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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » A magician fooler?! Does it really matter? (16 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Nicolo Maserati
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Before I start, this is only my opinion, I know I haven't been super active on the Café but I have been practicing magic and mentalism for the last 21 years, so take this for what you think it's worth.

We (performers) are the only ones obsessed with method. We are so focused on creating a holy grail method for acaan or a mind reading plot without having anything written down, no books, no anything that we lose touch with connecting with lay people. Acaan where I psychologically force the 7 of hearts and b****m d**l at their number with some false shuffles prior is the exact same effect to a lay person as the "holy grail" it makes no difference to them.

I think our big obsession isn't about fooling lay people. We want to fool other magicians because for some reason that fuels our ego. Who really cares if an effect fools another magician? Well, more people than not it seems like. So many descriptions for effects for sale seem to always include "Magician fooler!!!!" And that gets us all giddy inside. Who cares?!

If an effect is presented correctly and is reframed, the spectator will not know the difference. They will go away from the effect thinking, "I thought of a friends name, he read my mind and told me". The ways of getting that information during the effect have no meaning, because you give it no meaning. The fact that the spectator rights a name down on a business card, should have no meaning to them. They shouldn't remember it because it's not important.

I would love to hear other peoples opinions on this. I get that we want to fool other magicians but in my opinion, it's not why we got into this.

Thanks friends!

- NM
funsway
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An extension of what you are saying is that many performers ignore simple, straight forward methods and presentation themes because they are pricy, new, by a certain author or use a a certain 'in' language.

All this why the audience probably cannot care less -- especially those coming to see a demonstration of paranormal abilities - often pretended at by a Mentalist.
I feel (from 60+ years of performing) that these folks already believe, accept and have experience with paranormal experience of some sort.
They want validation, not just an entertaining evening or learn 10 ways of opening an envelope.

For conjuring type performance it is a bit different as to expectation. They come to have an experience of magic that is real at that moment. It doesn't matter that they know trickery and guile
is involved. Some may even want hope that a person can be more that they are right now. They enjoy and savor the astonishment and awe&wonder experience.

The question for each is always, "What is the story told after?" Not your survey at the door or applause meter or review from other magicians or mentalists or spousal comments.

Ten years from now? 20? 30? when you meet a person at a party and they mention seeing you perform back when. What will they say to the others gathered around?

It will not be about your props. It will not be about "being fooled." It will probably be about something you never did at all! Something that happened in their mind because of what you offered.

I have only had one magician come up to me after 30 years and comment on a performance. "I had a fender-bender that night arguing with a friend about how you did that final coins across sequence."
He acted like I owed him something.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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Mindpro
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Quote:
On Aug 31, 2020, Nicolo Maserati wrote:
We (performers) are the only ones obsessed with method.

I think our big obsession isn't about fooling lay people. We want to fool other magicians because for some reason that fuels our ego. Who really cares if an effect fools another magician?

- NM


Truer words have never been spoken! This is definitely magician's thinking and mentalities. As someone who works with all types of performers, I have never understood this about magicians. It is the whole "fooling" thing at it's best, combined with the whole "ego" thing you hit on the head as well.

Here's the reality for anyone who sincerely wants to understand. In business, thinking from the customer's position, mentalities, needs, and perspectives is one of the greatest keys to success.

This should also be true for the performer. When you understand it is not about you, the magician, other magicians, the methods (only a concern to you and other magicians), or fooling anyone, and realize it is about thinking and executing from the clients' perspective (both the audience and the booker), only then will you be able to move beyond this great pitfall of typical magicians and operate as an actual entertainer.

Ego should not come into the equation at all. Confidence in all aspects without ego should prevail.

This is why performing for magicians can be so damaging as it changes the dynamics. The magic industry feeds into this and helps propel this with conventions, and lecture-performances and such that is based upon, encourages, and presents such situations and mentalities. How many magicians proudly boast about awards that are nothing more than from peer events and rewards.

