Alan Sands Entertainment


I create (5) copies of every P1-B, (1) copy goes to the Troupe Leader, (1) copy for my permanent record, (2) copies go to Homeland Security and (1) copy is submitted for a Union Approval Letter




For the last 20+ years I have helped a hundred entertainers enter the USA annually to entertain as variety performers by being involved in, or executing entirely, a P1-B visa application for them. The following is very formal, "Legaleze" and dry. This essay pertains to O and P applications, but probably covers a lot of other types of applications generally well, too.


I am not a lawyer or work for Homeland Security. This information is supplied informally. If you have legal questions, consult the USDHS or an attorney. I am happy to accept all criticisms, modifications, suggestions or critiques. Please email them to me at:


YOU – a performer, a leader of a troupe, a prepresentative, agent or producer bringing entertainers (or sports teams, speakers, etc.) into the USA
 I, My, Myself or Me – My name is Alan Sands, and I am not a lawyer. I am an entertainer and a talent agent/producer who has been involved with writing Visa Applications for 21 years. I am not a legal aid and have no law or business degrees. I have, over the years, represented a number of troupes of performers who have come from Canada and England to the USA to perform. I was taught this process by the late Barbara Brodnax (RIP-2018) who wrote entertainment visa applications for Disney World, other law offices and independantly.
USCIS – United States Citizenship and Immigration Service - a division of the USDHS
DHS – United States Department of Homeland Security (a division of and used synonymously with USCIS)
P1-A or P1-B Visas – an athletic team or entertainment troupe visa application for an entire troupe or group
O Visa – a visa application for an individual - usually a performer

The more of this you do for yourself, the less it costs to have myself, a legal aid or a lawyer do it.

If all I do is write the essay, and retype all of the forms you get me with most of the info on the forms, so they are uniform, neat and pretty, then my job takes less time. This is a very "LEFT" brain exercise. I know how to do them so they pass USCIS inspection. What people pay me for is my 20+ years of experience and proofing what they do for me.


It costs about $1500-$2700 in fees to do a P1 or O application. Members can divide the costs amongst themselves, so it costs each of them far less to maintain the permit each year. The first year is the most time consuming to create the permit. If there are no changes in the list of members each year, it takes far less time to reproduce the permit in future years. Even a small change can take an hour or two to change, update and modify in multiple places.

I do not add people to an existing permit unless they are going to become permanent members, year after year, into the future because I feel it can hurt the integrity of the permit.

Attached are links to see what the USCIS asks (instructions for filling out the forms and the forms themselves) so you can read it all in their language. I also outline it again in my own words. I do not say things in the same order they do.

FORM I-129

This form must be submitted with all applications:

• Print page 1-8 and fill out as best you can.
• For a P or an O permit; Print page 26-28 and filled out as best as possible.
• Page 35 & 36 are identical. Each performer must have one of these pages filled out.

These are the long form directions for filling out the above:


A Union Approval letter must be submitted with every P or O permit.


In the event you need the application reviewed by the USCIS in two weeks. Normal processing takes up to eight weeks.

Remember when you were in school, and you would read the chapter in your social studies book, then answer questions in the back of the chapter? The teacher wanted you to repeat the question in the answer; (i.e., Question - Why is the sky blue? Answer - The sky is blue because…). This is how one does a Visa Request. You take each of the requests, answer each one in a long form essay. The entire essay is 10-20 pages total. You repeat your answers over and over again in each of the replies. In this way you answer each of the requests accurately.

I also send them an outline of what is included in the package as an "Enclosure List " so they have a checklist that shows I covered everything. All of this needs to be completed before 12/31/18 to use the forms linked above, as these forms expire after 12/31/18 and I do not know what the new forms will request or need.

Cost outline:
$   325 – I-129 Application
$   250 – Union Letter from AGVA
$   250 – Federal Express costs to/from AGVA and USCIS
$   150 – Photocopies for five copies of everything (AGVA; USCIS x 2; my copy, your copy)
$1,250 – If Premium Processing is necessary plus additional time to include a 2nd essay with the Premium Processing Application.

Promotional Material for each of the acts, 20 pages per act. I photocopy them back to back, so each act has ten (10) – two-sided pages of promo.
Promo should include Newspaper articles, magazine articles, letters of recommendation, photos, bio, credits, references, advertisements - They must all be IN ENGLISH.
If they are not in English, they must include an English translation or they are NOT to be included! Example: Newspaper cover pages in Chinese will deny the application being accepted (they will send it back with an RMI {request for more information} if there is no translation. It is best to not include non-translated documents regardless of how prestigious they are.

Photocopy of all Passports' inside page - This is for the AGVA Letter of Approval submission, not the USCIS Visa Application

List of awards, television appearances, outstanding performance credits, website link.

I need to know if they have ever been on another visa application to enter the USA, and if they have copies of that visa application, please include it. If they do not have copies, reference numbers for that visa application and a history of who, when, where, why all help.

Full legal name, home address, phone #'s, email addresses, web address, passport # (I keep all this info in an Excel Spreadsheet for my own records and references)

A copy of any and all contracts or letters of invitation and intent - with you and them - or them and others in the USA. Letter of intent or agreements spelling out what is being paid or supplies being furnished (i.e., housing, per diem, travel, etc.) all add to the application.

Any and all supporting documents about your event that make it so that the USCIS says, "yes - they are unique, special, best in class, real pretty, award winning, top selling..."

I need to know if they have legal convictions (including DUI) on their permanent record, or have ever been denied entry to the USA for any reason, when and why.

A lawyer will charge you $5,000 to $10,000 (possibly plus expenses) to do this, I have heard.
I charge $150 an hour plus expenses.
I believe it takes me approx. 3 days (24 hours) to do this if I have everything in place when I sit down to organize and execute it. The longest it ever took me was two weeks the first time I did this. lately, it takes me two days to repeat an application I have done in the past and up to seven days to do a new application if I have to do everything myself and no one does any organizing of the different acts before I attack it.

