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Topic: How do you approach people cold?
Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 25, 2010 08:09AM)
I am at another crossroads in my magic progress. I have been buying, studying and practicing magic for a number of years now, and started out performing only for my friends and family, who soon peaked in their reactions because every trick was as amazing as the one before it. I then mustered the courage to go out and I now do 4 -5 recurring "shows" a year, small acts for charities and larger groups, but this is hardly enough performing to satisfy me! Also, these are formal acts, and I want to do more 1-2 trick strolling/impromptu/street type of performing. Although I realize that family and friends are the extent that most hobbyists EVER perform for, I now feel that the only way to get better is to perform a LOT more, perhaps daily if possible and weekly at the very minimum. In essence, perform whenever I want to. To do this, I feel I will have to go out there and start performing in an impromptu manner, perhaps on the street, in parks, in malls, … anywhere. Here is my dilemma: I don't feel it is right to assault strangers out of the blue with magic.
How do you do it? What is your approach or opening line?
As I sit in a public place watching people go by, I size them up and think, "…Nah, too old… too young... too scary-looking… too whatever". And I start to realize that the prospect of walking up to a stranger and injecting myself into their world is a little creepy. I think this requires a skillset that I don’t have yet. Should I read a book on how to "sell", as in "the do's and don’t's of making cold calls to sell" because that's the skill that I think I'm lacking, the ability to walk up to a stranger, in a context that isn't like a patron going to a theatre ready to see magic, and warm that person up to me before I prepare them to be entertained by a harmless and ultimately friendly act of giving (performing for them to put a smile on their face)

I need advice. How do you approach a stranger cold? Do you just launch right into it? Do you explain honestly what you want to accomplish?
I have been toying in my mind with an honest approach, let me know if you think it'll work before I try it out:

"Excuse, me… hi, I was wondering if I could ask a favour?" (I think this an honest opening line, because I am doing this for ME primarily, but it might appeal to people's natural friendly nature to help people… also it seems disarming, and not like I'm trying to get money out of the person)
"I am an amateur magician and I'm working on something new, would you be willing to participate in something fun?" (Some people might balk at "magician" maybe… somepeople's views of magicians are shady,grifter, pickpocket types… I don't know, what d'you think?)

Anyhow, as you can see I'm quite turned up about the whole issue. I think its important because if we love magic then we should be considerate and not just assault people with our magic. I think it deserves some thought.

Advice please!
Message: Posted by: Rockabilly (Mar 25, 2010 01:07PM)
I had the same problem a few years ago when I first started busking. I had a million excuses not to try and call people over to my table, "They look like they're in a rush, that couple is having what looks like a serious conversation etc", so I wound up standing around looking like a right fool. I know I'm not going to tell you anything you don't already know, but the only way to get over any anxiety is to swallow the lump in your throat, take a deep breath and deal with it. You'll wind up getting good at rejection as I'm sure many people will just either ignore you or give you a polite "no thanks", but someone WILL stop, and WILL enjoy themselves. AS soon as it happens the first time your confidence will skyrocket, and that confidence will carry over to your next trick and so on and so on. The only advice I'd offer you is not to ask if you can show them something. When you ask permission you giv the other side an option of saying no. Just a simple "hey guys check this out, this is so cool" usually does the trick. And as soon as you have one or two people watching, more will stop since nothing attracts a crowd like a crowd, so be sure to have a few things ready so anyone joining the group a little late won't just see the end of your only trick.

You're no assaulting people with magic, you're sharing your passion with people who have the freedom to walk away. Don't feel guilty.

Have Fun

Message: Posted by: wulfiesmith (Mar 25, 2010 01:57PM)
I personally don't like street magic for that exact reason. Stopping someone on the street.

As a busker, you are already entertaining. If people stop to watch, it is because THEY want to. Not because you have asked them.

I have sat and just practised my flourishes. Just sitting in a public place. People will stop and watch. After all, you are not asking anything of them at all.

They feel safe that they are in a public place. And you have not asked anything of them at all.

Let the dialogue take place ....
Message: Posted by: Erdnase27 (Mar 26, 2010 02:41AM)
Study the work of pick up artists (Mystery et al) is my advice.
Message: Posted by: jake.o (Mar 26, 2010 03:57AM)
The best way is to practice your florishing in a public place and wait for someone to show an interest then you can go into performing what you like to someone who actually shows some interest instead of a random stranger who couldent care less.
Message: Posted by: troppobob (Mar 26, 2010 06:17AM)
G'day Adrian

I like your passion for performing and I am sure that the people who get to experience your performances go away entertained.