As I tell my coaching students in the foundational level are you a hobbyist or amateur just interested in getting the praise of peers (as we see so much on these forums-posters just seeking support in their views or mechanics, rather than an interest in truly learning industry understanding and perspectives) or actually performing in the real world for real audiences? The approach, mindsets, and positioning dynamics are quite different.
Greg Arce
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Absolutely agree. You could have two guys go up to any one spectator.... one guy does the most impossible ACAAN... something that would fool David Berglas and have many drooling to know how it was done. The next guys does the basic sponge ball routine and when the ball appears in the spectator's hand... well, guess which effect the spectator will talk about to their friends.

And for those that say "that's apples and oranges" then take the same guy with his impossible ACAAN then the next guy does Dr. Daley's Aces where the cards suddenly switch while the spectator is holding them. Once again, guess which one the spectator will talk about.

Greg
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Djin
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It's human nature to be competitive. We are humans. We want, on a visceral level to be "better" than our competitors.

Saying that an effect is a "magician fooler" is saying that the effect is better than the competition. It tricks the tricksters. It's a salesman's appeal to our inner primate. It's the mystery performance version of "beat up the bully and walk away arm in arm with the pretty girl."
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Aug 31, 2020, Nicolo Maserati wrote:
We (performers) are the only ones obsessed with method.


lol... Not so fast. I think this changes a lot between amateur and professional ranks. I consider myself a professional. I don't do contests. I don't try and fool magicians. They are not my market nor do they pay my bills. Now, that being said... if you make a living lecturing and creating magic, then magicians ARE your market and that's a very different thing. Yes, you are appealing to their ego as your market frequently hang out with other magicians and want to fool "the guys at the ring meeting" more than anything.

It just depends on your goals. Mine are to completely fry each and every lay audience I come into contact with. Nothing more. I start with the effect that I want to create, then come up with the most elegant method that will consistently serve my needs. In general... If the method is more interesting then the effect, I've made some bad choices.
Ray Pierce
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Demitri
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I agree with all of the sentiments expressed above. I try to approach all performances solely from the perspective of my audience. I want them to laugh, have fun, be astonished - just enjoy the show. In my experience (and this is not all cases, but a good deal) the “magician fooled” effects too often drown in method and process. Many times, the notion of entertainment goes right out the window. As such, while there are definitely amazing magician fooling effects that play well for all, I always strive to achieve the most Powerful, direct effect that I can - and let that dictate my methods I employ.

That’s not to say I don’t love when I know I’ve totally fooled another magician or mentalist! LOL I don’t think it comes from a place of ego, per se - but who knows? I’m confident enough in my knowledge and skill to know I can fool a lay audience - so that helps me to focus more or engaging and entertaining. So, I guess, when it comes to fooling a magician/mentalist, it could be that idea that “ooh, I know something he doesn’t”. Not something to flaunt, but it’s a nice private feather in the cap!

Speaking to the idea that Greg Arce put forth - it’s all about how memorable you were. One particular performance that rings out to me was when I first saw Francis Menotti perform in NY. I had already studied some of his work, and knew the methods. But seeing him perform it, in front of a regular audience, was just amazing. He just absolutely killed. The crowd loved him. And the simple fact that he had the confidence to just lay there, “Dead” on the stage until someone pulled him off and intermission started - earned him a massive ovation. It was a master lass, in my opinion.

Another thing that stood out from that same performance... Afterwards, another magician asked what I thought, After I said how much I loved it - his response was “I knew how he did most of the tricks. He seems like he only has tricks that fool regular people”.

Blew my mind. Never before, and never since have I spoken to a performer (and yes... he spoke, at length, about how he was a working Pro) who actually looked down upon “magic just for laymen”
Mark_Chandaue
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I think the goal should be to entertain rather than fool. Sure to be entertaining the effects must be deceptive. However magicians are far easier to fool than laymen because you can use their own knowledge against them. For example false shuffle a one way deck and you have already got the magicians assuming it is a stack. You don’t need to false shuffle a one way deck.

