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 Post subject: A Must Read! [An essay on magic performances.]
PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 2:07 pm 
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Introduction to Magic Performances.

Table of Contents

Introduction
The use of Gimmicks
Approaching Spectators
Controlling Spectators
Understanding Misdirection
Getting Paid for Performances

Introduction

Hello, my name is Jesse, a magician who performs on all platforms, with experience in all forms of the magical art. I have performed for 1 person and for a 1000 people. I am not here to say, this is what you need to do to be successful, but more along the lines of giving you a guideline in my experiences as a magician, and as a vendor. This article is more geared toward people who would want to start performing effects to the general public. This will also serve as a refresher to people who are experienced in this art. One thing before we get into the article, I constantly hear people refer to magic illusions, or effects, as "tricks," please, for the sake of the art and self respect, teach yourself to refer to illusions and effects as just that.

The use of Gimmicks

Gimmicks are great to use, only if you know how to properly use them. If you fumble with a gimmick, then you are almost certain to get "caught" in the effect, and it will blow it for you. There are a million gimmicks on the market today, some great, some simple, some complicated, some flat out dumb. Since i am primarily a card handler, I will talk about some things with card gimmicks. Card gimmicks themselves are excellent tool to have, especially if you are learning some of the advanced sleights. With my personal arsenal, I carry with me a invisible deck, a stripper deck, and a straight deck at all times. People sometimes think, well why do you carry so many decks around with you? My response, "Well, i know a vast array of effects, and the use of gimmicked decks aids in the proper and complete execution of said effect." As complicated as that may sound, it really is not. I have developed methods, and techniques to allow the switch of the decks, at a moments notice, that we will not discuss in this article due to exposure. There are many ways of accomplishing this, you will have to find out what works for you, as a performer, and entertainer.

As said before, i wont go into any type of "how to do a DL," type of conversation, as it constitutes exposure. What i will do, is explain my performance, from beginning to end, with a stripper and a invisible deck, along with a few bits of my own personal patter in there. Most of my magic is done, impromptu, on the street, with many people around, which the use of a gimmicked deck aids in the cover needed to perform certain sleights. In the explanations of how i perform these effects, I am going to be to the point, and then later, we can analyze the performances. So here goes for the Stripper Deck and the Invisible Deck routines, as developed by me.

*On a street, people around, going into shops, people walking, talking, laughing* I approach someone who looks like they are on that street for recreation purposes (ill touch more on this later) Hello sir, how are you doing today, if i can have a minute of your time, id like to show you something. Spectator agrees, performance continues. Have you ever played poker? Many people will say yes. Oh ok, so you understand what 3 of a kind, 4 of a kind, royal flush, are in poker.. Let me show you something, and how i seem to beable to have some lucky hands delt to me. I deal out a 5 card hand to me and the spectator, and ask him what hes holding, as the spectator displays a random hand, i show him a straight royal flush.. i tell him, pretty weird ain't it? Ok ok ok, just to make this fair, here take the deck, shuffle up the cards real good, cut them, shuffle some more, then hand them back to me. I then proceed to deal out another hand, and ask the spectator to show his hand, again, random cards, maybe a pair, maybe two.. Again, i show my hand, a straight royal flush. Spectator is amazed. I then hand the deck back to him, cards are all in there, no way i could pull them out in full view of the spectator. I put the cards back into the box, put them back into my pocket, and say, well, if you have the time, id like to show you one more. Now its time for the invisible deck routine.

Sir, i just showed you the weird luck i have with a poker hand, now i will show you a real illusion. I am going to grab this deck of cards (i pretend to grab a deck out of the air, and hold it) Could you think of any card that is in a deck of 52, and once you have that card, let me know when you have the card, but do not tell me. Now i am going to take the cards out of this invisible pack, go through them, and turn one over, square the cards up, put them back in the pack, close the box. Then i slap my pocket where the invisible deck is located. and i say, "did you see it?" This confuses them enough to start thinking. Now i say i have taken a card, and flipped it around, so theres one card, in the entire deck, that is flipped around. Could you tell me the card that you were thinking of (lets say Jack of Diamonds) I say, when i slapped my pocket here, the invisible deck i had, materialized into a authentic bicycle deck. I pull the deck out and ask the spectator to watch very closely, in case i go over the card. I go through the cards, and come to a face down card, and say, theres a card thats face down, lets look through the rest to make sure. I use a lever type reveal, and that is flooring. Look, the card you thought of, and the card i predicted, are exactly the same, i appreciate your time, thank you. Put the deck away, and shake his/her hand, and walk away.

