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Another 6 month post

Since my last post in April things have been improving. In May my wife and I spent 5 weekends in Muskogee at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival working for T’ger Toggs, a clothing retailer based out of Kansas City. It was very busy and people seemed enthusiastic about events opening back up. It started out with a mask mandate for participants unless you could verify your vaccine status and a mask recommendation to patrons. By the end of the run, the city of Muskogee’s mask mandate had expired so there were very few people wearing masks.

T’ger was very happy with how Muskogee turned out for him, even if he did have to work long hours during the week to rebuild his inventory.

June meant missing the last weekend of the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival and heading to Great Bend for the June Jaunt, an event held the first weekend of June in several small town along K-96. There were still concerns about social distancing and mask wearing which meant there were fewer vendors than normal. The layout this year, to me anyway, was all wrong. They had me on a temporary stage next to the courthouse where there was no shade. I ended up doing 2 of my three shows there and the final show of the day in front of my wife’s face painting tent (doodlefaceskc) in the shade. That last show ended up being the best show of the day and the small audience seemed to like it.

The rest of June was pretty quiet. I’ve been working on some stuff in my new Magic Room (Man Cave), but nothing that important. In July we made the annual trip up to the family cabin in Colorado and spent a day at the Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, CO about 45 minutes south of Denver. For us it was mostly a site seeing adventure. We’ve been doing Renfests for so long there isn’t much that is “new” to us. We did run into a vendor or two that we knew from Kansas City but other than watching a couple of shows it wasn’t that exciting. I don’t want to say that the don’t have a street cast, but the characters they do have are so spread out that they might as well not have anybody.

Late August I travelled to Las Vegas for the Magic Collectors Expo. Three days of informative lectures and a dealer room of all sorts of desires. I bought many books and a few poster recreations. The lectures covered all sorts of topics from newly discovered diaries of a young Alexander (before he knew) to the real history of Sawing a woman in half to feather flowers and quick change through history. The best part was the tour through The International Museum and Library of Conjuring Arts, David Copperfield’s private collection.

Overlooking the Golden Age of Magic Hall

It’s hard to describe how breath-taking it truly was to walk through this treasure trove of magic history. Things I had only ever just read about I saw up close, props from touring shows of the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, costumes worn by famous magicians or their assistants, a recreation of Tannen’s magic shop in New York just like David remembered it. Amazing! I could have spent hours looking and reading all the tags but since there were so many of us we were guided through on a 90 minute tour in groups of 15. Still my mind longs to go back.

Kansas City Renaissance Festival

As we closed in on opening weekend, I spent a week and a half at the festival grounds getting the Tower ready. Steve usually helps but he was so overwhelmed with his other job that he didn’t have time to help. I made repairs and improvements to the tarp that covers the stage. Got everything hung and taut and it looks better than it has in years. Next year we’ll (I will) alter the tarp further so that it doesn’t sag in the middle like it does now.

Ready for showtime!

Early in the run, one of the vendors near us was on site in the middle of the week when they heard management talking about the recent building inspections done by the city of Bonner Springs. Apparently ownership/management thought the tower belonged to us and wasn’t going to do any repairs to the structure. There are some cosmetic parts at the top of the tower that are rotting and falling off and were sited in the inspection and they wanted to know why it was on their report. I guess they know now.

Attendance has been down, or at least it feels like it. It’s definitely not the 15-17K average through the gate we used to get just a few years ago and nowhere close to the glory days of 28K+ that made it feel like you were packed tight as you walked through the lanes. Because of where we are on the festival grounds there has to be a certain number of people through the gate to “push” the crowd our direction. I mean I’m not complaining. The people that have come out have been great and Steve and I appreciate them sitting through our shows and leaving a little something in the basket before they leave.

We did have a scare at the tower. Steve got COVID so I immediately scheduled a test for myself. I was negative but Steve ended up missing a weekend so management brought in another magician from the St Louis area. He was definitely not Steve. I won’t mention his name here, but he was most definitely a kids show magician. The following weekend I learned that he was back on a different stage covering for another act that had to cancel due to COVID.

COVID is no joke. Mask up, get the inoculation, keep the people around you safe.

One weekend to go until we pack it all up for another year.

