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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » New to magic? » » One book on performance: an alternative to Strong Magic by Ortiz? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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EndersGame
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We probably all know that good magic is a combination of both (a) technique and (b) presentation/showmanship, and that it is better to present and perform 10 effects very well, than to know and perform 100 effects poorly. Knowing how a trick works (and even being able to do the mechanics and sleight of hand correctly) is different than making it magical or turning it into an astonishing effect.

Many amateurs who do close-up magic for family and friends probably already have several books that teach them how to do the mechanics of tricks (card tricks, impromptu, etc). But how about trying to improve on the performance of the tricks that they already know? What single (non-trick) book about presentation should they read? The obvious choice seems to be Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz, but unfortunately it seems to be out of print (is it going to be reprinted?). What would be the best alternative? Assume that we're speaking about amateurs who are not that experienced, and who mostly do close-up rather than stage work. So we'd want to recommend only one or two titles at most, rather than a whole library for a professional magician.
matt kemp
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Are you looking for an alernative because you can't find the book? I found a copy:

http://theambitiouscard.com/details.cfm?......RONGMAG^

And there's free shipping!

I haven't read the book, so I can't give you any feedback. I tried reading Magic and Showmanship, but it was a little boring. It had good information. I'm currently working through The Books of Wonder. They are my favorite books of all time! Everyone's taste in books is different, though. You might totally hate them.
sethb
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I second the recommendation for "Strong Magic," which was recently reprinted and to the best of my knowledge, is still in print. You can also pick up a copy HERE. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Hoppini, the Mediocre
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Heh...I just got a little chit in my mailbox telling me my copy of Strong Magic is now at the post office waiting for me.
EndersGame
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Did you get it shipped from the US, Hoppini? Shipping rates seem to be rather costly to Canada (the site recommended by Matt Kemp charges $20 in shipping), so perhaps I'll have to look for a Canadian source.

As for alternatives, I've seen mention of Our Magic by Devant & Maskelyn, Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms, Mastering The Art Of Magic by Eugene Burger, Win the Crowd by Steven Cohen, Maximum Entertainment by Ken Weber, and Absolute Magic by Derren Brown. But some of these seem to be more geared to stage magic (Weber), a particular style of magic (Brown), or for those with a professional career in magic. Are any of these worth considering instead, given the paramaters described in my initial post? If so, which one, and why? Or is it worth the extra trouble and expense to get the book by Ortiz?
Darwin Ortiz
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I just thought I would let everyone know that Strong Magic is available directly from me, autographed upon request. If anyone is interested in ordering, send me a PM.

Sincerely,
Darwin Ortiz
Brad Burt
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If you were to read one book on presentation Strong Magic would have to be that book. I can't recommend enough. I remember reading it and finding myself at odds with a lot of the things that Darwin had to say, but I found myself having to REALLY think about the 'why' of my disagreements. Don't get me wrong...I AGREED with a lot of his material also, but it was the places that I didn't agree that provoked thought and then growth. It's a wonderful book that is very clearly written. That clarity leaves one in no doubt as to what Mr. Ortiz is saying and because of that you can interact with the material in a manner that forces you to think about what is being said.

It's a terrific experience. Don't have it? Get it. Take your time reading it. Write notes in the margins and use those little sticky tab thingies to mark spots that you want to come back to. Buy a bright yellow outliner marker. Now, you know why I don't have any books that are particularly collectable! All best,
Brad Burt
Jaz
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I totally agree with Brad.
sethb
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To answer Topov's question, if there was one book on presentation to get besides "Strong Magic," I'd get (and did get) "The Vernon Touch," which is a reprint of Dai Vernon's monthly columns in Genii Magazine. The columns just run chronologically from 1968 to 1990, and Vernon just says whatever comes into his head -- but I guarantee there are PLENTY of golden nuggets to be mined here. If you're interested, the $70 book can be ordered directly (and only) from Genii, click HERE for more info.

