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mentalvic
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This is a story that got me a lot of flack from a fellow mentalist on another forum. I normally don't like to cross-post but I figured I would this time and get some different opinions.

Quote:
I picked up a "haunted key" gimmick which has a balanced skeleton key slowly rotate in the hand of the magician or a spectator as the hand trembles slightly as all hands do.

Anyway, eager to try the trick out, I hit the local Burger King on Western yesterday here in L.A. and approached a guy who was finishing his Whopper.

After assuring him that I wasn't after money or booze or drugs, I produced the key and told him the following (or a close approximation as memory serves:)

"I acquired this key from a door-man at the Roosevelt Hotel. He was eager to be rid of it for it has a long and sordid history.

"It seems that back in the mid-30's there was a promising young starlett who's regular lover was a notorious gangster, a bootlegger with a short fuse and an itchy trigger finger.

"The young starlett, however, was eager to be away from her abusive and dangerous lover so she took for her paramour a rising star of the stage and secreted him away in a suite at the Roosevelt: two rooms joined by large, shared closet.

"One night, word reached the mobster of his lover's secret romance and, in a rage, the brute stormed the Roosevelt and made his way to the first room of the suite. His angry tirade in the hallway notified the young actor as to his impending doom and he quickly slipped into the closet and began to search for the key which would unlock the adjoining room and allow him a quick escape.

"The mobster soon heard the scrambling sound of the young man in the closet and, without opening the door, fired his tommy-gun into the door, killing the man behind it.

[At this point, I placed the key in my hand and held it out for the nearly-bored spectator to see.]

"To this day, the young man's spirit searches for this key, desperately trying to turn it, vainly hoping he might yet escape his doom."

As the key began to slowly turn over in my hand, the young man's eyes widened and he shrank back, visibly startled. I laughed and explained to him that it was merely a trick, the key wasn't haunted, and not to worry. I allowed him to try the key (he misplaced it in his hand and it wouldn't turn over-- the secret is still safe,) thanked him, and left.


Now, let me point out that I've already been told "You shouldn't have ruined the illusion by telling him it was a trick!" Um... I disagree with that line of thought and here's why:

1. I was in Los Angeles at the time. Now, everyone in L.A. is just a tad insane and lots of people are packing heat (that is to say, crazy and carrying a gun.) One never knows when some seemingly sane individual has recently been told by Aliens from Omicron-Theta IV to "Kill the next witch who happens along." Ergo, it is best not to appear "special" because "special = target" sometimes.

2. I feel that it is a serious issue in the ethics of magic to engender in another a belief in the supernatural or the occult. In short, if my effects leave someone believing in ghosts or telekinesis or demonic forces or aliens or any of that stuff then my effects have ceased to be entertainment and have become the instruments of superstition and misinformation.

3. It was the only effect I really had going at the moment ("Grey elephants in Denmark" being a bit of a hard sell in noisy restaraunts and being one which doesn't work well with those who don't know their multiplication tables. Hit or miss, yeah?) and I couldn't follow it up with a card trick or something to indicate that I was a magician and NOT some guru / occultist type.

Now the question I want to ask is this: What effects can be used safely as "first effects" on the street? That is to say, "How should one structure a street routine, anyway?"
There she was, a dodgy old prune in a tiara, rushing at me waving a sword. Do all knights suffer this whilst being made?
The Mighty Fool
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Well, Houdini would have agreed with you...he was always very annoyed whenever someone tried to say that the way he accomplished his escapes and tricks was with actual magic, and he spent a lot of time debunking self-proclaimed wizards & mediums.

As for opening effects on the street, FIRST you have to know how to choose a mark. Watch(or listen) for foreingers...theyre always ready to experience American culture no matter how silly, and odds are they'll have some foriegn currency to do some cool (Slow-burn, VisiBill) tricks with. Try not to go after single walkers as much....they feel alone & vulnerable, wheras someone with one or more companions will feel safe in stopping & talking to you. Also watch akky's (kid's) shoes & see if they light up with those red blinkers. This is an alomost NEVER-fail sure fire opening. Once you've chosen a mark, follow along a bit, listening to the conversation for something you can play off of. If theyre remarking that they need change for a $1, offer to make it, and do so by rolling the bill up & pouring the quarters out!(via the tt) If it's a kid with the light-up shoes, say "Excuse me, but one of your lights fell out back there" Then produce & 'replace' the light via the D'Lites.

