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Profile of Sean
I'm new to magic. I did it as a kid then picked it up again after Thanksgiving. Yesterday I was doing a card trick for a friend and I noticed that he stared only at the cards whether or not I was talking to him or looking him in the face. Needless to say, this made preparing for a double lift a bit more difficult and nervewracking. Fortunately, my wife came by, I asked her a question and that diverted his attention to her for the moment I needed to get the lift.
So my question: any good advice on misdirecting spectator's attentions when they seem determined to look at your hands?

The double lift and the effect worked well, btw. First time I did it for someone who wasn't my spouse. Smile
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Profile of martinkaplan
Audiences will pay closer attention when you imply through body language and words that this is an important phase of the routine. Sleights, such as preparing for the double, need to be done on the offbeat with your body relaxed. Sometimes verbal misdirection will supply the offbeat, sometimes physical misdirection will supply the offbeat and sometimes you just need to wait. There will always be spectators who are determined to burn your hands and you need to take advantage of whatever opportunity presents itself. It seems that you did just that.

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Profile of hobbymagic
Sometimes your patter can include asking a question. It is difficult to answer a question without looking at the person.
Peter Marucci
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Marty may be on to something in his post, Sean.
It's possible to inadvertently signal, by body language, that something is going on; you, yourself, may not even notice it or be able to realize it.
And part of your problem may be lack of performing experience in front of new audiences.
That is something that comes with time and may, eventually, translate into a more confident method of presentation and, thus, make misdirection that much easier for you.
Unfortunately, as I said, it takes time.
Hey, if this were easy, everybody would be doing it! Smile
Peter Marucci
Jeb Sherrill
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This is probably true. Usually, if they are really burning your hands, it's because you aren't relaxed and they sense you wanting to do something. If all else fails, say their name in the form of a question (like hobbymagic said). People will always look up if you say their name. Well, usually.

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Profile of spfranz
I performed for some people at work the other day and being the computer geeks that they are (no offense anyone, I'm one too) it was a complete "challenge magic" situation. They had to look at the cards, touch them, shuffle them, burn my hands the whole time. Not impressed by any tricks where I didn't touch the deck (must just be a math thing) but were killed by Twisting the Aces.

Anyway, if asking a question doesn't work (which it sometimes doesn't with people like this). Just stop. Just freeze right in place holding the deck. Don't move and don't say a word. I guarantee they'll look up to ask what's wrong. At that point, you do the move and say "wow, you're really watching, aren't you?". They'll also swear later that they never took their eyes off the deck. After all, you just verified that Smile

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Actually, Sean, you unintentionally found what I believe to be one of the best solutions (and Tommy Wonder, in "The Books of Wonder," agrees with me!) don't address the person who's burning your hands--address someone else, as you did -- your wife. Almost without exception, if you get one of these "burners," who doesn't look up when you address him, he will look up when you address someone else.

Max Malini had a great line: "Wait a week!" People cannot keep up that concerted effort to concentrate for very long, especially if it gets boring. So, "remember" a joke, and tell it. Usually, only a few seconds will pass before he forgets to look at your hands, because it seems like you aren't going to do the trick right now. And people relax when they laugh.

Another option: learn a double lift that doesn't require a get-ready!
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Thanks all for the advice. After lurking in alt.magic for awhile, this place is a breath of fresh air.

Fortunately, I'm performing for sympathetic audiences right now, but someday, I may be attempting that double lift in front of less friendly people.

I'm working my way through Card College now, so I'll definitely pick up some more (and better) double lift moves at some point. Right now I'm using the one from Mark Wilson's Encyclopedia of Magic.
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I feel that we create our audiences during our performances. How you (or I) feel towards an audience has a lot to do with how they will interact with us. If you feel that they will be supportive, you will feel more comfortable. If you feel that they will be less friendly, they will be....

I have come to believe that misdirection is an incorrect description of what we want. We don't want to have an audience not look at something, but rather look where we want them to.

Congratulations on working through Card College. It's a wonderful series.

All the best in your journey
"Try to find the humanity in the magic and maybe you'll come up with something of your own. It's the humanity that gets you there, not techniques." Michael Moschen on Creativity
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Fredrick makes wise comments...well said!

