Next time you meet a friend for coffee, as a gesture of friendship, you bring along a CD you made for them of some music you thought they'd enjoy. As you give them the CD, you explain to your friend that listening to someone's music is a great way to get to know them. There's something deep and emotional about music that exists on a different level from plain conversation. You ask them what some of their favorite songs are, in an attempt to learn more about them. "If you like those songs, you're going to love this CD," you say, pointing to the disc they're now holding. The rest of the afternoon coffee is no different from any other. When they arrive home and play the CD, however, they realize that they will indeed love the songs on it. They're the exact same songs they mentioned to you earlier during coffee.
Q: Is there anything I need to have to perform Mix Tape?
A: Before meeting for coffee, a CD must be burned to give to your friend. You will need a laptop with a CD burner.
"You wait. You wait a week if you have to." -Max Malini
Do you remember the scene in the film Ocean's 11 when Andy Garcia's character realizes that he's been watching a tape of his vault, and that his money is long gone? That moment, the moment you realize that something really big just happened under your nose, is a very special, juicy moment that you want to savor. You want to watch it over and over again.
Or the moment in The Thomas Crowne Affair when you realize that the stolen painting has been on the wall the entire time. Or the moment in countless movies where a last piece of a puzzle clicks and your new job becomes retracing your steps from the beginning. Except now you've got a big grin on your face because you know you've been had. It feels good.
As memorable and powerful as that experience is, it's sadly absent from the world of instant-gratification-style modern magic. It takes a level of quiet confidence, and patience that doesn't translate well to television, stage or walk-around magic. This style fits into the category of lifestyle magic. You do it when you're having coffee, at dinner, at a meeting. You do it casually. You do it to bring magic into someone's life. You're giving them a first-hand experience of that Mission Impossible feeling they've only seen in the movies. And it's the seeds of your myth and legend as a performer of magic.
Mix Tape is an attempt to create this experience.
From the manuscript...
Before going into the methods of Mix Tape, I'd like to share some of the strengths of performing it that will distinguish it from nearly any other magic trick performed today.
Mix Tape piggybacks on a naturally occurring cultural activity, burning a CD for a friend.
Music evokes one of the strongest emotional reactions people have. It makes us feel good. To add to this, we're not dealing with arbitrary songs. We're talking about someone's favorite songs. The songs that take them to the highest levels of emotional response.
Escalator Design Principle
When an escalator breaks down, it's not completely out of service. It turns into stairs. Not quite as useful as the original, but still perfectly functional.
I try whenever possible to design magic with this in mind. When performing Mix Tape, even in the unlikely event that you can't complete the effect, you've still given your friend a CD of music that you genuinely thought they'd like. Everything you do when performing Mix Tape is consistent with what you would have done had you simply been giving them a CD. What this does is provide a safety net, allowing you to relax. And since you don't need to stress that you might fail to impress, you can completely focus on presentation and communication.
Think of Mix Tape like a surprise gift you might send in the mail. Once you've sent it off, you just go on with your day with a knowing smile on your face. Eventually the phone will ring with an excited thank you!
Unlike most magic, Mix Tape strikes when your spectator is alone and someplace they feel safe. What's so very special about this is that for the first time ever, he or she can react completely genuinely to the effect of your performance. It's important to address here, that some of you may feel like you're missing out by not seeing reactions to your performance. I urge you to consider how much stronger the effect will be for you not being available to beg for answers, or sheepishly explain why you can't reveal how it was done, detracting from the impact. This period of isolation will allow the full effect of Mix Tape to sink in.
Whether it's being on stage, a public place, among their friends or family, or having a camera in their face, people will not react honestly to a typical magic trick. There's a certain level of self-consciousness preventing them from fully "cutting loose". As a result of this, they won't be able to experience or enjoy it fully. To get a sense of this, imagine going to a comedy show and feeling too embarrassed to laugh!
Aside from a very occasional fond memory, how much will your spectator actually enjoy that signed 6 of clubs? With Mix Tape, your spectator gets a souvenir they're guaranteed to love and use. Every time they listen to the CD you made them, they will be reminded of the unbelievable experience you gave them. They'll describe it to their friends who may be around when it's playing, and word of your mystical abilities will spread far and wide across the land for many years to come.
And how long do you think your spectator will save a CD of their favorite songs that also has an amazing story behind it? That's right -- forever, which also happens to be how long they'll remember this story.
Inbuilt Multiple Climaxes
The fun thing about the revelation of Mix Tape is that it starts off subtly and grows to a complete breakdown of everything your spectator knew about the way the world worked. The first song that plays will be one of your spectator's favorite songs. This may or may not immediately raise suspicion, as it could have been mere coincidence. But when the second song starts, a snowball of disbelief begins that grows with every press of the "next-track" button.
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