Or, you can try to get people to approach you by simply doing something which they can't help but notice, like the impossible hank (if you can afford one) or some floatation routine. Once you've got an audience (of one or more), the first thing you need to do is establish yourself as a high-caliber conjuror, and not some schlubb with a deck of cards. Your first trick should hit hard, I like to do the Kevin James flaoting paper-to-rose routine, using a bit of 'random wastepaper' taken from a trashcan or cig box laying about, or the healed&sealed effect, again using an apparently random bit of trash. Once you've wowed them with something, NOW you can break out your bible (deck of cards) and go into a traditional routine. Remember, the routine should build as you go, you're following the same strategey as movie-makers: start with a big powerfull scene, then drop into the storyline, which gradually builds to a climax (which people will WANT to see since they know it will be powerfull, based on the opener they saw).
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
mentalvic
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Thanks! Good advice.

Yes, I was thinking of just walking up to people and in a dead-pan say, "Can I show you something?"

OK. *slaps own face* No Blaine bashing from me. Smile Bad Victor! Bad bad bad! No do-nut!

I'm trying to move away from use of too many gimmicks (I've got a Raven and a few shells, a haunted key, Pen-omenon, and a few decks: short card, svengalli, stripper, etc.) I'm moving more in the direction of mentalism but that's kind of hard to pull-off on the street.

What type of "set-up" (i.e. tables, basic props, etc.) would you suggest to a would-be street magician?
There she was, a dodgy old prune in a tiara, rushing at me waving a sword. Do all knights suffer this whilst being made?
chrisrkline
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This is what I am working towards. I have a fold up table with a velvet covered plywood top. I do the cups and balls, a rope routine, a few card effects, and will, eventually, add a four ring routine. Nothing terribly difficult, but plays well.

But this type of street magic, called busking, is covered in great detail in the "Sidewalk Shuffle" forum.
Chris
Dave V
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Quote:
On 2005-03-15 17:54, mentalvic wrote:
... I'm moving more in the direction of mentalism but that's kind of hard to pull-off on the street.
...



Whit Hayden of the School for Scoundrels wrote a booklet on his experience with street magic. In it is a description of a street mentalism effect he did on the streets.
No trees were killed in the making of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.
S2000magician
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Quote:
On 2005-03-15 12:42, mentalvic wrote:
I feel that it is a serious issue in the ethics of magic to engender in another a belief in the supernatural or the occult. In short, if my effects leave someone believing in ghosts or telekinesis or demonic forces or aliens or any of that stuff then my effects have ceased to be entertainment and have become the instruments of superstition and misinformation.

Many years ago my wife and I went to see Glenn and Fran Falkenstein when they were performing at Universal Studios around Halloween. After the show we went up to talk to Glenn and Fran (Glenn's an old family friend) and heard a young woman from the audience asking Glenn if he could tell her fortune. Glenn patiently explained that everything he and Fran do is a trick. I believe that the young woman had the poor sense to disbelieve him.

Several years later we went to see Glenn and Fran performing in the Parlour at the Magic Castle. By that time, Glenn had begun to open his show by explaining that nothing they do involves supernatural powers and that he does not believe in that sort of thing - that everything they were about to do was a trick.

You can do a whole lot worse than following in the footsteps of the Falkensteins.
EDGE
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I couldn't agree more mentalvic and S2000magician. Everyone knows (regardless whether your a magician or not) that you don't have supernatural powers, so why rub that in? Whenever someone asks me how I did something I might respond with something like "it was an illusion" or something like that.

Same thing goes with "black magic." I avoid that for 2 reasons....
First I have no interest in it especially when I have to say something like "spirits are sending me something (that just doesn't feel right) and in reality isn't right to say.

Second is no one believes it. This leads to the trick being boring and doesn't really get to the spectator.
mentalvic
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Quote:
On 2005-03-17 19:03, Dave VanVranken wrote:
Whit Hayden of the School for Scoundrels wrote a booklet on his experience with street magic. In it is a description of a street mentalism effect he did on the streets.


