Folks come by and take your freebees and may even chat with you but unless you have established a relationship with them or have some kind of buzz about you then you have just wasted your money. The poor souls who bought booths at the AFA found that out. Almost no one visited the booths and more than one was upset by it. The truth is, and this applies to all aspects of life, it is who you know. So if you go to a convention mix in, make friends, get around and shake hands, chat up everyone. You may hit it off with some and bore others, but now they have a face to go with you relentless phone calls, emails and mailers. Don't expect much your first year either. Showcase if you can. But bring your top game. I saw two magicians kind of flub up their tricks. The music acts were top notch.
Most of the bookings that came out of the convention came from people who the artists had pre-contacted or previously contacted and had some kind of relationship.
The AFA was no different. It was held in Laughlin, NV the old people's Vegas. The hotel room rates were great and the food, both at the event and at the buffet were good. (Except for the Mexican about white-people Mexican food..blah!) In fact, the banquet dinner on the last night was out of this world. The music acts were fantastic. There were the standard meetings and key note speakers and they were interesting. But I got the impression that most people wanted to just get out of the meetings and jump into the various activities; bowling, slot tournaments, golf, and drinking. The large amount of drawings and give-aways were fun too. I saw a couple of old friends and made a couple of new ones. I was acquainted with many of the fair managers I have only spoken on the phone with in the past. I had two fairs express interest but the ironic thing was that on Tuesday before 5pm, the time the convention is kicked off, I had booked the only dates I had available within the AZ fair dates over emails. So the convention had turned into a vacation for me before it even started. Still I had a chance to mix and meet and market for 2012. I am not much of a mixer in spite of the fact I have the gift of gab. I have that ever complex personality that people either like or hate. I did discover that one performer who never really gave me much never mind in the past sure was interested in how well I am doing with bookings and when he found out we have had some success he became a better friend. I don't mind, because in spite of him hiving never given me much care in the past, I've always liked him.
One thing I miss about meetings like this is once upon a time there was an invocation , opening prayer or prayer before the banquets, but that was absent. In fact, I did get to meet a self proclaimed left-wing atheist liberal and I am pretty sure one of the men who led a small round table discussion about volunteerism was likewise an atheist as he poo-pooed my idea of getting more churches involved, though the other members of the talk thought it was a good idea.
The event was very well organized and there didn't seem to be many, if any, problems in the whole affair...though their bar in the main hall had only low-end Jim Beam as their one and only choice for Bourbon, the Philistines!
My hats off to the organizers and a thank you to Susan Rosen who recommended I join.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

AFA Convention Final Day

This morning was the more serious part of the convention. We had round table talks, and the general meeting of the association. Then we had the afternoon off. At 5:30Pm the Banquet started. Eric Dodge, country musician, was the showcase act and they were very good. Awards were given door prizes drawn and food eaten. Steak, a wonderful mix of vegis and a twice baked potato. The cheese cake was good but the slices were way to big. The only bourbon they hand was Jim Beam and so that wasn't cool.
I dined with my new Friends that I hung out with yesterday, the mechanical man, his wife, the marionette lady and her husband and a couple of new friends, John the photographer guy with his son.
I was planning on leaving earlier today but I am glad I added the extra room night so that I will be fresh for tomorrow's 11 hour drive.
All in all it was very interesting. I wish I could say it was fun. And I suppose it wasn't not fun. But Since I was alone and knew only a few people I was outside the clicks and circles so I felt like the extra wheel out. Still I had a pleasant time and I enjoyed meeting folks. I was taken seriously when I gave my ideas during the round table discussions and people have been genuinely nice to me.
Bed time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AFA Convention

Bullhead City is on the Arizona side of the Colorado River...on the other side are these mtns. A little further down the road is Laughlin.
Yesturday was a showcase and dinner and bowling. I ran into many folks I knew and made a few new friends.
Today it was a couple of speakers, more showcases, and a ho-down lunch.

Me , Susan Rosen (hypnotist and organizer), Chaz Marquet, and Hypno Joe.

Everyone got a goodie bag with items donated by various folks. The romance novel was the wierdest thing.

Charlie Cook and Junior of Cooks racing pigs at the bowling ally...I gave them a lift over.

My new shoes under the black lights of the blowling ally. The atmosphere was very much like a grad night.

A silly ho down costume

Her husband

Adam the Great...who looks a lot like Howdie Mandel and me. He's a very nice guy.

Old buddy Chaz!

A couple of folks from one of the fairs did a tap dancing horse routine...classic.

I haven't seen this since the 80s...but here he was cool.

Incredible Piano and theatrics.....smoke fromt he piano, hydralics on the was wild...and he was good.

The Mechanical Man...we worked with him in NY this past season.

After the show case I hung out with the mechanical man , his wife and a marionette couple.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Santa Magic and Arizona

This past Saturday we performed our 5th or 6th year at the Hemet Mall in the high deserts of Southern California. This year it was "Lunch with Santa" and it was a blast. The pictures I've included here shows the lucky little boy who volunteered to become Hemet's newest circus star.

The pose after the tightrope walk.

Outside the mall.

We have been driving up and down California for the past five weeks. Two days ago I drove back from Socal to home and today I drove through Socal to get to Laughlin Nevada. Just like the other days I saw many CHP SS pulling people over left and right while totally ignoring the many who were broken down on the side of the road. If you recall I lost a hub cap on the pot holed roads of hwy 99. Today I saw a billboard with an ad for just a couple of miles from where I lost my hubcap. On Saturday there was even one CHP SS sitting on the side of the road just 100 feet from where a couple was broken down on the side of the road. The woman was standing in the road try to wave down cars....the chippy didn't pay a dime of attention to her. I would see that several times on our 9 hour drive.

I did the long drive again to attend the Arizona fair Assoc. convention. It was the first time I drove anywhere by myself. I am not used to traveling alone. I miss my kids and wife.

My the way gas prices are only 2.73 a gallon. Hotel room $18.99/night. and the rooms are nice.