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Ultra Move
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Hello...

This is the very first time I post to this forum. In fact, this is the very first time I post to ANY magic forum.

I do this for a reason, and I will try to explain why. Fact is, this will be a relatively long post and, depending upon the responses it generates, perhaps my last.

I have read, with a good deal of interest, Magic Café for some time now.

The statements I will make should be prefaced by my saying that I have been involved in magic for over thirty years. For the last eight, it has been my overwhelmingly principal source of a living. I do, in fact, have other sources of income, but I could happily cease those activities and live well as a result of my ‘magic’ work. I am sufficiently greedy, I suppose, that I would like to continue making as much as I can for a while longer.

I have chosen to remain relatively anonymous for the same reason that I have chosen to be a ‘lurker’ in the past: It is not my wont to air my views to those I consider fellows.

I am a card man, and nothing more. I do cards, and only cards. I am not David Copperfield [I don’t want to be], and I am not René Lavand [I only wish I were]. I have performed mostly in Europe and Asia, but have successfully managed to eat for the past three years in the US.

I consider myself a layman’s magician, and not a ‘magician’s magician’. Quite frankly, I consider that an enormously exalted opinion to have of oneself. To a certain extent, I’m not sure that I understand the point of it, if making a living is one’s aim.

I apologize for this extended CV, so to speak, but I want to establish that I have reasoning behind my opinions, if they are of any validity.

So, although I could go on about any number of issues for an interminable period, I have just one question which I fail to find a satisfactory answer for.

I have read here, amongst table magicians again and again, that you should not start with, or not do too many card ‘tricks’. After over thirty years of little more than cards, I cannot find a justifiable logic for this statement.

And I wonder why. Why? Is it really that people are sick of ‘pick a card’? If so, why would you do pick a card tricks, when there are infinite possibilities with a deck of cards, so many of which don’t involve the spectator picking?

I am lost as to this. I am lost as to many things I read here. I am in no way criticising the participants in this forum. I admire the fact that your dedication to your art extends beyond your own rapacious needs. Nonetheless, I am at a sincere loss as to some of the opinions expressed here.

I wish you all the very best, and ask only that you not destroy things that took their creators many hours, if not years to conceive and perfect. Practice, and reap the benefits of a job well done.
Mediocre the Great
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Rich Hurley
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If All cards work for you that's great! This is a perfect example of how a "conventional wisdom answer" may not fit everyone's personal style.
Mediocrity is greatly under rated!
--------------------------------------------

Rich Hurley aka Mediocre The Great!
www.RichHurleyMagic.com
Ultra Move
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Hello Mr. Hurley,

I appreciate your taking the time to respond. I wonder, though. Why? Why is this conventional wisdom?

It would seem to me that 'conventionally' something not working is more a reflection on the performer, than on the material.

I am missing why this seems to be such an issue in this particular area of Magic Café.

Again...Many thanks.
redstreak
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A.K.A David Kong
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I have been thinking about this too. I don't see anything wrong about doing a card trick as an opener. Maybe there's somthing I'm missing...
Larry Davidson
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The reason I've seen espoused, with which I disagree by the way, is that everyone either knows a bad card trick or had an uncle who performed a bad card trick, and laymen will pre-judge a magician when the first thing he does is take out a deck of cards. Again, I disagree with that reasoning. Everyone has an uncle who awkwardly pulls a coin out of an ear, so why do these same magicians not argue against opening with a coin effect? I don't get it.

Larry D.
Ultra Move
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Mr. Davidson,

I have read many of your postings with much interest. Thanks so much for your response.

I agree with your assessment...That logic, to me, seems non-sensical. It would follow then that if one restaurant serves diseased chicken, all restaurants do.

Perhaps the polemic I was hoping to incite was one of, "How can this be factual, unless it is a direct reflection on the performer?" My uncle or yours may, in fact, be the very worst card handler I have ever witnessed. But, to base your approach to a performace on their liability is to limit your own abilities. Such as I perceive it, at the very least.

Again, thanks for responding.
Michael Baker
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I often will approach a group (standing or seated) with a deck of cards in hand.

In a setting where people are interconnected and possibly know each other, a frequent opening line is, "I was just told that you might like this."