I have read "Our Magic," which I found turgid and boring (sorry, y'all), and "Magic & Showmanship," which I didn't think was particularly helpful. "Maximum Entertainment" was good but nowhere near as good as "Strong Magic." So I still vote for "Strong Magic," and I'd recommend taking up Darwin's gracious offer to autograph the book ASAP. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Yannou
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Oh man, I already have 'Strong Magic', now I'm tempted to buy another copy just for the autograph! And I also strongly recommend it. If you want to change from a magician that's like the dreaded uncle who does the same stupid cardtricks at every familymeeting to a magician that people actually like to watch, if you want to change your tricks from mere stunts to real magic, you really, really should read it. It's a big book, a lot to read, but well worth your time.
And thank you Mr. Ortiz, for writing this book.
Brad Burt
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Besides Darwin Ortiz's brilliant Strong Magic there are two other books on presentation that I admire and have derived value from. The first is still easily available: Showmanship for Magicians by Dariel Fitzkee. Easily the most readable of the three titles making up his famous trilogy it also contains information that is essentially invaluable. Highly Recommended.

The second is a 'little' hardbound volume by John Mendoza called "Close-up Presentation". This small 107 page book is crammed with valuable information for the close-up performer including a wonderful section in which Mr. Mendoza explains how he puts routines together. The book is exceedingly RARE! I just checked and there is one copy on Alibris, the online used book dealer for $45.00.

One of the only books that I never liked was Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms. My problem with the book is that it puts forth it's 'way' of magical presentation as the ONLY way that magic should be presented! It really does. That's fine, but my manner of presentation is 180 degrees from that! What Mr. Nelms wants you to do is fine, just fine. I have no trouble with it, but it's not the only manner in which magic can be presented successfully.

All the books on presentation are offered from the perspective of the authors own success with the methods that they explicate. That's why it's a good thing to read more than one book and really consider what is being offered via the filter of your own experience whether that experience is good OR bad.

The best way of explaining the "process" of becoming a magician that I have used for years with students is this: Think of it kind of like writing a computer program. You write the basic program and then you debug the program. You test the program and find that something doesn't work. You look closely at what you have done and attempt to find a way to solve the problem. You make an adjustment and try again. Again, a problem pops up, but not as bad...maybe even worse. You make and adjustment and so forth until you end up with a workable, entertaining piece of magic.

This process can be a hassle. But, there are not real shortcuts. I remember when I was attempting to teach myself Peter Rabbit! It was the 'steal' of the baby bunnies that caused me no end of trouble. But, I kept adjusting until I finally figured out the exact time to make the steal! From there I distilled out for myself basic rules for 'sneaking' stuff that I could apply laterally to other magic routines if needed. But, it took me a while to work it all out. Same thing for my standing surrounded steals of the Final Loads in Chop Cup. It is anti-intuitive to think that the best place for the spectators to be is in fact right up on top of you if working surrounded!!! Yet, that is exactly where you want them.

Reading all these various books on presentation will give you a wider scope to work from. You'll take some from here and some from there and in the end you'll have your own distinctive manner of working. Cool. Best,
Brad Burt
gaddy
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Even the best book won't teach you how to perform...

Go out and perform as much as you can, and don't be afraid to fail.

You will learn so much more by taking a trick and performing it for as much time as another magician spends the time reading a book on the subject of magic.

One can also take an improv class at your local comedy club or junior college.

Either of these two options will be infinitely more profitable to a magician looking to improve his/her showmanship.

I know I'll hear a lot of "Yes, but..." to this, and I am sure you are correct, for you. For me, I'd rather just script out my routines and perform them as much as I can.

Good luck with your magic!
Gaddy
*due to the editorial policies here, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
Brad Burt
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Gaddy:

I TOTALLY agree! There is no question, but that if you perform a lot you will get better at it. Both my answers above were in the context of the original question and frankly, at least for me, I assumed that the 'reading' part was the addendum to performing.

The only reason that I could have ANY opinion on what I agreed with or didn't agree with in Strong Magic is that by the time I read the book I had already had 20 years of performing behind me.

So you make a GREAT point: Reading books of theory, etc. is fine, but you need some greater context in which to put what you read into practice and that context IS performing.

I have always loved the theory work of Eugene Burger. I love to watch Eugene perform. But, if I tried to do exactly what Eugene does it just wouldn't work for me. Like what Eugene Burger does? Read Magic and Showmanship by Henning Nelms. If you want to see how I work....check out any video of John Mendoza or ferret out a copy of his book Close-up Presentation.

