Saturday, November 3, 2012

Who IS Ariann Black, or... When People Talk Out of Their Colon

Who IS Ariann Black, or...
When People Talk Out of Their Colon

A new business associate of mine was inquiring about me with some magicians from Colon, Michigan. These magicians, though they know nothing about me, took it upon themselves to lie about me. I know that false accusations come from a negative place, so I am going to use this blog in a positive manner, to clear up some misconceived notions about myself, Ariann Black the Magician.

I am not a "created" female magician. My show is not fabricated by some Svengali. I understand that there might be a lot of women who got into performing magic because someone threw money at illusion builders, costumers, choreographers and consultants for them, but I am not one of those.

I am my own creation.

I have been fascinated by magic from a very early age and have never wanted to do, or be, anything other than a magician.  Any allowance or birthday money I got went to buying magic books and tricks. My whole life has revolved around becoming a great magician. I have designed and built my own magic props. And when I say built, I mean built. With my own two hands. When I was young my father taught me how to use power tools and to fiberglass. So yes, I use more than duck tape to fix my props! I am also the person who paid for each and every prop sitting in my house. I went to Chavez with Dale Salwack when I was 19 and still perform parts of the manipulation I learned in my bird act. When I am not in a show, I make money performing close-up magic for corporate events and conventions. So if "created" magicians can design/build magic props, do back-palming, dove steals, and perform miracles with a deck of cards, then an awful lot of professional magicians must be "created".

My magic show is one that I have developed and built for myself over time. It is a show that I have had envisioned for over 20 years. But doing it all yourself takes time, which I am sure that folks living in Colon, Michigan know all about. The costumes are costumes I have collected over the years. I was one of the magicians who worked in the Las Vegas show Splash at The Rivera, and when they made changes to some of the production numbers and decided to get rid of costumes, I was there to make a fortuitous acquisition. Other outfits I have paid seamstresses to sew for me. There are no magic elves leaving fabulous show garments at the foot of my bed. The music for my show is all hand-picked by me to fit each and every routine. The theme and definition of the show SECRETS was entirely my idea. The show has gone through many transitions and I am the one who instigates those changes in order to perfect my show.

I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. My father became a teacher when I was a toddler, my mother a teacher's aide. Teachers are not well-paid(though they should be!), which means they could not buy my show for me, and are not bankrolling me. I have no wealthy relatives, no sugar daddy paying my way, which is why it has taken me so long to get to where I am today. I have done this by myself. It has been my blood, sweat, and tears that I have poured into my magic over all these years, like most (male)magicians.

Now don't get me wrong. I, like many others, have said the wrong thing about someone in the past because I had been led to believe it to be the truth. I believe that most of us have been guilty of something like that at one time or another in our lives. But the difference is that as soon as I found out the truth I owned up to my mistake and went about correcting it. I doubt that same courtesy will ever be afforded to me.

Especially when someone's talking out of their Colon.

Friday, October 26, 2012

How The Demise Of One Ticket Broker Can Spell Disaster For Las Vegas Shows.

How The Demise Of One Ticket Broker Can Spell Disaster For Las Vegas Shows.

Three days ago Prestige Travel filed for bankruptcy. This might not mean anything to people outside of Vegas, but to casinos, producers, and ticket holders this means a full on panic.

Prestige Travel was one of the main ticket brokers for shows in Las Vegas. They sold a lot of show tickets and took a very high commission from those tickets. Most producers relied on the check they received every week from Prestige for tickets already sold to pay for the shows, cast, crew, advertising and theater rental. Large show producers like Cirque du Soleil will be hurt yet not truly affected by this sudden turn of events. But smaller shows will be soon be forced to close or declare bankruptcy themselves because of this one company's bankruptcy debacle.

Most of the smaller shows rely heavily on the weekly check they receive from Prestige for ticket sales and are surviving from check to check. Without this money, producers suddenly find themselves in the position of paying everyone and everything out of their own pockets. The theater rentals that these producers pay dearly for don't care about a ticket company not paying the producers. The theater expects the check every week or they pull that show and bring in the next show that is waiting in the wings. The ad agencies expect the producer's weekly check as well, or advertising gets pulled. Dancers, acts, and stage crew who work so hard to put on a show every night will wonder if they will get paid this week. Most of these performers also live pay check to pay check, which will leave them unable to pay their bills. This sudden disastrous circumstance has shows and performers wondering how they will recover from the financial setback.

In the next week the fall out from this one company's bankruptcy filing will have a huge impact on the smaller-scaled shows providing entertainment in Las Vegas. There will be many shows closing as others scramble to find new backers to carry them over this hardship. Some shows will be forced to cut costs, firing performers and keeping stage crews to a minimum until they can get back on their feet, if they can get back on their feet. And when Prestige Travel has debts that add up to over $10 million, I don't see the little guys getting their money anytime soon. It has left producers with very little recourse.

Even though there are other ticket brokers in Vegas, and Prestige is restructuring under Chapter 11, the damage to small Vegas shows is as yet unfathomable. Revenues from prior ticket sales will never been seen by producers, as funds from those tickets sales are swallowed up in the bankruptcy. The money owed these producers ranges from $20,000 to $500,000, enough to send even a well-established show into a tail spin.