The weekend immediately following Renfest I travel to Columbia, MO to do several 15 minute shows over two days. It’s supposed to be Renaissance themed so it shouldn’t be a tough gig but 15 minutes for me is typically just the warm up.

Spring update

Construction

Since my last update in January, We’ve completed construction on my room. We haven’t come up with any clever name for it, it’s just my room or the magic room.

Here is the video I uploaded to Facebook a few weeks ago:

Covid

I got both my shots of the Pfizer vaccine and full efficacy will be May 8th. I’m an introvert and even I am looking forward to getting to be around people again.

Faires, Festivals, etc.

Made a brief trip to Central Missouri Renaissance Festival this past weekend. It was good to see many faces I haven’t had in person contact with for more than a year. I talked with the Entertainment Director there, and talks are underway to bring me to the event, maybe this fall after Kansas City (depends on timing), but definitely next spring. I feel I’m a good fit for the event and will bring some new energy.

One thing I did notice is that all acts had QR codes printed and placed near the front of their stages for touchless tipping. I’ll need to do that for Kansas City this fall.

Performing

I performed in March for the Kansas City Magic Showcase’s online show. It was a little rough, I admit, but I was working in a brand new space and had never worked for a camera before. Plus having no audience to work with it made things, for me anyway, more like demonstrating and not performing. I did an effect with new script, an old trick that always plays well (in person at least), an effect I tried at Renfest a couple of years back that I ended up dropping because it needed more work, and a completely new effect with mind reading. I went back and re-watched and there are certainly things I’ll do differently if the opportunity arises again.

Live shows

My first live in person show this year will be at the June Jaunt in Great Bend, Kansas June 5th. I am excited and a little nervous since it’s been well over six months since my last in person performance. I know it will work out just fine, they love me down there. I am working on some new things to present and some old things in new ways.

I had thought I’d be up in Nebraska in May but because of a communication SNAFU on his end the entertainment director/owner didn’t think I was interested. He put me on the list for next year so we’ll see what happens.

KCRF

I was asked this weekend if I thought Kansas City Renaissance Festival was going to happen this fall. I told him, and I believe this, that there is a very slim chance it wouldn’t happen. As vaccinations increase and new infections decrease in the area it will happen. It may look a bit different than previous years. Since it doesn’t start until September, it’s hard to say, but it may have social distancing rules, attendance caps, temperature checks at the entry points. Again, at that point it will be the “normal” we’ve all lived with for the last year and as things return to a new normal we will all adjust accordingly.

Final thoughts

This last year has been hard for many of us that make a living being in front of people. Some will undoubtedly jump in with both feet the first chance they get. Some of us, like me, want to take it slow so that all precautions are taken to limit the spread of COVID and ensure the safety of our audiences.

I cannot wait to hear those words again…”Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Marvelous Matt!!!”

January 2021, so far

I realized it’s been a little over a month since my last post. I don’t really have much of an update. Work on my room continues slowly and we hope to have it finalized around the first part of February. It will be good to have a “place” in our home for my things. It will also be a place I can escape to when I need to work on something without the distractions the living room provides. I’ll also be setting it up as a virtual studio so I can start doing some magic online. Speaking of…

I was asked to perform for a virtual show for our local magic club but with construction dragging on and my stuff packed away I told them I wouldn’t be ready in time; maybe next month. I miss being able to perform. My last opportunity was in September when we filmed the Jolly Rogers show which was broadcast on Youtube in October. I posted about it last month.

I can’t wait for things to open back up and get closer to normal now that a vaccine is available. My wife already got her first dose because she’s on our local city council (continuation of government) but because I’m not in one of the “at risk” groups I probably won’t be eligible until late Spring/early Summer. Still I encourage everybody to follow health guidelines: wear a mask, stay socially distanced, wash your hands. Before long it will be over and we can get back to what is important to us.

Contacts are being made for the upcoming year. Spring shows are iffy because of the slow vaccine rollout, Summer shows are better but not guaranteed, Fall shows like KCRF will probably happen. I’ve already been told by one owner/operator in Iowa that even though we were good for them last year his regular people are coming back so they don’t need us. However, the show at the Bellevue Berry Farm outside Omaha is looking forward to having me back assuming they can open safely this year. I’ll keep you updated when I get dates secured.

There you have it, the post telling you all about the absolutely nothing going on in my life right now.

Non-sexy post

See only a month since my last post; I’m getting better at this.