I do a lot of busking these days - and I recognize that the beginning of my shows is a bit like what you are describing.

The previous input has touched on the busking angle. When I perform on the streets - I am set up with my props etc and a sign that says "magic show" (this does not need to be much more than a simple bag with a sign attached). I commence performing for myself and before long a few people stop - I engage these people with some magic and my audience simply builds from there.

I do these performances when I travel OS as well and do the shows for free - expecting payment from the audience makes it busking but the performance is still the same when it is free - so perhaps you could do some research into the busking style of performance and when you get your "edge" (the beginning of your audience) you could explain that it is a free show because you are "working on something new".

A helpful place to gain some in sights into the busking style of performance is the section here a the Magic Café called "The Side Walk Shuffle". There are a few good books that are suggested and an excellent resource is Jimmy TalksALot's" Blog that is often referred to.

I hope you work out a way to increase your performance time and enjoy the experience.

Bob Latta (aka Troppo Bob)
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Mar 27, 2010 06:27AM)
"... Here is my dilemma: I don't feel it is right to assault strangers out of the blue with magic."
Hi you feel this way because you are right... it is not right in my opinion to go up to strangers and perform out of the blue. Trust your instincts. Perhaps you also feel its a bit geeky or you'll be in danger of them thinking you are a bit weird (you're not - you just love magic). Again, trust your instincts. If you are not going to feel comfortable, don't do it. It's hard enough to learn to do magic properly without having to cope with performing to people uninvited in public spaces.
One piece of advice given above is better: do some flourishing and/or pretending to practice with the cards where you think someone will spot what you are doing - if they ask you or give prolonged eye contact/smile - then go for it.
You could try a 10 minute busking; set up a table and just aim to get say 4 people come over (don't try to build a crowd) & do your close up! Some people put up a little board for busking eg 'magic show' you could even try 'free magic show'. Or don't say 'free'; collect a few coins.... might be enought to get yourself a new pack of bikes.
I'm strongly of the school of not performing for people who don't invite you to. Even in restaurant residencies, of which I have had several, I take the same attitude. It's a debate that has come up on 'table hoppers' forum.
I wish you every luck & success - you're ready and keen to get better in the firnament of live performance which is the best place to get better.
Message: Posted by: stijnhommes (Mar 27, 2010 10:48AM)
I don't approach people cold and hit them with magic. I take two approaches. Either I perform for a group of people and my performance is announced well in advance. When people know who you are and what you do, it's easy to pick out those that are interested.

When I'm out on the street, I'm naturally a chatty sort of guy. I strike up conversation. If subject of magic comes up (and I try to steer the conversation), people almost invariably ask me to perform something.

If that's too scary for you, I suggest to learn some card flourishes. I've found that people who are interested in someone who is "messing around" with a deck of cards tend to be people who like watching magic.
Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 27, 2010 11:50AM)
Great insight everyone, thanks!
OK, a follow up: I've already done some card practicing and flourishing in public, mostly while waiting to catch my flights at airports. Unfortunately no interests yet though. The stuff I'm doing should be interesting enough though; One handed fans, popping/spinning the top card off the deck with my pinky (don't know the name of the move, learned it at the club), Charlier Cuts, One-handed Shuffles, Pressure Fans, Butterfly Cuts, Pendulum/ Trinary Cuts, Hot Shot Cuts, Sankey's Illogical Cut, Lennart Green Cuts. Dribbling the cards,... I also Spring the Deck... which could go either way... the noise from the springing cards, if done repeatedly, might either annoy people or get their attention. So I'm busy enough with my hands. Maybe its the venue I'm choosing? The airport might be full of stuffy, older un-fun business types. Any other suggestions, flourishes or otherwise?
Message: Posted by: Einmaliger (Mar 27, 2010 11:56AM)
Whenever someone tries to apporach people cold this way, I get the feeling, he is just a show-off. People are doing their own everyday business and usually have better things to do than watch some kid show his leet skillz with cards. I myself love magic, and still I would be annoyed if somebody approached me like this. My reaction would be "Why?", which is the same question that I would ask if someone asked me if he could, say, sing a song for me. The whole concept seems pointless to me.
Message: Posted by: Vick (Mar 27, 2010 10:00PM)








When the British Embassy hired me do you think it was because I forced myself on them?
Message: Posted by: Metatron (Mar 29, 2010 01:13PM)
I disagree with Vick on this one. There is occasion to just perform for strangers, and I'm not talking about Busking, or a full fledge show. Just a few tricks for strangers.