The snowball has started and unfortunately over the next month it will be rolling down a very steep and slippery slope, picking up speed as it get bigger and bigger, clearing a path that leaves me wondering who will survive.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Real Cost of Las Vegas Show Business.

While working a guest spot in a show on the Las Vegas strip last week, I got to thinking about shows in Las Vegas and what the producers have to deal with.

20 years ago casinos used to have a big production show as well as a lounge show to entertainment their patrons. This meant the producers were paid to supply a casino with lavish shows featuring beautiful costumes, stunning dancers, amazing choreography, plus unique variety acts. There would be a cast of 50 or 60 performers that filled the stage every night to the delight of the casinos' gamblers. These shows were considered a loss leader because the casino used them as a marketing tool. They would advertising the dancers in their skimpy showgirl costumes and give tickets away to guests as a perk for coming to that casino and gambling. The lounge shows would be used in the same way because a good lounge show would keep gamblers around to spend a little more. The casino owners understood the value of these shows, they knew that shows had the ability to not just entertain but to also create a form of good will. Casinos only wanted the best shows at their casino because ultimately it meant more people through their doors. But all that has changed.

Today shows compete for space on a casino stage. Meaning the casinos have become landlord renting out the theatre to whom ever has the most money, not the person with the best show. There is no quality control and ticket brokers will push only the shows which pay them the most to sell their tickets. What does this mean? A lot!

  •   The casino no longer cares how good the show is, only how much money they are making from the rental of the theatre, not realizing that this backfires on them. Casino patrons don't know the casino has nothing to do with the show, but they assume it does, so people walk out of a bad show thinking it was a casino show and leave the casino resentful that they wasted time and money watching a terrible show.
  •   Shows now have to make money when they never use to. So there are no lavish productions numbers with beautiful sets, because that takes time, money and space. When a show shares the theatre with 3-4 other shows backstage space is at a premium. These shows not only have to pay rent but also pay for music rights, dancers, singers, speciality acts, stage crews, advertising, pre-production, etc. All this leaves producers scrambling to fill seats as soon as possible spending valuable dollars on advertising.
  •   Anyone with money can rent a room and because there are so many rooms with so many shows, some amazing little jewels get lost in a sea of mediocrity. There are hundreds of shows to chose from, how do you know if you are getting the diamond or the coal.
  •   Ticket brokers used to be paid a couple dollars for every ticket they sold, now they are making $35 dollars or more per ticket for some shows. For most shows that means the broker is making more off of the ticket than the actual show. It also means that the broker is not selling you the best show but the show they will make the most money from. When you as a ticket buyer walk up to a ticket booth and they start telling you about the different shows, generally brokers will only tell you about the show tickets they want you to buy, skipping over the shows they still only make $5 dollars from.

I know that this current trend with shows and show business will change, but will that change come soon enough? Will casinos realize that a good show is worth its weight in gold, and a bad show is not worth the rent? Yes! I know it will change, I just hope it doesn't take another 20 years to make that change.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Art of Happiness

Happiness truly is an art which we must practice to perfect. I am lucky because I have a naturally sunny disposition. It does not make me a happy person all the time, but it helps me see the brighter side of things. I like being happy and I surround myself with things that make me smile or laugh when I see them. That is just one of the ways I bring happiness into my life. If I am going to be upset or angry about something it tends to be about my career and I find that success as a magician is fleeting and I always want more. So if I am going to be upset, miserable, whinny and down right ornery, it is because something is not right in my career. Still, most of the time I choose to be happy. That's right I "choose" to be happy and I can find happiness in almost anything.  

My pets bring me such great joy and happiness. They are so funny in the way they express themselves. I love artwork so have photos and paintings in my home that are beautiful and remind me of pleasant things. Even a hot cup of tea can put a positive spin on the day.

Sometime it is being able to stop and look at everything around me and think, Wow! I am really happy right now and I'm going to remember this moment. I seldom dwell in the past or on unpleasant memories. I know I have many more happy days ahead of me.

When making choices in my life I stop and think: Will this make me happy in the long run. If the answer is YES, then I jump in without looking and trust in myself that happiness will come. And generally it does.

Bringing happiness to other people makes me happy too. It is the kind of contagion that is meant to be spread to others. Trying smiling at a stranger and more often than not they will smile back. That simple smile might be the nicest thing to happen to them all day and costs me nothing to share it. When I go for walks I can't help smiling at people. They always smile back and in return it fills my soul with sheer joy.

My sister and I 

There are so many ways to find happiness in the world around you. Take the time to look, notice and enjoy this beautiful world. It will lead you to brighter days. The search for happiness might be a little daunting at first, but little by little joy will enter your world. You will wake up one morning to discover you are living a felicitous life.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

The Lying Game

Everybody lies... Most people tell white lies in order not to hurt others feelings. Some people tell lies to look better at work or with friends. Others tell lies that are meant to move blame to another person, and there are a few people who only know how to lie. I love the whopper fish tale which we all know as a lie. Then there are the worst of all lies, which are the lies we tell ourselves.

There are three professions who lie. Grifters, politicians, and magicians.

As a magician I am paid to lie. It is part of the art of deception to tell people you are doing something when really as the magician you are doing something completely different. But there is so much more involved to the deception than just the lie, there is the skill, performance and most importantly the misdirection. There is a whole psychology to the art of magic that is over looked by many performers. Magicians play the lying game to entertain.

