Monday, December 05, 2011

Busker du Jour • Shawn Greer

Shawn Greer performing at the Tempe Arts Festival, 12/4/2011 • Click pic to enlarge

Sunday, December 04, 2011

In my "In Box"

November 1, 2011

Hello Mr. Frank.

I've been a reader of your blog for a long time, and Sunday night I finally had a chance to see you perform if only for a minute. I doubt you remember me but I was wearing a green Las Vegas shirt and was with a girl way too pretty for me. I dropped a 5 in your hat would have been more but in the credit card age I just didn't have much cash on me.

I just wanted to let you know that your show was fun and engaging. It was a pitch show and as disappointed as I was to not see your Linking Ring Routine, it was entertaining to see you play with some of the basics. Thanks for a few minutes of fun.

Also I was hoping that we could begin a magic dialogue. I've been a studier and, at times, performer of magic since I was a kid, and since I'm only 22 I still haven't quite become anything other than a kid. I would love to hear any stories you'd be willing to share. Any insights on the street you'd love to discuss. Busking has always been a part of my life, from stealing decks of cards to do quick shows on any corner I could, to spending hours on end walking up and down Santa Monica BLVD, taking in the art of it all. Someday I hope to make it to the street, but for now I'm feeling pulled to other places.

I've never had a chance to really have a good conversation with a true street performer, after seeing videos of yours and reading your blog, I can't even begin to imagine how many lessons you have locked in your head. If you find yourself with any spare time, I'd love to just shoot the shit. I don't know what I'd have to offer in return, but I am funny. :-P

Again than you for adding a some magic to our night. I hope you had a wonderful Halloween weekend.

Brandon

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Email to my daughter Hope Frank

Dear Hope,

I DO get the letters and e-mails from you, and I love them! I just think you are terrific! You're turning into such a beautiful young lady. (Thanks you so so much for the pictures! They made my week!) I guess I'm just at a loss. What do you say to someone who won't talk to you? I don't know.

It's been cruel that we're not allowed to see each other. I love you and want to spend time with you. If there is ever a school event that you are participating in and want me there, let me know and I'll do my best to be there. I dream of the day when we can visit, a day where no one can tell us that we can't be together. That day is coming, I know it.

As we reflect on Thanksgiving and all that we're thankful for; I am thankful for YOU and Max and Liam and especially your mom. Without her, none of you could have been the result of our love. I've been thinking about how much love I have for you all. Someday you will feel that love in a GIANT hug.

Have a GREAT Thanksgiving! I'll call you on Thanksgiving Day and "Hope" that you will talk to me. Please give my best to everyone

I love you dear girl

Dad

Say Hi to Max and Liam for me and let me know what you might like for the holidays ($50-$70)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Thursday, October 27, 2011

John Scarne Cups and Balls

Email to my son Max Frank

Dear Max,

It's been over 5 years since we've talked or seen each other. How about we change that? Any chance we could talk on the phone, email, Skype, send smoke signals? What's going on in your life these days? I hear you're playing football, how's that going.

If you invited me to one of your football games and could spend some time with me afterwards, I would certainly show up. I miss you more than you know, and have always wanted to be a part of your life.

Your birthday is right around the corner, any gift ideas in the $50 price range?

Please let me know.

I love you son,

Dad

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Beautiful September Day

What a gorgeous day! 84 degrees blue skies and sunny. What's not to like? Got an hour or so before heading to work, thought I'd make a little blog post.

Been a pretty good week. Played a round of golf with Alfonso. Got to visit Polly at the Studio. For those of you who don't know, Polly is a hairdresser for CSI:Miami. She works long hours and we don't see all that much of each other Monday through Friday, so it's always nice when I can visit her for lunch or she comes home early. Another bonus, catering had prepared steak for lunch! Living the life! When ever I visit, I like to take a picture or two. Here are a couple from my most recent visit.

It's amazing how many people it takes, doing so my different things to make a tv show come off. Amazing really.