Alan Sands
(601) 490-2999


I coach Stage Hypnotists. Every year, I do one or two sessions where I bring future stage hypnotists to a county or state fairgrounds and I put them on stage and I coach them in a very personal, intimate setting. ( I encourage the students to ask questions before the class and am there to answer questions anytime they need me after the class as well. The following is an answer to someone asking me how to "Find the Right Music."

Finding and adding music to your act:

I am going to make this sound worse than it is, but I want to give you all the variations, then we will work on getting you up and running as simple as we can, and enhance it as we go. OK?
One of the things that "evolves" over time is your music choices and putting them together into a show. When I started, I had no music. It is one of the reasons why I think I do so many vocal sound effects now in my act, even though I have 30-40 sound cues now.
I have an endless variety of music that others have given me, including recordings made just for hypnotists with popular sound effects and popular songs. I also collect sound tracks from major motion pictures and sound effects libraries.
One problem you will run into is if you use copy written music, when you go to post your videos on youtube, you may have problems with copyright infringement. Sometimes they are only blocked in certain countries (Enya music can't be played in Germany) or they will put advertisements on your youtube videos without asking permission - but the music rights dictates they have the right to do this.
Because I am a Macintosh user, I use iTunes for my music purchases.
• I do a lot of iTunes searches. One BIG advantage to using iTunes is I get the album cover art with the download, and this makes it easier for me to see the song on my iPod as I look for the sound bite.
• I have purchased copyright free libraries of music (these are filled with a lot of junk, but if you find that right sound for something, the price does not matter.)
• I have software on my computer and can pull Youtube and Vimeo files off the internet and strip out the music or sound effects from the video.
My most recent example of this is my "Scary Movie" sound track. I have been doing a scary movie for ever, but my music corrupts itself all the time. I loss the songs I use, or it begins to sound bad. I looked on youtube and found "The Scariest Movies Recorded" with a great sound track to a movie short. I then added a wind track behind it in GarageBand (a music editing program that comes with Macintosh) I bought on iTunes. I love this new creation.
One needs to write the routine, then find the right music, not the other way around.
My nephew, Malcolm Fife, does post production sound for major motion pictures. he works for major SF Bay Area Studios including Lucas Films. Lucas is now owned by Disney, so he does Disney films as well and his credits are endless. He is the LAST person to see a film and add his enhancements before the film is released. I share this because understanding that music and sound effects added to the show is the LAST thing you add. You can't write a show around sound, you need the show to be written, then add the sound enhancements afterwards.
You would not take the sound of a horse drawn wagon crossing cobblestones, then try and create a movie about the sound. Instead you film the wagon crossing the stones, then add the sound track in.
One of the things we do at The SandMan's Stage Hypnosis Boot Camp is I will show you my show on a computer, stopping as it plays and I will give you a "director's cut" of what I am doing, how my show evolved, and what my intentions are - the good and the bad of it all. I may also show you other people's shows and do something similar with them.
However, if you need my direction before we get to class to help you find something in my libraries, or help you find a good example of a sound effect - let me know your routine thinking, and I will do my best to help you find the effect before we get to Wyoming August 13-19.

Don't you love when the client exclaims, "That's a lot of money for one act...!"


On April 27th, I was contacted by the moms production a lunchtime show for their elementary school in Pennsylvania. Great! This is what I do. I find the best performers in the region, all over the nation, that can do things like this. When I can't find them regionally, I can fly them in from elsewhere. This is what I have done for every sized event from schools, corporate parties, casinos, shopping malls, colleges, fairs - it is what I can do and I do well, I must admit!


After taking two days to track down and arranging two top flight comedy entertainers for the suggested budget of $1500, the client exclaims that she feels she should get more performers for the budget. Well, I was tired, sitting in an airport and I decided to give her a piece of my mind.


My rant back to her today went like this:

"So - ignore my cocky tone in the following rant. I am on four hours sleep and am in an airport in Minneapolis heading to South Dakota where I will do a show from 1:am - 3:am in the morning for a safe and sober post prom party.

>>$1500 for two performers! That's a lot! <<

Yeah, that's what people say. That's what people think.

It's 20 years of practicing skills no one else takes the time to do. Imagine spending a year learning one trick - hours a day.

It's working 100 days, doing office work 200 days to get that 100 days of work - and traveling to every stretch of the world to do the work.

It's standing in the rain ... and printing promo that costs you thousands of dollars to produce. No one sees the costume investment, the photoshoots, the video shoots, the video editing costs, the web site costs, the thousands of dollars we spend to stand in booths at trade shows and meet producers, agents, managers. The garage filled with unicycles, free-standing ladders, rope walking rigs.

People don't see the travel, the killing of equipment and cars, no benefits, no retirement, no sick pay, working on everyone else's holidays, going weeks without a paycheck between gigs sometimes, the investment in make-up, training, conventions, the family events we miss because, "the show must go on"

I was in South Africa when my daughter was born.
I think I made two dance recitals - missed most of her birthdays. I didn't get to tuck her in over 220 days a year her entire childhood.

There is a reason why Johnny Carson was married six times, Elizabeth Taylor was married eight times, TsaTsa nine times, Larry King 8 times ...

Do you want quality, or quantity? I deal with quality. I don't touch people who make $300 a gig. They are not dependable, their costumes look like they are homeless, they show up late, have no car insurance and bald tires, no health insurance - and even the quality ones often times can be artists - not business people so financially insecure. So many of them have Donnie tRump-like personalities, too. I have the honor of dealing with that. Egos - narcissistic personalities or they are introverts when not performing.

If you want to give them five days of work, I am sure I can get them to drop their price 33%. I personally, do not do any gig for less than $1500. I am getting paid $1850 for the show I will do tonight - but it is in South Dakota - and I have to get there. I checked three suitcases to do one - 2 hour show tonight.