Most lies when discovered ultimately hurt the people involved. With magic it means the illusion had been uncovered and people know how it is done. Once the secret is out, I find a lot of people become disappointed as the mystery that magic brings into a persons life is far more appealing than the truth. Remember that the next time you ask a magician to tell you the secret. You will be far more happy wondering how the magician made the rabbit appear, than knowing where it truly came from. At the end of a show magicians rely on the whopper tale. More often than not a trick is remembered as being far more magical than any magician in the world could ever make it. What performer doesn't like to hear about their presentation of an illusion become larger than life. I use to correct people with what really happened and now I let them tell the whopper magic tale. You should hear the stories of my rope escape, and how I let the guy tie me up, or that I steal everything from him while tied up. Doesn't happen, but it makes for a great story and makes others want to come see the show. But it's little things that push people in the direction of these tales that have been crafted into the act. For example: I steal the jacket and hat, or jacket and glasses to give the impression of stealing many things from him. I also send him back to his seat with things in his hands so it leaves the impression of giving things back not just giving him things. The reason people think the audience member ties me up is because .... Well I can't give that away. Some of these little pushes I stumble across, and others I methodically think them through and work them into the routines. It is through this process that my whopper magic stories get bigger and bigger.

In real life I happen to be the worst lier you will ever meet. But if you pick a card and put it back anywhere, no matter what I say, I'm lying because I always know where your card is in the deck.

Sunday, August 26, 2012


The ability to transform ourselves is an amazing ability. As human beings we can become whatever we desire. But as a human transforming ourselves is different for all of us. There are people who look inside transforming spiritually. For others it's as simple as cutting their hair and putting on different clothing that makes them feel amazing. Some people cover themselves with body art, using their own body as a canvas to express themselves to the outer world. There are also people who physically change their body believing that a boob job or other forms of plastic surgery will transform them. And then there are some over the top people who change their entire personality, even taking the time to rewrite their past (FYI: don't trust anyone who does that kind of transformation they are just lying).

My sister and I at 8 years old.
 Whether you go to extremes or use something simple we have all transformed ourselves at some point in our lives.  Most people transform because they want a change in their lives. I know for me a great hair cut makes me feel strong and beautiful. When I was a kid I was a quiet shy tomboy. It wasn't until I was finished with college that I realized a tomboy was not the look I wanted for stage, so I slowly started to change little things about me. I did a photo shoot where they did an amazing job on my make-up so I put the photo on my mirror and copied the make-up. It took a couple weeks to get it right but now I knew how to put on make-up and do it right.  The hair is a different thing. I am still not great with hair but hair styles change all the time I now embrace that thought and let my hair change with the times. The same with clothing, I am not a fashion forward person, but I am lucky enough to have wonderful people in my life who are and I let them help me find clothes for on stage and off. The tomboy element still comes in as I don't like to wear dresses, but I have had a friendly intervention and have become a better clothing shopper.
The photo I used when copying my make-up

I am who I am and that I never want to transform, but making changes to become a better me or even the best me I will embrace everyday.  Try it yourself you don't need to make big changes. Think of all the little things you can do to transform your life and the world around you. It is these little steps that will make the world a better place and eventually lead you to your goals.
Who I am today.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Top ten not so obvious things I am thankful for

Here are the top ten not so obvious things I am truly thankful for:

1) How our brains work. Whether it is a normal, average or slightly off kilter. The brain makes us who we are and it is just as amazing as we are and for that I am thankful.

2) The ability to make our dreams come true.

3) Passion, my passion for life, love and magic are all a gift I am thankful for.

4) The magic in my life, the real magic in my life.

5) I am thankful for the wonderful ability that plants have to take carbon monoxide and turn it in to oxygen. An amazing feat of nature, and plants look beautiful doing it.

6) I am thankful for my resilience. No matter what adversity I face I know I will bounce back. I always do.

7) I am thankful for patience. All be it strained, frayed and stretched to its breaking point.

8) I am so very thankful for genetics and feel extremely blessed with the genes I have been given.

9) The ability to read. Books have the power to take me to wonderful new mysterious places other books have taught me so much, all because I can read.

10) My home, and all the things it contains from my travels to just the things I love and bring me comfort. My house to truly my home.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

What you can't un-see.

I was talking to my friend Kristen the other day about the fact that you can't un-see some things in life. Once you see it with your own eyes you never forget. As a kid I never understood what people who were really sick meant when they would say I don't want to be remembered this way. Now that I am older I truly understand. But it's not just that... It's porn pop-up that use to come up on computers. Whether you wanted to see it or not it is now embedded in your brain. That auto accident you passed with the covered body. The ASPCA extended commercial with the abused animals. These images that we can no longer un-see generally became the first image we think of when we remember that person, place, or thing.

For me these images have a very strong emotional attachment which is part of the reason they are images I will never un-see. I was passing an accident several years ago on my way home. I saw a car on the wrong side of the road with a motorcycle stuck in the front end there was a body that was on the roadside and police everywhere. That image is stuck in my mind forever because the guy on the motorcycle happened to be a friend of mine. Whenever people mention him the first thought is of that accident then it is followed by happier memories. But the first memory is now an image that I can never un-see.