Most people are going to be interested if they think someone else liked something well enough to recommend it, and they actually feel flattered that that "whoever" thought of them.

In a restaurant, where people may not know each other, I just change the opening line a bit.

"Your waiter told me you might like to see this."

Then I launch directly into the card trick that I was intending to do. A self-imposed criteria however, is that the trick get quickly to the point. No long drawn out card routines until I have them eating out of my hand.

I am by no stretch of the imagination, a card magician. I -can- entertain people with a deck of cards, and therein may lie the difference. Although the magic is good, I still make sure it means something to the people I'm working for.

In the off chance that I get a weird look, or some kind of mockery ("Oh, it looks like we're going to see a -CARD TRICK!-"), I will take away their weapon by immediately dumping on bad card tricks.

"Oh, I know how you feel. If I had you pick a card and then I found it, you'd probably say ~So what? That's your job~."

"Little kids do that stuff, right? This is a little different."

...and then I proceed to have them pick a card and then I find it, and I do it a few more times; hopefully more amazing each time and they see that card tricks can be cool.

In this regard, I don't see where any other choice of opening props would serve any better.

I've found that most people respect cards, especially if you live within 200 miles of a casino. People have secret little fantasies about winning at the card table... and they look at these tricks as their brush with greatness.

"I'd never play cards with you!"

"You want to go to Vegas?"

"Do they let you in the casinos?"

I hear these things all the time. Most people think card tricks are cool... if they are entertaining.

Worse than this bad stereotype of no cards for openers, is when you hear that men like card tricks, but women don't. I've had women approach me, and remove a card from their purse... one that they signed and I used in a trick ten years earlier. Tell me that didn't mean something to them.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
Shane Wiker
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I do almost all card effects, and I don't see a problem with that. I know for a fact that my main strength is cards, and it is also what I love to do.
As Mr. Baker already said, many people know card tricks and when you start doing one, people think you are going to do some common thing they already know like the 21 Card Trick, or using a key card. Many times, as soon as I pull out a deck of cards, people say they know this one. However, when I finish my routine, people are amazed.
I don't think it's a bad idea to open with cards, it's just that many people think they know what they are in for, when they see a magician with a deck of cards, when really they have no idea what can be done with these 52 simple pieces of cardboard.
So if using only cards is what you like to do, then by all means, continue doing so. There is nothing wrong with that.

:)
Shane Wiker
Ultra Move
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Dear Mr. Baker,

I am flattered by your response as I was by the others. I have read many of your postings in the past, and they never fail to bring insight to the issue at hand.

Having said that, and given that my purpose in even attempting this exchange is to defend what I consider and art form, let me please say the following...

I have never felt it necessary to apologize for, or equivocate about doing a card 'trick'. I use those quotes because I sort of abhor that term.

Have I been asked if I do card 'tricks' or if I am magician when approaching a table? Of course. My response may seem presumptuous, but it has served me well for many years. I always respond, "I am here to entertain you. What you determine that entertainment to be is your choice. I only hope you will be entertained." And I do what I do.

You are right, especially here in the US, about the facination with gambling. I have had entire evenings of doing nothing but gambling effects for a group...And, although I have routined these over the years, it's not something I would consider a performance. This is, rather, an exhibition.

I suppose if I take any issue with what you say it is what seems to be an apologetic tone for doing what you do. It's not a card trick. It's a minor miracle. Be it with cards, or coins, or any other prop. My prop of choice being cards.

And, yes...I can tell you that I was recently in an airport in Germany when someone touched me on the shoulder. When I turned to her she looked at me and said, "You read my mind five years ago." Quite frankly, I had no idea what she was talking about. She produced from her purse a signed card with both her and my autograph on it. I have no idea what the effect was, but it is obvious it had an effect upon her. Extraordinarily rewarding.

Hello Shane,

I have read many of your posts in the past. You are shockingly ahead of your years.

I have also seen your video on your web site and you should be proud. Many of the things you do can't be done by many who have worked twice as long as you.

Again, I take no issue with anything you say other than what I perceive to be a generally apologetic tone about being a magician, or doing a card 'trick'.

I have had many heroes, and have been fortunate enough to have met many of them. I can even call some of them friends. Of all of those I have admired, I have never known one to apologize for what they do. More often, spectators have apologized to them for underestimating their artform.