Sometimes in make an effect deceptive for laymen you get the added bonus of fooling magicians. I fooled a room full of mentalists at my minds lecture, and an even bigger room full of magicians at my LADS lecture with Toxic. However the extra layer that fooled them was added to make the routing more deceptive for laymen and safer for the performer. Fooling magicians was simply an added side-effect although a nice one in the context of a lecture.

As a magician, I used the odd magician fooler in conventions for magicians for the fun of it but my working repertoire has always been geared towards entertaining laymen rather than fooling anyone. The ‘fooling’ component is purely about the method being deceptive enough to not negate the entertainment value.

Mark
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Sudo Nimh
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I don't necessarily disagree with any of the posts here, but I think that a person who produces material for others understands that many of those who purchase it are not working professionals; they're typically hobbyists or serious amateurs who enjoy "putting one over" on their magician friends or family members who may have some knowledge about how things work. The idea that something is a "magician fooler" is enticing to many purchasers for this reason.

This isn't a new phenomenon; the market for mystery performers has been this way since its inception.
There is a road - no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go, no one may follow; that path is for your steps alone.
John C
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Quote:
On Aug 31, 2020, Greg Arce wrote:
Absolutely agree. You could have two guys go up to any one spectator.... one guy does the most impossible ACAAN... something that would fool David Berglas and have many drooling to know how it was done. The next guys does the basic sponge ball routine and when the ball appears in the spectator's hand... well, guess which effect the spectator will talk about to their friends.

And for those that say "that's apples and oranges" then take the same guy with his impossible ACAAN then the next guy does Dr. Daley's Aces where the cards suddenly switch while the spectator is holding them. Once again, guess which one the spectator will talk about.

Greg


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David Thiel
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I'm not being snide when I say this...just factual. I couldn't possibly care less about fooling other magicians (or mentalists for that matter). They don't pay me. Audiences do. (Well they DID until earlier this year.)

Here's an illustration: I'd been into magic for about three years and was just in the process of turning pro. It was early 1990 and I was at my first magic convention. I was in awe of those guys...and I had just picked up a stage size version of the Invis*ble Deck. This prop is what got me into magic in the first place...and is an effect I still perform.

I was sitting and talking with another magician. His name started with a "W" -- and when I started talking about the prop I'd bought and how much the effect had impressed me, the guy actually SNIFFED and looked away. I wasn't sure if I'd violated some magician's code since I hadn't been a magician long. I asked him what I'd done wrong.

"Prop magic," said W...sniffing...again. "You're a new magician?"

I nodded. W nodded to himself as though confirming the suspicion that he was sitting with an idiot.

"It's only magic if you can do it with ANY deck of cards. YOU need to understand the method so perfectly that you can do it anywhere."

He passed a withering glance over my prized jumbo Invis Deck and I remember my face burning. I mean he talked like he knew what he was talking about.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this encounter in the years that followed.

It's magic if your spectators -- magician or non magicians -- are blown away by it. If they feel like they've brushed up against something that truly IS awesome? Job done.

But specifically going out and fooling other magicians? Nah.

David
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funsway
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Looking at his from a different angel, when you know you are performing for magicians,
I was new to the game back at my first magic convention in 1958 (PCAM Oakland). I watched all the contests and learned that the same panel of judges presided each year.
So, during breaks I managed to meet each of them and, in chatting, learned of their favorite magic effect.
The next year I performed in the junior contest and did every one of those effects, but with twist - deliberately playing a "garden path" game with them.

I did not win, but received a spontaneous Originality Award together with a donated magic item - a 1925 Spirit Bell that I still have.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



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dyoung
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Magic should be deceptive regardless of you you perform for... that's the whole point, isn't it? And some people don't do gigs, their primary audience is perhaps the "boys" at the club. So its only natural to want to fool them as well.