Thanks, bro! I'll check into it! Smile

Quote:
On 2005-03-17 19:15, S2000magician wrote:
Many years ago my wife and I went to see Glenn and Fran Falkenstein when they were performing at Universal Studios around Halloween. After the show we went up to talk to Glenn and Fran (Glenn's an old family friend) and heard a young woman from the audience asking Glenn if he could tell her fortune. Glenn patiently explained that everything he and Fran do is a trick. I believe that the young woman had the poor sense to disbelieve him.

Several years later we went to see Glenn and Fran performing in the Parlour at the Magic Castle. By that time, Glenn had begun to open his show by explaining that nothing they do involves supernatural powers and that he does not believe in that sort of thing - that everything they were about to do was a trick.

You can do a whole lot worse than following in the footsteps of the Falkensteins.


I thank you for that wonderful story. Being someone who has looked into the occult, I personally find the subject fascinating and worthy of investigation. However, one must be completely clear and honest: cold reading, mentalism, and things of that general nature can lead people to some crazy conclusions. Better to nip that in the bud right away than to leave people believing they've seen a bona fide miracle.
Quote:
On 2005-03-17 19:42, Alusion wrote:
I couldn't agree more mentalvic and S2000magician. Everyone knows (regardless whether your a magician or not) that you don't have supernatural powers, so why rub that in? Whenever someone asks me how I did something I might respond with something like "it was an illusion" or something like that.

Same thing goes with "black magic." I avoid that for 2 reasons....
First I have no interest in it especially when I have to say something like "spirits are sending me something (that just doesn't feel right) and in reality isn't right to say.

Second is no one believes it. This leads to the trick being boring and doesn't really get to the spectator.



I wonder if saying, "It was MAGIC!" in an exagerated, over-the-top voice and making a spooky face would suffice to explain it? Smile It could also get a few laughs.
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EDGE
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Ha I don't think it matters in that case, I mean everyone uses that. Like the other day I ask my friend " hey! how'd you get here so fast? And he says it was magic
mentalvic
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Quote:
On 2005-03-17 20:46, Alusion wrote:
Ha I don't think it matters in that case, I mean everyone uses that. Like the other day I ask my friend " hey! how'd you get here so fast? And he says it was magic


Maybe it was magic! Did you notice if he was riding a broom? Smile
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RCarruth
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People like John Edwards drive me into a fit! We hardly have a right to play with people's inner-most emotions. And if we hint that our 'mentalism' is anything other than the normal, appearing paranormal, we are no better than Edwards.

At any given moment, we don't know what a stranger is thinking or experiencing. So we should always present ourselves as entertainers, particularly if we entertain with mentalism.

Jeff McBride talks much about being a magician '24/7'... Always being ready to bring a spark of magic into someones life at an unexpected moment. Jeff produces money in magical ways to give to wait staff, bell hops, skycaps, even cashiers. The opportunity is always there, and the practice you gain in invaluable...
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cstreet_1986
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I haven't really read all the posts here (I just don't have the time at the moment) but I partially agree with the Mighty Fool.

I think you have two options - sell it as a supernatural feat, or as a 'sleight-of-hand' and skillful feat. In the former, I think you should not have told him it was a trick. In the latter, you could acclaim that you can control objects - or something of the like - without 'envoking supernatural powers'. This way you don't run the risk of being shot (well, I suppose if you are in America there is always that risk).

Just my thoughts.


Chase
S2000magician
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Quote:
On 2005-03-18 04:14, RCarruth wrote:
Jeff McBride talks much about being a magician '24/7'... Always being ready to bring a spark of magic into someones life at an unexpected moment. Jeff produces money in magical ways to give to wait staff, bell hops, skycaps, even cashiers. The opportunity is always there, and the practice you gain in invaluable...

Here's a thread exactly on point.
RCarruth
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Quote:
On 2005-03-18 05:36, cstreet_1986 wrote:
I think you have two options - sell it as a supernatural feat, or as a 'sleight-of-hand' and skillful feat. In the former, I think you should not have told him it was a trick. In the latter, you could acclaim that you can control objects - or something of the like - without 'envoking supernatural powers'.