I have been in this business my entire life. There is a reason why a Lilly Tomlin can hold the attention of an audience for 2 hours with a solo show. I am giving you seasoned professionals that have toured with Cirque du Soleil, the Big Apple Circus and more.

There are two types of performers - those that do Universities, Colleges, State Fairs, Cruise Ships, Casinos, Corporate Events and Comedy Clubs along with other professional venues. Those are the performers I work with ---- 
----- and then there are those who do birthday parties and street perform.

If you want quality performers, let me know. If you want to shop around for "more performers" because you think that is going to be better and more entertaining, I thank you for the opportunity to bid on your event. I hope it is the most successful event these kids have ever witnessed.

I am sorry - I am tired. I do not sleep well the night before I have to catch a plane at 8:10 am, fly all day, - drive 2 hours to the town I will be in - do a show at 1 am - 3 am, drive back to the airport two hours to catch a plane and fly home again ...

... the client is not paying for a 2-hour show, they are paying for almost 48 hours of my labor to get there, and I have to have bells on my toes and make the audience laugh so hard they cry and think, "This was the BEST show I have ever seen!"

Yup, they could have hired a birthday party clown locally - but instead they chose to try and hire the best their money could afford. That's me, and my peers. Yeah, I have some friends who make 5X as much as me, and I have some friends who make 1/5th as much as me per show - but as a rule, I know my peers - others who are tops in their field.

I do not have details on what they will do exactly - they will cater the show to the age of the audience. I do not dictate what they should do, because they know what their best material is for the audience and it may change depending on the age of the group. i.e., Children 5 & 6 like more buffoonery. 9-10 year olds can begin to appreciate higher skill levels. If you'd like an outline of what they would suggest, I can ask them for it. I will do my best to get it to you asap.

Need to go catch a plane now."



Please share your opinion in the comments section. I look forward to hearing your input.

pop tops and pull tabs

04/23/17 Pop Top Blog

I have been collecting pop tops since my daughter was 15. She just turned 25, so my collection so far has taken me nine years or more. My goal is to collect one million pop tops. I tell people, "I do not expect to have 1,000,000 of anything else in my lifetime and I want to leave something for my daughter." The truth is, I want to show people what one million looks like. I estimate my one million pop tops will fill the back of my pick up truck bed including the camping shell. One million multiplied by one million is one trillion. If our national debt is 19 trillion, then it will take 19 million pick up trucks filled with one million pop tops each to equal our national debt in pop tops.

People tell me they collect them for Ronald McDonald house, and this is honorable, but the value of these pop tops is so little, they might realize the effort is not worth the reward.

May I share some basic statistics with you? To collect 1,000,000 pop tops @ 1,000 a month it will take me 83 years to reach my goal. I am doing much better than this thanks to alcoholics and people who drink a lot of soda pop helping me, but after 9 years, I think I am at about 250,000. Pop tops weigh 10.4 oz. per 1,000. Therefore, my 1,000,000 pop tops will weigh 104,000 ozs. or 650 lbs.

Today's price of Aluminum (April 2017) as a commodity is selling for 88¢ a pound. One million pop tops is worth approx. $574.00 if I got the full commodity price for them.

I know, you are saying they help with dialysis. No, not true. It's a myth.

You say, "the aluminum is far purer than the rest of the can and it is used for hypodermic needles." Also a myth. The aluminum in the pop tops is no different than the can it came from.

Do they help buy wheel chairs in Canada? Yes, but again, the value of the pop tops is far less than one might think and you are far better off donating $10 to the cause of your choice and giving me your pop tops to help me meet my 1,000,000 goal. $10 worth of pop tops at 88¢ a lb. is 11.36 lbs. of pop tops. at 10.4 oz per 1,000 pop tops this is 17,483 pop tops or a little more than four - one gallon milk jugs filled with pop tops.

SNOPES says: (

Pull Tab Redemption Rumor

Do pull tabs from aluminum cans have special redemption value for time on dialysis machines?

CLAIM: Do pull tabs from aluminum cans have special redemption value for time on dialysis machines.


ORIGINS: A legend this good-hearted should be true. But it’s not. And a lot of really nice people end up sadly disappointed when they eventually discover all their hard work pretty much went for naught.

Pulltabs have no special value that makes them redeemable for time on dialysis machines, or indeed which make them worth far in excess of their ordinary scrap metal recycle value. While a handful of charitable concerns, including McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House and Shriners Hospitals for Children accept donations of can tabs, said tabs fetch such groups no more than the items’ ordinary recycle value of about 10¢ per lb..

 The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) says this of the dialysis rumor that has been dogging them for quite a while:

A false rumor that has plagued the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the aluminum industry for decades has recently resurfaced, perhaps fueled by the Internet. Individuals and groups believe they can donate the pull tabs on aluminum cans in exchange for time on a kidney dialysis machine.  Such a program has never existed through the NKF, nor have there ever been programs through the foundation allowing people to exchange any type of item (box tops, product points, etc.) for time on dialysis.

I don’t think anyone is ever going to figure out where what have come to be called “redemption rumors” first came from. The notion of something of little value (pull-tabs, empty cigarette packs) being collected by good-hearted people and then turned over to a public-spirited company who would redeem them for an item that would help the less fortunate (time on a dialysis machine, a wheelchair, a seeing eye  ) goes back a long way — ours is far from the first generation to fall for this canard.

A 2002 article described a common experience with the rumor:

Back when 15-year-old Elizabeth Bohli was in the third grade, she had a friend who had a friend who had leukemia. Word was that the sick girl’s doctor told her about a program in which the Coca-Cola Co. would pay for one chemotherapy session for every 1,000 aluminum pop-tops collected.

Elizabeth remembered that program when her 12-year-old sister, Jenny, was diagnosed with melanoma in September, and a massive collection drive began at Pelham High School. For two months, students, teachers and parents brought in thousands of the tiny aluminum objects.  Soon, other schools were calling, asking how they could donate their pop-tops. Word spread to churches, which eagerly jumped in to help. And one friend told another, and another and another. Since then, the pop-tops campaign has gone, well, a little over the top. As of this week, more than 276,000 had been collected.

