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How To Appear In Las Vegas

las-vegas-opening-a-showLots of magicians have dreams of having their own Las Vegas production or theatre in their name. As many on the inside know, it is always more business than show in this modern age…

For the first time (in my experience), IN PLAIN LANGUAGE, here is a two part series from the folks over at Vegas Chatter that explains the process of “four-walling” & “two-walling” a production in a casino showroom:

Four Walls And A Dream: Opening A Show In Today’s Vegas (Part 1)

Four Walls And A Dream: Opening A Show In Today’s Vegas (Part 2)

The same principles and business models apply in other casino-related markets like Reno, Atlantic City, Branson, etc. Reading the below article carefully can let you in on how the game is played and literally save you years of ‘real-world‘ experience. Along with saving you trail & error & marketing mistakes.

The good news that the dream is still attainable if you have (or can get) the financing, investors and/or sponsors to make it happen. Talent is important for your longevity, but it is not the only component for long-term success and profit – not by a long shot!

Personal Note: I realized the above early on in my career and decided to put my own show in less-competitive markets within Asia, where the exposure to Western magicians is fresh & new. All of this is being chronicled in my upcoming book on the experiences of having my own dedicated magic theatre in Thailand previously, along the the highs and lows, mistakes learned and so on. Also it will detail my new magic theatre upcoming in China, a mega-magic project in the middle-east and much more . I will keep everyone informed on its publication through this blog.

Magician Abb Dickson Sick

From word through Gary Bartlett, I have heard that master magician & illusionist Abb Dickson is quite ill. This is sad news indeed…


According to Gary, Abb’s on-going illness has taken a turn for the worse. Gary speaks to him a couple times a week. Unfortunately he is starting to become more forgetful than before and undergoing dialysis. Apparently he has lost about 140 pounds, and that is a lot, as Abb was always been a big guy.

He is off of email altogether now and phone calls are not ideal (due to the memory loss issues). Can be expected to all us as we get older… Cards and letters are best.

Contact me personally for the address and I will forward it to those of you want to write to him. It would sure lift his spirits I am sure.

My own personal connection with Abb (and my first meeting Abb) was in the 1970’s as a teenager in Orlando, Florida (in the USA, where I grew up). As a teenager I worked as an on-stage assistant in his famous show “Presto,” when it appeared at the Florida State Magicians Association Convention in Orlando.

I always was always thankful to Bev Bergeron for than opportunity. It really gave me a look being the scenes at a young age of what goes on in putting together a large illusion show. The personally signed poster to me from his Presto show is one of my most prized possessions and sits beatifically framed in my collection room.

Besides his performing interest, Abb Dickson was a partner in the family funeral business (which allowed him to finance his performing efforts & show early on). He is featured also on the cover of the January 1989 issue of Genii magazine, as well as many other industry publications throughout the years.

Famous magician Doug Henning was a big fan of Abb’s touring show Presto, and gave it a glowing review too I remember is an issue of Genii magazine.

Get well soon my friend. You still have a lot more of life left to live on this earth!  :-)

Illusionist Rick Walker

Illusionist Rick Walker

It is with much sadness that I heard second-hand of the recent death of my friend, Master Illusionist Rick Walker. He died way too early at the age of 64. The date of his death was Saturday, July 20, 2013.

I had not seen Rick for several years, but last I heard is that he was still very active in magic, along with his other businesses. Apparently (as it has been related to me) Rick had an accidentally fall, which caused a bump to his head and caused brain hemorrhaging leading to his death.

Rick Walker & Company was one of the first illusionists I ever saw perform live (at the Florida State Magic Convention in the 1970’s) and had a big influence on me. This was the first time a had seen a magician of a higher caliber perform with the the large illusions – and from that moment on was something I wanted to aspire to. Rick was about 13 years older than me, so when I saw him perform he was in his prime.

Rick was originally from Monticello, Mississippi, but moved to Dallas, Texas in 1977 where he spent the majority of his adult life. He was also an assistant for the Harry Blackstone, Jr. show early in his career. He had numerous national television appearances, was a magic consultant to the movie industry, as well as performing world-wide with his show.

Rick, you will be missed. But your influence and magic will live on.