With technology we can take photos or videos and immediately upload the images to the world wide web where everyone can see them. Because of this, I select what I want to see and what I don't ever want to see. For example the video of the Rodney King beating is all over the Internet. The little bit I saw on the news was more than enough to become forever embedded in my brain, I don't need to see anymore of that man or any person being beaten. Then there are TV show like Animal Cops, Kardashians, Animal Hoarders, plus crime drama re-enactments, that I just don't want to see. I'm not saying I want to ignore it, I just don't want to see it. So when people send me links to videos I don't watch all of them because I don't want to see something I might never be able to un-see. Remember that the next time a person sends you a video of something bad happening to a friend. Do you really want to watch a video of something you will never be able to un-see? I don't.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Top ten things my dog and cat say.

Ten things my dog says without using words:
1) Look at my happy dog cookie dance.
2) I love you
3) Ride in the car, ride in the CAR....
4) Bad touch (said to cat & vet)
5) Grandma has better yummys.
6) Walk? Walk, walk, walk.
7) No brush, no brushing?
8) Oh Yes! Scratchies right there.
9) Potty, I have to go potty, potty, potty.
10) It was the cat.

Ten things my cat says without using words:
1) Mine! It's all mine.
2) Give me tuna
3) Look at meeeeee.
4) Pet me, pet me NOW!
5) Stop touching me.
6) Pick me up, now put me down
7) I'm cute, I'll do what I want!
8) Wake up I want to sleep where you are.
9) I will make you suffer.
10) It was the dog.

Friday, July 13, 2012

What makes your house a home?

It doesn't matter where I am in the world I like to make the place I am living feel like a home. I am a home body and enjoy my home. There is something to be said for a long day of meetings or shows, to finally come home and are hit with that feeling of sheer happiness at being home. My home is not perfect, nor it it decorated like my version of a dream home, but it's mine and I love it. I have a collection of tea pots from around the world with a couple that are very old. I like looking at them and using them occasionally. I love my bedroom, I have two paintings on the wall that bring me so much joy to look at. My house is definitely not cold but one that is well lived in. I don't have a family of my own, but I look at my show as a family and the office reflects the love I have for magic and the people in my show. There is a special memory that goes with each poster, award, and photo on the office walls. I wrap myself in these things like a security blanket that keeps me safe and warm. My friends also help to make my house a home. I am not good about having people over to my house, and I apologize to everyone in advance for that personality trait. But the few friends who do make it past the garage or front door are truly welcomed into my home.

The biggest thing that makes my home so special are the two furry faces who manage to tell me over and over again just how much they love me. The dog has issues from years of abuse before he was adopted, but he is so loving and affectionate towards me. He makes me smile when he does the "I'm so happy you are home dance." there is nothing quite like a dog as big as a person doing his happy spinning, bouncing dance with the occasional pause to see if I am watching. And there is the cat... According to him I make his house comfy and homey just for him. He loves snuggling up to me on the couch where he throws his furriness against me and demands attention. I am lucky as they fill my life with love. And for me where there is this kind of love there is a home.

What makes your house a home?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ten things I have learned watching television:

Ten things I have learned watching television:

1) There is always someone who will defend the underdog.

2) The family that laughs together stays together.

3) Everybody lies at some point, (watch any reality show.) and detectives will find the truth.

4) Real friends will always be there for you because if you are stranded on an island you want the Professor and Mary-Ann to be there with you. (there is a great story about how the actor who played Gilligan on Gilligan's island stood up for the professor and Mary-Ann's names to be added to the theme song.)

5) Not to worry if I miss an episode it will be repeated, just like history.

6) The news is full of death and I would rather read about it than watch it.

7) The portrayal of women is rarely realistic. We are not all size 2, most of us love our curves. There are millions of women between the age of 35-55 that seldom exist on tv. And most women are not the train wrecks that live in "reality" television.

8) The difference between tv cooks and my cooking is more than just the fancy stove.

9) A good writer can make me cry for a :30 second commercial.

10) Love can conquer anything with a happily ever after, except maybe a reality dating show.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

How do you measure success?

How do you measure your success?

I think everyone measures it very differently. For me success is extremely fleeting and is always just out of reach. Which doesn't stop me from trying, it actually makes me work harder at fulfilling those ambitions. There are some performers who dream of working in a Las Vegas show and I was one of those people. I made that dream a reality when I appeared as the magician in the successful show SPLASH at the Riviera casino. At the time it was a dream come true. When the contract ended a year later I had discovered an even bigger dream. I realized I wanted so much more from my life as a performer. When I look back on that show today I have very fond memories of the cast and crew. Some of the best magicians in the world performed in that show and I have the privilege of being one of those magicians. At the time I felt so successful, but I ended up wanting more. I have appeared on television shows all over the world, yet I want to do more of them, a lot more of them. I have had my photo in magazines as a professional model, not enough. I have had my own shows in Las Vegas, but they were never enough. I have worked on ships, casinos, and a variety of other theaters, yet still find myself searching to quench this never ending thirst for some semblance of what I would deem success.

