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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Street Magic » » How to approach people (39 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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acetucker
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I'm cool with doing "street magic" as soon as I learn some new tricks, but how would you go about approaching people. What do you say to them. Do you pick anybody or do you carefully pick who you are going to perform the trick for? What happens when things get a little awkward?
SoCalPro
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Why?
acetucker
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IDK. Hard to explain. You can't just walk up to some random person and say "Hey, wanna see a neat trick?" A lot of them would say no and walk off, or look at you like you have a second head. I don't know about you, but that makes me feel a little stupid.
jordanjohnson
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I dealt with this problem about five years ago when I got the guts up to do street magic. The thing I do is don't approach them with nothing in your hands because they usually I have found think that you are trying to sell them something or want to waste their time taking a survey or other kinds of stupid stuff that sales people try and do. So I always have my cards out when I ask them if they would like to see a magic trick. Also don't to up to people that are busy shopping or whatever they are doing because they don't have time to watch magic. Scout the place to try and find people who don't look like they are in a hurry or preoccupied doing other things. Also how to ask is just your personality. I usually just walk up to them and say, "hey would you like to see a trick" or "wanna see something a little crazy like some magic" don't ever ask if they can help you with a trick or magic because the word help automatically sets in there mind that they have to HELP you. Also the beat age group are teenagers and young adults below fifty. Most old people don't want to see it and will say no. Also if they say no don't hassle them about it just say okay and go to the next person.

Hope this helps
MagicSanta
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I like to approach people as they come up to a dark alley, this adds to the anticipation. I then look at them but not at them but through them with no expression on my face. I block their way and stare through them for a few seconds, then, and only then, once the fear has started to spread across their face I say "I want to show you something....". They agree and I have them select a card, still no expression on my face, and they pick it because I'm so mysterious and cool. I tell them "memorize it" and then "put it back". I then shift from looking through them to looking at them but still w/out any expression, I raise my hand slightly, and say "Wait wait...I see it, wait" Then I get a pained expression and grab my stomach, I look up "I...is it...the (name the card)?". I am always right and I turn around and walk away to the sounds of them screaming and yelling "How he do that? I can't believe it! That was so random!"

Note: the word 'random' is very popular among teens these days for some reason, I try to use it to seem young and hip
mysto59
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I don't consider myself a street magician but every once in a while I like to do a trick in pubic just for the fun of it. I always have my ITR with me and sometimes when I'm standing in a line waiting (Grocery store, Quickie Mart, etc.) I'll have a dollar in my hands and just start playing around with it. Hold it to the light, snap it, etc. Then I wad it up and float it for a few seconds and then grab it like its going to float away from me.

Even though I don't ask anyone if they would like to see a trick, everytime at least one person saw what I had done and comments. I tell them that its too hard to earn money to let it just float away. Then I pay for whatever I was there for and walk out like nothing happened. It always seems to get a smile...
It's not the size of the wand that matters, it's the "magic" in it...
jordanjohnson
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Umm you do tricks in PUBIC lol!
mysto59
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PUBLIC!!!! PUBLIC!!! PUBLIC!!! Can't wait to see the responses to this one. LOL
It's not the size of the wand that matters, it's the "magic" in it...
acetucker
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ROTFLOL. Thx. you guys have been particularly helpful, except for you magic santa, you've been particularly creepy.
J0HANNES
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You can begin like Jim Carey from Bill Marshall.....Let me show you something...
and very important to look like him like Bill Marshal after a serious explosion.
I think is a very interesting approach.
What you say?
Do not forget to screem Let me show you something and after that you could begin a freaky criss angel mad trick.
Owen Thomas
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Lol at MagicSanta post! man that cheered me up thanx
MaxfieldsMagic
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I've tried this a couple of times for people waiting for public transit (specifically, the Metro train in DC). It seems to work, because people are already bored and ****ed off waiting for the train, so they welcome the distraction of a little free entertainment. I usually do this when I'm getting off of work, so I'm wearing a suit and tie - that way they don't confuse me with a homeless person or a busker shaking them down for a few bucks.
Now appearing nightly in my basement.
michaelmystic2003
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Quote:
On 2007-11-20 23:02, MagicSanta wrote:
I like to approach people as they come up to a dark alley, this adds to the anticipation. I then look at them but not at them but through them with no expression on my face. I block their way and stare through them for a few seconds, then, and only then, once the fear has started to spread across their face I say "I want to show you something....". They agree and I have them select a card, still no expression on my face, and they pick it because I'm so mysterious and cool. I tell them "memorize it" and then "put it back". I then shift from looking through them to looking at them but still w/out any expression, I raise my hand slightly, and say "Wait wait...I see it, wait" Then I get a pained expression and grab my stomach, I look up "I...is it...the (name the card)?". I am always right and I turn around and walk away to the sounds of them screaming and yelling "How he do that? I can't believe it! That was so random!"