I've never understood the argument "its not about fooling magicians, I only care about fooling lay people because they pay my bills". They are two different and separate things. I learn effects for all situations, because I love it. For example, I can do lots of poker themed effects, but I would never do them to someone who knows nothing about the game, they couldn't care less that I can riffle stack the cards for a ten handed game with one shuffle Smile

So I think its a matter of personal taste, if you don't particularly care for fooling magicians, then fine, but don't slam someone for wanting to. Im not saying anyone here is "slamming" anyone, but it does happen often enough. Its typically the same people that say that you're not a real magician unless you perform, or sentiments of that nature.

All the best,
Dan
Sudo Nimh
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Quote:
On Sep 3, 2020, dyoung wrote:
Magic should be deceptive regardless of you you perform for... that's the whole point, isn't it?


Precisely! I couldn't agree more.
There is a road - no simple highway, between the dawn and the dark of night. And if you go, no one may follow; that path is for your steps alone.
ixnay66
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I remember Johnny Ace Palmer telling me a story of when someone picked a card and it was lost in the deck. Johnny turns over the top card and shows it's not the selection. Turns it face down and puts it on the table. Asks the spectator her card then points to the face down card and snaps and says "Turn it over."

We all know how he does this and how simple it is to us, right? The spectator freaked out. He was just explaining how strong the most basic things are to a laymen and it's easy for hobbyists to forget this. Fooling magicians IS fun but you can destroy a layman and make a living in magic with just a few sleights.
Nicolo Maserati
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Great responses here! Everyone makes a really good point!

I guess my thoughts on this is, everyone is looking for the "holy grail" the perfect ACAAN or the perfect propless name divination. So many people are on the search for those things that they forget that simple methods work. People will pay hundreds for an almost "self working" booktest, when Chan Canasta could perform a book test with any book and it was mind blowing (and inexpensive)!

A lot have forgotten the basics or fundamentals because they're in the search of something more, for who?! Not for layman, they don't care about method. So who's it for?

I admit, it's fun to fool magicians but why would spend a ton of money on a method, just to fool a couple magician buddies when the effect is the same to a lay person with a folded up business card and a pen? That to me sounds foolish.

The magic industry is no different than any other industry. Just like the new iPhone comes out every six months, people want the latest and greatest. It's the same in this industry. Everyone wants the newest, prettiest and technologically advanced gimmicks and there are plenty of those who are happy to sell it to us.

I think part of me writing this post is that I'm noticing a lot of people are releasing material or new effects just for monetary gain, it's stopped being about the love of magic and more about making money. I know that when Corinda wrote 13 steps, he wasn't writing it to make a ton of money, he wrote it to contribute to the mentalism world and created one many consider as the "Bible" of mentalism. Not for money but for the love of the craft.
David Thiel
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You obviously spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff, Nicolo. I like the precision with which you composed your post.

Respectfully offered, here's something else to consider: What if it's not about the 'trick' at all? What if you took all the electronics and gimmicks away and left just the performer on stage? Would he still be able to work with an audience...still be able to get them out of their chairs at the end of the show applauding?

It's admittedly an extreme example. But here's my point: No mentalism show is about the effects. They are all about the MENTALIST. The performer -- and the ways he chooses to present his material, the nuances of what he says and doesn't say -- the way he shares ideas and introduces his effects.

I always look at ads that say "A REPUTATION MAKER" and "AN EASY TO PERFORM TRICK THAT WILL BLOW THEM AWAY! or "I LOVED THE TRICK SO MUCH IT WENT INTO MY SHOW THAT NIGHT!" and smile.

The thing all three of those patently absurd statements have in common is that they are all about the TRICK...the PROP...the TECHNIQUE. You will never build a true reputation for yourself using someone else's creation. I mean...if the 'trick' suddenly disappears with a resounding POOF! does the reputation disappear too? If so...it was never about the performer in the first place. Just the trick he performed. Not him.

What one effect is Max Maven known for? How about Osterlind? Banachek? Think about it: they are all three well known performers...but did any of them have a "Reputation Maker?" Nope. They present themselves...and created their reputations out of that.