I know there are many people who look at those accomplishments and wish they had just one or two to add to their list of credits, but would it be enough for them? Or would they suddenly find that hunger as they too searched for the elusive feeling of success. And what is that feeling? I don't even know. Which leads to the question; would I know it when I finally reach it? And if I keep achieving my goals only to find success fleeting then will I always be chasing my dreams? I like making my dreams reality, there is something extremely satisfying when I set goals for myself and reach them. Some of my goals are easy and some are really big that take years to achieve. I use the smaller goals as stepping stones to my ultimate goals. When those ultimate goals are met, I find that they were only another step to an even bigger goal. Which begs the question, when does it end? When is enough, really enough? I currently have the opportunity to achieve one of my bigger goals, but I find myself wondering will I be satisfied or will I be left wanting? The truth for me is I find success to be intoxicating and like an addict I want more.

We all dream of having some type of success in our lives, some type of lofty goal that somehow has the word success attached to it. All I can say to you is I hope you all achieve your idea of success and are truly satisfied with it.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

My friend Cherie Sanders.

I am not an overly talkative out going person, I had a friend for that....Cherie Sanders.

My friend Mari and I were at a magic convention and Mari said, "I have this friend you should meet her I think you would really get along." so I met this person named Cherie. She had tons of people around her all chatting, Cherie chatting the most. So I bolted and spent the rest of the convention avoiding both Mari and Cherie lest I be forced to spend time with someone who talked way to much. Well over time I got to know Cherie as a person and realized that she was a wonderfully delightful person who just happened to know EVERYONE and always had something to say. At magic conventions Cherie would be the center of any group she happened to be standing with. She had an amazing talent for getting everyone together and moving us all to wherever she wanted us to be. She also had an amazing talent for talking. I don't talk very much. Generally I don't have much to say and if I do have something to say I am either to shy to say it or I blurt it out causing people to look at me oddly. With Cherie around I never had to say very much, it was perfect.

When Cherie would come to Vegas for magic conventions, she would come a couple days early or leave a couple days late and those extra days we would hang out together. She came in one time and Johnny Thompson was shooting some footage at Lance's house so we both went. There was a cute guy hitting on me and she encouraged me to go out with him. Well that relationship was a disaster. But she listened to me whine about it on the phone for weeks, on the other hand I heard about her breakups too. Cherie always called me when she was driving to or from a gig. (I personally think she would get bored driving and called everyone, whoever answered was the one she would talk to during the drive.) She won lunch at the Eiffel tower restaurant one time and they sat us in the best seats looking out over the Vegas strip. I had seen her loose a lot in the casino and then turn around to win huge amounts. One time in Vegas I dragged her over to the Tompson's house to shot photos for Johnny's book which is coming out next year. We always did something fun, weird, or stupid, but it was never boring with Cherie.

The weirdest thing Cherie ever did with me was up in Tahoe. I had gone up to Tahoe for a couple days to visit Bruce who was working in a show. We decided to drive the loop and stopped at the waterfall. Bruce and I were out taking photos when I decided to shoot some from the other side. Bruce followed me over but did not come down. I got my shots looked around and noticed a redhead with a very distinct laugh. I thought to myself, no this is Tahoe, Cherie is in Texas. Then she turned around saw me and screamed Ariann. She was up there with her guy for a concert at a Harrah's hotel and had decided to drive the loop that day too. We hung out that night, went to Bruce's show and had something to eat. It was a fun unexpected bonus to both our trips.

I checked my mailbox the day before they found Cherie and rushed her to the hospital. There was a card from her being supportive of my show. I had put her down on my todo list to call her the next morning, but instead I got a call from Lanny who was at the hospital. I never got to thank her personally, but then I think all her friends had something we wanted to thank her for. She was the Will Rodgers of magic, as she never met a person she didn't like. So many people knew Cherie and you couldn't help but love her. I also realize that my voice at magic conventions is forever silenced and I will have to go back to actually talking. Lookout people you don't know what she was saving you from.

Thank-you Cherie!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

What am I saving objects for?

I once heard that you should never save things for a special occasion, if you do you will never enjoy the things you have. For me that might very well be true. I am given things all the time and I think to myself I will have to save this for something special. That special never comes and the item sits unused. I love these objects and want to use them, but never seem to find the right time. So a couple months ago I woke up and decided to change that. I use the perfumed hand cream everyday not just on a date. My muscles are sore from the gym and that wonderful scented bubble bath is going to be perfect to sooth the aching joints. The jewelry worn when I go out to dinner?... It's on right now and I am getting ready to go to the grocery store. The note paper is being used up, because there will be more beautiful note paper by other designers next year. The Hudson Bay blanket is on the foot of the bed. The cloths I save to wear for just the right day because I feel "pretty" in them, are being worn everyday, why not feel pretty all the time. And my grandmothers good china? I had lunch and used one of her sandwich plates. I realized that for most things there never will be the perfect time, so we have to make the time, and make that time count.

My grandmother's china is beautiful because it was hers. When I use it, which has been often, it makes me think of my grandparents. It reminds me of holidays and those special meals when the whole family is together. It takes me back home into a place where I keep my fondest memories. If the plate was left in the cupboard I would not have those moments where I look at the plate and smile. When I wash them, I wouldn't have the image of my grandmother flash through my mind and linger while I remember helping her wash the dishes. For the longest time these dishes sat in a box in the closet, waiting for holidays. Now they are out and remind me that everyday is a special day. I still worry about breaking them, but the truth is I can buy more. Besides I have enough to seat 8 and only have a table for 6.