I love Polly and appreciate all that she brings to my life. Smitten, if I do say so myself.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Daze gone by



It seems like a million years ago that I used to spend months on the road performing on a tour of comedy club one nighters. These were mostly small towns through the midwest that couldn't support a full time comedy club. Mostly hotel lounges or bars that had a "Comedy Night" one night a week. They were'nt the best gigs, but the money was ok, the routing was good and it kept me busy.

This was shot in Lorain, Ohio at a night club called the Brown Derby. I was going through my first divorce and my head was in an ugly place. This was only the third time I had tried performing a rope escape. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Tricky Wallet Story

The year was 1998, I had a wife, 3 kids, a house in the suburbs, I owned and operated The Carew Tower Magic Shop, as well as FunKIDelic Toys, in downtown Cincinnati. Life was good and I had big dreams. I took a trip to China to go into manufacturing. I had a head full of ideas, not sure if any of them would pan out.

While in China I visited 11 cities in 21 days and and met a variety of factory owners and businessmen. It was at late night meeting in a small hotel room in Baoding (87 miles from Beijing) where my version of tricky wallet was born. Don't remember the guys name, but his primary business was in leather goods. He showed me a bunch of samples and I studied the quality of materials and craftsmanship, paying close attention to the stitching and lining.

I had an antique Tricky Wallet with me that I showed him. He examined it completely and I asked him if he could make one to my specifications (to hold a poker size card). He said he could and I asked him when I could see a sample. It was pushing 2AM and to my surprise he said that I could see a sample at 8:30AM. My guess is, that he stayed up all night messing with the thing till he got it right.

In the morning he showed me a working sample. A bit rough around the edges with some issues in color contrast of the ribbons and some cosmetic issues. A day later I came back and approved the order for 1000 wallets. They would be ready by the end of my trip and I would take them back with me on the flip side.

After getting back to the States and setting up the T. Frank Mint which included The Phoenix Cups, I got busy working on a video to sell the with wallet, teaching a trick that used the wallet in a diabolical way and was a favorite of mine for years. It was a variation of a variation. The original effect was Alex Elmsly's "Between Your Palms". The variation of the effect that was my inspiration, was a trick out of Kabbala called "Between Elmsly, Brown & Himber". It used a Himber Notebook (with out the paper) and the card was placed behind a plastic window.

A funny thing happened around that time, all of a sudden the TV airwaves were full of commercials selling the Tricky Wallet. It was designed to hold money and receipts and was the width of a credit card making it good to carry those as well. What I thought of as a niche market, trick for magicians; someone else saw a mass market opportunity and probably made millions. Good lesson on short sightedness

Over the years, I sold 600 of them. I've moved many times since then. While cleaning out the garage I uncovered, in a box marked 3/4 inch masters the remaining 400 Tricky Wallets!

I looked at the tape I used to sell with it and thought it looked pretty dated. Time to shoot a new one and make available again, a pretty nifty routine, if I do say so myself. I've talked to Alfonso, Aaron Fisher and Danny Sylvester about the project and gotten feedback from them all. I started shooting some roughs at home by myself but realize I'm going to need help shooting it. Also not so happy with the live performances of the trick that I have from the Magic Castle. The video is good but the audio is crap. Put together a rough cut trailer from the footage I've been shooting. Gives me an idea of what it might look like.



Monday, September 05, 2011

Huge Collapse of Consumer Confidence. . . . . . No shit!

Today is Labor Day and marks the end of "Summer 2011". My summer dropped sharply over a month ago. A series of events starting with the Debt Ceiling Debate then onto the downgrading of the USA's credit followed by a 500 point stock market drop (in a day), proved to be too much for the economy. It's feeling to me, very much like the crisis in 2008. Shit, these volatile times are enough to make anyone batty! How do you get ahead in these trying times? Try harder? I don't propose to have the answers, but I'm doing my best to get my bills paid.