Finally I would respectfully disagree with your last paragraph. While there is certainly a great steaming pile of ill considered crap available right now, there is also some outstanding work.

There are a lot of people releasing material they truly care about.

Anyone writing a mentalism book today in the expectation of making a pile of cash is misinformed. It very rarely happens because the mentalism market is already tiny. If you write a book and offer it for free people line up to get a copy. But selling it? That's a different story. Every aspect: the writing, editing, rewriting and marketing is hard work.

That's why no one I know who is writing a book today expects to get rich from it. There is, obviously, a monetary component -- but when you compare the money you make as you write, edit, rewrite and sell a book these days against the money you make in just one corporate show? No contest.

I write because I'm coming to the latter part of my life and I really want to leave something meaningful in the community that will outlive me. And I really want to make a contribution to an art I genuinely love. Is it Corinda? Nope. But nothing is.

As I said: Just a few things to consider.

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


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Tom Cutts
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If you are using the word “magician” in a missive about mentalism, you have already lost me.
Nicolo Maserati
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Quote:
On Sep 4, 2020, David Thiel wrote:
You obviously spend a lot of time thinking about this stuff, Nicolo. I like the precision with which you composed your post.

Respectfully offered, here's something else to consider: What if it's not about the 'trick' at all? What if you took all the electronics and gimmicks away and left just the performer on stage? Would he still be able to work with an audience...still be able to get them out of their chairs at the end of the show applauding?

It's admittedly an extreme example. But here's my point: No mentalism show is about the effects. They are all about the MENTALIST. The performer -- and the ways he chooses to present his material, the nuances of what he says and doesn't say -- the way he shares ideas and introduces his effects.

I always look at ads that say "A REPUTATION MAKER" and "AN EASY TO PERFORM TRICK THAT WILL BLOW THEM AWAY! or "I LOVED THE TRICK SO MUCH IT WENT INTO MY SHOW THAT NIGHT!" and smile.

The thing all three of those patently absurd statements have in common is that they are all about the TRICK...the PROP...the TECHNIQUE. You will never build a true reputation for yourself using someone else's creation. I mean...if the 'trick' suddenly disappears with a resounding POOF! does the reputation disappear too? If so...it was never about the performer in the first place. Just the trick he performed. Not him.

What one effect is Max Maven known for? How about Osterlind? Banachek? Think about it: they are all three well known performers...but did any of them have a "Reputation Maker?" Nope. They present themselves...and created their reputations out of that.

Finally I would respectfully disagree with your last paragraph. While there is certainly a great steaming pile of ill considered crap available right now, there is also some outstanding work.

There are a lot of people releasing material they truly care about.

Anyone writing a mentalism book today in the expectation of making a pile of cash is misinformed. It very rarely happens because the mentalism market is already tiny. If you write a book and offer it for free people line up to get a copy. But selling it? That's a different story. Every aspect: the writing, editing, rewriting and marketing is hard work.

That's why no one I know who is writing a book today expects to get rich from it. There is, obviously, a monetary component -- but when you compare the money you make as you write, edit, rewrite and sell a book these days against the money you make in just one corporate show? No contest.

I write because I'm coming to the latter part of my life and I really want to leave something meaningful in the community that will outlive me. And I really want to make a contribution to an art I genuinely love. Is it Corinda? Nope. But nothing is.

As I said: Just a few things to consider.

David


Very well put David! I do agree with you! It's about the performers, not the effect.

As far as the last paragraph in my last post, I definitely did not mean all people putting out material nowadays, just some. It's very common for people to put stuff out, just to put stuff out but there are still many great minds putting out some tremendous stuff currently. I apologize if I gave the impression that I meant all.

Thank you so much for your input though. I'm really glad this post sparked good conversation.
Nicolo Maserati
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Quote:
On Sep 4, 2020, Tom Cutts wrote:
If you are using the word “magician” in a missive about mentalism, you have already lost me.


My apologies, I mean it in the most general sense. Maybe "performer" would have been more appropriate.
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