But none of that metal will translate into free treatments for Jenny. “It was just an old myth,” she said this week.  Jenny’s mother, Jo, called Coca-Cola recently, feeling as though she held a winning lottery ticket in her hands. Then she asked how she could cash in the pop-tops for money to pay for her daughter’s immunotherapy treatments. At first, there was laughter. Then the voice on the other end told her there’s no such program. 

“She actually laughed because she couldn’t believe that the kids had collected so many,” Bohli said. “To me, it was just so outstanding that these kids made such a fantastic effort to help Jenny.” 

Walker Jones, community relations director for Coca-Cola in Birmingham, said that while the company works with some cancer-related charities, it does not redeem pop-tops for medical treatments.  Jones doesn’t know who perpetuates the pop-tops rumor, but it has been fizzing around for some time. “I think the myth has been going on for over 20 years,” she said.

There’s nothing special about pull tabs which makes them exchangeable for time on a dialysis machine. These bits of metal are worth nothing more than the ordinary recycle value of the aluminum they contain. 

Though rumor claims pull tabs are especially valuable because they’re made of “pure aluminum,” they’re actually formed from an aluminum alloy, just like the rest of the can (albeit of a slightly different type). 

A million pull tabs have a recycle value of about $366 U.S. And that’s before you factor in what it costs to collect, store, and transport them to a recycling center which will pay cash for them. When you consider the time and effort it takes to collect a million of anything, it’s a wonder anyone would go to all that trouble for a mere $366. Far better to ask everyone you know for a penny in place of each pull tab they would have given you — at least then when you were done collecting your million, you’d have $10,000 to donate to your charity.

To put this in even clearer perspective, 100 pull tabs have a scrap metal value of about 3½¢.

That old “something for nothing” dream gets people every time. Spring 1997 produced a poignant example of this madness in the form of a news story about a crippled child in a remote Canadian community and that community’s good-hearted belief that if only they could save up eight million pull tabs, they could get her a much-needed wheelchair. The local community health center made a project of collecting these little bits of metal, and it was only after they’d gathered more than a million that they realized not only didn’t they have a buyer for them, they also hadn’t figured out how they were going to transport them from their town (roughly 2500 miles north of Montreal) to any place with a recycling plant:

“We just thought we needed eight million tabs,” said Linda Tucktoo, who helped organize the drive and assumed there was a program to trade tabs for wheelchairs. “I didn’t know it was so much trouble.” 

Charity groups and the aluminum industry say they have been fighting misconceptions about collecting pop can tabs for years. “Unfortunately, it’s one of those urban myths,” said Denise Bekkema, executive director of Storefront for Volunteer Agencies in Yellowknife. “We actually get calls, probably about two a year, from people who have collected oodles and oodles of tabs from pop cans and then wanting to donate them to make wheelchairs. But there’s actually no such program.”

This tale had a happy ending in that the Royal Canadian Legion arranged and paid for the transportation costs of getting all those pull tabs to a recycling centre, someone else donated a used wheelchair, Air Canada shipped the chair for free to the little girl, and a Canadian wheelchair manufacturer also offered to make a brand-new chair for her.

Others whose hearts were in the right place haven’t been as fortunate. The experience of Dave and Beryl Hodge of Houston is typical. They saved pull tabs for two years, enlisting the help of friends, neighbors and relatives in their project. A local service club (who had themselves been taken in by this rumor) had led them to believe these tabs could be redeemed for dialysis treatment for a kidney patient:

“It’s folklore. It’s something that people want to believe, and people are just heartsick when they find out no one will redeem these things.” Mrs. Hodge, 64, said she was indeed heartsick when she recently learned her time, energy and tabs were devoted to a non-existent cause.

 “We had so many people saving these for us that it reached the point where every time we’d see a friend or neighbor, they’d hand over some tabs to us,” she said. “We had family back in Connecticut mailing them to us. We were turning cans without the tabs over to the senior citizens at the YWCA, and they in turn were giving us their tabs.”

Rumor not only dashes the hopes of those trying to do a good deed; it also causes endless headaches for those in the recycling business:

“We don’t even take tabs and we’ve never advertised that we do,” says Phil McEvers of Houston’s American Reclaiming Corp. “But it’s not unusual for us to get 30 or 40 calls a day from people who say they’ve heard these things.” While some Houston recycling companies do buy tabs, dealers say the prices range from about 10 cents to 28 cents per pound — much less than prices purported for gallon quantities.

“People will come up here and just swear to you that these tabs can get an hour for somebody on a (dialysis) machine, and nothing you tell them will convince them that it’s not so,” says O’Neil Short, president of Houston’s Micon Recycling. “Some of them come with the gallon containers wanting $75 a gallon, and when we explain it’s not worth $75, they pull out of the driveway mad.”

“They just flat think we’re lying to them.” Micon no longer will buy the tabs at all, said Short.

One of the many companies victimized by this rumor is Reynolds Aluminum. They’ve come up with an effective reply to the pull-tabs question: a redirection of these lovingly-collected tabs into their normal recycling program, for which they pay standard scrap metal rates. (Obviously, collecting whole cans would be far more effective, but facts have never slowed down anyone running with a good rumor firmly between his teeth.) As one of their 1993 brochures read:


This Program Might Have A Familiar Ring

False rumors have plagued the aluminum industry and the National Kidney Foundation for years concerning beverage can pull tabs and kidney dialysis. Across the nation, at various times, word has spread that aluminum can pull tabs could be recycled in exchange for time on a kidney dialysis machine for someone with kidney disease. Many well intentioned yet misinformed groups and individuals collected pull tabs only to find that there was no pull tab/kidney dialysis donation program. It never existed. Anywhere.