I have had the pleasure of this experience and it is rewarding. More importantly, it's liberating. One needn't answer for the many people who have, apparently, 'cheesified' what is an art.

I guess my point here is that if we do not respect it and treat it as though we do, no one else will.

All my best to you Shane...I'm sure you'll do great things.

All my best.
Shane Wiker
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Ultra Move,

Thank you very much. That means a lot coming from someone who has been in the art for thirty years.

Shane Wiker
Leeman
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I think that the "don't open with a crad trick" comes from the magicians that go up to a table and immeditly start with a trick. instead of getting to know them and letting the audience see that you are interesting in some way. if your spectators are aware that you can provide them some type of entertainment without any magic then they will be delighted to see some of your stuff.
but even if you don't use any small talk to begin with I think you can still be successful using cards as an opener you might just put up some small barriers before you begin. these walls can be taken down by showing that you are more fun then "uncle john who does card tricks" but doing so will be more difficult then not putting them up in the first place.
and this fear I think is the reason why cards have been shunned as openers. but as I heard on the doc eason tapes "cards don't have emotions" "they (cards) are only a tool for human interaction" and if people enjoy you then if shouldn't matter what you use for magic.

it is somewhat ironic that I use doc eason's words to defend using cards as an opener since in his tapes he also says that "it is certain death to open up a set with car tricks".

but who cares use whatever you want, whenever you want.
TheAmbitiousCard
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I used to NOT want to open with a card trick.

But I realized it doesn't matter in the least.

Now if you're going to do a ...
Spelling Trick
Poker Deal
Dealing Trick
do as I do trick
sam the bellhop
the twins
elaborate story tricks

you're probably making a big mistake.
you have not earned their attention.
IMO you've got 30 seconds.

you need to open with a quick
astounding effect.

I've had good successs with
2 card monte
bill simon bus. card prediction
selection to card-box

and effects of that nature.

Frank
www.theambitiouscard.com Hand Crafted Magic
Trophy Husband, Father of the Year Candidate,
Chippendale's Dancer applicant, Unofficial World Record Holder.
dynamiteassasin
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Very interesting post ULTRA MOVE.

Before, I was like you. I dealt only mainly with cards. I loved the relaxing sensation I felt when I lay it on my hands. I loved the sleights, switches and acrobatics I can do with it. I had a different relationship with cards.

Until one point the passion I had with it was partially gone. Like what veteran magicians says
"..been there..done it..what's next?.."
That's how I felt.

NOw, I'm no longer a purist. I expanded to rubberband magic, coin magic and dice magic.

There's no problem handling with cards mainly but soon you'll see that laymen want magic on different objects. Cards can produce miracles in the eyes of a layman. Yes, it could bring great reactions. But imagine the reactions you'd get when they see an everyday object evolve magically in front of their eyes.
David Copperfield is a master of sleight of hand but he got his fame out of the main art itself - illusion.
This is what Cris Angel, David Blaine and other magicians do. They have and force themselves to have variety.
You've mentioned earlier that you are not a
"magician's magician" but a "layman's magician".

Daryl has made a name for himself as one because of his killer ACR.
Dan Harlan although he deals with other stuff has made a name among other magicians as the Rubber Band master.
Gregory Wilson also made a mark on the grounds of impromptu magic.

If it's true you say that you are a layman's magician, then be open minded to try new stuff. I'm not trying to be ironic or anything. I'm just saying a purist is not bad if he has his limits but it's always better to learn new stuff, isn't it?

And I forgot. It doesn't matter if you deal only with cards. What's important is the entertainment you give in each performance. That's what counts.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


have fun in magic! Smile
Ultra Move
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Leeman, Messrs. Starsini & Fiesta,

Thanks so much for your posts. I initiated this thread in hopes of sparking a debate which, given Mr. Fiesta’s post, may have gotten somewhat muddled in the process.

I would like to respond to the points made; make a couple of my own and, hopefully, leave it to this community to try to look at this issue from some different angles.

Leeman makes a very good point in terms of magicians circumventing the pre-conceived barriers that societal mores have imposed on the art. More so, the issue that most stands out in his post, to my thinking at least, is the fact that it really does not matter whether you are performing with cards, coins, or elephants. If you are unable to establish a working rapport with your audience, you are simply not doing your job.