I find myself now going through old boxes and taking things out to use them. We should spending less time worrying about what if and more time using the objects we already love to make lasting memories. What is more important when I am old and gray? The pristine dish still in a box or the warm memory of a chipped piece of china at lunch.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Hulk Smash!

Lets talk Incredible Hulk.
When I was a kid The Incredible Hulk was my favorite comic book character, and then he became a television show that I insisted on watching every week. For me, the Hulk was more than a lumbering beast. He is the modern day version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The nice doctor, trying to create something good for humanity, but in his desperation to prove his theories his vanity and pride take him over the edge creating an alter ego that is his antithesis. Unlike Hyde, the Hulk is not a murderer. The Hulk in the comics has changed a lot and I personally liked the original. I like the idea of the inner fight we all have with good and evil. The fine line we all walk everyday to control our emotions when we are pushed to our breaking point. For me that is what this story is basically about, controlling our darker side so that we don't let our anger get the best of us. I am sure that I am not the only one who somedays wish I could let that monster out to have a heyday with someone who is being mean to myself or others. For me, I will let people walk all over me, but pick on other defenseless people and I flip out. When I was in school, I would see kids picking on other kids and I had a bad habit of getting angry and stepping into the situation. Needless to say, I got into many fights that my inner Hulk won in trying to help others.

We can all associate with Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk. We all have something we try and hide from the public, a part of us that we don't like, yet every once and a while it comes roaring out and no matter how hard we try we can't stop it. We all get angry, stomp around, say things, or do things in anger that we regret once we calm down. We all have a little bit of the angry Hulk in us, a bit of the super human Hulk strength that pours through our muscles as adrenaline when we need it most. How many times have you heard about people performing super human deeds to save someone. Most of the time we are all regular Bruce Banners, but when it counts, I mean really counts, our Incredible Hulk comes out of all of us. Sometimes we are embarrassed because of the mess our Hulks made and sometimes we praise our inner Hulks for saving us once again. In the new Avengers movie Iron Man says, "But we have a Hulk." And so do you. We all have a Hulk inside us waiting to be let out. Some people are really good at keeping it in and others let The Hulk out everyday while driving on the freeway at rush hour. For most of us it is finding a way to channel that anger and use it towards something productive. I like to think that if my world were to be threatened my Hulk would take over and there would be a lot of "Hulk Smash" followed by lots of ... well.... Smashing. I believe that we all like to think we have a dangerous side, mine is green and filled with gamma radiation. I even have a photo of my Hulk that my parents took.

When I was 12 one of the local newspapers was having an anniversary party. They invited kids to come dressed as their favorite comic character. So I went as The Incredible Hulk. My parents did not have a lot of money, my father was a teacher and my mother a teachers aide, so I made the costume myself. I colored the wig, dyed the t-shirt and stockings, ripped the clothes, and stitched the stuffing into the shape of muscles. I insisted on having green make-up on my face and hands, so I made some with green witch make-up and baby powder to tone it down. Then topped it off with ripped shoes, and dental tablets to make the inside of my mouth pink. I remember I was so proud of this costume as I would make my muscle man poses. Then I got to the anniversary party and saw all these kids dressed in costumes parents had bought them. They all looked so perfect and I looked so ... home made. My parents taught me to finish things and they made me stay for the competition. The judges split the children up into boys and girls. So I went and stood with the girls. A judge came over and said to me, "we want the boys over on this side of the room," and started to move me, at which point I said, "but I am a girl!" I took off the wig and my pigtails fell down. Some of the other kids started to titter. I don't think anybody realized that a girl had dressed herself up as The Incredible Hulk. My mother came over and helped me put the wig back on and I went over to stand at the edge of the girl section totally dejected. Lucky for me the judges only took a couple minutes to pick 1st, 2nd, and 3rd for both boys and girls. I already knew I was not going to win and just wanted to go home. The boy who won first was dressed as R2D2, the girl who won first was dressed as The Incredible Hulk! The judge who told me to stand with the boys came and got me and pulled me into the centre of the room. The newspaper had brand new ten-speed bikes for the first place winners. I had wanted a five or ten speed bike, but new my parents could not afford one. Here they were giving me a bike for free. The humiliation of my simple homemade costume and the gender confusion was suddenly totally worth it. I went home the happiest kid in the world. I wore that costume with pride and won every costume competition I entered that year. For me, The Incredible Hulk has the ability to represent the best and the worst in all of us. I only hope that my worst still fights for what's good in this world.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