In some cases it was even very difficult to collect the tabs because of the fact that many cans now have a device called Stay-On-Tab ™, a design improvement to all-aluminum cans which keep the tab attached to the can after opening. Yet even then people would remove the tabs and bring them to a Reynolds Aluminum recycling center, only to find the sum of their efforts much less than they had hoped . . . no dialysis and much less money than if they had brought the cans that were originally attached to the tab.

There was nothing they could do, and nothing we could do . . .


Reynolds Aluminum Recycling Company (RARCO) and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF)
affiliates and chapters have initiated this “Keep Tabs on Your Cans” turnaround drive. RARCO and NKF are seeking groups and individuals who will recycle aluminum through Reynolds, donating the proceeds to the National Kidney Foundation local chapters and affiliates.


The group or individual collects recyclable used aluminum beverage cans, aluminum pie plates, foil, frozen food and dinner trays, as well as many other forms of recyclable aluminum, then brings it to a Reynolds recycling center. The recycler then requests that the money earned from the recycling transaction be donated directly to the National Kidney Foundation. Reynolds provides the recycler/contributor with an itemized receipt for record keeping and tax purposes. Periodically, the donations are totaled, and Reynolds sends a donation to the nearest chapter or affiliate of the National Kidney Foundation. 


Diseases of the kidney and urinary tract are a major cause of illness and death in the United States. The National Kidney Foundation and its 50 affiliates and 200 chapters comprise the primary health organization in the U.S. which fights this disease. Your donation will finance research, treatment, diagnosis, detection, and cure of kidney and urinary tract diseases.


Bring your aluminum cans and other household aluminum to any Reynolds Aluminum Recycling center and ask to have the proceeds sent to the National Kidney Foundation. For the location and schedule of the (Reynolds Aluminum) recycling center nearest you, simply call (toll-free) [out-of-service number removed], or for more information write the National Kidney Foundation, Inc., 30 East 33rd Street, New York, New York, 10016.

(Reynolds has since sold off its recycling operation to Wise Metals.)

Seeing as how folks were bound and determined to collect pull-tabs for charity, in 1987 McDonald’s found it a good idea to get into the act. Their Pop Tab Collection program is a response to pull tab mania, and 

Pull tab removalit at least provides folks with a place to dump the tabs they’ve been hoarding over the years in the belief they could use them to purchase dialysis time for an ailing child. Tabs dropped off at various McDonald’s are taken to a local recycling company, and the money made from selling them for their scrap value is given to the local Ronald McDonald House to help defray operating costs.

(Ronald McDonald houses are inexpensive family lodgings located near hospitals. Families of sick children stay there so as to be close to their hospitalized child. Typically, it costs the house $40 a night a room to operate and families are asked to make a donation of $10 a night when they stay. The shortfall is made up through various charitable endeavors, of which the pull-tab collection and recycling program is but one.)

It needs be stressed yet again that pull tabs are far from “found money” — even the Shriners Hospitals for Children, another organization that uses money received from the recycling of aluminum tabs for a good cause, noted in April 2007 that the recycling price for aluminum tabs is $0.50 to $0.70 per pound, which means that even at the upper end of that price range, they’re only getting about $427 per million tabs collected. Prospective donors could still do far more good by organizing a local soda can recycling program and donating the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House (or any other charity).

THE BOTTOM LINE:   No charitable organization will pay out a premium (in cash, goods, or services) for pull tabs from aluminum cans. Some of them will indeed accept donations of pull tabs, but all they pay (or receive) in exchange for those tabs is their marginal value as scrap aluminum. Anyone gathering pull tabs for charity would do far better to collect whole cans; accumulating nothing but pull tabs is like eschewing quarters in order to collect pennies. 

(From time to time, various companies will run programs under which they offer to donate money to charities in exchange for consumers’ collecting and returning some item of product packaging [e.g., pull tabs, boxtops, wrappers], but such companies only accept packaging from their own products, and their object in operating these programs is to promote and advertise their brands.)

Next time someone asks you to donate a few pull-tabs for a good cause, donate a few facts instead. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

Barbara “donate make your brown eyes blue?” Mikkelson

LAST UPDATED:   24 March 2012

Blog Post 04/23/17

Today Is Paul Reaser’s Birthday. Paul was my closest friend for many, many years. In high school. Paul and I were roommates for a few years and he helped me develop my OlymPicnic Games package ( when we were in our late 20’s. He helped me run these games packages for years and years at hundreds of company picnics. Paul lives in Flagstaff, AZ now. I do not see him very often, and he is not on Facebook so we do not chat to often, but he is still one of my closest and best memories of my senior high year at San Mateo HS. Happy Birthday Paul.


I had the opportunity to do the fair in Flagstaff this year, but I turned it down because it is the same weekend as Burning Man and I want to go to Burning Man, and the fair wouldn’t meet my price. My only regret was I would have seen Paul and said hello to him and his mom, Helen. One of the reasons I do things like, “go to Burning man” and experience life to its fullest is Paul’s little brother, Frank died recently. He was one of so many friends who I lost or came really close to losing recently and so many of them were so young. Xondra Merrill, Frank Reaser, Dudley, Elysa Hayes having her accident that brought her so close to leaving us, the most recent was Kevin Ridgeway also had a life threatening car accident. I have just learned that Johnny Fox is now fighting liver cancer and he says, "the doctors have thrown in the towel"… So, I no longer chase the mighty dollar. I choose to live life now because one does not know what tomorrow will bring.


Unrelated pet peeve: My trailer storage rent is due today, too. I pay $87.50 a month per spaced for two parking spaces so I can park my trailers filled with ‘stuff’ like Mistee, my Model T, and my wood working trailer, and I have one trailer delegated to camping equipment. How ridiculous is it that I spend this much on parking spaces? It gets my goat. Well, it would get my goat if I had a goat, but you get the point. it does bug me to pay for a parking space.


