Please note that there is sometimes (though not usually) up to a two week to one-month wait before I can get to your order, based on my performing schedule.
RUSH ORDERS CANNOT BE DONE: CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS
Welcome to the new and improved website of
Welcome to the new and improved website of Secret STUFF
An IMPORTANT Message from Me:
DEC 6th, 2016
Final Straw Dropped
I'll be phasing out the PRODUCT end of my mentalism supply business after the first of the year (2017). I have some materials left, so if I know you, and you want something made, contact me directly and I'll see what I can do. It's been a good run, but I can't justify the time/energy/aggravation investment.
Books and DVDs will still be available.
November 30th, 2016
As I dive deeper into my spiritual practice, I find it more and more difficult to make time for the PRODUCT end of my business. Time, for me, equals money. I've often had purchasers happily consume hundreds of dollars of my time for less than a hundred dollars of purchase. This isn't practical, especially since my retirement in 2015 from the performing arena, and my increasing devotion to spiritual activities makes time a precious commodity.
Don't get me wrong--I'm grateful and surprised that for the past twenty-five years my original inventions have enjoyed a very long run in the mentalism field. Often imitated but never equaled, they have set a certain standard for discriminating professionals. Unfortunately, they've also attracted the attention of undiscriminating newcomers who've mistaken me for a magic dealer or vending machine. Some of these folks, with their impatience and sense of entitlement, have undermined my merchant account and credit standing with Paypal, damaging my access to several merchant services by filing grievances, usually without reading my Terms of Services or contacting me. I have posted a screenshot of the PayPal report of these posted Disputes (minus email addresses). They are the primary reason I've come close, several times, to shutting down altogether.
You would think that ten disputes in four years wouldn't be enough to freak out PayPal? Well, guess again. My merchant's account was red-flagged over this. Yes, I'm annoyed. In every case, this could have been avoided by (1) reading my TOS and (2) ASKING ME.
I was particularly disappointed in John Mendoza. He bought some items from me on eBay and about three days later reported me because I hadn't sent him a verification I'd mailed the items. I loved his books. but man, what a difficult person he was to deal with. I was on a twelve-show Holiday tour when he bought several mentalism items (as I recall, a stack of book tests), driving from Florida to Indiana by way of Georgia and Tennessee. I assured him I'd mail his goods upon my return, but he'd have none of this. By God, he wanted his items now!
You would think a former professional would have understood another player was busy in December, especially around Christmas. But not only did he file a complaint, but outright called me a liar when I informed him I mailed his parcel on December 31st. His evidence: the post office was closed on New Year's Eve. I guess he never heard of self-service postage kiosks, or online printable postage.
Bill Malone was another prince of a guy. I was in the process of moving from Indiana to Tennessee and told him it would be two weeks before I could get him a clipboard. About a week after his order, he sent me a very nasty email, demanding I get it to him NOW, or face all kinds of dire consequences. Unfortunately, I had mailed it out the previous day (a full week before my promised deadline) or he would have received a refund and a place of honor on my blacklist--along with a recommendation for a dental hygienist and a manicurist of my acquaintance.
As Flaubert says, beware of fondling your idols; the gilt rubs off on your hands. I learned this about a lot of the heroes of my youth. But, there are probably a lot of guys out there who think the same about me!
If I do keep the product line available, I'm changing the structure. As things stand right now, anyone with access to the internet, with a little searching, can buy from me. I'm putting an end to this. Sometime early next year, I'm making two major changes:
(1) I'll no longer be accepting Paypal or credit payments of any kind for my products. I'm going to a cash-only basis. You'll have to call or e-mail me, tell me what you want, read and agree to certain terms of service, contract me to build for you certain items, and pay for it in advance. I've already gone over to Stripe for payment processing for the spiritual services I provide.
(2) There will be a minimum of $200 per order on my handcrafted products.
(3) Books and DVDs will be unaffected. You'll still be able to order these directly from my online distributors.
