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Doug Higley
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Actually Harry...you can put the Kilt in a Box covering Miss Murphy and....


Slim...some of us...true not all...but some of us, love the Pipes and the Drums...there is no better 'Amazing Grace'
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Moderncelt
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Slim actually they walk to get away from the noise.
Todd Robbins
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Is it true that guys that wear kilts wear them for same reason Schlitzie wore a dress?
Moderncelt
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It's easier to run from an angry husband with your kilt up than your pants down?
drwilson
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Back to pitch items for a moment, along the lines of Sealo's pitch cards, we have:

Giant Ring

I originally got to thinking about pitching fortunes from a sideshow illusion in the four-volume set of "Thayer Quality Magic" catalog sheets. It's a disembodied hand floating in a box holding a vial. In the vial is a fortune. Could you resist buying one? Other illusions could sell fortunes as well. Tom Osborne has plans for a puppet in a cabinet using illusion techniques to make it seem impossible that the puppet has a human operator. If it were a gypsy fortune teller...

Yours,

Paul
Doug Higley
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Doc Wilson...

On 42nd stret in NY in the late 40's and maybe early 50's was a Fortune Telling Parrot. The guy had a 'tray hung from his neck (ala ther old Cigarette Girl trays...in the Tray was edge to edge hundreds of little colore4d cards...reds..green...yellow etc. Also the tray had a perch with a small (Half Moon?) Parrot. You held out your Quarter and the bird would take it and drop it in the little cup, which the man would empty in his pocket...then the bird would walk across the Traty and select one of the little cards...pull it from the rest and offer it to you. Very cool and always a crowd and many repeats.

Get ahold of Kramien about training a bird like that.

I also had the idea (haven't done it though) for a Flea Market selling LUCKY Chinese Soap. Have some wrappers made up with Chinese Symbols on the outside and a small fortune and lucky Numbers on the inside...cut some small square soap blocks wrap 'em up. Use the soap for good luck and to wash away the bad before Lottery buy etc. Of course ala Soapy Smith...some Soaps could have a Bill wrapped in side as well.

Doug
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Todd Robbins
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Quote:
I originally got to thinking about pitching fortunes from a sideshow illusion in the four-volume set of "Thayer Quality Magic" catalog sheets. It's a disembodied hand floating in a box holding a vial. In the vial is a fortune. Could you resist buying one? Other illusions could sell fortunes as well.


There were a couple of Mystic Hand fortune telling joints in Coney Island back in the 1930s. Look in Eddie Fields memoirs for descriptions of the joints.

The parrot is a nice low rent version of the chinese fortune telling birds that are still seen in some locales.
Zack
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There's a guy in Santa Monica doing the fortune telling bird act, but he uses CATS.

Doc Wilson, Thanks for posting about your pitch act. I'm confused though...you're renting store space from the fair? What exactly are you doing there? (I've got a confused image in my head of a fair booth, with a gypsy fortune teller and a guy in a top hat all crammed in side together.
drwilson
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The way the fair worked, I rented space to set up my tent. I ran a magic pitch, a sideshow and the Gypsy Fortune Teller. The "entertainment" at the fair was stunt driving shows and horse races on the track. There was no stage, no strolling entertainers, nothing. So the only way to work this one was to rent space among the charity raffles. The joints around me loved me, because I was drawing people. If it got slow, I took my busking table way out front of the tent and drew a tip.

Your picture of my setup is fairly accurate.

Yours,

Paul
Zack
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Hi Doc,

I'm still having a hard time picturing what it is that you do.
Are you basically running a magic store with a fortune teller? What does your sideshow consist of?
drwilson
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The sideshow is P.T. Barnum's Feejee Mermaid. Here are some pictures of the setup without the sideshow attached (I'll dig out some pictures of that and post them later).

Yours,

Paul
Zack
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So it looks like the main thing you are doing is pitching tricks, right? Doing a fast and loose demonstration to get a tip? And then you have the mermaid as the blowoff, and the fortunes as well.

that's a good set up. Did you do well? Money-wise, I mean?
drwilson
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It's nice to have the mix, because last year was our second year there, and many of the people who came around for magic had bought one of everything the previous year, and we didn't have much new stock. If you look at all the magic that there is, and cull out only the stuff that is easy to do, looks good, and sells for under five bucks, you have only five or six magic tricks.

Last year with the mermaid, we found out that it made more per hour than pitching magic did. The fortunes make money all the time, it's like sitting at an ATM machine with a crowd on the other side stuffing money into it.

Bottom line: not everyone wants to buy (or even see) magic, but everyone wants their fortune. The bally outside the mermaid stops the crowd, and once the first people go in, there is steady traffic. They come back with their friends!

Fast and Loose, Cups and Balls out there way in front of the tent gets a crowd, and cash tips.

If there were more people, or we were in a better spot, we might have done OK with just a magic pitch, because not everyone will stop for it unless you are Don Driver.