Back to the day: I am in Custer, SD. Home of the Crazy Horse Monument. I saw the monument about 5 or 6 years ago, so I don't think I will go again. Instead I will opt to go have a late lunch with Michael DeSchalit in Rapid City where we both fly out of today. Seeing friends is so much more important.


I did a great show last night for a bunch of post prom students. I only invite the seniors on stage for these post prom events because they will not have another chance to volunteer next year, if they bring me or another hypnotist back. 11 out of 12 stayed under the whole show. It was a good show. Great, ultra polite kids. Kids in the midwest have amazing manors as a general rule compared to the entitled and gangsta kids on the coasts.


The hotel I am in is great. The Comfort Inn in Custer. This hotel closes for 6 months out of the year, for the winter, and just reopened three days ago. The place is in impeccable condition and they donated a room for me to stay in for the night while I am here doing the post prom party. I deal with a small dilemma when I stay in a hotel room that is donated. I am one who takes the shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, coffee packets I do not use in the room, I have stolen a towel or ten I will admit, and I take the pad and pen. But when the room is donated, I feel like I can’t take anything, and it tears at me being a hotel kleptomaniac.


One year when I was touring, instead of writing down all the states I performed in, I bought a coffee cup in each state. I gathered 21 coffee cups that year, which we still use today, and every day at my sister’s house. It was not a wise investment. I probably paid $9-$14 per cut - so it easily cost me $210+ to buy all those cups. Not a good investment, but I do like some of those cups a lot with my morning coffee. What is the value of something you enjoy?


So, back to the room and the free merchandise that is all around the room … I guess I will just take the pen. I need some way of recording I was here other than a mark in my check book that shows I deposited a check.



Happy trails.

April 3rd, 2017

A potential student asked questions about The Sandman's Stage Hypnosis Boot Camp August 13-19 at the Wyoming State Fair. I thought my long reply might be of interest.

Clinical Hypnosis and Stage Hypnosis have as much in common as pasta and bread. Both are made from grain, but that is where the similarity ends.

Clinical hypnosis is intimate - and almost everyone likes participating in intimacy.
Stage hypnosis is exhibitionism - not everyone likes participating in public exhibitionism
I am not going to explain more about clinical hypnosis, or hypnotherapy other than to say we use hypnosis in both stage and clinical applications.
Stage Hypnosis is a very unique form of entertainment compared to other forms of entertainment. Not only is is based on science and spirituality vs. simply entertaining but it has very different needs and methods of being mastered.



Published in Amplify • Powered by POLLSTAR
David Brooks / Executive Editor
Visit & sign up for The REAL
O: 652-426-6090 / D: 562-616-1090 / C: 714-262-8667 / @ampthemag
3553 Atlantic Avenue #247, Long Beach, CA  90807

December 1, 2016 Taylor Mims


The International Association of Fairs and Expositions has one of the most eclectic and vibrant trade show floors of any industry conference. There is nothing like being towered over by a walking tree to get ideas flowing for fair programmers. From ticketers to liger (tiger and lion hybrids) breeders, attendees can discover everything they need to host a successful and entertaining fair. Amplify strolled through the rows of animated dinosaurs, magicians, and celebrity impersonators to bring you some of the convention’s most colorful acts. Check out six of the most unique performers IAFE had to offer below.


Alan Sands Lisa KunschickAlan Sands and Lisa Kunschick


Alan Sands the Comedy Hypnotist

Bay Area, Calif.

How would you describe your act?

I call it PG12-and-a-half. It’s not naughty. It is nothing I would embarrass a priest of a nun with, but I’m not naughty enough to work in pubs. I’m a family show and it goes over the heads of anyone 12 and under.

Who are some performers that you look up to?

There’s many that I consider my mentors and major influences in my life. Terry Stokes Sr. was without a doubt a major influence in my performance. My father did hypnosis and magic, so he was my mentor in every way that you can imagine when I started out. There are people who have passed away like Ormond McGill who wrote the encyclopedia on stage hypnosis. I purposely went to my clinical training at a school where he was part of the staff.

What does your family think of your job?

My father passed away in 2008, but he was proud of me. He was glad that I could make a better living than he ever did. He was an artist. It takes three thrings to be star quality. One of them is god given talent, one of them is presentation and how you look when you walk on stage, and the third is marketing. If you have one of those things you’re an artist. If you have two of them, you’re a professional. You’ll make a living.



By Michael Gellatly -


LUMBERTON – “It’s the last night of the fair” was the popular refrain from vendors, performers and ride workers Thursday night as Hurricane Matthew forced a premature end to the annual festivities.

The official announcement came via the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair’s Facebook page, stating that “due to impending hurricane” and citing safety concerns fair organizers closed down for 2016 at 11 p.m. Thursday.

The impact of the storm was being felt already on Thursday evening. Dreary weather and the looming storm kept attendance numbers lower than previous evenings and several vendors’ booths were vacant. However, the wet threat of Matthew didn’t dampen the spirits of those who ventured out, especially those who lost their minds, or watched others losing theirs.

They came to the fair, got on stage, got sleepy, and woke up about an hour later.

They woke up with no knowledge that they’d been twerking, hopping as a bullfrog, admitting secrets, or witnessing their parents wearing wildly inappropriate clothing.

They had no knowledge because it had all been in their heads — hypnotic suggestions from veteran magician and comedy hypnotist Alan “The Sandman” Sands.


  • Comedy hypnotist Alan Sands gives Trevor Cox, center, the power to make others fall asleep during his show, Thursday night.

  • Hypnotized participants fall asleep on each other after being told their neighbors were “big, soft teddy bears.”

  • Hypnotized show participants try to lay an egg on stage Thursday.

  • Hypnotized by Alan Sands, show participants hop like bull frogs trying to catch flies.

  • Participants in Alan Sands’ hypnotism show are fast asleep.

  • Hypnotized, show participants huddle together for warmth in the imagined freezing cold.


Sands has been performing at the Robeson County Agricultural Fair for 15 years and has been a comedy hypnotist for 29 years. The son of a magician, performing in his blood.

