Saturday, December 06, 2008

In my "In Box"

Tonight I received many calls regarding Street performers, most
performers were moving to different areas withought permission.

If you see an open performance area, you must call hilltop to get in
contact with the on site coordinator and ask for permission to move.
If you move locations withought permission you will be asked to leave

I looked at the check in sheet at hilltop and many performers have
signed in and out at the same time.
Going forward, if the street performer coordinator notices you have
signed in and out, you will be asked to leave.
You need to sign out at the end of your set.

Tonight has been extremely un proffesional, I have been trying to run
special events on citywalk and at the same time being constantly
interrupted with unacceptable behavior.

Performers have also left citywalk early withought calling my office
Going forward, If you arrive late, cancel, replace yourself or plan to
leave early, you must follow these procedures:

1) Call hilltop operations to notify them of any changes
2) You must also leave a message on my office phone

The following groups may not return to citywalk till we speak.
* SAMA, call the office on Monday.
* Geo Clay, Call the office on Monday.
* ZIP, You must call the office on Monday

* Tom Frank, ( we already spoke, you are fine to return. )
*Kelsey ( we already spoke, you are fine to return. )

All of these steps are designed to ensure that we - CityWalk
Entertainment and the Street Performers - are doing everything we can to
run the street performer program smoothly, and that everyone has a fair
chance to perform up here.( please respond when you receive this email
to make sure everyone understands the procedures )
Thank you


Friday, December 05, 2008

Steam through a sewer grate

The year was 1983, I had been thrown out of every high school I ever attended (or didn’t attend). The bottom of the barrel, a school called City Wide (nicknamed Easy Slide) even they had to draw the line when I accidentally set a student on fire. I dropped out of high school, stole a car and moved to New York City, to sew my oats, drop acid and street perform on the Upper West Side. It was my School of Hard Knocks.

Upon arriving in the big city, after dropping my stuff off at a friends, I needed to ditch the car. I filled up the tank, rolled a big joint and put it in the ash tray sticking out. I drove to Times Square in Manhattan. Pulled up in front of a McDonalds left the keys in the ignition and the car running, reeking of pot. I went in and ordered a quarter pounder with cheese, fries and a pop. By the time I came out the car was gone and someone else's problem. I lived in the Ben Franklin Hotel at 77th and Broadway. A transient hotel perfect for an 18 year old street magician from Cincinnati.

It was the beginning of a journey that had had already been in full swing for years. I loved my room at the Ben Franklin Hotel. Didn’t have many visitors, Derek Dingle came over a couple of times. Shawn Greer visited, Jeff Moche was in the hood, Dave Hughes also in the neighborhood. It was great! The Upper West Side was in the peak of it’s redevelopment/gentrification. Fancy restaurants, high end retail, a street act on every corner, street vendors and a festive community feeling 7 days a week. I worked a few hours a night on Columbus Avenue and spent a lot of time tripping in Central Park.

I have vivid memories sitting on the top of that building, with my legs hanging over the edge, looking over Broadway. The warm city air in the night time.

They say the neon lights are bright on Broadway
They say there's always magic in the air
But when you're walkin' down the street
And you ain't had enough to eat
The glitter rubs right off and you're nowhere

They say the women treat you fine on Broadway
But lookin' at them just gives me the blues
'cause how ya gonna make some time
When all you got is one thin dime
And one thin dime won't even shine your shoes

They say that I won't last too long on Broadway
I'll catch a grey hound bus for home they all say
But they're dead wrong I know they are
'cause I can play this here deck of cards
And I won't quit till I'm a star on Broadway

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Harry Langdon , originally uploaded by sokaris73.

Over the hill? I think not

Life is real, so you better get with it. Bullshit, I believe that about as much as getting a real job.

Filling out my passport application. My last one expired in February. I got the last one for a trip to China, coincidentally that’s why I need this one. I have an opportunity to work a month in Beijing. Who knows if it will actually happen, but best to be optimistic and prepared. One show a night 6 nights a week and discuss putting a magic shop in club as well. I’m up for the gig and will rock the mother fucking room.