Note: the word 'random' is very popular among teens these days for some reason, I try to use it to seem young and hip


I laughed out loud at this, especially the "random" part. In high school, I hear it at least once a day.
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NurseRob
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that way they don't confuse me with a homeless person or a busker shaking them down for a few bucks.


good thing you didn't take that down a notch and get mistaken for a mugger or a contact juggler, now that would really hurt the crowd build.
Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi ~
The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter ~Cicero
Turk
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Quote:
On 2007-11-20 21:22, jordanjohnson wrote:
***

Also the best age group are teenagers and young adults below fifty.

***


Bless you, my son!! (grin) Made my day.

Mike
Magic is a vanishing Art.

This must not be Kansas anymore, Toto.

Eschew obfuscation.
JoeJoe
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I believe there are just some people that are born naturals when it comes to people skills, and that magicians opposed to approaching random strangers are the ones that are shy and inhibited by strangers in general.

I also believe that you don't need to be a born natural to approach strangers, it is a skill you can learn - so don't let the nay-say'rs and the haters discourage you!

For the most part, I have always been an outgoing person - I could walk up and strike a conversation with a stranger without magic, that is just me. Hitchhike around the country for a couple of years and you just develop a knack for talking to people you don't know. Its all about being approachable and friendly and not scaring people.

The most important thing you will ever say during any show is "hi". See this post.

-JoeJoe
Watch the Pilot Episode of my new TV Show:As Seen on TV: The JoeJoe Magic Show
Dannydoyle
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1) Don't be afraid of rejection, it WILL happen, it does NOT make you a bad person/performer. It is a numbers game.

2) See #1 but when people DO want to walk away you let them wak away. It is less "creepy" this way. Do not be upset, do not follow them and beg.

3) Not everyone wants to see or likes magic. Know this from the start. You probably like magic far more than the person you are trying to make watch it.

4) Be brief and be gone. Long drawn out bothersome routines do not generally fly well.

5) Know when you cross that line into being a pest. once people DO STOP, don't make them stay because they feel bad leaving. In out, like a duck mating.

These simple guidelines are audience centered and should help some. I know most think they are "brightening up someones day" but many times you are viewed as a "pest" or worse. Use the above to avoid that look.

Keep in mind that while you are doing things for cashiers, clerks and workers keep in mind they have a job to do which you may very well be keeping them from. Also keep in mind that while you are doing your little trick for a server, cashier, others are waiting to have service. You are holding up the line while entertaining people like this. Be courtious to those behind you in line, or waiting for the server.

I in no way approve of "street magic" done like this, but if you are going to do it, it seems to me that following some simple guidelines will help everyone involved.

Oh and most important, A MAGIC TRICK IS NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR A NICE TIP. Actually if you force a trick on them you should tip even bigger than usual, not smaller. A server/bartender can not spend your "trck" or the smile you put on their face.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Russell Scoggin
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One thing I've learned to do is go out with a friend and act like he is a random person on the street and start doing the trick for him. coach him beforehand in giving a big reaction and then getting people around him to come and see you. He can say such things as "Whoa, you ought to see what this guy just did, it was crazy!" Or "Man, this guy over there did this trick and it was wild. I can't understand it, come see what this guy's doing." Or you can use whatever you want. Without someone helping you like that, then it's really hard to approach random people unless you are doing something like the floating bill. Sometimes if I'm by myself, I will do the floating bill and I usually do it for a while when I notice people starting to look and point. Almost always they will come over and start asking you how you did that. Then that will open the door and you can start doing other tricks. Usually after that you will start getting a larger crowd because when people see a small crowd standing around looking at something, the curiosity gets the best of people and they want to see what they're watching so they will come over and start watching also. Kind of like the looking up into the sky for no reason, then other people look up to see what you're looking at. It's just curiousity. Anyway, then you have a chance to impress a larger crowd, so be sure and have some really good stuff to show them.
supercool
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Quote:
On 2008-12-12 00:15, Russell Scoggin wrote:
One thing I've learned to do is go out with a friend and act like he is a random person on the street and start doing the trick for him. coach him beforehand in giving a big reaction and then getting people around him to come and see you. He can say such things as "Whoa, you ought to see what this guy just did, it was crazy!" Or "Man, this guy over there did this trick and it was wild. I can't understand it, come see what this guy's doing." Or you can use whatever you want. Without someone helping you like that, then it's really hard to approach random people unless you are doing something like the floating bill. Sometimes if I'm by myself, I will do the floating bill and I usually do it for a while when I notice people starting to look and point. Almost always they will come over and start asking you how you did that. Then that will open the door and you can start doing other tricks. Usually after that you will start getting a larger crowd because when people see a small crowd standing around looking at something, the curiosity gets the best of people and they want to see what they're watching so they will come over and start watching also. Kind of like the looking up into the sky for no reason, then other people look up to see what you're looking at. It's just curiousity. Anyway, then you have a chance to impress a larger crowd, so be sure and have some really good stuff to show them.