I for one wouldn't have been involved in the field of magic for the last 40 years except a stranger approached and performed Magic for a group of children waiting to go to summer camp. I was one of the children, and it changed my life. I will be forever grateful to that stranger.

If done properly such activities can be very helpful to an amateur magician.

Aiding in confidence building, proper social interaction, and the all needed performance time with a real audience. Besides what you learn can be applied later in a professional setting, such as approaching a table when table hopping, or your crowd gathering skills when busking. The skill of approaching strangers with confidence and tact, can be beneficial in a lot of ways outside the field of magic.

Remember it is not a Taboo to interact with people you don't know. There is nothing creepy about social interaction. You may gain new friends and acquaintances. Those that wish to participate may even have a more enjoyable time while they are waiting for their plane or bus. You may just start someone else on a very magical adventure.

First don't make it an "assault"! The proper way is get permission first. Use tact.

Simply ask, "Excuse me, Would you like to see some Magic?" or as you stated, "I am an amateur magician and I'm working on something new. Would you like to see it?"

If they decline, then say something along the lines of, "I understand." and go on your way.

The trick is to be polite and respect their wishes. If they say no, or ignore you, don't take it personal, just respect them and move on. Use your knowledge of manners and further develop your social skills. Be sure to smile. :)

Have fun,

Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 29, 2010 01:26PM)
Metatron, that was a wonderful post. Thank you, you've given me faith in decency and civility again!
I guess even US, as magicians, have had good and bad experiences with magic. It makes sense that it just boils down to who you are as a person, whether you are polite and empathic... or not.
Message: Posted by: DWRackley (Mar 29, 2010 04:37PM)
I guess I split the fence here. I agree completely with Vick that it shows incredibly bad taste to ambush someone with “Hey look what I can do!” A two year old gets away with it (sometimes) because he doesn’t know any better. We should.

On the flip side, I always have something with me, and there ARE occasions (notice that “occasions” occur only OCCASIONALLY) that a little magical something is completely appropriate and even welcomed. While I’m waiting for a table, making a match levitate draws the attention of other bored patrons. Bang! I’m in! When a child is crying because of a broken toy or lost balloon, my “being astonished” at the magical appearance of a Spring Flower can usually distract them, and the parents are grateful!

But if I was just someone minding my own business, headed for a meeting, or just strolling with friends, being accosted by Chris Angel and his camera carrying cadre would NOT be appreciated, [b]in the extreme![/b]
Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 29, 2010 08:37PM)
I think I agree with and completely understand the previous post. As has been said before, its less about where to perform and a lot about WHEN to perform.
... so here it is, time for a follow up. I went out and did it! I'm travelling currently so I arrived at my hotel tonight, checked in and got comfortable. I decided to go down to the bar for a bite to eat and a beer.
The place was not very busy at all, and after the waitress took my order, I asked her I for a favour, that I was practicing a magic trick to show my nephew and needed to try it out, and she obliged. I showed her Crazy man's handcuffs, because its quick and visual. I performed it well I believe. Here's how it went: my last line is "... and they just seem to melt ... right through... each other..."
her response:
Nnnnoooo (in a playful way) you just worked them out somehow! ... but (and here I think her tip-radar kicked in) but I'm sure he'll get a big kick out of it! I smiled, and she was kind, and then left to place my order. I know IN GENERAL you shouldn't take advantage of waitstaff in this way to perform magic on, but in context IN THIS PARTICULAR TIME and situation, as I assessed it - it seemed OK.
So, all things being equal... it went OK. Not great mind you, but not bad. I think I did many things right, and that this person probably wasn't that receptive to magic, but 1) I chose something quick, NOT a card trick, 2) I didn't insist of even "fish" around about doing a second trick. and 3) I sized the situation up carefully before going into it. But I just dropped the subject after that.
I'll have to try a few more times using the same key points (Namely finding the right TIME to perform) before I make a judgement on the whole thing. In the meantime I've been eyeing over the "sidewalk shuffle" forum... I think busking might be a better way of doing things, as was mentioned by a few others here.
More to come!
Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 30, 2010 07:51PM)
And now for follow up #2!
I went back out again tonight and in similar circumstances.... but this time I couldn't believe how strong a reaction I got! It was my best performance ever! Of course, this time the waitress was much younger, probably in her late 20's, a friendly sort with a playful heart. What a difference. I did the CMH again, and like I said, it went over so well, so I followed up. I did an ungaffed version of Color Monte, which floored also. When she later came back with my order, she wanted to see the "rubber band trick" again, so I did the CMH with her holding the rubber band (hooked on her thumbs), followed by a single rubber band finger penetration phase using a "bight" principle (picked up from Dan Harlan).