Today is also my Dad's 75th Birthday!! Happy Birthday Pops! If I think I've had a rough month or two recently, I should thank my lucky stars. First, my Dad had a cancerous tumor removed from his bladder while travling abroad, then after getting home, had his prostate and bladder removed. I know his recovery has been a challenge and wish I could have been there for him. He's on the mend now and I plan on visiting him in Breckenridge, Colorado at the end or September or early October. It would be nice to make it a working vacation if I can create some performing opportunities while I am there.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Birthday email to Liam Price Frank

(never know if he gets my e-mails)


Dear Liam,

How's the big, bad 10 year old!? Did you get my birthday message? Were you able to print out your Toys R Us gift certificate that should have been emailed to your mom? Please let me know if you got that? If you didn't, I can look into it and see what happened.

So! How was your summer? What did you do? Are you back in school yet? Where are you going to school these days? What's up at home? Are you happy? Do you like being a big brother? I'll bet your a great big brother and a big help around the house.

I love you son, and would love to hear from you and be a part of your life. Give me a call or email me? Do you guys use Skype on the computer with the web cam? I sure would like to see your smiling face on my computer screen or in person! How about sending me a current picture of yourself, you must be getting tall!

Not seeing you or being a part of your life really sucks. But, that's they way your mother wants it. Such is life. I hope you know that I love you very much and look forward to a time in your life where we can get to know each other and be in each others lives. I really really really look forward to that day. . . . and it WILL come.


Sending you much love from sunny California

your loving exiled Father

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fantasia at the Hollywood Bowl

Last night Polly and I enjoyed our last date night at the Hollywood Bowl for the summer. The program, Fantasia!

Nearly 75 years ago, Walt Disney used the skill of his world-class animators to visualize the world of classical music. The result: Walt Disney’s Fantasia. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, John Mauceri returns to recreate this magic – an evening of selections from the classic film with clips on the Bowl’s big screen accompanied live by the orchestra. You’ll see your favorites, plus a glimpse into the brilliant artwork and unfinished segments of this Disney masterpiece. The evening ends with fireworks that complement the spectacular beauty of this cinematic triumph.

We enjoyed dinner at Lido Pizza around the corner from the house, then headed in to Hollywood for a romantic evening snuggled beneath a blanket, under the stars of a California sky.

Here's a taste of the evenings entertainment!



What a treat to see the film in a freshly restored format created from the original negatives. Movie on the big screen, backed up by the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra playing the synchronized score live, how cool is that!?

Besides the parts of Fantasia that I was familiar with, the program was peppered with other unfinished storyboards from the movie that were never finished as well as a tripped out flick by Salvador Dali. All in all an exceptional evening!







Friday, July 22, 2011

Brookledge Follies

Good Day Sunshine

Thinking about my dad. A recent bout with cancer shook the fabric of our family. Scary operations overseas. Didn't stop him from touring the alps for a week on a motorcycle. I love my dad. Now back stateside, he went under the knife yesterday for more surgery. Scary shit that he's taking in stride. He's my hero, you know? If I ever thought that I understood a lifestyle based on hedonism, I'm humbled in his midst. Funny thing is, he credits me as to his zeal for pleasure and self indulgence. I'm flattered and honored to know him and call him dad.

I think about my kids and the years that have been stolen from us. I think about my dad and remember that it wasn't till my mid twenties that I actually got to know him. Divorce can be cruel yes. Pain is inevitable, but misery is optional. We cannot avoid pain, but we can avoid joy.

Polly and I are celebrating 5 wonderful, love filled years together. In that time, I've come to grips with a great many things. I've been humbled by the hateful decisions made by my ex-wife Moira. Specifically, preventing me from seeing my kids. It's been 5 years since I've seen or hugged them. So be it. I am here for them anytime. I ask frequently for them to visit me or offer to come up there and spend time with them. As my children become strangers, I'm finding out who I am without them. It's not what I wanted or bargained for, it's they way she wanted it and paid for it to be that way. Such is life.

I've decided to be happy. I have a great life! I live in sunny California with a great girl who I've known since I was 15, and really gets me. 5 years and not one argument, that's got to be some sort or record. Polly's hiatus ended this week and now it's back to 12 hours days working on CSI:Miami. As for me, I'm in the heart of the peak season at the Universal CityWalk. Working 7 nights a week, makes me feel good and productive. My act continues to devolve and is becoming a study in minimalism. It's not exactly what I want, but the reality is, I'm making more, doing less. . . . go figure. Last night I had the best night in a year!