You can see a video of Illusionist Rick Walker’s performance below.

Now that the Cera Sanitaryware 2013 Gala Dinner & Show was concluded, it was time for all to let their hair down a bit. International Indian DJ Dominic Dom (and his partner) took things over and everyone partied & danced into the wee hours of the night.

That gave us a chance to relax too and snap a few pictures for our memories of the event.

certa after show joe conrad and dancerJoe Conrad together with his beautiful lead show dancer and assistant just after his show.

certa-after-executives-winnersAll the key executives of the Cera Sanitaryware Company & employee prize winners, led by Mr. Abbey Rodrigues – Vice-President of Domestic Sales (pictured 2nd from the left). 3 cars were given away that night. WOW!

certa-after-danceAfter the spectacular gala dinner event, everyone was in the mood to party and dance the night away. As you can see from the pic, looks like they could have done with a few more women on the stage to join them!  ;-)

certa-after-pretty-girls-dancingEven all the Thai ‘pretty girls’ got in the party mood and started dancing!

certa event after pics joe conrad and angusJoe and Angus hanging out backstage.

certa event after pics joe conrad and photographer nokJoe Conrad and his ace Bangkok-based photographer Khun Nok. (Who did all the photography too for this series of blog posts on the Cera Sanitaryware event).

Then after that the official event was concluded. Another hard part for my some of my technical team and staff actually begins now – as the illusions and props are packed away, light, sound, AV & set equipment are torn down, put into the the truck and so on…

A conclusion to another Joe Conrad Magic Company produced event. We normally do not go into this much detail documenting what goes on at one of our events. But since we were in total control of producing it, it allowed a unique opportunity to document it too for our many fans and readers.

A big “THANK YOU” to all of my team and everyone else involved. It was a lot of work but a lot of fun at the same time. Until next time…

We finally get to what all this hard work was for – The Cera Gala Dinner & Show!

certa-show-robert-thomas-mcThe evening started with expert Master of Ceremonies Robert Thomas entering the stage and welcoming everyone. Robert was flown in special from Sydney just for this event!

certa-show-belly-dancer-jeta-barooshkaFirst on the bill was the internationally acclaimed belly-dancer Jeta Barooshka. She was a big hit with the all-Indian audience. She was to present her spectacular fire act too, but in the end the security of the hotel did not allow any fire whatsoever in the ballroom (which is becoming more & more common these days).

certa-show-shaolin-master-soloNext up was a grand master Shaolin martial artist. He presentation brought gasps from the crowd and thunderous applause.

certa-show-lion-danceBesides Joe Conrad’s magic, one of the other great highlights of the night was the presentation of the Lion Dance. This kind of act is very unique to Asia and the region, which is the reason why it is usually requested to be included in an event of this nature. With over 13 cast members that are involved in the act, it is something that must be seen live to be fully appreciated.

certa-show-award-winnersA short break from the entertainment took place now. This was so Cera Sanitaryware could give out some awards to some especially hard-working employees across multiple departments. Congratulations to all of you that worked so hard for this top-notch Indian company.

certa-show-illusionist-joe-conrad-linking-ringsIllusionist Joe Conrad smiles playfully at the audience while performing one of his tricks.

certa-show-illusionist-joe-conrad-dancer-paulaPaula, one of Illusionist Joe Conrad’s beautiful dancers, just as she disappears in an illusion.

certa-show-illusionist-joe-conrad-sword-basketJoe Conrad plunges a one of many swords into his basket illusion, while the dancer is still inside.

certa-show-illusionist-joe-conradFrom the reaction of the audience, all of our hard work was worth it! Everyone had a great time and enjoyed the show immensely. Which was a big relief to all of us involved in producing it!

COMING UP – PART III: ‘After-Show Pics’

Indians are some of our favorite audiences to perform for. (And for any of the minority of our ignorant American friends out there – I am referring the citizens in the country of India, not the ‘Native American Indians’…)

So when our client Cera Sanitaryware from India contacted us to handle the entire last evening of the gala show, we were happy to oblige. Most people know us just for handling the illusion & technical parts of our own show – however we are also a full-fledged event company and have the full inventory & services to handle this side of things (and can do it much better than bigger dedicated event companies).