Absolutely Killed it tonight.

I'm so stoked, and the learning curve is steep! There is a great piece of wisdom I picked up over on the sidewalk shuffle forum that goes "a person in a way shouldn't be congratulated on hitting the streets their first time... they should be congratulated for hitting the streets the SECOND time..."
I'm totally proud of myself for going back out and trying again after a mediocre experience the first time around.... AND getting my strongest reaction ever.
Champagne on me!
Message: Posted by: troppobob (Mar 31, 2010 01:30AM)
G'day Adrian

Congratulations on doing that 2nd performance. It sounds like this "crossroads" experience is an enjoyable one for you and your audiences.

Bob Latta (aka Troppo Bob)
Message: Posted by: Failed Magician (Mar 31, 2010 04:06AM)
Whoa, maybe I should try busking then. I always bring a deck of cards and a small plastic containers with my gaff cards inside. As I'm ready for any performance, but then something always changed my minds. It's too crowded. It's a bad angle. It's too noisy. I don't have enough time, and other zillions of reasons that swarm into my head.

How to overcome it? I sometimes want to talk with the guys at the petrol station here and perhaps making some conversation then if they're interested, I can show some tricks. However, same things happen all over again.
Message: Posted by: Metatron (Mar 31, 2010 05:43AM)

Well done! And thanks for updating us.

Share the MAGIC! :)

Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 31, 2010 06:48AM)
Failed Magician, if you and I are in similar situations, consider this... over at the sidewalk shuffle forum I caught on to what is called a "trickle show" or a "rotational show". Jimmy Talksalot is a respected busker in that forum and he has an awesome blog that one of the threads links to. I did a trickle show last year (I didn't realize that's what its called... I called it "booth magic" because I was working like a stationary "booth") but not for tips, it was for a Children's hospital fundraiser and I had a blast! I've since wanted to do more of them but didn't have it in me to do one outside of a "charity" environment. (I have a full time job, it just didn't seem right for me to hawk for tips) I may have a change in attitude on that one soon though. I'll still continue to do magic for charity.

Good Luck!
Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Mar 31, 2010 06:50AM)
I want to thank YOU again. Your earlier post helped me get out and do it.
Message: Posted by: Metatron (Mar 31, 2010 06:31PM)
Your welcome. ;)
Message: Posted by: courtmagician (Apr 1, 2010 12:21PM)
I think one of the best bits of advice was given by MichielTummers, although I wouldn't recommend Mystery (of VH1 and The Game fame), but guys who learn to pickup women are always told to do as many cold approaches as possible to help eliminate their "approach anxiety".

And, yes, this does work specifically with Metatron suggestion, as the idea is to approach as many people as you can to help break that fear.
Message: Posted by: 55Hudson (Apr 2, 2010 06:05PM)
On 2010-03-29 21:37, adrianbent wrote:
I think I agree with and completely understand the previous post. As has been said before, its less about where to perform and a lot about WHEN to perform.
... so here it is, time for a follow up. I went out and did it! I'm travelling currently so I arrived at my hotel tonight, checked in and got comfortable. I decided to go down to the bar for a bite to eat and a beer.
The place was not very busy at all, and after the waitress took my order, I asked her I for a favour, ...

I travel a lot and have found that people in hotel bars are very happy to be distracted. They are away from home and can either sit there and strike up a conversation with someone or sit in their room and watch TV. Over the past year (was away from magic for along time), I've had a number of occasions to entertain in hotel bars and have never had a bad reception.