I've been in contact with Buster and Hope, so there is hope. Good Day Sunshine.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Der Weltberuhmte Houdini poster for his Water Torture Cell debut!

Der Weltberuhmte Houdini poster for his Water Torture Cell debut!

When the Milk Can Escape seemed to him outmoded, Houdini moved on to a more grueling escape: the Water Torture Cell. He debuted the escape at Circus Busch in Germany, 1912, as advertised in this gruesome lithograph. As he is lowered upside down, water spills over the sides to stress the danger of this most riveting performance.

Der Weltberühmte, Houdini, c. 1912, color lithograph

Saturday, July 09, 2011

Carl Ballantine

Carl Ballantine, known also as The Great Ballantine

Carl Ballantine, known also as The Great Ballantine, was born Meyer Kessler but changed his name after spotting a bottle of Ballantine Scotch Whiskey. One of the best known comedy magicians, Ballantine performed a magic act in which every trick went hilariously awry, cracking audiences up across the nation. He was always dressed to the nines, sporting tuxedo tails for nearly every performance.

Great Ballantine (1917–2009) with Cards and Balls, c.1935. Courtesy of Saratoga Ballantine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The Keaton's

Excited!

I've been asked to perform at an interesting venue Thursday evening! I'll be performing classic magic to live musical accompaniment. Here is an LA Times article explaining the scene.

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Brookledge, Hancock Park's magical home

Vintage magic tricks and variety acts make a comeback each month at the Brookledge Follies, but just try to buy a ticket.

September 17, 2010|By Jessica Gelt, Los Angeles Times

The flickering light of a dozen dripping candles illuminates magician Rob Zabrecky's gaunt visage and pronounced brow. Wearing an old-fashioned tuxedo, he resembles a cross between a 1920s vaudevillian and Lurch from "The Addams Family."

"Welcome to the most famous address in magic: Brookledge," he intones from the stage of an antique theater located behind a Spanish-style mansion in Hancock Park named Brookledge.


It's a Friday night, and the 70 guests, all here by invitation, are insiders in the mysterious yet thriving world of illusion in Los Angeles. They're also witnesses to an effort to revive a lost era of legerdemain.

The old-school variety-and-magic show, called the Brookledge Follies, unfolds slowly and deliberately, like a polished card trick. The air in the small room is warm, the vibe intimate. When Michael Carbonaro of the Blood Brothers determinedly swallows sewing needle after sewing needle while his partner sucks up a long piece of string, the audience recoils in empathetic pain.

Then Carbonaro and his partner lean together, kiss and pull apart, each holding an end of the string in his mouth, to reveal that it is strung with the sewing needles. The audience gasps, laughs and claps wildly.

Actor and musician Ryan Gosling is in attendance, along with a well-dressed assortment of sword swallowers, burlesque dancers and yo-yo enthusiasts. Gosling's ghost-obsessed indie rock band, Dead Man's Bones, was heavily influenced by an earlier visit to Brookledge by Gosling and bandmate Zach Shields.

"We fell in love with the place and what was happening here," says Gosling, who is dressed in black.

What is happening at Brookledge is vintage magic's last stand against magic's modern reincarnation as pure spectacle.

Magic went mainstream around the turn of the 20th century and thrived until the 1920s and '30s, when movie palaces began encroaching on magic theaters. Then the art of illusion began a slow march backstage and into a niche subculture. Entertainers such as David Copperfield pushed it back into the limelight in the 1980s and '90s, but at the expense of its intimate scale and burnished technique.

The magic of the small stage, of vanishing doves and mysteriously procreating rabbits, gave way to Big Magic, also called large-scale illusion. The artful execution of tricks was eclipsed by elaborate feats: going without food for 44 days while suspended in a plexiglass box or making the Statue of Liberty seem to disappear on live TV (a Copperfield production).

As magic moved closer to performance art, it became more television-friendly but lost the quiet determination of craft.

