It's all about magic for the Fujimotos


POSTED: Sunday, December 21, 2008

With a flick of the wrist, Glenn Fujimoto can pull a quarter out of your ear. But he still hasn't figured out the magic spell to pull the economy out of recession.





T&B Entertainment

        » Owners: Glenn and Bobbie Fujimoto


» Services: Magic stage show and close-up magic, balloon twisting, MC and projection services, and mobile disco and party music.


» Contact: 735-5028


» Web:


The comical magician and his exuberant wife and balloon-art sidekick, Bobbie, run T&B Entertainment - named after their daughter, Tammy Kao, and son, Burt - astonishing audiences with their tricks at events such as first birthdays, baptismals and graduation parties.

The couple's love for magic and bringing laughter to both young and old has been the driving force behind the husband-and-wife operation for the past six years.

“;They seem to love what they're doing,”; said Maurice Yamasato, president of Yamasato Fujiwara Higa & Associates, which hired the couple this month to perform at the company Christmas party. “;They make their magic show so enjoyable, they're able to not just please the children but the adults. Their enthusiasm was felt by everyone.”;

This isn't your typical magic show.

Besides their high-energy enthusiasm, their endearing humor captivates audiences and enables the couple to connect with spectators in a way that few entertainers can.

Glenn typically begins the program with close-up magic at each table so people look forward to seeing the stage show, which helps to boost audience response, he said. And while Glenn “;wows”; the crowd, Bobbie cues them to clap and cheer with music and dancing.

“;This interaction with the audience is vital to making our magic show a success,”; Glenn said. “;We make the audience feel that they are part of the show.”;

That, coupled with the fact that the business is a one-stop shop offering balloon twisting, program planning as well as MC, video projection services and mobile disco music is a big draw for customers wanting to steer clear from the headaches of having to hire multiple vendors.

“;For them it's very important that they do a good job at each person's show and to have their customers be happy,”; said Kao, 34, who does the graphics for business cards, brochures, banners and T&B's Web site.

A passion for magic runs in the family, with three generations of magicians continuing the legacy, including their 4-year-old grandson, Zachary Kao, who stuns audiences with his ability to spew out lengthy dialogues and perform professional magic tricks. Even their son-in-law, Daniel Kao, who works as a paramedic, does magic for friends and patients to make them feel at ease.

“;Their type of magic is where they make people laugh and they make people have fun versus just trying to trick people,”; said Burt Fujimoto, the couple's 32-year-old son who has dabbled in magic as a hobby since age 12.

The recent economic downturn has taken a toll on the family operation, whose business is driven almost entirely through referrals and is down at least 25 percent since the economy plunged into recession.

To conjure up more work the family is looking to diversify, considering other show venues and ways to change up the act to fit the needs of more people.

“;Sometimes for two weeks nobody calls you then all of a sudden one week you book three shows,”; Glenn said. Before the slump, the couple averaged four shows a month and are now doing between two and three shows.

“;The real love is magic, but if it doesn't make money you cannot survive,”; Bobbie said.

Glenn pursued his passion for magic 25 years ago after watching Richard Bernard “;Red”; Skelton and other comedians make people laugh, though he previously only did shows for family or when traveling with tour groups. He enrolled in a night course in magic at Kaimuki High School.

“;I thought what a wonderful gift it would be if I could do that,”; he said. “;I always wanted to make people laugh, but I never knew how.”;

Glenn, who has worked as a meat cutter, cook and hardware store entrepreneur, at first only viewed magic as a hobby. But after numerous requests to perform, he launched the business in 2002 with the help of Bobbie, who learned how to make balloon animals and run a microphone and sound system to support the show. She retired from the U.S. Coast Guard last year.

Simultaneously, Glenn also has run a sales business at the flea market, selling everything from children's toys, Hawaii souvenirs and tricks, which helped to sharpen his skills as a magician through constantly joking with strangers. He plans to retire from sales next month and focus solely on the magic business.

But two years later, the couple burned out with exhaustion from 16-hour days and decided to cut back on advertising and take mostly jobs off of referrals to sustain their passion for their craft.

That passion is not only seen in their work, but throughout their personal lives.

When the couple went to Greenland, improvising on a whim Glenn pulled out his tricks to entertain schoolkids that were out that day.

The couple recalls one time on an international flight when the movie projectors were down so Glenn did magic for each of the cabins to entertain the passengers and a similar incident while waiting at a Japan airport during a delayed flight. Almost every flight he's in the back doing magic for the stewardesses.

“;He stood on a chair and did some magic for the whole waiting room,”; Bobbie said. “;That's the kind of stuff he loves to do.”;

But it took awhile for the couple to develop their sense of humor.

“;It comes natural to a certain degree, but does require practice,”; Glenn said, adding that Bobbie was previously shy and naturally reserved before releasing inhibitions that now allow here to often sing by herself while making balloons at an event.

Tammy and Burt attribute their own self-esteem and confidence in finding a career they truly love to their parents' life-long example as role models that strive to work hard and do their best for themselves as well as others.

“;They really just have a zest for life,”; said Burt, who won the Brown Bags to Stardom for magic in 1992 while a sophomore at Kaimuki High School. “;You just meet them and they're happy people, not just when they're doing magic. That type of personality going in to do a magic show makes it fun for others. People kind of just feed off of that positive energy.”;