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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The side walk shuffle » » Pickpocket on the street? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Danny Hustle
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Boston, MA USA
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Does anyone besides me think it is crazy to do a pick pocket routine on the street?

It is one thing to be shooting an instructional video or a TV special with a bunch of cameras.

But to actually stand out on the street and busk by yanking things out of peoples pockets or boosting watches is begging for trouble.

I can do a very good watch and or wallet steal, I have a hell of a three card monte routine, and a great shells routine, but if I started doing it on the street I'd be getting harrased by the local PD every five minutes.

One misunderstanding while pulling someones wallet or watch and you could find yourself in jail.

Am I the only one who thinks this is nuts to do on the street?

Best,

Dan-
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"MT is one of the reasons we started this board! I’m so sick of posts being deleted without any reason given, and by unknown people at that." - Steve Brooks Sep 7, 2001 8:38pm
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Shorty
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Switzerland
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Hi, I think thats right! Thats Tricks from the Street, but not for the Street!!! When I do performing the Cups and Balls, some People always think I do the Shellgame, once was a Policeman realy intrested in. But then he realized thats not one of does things. But if you are a good Runner, try it!!!! Smile
Magicman01462
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I agree completely Dan, these effects seem to be geared more for people who know and for the enjoyment of other people aroudn that person... sounds confusing but yeah.

Magicman01462
SpiffnikHopkins
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Washington DC
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yup...I'd say you'd have a hard time explaining it to the person if you got caught. MAYBE if you had some really good presentation. Say a volenteer comes up in frnt of a big crowd and you hold up a big sign over his head saying, "I'm going to steal something from him but its PART of the act, I'm not thief!". Anything too shy of that seems like asking for an @$$ kicking.

~Spiff

I myself have been doing this kinda thing with my firends who know i'm a magcian and they think its great. I get enough play from using it that way to satisfy my cravings to show off =-)
Pokie-Poke
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Bensalem, PA
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I don't want to push the idea that New Yorkers are a violent crowd but I would probably break someones arm if I caught them in the act, and that's while in a theater show!!
I don't think it's impossible to do but is your life really worth it?
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
BroDavid
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America’s North Coast, Ohio
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I absolutely agree too.

The most likely circumstance is that you will end up at some point, with a crowd standing around you saying; Wow! That has to really hurt!!! .............

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
Drew from Spotlight
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NJ
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I can’t see anything good coming from it. I don’t do steals but I do a great 3 Card Monte (That’s how I got through High School and College. But that’s a story for another post). When I did it as a legitimate demonstration I was watched very closely from the authorities. No money was ever taken from anyone (none was ever in play) but how would you explain not taking something that you already took? A character dressed like Harry the Hat doing this on the street would just get himself into trouble.

Drew
Eric Evans
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Rio Grande
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It depends really. While it is safe to say that it can be, at best, dicey if working the real street, I've seen guys do a watch steal and work it admirably. For example, if you're working Faneiul (sp?) Hall, a pitch that I wouldn't call the real street, it'll work with the right presentation. But, if you're in Harvard Square, I wouldn't recommend it at all unless you know what you're doing and have done it many times before. The reason why is simple, there are many kinds of "Streets".
Geoff Weber
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Washington DC
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its risky enough trying to ADD something, (like a card in their pocket) let alone steal something. I'd only dare to try it with a good friend.
Merlin!
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I wouldn't do it with anyone other than close friends, as no amount of explaining would be enough to convince a complete stranger, especially with their wallet. If you want to work it into your act, use a plant, I know, it defeats the purpose but you won't get arrested.
Ron Giesecke
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Redding, Ca.
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The real point is to steal a watch from someone who has enjoyed a good portion of your act up to that point. Sure, if you happen to lift a Rolex from some scowling, stoic troglodyte who's been burning your hands, you might have a problem. If you have, say a woman who has been just laughing hyterically and reacting wonderfully, then you are completely safe--and you have already established yourself as a safe and worthy entertainer.

This all really comes down to an honest assessment of self. How do people really see us as we perform? Are we antagonistic? or do we pepper our humor with a self-effacing flavor? These things matter.
Whit Haydn
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Ron:

Some people might see the non-antagonistic, self-effacing performance as even more d***ing evidence of a conman at work. How else do you think a conman would appear? It is not always the tough or competitive spectator who is dangerous.

Even if everyone has enjoyed your show so far, if you are interrupted in the act of stealing a watch or wallet it is going to be difficult to explain.

Years ago, I was working in a nice Beverly Hills restaurant, when a sweet little old lady came up with the manager--clearly sincerely upset--and accused me of stealing her watch.

She insisted this had happened even though I had never gone up to her table. She had seen me at another table doing the watch steal, and looked down at her wrist and discovered her watch gone.

Eventually (after 40 minutes of heated discussion and explanation between myself and the lady, the manager, and some of the wait staff) a customer discovered the missing watch by the sink in the ladies room.

