BE YOUR OWN SOUND MAN – Bo in the trenches by Bo Gerard

Music and sound effects can really help with the energy and quality of your show, but most of us aren’t able to hire a trained sound operator to be at every show we do.


Years ago, I was using a system called the “iCue 2 Virtual Soundman”. The system cost around $600 and you connected the receiver to a music player (iPod back then) and to your sound system. You operated it with a small, wireless, radio frequency remote you kept in your pocket or on your belt. It worked great! I could play tracks for my intro, walk-up tracks for audience assistants, music for on-stage bits, whatever! But the company went out of business, and the newer music players were not compatible with the iCues old software, so I suddenly had a $600 piece of useless technology. The only other option at the time was a system that cost around $1300, and I didn’t want to spend the money and end up with another un-updatable system a few year later. So, I went back to doing my show without music, and it worked fine, but I knew the perceived value of my show had gone down a bit.

The GOOD NEWS is that, thanks to Bluetooth technology and updatable phone apps, the music is back in my show. And I am loving it! And the cost is incredibly low! I am now using an app called GoButton, and a full-function version is available for FREE in the App Store. (I actually purchased the pro version, because 1- I wanted the ability to have multiple shows loaded at once, and 2- I love the app so much that I wanted to reward the designers for making such a great product available for free for those who couldn’t afford the pro version)

You can run the app right from your phone, or you can purchase a Bluetooth remote to operate it (seemingly) hands-free. I am currently using the AirTurn Digit BT-106 Bluetooth Remote. It costs around $60. With a couple of minor alterations (I placed a small square of Velcro (hook side) on the center play button, so it was easier to quickly find by feel; and I made and attached a belt loop using hanger wire and tape ) I now have a way to run all the cues and sound effects that I want. I do have to use misdirection while I am pressing the remote go button, but hey misdirecting and multi-tasking is what we magicians do, isn’t it!

So, for sixty bucks, a free download and a little music editing, (Audacity - great, free music editor) - the energy of my show, and it’s perceived value to my clients, have both gotten a big boost!!!

“BIG TOBACCO” SECRET EXPOSED - True stories from Bo by Bo Gerard

Dateline Friday, April 23, 1999 - Washington, DC – An important day in the lives of children across the country -- the day on which every tobacco industry billboard advertisement in the United States must be taken down.

As soon as the advertising agencies that handled big tobacco accounts got wind that this new law was going into effect, they started plotting ways to keep as much of their clients’ money as they could, without the lucrative billboard advertising campaigns they had designed and implemented for them since the 1920’s.  This is where I come in.  Unbeknownst to me, and I’m guessing you too, Phillip Morris and R.J. Reynolds had deals with literally thousands of bars and nightclubs all over the country.  They went head to head trying to sign up busy venues with exclusive deals that would make their brand names, like Marlboro or Camel, the only one that you saw in that venue.  They offered the venue owner all of the branded napkins, ash trays, matchbooks, signage, and neon lighting they would ever need, plus one large show by a name band, PLUS other promotions throughout the year, PLUS sometimes even a wad of cash to sweeten the deal.  There were 45 “Marlboro Clubs” in Dallas and 70 in Houston in 1998.

I know this because I was the “Marlboro Magician” in Texas that year, and I accomplished two things: 1) I performed in three or four “Marlboro Clubs” a night, and 2) I kept more of Phillip Morris’ money in the ad agency’s pocket.  There was only one small problem – every single club was very dark and very smoky, and the music was BLARING, both at me and all of the rather inebriated customers.  Well, that’s four problems, but it didn’t take long for me to lose my voice in these places, and after about 3 months I started to also lose my will to live.  I was like a coal miner, facing a job every day that I knew was not only detrimental to my health, but to my psyche as well.  I was, however, making a lot more than any coal miner.  (By the way spell check will not suggest anything near “psyche” unless you actually type it correctly yourself.)

Somehow, I made it through the six-month contract, and when they asked if I would be interested in doing another lucrative year’s contract as “The Texas Marlboro Magician”…  I faked a heart attack and slipped away, unnoticed, in the hubbub of the hospital admission’s process.  That’s actually not true.  I simply said, “thank you, but I am pursuing other arenas of magical entertainment”.

So, what have we learned from all of this? Well, two things: