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David P
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Boston via Michigan
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Profile of David P
I'm slowly transitioning from the "BUY IT ALL, GO NUTS" stage. I have that drawer full of unused stuff which I consider an investment, not a waste. I'm now purchasing books and dvd's rather than single effects. It has been a two year education to get to this point. I m beginning to get a sense of what kind of audience I want and the kind of character I am capable of playing. I'm looking forward to the next two years. This forum is an endless source of information and wonderful entertainment. I have SAM and IBM in my area and intend to join one of these soon.
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Profile of BrianMillerMagic
Since we seem to be tallying the pros who advocate the "But it all, go nuts!" phase against those who don't, I will cast my vote: But it all, go nuts! In order to find out what kind of magic you want to hone in on, WAY before you can even think about character development, you have to experiment with a vast variety of kinds of tricks. So if you see a trick, DVD, book, etc that catches your eye and you think, 'woah!', then unless it will break you at the bank, get it!!!

As a few others have stated in this thread, the idea that all those thousands of dollars of tricks in a drawer were a "waste" can only come from having gone through it and moved past it. It is a stage you must go through if you are going to discover what kind of magic you want to do and what kind of a magician you want to be.

When going nuts, just be careful to read reviews and make comparisons. It is easy to accidentally buy 12 of the same thing because one trick has been marketed in 12 different ways. Utilize the Café, magic magazines, the opinion of those magicians whom you respect and trust, etc in order to avoid getting ripped off.

But definitely go nuts.
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Profile of rottenmagic
When I first started, I had no idea what to learn or buy. I actually started with the 21 card trick. As I progressed, I started to see what kinds of things really fit for me. A lot of stuff has fallen by the wayside. Eventually, the more you progress, this will happen to you.

As for knowing what to buy. Check the review section of the magic Café, or my favorite trick review site " my lovely assistant". They have really good reviews, and some of the reviewers are big name pros.
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Profile of AGMagic
Two simple suggestions:

1. Find a brick & mortar magic shop if you can. Once you establish yourself as a customer and a magician, they will usually be more open with the secrets. They can also suggest effects that will work for you, once they get to know you.

2. Buy books instead of or in addition to tricks. A $40.00 book will provide you with many tricks , not just one. Also, books are usually a better value than DVDs and they make you use your imagination, not just copy the recorded performance.
Tim Silver - http://www.facebook.com/pages/Magic-Woodshop/122578214436546

I know you believe you understand what you think I said, but I am not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

Visualize Whirled Peas!
Harry Lorayne
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Ddeckmann: Wow! Wait till you discover Harry Lorayne. Wow!

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Profile of Aus
I think the over load of information starts to come in perspective over time. I was lucky in the sense that I was very isolated magic wise with no magic shops or magicians in my immediat aera and had to make do with magic books in main stream bookshops and lybarys.

I think many people find the secretive side of magic very mysterious and alluring, and many people feel there is some sort of prestige in knowing things that others don't. I know that's how I felt early in magic to a dagree.

But it's not after you've had your fill of secrets and begin to know the real reason why magicians keep secrets that the novilty of that starts to wear off and you start to look for other reasons to learn certain things. Have a look at my sticky topic in this section on Buying Magic (A How-to Guide)and you'll see some of the things I look for in magic if it's to get my attention.

Once you get to this stage I feel that you'll become less concerned with how much magic there is in the community and be more concerned with whats the best for you.


Bob Sanders
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Magic Valley Ranch, Clanton, Alabama
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Profile of Bob Sanders
Buy used magic when you can from another magician who has used it. There are many advantages. Price may or may not be an advantage. Often you will save money. You have the opportunity to discuss "Why is this trick for sale?" You get to see what it actually looks like and see what size it really is. You can acquire great tricks that are no longer available or no longer available of the same quality. (Quality rarely is improved in a knock off.) You can get hands-on instruction. And something priceless is getting fed ideas for using the prop in ways never mentioned in sales literature.

Where are these deals available? Magic club swap meets, conventions, some lectures.

Or come to a Magic Flea Market!


Admission and participation is free. It is only open to magicians and their guests. This one is 9/11/2010.

Questions? MagicValleyRanch@MagicValleyMagic.com

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

Magic By Sander / The Amazed Wiz

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Profile of oOMagiiCOo
I would start by buying the Card College series. That would be a good foundation for card magic.
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Profile of 55Hudson
On 2010-04-25 13:07, dsalley13 wrote:
Buy a set of cups and balls (or a chop cup), make or buy a wand, buy some appropriate books for learning C&B work (and general Magic) with and spend a year learning primarily that. Every once in awhile, treat yourself to a new trick, but study the C&B daily. Do the moves until they become automatic and you learn how to script them.

You will gain so much from the cups. All of Magic seems to start there, from simple misdirection to complex sleight of hand. They help you hone your audience skills too.


Agree 100%. After many years of playing around with magic, I picked up M. Ammar's C&B DVDs and a set of C&B's. In one month I learned more about magic than I had in the past 10 year! All the core elements of magic are required for a C&B routine -- after some time with that you will evolve as you find different fields (or they find you!) to explore.

It is easy to spend a significant amount of money on different tricks. After learning Cups and Balls, I suggest you read books on different fields of magic. There are many posts here regarding those books (see the books for new to magic thread). Cost of the books are cheap and you'll get a feel for that field without great expense.

Good luck!

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Profile of rklew64
Hi Hudson,
I have to say I'm more fascinated how C&B escaped you for 10 years whether as a hobbyist and more so if as a pro!
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Profile of 55Hudson

Didn’t see that question coming! Okay, here goes the history -- when our kids were little, I decided to do a magic show for their birthday parties. Went to the local shop and loaded up on tricks that could be learned in a few practice sessions (or so I thought) and then went on to do two birthday parties per year for the next 10 years.

Then nothing but a card trick or coin vanish at parties for the following 10 years. Two years ago started playing around a bit and my son gave me a couple of DVD’s for Christmas. Got me motivated and started reading up on magic history and quickly learned that C&B was one of the fundamentals. Saw Dai Vernon’s routine on YouTube -- now here I am hooked!

I am far from a professional, but I am a perfectionist ... so with time on my hands, I find myself spending several hours per week after work practicing the craft. Since I don’t need to be commercial and only need to follow my own interests, I’ve chosen to focus on the classics like cups and balls.

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Profile of sieler

When I was starting, my teacher told me something that I still think about:

A professional does the same tricks for different audiences.
An amateur does different tricks for the same audiences.

(I've since seen that attributed (by John LeBlanc) to Al Goshman.)

And, he told me a story about David Devant (one of the most famous stage magicians, google him):

[...] when confronted by a boastful magician who claimed he knew hundreds of tricks,
Devant gently replied that he knew only a few dozen, but he was able to perform them very well.

(Different sources tell that story slightly differently, including Jim Steinmeyer's "Hiding the Elephant",
page 161.)

And, on performing...

The hardest thing you're going to do as a magician is your first performance for total strangers.
My teacher pointed me towards a table in a restaurant we were eating in, and said: see them?
Go do some magic for them.

So, I'll echo an earlier post: decide who you want your audience to be. If it's not just family/friends,
then you'll want to get out and perform as much as possible to get the experience.

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Profile of rklew64
Thanks Hudson for the background. That's great!
I am a hobbyist and my wife just shakes her head when I holding a box from USPS, UPS or FedEx.
Your spot on about C&B, it does carry many elements and principles of magic. I also enjoy the chop cup and dang find myself collecting those darn cups as well as combo sets of C&B.
Welcome to the club!
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Profile of 55Hudson

Thanks -- I get the text when I'm at work: "It's Christmas again" -- code for another package with a new book, DVD or set of cups! Yes, gets a little crazy sometime but do enjoy the cups -- such a fundamental set of tools, 3 cups, 3 balls and a wand, to create such beautiful magic. Hard to explain to someone who hasn't tried it!

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Profile of magic_man_jim
C&B is defiantly one of the classics and can set the course for learning slight for your other routines.

Getting into the magic profession you sometimes feel like you are going down the wrong path. I have found myself in the past online looking for the next cool magic effete to come out. However over the years I have found that a different approach as nessacary.