The craft itself — the technical skill that, when practiced correctly, goes entirely unnoticed — is what magicians value above all else and what the monthly, invitation-only shows at Brookledge aim to revive.

Eventually, the producers plan to move the Brookledge Follies to a larger venue and sell tickets to the public. But for now, the productions are small, unpublicized affairs, intended to enhance a sense of community among those wishing to rediscover the golden age of magic.

To these purists, Brookledge matters. That's because it is the home of Irene Larsen, who with her late husband Bill and his brother Milt co-founded one of the world's most famous private magic clubs: Hollywood's Magic Castle. Bill and Milt were raised in Brookledge.

Erika Larsen, the 42-year-old daughter of Irene and Bill, came up with the idea to stage vintage shows at the mansion. She grew up in Brookledge, a child of magic, and became a member of the Magic Castle's board of directors.

She met Zabrecky, a musician, actor and magician, about 10 years ago at the Castle and the two became friends. When she hit on the idea of the Follies, she turned to Zabrecky to help flesh out the concept and act as host.

Irene opened her home to the Follies about a year ago. It was the first time Brookledge's theater, a historic landmark, had been used for live magic since its heyday in the 1940s and '50s.

The Follies are dedicated to the notion that in an age when the digital effects in movies such as "Avatar" can seem like magic, genuine, old-fashioned magic — sleight-of-hand and the real-time delivery of illusion — can still exert a powerful hold on the imagination.

"The people who find their way to Brookledge appreciate the vintage aesthetic of the entertainment," says Zabrecky.

The show gets its audience strictly by word-of-mouth. Admission is free but you must be invited by a performer or by a guest who has been invited by someone on the inside.

Judging by the current craze for things supernatural and magical — the HBO series "True Blood" and the "Twilight" series of books and films are just the beginning — Zabrecky's and Erika Larsen's timing seems inspired. So does their approach: The Follies seamlessly blends the spirit of a magical and mysterious past with the winking, self-acknowledgment of the present-day world of illusion.

By dressing the show up to look and feel vintage, its participants can lay claim to the rich, kitschy history of magic while performing first-rate, contemporary tricks. In other words, they can have their cake and disappear it too.

"I think it's wonderful what the kids are doing," Milt Larsen, now 79, says of his niece, Zabrecky and their creative partners in the Follies, co-producer Jeremy Kasten and musical director Kristian Hoffman. "They're utilizing that crazy little theater totally off the radar in what you could call the most respectable of millionaire alleys."

Zabrecky, 42, was frontman for the popular indie-rock band Possum Dixon in the 1990s. During one of the band's last tours, he happened onto a magic shop in Baltimore and bought a simple trick — a vanishing silk handkerchief. He performed the trick onstage that night using a condom instead of a handkerchief, and after that he was hooked.

When the band broke up, Zabrecky made it his mission to become a magician member of the Magic Castle, eventually earning a place as one of its core performers. He insists that the purpose of magic is not to fool people into thinking an illusion is real, but rather to astonish, to reintroduce a state of "childlike wonder."

The first Brookledge Follies show was staged last October and was in the form of a vintage spook show.

"Spook shows just kind of died off. They had a real shelf life," says Zabrecky.

The formula is one Erika Larsen knows well. When her mother immigrated to the United States from Germany in the late 1950s, she and her husband toured the country performing in spook shows, which pivot around a well-timed blackout during which ghostly effects are triggered and spirits appear to enter and toy with the room.

During Brookledge's first spook show, the audience was introduced to two showgirls who supposedly had recently returned from a trip to Africa. They brought a gorilla with them (actually, a magician in a gorilla suit), and the gorilla got loose. Zabrecky then pursued it. "I fired up a gas chainsaw and as I revved it and rushed into the audience, the blackout occurred," Zabrecky recalls.

The effect was electric, and the Follies became a monthly affair. They aren't all spook shows; some, like the one Gosling attended, lean heavily toward the variety arts.

Brookledge, built in 1937, has been filled with magic from the beginning. Its first owner was Floyd Thayer, who manufactured high-end magic equipment. In 1942, Thayer traded homes with William W. Larsen Sr., father of Bill and Milt. The elder Larsen ran Genii magazine, which he founded, out of Brookledge.