Mr. Starsini makes an equally valuable point that it is not whether you open with cards, but what you do with them as an opener that will serve to engage, or bore your audience to tears.

Mr. Fiesta makes some points that I would take issue with. This is by no means a confrontation, but I think that perhaps the original point I was trying to make was diluted by the we arrived at that point in the thread.

I wish to say that I am in no way a ‘purist’. I do cards. Others do other things, and I have no problem whatsoever with that. I have given a bit more than 30 years to cards and I have yet to find that, “laymen want magic on different objects.” It is my experience that laymen wish to be entertained, if the premise is that you are the entertainment.

You mention several magicians by name, and I take no issue with any in particular. I think they are all fabulous and do what they do rather well. I would only take issue with the statement, “David Copperfield is a master of sleight of hand.” If that is so, he has kept it a well guarded secret for many years.

Your last statement, “What's important is the entertainment you give in each performance. That's what counts.” This is what I am trying to get at here.

You mentioned some names; I will do so as well. I have watched Dai Vernon do an entire evening of cards, and nothing more, to the great astonishment of all present. I watched Tony Slydini once do an entire hour with nothing more than silver dollars. And Arturo de Ascanio, Derek Dingle, Frank Garcia, Roberto Giobbi, Lennart Green, René Lavand, Harry Lorayne, Ed Marlo and Juan Tamariz, and a host of others perform entire sets with nothing more than a standard deck of cards. Is this what they did to the exclusion of all else…Not necessarily.

But the point I am trying to make here is that, whatever your prop of preference may be; whatever your choice for an opener, a closer, or an ‘in-betweener’ for that matter, it is the quality of your material and, perhaps more importantly, the quality of your presentation that will determine whether an audience is engaged or not.

It therefore seems a somewhat unfair and unclarified bit of advice that I have seen espoused repeatedly in this forum: One should not open with a card trick. One should not open with bad material. And, if it’s not the material, but rather the quality of the performance, than one should question whether one should be opening at all.

The notion that audiences are jaded by card tricks is more a comment on our own skills, than on their perception of magic as a whole. All audiences, in my experience, want to be amazed and are receptive to you if you bring them in. By the same token, all audiences hate to be bored. It’s really up to you which of those experiences they have…Be it with cards, coins, or the elephants you pull from your pockets when they’re not looking.
Larry Davidson
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So you contend that it's not better to open with a pack of cards than a pachyderm? Smile
Michael Taggert
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In my mind it is not the props at all that are the deciding factor yet the presentation of the person as the performer that makes a great opener. The props whether they are a pack of cards or a Pacederm need to fit the performers persnality and methods. For those who have trouble with opening with a card routine it may be the routine and not the cards that are the trouble. Though at table side I personally use a variety of effects and props it is only because of my own character that I choose to do so. I have and do occaisionaly enetrtain with just a deck of cards.
I do not see a problem with some one who opens with a card routine I do have a problem with some one who opens with a long boring complex series of shuffles and cuts that bores the audience to sleep before the effect takes place.
Believe you then that I do strange things
Ultra Move
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This is absolutely correct and I think there is something to a theory, told to me recently by a very old and wise card man:

"The pass has all but faded from the memory of magic. A corner short, something once so indispensible to a card man, is hardly recognized anymore. So much of what I see young people doing today is more akin to juggling than to magic. If it's juggling they're going to do, it would be infinitely more entertaining if they used fire, rather than cards."

All my best.
Mike Walton
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Ultra Move,
Have you tried any non-card effects in your work to test the waters?

We can all pontificate on what is best for you, but the only way to truly test if, say, coins grab more attention as an opener or coins, spongeballs, and rusty chainsaws create more reaction intermixed within your card routine is for you to give them a fair shot. We've all had effects that we thought were lackluster until we performed them and as a result, added them to our routine because of the surprising audience response.

You may respond "why should I?" and that's fine, but if there is any chance that you could entertain your spectators/audience more and create stronger interest, engagement and astonishment by trying something new, then it may be worth a shot.