I am a lean mean entertaining machine. One nice thing about performing at the CityWalk every night is, my chops are on fire. Along with a new found and heightened physical presence (from working out daily), coupled with tricks that I perform nightly, strong familiarity with the routines and comfortable performing in temperatures that range from 50 degrees (the coin roll out to the star with Morgan silver dollars in 50 degree chill, no easy feat) to 100 degrees. I see it all every day. Perfect beautiful sunsets that sweep the west coast. The other night it was cold and foggy, the marine layer rolled in and mangled my deck of cards in short order. Another overcast day here in LA (there aren’t that many). Reminds me of my time in Seattle. It was like this most of the years. No rain though, just a big gray sky. Chilly 65 degrees, but still in shorts here at home. Will bundle up for what I can anticipate to be another weak night at work. Can’t believe that I’m in 32” waist pants these days. Wasn’t all that long ago, that my 38”s were getting snug. Feeling fucking GREAT. I could conquer THE WORLD. I might not make any money doing it. . . but I could do it!

Polly loves to cook winter meals. In the last week or so we’ve enjoyed Beef Stew, Chili and last night was Chicken Gumbo with hot,spicy, cajun sausage. My woman can throw down in the kitchen, let me tell you. We eat healthy and very good. Protein ROCKS! Never thought I hear myself say that!?

Got a call from Gay Blackstone yesterday about some TV show, was looking for a street magician. Aye Jaye had recommended me, telling her that I was the best of the best (how flattering). Unfortunately they were looking for someone with 40 years of experience, but was 25. I forwarded her a few video clips of my work and thanked her for her time. Bummer. . . too old at 43. I can dig it, I’m a big boy. . . This is Hollywood. I understand.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Buster Keaton, originally uploaded by twm1340.

Living LA style, eating right and exercising

Sun setting in the valley, back yard

Thinking about blowing work off tonight. Not feeling it AT ALL. MIght have to suck it up and go any ways, it’s just a couple of hours. Last night was painful. Shows were good, just cheap audiences, I feel their pain. . . literally.

Been working Fountain Court at the Universal CityWalk a little more these days, seems to be a world of difference in the way I can connect with out the LOUD BLARING MUSIC being pumped into every orifice. Liked it a lot. Over the weekend it translated into my best day in weeks. Last night. . . not so much.

The trick I’m doing in the picture below is an oldie but a goodie. Taught to me by Larry Pringle back in the day. I’ve recently started doing this trick again. Getting the same good reactions it always did. It’s been a long and winding road. Tricks, tips, tits.

Tom Frank 1981 • Kings Island

This is me at 15. I loved this job! $250 a week back in 1981, six 20 min. shows a day, 6 days a week. Hell, I'd have done it for free. Look at those little cuties.

Monday, December 01, 2008

I dedicate this song to my girl Polly

I'm pulling through and it's because of you
When I was stranded came your helping hand
Lonely, hurt I had not known which way to turn
'Til you said, "Try smiles, not tears, just laugh and learn"

I'm pulling through and it's because of you
You made me see how lovely life could be
Lifted up my heart and made me count the cost
To find I'd gained, not lost

When I thought that hope was really gone
You showed me I was wrong
And you taught me how to carry on
Thanks for the lift in time and thanks for your song

I'm pulling through and it's because of you
I'd do the same for you if your turn came
Hope it never will
For I've been though the mill
I won't forget this debt
I'm pulling trough

When I thought that hope was really gone
You showed me I was wrong
And you taught me how to carry on
Thanks for the lift in time and thanks for your song

I'm pulling through and it's because of you
I'd do the same for you if your turn came
Hope it never will
For I've been though the mill
I won't forget this debt
I'm pulling trough

By Diana Krall

Responses to my last post from The Magic Cafe Forum

This is very interesting Tom.

I have been through a few Hero's Journey's myself, as we all have. My journey from when I started in the late 70's to where I am now is what I am talking about. One of the biggest changes is my motives for performing.

I too have wondered if I can incorporate an ARC into my performance. And I believe that it may be too much to do in a short period of time. I mean, most people ARE IN THEIR DAILY ORDEAL, and to interupt that for a quick relief, than I feel we have fullfulled our calling to disengage 'hero's' from their quest to even provide fuel for their journey.