I don't mind telling someone that I have "special powers", but if I'm asked seriously "how'd you do that?" I smile and reply... " I'm an entertainer ",
-or- "I'm an entertainer and I entertain with magic".. I don't want to take away from the fact that I perform magic, but I don't want to inply that I'm something more than a performer.

You guys would be shocked at the people who seriously believe that the stars of 'Harry Potter' can perform magic, or that Tom Hanks IS Forrest Gump, or that
a particular soap star really did cheat on his co-star.

the stars, particularly soap opera stars, will tell you it's unreal what they encounter on the streets.

One thing that I don't say is 'It's a trick', that seems to cheapen the effect. Anyone can do a trick. You can buy 'tricks' in a box. But only an entertainer can entertain. That's the 'picture' I try to leave with them ..

S2000magician.. good job!
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TheAmbitiousCard
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I performed for a newspaper reporter and having recently started liking
the homing card (card to pocket) I decided to throw it into the performance.

My explaination focused on the card
"went up my sleeve, across my chest.
You might have seen it peeking out up here (pulling at my collar),
down the other sleeve and ... into my pocket."

When it went the second time, I told her "there it goes"
and she was REALLY trying to follow the card up my sleeve,
accross my chest, etc.

I mean... based on her reactions, the squinting, staring, she really thought it was moving in there.

She almost had me believing me.
Some people just believe.
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S2000magician
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I once did a coins-across routine for a gentleman where the last coin traveled from my closed hand to his closed hand. When I told him to look in his hand he opened it, closed it, turned his back, and dropped to his knees.

That, my friends, is scary.
mentalvic
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Quote:
On 2005-03-18 04:14, RCarruth wrote:
People like John Edwards drive me into a fit! We hardly have a right to play with people's inner-most emotions. And if we hint that our 'mentalism' is anything other than the normal, appearing paranormal, we are no better than Edwards.


Ugh! Don't get me STARTED on John Edwards or Sylvia Browne! Those FRAUDS! *shudder* I can do better cold reading than THAT, for heaven's sake! (Only difference is that I'm not dressing it up as "the truth." I tell people, "This is for entertainment, only." That also serves as a caveat should I get a reading 100% wrong!)

Yes, mentalism is powerful stuff-- probably the easiest form of magic to abuse. Thank heaven for James Randi!



Quote:
On 2005-03-18 05:36, cstreet_1986 wrote:
I think you have two options - sell it as a supernatural feat *snip*


Um.... No. That's unethical. That's the whole point of the thread. Engendering in the observer a belief in the supernatural is 110% wrong. It's evil, in fact.

If you're going to hit someone on the street with an effect like that and they are horrified or stunned by the presentation you've got to clarify what you're doing-- for their sake and your own.


Quote:
On 2005-03-18 18:03, S2000magician wrote:
I once did a coins-across routine for a gentleman where the last coin traveled from my closed hand to his closed hand. When I told him to look in his hand he opened it, closed it, turned his back, and dropped to his knees.

That, my friends, is scary.



Got me shakin'.

Quote:
On 2005-03-18 14:14, RCarruth wrote:

You guys would be shocked at the people who seriously believe that the stars of 'Harry Potter' can perform magic, or that Tom Hanks IS Forrest Gump, or that
a particular soap star really did cheat on his co-star.

the stars, particularly soap opera stars, will tell you it's unreal what they encounter on the streets.

So true!

Quote:
One thing that I don't say is 'It's a trick', that seems to cheapen the effect. Anyone can do a trick. You can buy 'tricks' in a box. But only an entertainer can entertain. That's the 'picture' I try to leave with them ..

S2000magician.. good job!


Well, I did buy it in a box! Ergo, it was a trick!



Quote:
On 2005-03-18 14:14, RCarruth wrote:

You guys would be shocked at the people who seriously believe that the stars of 'Harry Potter' can perform magic, or that Tom Hanks IS Forrest Gump, or that
a particular soap star really did cheat on his co-star.

the stars, particularly soap opera stars, will tell you it's unreal what they encounter on the streets.


So true!

Quote:
One thing that I don't say is 'It's a trick', that seems to cheapen the effect. Anyone can do a trick. You can buy 'tricks' in a box. But only an entertainer can entertain. That's the 'picture' I try to leave with them ..