Approaching Spectators

Heya, do you have a few minutes of FREE time i could use? The way you approach someone is key. If you go up to someone and say "hello could i show you a magic trick" I would say 70-75% of the time, you will get a negative reaction. A big part of this art is mystery, if you knew what someone was going to do, would you stick around to see something you have already seen? No, you wouldn't. Exactly the reasoning for the mystery element. Another key point to hit on, is giving the impression that you DON'T know what your doing, while being in complete control, and having complete confidence in what your doing. I see alot of guys referring to Blaine and angel.. they are PERFECT examples of this. If you watch how they approach people, 85-90% of the time, they get a bite.. camera edits aside, this is reality, deep down everyone wants to see something cool, and in magic, your first impression will make or break you.

Controlling Spectators

When people talk about controlling spectators, they don't mean, grabbing them by the arm physically, they only mean it, mentally (grabbing them by the arm hehehe.) Once you have there attention, by the approach, you want to make sure you know when to let the spectators speak, and how long to let them speak for. You cant possible expect to keep control of a audience if you constantly let them interrupt your performance. There are people out there, for instance, who will TRY to faze you, or try to mix you up by speaking. This is why when i practice magic, me and my fiancee will goto a bar, or downtown, someplace noisy, so i can overcome distraction. This does work. Now back to the matter at hand. I see alot of people mentioning David Blaine and Criss Angels magic on the internet, and even in person when i do my own performances. These guys have got it down, whether you like them or not, whether you think they are magicians or not, the do what they set out to do, ENTERTAIN. If you watch them, when they go up to someone, they almost always say the same line, and it goes something like this. "I don't know if i can do this or not, sometimes it works, most of the time it doesn't." With that line, it does a few things, it sucks them in, they think your just gonna do some ladeda effect with no meaning, worthless storyline (patter) and it isn't gonna be great, but you have them sucked in from the approach. Another thing this accomplishes is, now, there attention isn't so focused on your cards, or whatever you have in your hands, they are focused on your eyes, and you need to be focused right back to there eyes. A great example of controlling spectators is in a 2 card monte routine. In this routine, you constantly hold there hand, move it around, when they let you move there hand, guess what that does? It gives YOU, the performer, CONTROL! Now you can pretty much do anything, they are at your mercy. You complete the effect, and at this time, you can choose to keep going with a different effect, or decide to walk away.. If you decide to walk away, always thank them for there time, shake there hand, and since cards are super cheap, i usually give them the deck or cards as souvenirs. They will remember that moment for years and years to come.

Understanding Misdirection

For those of you out there, who think you understand misdirection, lets see if you really understand it. Have you ever had someone literally burn a hole in your hands during a routine when you don't want them too? Ever had someone who does exactly what you say? That is the difference between understanding misdirection and not understanding it. Controlling a spectator(s) and misdirection go hand in hand, without one, the other is useless and vice versa. I see some people complaining about the same things, cant get off a pass, cant do a lift, cant do anything without the spectator carefully watching. This is where misdirection comes into play. The best way to misdirect someone is to be loose, casual, and confident. Do not be uptight or fidgeting with your effect. Keep the patter going, do not stop, keep there attention away from the effect until YOU want them to have attention to it. This takes time, to develop and polish, but it is never perfected. People always ask why i say it is never perfected, this is why. Ever been performing, and had a heckler, (why controlling and misdirection go hand in hand)? The reason for this is because the misdirection AND control wasn't there. When you understand misdirection, you will be able to take 80% of the population and keep there mind going in a hundred directions at the same time, yet keep them focused on the task at hand. Misdirection is very much a clever necessity, and must be developed for each performers style.


Conclusion

In conclusion to this article, I hope that i have been able to answer some peoples questions and misconceptions about performing. I see alot of people that have so much trouble with this stuff. It has also been said that once you do something over and over, it gets easier every time. Now this is not gonna rid you of the butterflies on the first performance, or even the hundredth time you have performed, this article is more of a tool to help develop the basic necessities of magical performance. Practice makes perfect, and that phrase couldn't be anymore true to this art. I have been lucky to have been able to meet some great magicians, from Copperfield to McBride, to Denny Haney, and teller from penn and teller, so alot of this advice comes straight from the top, given to me as a magician, and me giving it to the community.