The show pulls willing participants on stage, many keen to feel what it is like to be hypnotized. After they are put under the psychological spell, Sands’ subjects do and feel everything he says, much to the amusement of the audience.

Trevor Cox, 18, was very keen to get on stage for the 9 p.m. show Thursday.

Afterwards, he remembered his eyes rolling back in his head as Sands put him under, but nothing from then on. Strange for the young man who woke up wearing a purple tutu and sporting toenails painted orange.

“Luckily (orange) is my favorite color,” Cox said.

Amanda Cameron has no memory either. Cameron left the stage with a bra full of what she was told were $100 bills she had to hide. In reality, they were tissues.

“I nearly peed my pants,” said Kathleen Wills, who watched from the audience as a friend thinking she was Kermit the Frog ran through the crowd looking for her Miss Piggy.

Gloria Cox of Lumberton was eager to come back and see the show Thursday evening. She’d been a part of it the night before and reveled in a little schadenfreude, as she still had no knowledge of what she’d been subjected to on stage.

“There’s pictures of me on Facebook, but I don’t know what I was doing,” she said. “It’s too funny watching other people being tricked the same way.”

Those hypnotized were put into a deep relaxed state by Sands at the start of the show and brought out of it at the end. All who performed were sent home to “have the best, most relaxing, refreshing night of sleep, ever.”

It’s the second straight year the fair has lost significant days to the weather.

It was to extend through Saturday.

“The weather just isn’t cooperating with us this year, it’s sad,” said Coble Wilson, president emeritus of the fair board.

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly


Tales from the Trails - August 2nd, 2016

Last night I slept in the back seat of my truck. Yes, at 56 years old (my birthday is in two days), I still sleep in my vehicle on occasion. It is actually one of the criteria I check when buying a vehicle. Can I lay down in the back seat and not be in a fetal position? I don’t have to sleep in my truck, after all - we fair performers are independently wealthy since we make the big bucks (insert sarcastic LOL), but all hotels surrounding Yellowstone NP run about $250 a night for a Super 8 in August and I think everyone but “The Donald” would whine a bit about paying those prices. I am not on vacation and I have no one to impress, I am alone - and truthfully, I found a campsite along a river in the woods where it was just me and the moths. I was in paradise and I slept well. Fortunately, I am 5’7” and my truck is 5’6” wide inside. I have a 2” piece of foam I put inside a $20 sleeping bag as a futon and I have one of those sleeping bags that is thicker than any blanket I have ever owned. It’s difficult to roll up at times. You have to use clips to hold it folded in half before you roll it and it is huge once it is rolled up!  I also bring a firm pillow so I don’t feel the arm rest under my head. I’m a guy - sleeping alone along the road is OK every other night and I feel safe and the world is my urinal. Alan Bruess brings his kitchen with him everywhere. I bring my bedrolls, and I have a kitchen, too but I will leave that for another time.

I have driven through Yellowstone National Park every year at least once for the last 28 years. The first year was the year Yellowstone burned, 1988, but I move ahead for a moment. One year I spent six days in the park. I flew a girlfriend into Jackson Hole. We stayed in a hotel in Jackson Hole when she arrived. I then reserved rooms with the help of someone in the park at one of the reservations desks. If you called on the phone they would have said, “Sold Out” but at the desk, we found rooms throughout the park, spaced out evenly, driving every road, ending up back to Jackson Hole where we stayed again in the same hotel the last night before I flew her home. It was the only time my Tundra got 18 MPG because the speed limit in the park is 45 MPH.

My first year on the road was 1987. Wow, OK - 29 years … I joined RMAF the fall of 1987. It was one of the first associations I joined after joining the IAFE and WFA the previous year. I joined RMAF because my office partner, Fred Anderson said, “I want to see the Teton Mountains,” and so now, half my life has been visiting these national parks and the surrounding states.

 Fred was my office partner. We did our marketing together. We were both San Francisco street performers and we knew that fairs were the logical market to go into from the streets since you were working outdoors, fighting the elements and you had to gather a crowd and do a show. The only difference was on the streets you had to ask the audience for money at the end of the show. At fairs, you had a guarantee. Back in the late 1980’s Fred and I would work together getting work for the summer fair season. Fred would make the phone calls. I would type out cover letters (without a spell check - I am sure my letters were horrible!). We would stuff two VHS videos into an envelope and for $2.00 we could mail them out together - same price, up to two lbs., one or two tapes. 

In 1987, Fred and I were about the only two variety acts working the RMAF Convention along with Gibb Richards the clown. Gib was well established there already. Gib was a math teacher at a University in Albuquerque and he spent his summers working for fairs, charging just enough to break even and vacationing in the region. There was one other act. Triangle Talent was handling a balloon sculptor that did HUGE balloons of a Motorcycle - the acts last name was Hamilton I think. Dave Hamilton rings a bell, but don’t quote me on that. He was good. He wore a white suit with a red shirt and red shoes. He looked sharp! I wonder how many of those suits he had. They certainly did not stay clean, I am sure. The four of us were the entire convention entertainment line-up of variety acts. There were musical acts, of course. Almost as many musical acts then as there are hypnotists now! Things have changed, though. Now there are over 100 variety and grounds acts I believe in the Rockies region, but competition is good I feel, too.

So, what is my point? Why am I sharing all this? Well, this all comes to mind because yesterday, Fred Anderson sent me a text message asking if I could videotape him at a show he was doing locally in the SF Bay Area.  I began thinking about those first tours through the region. Fred was a Juggler and I did magic and balloons. We sold ourselves as a two act package. Fred never drove a car, so he didn’t mind making less to have a personal chauffeur drive him everywhere. Fred had a great showcase but was shy. I’d do the pitch in the room. This is one of the benefits of being a sidewalk balloon clown for so many years.

