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Topic: Borrowing valuable items.
Message: Posted by: WilburrUK (Oct 30, 2010 10:40AM)
Received wisdom seems to be that magic is more powerful with borrowed objects, and in general, I don't argue with that. HOWEVER, I wonder whether this is really true with items of very high value - either monetary or sentimental.

This is something that occurred to me while watching "Ring Leader" by Greg Wilson, there's a bit on there where the magician appears to throw the borrowed ring away. It struck me (no, not the ring, the thought) that the lender is just going to think that you're a jerk at this point, even when you reveal that you still have it. That got me thinking about the whole subject of using certain borrowed items for routines, even where you don't pretend to break or lose them.

If you borrow a (relatively) low value ring, watch or other item - all good, they know it's not gaffed, and the magic becomes a bit more personal to them. But If someone is convinced to part with something which they hold extremely dear, won't their primary concern be "this guy better not damage / drop/ lose that thing, please let it be OK"? which will be something that diminishes the impact of whatever it is you're doing to it, because they're distracted by their worry for their stuff.

The trouble is, you cannot know the sentimental meaning of objects that appear to be of little inherent value, the only thing you can do to be fairly sure is to ask.

So I'd be interested to know if and people deal with this, or if you even think it's a problem at all.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Oct 30, 2010 12:17PM)
Dear WilburrUK,

My Partner Tom does some of this but I don't do this sort of thing.

If someone is convinced to part with something which they hold extremely dear, won't their primary concern be "this guy better not damage / drop/ lose that thing, please let it be OK"?
[/quote] This is exactly what you're going for. The better they convey that concern the more involved and emotionally invested the rest of the spectators will be.

You have to be certain you won't damage or lose the item. I've heard some horror stories about Ring Flight dislodging stones and Magicians dropping things and loosing them.

Depending on how you play it, the spectator can feel the item is in some possible jeopardy (and you will feel their concern) or have the feeling that it is all in good fun and the item is completely safe. You can see them "camp it up" for you in these instances.

Never borrow anything you perceive as being too valuable to risk. Remember, spectators can lie about the condition of the item.

I'm looking forward to the perspective of some of the people who do this.

- Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Oct 30, 2010 01:09PM)
Agreed... don't borrow anything that could be the slightest risk. I've heard of someone saying a stone is missing or there is minor damage.
Message: Posted by: dcjames (Oct 30, 2010 01:39PM)
I agree with Mary & Pete.

The first time I ever saw Mac King peform live he brought a man up on stage and asked him for a $20 bill. The guy told him that all he had was a $5. To everyone's amusement Mac really played up the fact that the guy had no money. So he gets the bill and begins a bank night type routine with burning envelopes, etc. Now this guy is sweating bullets over that $5 bill. At one point the volunteer thought that Mac had torn his $5 bill in two pieces and announced, "I need that $5 to get my car out of the parking deck!" The audience howled and of course Mac played this up to perfection as well. The sense of relief was papable when all ended well and the gentleman got his money back.

My point is that a skilled performer can garner the same emotional hook by 'risking' someone's $5 that they can with a personal item. The difference is that you can certainly replace the money if something truly odd were to take place. However the same may not be true for a prized ring, watch, etc.

And as Pete mentioned, heaven forbid you borrow something from someone who is less than honest and later insists that you 'switched stones' or somehow damaged their property.

From my perspective borrowing money is fine but using an item of huge sentimental value is more risk than I am willing to take.


Message: Posted by: WilburrUK (Oct 30, 2010 02:41PM)
Ok. I was kind of taking it as a given that there was zero (or as close as possible to zero) risk to the item in reality.

My point was that the spec's concern was a distraction for them. I'm imagining someone remembering "he borrowed my wedding ring, god knows what he did with it, all I was worried about was getting it back as quickly as I could, and in one piece". Hardly the memory I think most Magicians would be going for.
Message: Posted by: SpellbinderEntertainment (Oct 30, 2010 04:37PM)
When we were doing the “Eccentrics of SF” show in our Magic Parlor, we would say: “Who has a ring with sentimental value, but one that is not extremely valuable.”

We often got really interesting rings, along with some amazing stories if they were willing to share them.

Unscrupulous (or paranoid) spectators have claimed to they lost the diamond (or removed it) in there rings one week or two later, and blame the magician or venue to get a huge settlement.

In addition, it is audience abuse to cause someone to actually worry or panic about their beloved item, you just don’t treat spectators with that little respect, without them you wouldn’t have a job.

Message: Posted by: silking (Nov 4, 2010 12:34AM)
I have stopped doing ring flight for the same reason. What if a stone comes up missing? I don't want to take that chance.