If you don't remember anything written here, remember this. "Disbelief, is the art you have chosen"

Jesse


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:20 pm 
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awsome, this should go in the essay section


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:21 pm 
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Nice essay. I assume that YOU are Jesse?

And I suppose it really should be in the essay forum. I'll move it over to there now ...


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:58 pm 
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I am that of the great and powerful Jesse lol..

I hope that this can help just one person, then it will make the writing of it worth it. I seem to repeat myself, and others repeating themselves over and over and over on here answering the same questions over and over and over.. I figure somone can see this and go.. well ok, lets try it his way and it works for them..

Jesse


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:19 pm 
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This was not only very informative, but also a great read, thank you. It is nice to see a fully thought-out and helpful post or what Captain Cliché would call "a breath of fresh air." I do magic as a hobby and as another entertainment trait that I can add to myself. I have preformed street magic a more than a fair share of times and have had much success because I (not egotistical) naturally followed what you are talking about and so, once again, this post was great to not only reassuring me in the direction I am going but also in giving me pointers into some aspects that I have not taken fully into consideration.

I do have a few quick questions for you though:

- Is a good "approaching" line "Excuse me, could you help me out with a quick experiment for a moment?" I have used this lots of times (when I am feeling frisky and want to approach rather than be approached) and have gotten manly positive answers from the spectators, but I want to know if this will diminish the illusion at all? You stated calling illusions or effects “tricks” diminishes what you are performing so I would like to know if calling it an “experiment” is acceptable. I do this because then you can naturally lead into “this might not work but lets see what happens.” Like you, I go to bars and loud areas to perform. Mainly because I like the atmosphere, but I usually sit at the bar facing out and just do flourishes until someone approaches (this takes a lot of heat off of me because they are genuinely interested in what I can do.)

- How long have you been in this art? I am just curious how long it has taken you to get to where you are today to be able to share such good wisdom.

And the most commonly asked question on these boards

- What do you do when you do get a heckler? It happens, and you can’t help it no matter how good you are (in my mind) so what do you do? Some people say "get on there side," while others say "just pack your bags and leave." Personally I like to get the crowd against them, and it works. I think this is because I include more adult humor and sarcasm in my performances so it comes off as part of my act. But I am really curious how you handle hecklers and how many do you get in ratio to people that actually watch you for entertainment (in street magic and close-up work not stage?)

Sorry for this long reply but I enjoyed your post very much and it just got me thinking about my work. Thanks again.

-Craig


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:50 pm 
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Quote:
Is a good "approaching" line "Excuse me, could you help me out with a quick experiment for a moment?" I have used this lots of times (when I am feeling frisky and want to approach rather than be approached) and have gotten manly positive answers from the spectators, but I want to know if this will diminish the illusion at all? You stated calling illusions or effects “tricks” diminishes what you are performing so I would like to know if calling it an “experiment” is acceptable. I do this because then you can naturally lead into “this might not work but lets see what happens.” Like you, I go to bars and loud areas to perform. Mainly because I like the atmosphere, but I usually sit at the bar facing out and just do flourishes until someone approaches (this takes a lot of heat off of me because they are genuinely interested in what I can do.)


There is really no *bad* way of approching somone.. I have found, through years and years of performing, what seems to work better than others. I do not like when people who do perform, refer to illusions or effects as "tricks" that is a lay person term, and I dont think anyone that performs even a simple "21" effect should call somthing a "trick".. A "trick" is somthing a trashy woman does to pay her rent. As for the flourishes, i tend to stay away from them before a performance simply because, any perspective positive spectators will see what im doing, and it will plant a seed that "that guy is crazy with a deck of cards" i want that result, AFTER the effect.. sorta playing on the "somthing for somthing" deal instead of "somthing for nothing".. If asking somone to do an experiment has produced good results with you, then by all means, continue to do so. That is sort of the unspoken rule in magic, the one no one ever tells you about when you start buying effects. You can buy all the effects you want, but if you cant present them, or approch somone in a way to get them interested, then your wasting your time. But by all means, if it is working for you, keep it up.. What i like to do is switch it up every now and then to see the reaction i get from some people.. if somthign works better, i start using that, as i am always in constant devlopment with "public relations" The public changes, so do you.