No matter what style you work in the ONLY real way to get good is to:

1- PRACTICE your technique

2- REHEARSE your routine EXACTLY as you plan on presenting them.

3- PERFORM as much as you possibly can and take NOTES on what went Right and what went Wrong.....etc.

Go forth and befuddle,
Brad Burt
EndersGame
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Some excellent comments, thank you! In another thread I suggested that Strong Magic (teaching the essentials of presentation and performance) might be an excellent supplement to Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic (teaching the essentials of technique and tricks).

However, to what extent is it true that Strong Magic requires some knowledge of magic effects, methods and techniques, and so might not be appropriate for beginners or amateurs? I'm interested to get some more comments on this point - what level or ability in magic is required for a magician to benefit from Darwin Ortiz' book?
gaddy
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Quote:
On 2008-02-23 15:51, Topov wrote:However, to what extent is it true that Strong Magic requires some knowledge of magic effects, methods and techniques, and so might not be appropriate for beginners or amateurs? I'm interested to get some more comments on this point - what level or ability in magic is required for a magician to benefit from Darwin Ortiz' book?


I'd say, as soon as you have a working repertoire of individual tricks that you'd like to hammer into shape, and polish into a "show" you would do well to refine your showamnship.

Don't get me wrong from the tone of my last post- reading is a Good Thing.

However, I have found (and I have also been guilty of...) a lot of times people sit around and "Blah Blah Blah" about magic- instead of just doing it(internet forums excluded, of course).

By all means- read the books! Just don't confuse reading a book with actually doing magic...


If you are asking these kind of questions about your magic tricks, you are probably ready to take your magic further by investing some serious time and thought into your presentation.

Again, I suggest performing and acting classes as your best value for your time and money.
*due to the editorial policies here, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
Hoppini, the Mediocre
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I've had the chance now to browse through the book, and I'd venture to say that, although there are some principles there that might be good for the beginner to keep in mind, its primarily for experienced magicians. I'm not sorry I bought it, because now I'll have it for when I need it....but I don't think I'm ready to take all of his teaching into account. I'm a rookie just working his way through Mark Wilson's course (with a side order of Tarbell) Ortiz is way over my head. For someone just working their way through Wilson's basics, handing them Strong Magic is almost akin to handing a college text to a gradeshooler. (both in its tone and its content)

Not only that, but most of his references are to card magic. In explaining many of his principles, he gives tricks by name, assuming you already know what the effect is. I only know 2 card tricks, both of which I learned when I was 10, so a lot of his refeences go over my head.

This is in no way an idictment of Ortiz's work. It simply is not for the beginner. I have one called The Complete Magician by Marvin Kaye that would probably be a better choice to get a beginner thinking about showmanship. Ortiz can come later.
Andy the cardician
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You might be right . . . if you read it without some thinking beforehand, you might miss a lot
Cards never lie
Trekdad
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I'm a beginner and an amateur who performs close-up and some parlor whenever I can. I've been reading Strong Magic, but haven't finished it yet. Darwin's thoughts and lessons apply to much more than the card magic which he uses as examples and which forms his experience. I urge every beginner to study this text.

Another source which has been very helpful to me is Eugene Burger. Afraid I'm probably not qualified to offer an opinion on the original query -- "What single (non-trick) book about presentation should they read" -- but Burger's thoughts in "Intimate Power" and "Secrets and Mysteries for The Close-Up Entertainer" have been very helpful to me as it relates to effective presentation and performing.
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marty.sasaki
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I find myself in the position that thinking that performance and showmanship should be looked at from the very beginning. It's easy to want to learn new tricks or sleights, but you can perform miracles with just a little technical ability. A master can take something very simple and basic and turn it into a miracle.

Not a single book, and if I was stuck on a desert island with only one book, I probably wouldn't choose any of these, but I've learned a lot from "The Books of Wonder". There are effects in the books, but lots of things to learn about performance and such. I've also enjoyed "The Secret Art of Magic". Both parts of the book give insight on performing magic.
Marty Sasaki
Arlington, Massachusetts, USA

Standard disclaimer: I'm just a hobbyist who enjoys occasionally mystifying friends and family, so my opinions should be viewed with this in mind.
gaddy
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I couldn't agree more, Marty.
*due to the editorial policies here, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
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