Good luck!
Message: Posted by: Vick (Apr 4, 2010 11:25AM)
On 2010-03-27 07:27, mrsmiles wrote:
"... Here is my dilemma: I don't feel it is right to assault strangers out of the blue with magic."[/quote]

That's not a dilema, it's good manners and breeding.

It is not socially acceptable to go up to anyone and force yourself on them
Nothing you can say can change that

If you are so desperate to perfrom that you even consider forcing yourself on other unspecting people .... ....well please stop

Learn to busk, get a crowd that wants to see you
Do free shows for retirement homes

But please PLEASE stop even thinking about walking up to strangers and forcing yourself on them.
Substitute a banjo for a deck or cards and see how you would feel about someone forcing their banjo playing on you

It reflects badly on you and on the art of magic as a whole

In fact it removes magic from the realm of art

I'm an artist and entertainer, I would NEVER go up to someone I don't know and try to force my art on them

Why would you?!
Message: Posted by: BAGWIZ (Apr 17, 2010 01:54PM)
I don't know how the rest of you feel about it, but I learned a lot about how to approach people with magic by doing walk around at private parties. A private party is a lot more "controlled" than a busy street and people are usually more accepting of being approached by the hired magician. But even so, you still have to learn to tactfully approach, introduce yourself, get into a routine, etc. The limited restaurant and bar work I've done over the years, offered similar lessons.

I think the private party/restaurant/bar scene is a step towards street performing. Build confidence in those environments and then take off the training wheels when you hit the street.
Message: Posted by: Erdnase27 (Apr 17, 2010 02:06PM)
On 2010-04-01 13:21, courtmagician wrote:
I think one of the best bits of advice was given by MichielTummers, although I wouldn't recommend Mystery (of VH1 and The Game fame), but guys who learn to pickup women are always told to do as many cold approaches as possible to help eliminate their "approach anxiety".

And, yes, this does work specifically with Metatron suggestion, as the idea is to approach as many people as you can to help break that fear.

thanks! approaching girls eeh people cold is my speciality :D :D
Message: Posted by: Perry D Winkle (Apr 17, 2010 03:58PM)
I make them approach me. I just finished a fez hat that has a lamp with a flowered shade on the top. I'm what you might call 'highly approachable.' This may get you killed in other areas, but in Louisville we pride ourselves in such eccentricity.
Message: Posted by: mrsmiles (Apr 21, 2010 05:26PM)
Hey, Adrian... just wanted to say well done. Very pleased for you! Keep up the good work.
Message: Posted by: adrianbent (Apr 21, 2010 07:01PM)
Thanks mrsmiles!
I just wanted to provide another update again. Its been a few weeks since my two outings, the first of which was luke-warm and the second which was a homerun; from those experiences I've learned that if I wanted to push the issue and keep gaining experience "cold-approaching" people at large, I could... but that I learned a little more about the situation of it; that -while not completely rude or unsocial- it is a little out of context. People on the street just doing their thing, well I think it will always be hit or miss. There's something a little unsatisfying about that. I think its because we could really knock out a great performance and at times only be met with (at best) an un-hostile response. I think it will always come down to being prepared for magic, and always watching for "when" the right time to perform is, but not trying to MAKE that time "now".
Instead, I have been exploring another venue. I had called it "booth" magic, but I have come to learn in the busking forum that what I was calling "booth" magic is called by a majority of buskers a "trickle" show or a "rotational" show, also known as a Doorway act. This might be something up my ally.
In the meantime, I am still following up on the Seniors residence venues and Children's hospitals. I'll find a way to balance my family life and still gain some performance experience. Cheers!
Message: Posted by: Logan Five (Apr 24, 2010 04:57AM)
Nothing should be forced. Forced magic is for strange people and for people who shouldn't be doing " magic " in the first place. It needs to be a mutual thing between you and the spectator.
Message: Posted by: urbanillusionist (Apr 25, 2010 12:11PM)
You've received much feedback from your question and I am gonna try and give mine in a simple straight forward answer. You do not ever want to force magic on someone. It is not wrong in my opinion to ask someone to stop and watch, but if they say no STOP. That is not forcing them. When approaching someone have cards in your hand so they know your not crazy or gonna rob the. Try and get chatty on your own and that will help a lot with the nerves. If you are able to find a good public spot with there is high traffic set up a table and just stand there doing simple flourishes. This will stop people on its own and when they come over just ask them to give the cards a shuffle. You don't need to ask if they want to see a trick they would not of stopped if they did. If you want to talk further just hit me up on my site

I hope this was help

Message: Posted by: Ejay (Apr 30, 2010 03:10AM)
Pick a very public place. Sit, or stand, there with a friend, or two, or three. Perform some really visual tricks for your friends who pose as strangers. Passersby will notice the tricks, stop, watch, and approach you...giving you change, asking for your business card, or giving you theirs, and asking you to call them about doing a show at their home, church, or such.