We started construction on my workspace at home. Since we’ve moved into this house 16 years ago I haven’t really had a space to call my own. All my magic props and materials are in one corner of the basement which I set up as my “space” when we moved in. That space has never been conducive to rehearsal or actual use, just mostly storage. Not to say it’s not workable but with no walls I really had no way to set up the space to be functional.

So starting the second week of November we began construction. With the help of friends we’re doing it ourselves to save money. There have been some mistakes made, but nothing that couldn’t be corrected. The walls and electrical are in and this week we’re finishing up mudding the drywall so I can start on painting and getting the drop ceiling installed. Once that’s done I’ll call somebody to do carpet and I’ll finish out the room by installing trim and doors. Okay, after checking, it looks like I need to trim first and then do carpet. Whatever, I’m getting to the point I just want it done.

Aside from the construction, not much has been going on the last month. I’ve been working on setting up the two websites for our other ventures: Claire Up There and Doodle Faces KC.
The Doodle Faces site at least has a home page. Claire Up There just has a landing page and nothing else. I’ll get them done, but at this point it’s not a priority.

So there you have it. If I don’t have the opportunity to get back here before next month I want everyone of you to know I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May next year be easier than this one was. I’ll see you soon.

Flashback Post No 3

May 2019

The first weekend of May was spent at Renaissance Festival of Nebraska at Bellevue Berry Farm outside Omaha, NE. Because of all the flooding along I-29 this year we had to take a longer route up US 75 from Topeka. It’s two lanes most of the way and I do not recommend it unless you have no other choice. This was the second year I was at this event and I had requested being somewhere other than the children’s area all day. I was not disappointed, four shows per day each at a different stage. Since last year I had figured out how to minimize my props so we didn’t need the wagon, instead relying on a foot locker and a fold-able two wheeler. The shows seemed to go over pretty well and management seemed pleased with the way everything went.

After that, we were back in Oklahoma for the next three weekends at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival working for T’ger Toggs.
There was one weekend that a strong storm rolled through overnight. Hearing tornado sirens and looking outside to see it eerily quiet is not something you want waking you up at 3am. Turns out that storm had spawned tornadoes to the south of town. It missed largely populated areas but we heard later about several homes that had been damaged.

June 2019

We returned to Great Bend the first weekend of June. This little one day event is a great local festival and I am always grateful that they ask me back year after year. We rented a trailer this year so I could bring the Acupuncture illusion with me as well as all the other equipment this family of performers requires. I only performed the Acupuncture once due to technical difficulties. Trying to fix what was wrong in the blazing sun wasn’t working so I ended up cutting it from the rest of my shows for the day. My wife painted faces all day and was joined by our daughter in the afternoon. Also longtime friend Beth Byrd performed throughout the day handing out tickets to patrons for silly things like being “too darn cute” and did a show followed by a workshop on miming for all the kids. Always a good time.

July 2019

  • Spent some time in the mountains of Colorado relaxing with friends and family.
  • I fixed the problem with the Acupuncture so that shouldn’t be an issue anymore.
  • Walked on broken glass at Kansas City Magic Showcase with Rod Sipe, again.
  • Fringe Fest meant performing friends staying with us. Mike and Nancee Micham presented their performance piece “Red Clay Country and White Cloverine Salve” five times during the 14 day run. It’s a rustic story about Nancee’s grandmother and her trip across the dust bowl to a better life in California.

Below you’ll see Mike and Nancee putting their lives in my hands in some dangerous equipment. I can’t say enough about what good friends they’ve become over the years.

Finally Arrived

So the new prop I ordered back in April has finally arrived in Kansas City. I need to get it picked up and transported home so I can work with it a bit before debuting this at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival this coming weekend. Nothing like only having two days of rehearsal to get everything ready.

Here’s a sneak peek of what is coming:

What happens in Vegas…

Does not necessarily stay in Vegas.

Two weeks ago we traveled to Sin City, Las Vegas, NV. Spent time doing touristy things. Saw two amazing magic shows and met with the illusion builder I talked about in a previous post. I had a few ideas and he pointed out that one wasn’t currently acceptable and the other was overdone. Then he gave me a new option I hadn’t considered and that’s the one I’m going with. A few close friends know what it is, but for the rest of you I’m going to keep it close to the chest until I can debut  it later this year…

Next month is Norman Medieval Faire  and I’m looking forward to returning. I’ve made some changes to my show to be more “family friendly” for this audience so I hope it all works out. I just checked the schedule for this year and I’m on the Unicorn Stage which is right at the crossroads of the three areas and I’ll be sharing the stage with Tullamore and Bardmageddon. Tullamore is a well known Irish music act and I know them personally so this should be a good weekend.