(4) I may take down the web catalogue altogether and produce an old-school print catalogue.
(5) I'm considering buying brownhornet.com
I know full well there are plenty of other dealers and manufacturers of mentalism props and tools out there. I'm surprised my items are still relevant after all these years. I've never made these available to dealers, always tried to keep them underground and out of the hands of the merely curious, and will continue to do so until demand for them disappears entirely.
For those who still want a good, reliable professional tool, I'll make them as long as I can practically do so.
But I ain't going to put up with any bullshit from young punks who think I owe them anything. Please. I was doing mentalism when their parents were zygotes.
November 3rd, 2016
Please read my FAQ page, and avoid disturbing events such as those which occured twice last month. I make it clear that there can be up to, and possibly more, than a month turnaround time on your order. Well, I was reported twice last month to Paypal. Once, seven days after I received the order. The other, twelve days. Alas. Both received refunds, a lecture, and a place on my Blacklist. This may seem harsh, but my merchant account has had some of its features restricted due to an excessive number of these disputes. I don't think seven disputes out of the hundreds of transaction I've conducted is excessive, and I resolved them all) but it got me scrutinized by Paypal's fraud department.
I'm going to put my TOS on the top of each page, since apparently a lot of people are quick to order without reading either this launching page or my FAQ page.
In other news, I'm completely caught up on orders as of today, so turnaround time should be fairly fast.
.July 29, 2016
The even better news is that after a week or so of working the new Chapel/workshop master-building, which is a beautiful piece of functional design (my late former employer and friend, architect Charlie Richmond would have been proud, then told me all the things i did wrong), I can report it is working spectacularly. I've increased productivity by a factor of at least five times my former inefficient pace, when I was running five separate enterprises from a single small room in my house. This week alone, I've made ten Brown Hornets, six Mascot Moths, eleven Butterflies/Staplers, five Papillons, and four Cicadas. I haven't achieved this level of productivity in over fifteen years, back when I had a house with a fully-equipped basement workshop. This Herculean output was shoehorned in between my usual busy schedule of providing spiritual services.
I would not want to have anymore weeks like this. I was catching up on a backlog of orders that extended back unto May. But it's good to know that I can whiz through these items like old times again. What this means is that, perhaps, I might be able to lay in a stockpile. Perhaps.
July 23, 2016
The good news is that for the past month and a half, I have been almost completely consumed with building my Chapel and it's finished. Mostly. The rest involves details and moving a few sacred items into place. The VERY good news is that the back quarter of the building is a workshop, where I can build things. Like products. My hopes, when I put this plan into motion, were that I could more efficiently handle the production side of my business.
Now, I will tell you that I receive, and this is no exaggeration, almost a hundred emails per day pertaining to my spiritual affairs. In my field, I have become much in demand. I've published books, have a radio show, a popular newsletter, and am the pastor of a number of spiritual groups with thousands of members. This level of notoriety didn't occur overnight. It was my plan for retirement, and the culmination of years of planning. I have to sift through these e-mails, (and dozens of spam) to filter out requests that are bogus, impossible, referrals to my colleagues, and glean out the ones that are appropriate for me.
Among these emails are orders--about 12-20 per week--from mentalists. Making props for mentalists is a very small corner of my business affairs. I need to repeat this: MAKING PROPS FOR MENTALISTS IS A VERY SMALL PORTION OF MY BUSINESS AFFAIRS.
And yet I still do it. Why? I think these days, it's creator's pride. It isn't the money. I crunched the numbers and realized that when I take a day off from doing readings and other works to make products, I actually lose money. I still have some loyalty and affection to the community, and pride in my creations.