If you are doing street magic to make money don't bring your friend. You don't need some one there to split your tips. You just ask strangers if they want to see something cool, then when you get some one to stop and watch then that will help draw a crowd just as well as having your buddy there.
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sabretooth
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There is no "One size fits all" approach. If you are dressed in black with a mysterious look on your face, you have to expect some people to see you as a satan worshipper, even if you have things in your surroundings to indicate that you are not. It will happen!

Now that I have your attention, I will answer the question with more questions that you should ask of yourself when finding your answer.

Let's first separate the animals.

Will you you be taking the television "street" performer approach of walking down the street, showering the people with magic to quench their insatiable magic addiction? If so, you will soon realize that you don't have a team of editors following you..... OR will you be staking claim to your piece of the sidewalk with perhaps a performance table or other props that render you immobile?

About 20 years ago I sold magic at the flea market on the weekends. A raccoon tail coming out of a bag of chips that wiggled would get them to put the brakes on and break the ice. They laugh when they figure it out and I tell them it's not real, and than I would say
"But I do have something here that is really amazing! Check it out!"

When you stopped to read this, was it the animated avatar that caught your eye?

You're fishing, and after you caught the first one it's a lot easier to pull in another. Nobody wants to be the first if they think you're going to hustle them, but everybody wants to watch somebody else get hustled, so the next few are much less resistant to join. You just have to do an effect that has several layers to it so you can keep everyone interested as you are building your crowd. Then launch into a 10-12 minute routine in which you get your name out, get your card out, get your tips, inform them of your next show, sell your DVD, etc. When you have a stationary station with some props around you and a tip hat, you have already communicated that you are a performer, so the all-black dress would be less intimidating than someone dressed that way approaching you at your Café table saying, "Check this out!".

We all have a "personal space" around us and we don't like having it invaded without our permission. Getting that permission on the street is different than at a banquet that's booked you to do strolling magic. If you have intruded into my personal space and my free time, I don't care how good your magic is, you are not getting my tip and I want you out of my face! When I was a bum, I probably wouldn't have minded the intrusion of Mr. Blaine making a handful of coin rise up out of my coffee, but I certainly wouldn't have used it to book him!

What kind of audience do you want to attract?

Are you dressed for that audience? If you do birthday parties and corporate gigs, do you have a street routine ready for each?

If you are trying to generate leads for kid's parties you won't find many women with strollers on the street after the sun goes down.

Do you want to work for people who have been drinking? If it's too late and they're too drunk, they'll wonder how your card got in their pocket the next morning, but you may get the biggest tip of the night out of them!

Are you performing on the street to generate private work, or is your street work your primary income? Your hat-lines may vary dramatically!

If you stop them with a floating bill, will you have something to top it? If not, your performance will seem to be anti-climactic. Can you afford that at tip time?

In addition to the Raccoon in the bag, there is the dollar on the sidewalk attached to a bill snatcher, the firebook with a catchy line, you can hand them the end of a rope and literally pull them in, you can ask someone in a group, "Does anyone have the time? Do you have a minute for magic? (Do a fast card production or something visual and see if you can stop the whole crowd with one catch!) If you're good, you can. You can be bold without being offensive. (My personal space is much more open when I'm walking down the street than it is when I'm having a cup of coffee with a friend.) If they are on the way to catch a movie and don't have a minute, then I give them cards and say "Here, you can check it out later. Enjoy the show! (On the back of my card is the airtimes for my TV series.) Keep it positive!

Don't be afraid to try anything so long as you respect their boundaries. Grandpa always said, "A closed mouth don't get fed!" He's right!
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