Thayer's Studio of Magic, as the home theater was called, was a showcase for magicians, including Blackstone and Dante, who came to test their illusions on the stage. During World War II, Orson Welles rehearsed his USO tent shows with Rita Hayworth, Joseph Cotten and Marlene Dietrich at Brookledge. That era is marked by an old green-and-gold sofa, called the Orson Welles sofa, which sits against a wall at the rear the theater.

In the backyard after a recent Brookledge Follies show, performers and guests chatted and sipped drinks beside a brook that runs through the yard. A garden composed entirely of gnomes collected by Irene and Erika glowed in the moonlight. Zabrecky reveled in Brookledge's illustrious past and his pleasure at its current reincarnation.

"I'm the luckiest guy in the world because I get to host it," he says of the Follies. "You can't believe you're there and then this odd man comes out on stage, and wow, I'm that odd man. I have to suspend my own disbelief."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tom Frank • Magician

Korn Dawg

Good Life

Nice hot day in the San Fernando Valley 87 degrees, blue skies and sunny. Just the way I like it. Belly full, Polly and I used up the last of our stash of Skyline Chili to make cheese coney's for lunch. Life is good, I spend my days doing what I please and work in the evenings. Doing what I do, trying to make the world a better place. . . one smile at a time.

Shawn Greer was in town a couple of weeks ago. We had a great time, just like we've been doing for over 30 years. We shared a pitch at Hollywood and Highland and busted out some nice shows. Always a pleasure to to see my pal work. We went to the Magic Castle and had a mini session with Steve Freeman and Jeff Altman. Good times with cards in hand.

Been in touch with Buster recently and got an email from Hope. Feeling at home in my skin and in my life. Letting go of the past is never fun or easy, but I feel like I get closer every day. I have a great life with Polly and very little to complain about. My life is full of love!

Sitting on the back patio, smoking a cigar and drinking a bottle of cold water, listening to Bob Dylan' last album "Modern Times"

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Harry Connick,JR - Our Love Is Here To Stay

In my "In Box"

Hey Tom:

Just want to drop you a note of "congrats" on your recent performance at the "Magic Castle" Yes...I have been watching your site and blogs for many years. I myself have been into magic for over 50 years. Everything from your Street Magic at Fairs in Atlanta is great and L.A. is "so great" . No one can do your linking ring routine and although "Chris Capehart" is good...I believe yours is better. I also know that you have experienced many "bumps" along this road of life. But still you have managed to get through them and go to work every day. I have learned much from watching you (no I do not copy your act)..but have learned audience management and communication skills.

Wishing you continued success and "Man did you ever look cool in the Tux at the Castle". Last year at Abbott's (I was on the show) I spent time with Kozmo and mentioned that he should do a segment on street entertainers and certainly mentioned your name for an interview on "Reel Magic" for a future edition. As you would say...If you don't answer this email...so be it.....I know you are one of the "chosen people with gifts"

Best my friend

Marien Hopman

Canada

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Marien,

Your note warmed my heart and made me smile! Thanks for taking the time to make my day! This is a good thing, the magic that has filled our lives with adventure, mystery and happiness. You flatter me with your comment about the ring routine. I have about 30 years of work in on the Jack Miller Routine with his poetic patter. So glad you like it.

Always a pleasure to make a new friend.

Peace

Sincerely,

Tom Frank

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Tom..you are a "Top Quality Performer"...never mind those idiots..who have all the big accolades in the Magic Circle as such....selling DVD's Books...etc..etc...(Hell they have never worked the street or the real world) they have always be cosy in the nice fun magic world...(but this is all changing in todays economy) I like people and magicians who do the "real stuff"..."make you living at it" ..and know what this real tuff difficult world is all about" I have been in "sales all my life" trust me...I have met them all "Well maybe not some of the L.A. folks you have encountered"

Please keep in touch.