Having taught magic classes during the past few summers, when introducing misdirection as a concept it occurred to me that "misdirection" is a misnomer...a misdirection in itself! It could easily be called simply "direction", the point being that you should be directing the audiences attention "somewhere", rather than simply "somewhere else". That affords you jedi-like control of your spectators.
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On 2002-02-05 03:56, Scott F. Guinn wrote:

Max Malini had a great line: "Wait a week!" People cannot keep up that concerted effort to concentrate for very long, especially if it gets boring. So, "remember" a joke, and tell it. Usually, only a few seconds will pass before he forgets to look at your hands, because it seems like you aren't going to do the trick right now. And people relax when they laugh.


I totally agree with this.
When the spactator normally keeps on looking at my cards, I pause a little and laugh a little to myself, like if I remember a funny experience, or if it seems like I forgot to do something important to complete the trick.
He/she/they will wonder what it is I'm laughing about and will look up to my face.
I tell them something and continue the trick, but they missed that critical little second. Smile
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Profile of preston91

Don't think that doing magic for "friends and family" is a sympathetic audience.
I've found that not to be the case. Seems that they try extra hard to burn you. Friends are much more likely to want to see the cards, look in your pocket, grab at props, etc.
Strangers don't know you from David Copperfield, so as long as you do the effect well, they will except you as a "magician" and be amazed.

My $.02

Jason Fleming
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I agree with you 100%.

The exception I have found is that when my friends and I have been drinking a bit they are easier to misdirect. But usually so am I at that point...

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I agree with you but I think successfully performing in front of friends or relatives makes you more confident when being in front of strangers...

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Change your focus and your audiences focus. Don't make the magic about the cards but about the magic experience. Inexperience as a magician (unsure about your moves and technique) is something that the audience WILL pick up and they will burn your hands to see what you are doing. If however, they are just having a good time watching you work, there is less emphasis on the "trick" in itself and more on the overall experience which will in turn change the perception of all, not to mention relax you.

The more sure you are of your material, when the moves happen by themselves without you thinking about them so that they are automatic, then you can merely focus on your audience and on entertaining them. When you are working new material, you have to think about what you are going to do next, what move is coming up, you might even have some nervousness about it and so you do not have time to focus on entertaining your audience. Most new people make that mistake and perform the effects before they are truly ready to and that is one of the downfalls they discover.

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One thing I use to distract their attention is to act a bit like I'm gonna read their mind.
After their card goes back etc, I say "Now just think of your card" and stare at them. they always look into my eyes, by this I can do almost anything with the cards.

If there are 3 or more, After the card is returned, I start to say something but then look to another member of the audience that is furthest away and make a comment like "Blimey, He's all the way over there and look at the mistrust in his face!", Everyone turns to the person you are indicating.

Thankfully, I can talk complete rubbish and my misdirection is better than my magic Smile which helps when surrounded by hawk-eyed specs Smile
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Until my sleight-of-improves, I too have to rely on directing attention away from my hands at any one special moment.
In the past I have usually looked directly at the person and asked a question directly related to the effect such as, "Is it a red card?" This may be sophomoric; I don't know. I see now perhaps the best way is to have a spectator do something, and I may start putting out a toy prop for this reason. This may be ridiculous; I don't know.
If I have to do something really hard I could set off some fire-crackers...
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
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Jason Fleming
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Even when you feel your sleight-of-hand technique has improved to the point of an "undetectable" move, you will find that some people burning your hands might suspect that "something" happened, and for them, that's enough. They caught the magician, hooray for themselves. Misdirection, or simply directing their attention, is the key to sustaining amazing magical moments for your audience.

The use of carefully placed lines or even introducing props or having the spectator perform a task are used by the "royalty" of magic regularly and with success.

As you perform more and pay careful attention to your audience, you will identify weaker moments in your routines and those are the times to add some audience-attention-direction.

Keep smiling!
Steve Friedberg
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There's a really neat little Bro. John trick that played into that perfectly...where he would plant a move that spectators would think they'd caught him in misdirection...and they had. but it was only in there to set up the real move, which they never saw.

There's a lesson there, perhaps...

"A trick does not fool the eyes, but fools the brain." -- John Mulholland
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Everyone gave really good advice.
If you do magic in front of an audience also besides your family and friends, make sure you have a good presentation of the trick if you really want to keep their attention.

If you just say "Now I'm going to put the silk in my empty left hand and say a magic word. Poof, it has disappeared." they will probably lose interest real fast.

It is good to always have a good presentation for your magic if your doing it in front of an audience. Smile

Also, make sure to listen to the advice everyone else said because I wouldn't be able to say it any better myself! Smile
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