HOWEVER: There are people who do not read my FAQ page, or this page either, who want their toys NOW. Some of these people badger, cajole, threaten and otherwise attempt to emotionally manipulate me. I've just finished dealing with one such fellow, who's entire history recently consists of less than $200 in sales with me. His barrage of emails and Facebook stalking could be used in textbooks teaching passive-aggressive emotional bullying. My FAQ states I don't have time to provide point-by-point updates on when you'll receive your order. But some people think they're special and crave more attention than others. I deal with such people in my spiritual practice too. I train them to be more respectful. But some people do not take hints. I've run into this trait a lot in the entertainment world. It's common narcissism, and is notable among show business folk. I tolerate a certain amount of it. I admit to possessing some of the quality myself. But too much me-me-me, and I say no-no-no.
The bottom line here is that I'm going to see if the new workshop helps expedite the one day per week I devote to making products. I'm hoping it will, otherwise, financial and business considerations being what the are, I'll be forced into a difficult decision I've been trying to hold off for the past couple of years: Whether I should discontinue the line of products altogether. This decision would be for the benefit of everyone. There is an increasing amount of dismay from people who want their toys NOW. And I'm having more and more trouble obliging.
OTHER NEWS: PAYPAL SUCKS
I've discovered that no less--and probably, many more--than a dozen orders through PayPal have gone missing. In other words, I never received notice of these orders. I only discovered this glitch when people began inquiring about these orders (some of which were made in October, others in February) and I could find no record, anywhere, in any of my mailboxes, of ever being notified by PayPal.
This has happened a couple of times in the past, but seriously? Over a dozen orders were made about which I never heard. I called tech support, and after much dissembling, was told this was an ongoing issue which many vendors had experienced! And that it was "being addressed." In the meantime, I pointed out, I had frustrated customers, many of whom weren't familiar with my ways of doing business and instead of asking me directly, were bypassing me and opening a complaint with PayPal. which is a one-way ticket to my blacklist, by the way.
So, two things:
(1) my sincerest apologies if you haven't received your order. I'm working on the backlog and am almost finished, and you should receive yours soon, UNLESS PayPal screwed us both.
(2) I'm currently looking for another payment/credit card processor. Last year I processed over $80,000 in credit card payments through PayPal ($25,000 of that was product sales) this will suck for them. There are other reasons I'm dropping them. Their merchant services have steeply declined in recent years, plus their credit policies discriminate against certain professions. Namely, mine. YES, I'M SERIOUS. I was profiled as "risky profession" and denied credit services (which I'd received before) by PayPal, despite a high credit rating and a successful business since 1978. I've been with them since 2003--for which the tech rep thanked me-- but enough is enough. I have a good reputation. I don't want it to suffer for reasons not attributed to my cranky nature.
Oh, a warning to potential scammers, and there have been a couple, unfortunately, since my Penguin lecture, who have tried to obtain a free extra notepad or clipboard by claiming non-delivery of an order. I'm using Stamps.com these days, which provides tracking on every shipment, even first class. So I can look and see if orders were delivered or not. I sent tracking info to one such wanna-be hustler, such info informing us all that the package had been delivered a few days before. He replied, "Oops, my bad." You bet. Nice try. Welcome to my blacklist, young'un.
February 2nd 2016:
I'm pleased to announce that as of the above date (2/2/16) for the first time in recent memory I'M CAUGHT UP ON ORDERS. The last batch goes out today. My Inbox is empty. Now is a good time to order for prompt turnaround.
January 1st 2016
I'm getting orders out as soon as I can. As usual, they come in faster than I can get them out. I have discovered that a bunch of orders that came in during October were never reported to me by Paypal. So if you ordered something during October and haven't received it yet, let me know.
My DVD supplier, Kunaki, has a policy to delete DVDs when they're not ordered for over 180 days. So I noticed some of mine are no longer available. I'll upload the missing titles when I have a chance.
My life continues to develop complexities. My S.O. and I have taken custody of her two-year-old granddaughter, and having a toddler move in with you, when you're in your mid-fifties, is like having a bomb go off in your house. There have been some major life readjustments lately. The complications leading up to this (that is to say, the catastrophic events within the family) were why I may have seemed a bit under rehearsed, tired and distracted during my Penguin lecture. That I pulled it off at all was a miracle. To those of you whose kind remarks touched me, thank you. To those of you who posted snide remarks, who probably live in your mom's basement, never performed professionally in your life, never supported a family, know nothing of the pressures of self-employment or growing old, never had to deal with family catastrophes, probably enjoy socialized health care, and whose only concern for me seemed to be as a supplier of new cool toys--you can suck my dripping tool. That's all.