We did OK money-wise, but the rent at this fair is steep and really takes a bite. I am not doing the fair this year; I will be taking this setup to flea markets and other places with fewer people but very low rent or even free space. I also got tapped for a paid show, so if you try this, make sure you have business cards.

Yours,

Paul
Doug Higley
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Doc is successful with his Mermaid billed as Barnum's...it fits to a T his persona as an old time pitchman medicine dude etc. A PERFECT match.

There are many reasons that when I sell the Mermaids, I recommend not using the Barnum line or even identifying it as a Mermaid or especially Feegee...my pitch is 'scientifically' and psychologically geared to todays crowds and as Kondini (UK) found out (with a big $ haul) it works like a charm everywhere!...especially at Flea Markets and Small Fairs...and the people LOVE it! Never a beef. Can't argue with a $1500 weekend.

As Doc said...rents at fairs these days is through the roof! And at many, it's UP FRONT...a rainy week and you are screwed.

Flea markets are the Midways of the 21st century...TONS of people...low rents and NO percentages and if (big IF) done correctly very lucrative and above all FUN!

There are many things to consider though to work a Flea Market successfully. You have to throw out the old ways and learn a new rule book to avoid mistakes. Many of the old midway practices COST you money you would otherwise WIN.

I wrote a book (Manual) about that awhile back...and hopefully I'll be able to finish condensing it (no time lately!) and get it on line FREE for you to read.

By the way Doc...I cut my teeth and learned a lot by NOT working on the actual Fair Midway but renting booth space in the trade show area or with the charity booths etc. It WORKS!!!
Doug
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drwilson
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Be sure to listen to Doug!

One more thing, be sure to have some pitch items linked to your exhibit. I bought a couple gross of the plastic sea creatures from US Toy, every kid who goes in gets one free. I don't tell them up front, it is just that little extra thing that makes them think that they got their money's worth. You could get some of the better stuff and sell it. If you saw The Thing in Arizona, could you leave without a coffee mug or T shirt? I couldn't.

My wife is an artist, so we made up some mermaid greeting cards with her art and sold them. We might do greeting cards or postcards of the banner that I painted. If you own the copyright on the art, you can get a good price on cards and postcards from Modern Postcard.

Here's another idea. I am getting a Dark Museum set from Doug. After they are inside the tent and have heard my lecture and seen my mermaid, I'll size them up and ask them if they want to see something really strange. If they say yes, I'll ask them if they are a police officer or an undercover agent. I'll offer to show them something that the state laws won't allow me to exhibit for only $5...

Yours,

Paul
Doug Higley
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Geez Doc...your humor level is on high alert today! hahaha.
Actually, I COULD make you something that would fit that bill...

but $5? Wow!

I really like your idea of the pitch items and little sea critters...I always had little things available for when somebody came 'in' with a toddler so they could have something to occupy their attention.

This brings up a MAJOR point...if not THE major point when doing these shows at a Flea or Small Fair and especially if you are in the Booth areas...keep it FAMILY Friendly!!!!! Forget all that gross crap from the Midway...that stuff gets the punks...but you want and NEED everybody to be a potential customer ('guest') so why turn off anybody? Make it Fun and you'll get the folks. Gross 'em out and you'll get the heat and LOTS of loose change will walk on by...


Doug
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drwilson
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Doug,

It's $5 to LOOK at the Dark Museum, or more appropriately, to receive a private performance...

Yours,

Paul
Zack
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This is all great stuff. So Doc, you are:

1) Pitching slum
2) Talking the mermaid
3) Busking with a cups and balls act and passing the hat
4) Running the fortune tellers

that's pretty neat. Whats your arrangment with the mitt readers?

Doug:

I'm fascinated that you've brought back the exhibit show! Bravo!

When you say you've "updated" the fiji mermaid, what did you do? Is it the result of radioactive testing?

I can't wait to see your book!

What do your gaffs go for?
Doug Higley
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Zack...hit my sig and read all about it at the bottom of the Dark Museum page is a link which will take you to the exhibit and sideshow stuff page cryptoillusions.us

As to updating...the idea is to create a bizarre Creature that could be fairly recently 'alive' and not look like a Monkey torso sewn to a Fish Tail in the 1800's. (though I can make those too). The actual updating comes in the form of WHAT is SAID and presented on the banners outside. VERY special words that affect the reader in certain ways and cause a curiosity to develop even in those that avoid such things. (Those words are for my clients however and not the public forums.)

Doc: I get it...wow...you are a jewel among the jewels!!! A veritable Prince Of Pitch...Now that I know that...hmmmm regarding your ensemble being built...hmmm...(knowledge is power)...I have an idea....email me if your serious about above.

Doug
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Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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I rather like the shrunken mummies, the Satan's claw and the baby sea serpent.

Steve
Dr. Lao: "Do you know what wisdom is?"
Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
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