After that is the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska the first weekend in May (5th & 6th). This will be my second year at this event. It’s a two weekend event but I’m only appearing the first weekend. Kansas City Renaissance Festival in the fall is already on the books, and other than those my schedule is pretty open.

I think we might still have a few shows we’re waiting to hear back from so I’ll try to keep you updated as things change and get confirmed so you can come out and see my ever developing show…

Mid-summer Katsup

I originally started this post on July 13 today I finish it.

I will start now and work my way back, kind of like a time machine…

June 19 the call was taken. The info confirmed. The waiting began. That’s the short of it. The longer version, I got called by Kansas City; they confirmed I was still interested and said the contract would be out in a matter of days. That was nearly four weeks ago. I got the word between now and then by a third party that the festival office had to send parts of the contract out to a lawyer for review before they could send it on to performers to be signed. I guess to make sure it meets the guidelines for anti-bullying and harassment or something like that. In discussion with others we wondered will the office make the time to reprint those contracts that had been issued earlier this year and require all performers sign or will they just “let it go”? Doesn’t matter as long as I get my contract prior to opening day.

In other news, I did one weekend a the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska (not to be confused with the Nebraska Renaissance Festival) and it was a good time overall. I did have to cut my show short due to only being allowed 30 minute time slots as opposed to my normal 40 minute slots. 30 minutes really only allows for a 15 minute show after accounting for setup, calling the show and tear down .

I also did the June Jaunt in Great Bend, KS again. This makes six years doing this fabulous small town event. I was joined by another magician/mentalist Curtis the Mentalist from Wichita. During lunch he mentioned that this wasn’t his typical type of event, but I think he did pretty good wowing the crowd. Because of the rain that had started the afternoon ended a little early for us entertainers so we packed everything up and called it a day.

Well there you have it dear readers, my summer in review.

Update** The contract for KCRF finally arrived July 14th and I just sent it back today. I’m hoping that they don’t reject it for any reason and I can get serious preparing for the 2017 season.

In the bag…

Back home after a gig at the Medieval Fair of Norman. Friday was sunny and cool, Saturday was overcast and the rain held off until late in the afternoon, and Sunday was dreary with light rain and drizzle for most of the day. Because this is a free fair there were still lots of people at the event all three days.

This was the first time I’d done this event and I’m hoping it wasn’t my last. Most of my audiences were rather small. That may have been a result of the threat of inclement weather Saturday and Sunday or something else that I can’t put my finger on. The audiences that I did have seemed to enjoy my show. My favorite part of the whole weekend has to be the egg routine on the last show of Sunday. I had chosen a tween girl to assist, like I normally do, and when we got to the part about her favorite magic word she says “Taco Bell”. I and the people in the sound tent lost it. I know I laughed through a good portion of the rest of the show.

The one downside of this event is that apparently not everyone appreciates my particular sense of humor. I learned, on the way home, that one lady posted on the official Facebook page of the event that she was offended at the use of sexual innuendo in the show and that she had to take her 6 1/2 year old daughter away. At first I was saddened that I had offended anybody. But as I played the entire script of my show from beginning to end I realized that I hadn’t said anything during the show that would upset a 6 year old, only her mother. Sure there are lines that can be taken different ways, just like in the old Rocky and Bullwinkle show. I understand wanting to protect your child, but nothing I said would have led a child to believe I was saying “naughty” things.  Apparently I should add a disclaimer at the beginning of the show as many do these days, “If the kids understand the jokes, it’s not my fault.”

Here is a picture that conveys the same idea:

A child sees the dolphins, an adult sees something else… The question is how do you see the world?

Next up is the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska at the Bellevue Berry Farm

Upcoming Announcement

Nothing set in stone yet, but there appears to be some future performance dates in the works. One will be a new event for me and the second may be a return appearance after many years.

Once I have things firmed up I’ll post more information.

Posing. Photo courtesy of atthefaire.com