Speaking of new toys, despite getting about four hours sleep a night, I plan on news DVDS, new toys, and maybe a new book this year.
Other News: my son and I are working on reviving the Baby Hornet, so stay tuned.
-- REALITY SUCKS:
I know when you order stuff you want it NOW. I understand. I, too, order from Amazon and wait with bated breath until gratification is sated. I understand your urgency. This last two months have seen a deluge of orders, and it's taken me as long as six weeks to clean up my backlog, which I sincerely regret. However, there are circumstances of which many of you seem to be unaware.
So I must reiterate what most of you long-timers already know: I'm not a magic shop. I don't have items in stock, on the shelf, or ready to go out the door. I make every item by hand, and a lot of work goes into each item. Some of them, such as the clipboards, take days to make because of the staining and adhesive processes. Nothing is factory made, farmed out, assembly-lined. Everything is made to order. I move all incoming orders to a folder, open the folder, make every order as I get to it. Which means if there's twelve guys in front of you, I'll get to you when I complete those guys' orders. This is only fair. I set aside two days a week to work on fulfilling orders. This is all the time I can spare. I receive a lot of orders. I get to them when I can. Most of this is explained in the FAQ page, which for some reason very few people seem to read.
Other factors include that I actually perform for a living, unlike many manufacturers of magician's props. I designed these things for my own professional use, not to make a quick buck. That's why they work, why so many pros use them, and why people keep returning to them after abandoning the latest toy-of-the-month. As some of you long-time friends know, I almost killed myself by 2010 performing and traveling way too much. I was doing between 100-125 shows a year, on the road constantly, and trying to keep up with the increasing demand for my products. In the winter of 2010 I collapsed with pneumonia. In fact, I recorded the Brown Hornet Tutorial about five days before I collapsed on my way home from a show in Indianapolis (which is why I look like crap on that video). I spent 2011 recuperating, writing a couple of books, going back to college, getting a divorce (the bad marriage was one reason I stayed on the road so much) and finally returning to my home town of Knoxville.
The bottom line is that I've cut back on traveling, stopped doing mentalism altogether, travel seldom, and have concentrated mainly on cultivating my private reading/spiritual counseling practice. And in terms of defining myself professionally, this is my first priority.
Since returning to my homeland, my spiritual counseling practice has taken off with a vengeance. Not surprising, as I'm really good at what I do. I find myself occupied with reading appointments, on average, six hours a day. Some in person, many by telephone, Skype, chat. Since I still perform three or four shows (or to be specific, speaking engagements) a month, and some performances involve travel, manufacturing products is shoehorned when I can do it. As I said before, I devote two days a week to handling orders, or more if I can find the time. I appreciate everyone's patience.
RUSH ORDERS: AGAIN, seldom possible. But if you live overseas, (or even in the US) and you need an order within a couple of weeks, I'll try to accommodate. However, I strongly advise you contact me about paying extra for expedited delivery, such as overseas priority or even express mail. I usually ship First Class Mail, which the post office assures me is 5-7 days. Sometimes, I'm told, in certain parts of the world, this has been more like 3-5 weeks. So if you truly need the stuff in a hurry, and if I have agreed to get it to you in a hurry, do yourself a favor and pay for expedited delivery. Yes, it's expensive, but you will get it in plenty of time.
A NOTE CONCERNING MY PRODUCTS:
Imp devices are subtle tools which require experience in audience management and psychological touches to use effectively. This is true of any Imp device, not just mine. If you're a beginner or have little performing experience, my tools may not be for you at this time. In the hands of an experienced performer they are foolproof and undetectable, but these are not for beginners.