Contact charitable organizations, and volunteer to entertain children in hospital cancer wards, elders in nursing homes, etc. You get to perform, you become known to others, audience members who see you entertain their sick child, or shut in grandmother, or such, will advertise for you by word of mouth, and hire you to perform for their nephews birthday, or such.
Message: Posted by: Perry D Winkle (Apr 30, 2010 06:31AM)
It is not wrong in my opinion to ask someone to stop and watch, but if they say no STOP

Yeah, I've only encountered two types that are like this. First you have the gimpy folks that are normally made fun of on a daily basis. God does not distribute good genetics equally. These people spend their lives being insulted and made fun of. Now you've presented them with an opportunity to lash out. 'YES for once I can hurt SOMEONE ELSE!' Watch out for these freaks. That means a lot coming from me. You can tell if she has a chip on her shoulder. The teeth will be constantly exposed from a permanent half sneer, there is a slight wheezing sometimes, the eyes constantly darting around as if looking for a value bin of DVDs in Wal-Mart. Do you ever see videos where magicians approach these people?

The other group are zombie kids and their parents. These are the children who grow up with everything the television has to offer. Everything but an imagination. They seem well nourished enough but they have this blank look like those treasure troll creatures in Jim Henson's 'The Dark Crystal' when the evil Xerxes suck their life force dry. They are easily recognized by the blank look and a complete inability to smile unless their parents are bleeding. You are unlikely to encounter them in adult form. As they age they do not leave their homes for fear that they may encounter something 'Different.'
Message: Posted by: JasonbytheOcean (Apr 30, 2010 11:52AM)
Interesting thread, thanks for all of the thoughts. I've noticed many of the comments refer to busking environments, but what about charity events or parties, etc. where you're strolling? For example, going big - what if you were hired to perform strolling magic at a Presidential inaugural ball? People are mixing it up and networking, you don't really have a table to work at - how do you approach people to perform?
Message: Posted by: EvanMagic (May 5, 2010 03:09PM)
Great responses everyone! I use my approaching skills in all areas but one area that my friends are jealous of is in the bar. I approach girls and use magic as an 'ice-breaker'. Nothing girls love more than seeing a trick. It establishes a connection, allows close proximity and segways into other conversation. It's amazing how versatile and flexible magic can be. :)
Message: Posted by: Lavey (Sep 9, 2010 12:44AM)
When I busked for the first time I had the same problem. So I started to do ballons (very easy things like a dog...) and I called a kid to my table with the words "do you want the ballon, it is free". Of course , the kids wanted to get the ballon. "But, before I can give you the ballon, I have a little competition for your parents..." and I started a short chop cup routine. When I finished the chop cup a lot of other people stand around the table and I continued the show.
Message: Posted by: MillardGrubb (Sep 11, 2010 11:46AM)
I learned long ago from my friend, Richard Webster, that you must like people... and let them know it, before you can show any magic. People have got to warm up to you and realize you are REAL.

In a personal setting, I always waited until the time was right. People got a chance to know me, talk, relax, and just chat. I would attempt to move the conversation the way I wanted it to go so I could introduce a trick and then move from there.

If I was being PAID to entertain, I would come upon some folks and ask if someone lost some money and then do EXTREME BURN, or if someone lost a knife (Thanks to Ron Wilson) and show them a color changing knife routine.

It depends on the situation every time.


Message: Posted by: funsway (Sep 14, 2010 11:19AM)
Now that this thread has been re-awakened I'll toss in an experienced view -- but not of magic.

For many years I instructed salespeople in direct call-call methods -- the ability to walk into any business unannounced and get in to see the president or owner wihtout ever making an appointment, etc. The single msot important factor is KNOWING that what you have to speak about is more important than whatever that perosn is doing at the moment. If this is not true you must either find a different prouct/service to represent, or insure that your personal presense is suffient that any interpersonal interaction with you is a benefit.