It's almost like we are in the 'mentor' role...or if we are not, maybe we could be. Providing insite into THE SPECIAL WORLD.

I appreciate your desire to extend this to passers by...but maybe in a different venue? Or, maybe we could develope mini-performances for different stages of the Hero's Journey. But wouldn't that leave people with incomplete an independent film that you leave from wondering what happened to the main character vs. a complete circle where you know what happened to the main character that happens in most Hollywood films.

I believe US/WE/YOU/ME are IN EVERYONES JOURNEY as a MENTOR figure to guide and provide insite...not just skill and light comedy. Or, maybe, that is just my call.

But I do believe we can do that by TRIGGERING that which resides in the human heart...that eternal desire set in our hearts is being tapped into every day one way or another. If I tap into it and give it some form of LIFE than I fulfilled my motive for performing. That form of LIFE can be expressed in many ways...even through the many tricks that fill the books on our shelves.

So I am getting into this with you as a experiment. I would love to explore what you are talking about. Maybe I hit on with what you are talking about, maybe I added/subtracted from it. But I would like to do the same thing you are inquiring about.


-Scott M


Hi Tom, greetings.
This is a tricky one. I think `Magic' as it is presented today, by most `Magician'; is viewed by the audience as `clever trickery',.. when it's done well. Therefore, this Character of a `Magician' is what?,... a clever trickster.

Guys working as Gamblers,.. or Con-men (Harry Anderson), have more believiblity in there character; therefore they can "go places" with stories. This `Believiblity' is the key.

On the other hand, Variety Acts,.. physical variety act, often DO have a tension bow. "Will they accomplish it?!?" The audience sees the challenge, understands it,.. and with luck; wants to know the outcome.

So, how do we achieve this with Magic? I try to incorporate Magic with other Art Forms. When the people watch me, they are attracted by Music and Dance,... the Magic happens within this package. Therefore the emotions are carried by another horse. For me,.. it works.


p.s.: You mentioned `the distractions'. This is probably the biggest challenge for Sidewalk Workers,.. getting the audience in a quiet, peaceful,.. safe moment. I beleive this is the biggest benefit of keeping the Circle size smaller. A `tight', closed circle, yes. But not too big. A `homey' feeling can be very stimulating,... for BOTH sides of the table.

2057-0870, originally uploaded by AliceJapan.

Quote du Jour

"We are lonesome animals.
We spend our life trying to be less lonesome.
One of our ancient methods is to tell a story
begging the listener to say
– and to feel –
'Yes, that's the way it is,
or at least that's the way I feel it.
You're not as alone as you thought."


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Transformational Arc

I'm trying understand the components of story telling as it relates to the writing of a screen play and the performance of a magic act. One big difference is the lack of any transformational arc in either the story or the character (a generalization of magicians). Movies, stories, novels and other mediums use the arc to move things forward. You start here, you go through this and you come out different somehow. Most variety acts are demonstrations of skill tied together with light comedy. I've been wondering how to embed some arch in my act/character. To take the audience on a bit of a personal journey and let them feel some sort of change from the beginning to the end. For example, start the act with a cynical distaste for wonder, dismissing it as a puzzle. Acknowledge that magic is the butt of many jokes and accept that it's all a big fake. Then through the course of presenting the effects, somehow the magi begins to get it. To discover or rediscover how wonderful and beautiful it is to put a smile on the face of a person who needs to feel that sense of wonder.

I used to end every performance by saying,

"Your smile, is the light in the window of your face, that shows the world your heart is at home"

Scrooge, a great story of transformation

I yearn to make my act relevant for myself and my audiences. Strangely, I think it has less to do with tricks and more to do with writing. I continue to work on my craft. To hone and refine it. Polly said to me last night, you must really love what you do, most people would have hung it up by now." I do love what I do. I go out there every day and try and make the world a better place. . . one smile at a time. As a street performer I get my teeth kicked in regularly and am humbled nightly. Fighting all forms of distractions, I try and cut through the thick, scaly exterior of peoples psyches and get to the root of the matter. To answer the question what are we all doing watching this guy?

I hope to figure this out before I die. . . . in a long. . . long time.