I was on a full flight the other day. I was one of the last people on and could not move my seat. The lady sitting one seat over from me smelled like she had an accident in her pants. She also had not had a shower in several weeks. NO SHOWER! The smell was so bad it made my stomach turn. There were no other seats and I had to sit there. Thank god it was a short flight. Let me also point out that this woman was wearing really old runners with no socks, green sweats and a stained t-shirt under which there was no bra. She was oozing over her seat and had a seat belt extender. There were scabs on the visible parts of her skin both arms and legs, her hair was matted and dripping with oil, and her face was dirty. When she scrached, parts of skin flaked off, which she would put on her napkin. The body odor, was putrid, it made me gag several times. What part of my Karma decided to tormented me this way. I have an amazing sense of smell and this smell was torturous. BUT here is the other side of this story. Nobody wanted to even sit near this person, mostly me, I didnt even want to acknowledge her. Then she let out a little squeal of delight when the plane started to taxi away from the gate. This sound startled me as did her child like glee she looked out the window of the plane. The seat between us was empty (obviously) so I showed her how to raise the arm to help accomadate her size. She was .... simple. There was no other word for her, she was simple. It was like talking to a young 12 year old. She did seem to have other mental defects, hence the no showering, but I found my self feeling sad for this person who was attacking everyones sence of smell on this flight. My parents raised me not to be rude, and this was a real challange. I wanted to disinfect myself just because I was sitting near her, but she apparently was oblivious of her condition. She ordered a diet coke and pulled out a nice black purse. The credit card she gave them still had the stickers on it. It looked brand new. The card made me wonder about her life. She struck me as a person who could be living on the street, but here she was taking a flight. Maybe she was being shuttled between family members who felt like they had to care for her, but did not care for her in any sense of the word. She surprised me by offering me half of her soda. I politely declined saying that I did not like sodas. But who offers to share a soda on an airline anymore??? I put the tray down on the seat between us as she was having trouble dealing with the tray in front of her. She thanked me, with that surprised look of someone who has recieved very little kindness. I felt like such a heel. Because the smell was so strong and rancid I was only capable of offering this person a modicum of decorum. The flight although short, was really looooong. When the flight landed I was quick to jump up and be off to freasher air. She went to retrieve her belongings, and I noticed that she had brought her own blanket, it was just a dirty as she was. There was a plastic bag and a plastic reusable bag. The reuseable bag was filthy and filled with VHS movies. I noticed the titles were all from the late 80's. She didnt have other clothes with her, and she carfully put the empty diet soda can into her bag. I thought to ask if she needed help or if there was going to be someone waiting for her, but I didn't. Instead I bolted as soon as the planes door opened. I got my luggage and waited at the curb for my ride who was running a little late. before he came I noticed the woman walking outside with the belongings she carried onto the flight. She didn't have a checked suitcase with clothing only what she was wearing. My heart sank, I asked her if she was ok. She said she was fine and wandered off down the street the corner of her dirty blanket dragging on the ground behind her, her putrid smell filling the air wherever she went. I confess, I gaged a little at the smell and let her walk away. I am conflicted with the feeling of horror and sadness mixed together. I know I should have been more kind to this person, but I could not find it in me to be more than passingly cordial. This world is filled with people who truly need our help, and when presented with those people recoil from them. It is one thing to send money to help people with problems or do a charity show to help raise money it is different to deal with these people when they effect our lives. I truly believed I was a better person, but I guess I am just like everyone else. I realize this woman has mental issues that I would not have been able to change by offering her a little bit more of my humanity, but ..... I still feel bad. I hope that she find the help she truly needs. I am going to try to be a little more kind to everyone, because one day it might be me who needs the kindness from others.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Doug Henning Blue

That's right I am talking about Doug Henning Blue today.
I was looking at the photos I took when I was over at Thom Rubino, the illusion builder, as we are going to be restoring an old Doug Henning "Things that go bump in the night." Those props were beautiful with the Henning blue, clouds, and rainbows. It's funny because it became a standard blue for a lot of magic props in the 80's.  I have such great memories of going to the warehouse in Santa Monica and hanging out. They had a stage set up in the back with all the crates. The cast would rehearse facing the back of the stage which was a wall of mirrors, when the routine was perfected, they would then turn around and rehearse like they were on stage. I found him to be a delightful person who truly loved magic.

Top to a Doug Henning Cutting in Half
Sigh! Well back to the Bump... Thom has one at his house. It was used on a Henning tour, and later used in Siegfried & Roy's show with the production of a cat at the end. The prop is in great condition considering it's age, use, and travel abuse.  It has been Siegfried & Roy'ed and will need some love and attention. Now I am just like the next magician and loved S&R's show. They took magic to a completely different place and it will be a long time before we see anything like them again. I loved their show and saw it several times both at radio city music hall and in Las Vegas. BUT I loved Doug Henning. When I saw him for the first time on television I realized that I to could be a magician. He was so different from the standard men in tuxedos. He made magic... magical, he brought wonder, and a child like excitement to his performances, and at that moment I wanted to be a professional magician. Suddenly all those people who said I could not be a magician because I was a woman, they lost their voices because magic had a new face and it was Doug Henning. So if I have to pick and choose between performing this routine like S&R or Doug Henning then there is no choose, it is Henning all the way.
The Bump props current appearance as used in Siegfried & Roy's show. 

The photo above is what the prop looks like currently. you can see it is very much in theme with Siegfried and Roy's show.  The photo below is a still taken from "The Magic Show," with Doug Henning sitting on top. I get so excited when I look at this photo and think about having this in my show. It would not be possible without Thom and Vinny. The two of them have kept the prop since it left the S&R show, and it has just been waiting for several years.This Bump has an amazing lineage and I hope to continue it with my show. S&R have panels on the outside, so I have already talked to Thom about saving some of the panels. I know I want to keep a panel at my house on the wall in my magic room as a piece of magic history, and so does Thom.