If youa re a magician with only entertainment to offer, then it is impossible to imagine a setting in which you KNOW that what you are offering is more important than the victim's plans. At an event like a Ren-Faire you can make some presumption that people are seeking entertainment but will still be wrong most of the time.

So, the only solution is to either NEVER do a call approach such as Vick suggests, or to develop your interpersonal skills/personal presense to the point that ANY interaction with you will be rewarding (and magic secondary). I have known only a couple of people in my life that had that kind of Charism and self-assurance, and they were not entertainers.

Thus, if the ideas of courtesy and humanity don't prevent you from invasive approach tactics, perhaps this logic will -- and there have been many suggestions made as to how to set up and attract attention without being invasive.

Another thought is that most people are afraid to get up in front of a stranger or croud and speak, no less perform. Your willingness to put your ego and skills at risk already makes you a distinct and unusual person. It should be enough to build on that without invading another person's space, serenity or train of thought. The sales maxim is; sell yourself, sell your company, then sell the product. Here you should sell yourself first, then the concept of entertainment, then magic last. If you must invade, at least start off with, "Excuse me please -- may I have just two minutes of your time? rather than "Wanna see a trick?"
Message: Posted by: Cyberqat (Sep 14, 2010 12:05PM)
When I was doing street magic I found the reverse was most effective.

I set up on a street corner and start doing something visually interesting and let the crowd collect. I wouldn't even look at them until I was ready to go on with the routine.

That gave them a minimum "barrier to entry."
Message: Posted by: harris (Sep 14, 2010 12:36PM)
I use puppets (with out words) at the start of strolling events. These have ranged from fairs, corporate to artsy places like museums.

Many times there was live music. The music has also a wide range, from rag time piano to classical harp.(not the harp I call the harmonica)

My marionettes can dance from hip hop to jazz. After I establish my self with the puppets it is easy to transition to a sleight of hand routine. (also to the music, or with patter if it works for the particular venue.

Message: Posted by: PenEnpitsu (Sep 16, 2010 03:18PM)
Like previously posted, if I wanted to show magic to a stranger, I would treat it as a cold approach. Just say hi and get to know the person. If you are too nervous about running out of things to say, you could use the no-fail "That's a cute dress/necklace/hairstyle/watch, isn't it?" (to the girls) or comment about something in the immediate environment that you find interesting. Follow up with finding out about them, and when there is a lull in the conversation, you could light a piece of flash paper and throw it in the air. That'll get them to ask you "wtf did you just do?" and you can transition into your next trick there.

Oh and I wanted to add, if you ever questioned whether doing something to another person is acceptable, put yourself in their shoes. How would you feel afterwards? Use that judgement to guide your decisions. Never do anything that would

1) lower their regards towards magic, or think less of magicians (don't tell them the secret no matter what)
2) demonstrate lower value to either party (reflect badly on yourself or them)
3) cause physical harm (don't light the flash paper next to people who are obviously using hair product)

Pay special attention to rule #3 because violating that guideline may get you arrested.

By getting to know the individual you can get general idea of their personality and whether they would be receptive to seeing cool stuff (but do you really know anyone who wouldn't like to see magic?). You could also theoretically use what you know about them to determine what kind of magic they would like to see. Cold reading practice, if you will :)
Message: Posted by: Cyberqat (Sep 16, 2010 05:50PM)
Btw... if you have the balls for it, on "The Machurian Approach" Anthony Jacquin suggest a fromula he got from a soo called "speed seduction" expert:

(1) Compliment. And something someone would like to hear. (Hint: Avoid physical compliments, Telling a beautiful women she is isn't likely to do you much. She knows that. OTOH complimenting her sense of style or her laugh is a lot more likely to be effective.)

(2) Introduce. Tell them your name and that you are a magician.

(3) Ask a question. "Have you seen any famous magicians?" Something like that. "Do you like magic?" is probably too obvious a come on. Youw ant to strat a conversation, not give them a simpel out to end it.

Again this takes the ability to front supreme confidence, and that's not the same as over-confidence. if you don't have it, its better to let people come to you.
Message: Posted by: CRMagius (Sep 20, 2010 02:59PM)
I'll agree with the overall theme here, approaching people is to be done with care IF it is done at all. Better than approaching is to create for the spectator, an invitation to approach YOU.