Best

Marien

Monday, May 30, 2011

In my "In Box"

Hello Mr. Frank,

I'm a member of the Magic Castle and I caught your performance last week in the W.C Fields Bar. I really enjoyed your show. All of your routines were awesome and I really enjoyed your linking rings routine. I have been studying a number of routines myself, like Richard Ross and Wit Haden, but I could not find one that would work for me.

Is the routine you performed on the market? Or is it your own private show piece? I totally understand if you would like to keep it to yourself. I just thought I'd ask because I think it is very entertaining. Thanks for the good show.

Respectfully yours,

Justin


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(My Response)


Justin,

Thanks for the kind words, you flatter me. I do have a DVD on the routine, $30 + 4 S&H ( you can send money to Pay Pal to tfrank8176@mac.com )

Have a GREAT day!

Here is a clip from the DVD https://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1039413140612

Thanks for your interest!

Sincerely,

Tom Frank

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote du jour

Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.

~Dr. Seuss~

Friday, April 22, 2011

Quote du jour

I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.

~Maya Angelou~

Saturday, April 16, 2011

From the archives • Carew Tower Magic Shop

Doing the things that I like

Spring is in the air and this afternoon feels like, full on summer. Just a beautiful 89 degree day in the Valley! That's what I've been waiting for. . . some heat! With the weather getting nicer, it's time to kick hedonism into high gear. More swing dancing and more golf. Got a call from Chris Korn last week, he said his friend Melissa was in town from St. Louis. He said she liked to swing dance and asked me if I wanted to go out dancing. I love swing dancing! Something I picked up in Seattle. I told him there was a place in Burbank that had live music and swing dancing on a Monday night. We agreed to meet and have some fun. Monday nights are my Friday Night, as I take Tuesdays and Wednesdays off. It had been a good work week and I felt like getting loose.

Chris had mentioned that Melissa was a world class swing dancer and had competed nationally or internationally. I was starting to sweat thinking about it. I hadn't been dancing in a year or two and was nervous that I was going to make an ass of myself. I told Korn that I felt like I was going to session with Marlo with only an Elmsley Count to show. A cocktail and a cigar later, I found myself having the most wonderful time. One of my dance partners in Seattle (Carrie) was a dance instructor (owns her own dance studio). She taught me everything I know about dancing. I remembered that when I danced with her, she made me look so good. Melissa did the same thing. I hold my own out there, I'm a strong lead and I execute all the moves I know. Cool thing about dancing is, you pick up a few things each time you do it.

I danced the majority of the night with Melissa, when other guys asked her to dance; I asked other girls to dance. I scored bonus points for this as I'm usually shy about asking women I don't know to dance. One girl said, "I can't dance with you, you're too good". This cracked me up and I assured her that she was going to do just fine. The joint was jumping! Dance floor full, bar busy and smiles from ear to ear. We even got Korn out there in the dance floor and Melissa showed him the ropes. By the look of these pics, I'd say he was doing just fine!

Polly has expressed some interest in swing dancing. Carrie gave us a lesson up in Seattle, and we've been to the place in Burbank a couple of times. That would be great to add a regular Monday or Tuesday night of dancing to my summer of fun. Polly is on hiatus till the middle of July so we might be cutting a rug!

Getting up the next morning to golf was a little slow, but I got it together and met Alfonso for our regular Tuesday afternoon round of golf at Verdugo Hills Golf Course. I don't know which I like better, dancing or golf. Glad I don't have to choose. Golf in the daytime, dancing at night. . . It's just the way God intended it. I really like golfing w/ Alfonso. He's a great magician, friend and golf coach. My game has really been improving!

We golfed on Monday and Tuesday. For the Tuesday round we played with Aye Jaye and another clown named Craig. Aye Jaye in the pic retrieving a ball he painstakingly hunted. It's nice to have friends and it's nice to have activities that share that friendship. I'm a lucky and blessed man.

True Dat!

Thursday, April 07, 2011

In my "In Box"

Dear Tom,

My cups arrived today. I am so pleased with them I had to let you know. I have been in the magic game for over 35 years and your cups are the best I have ever used. They're perfect size for me and weight, the wand and balls are great too. Thank you for this great set. I have a set of gazzo street cups they never felt right for me and set for markem cups too small and too many sets over the years. They never felt right in my hands. Your cups feel like they were made for me, thanks again.