Back then, the small fairs would help route the acts. They would co-op buy together and run you along Reed William’s carnival route from town to town. We’d get five fairs in a row, two to five days each. We needed to make $2,500 each a week back them to stay on the road and come home with enough money to buy chicken. 

The first two years, Fred and I toured a lot together. One of our “Seymour” Moments was when: we went to the Big Horn Mountains and rented a log cabin for a night between fairs. The place had a small diner on the property and as we sat there eating, we looked out the huge picture window onto a small pond maybe 50-100 feet diameter and in the middle of the pond stood a moose, just standing there, throughout our entire meal. He might still be there now, for all I know.

I have since learned that moose are aquatic animals. They give birth standing in H20 and you do not see them in zoos because they need to roam free. They simply do not make it in any type of captivity. Zero - nil. I love learning animal trivia.

I also remember one year I did the Big Horn County Fair in Basin, WY. I was only doing comedy magic. I was working on a flatbed tractor trailer truck bed doing my shows. I packed up my act into my magic box/table and left it sitting on the stage. I went to the office to collect my allowance so I could go home and buy chicken, I then got in my car and drove 100 miles over the mountain to Sheridan and I went to the movies. When I got out of the movie it was dark. I looked in the back of my minivan and realized something was missing. I forgot to put my act! It was not in the car with me!  I drove back over the mountain and found it sitting in the middle of the flatbed right where I had left it.

I am on my way back to Basin, WY and the Big Horn County Fair right now. I will perform for two days, then I drive to a private party I am producing the entertainment for in Montana.

I was vegetarian back in the 80’s and it was really difficult to find veggies in Montana and Wyoming then. The Rockies were a meat and potatoes world. There were no salads at fast-food places. I found I was eating french fries as my only meal. I had to give up my veggie lifestyle to remain in this business. Things were different back then.

Being on the road as a tailgate entertainer is a lifestyle. I am sure people not in the business would say “You slept in your truck?” and I would have to reply, “What? And give up showbiz?”


 A Tale from the Trail

 I performed at the Canyon County Fair (and Festival) in Caldwell, ID for seven years. It is a 50K attendance fair about 30 miles from Boise, Idaho. To get to Boise from the San Francisco Bay Area, you take I-80 east, through Reno and turn left in Winnemucca. You drive a few hundred miles through the sagebrush, cross a corner of Oregon and into Idaho. It’s a 12 hour drive, and when I have time, I’ll give myself an extra day, Stay in Winnemucca in the Winners Casino and not shotgun the trip. I like the Winners because it has a motor lodge, you get a free drink (to get you into the smoke filled casino) and the Wells Fargo Bank is across the street. Small reasons, I know - but enough.

On this particular journey, I had recently bought a new Dodge Caravan. My old one lost the transmission at 125K - or perhaps it was the one I back ended another minivan with and did $5,000 worth of damage to mine and almost zero to them because they had an iron tailgate (on a mini van! Who would have thought?). Regardless of the demise of the previous Dodge MiniVan, I was in a new one and before abandoning the old one I removed the full-sized spare from under the trade-in and replaced the toy spare under the new vehicle with the full sized spare.

I had taken this road many times and I always notice the small “attractions” signs as I travel. Like all of us, we love to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs. Along this particular road, there is not much to admire very long, but I always saw a small sign every time I traveled this road that was in the middle of nowhere. I just tried to find the mane of this attraction to share, and it is so insignificant, I can’t even find a reference to it on the internet after searching for the name for a good half hour. Let me describe it to you: The small sign referenced volcanos, lava formations, fissures - it was a small sign and probably 99.9% of people driving by ignore it, I am sure. On this trip, I decided, “I have an extra day - let’s go look!”

I turned right. One half mile up the dirt road another sign tells me my destination is 23.5 miles ahead. I decide, I am on the adventure, I have the day off and am early - go forth and explore!

At 21 miles into the wilderness, having passed nothing resembling any form of civilization, the road starts to get a bit rough. Not ruts and dirt clods rough, I am talking Lava rocks jutting up 4-6 inches rough. Sure enough, about 1/2 mile from the lava formations and 23-1/2 miles from the highway, I get a flat tire.

No problem, I get out, pull out the full sized spare … and to make a long story short, the lug nut holes on the older model Caravan wheel do not match the later model Caravan. I have no cell service, but I decide to walk to the top of a hill I see and see if I can get service there.

Sure enough, I have one pip of service if I stand on one foot, hold a coat hanger in the air and wear a tin foil hat and after trying five times to reach AAA, I get through without getting disconnected. they connect me with the AAA Service people in the area. This conveniently located service station knows exactly where I am - he is familiar, and he is only 85 miles away, oh … and … his tow truck does not work, the starter needs replacing, so he will come to me, pick me up and my flat, bring me back to the station, change the tire, drive me back to my car and get me on my way!

This gives me time to explore the lava domes, which were fun to look at the little 20’ high funnels. If my memory serves me right there were 20 or more of them of all different sizes and formations, some were the size of a hollow tree, others were bigger, like a fort and others were much smaller.

Two hours later, my AAA representative arrives, we grab my wheel and flat and head back to his shop — 85 miles away – which I will refrain from calling civilization. It’s a metal barn in poor shape, an RV Park that resembles a trailer park you’d not let your kids visit and play in if you had a choice, and they have a diner and small grocery store that has one refrigerator and minimal groceries, but enough to camp and survive if necessary if you are camping there.

We get to the shop, and Bad News; he does not have the correct sized tire to replace on my rim. Good news: his father is at Costco in Boise and will pick up the tire and bring it back. This took another four hours before dd returned, but he did bring the right tire, they changed my flat, did not charge me an exorbitant price, only fair market value - and they drive me back to my handicapped minivan siting in the wilderness raised up on a floor jack. It is now dusk, we replace the tire and when I get back to the highway, it has been a 12 hour adventure.

All is well that ends well, and my tale has no real hicups, it was all a good experience and now I have a story I can share. My next one will be more humorous and a lot shorter. Stay tuned.