Now I set and think of the routines! Instead of just the effects. I take my time and run through in my head what I want my routines to look like. I do both close up and parlor/stage acts. most of the time I just make up some ideas and the general theme I want to go for. Then I will either make or find (if nessacary I have a lot of stuff) some effects to make my routine possible.

All in all I would say the hardest thing for starting magicians to do is to stop thinking about just the effects and focus on your personality and the routines.
Magic is not to fool...but allows you to believe!

Jim Boothe
Mr. Mystoffelees
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To me, one of the most deflating things that can happen when one performs is to have a spec who knows how it is done. YouTube exposure, Masked Magician and countless others prey on popular tricks for their own personal gain, with no regard for the damage.

Therefore, I have developed a love for classics like C&B, linking rings, gaffless coin routines, etc. that you don't generally see exposed. Also, I have noticed that few of the pearls hiding in books (especially if they have escaped the DVD "version" syndrome) ever make their way to the exposure slaughter-house floor.

My attitude is why spend money and practice time on an effect that is heavily exposed? There is so much good magic out there that takes some effort to read, or is otherwise not easy pickings for the spoilers of our society...

Also known, when doing rope magic, as "Cordini"
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Profile of MaxfieldsMagic
If you acquire even a very modest collection of magic literature, DVDs or packaged tricks, you'll probably soon wind up with more good material than you can digest or work on at any one time. I deal with that by separating "research and education" time from practice time. For me, research and education is open-ended, and can be any activity that broadens awareness, whether reading books, watching videos, playing with a new effect, seeing a show, or even surfing comments on this site. While research and education is an expansive activity, practice requires an intentional narrowing of interest and attention.

Some folks say to work on one effect at a time, but I prefer to work on about six different types of effects, usually three per day on alternating days, both because of the law of diminishing returns regarding the amount you can improve at any particular skill in one day, and in order to sustain interest.

Personally, I'll only add something new to practice if something else drops off the list or goes into the "maintenance" category.

I find that there's no better way to focus the attention and light a fire under the posterior than having a deadline for putting together a particular type of performance. That gives practice a purpose and helps shut out the noise of competing interests.
Now appearing nightly in my basement.
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Profile of Cyberqat
I have to echo the brick and mortar sentiment IF you can find a really good one with knowledgeable staff. Don't look for the biggest or fanciest shop, if you can find one that actual performing magicians hang out in that's your OZ.

I owe my life long involvement with magic to Al Flosso and Flosso/Hornman's in New York. (Rest in Peace, Al.) Al had a nice mail order option, you could check a little box and if he was out of something you ordered (or just thought it was wrong for you, I suspect) it gave him permission to substitute. I was *never* disappointed with one of Al's substitutes.

When I started really performing, and could get into the city, I could go into F/H and just tell him what sort of hole in my routine I was trying to fill and he'd come up with a genius suggestion. I still have and occasionally perform most of the things I got from him. Very often serious professionals would hang around that store, and I'd pick up great performance tips for free.

Years later, when Jackie (his son) had taken over, I stopped in and told Jackie I was looking for a "business man's trick" I could carry in my wallet and he sold me a little 4-king card prediction packet trick that I STILL carry everywhere.

Alas, Flosso/Hornman is gone. But if you can find a shop like that for your area, then that's absolutely what I'd do.

If not, I'd suggest maybe you try to find a local Sam or IBM chapter and get advice from the more experienced folks in your area. (They also are likely to know where the best shops in your area are.)
It is always darkest just before you are eaten by a grue.
Douglas Lippert
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On 2010-04-25 11:42, 2new2magic wrote:
The sheer number of tricks is so overwhelming that I have to ask....How do the pros do it? There are literally thousands of effects from thousands of magicians....How should I choose what to work on and indeed how should I choose what to even look into? It seems that even when asking about a single effect (copper coin to silver) there are hundreds of different variations!! Scary!!!

I wonder why you seem so frustrated instead of elated at this predicament. When I first started magic and realized there were so many good tricks I was like a fat kid in a candy store. Pure heaven..
Douglas Lippert
Former I.B.M. Ring #8 Secretary
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