S2000magician.. good job!


Well, I did buy it in a box! Smile Ergo, it was a trick! Smile

Quote:
On 2005-03-18 14:46, Frank Starsini wrote:

She almost had me believing me.
Some people just believe.



And these people frighten me. Smile
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If you aren't willing or able to believe in magic while you are performing, then you are not a magician. If you don't understand this, re-read Robert-Houdin's famous statement.

You must be willing to suspend your own disbelief in order to get the audience to suspend their disbelief.

Also, if you are strolling, doing magic in Burger King, you aren't doing the kind of street magic this part of the forum is basically about. You are still into Blaine style "guerilla magic." It's a different art form.
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Quote:
On 2005-03-17 19:42, EDGE wrote:
I couldn't agree more mentalvic and S2000magician. Everyone knows (regardless whether your a magician or not) that you don't have supernatural powers, so why rub that in? Whenever someone asks me how I did something I might respond with something like "it was an illusion" or something like that.

Same thing goes with "black magic." I avoid that for 2 reasons....
First I have no interest in it especially when I have to say something like "spirits are sending me something (that just doesn't feel right) and in reality isn't right to say.

Second is no one believes it. This leads to the trick being boring and doesn't really get to the spectator.


I don't know about "no one" believing you have magical powers. I remember doing an Invisable Deck for a lady on the bus who asked where I learned this stuff. I admitted there was a shop in New York I went to and she responded; "There's a store in New York City where you can sell your soul?"
"There's no time to lose," I heard her say.
"Catch your dreams before they slip away."
"Dying all the time, lose your dreams and you could lose your mind.
Ain't life unkind?"
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Well.....I guess this is as good a place as any to toss this out:

Mr. Palmer was right when he differentiated between diffrerent types of street magic. "street-magic", the guerilla style as opposed to busking, and street magic is the way in which people are most often tricked into really beleiving that 'magic' actually HAPPENS. Think....when you go to see a movie, or when you sit down to a sci-fi marathon on TV, you don't really beleive in whats happening on the screen....we'd LIKE to beleive it, and we willingly suspend our DIS-beleif, but we came expecting to see what we're seeing. When we attend a magic show, or stop to watch a busker on a streetcorner, we've come expecting to see things float, expecting to see objects appear & vanish with no explanation. The audience / passerby is entertained, impressed and baffled, but their sense of reality and dismissal of actual magic remains intact.

HOWEVER....what if you went to a movie thaetre, sat down...and nothing happened? The screen reamins blank, and after awhile , you leave dissapointed, and upon exiting the theatre building.....you find yourself in Mos Eisly spaceport on the planet Tatooine! The 'movie' has appeared in a way and place from which you werent expecting it to, and now your conception of reality HAS been challenged into ACCEPTING the movie as actually REAL. Let's ay youre out for a walk, and you notice a vagrant slumped against the park fountain. You see him produce an empty glass bottle, and fill it with water from the fountain...he then takes a cup, begins pouring and...WHAT?!?? HE LETS GO OF THE CUP & IT REAMINS SUSPENDED IN MIDAIR AS THE LIQUID POURS IN??? You'll stop and stare at that guy as he simply sips from the cup, as if nothing unusual happened. Your sense of dismissal toward magic has now been thrown off.....you didn't pay anything to see this bum, he's not in a theatre, he has no lights, no music, no patter, no aneorexic assistant, and yet he has just accomplished what none of that can....he's gotten you to beleive in magic. Or at least thrown your disbeleif for a loop. This is (IMHO) the purest most wonderfull priceless type of magic a person can be shown, and ironicly it's the one kind which can't be sold, bought, or paid for.

Of course, most street magic consists of some blainiac knucklehead approaching someone with a deck of cards, and hoping for some tiny remuneration. Most that is.....I could tell you all sorts of impromptu stories from my travels and those I've heard of others, but ponder this: It's true that doing free effects will get you no money and doing free shows gets you nothing but more free shows, but that's where the real magic is! And if you do this....if you take someone off-gaurd and throw a feeling of real magic into their life....you'll be amazed at the sort of real magic you may well work upon yourself!
Everybody wants to beleive.....we just help them along.
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