Paul Hewitt UK

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Lunch in 30 minutes. . . so easy, I can do it.

D














Tasty, filling, healthy and economical. Got to like that!

Just booked a weekend at the Magic Castle!

That's right, I'll be performing at the Magic Castle in the WC Fields Bar on the 20th and 21st of May. Come on out and have some fun with me from 8PM -Midnight. Should be a rocking good time. If you aren't a member and would like to come, leave a comment and I'll put you on my guest list.

World Magic Seminar 2011 pt. 5

Where was I, half drunk at the Alligator Bar at The Orleans Casino in Las Vegas on the last night of the conference. I wasn't making any friends with the bar staff as I chain smoked cigars. Actually it didn't look like the bar staff was making any friends either. The cocktail waitresses, even with their big boobies and skimpy outfits didn't look happy at all. In fact they all had that mouth full of cum look.

Anyways, we're doing tricks for the laymen at the bar and for the magic pals around, having a wonderful time Tommee Pickles, Steve Amaden, Tim Flynn, Van Dokkum and a bunch of other questionable characters. Booze flowing, smoke lingering, cards shuffling, coins rolling and laughter; this went on till 2 or 3AM.

A good time was had by all and I thought things were looking sleepy till I ran into Curtis Kam and his buddy Wil on my way to the elevator. The privious day I was putting it out there that the late night jam sessions would be in my room. Curtis asked if there was any action and I assured him that there was.

To most, there is only one thing worse than a cigar smoker. . . and that would be two cigar smokers in a hotel room with windows that wouldn't open. To me, I was in my element and the session began. A poperit of entertainment ensued. Curtis performed some his trademark coinwork to my delight Wil (who had brought his guitar) played a beautiful song impeccably. I don't know what's up with these Hawaiians, but they ooze with talent. I'm so lucky and blessed to have such wonderful adventures in the world of magic and my life. By the way, in the pic above, the camera lens wasn't dirty, that's just what the room looked like as they left after 5AM.

Any one else go? What were your impressions?

Best hats juggling

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Magic History Week at the Magic Castle

More on my evening at the Castle later. . . maybe. . . • Click pics to enlarge


World Magic Seminar 2011 pt. 4

One of the highlights for me was meeting Bill Palmer, curator of the Cups & Balls Museum. Although Bill and I have corresponded in the past, we had never met face to face. What a pleasure to meet the man with the finest cup collection in the world! What I didn't realize with the vast depth of knowledge Bill has concerning all things Cups and Balls. I had a conversation with him that I couldn't have had with anyone else on the planet. His dedication to collecting cups, researching information regarding manufacturers, styles, eras, history, design, performers was MIND BOGGLING! I certainly plan to make a pilgrimage to Texas one day to experience his collection/museum and play with his toys!

The great thing about going to magic conventions is, you never know who you might run into and you never know what you might see. Here I am hanging w/ Morgan Strebler "The Man who bends Steel". I had met Morgan once before in LA, but never spent any time with him. While hanging out at the Alligator Bar at The Orleans, Morgan performed an original effect called Molten. I had never seen Morgan perform, and I must say I was impressed. His technique and his acting ability. . . right on the money! If you haven't seen this interesting routine, check it out!



Also in attendance was Howie Schwartzman, I have fond memories of Howie giving me advice on the SWE Shift as a 14 or 15 year old kid. The world of magic so rich with personalities like Howie. Howie used to attend all the conventions back in the day as a dealer. He was the only US distributor for the Anverdi Line of Magic from Europe. Years ago I bought a trick from him where you could put a scarf through a mirror, or visibly penetrate the mirror with a sponge ball. It was a very visual effect that I used to include in my comedy club act.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

World Magic Seminar 2011 Random Pics

w/ Eugene Burger

Simon & Ginny Aronson w/ Mac King

Howard Hamburg w/ Farrel Dillon

Bizzaro