If it hadn't been found, there could have been bad feelings all around. She had already threatened to call the police. What if she had left the watch on her dresser at home?

Ricki Dunn, a very successful pickpocket, told me that he had several times been accused either by jerks or confused people of having taken money out of a wallet, and he had had to make certain adjustments to his stage act because of it. And he was the headliner for a Vegas showroom!

Imagine what trouble could be caused by some jerkhead on the street, where the performer has no manager, patron, or protector to stand up for his character and explain his actions?

The police would have you under arrest and have confiscated your props before you could say anything. The watch or wallet found in your possession would be suficient evidence of theft in any court in the land.

And the person who calls the cops might just be that smiling, laughing woman--the audience member who is suddenly startled when someone yells, "Hey, he's trying to steal your watch, lady!"

I don't think you should ever put yourself in such a compromising position. It is important for an entertaining pickpocket to have the disclaimer and support of some establishment before getting so familiar with the pockets and jewelry of strangers.
Whiterabbit
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Kevin Mc Lean
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I think Whit's post really says it all: it might work on stage, but it could have disastrous consequences on the street. Speaking from experience as someone who spent six years in the police service as a public servant taking reports etc. (note: this does not constitute legal advice), you could really get involved in one hell of a misunderstanding, and you would be technically depriving someone of their goods without their permission (even if the intention was to give it back)...

Mind you if you if could work something into the patter like "You don't mind if I get you up here, do a few tricks. Blot out the sun. Alter reality. Lift your wallet. Collapse the universe?" you might cover yourself depending on the response. Still I'd stick with the stage. Congratulations on your skill in what is probably a difficult area of magic though.
May your fingers never lose their deftness,

May your tongue always lead them down the garden path...



Regards,



Whiterabbit
EsKlibur
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Hi
I agree with everything said above and even though I do street magic, I have no experience at all in stealing routines. I just wanted to talk on the psychological aspect: if you steal their watch while you're asking them to hold your wedding ring firmly then it will probably make it up to them as long as you give their stuff back first. Also the "Watch and Cry" routine involves switching the magician's and the spectator's watches...
"Poetry is the Magic of Lies,
Magic is the Poetry of Lies" - Jean Cocteau
Pokie-Poke
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How did you get the lady's watch into the bathroom?? Smile
www.pokie-poke.com
The Adventure cont...
Whit Haydn
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Pokie-Poke:

Obviously, I passed it to a girl on the wait staff. We normally split jewelry 60/40 with the waiters anyway. Smile
Ron Giesecke
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Whit,

I absolutely agree with you, believe it or not. I guess I calibrated my answer to the hired performance--even though I find myself in a "street" presentation as it were, I am not acting autonomously.

A week ago I did a beer and wine festival that involved several blocks of my downtown area being blocked off. There was a specific and extremely notable entity that hired me. I stole 5 watches, and it was all wonderful (and this was before any actual inebriants skulked over to my table).

Perhaps my previous post was hasty, as I never perform in these environments without some validation from the business community. If I were to venture the street as a pure "street guy," then I would never engage in what could immdiately endanger me, both legally, and most important--physically.

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

--Ron
Q&A
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I've see a comic magician named Lightfoot take not both watches and belts on the street and it was fantastic! I think if the audience love's the performer you can do just about anything.
Whit Haydn
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Nobody said it wouldn't work well, or that people wouldn't love it. Just that it might be very dangerous the one time you get some nutcase or jerk who wants to make trouble.

It is important to think of the odd incidents, the freak things that can happen when you are a professional. A tiny pin hole burn on a lady's dress from a thrown bit of flashpaper resulted in a $250,000 lawsuit. A bad clip on a ring-flite resulted in the loss of a lady's $6000 ring-it was never found. I already told of my incident with a lady accusing me of stealing her watch.

It isn't that you can't take risks that work, it is a question of whether the risk is really worthwhile. In my opinion, even the possible threat of jail time is enough to keep me from doing a pickpocket act on the street without some sort of official patronage to back me up in front of the judge.

I suspect that most guys could get away with this kind of act in the vast majority of cases, but I still don't think it is a good idea.

Ask a policeman what your vulnerability might be.
BroDavid
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Great thinking by Whit! It isnt a case of asking yourself what do I do "IF" something goes wrong.

But the better question, that will protect you more completely, is to ask what will I do WHEN somegoes wrong.

Some people just never even consider the possibility of a problem - until it happens, because they dont see the likelyhood of it.

But considering the consequences beforehand, because SOMETHING will go wrong SOMETIME, allows you to weigh the risk/rewards factor and make a responsible decision.

The situations Whit mentioned may sound like they are highly unlikely, but it would only take one of these to put you in a world of hurt!

Remember that the first three words out of most people's mouthes when something bad happens is; "I didn't think...." and then they usually continue with some lame explanation. But they may as well have just stopped the explanation right there. Because those first three words sum it up. They just didn't think!

Thanks for putting a practical slant on it Whit!

BroDavid
If you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.
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