For Cera, not only did we do all the elements associated with the Illusionist Joe Conrad show, but my team handled all the the staging, set pieces, backdrops, audio-visual, entertainment (with many different acts), lighting, sound, theme design, staging personnel, photography, video, hostesses, production, coordination, direction, as well many other aspects.

It was a very tiring week leading up to the event, but the stellar results were worth it. We are so proud of it for our client we have decided to document the whole event with photos and break it into two different posts.

The gala event was held on Thursday, April 11, 2013 in the beautiful Crystal Ballroom at the 5 star Holiday Inn Silom Bangkok Hotel in our home-base of Thailand.

Note: For die-hard magic fans of Illusionist Joe Conrad, apologies ahead of time. This first post deals mostly with the production side of the event and what it took to get the show up. The second ‘PART II: THE SHOW’ post will have a bit more of my magic & pics. Promise!

Normally we are able to get into the hotel the evening before the event and work throughout the night to setup until the early a.m. (and use that day to fine-tune and rehearse). But since the hotel had a full event schedule, they did not allow us to unload until 8:00 a.m. the same day of the event – so that is what we did. All vendors were ready & standing by, and we got to work…

With this tight timeline, there is no margin for error. All elements must come together perfectly (and some people cannot even start their jobs until certain technical elements from other teams are completed). I am happy to say it all came off without a hitch and we where able to start our dressed rehearsal on-time that afternoon at 4:00 p.m. sharp.

I’ll let the pics below (with their relevant captions) tell the rest of the story.

01-certa-crystal-ballroom-entranceThe beautiful entrance to the Crystal Ballroom at the Holiday Inn Silom Bangkok. Even though not the largest function ballroom in Bangkok, it is very classy and has an intimate feel.

02-certa-set-02After laying down the stage decking, the specially produced backdrop & side panels were next to get constructed & up. They will take 3 to 4 hours to finish their work. Lighting, sound & the AV (audio-visual) teams can begin their preliminary work too while the backdrop set company does their job.

03-certa-set-05Stage lighting design being fine-tuned to prepare for the dressed rehearsal shortly thereafter.

04-certa-av-setup-01One of our top AV technicians preparing the projector for the evening’s award presentation.

04-certa-av-setup-03The AV set-up continues. This is the monitor so the CEO & award presenters don’t miss a beat. You didn’t think they memorized all that stuff did you, hee hee! Doing it this way we prevents the need for a cumbersome podium too, that would block other elements of the production.

04-certa-av-setup-04A final check of the AV equipment & presentation with all the key personnel involved.

05-certa-sound-setup-01Sound speakers and monitors placed in the correct positions on the left & right front of the stage. These will be more than enough for this mid-size ballroom.

05-certa-sound-setup-02All plugs in their proper place for the amplifiers and other equipment.

05-certa-sound-setup-03Joe Conrad reviewing all the show cues with top Indian DJ & Sound Man Dominic Dom.

06-certa-mc-pre-show-03Joe pacing & reviewing to make sure everything is set properly for the final run-through.

07-certa-rehearsal-02All lighting designs, including with the moving heads, are perfected during our final rehearsal and walk-through. The chandeliers on the the ceiling, above the stage, cannot be moved and would normally be in the way – but instead we use them to our advantage and bounce light off of them. This creates a beautiful light pattern.

certa table settingThe simple but elegant table centerpiece.08-certa-table-setting-02All the banquet tables are completely set-up with everything in it’s proper place by the staff.

09-certa-thai-pretty-girls5:30 p.m. and all four of the “pretty girls” (know everywhere else in the world as hostesses or models) have arrived and are properly rehearsed. They will be the first to greet the guests as they arrive, as well as assist them safely on & off the stage for all presentations.

12-certa-guests-arrival6:00 p.m sharp, doors open and guests arrive. All exactly on-time!  :-)

COMING UP – PART II: ‘The Show!’

“Now You See Me” Movie

Don’t know how I missed this… As far as I know it hasn’t been officially released yet. An all-star cast with Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo and Isla Fisher.

If you look carefully, you can see that they used some of Jon Racherbaumer’s library as background props.

Looks good!