Quote:
How long have you been in this art? I am just curious how long it has taken you to get to where you are today to be able to share such good wisdom.


Funny you should ask.. everyone asks LOL... Anywho.. I am 26 years old and i started learning effects when i was 6 years old.. Why do you ask? Believe it or not, i saw a copperfield show, and was instantly hooked. Amazingly enough, i was lucky enough to meet David a few years ago and had a coffee with him and got to pick his brain and have a nice conversation.. Some of this stuff in this essay came directly from his mouth, as he spoke it. Somthing from somone that has made it like he has, is somthing that is NOT forgotten. Great wisdom, only comes from accually performing and making things work. I am a excellent people person, and that helps out tremendously.. But even today, i still get the shakes, altho the spectators cannot see it, i can feel it when performing on the street, its somthing you never get rid of, expecially once you get that *big payoff* the first time.. your always wanting that type of response, which you will get from practice and development.



Quote:
What do you do when you do get a heckler? It happens, and you can’t help it no matter how good you are (in my mind) so what do you do? Some people say "get on there side," while others say "just pack your bags and leave." Personally I like to get the crowd against them, and it works. I think this is because I include more adult humor and sarcasm in my performances so it comes off as part of my act. But I am really curious how you handle hecklers and how many do you get in ratio to people that actually watch you for entertainment (in street magic and close-up work not stage?)


What do i do when i encounter a heckler. Well, it really depends on the atmosphere of where im performing, and what im performing. If im doing something such as the invisable deck routine, i will instantly stop, put the deck away, thank the heckler for providing much needed thought, and move on.. id say 85% of the time, the rest of the people who WANTED to see the effect will really crack down on this guy, and then you just come back and go right back into it. 99% of the time, the heckler has been heckled out lol. Now there are some hecklers out there who i will LET be right, and what i mean by that is this. I say yea buddy your right, wanna finish this up for me? I have a ton of liquor to drink, and instead of entertaining YOU, id much rather drink some liquor till i loose my balance. Really, is what i do is say, yea your right, how could i fool the great and powerful (a off the cuff play on whatever hes wearing, or how hes acting) and move on to the next effect. Usually i can keep the hecklers at bay, and really have no problems with them, and i think this is because i am such a people person. People feel comfortable around other people who speak in a comforting way. Now with that said.. I will tell you about a magician/comedian from the uk, I cant remember his name, i really wish i could because the guy is great, DEFINATLY an adult performer. I dont think this guy has been heckled much, or at all, or maybe its how he got how he is. But basically after every effect, and somone asks him how he does it, he blurts out HEY ITS F******* MAGIC!!!!!!! Now im not saying copy or imatate this guy, But you never know, i have gotten so frustrated with people at times while performing that i just pack up and call it a day/night..

People also ask me if i have ever fouled up a effect. I have, many times, i have been caught, many times. Does this stop me? NO. Why? Because its a part of this art, you are gonna mess up, you are gonna foul up, it happens, you just need to have the drive to move up and over this. In my lectures (can you tell i do this? lol) I always bring this up, in the 20 years i have been performing magic, i have been caught so many times, that i SHOULD quit but i dont, because it just makes me try harder.. Now granted, i havent flashed/been caught/fouled up in quite a few years, Im just saying, it will happen to me again, its inevitable. Now when you do mess up, and people say, oh wow, i saw that, or wait a minute, whats that i just saw.. you stop and say.. "oh, i cant remember, mam could you tell me what day it is? Its monday. Oh thats right, this trick only works on sunday!" And believe it or not, IT ALWAYS WORKS! Now that alone, probably wont work, but because i have developed great control and misdirection in this, i am able to pull it off *like that is how the effect was supposed to go*

If you have the opportunity to ever goto a magic lecture, please do, it will help you tremedously and i think EVERYONE should attend one at least once a year. It should be a manditory thing for all magicians and performers to attend. One great lecturer to see is Mark Wilson and Nani, They are absolutly amazing speakers and will really help you improve on your performances.

I glad to know that this has helped you, that is why i wrote it ;)

Jesse


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:20 pm 
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dont you tihnk it should be a sticky?


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:24 pm 
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k88 wrote:
dont you tihnk it should be a sticky?


I feel this would be a great benifit if it was, but it doesnt matter to me eaither way.

Jesse


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