We can write about this for 3 more pages, but I recommend adding an interactive Copper Silver Brass routine, for example, or a sponge rabbit routine or whatever to see if you get a stronger reaction from your audience. Variety is the spice of life and this constant reinvention, testing of the waters, and improvement can only be good for your magic and magic in general.

If you give it a fair shot and it doesn't improve your performance, then you've found your answer. If it does improve your routine and create greater reaction, then that's worth learning something other than cards.
Ultra Move
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Dear Mr. Walton,

Thanks for your comments. I have performed coins for many years. They are not part of my regular performance, and only do them on very special occasions for clients at private parties.

I should clarify that I do a good deal of strolling, but the bulk of my work consists of sit down work for private parties. I only do coins in a seated condition and only under the right circumstances, as the routine I do depends on my being seated…I’m sure you get my meaning.

I do a finger ring on string routine that I only do for couples celebrating anniversaries.

If I have made it sound like I am espousing that all magicians should specialize in one, and only one very, very specific type of magic. That is not what I wished to convey.

The reasoning behind creating this thread was that I have read, over and over again in this forum, the suggestion that you should NEVER open with a card trick.

I can’t in any way find a logical justification for this opinion. After more than 30 years of practicing magic, and eight years as a full-time performer, I have seen nothing to support this theory.

The entire basis of my of my strolling act is cards. My entire sit down act is cards. I will also grant you here that there is a bent toward gambling and gambling related effects in my work. This is principally because it is what I do best, and what I find to be most commercially workable for my very particular audiences and my very particular style.

I do not do sponge balls. I do not do cups and balls. I do not do packet tricks. I do a ten coin routine that uses only standard US quarters. There is reasoning behind this idea. There was mention above of spectators wanting to see magic with everyday objects. To the laymen I have worked for, sponge balls, cups and balls and packets are not ordinary.

Do I object to the use of these items…NO…absolutely not, and in no way am I saying that others should not use them. I am only saying that the notion of not opening with a card effect does not make sense to me.

Some here have defended that notion to some degree. I have a hard time understanding it. I base that lack of understanding on the fact that my personal routines are comprised entirely of card effects.

So, rather than saying, “you should only do cards,” what I am trying to say is, why would you allow this statement, which is practically axiomatic as I have seen it written here---again and again---deter you from doing so?

I apologize for the length of my postings. But, I can assure you, I have been an avid reader of this site for some time, and this is the only topic I have chosen to express an opinion on because I feel so very strongly about it.

I would be happy to defend and even explain my choice of material. However, what I am trying to understand is what I consider to be an extremely limiting exclusion of material. Interestingly, this is what I am being accused of, and it may very well be true. However, although it may have been interpreted as such, I am not saying anything should be excluded from your repertoire. Quite the opposite, actually.
Michael Baker
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Hello Ultra Move,

Glad to see that you are directly on top of every post, regardless of tone or content!

Perhaps a few qualifying remarks are in order to clarify my earlier post. After re-reading what I'd written, I can see how you might sense an apologetic tone for what I do. Rest assured this is all a part of my character's persona, but not the whole persona. I downplay much of what I do for the sake of contrast, because I know that my magic is often perceived as "minor miracles", as you put it. The stuff that I currently do when it comes time to step up to the plate, is as strong as I've been able to make it after refining it for, in some cases, about 40 years.

The way in which I present it is naturally unique to my character. My philosophy of magic is that it is a bigger entity than any one magician. I don't play the victim, acting surprised everytime something happens (although there must be those times for me), but I also do not play the powerful maker of miracles, who does everything right. To do so would be flying in the face of what I believe. I portray a magician who knows his stuff, but still has way to much respect for it to mess with it and tempt fate (Hey, you never know, right?).

If anything, my attitude toward the spectator who tends to belittle what he thinks is about to happen is more in the sense of, "Oh... trust me... I know what sh**ty magic looks like, and this stuff is gonna kick your a**!

Of course it is done in a tone that doesn't offend, but I absolutely leave them with the impression that I know way more about what I do than they do.

So, if I do get those attitudes (...and I can sense it immediately), before they can get their cards on the table (so to speak), I counter and nullify their hand, by taking that weapon away from them. It's all a part of setting them up for the kill. In other words, "I'm way ahead of you Mr. Spectator, so sit back and buckle your seat belts.
~michael baker
The Magic Company
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