Before I get started on techniques, let's dive into some theory:
Most people live boring lives. They wake up to a boring house, dull parents or spouse drive a boring commute to their boring jobs. Then arrive home to watch re-runs of the same boring shows, and goto the same restaurants they always have, because it's habit. But we don't want to be bored, instead we strive for excitement, adventure and other "vacation" dreams. If you can take them away from their dull existence, even for a brief moment then you possess abilities that attract, spark the imagination, and can bring true magic to people's lives.
Thus the need to live an interesting life. Performing magic is so much more than showing a "trick" - if you yourself are a boring person then any trick you do will come across as a dull idiot doing an act. Instead, you must be interesting, create mystery and touch that side of people that they've been missing for so long. One of the best books I've read is Never Be Boring Again by Doug Stevenson. Designed to be about business presentations, it actually contains valuable guidelines for bringing people's imaginations to the forefront, telling engaging stories and entertaining.
Isn't that essentially what we're doing here? Entertaining?
You must be enthralling without magic. Have the heart, desire and passion to be that interesting person, go from the random guy who's performing tricks to the true magician. Once you've obtained that, or even begun the journey toward this ultimate goal, you will elevate yourself beyond what most other magicians have achieved and gone from shuffling street magic to being the guy people seek out. Your rejection rate approaching people will fall to near zero, and your abilities outside of magic will blossom. In business, school, relationships, you'll be glad you stepped out of the boredom box.
Little things make a huge different as well, does your body language speak of confidence, desire and ambition? Or do you look like a low self-esteem kid who so desperately needs attention that he'll happily do a magic trick to please?
- Don't suck
Your opening trick must be as good or better than the demo video you saw. If it sucks, nobody will want to see trick #2, nor ever talk to you again. Just because you watched the explanation video doesn't mean you're good, it just says that you know the trick. Have a friend videotape you doing the trick, and play it back with a watchful eye seeking out any errors or flashes. That opener must be your best and most practiced trick. Period.
- Have people approach you
The best street magic technique by far, is having guys and gals approach you instead of spending your time walking up to other people. Things like Hummingbird Card or Long Distance Spinner, fanning cards, STS or even XCM - all create interest and bring random groups of people to you.
- Learn to recognize the difference between boredom and busy
If you must approach, finding your spot amongst the community is easy once you can discriminate boredom in people's eyes. The guy on a bench reading the newspaper, the woman waiting for her husband to get out of the bathroom. These are your prime targets. Busy restaurants on Friday or Saturday night have leagues of deathly bored families waiting outside of them for example. I also carry around my Two Dollar Window and GREED setup for when I'm waiting in a grocery store line.
- Keep it lean
People don't want to see 8 tricks in a row. Do a couple, move on - leave your audience wanting more.
One of the best ways to start practicing is to volunteer at places. Community outings, church picnics, hospitals, daycares, nursing homes, and hundreds of other events would love to have you volunteer to entertain people once in a while. Call these places, talk to management and set something up. If you can paid, even better. Just cater your material to your desired audience - obviously performing SAW in the hospital may not be the wisest choice. Also become an expert on outdoor social events. Grab the community paper and peruse what's coming up in your local towns. Many times, they'll be an outdoor free concert or big celebration of sorts that will bring hundreds of people ready to be entertained by some magic.
- Private Property
Parking lots, inside malls and clubs - these are all private property accompanied by security personnel who won't like you. If you must perform here, remember to keep moving and don't be a stationary target irritating random people who walk by. Stores that aren't busy (luggage stores, candle stores) offer a perfect opportunity for bored-clerk-magic, but remember to keep it quick, do only a couple tricks and then move on. Cameras are everywhere.
If your favorite performing spot involves security (mall addicts?), then get to KNOW the security people. Casually introduce yourself and once you know them, be the guy who brings donuts sometimes on Saturday morning. If a guard is "stationed" at one spot and looks really bad, bring him a coke. Or have a job at that particular mall, in a store someplace so you see them often. Social networking can be your best friend, and the guy who everybody likes will get a very easy time doing tricks in the mall.
But overall, respect other people's property. If you're booted, be cordial, cooperate and follow their instructions.