As a beginner, of several months, here is what I do:

I take a seat at a table in my favourite pub, choosing a seat that I can easily cover my bad angles from. I then roll out a mat and start "practicing"/flourishing.

Having both the mat and cards in front of me, in addition to just a pint, tends to be enough to attract the notice of anyone open to seeing some magic, and I then go from there. There is a particularly good table there that is in a little darkened niche (sense of mystery) right next to a high traffic area. I'll also leave the tuck box and card clip at the corner of the mat, but it is the mat itself that seems to make the difference. I don't catch half as many "victims" when I don't have it.

One thing I have noticed, which may be an artifact of my locale, is that men and women approach me differently. The girls almost always start with, "Are you a magician?", which gets the performance off to a flying start - (My pat answer is "Yes, and I have the magic wand to prove it! Oh you want to see it? Sorry it's in my underpants.. I MEAN OTHER.. My Other pants.." Always gets a laugh.) The guys, on the other hand, always start with something like, "Hey, why are you playing cards by yourself?" It's more work leading into the performance from this, but I can usually get a really good reaction, as they're less expecting to see a trick.

If you're going to do bars/pubs, though, you have to be able to guage how drunk people are. A little can help, more will not - A drunkie will forget their card 4 out of 5 times and CANNOT follow instruction.
Message: Posted by: leantransform (Oct 13, 2010 12:16AM)
I have been in magic for only 21 months, and have a few effects I am comfortable with thanks to working with Jeff McBride, Eugene Burger and most recently Mario Morris. I was at dinner the other night practicing an effect and the waiter asked me "Are you a magician,can you show me a trick?" I was happy to show him a quick mentalism effect and after a color change, which wowed him. He then proceeded to ask to show me a card trick. I have had many people ask me to show them tricks when I travel, when they ask what you do and you mention you are also a magician. I try to carry simple effects like string through finger or bullet proof self working effects to build confidence, and only do what I know I can. Most important thing I found is to smile and have fun!
Message: Posted by: harris (Oct 13, 2010 10:13AM)
Magic at the right time, can bring you unexpected things such as:
1.better service
2. complimentary items (free)

Of course some choose to only do magic when they are being paid in cash.
There are other things of value to be obtained from using our talents.

still 2 old to know everything.....
Message: Posted by: Cyberqat (Oct 13, 2010 11:38AM)
I will sometimes slip on my PK ring and practice silveware manipulation while waiting for my meal in a resteraunt. It gives me a chance to play with slightly different configurations then I have at home. (eg knife on salt shaker, etc)

Ive often gotten smiles from wait staff though only one actually walked up and asked what I was doing.
Message: Posted by: acesover (Oct 21, 2010 09:37AM)
I am not going to give a lot of theory here or why this or that. Just something I have used and it works very well. It is the same technique I use for my small mentalist act. Difference being in the act I just come out and say "Think of a number between 1 an 100" while pointing at one person. This is not my idea but rather that from the great Richard Osterlind.

Here goes the approach:

Excuse me, but would you please think of a number between 1 and 100 and tell me what it is? (They may look at you strange and say what.) But it is a very non threatening approach and I have not yet been refused (I have only done this at gatherings and not on the street). I am sure if I do it often enough I will be rejected and forever damaged. ;)

NAIL WRITER...If you are quick with a nail writer just say , "I thought so" and hand it to them. If you need a little time the old "is there any reason you chose that number" and hand it to them, or "did you say "xx"? Then hand it to them. While this works for me you have should understand that I do not really approach strangers. This is done in a party atmosphere or a gathering of some sort, wedding etc. However I believe it will work when approaching total strangers on the street. But this is a guess on my part. No matter what approach you use you do need a set of round things to approach total strangers and possiibly be rejected.
Message: Posted by: Medortho (Oct 21, 2010 01:48PM)
Yes, care is important on a normal approach. But why not go into conversation in a guerilla type of way. Do something impossible quite casually before their eyes (best in a way it doesn't even seem on purpose). Make an object disappear or float. They'll get interested and ask you about it. Then you can tell them about whatever, lead to a trick, etc... In the end it'll seem to them as if they'd approached you.
Message: Posted by: Kyoki_Sanitys_Eclipse (Jul 22, 2015 01:34AM)
Just want to let you guys know I'm really enjoying this thread and pulling a lot from it. Thank you all