The Bump prop as it appeared in Doug Hennings "The Magic Show."

Once those panels are removed the prop will see a little bit of a face lift before heading off to the artist to be restored to its former Doug Henning Blue and the original Henning design. I am so excited. This man stirred my imagination when I was young. 30 years ago he made me realize I could do more than just dream, and he is still making my dreams possible today.
Thank-you Doug Henning, and your Doug Henning Dare to Dream BLUE!
Below is a link to watch Doug Henning performing "Things That Go Bump In The Night."

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Food Glorious Food

I might not look like it, but I love food. Love making it, cooking it, and LOVE eating food. But I am fanatical about what kind of food I put in my body. I have not eaten red meat for over twenty years. It's not because I don't like the idea of killing animals for food, it's because I don't like the taste. I will kill it and wear it, I just don't want to eat it. I love fish and fowl, but even that I only eat a couple times a week. I truly enjoy eating fruit and veggies of almost all kinds. The more colorful the salad the better. They are discovering that all the different colored veggies are good for you in various ways. Why? Because the different colors have different vitamin, fiber, minerals, and protein in them. RED: contains Things like lycopene, ellagic acid, Quercetin, and Hesperidin. These foods reduce the risk of prostate cancer, lower blood pressure, reduce tumor growth and LDL cholesterol levels, scavenge harmful free-radicals, and support join tissue in arthritis. ORANGE & YELLOW: contains beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, and vitamin C. These foods reduce age-related macula degeneration and the risk of prostate cancer, lower LDL cholesterol and blood pressure, support retinal health and vision, promote collagen formation and healthy joints, fight free radicals, encourage alkaline balance, and work with magnesium and calcium to build healthy bones. GREEN: contains chlorophyll, fiber, lutein, zeaxanthin, calcium, folate, vitamin C, calcium, and Beta-carotene. These vegetables reduce cancer risks, lower blood pressure and LDL cholesterol levels, normalize digestion time, support retinal health and vision, fight free-radicals, and boost immune system activity. BLUE & PURPLE: Contains lutein, zeaxanthin, resveratrol, vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids, ellagic acid, and quercetin. These nutrients support retinal health, lower LDL cholesterol, boost immune system activity, support healthy digestion, improve calcium and other mineral absorption, fight inflammation, reduce tumor growth, act as an anticarcinogens in the digestive tract, and limit the activity of cancer cells. WHITE: contain beta-glucans, EGCG, SDG, and lignans that provide powerful immune boosting activity. These foods also activate natural killer B and T cells, reduce the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers, and balance hormone levels, reducing the risk of hormone-related cancers. All of these different colors mix together to keep you healthy, so eat a rainbow! And try to eat fresh fruit and veggies as the processed food are NOT GOOD FOR YOU. Yes, processed foods are easy, but look at the ingredients and if you can't pronounce them or have know idea what it is, then it is generally not good for you and you should not eat it. I don't eat fake sugars or foods with them in it. I would rather buy original Greek yogurt and add a little fresh fruit with a drizzle of honey, than eat the fake flavored and sweetened yogurts. It might take 5 more minutes to prepare but it is so much better for you. BUT..... I do worry about genetically altered foods as they don't know what it will do to out bodies years later. The genetically modified corn is amazing as it grows faster and fends off bugs and has the ability to feed the world. This corn is in so many foods we all consume like corn starch and the questionable "modified corn syrup." But really how is it affecting our bodies? Truth is we don't know, and we will not really know for another 10-20 years. I hope that these genetically engineered foods work out for mankind, as it is the future of feeding this world. Either way I hope you enjoy your food as much as I enjoy mine. I am off to eat a bowl of homemade soup, I made enough for everyone. For more information about the food color wheel (it's where I got my facts) go to:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wondering about WONDERGROUND.

I went to WONDERGROUND tonight to see a couple of friends and I got to thinking....why did Jeff McBride pick the third Thursday of every month? Maybe he based it on a children's poem about the days of the week? Monday's child is fair of face Tuesday's child is full of grace, Wednesday's child is full of woe, Thursday's child has far to go, Friday's child is loving and giving, Saturday's child works hard for a living, But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day Is bonny and blithe and good and gay. Fair of face ....does nothing for magic, although it is suggested if you are a performer. Full of grace... Have you seen magicians off stage? Grace does not describe most of us. Full of woe. ...Well that just refers to the spouses who put up with us magicians. Loving and giving... Well this is better as WONDERGROUND is an environment that is very caring about performers. Works hard for a living.... Really! We do magic, we love what we do for a living. Bonny, blithe, good and gay.... Hummmmm! Nope I can't think of a magician having all of those qualities. This leaves Thursday's child has far to go. And I think it fits because WONDERGROUND will go far. It already travels around the world on Jeff's web channel. People are starting to come to WONDERGROUND from all over. So I think it has already come far and will go even farther. Besides WONDERGROUND is Jeff's child. Or maybe its much simpler and the Olive (which is the restaurant) that is taken over every third Thursday only had that day free for the magicians to invade it. Either way when you are in Las Vegas on that third thursday come to WONDERGROUND it will never cease to amaze you every month.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Hello It has been suggested that I have a blog, so this is my blog site. I will be trying to figure out how o use it in the next couple weeks, so bear with me. See you at the computer. :)