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Larry Davidson
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Quote:
On 2004-08-14 18:51, Michael Baker wrote:
Hello Ultra Move,

"...I downplay much of what I do for the sake of contrast...."


Contrast is a VERY powerful tool to which I also subscribe and have mentioned in numerous postings (for example, it's one reason I almost never perform flourishes). You're the only other magician whom I've seen mention the idea specifically in Café postings. Anyone who doubts the value of contrast should study Bob Sheets' performing persona.

Back on topic, in my opinion it only makes sense to avoid what doesn't work. If opening with cards (or coins, or ropes, or...) works for a particular magician, there's absolutely no reason for him to avoid that. With some exceptions, when I hear the word "never," I discount the words that follow.

Larry D.
Ultra Move
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Dear Messrs. Walker & Davidson,

The points you raise here are the very ones to which I have attempted to allude to throughout this thread.

The words, ‘persona’, ‘contrast’ and ‘character’…say something that is at the root of what it is that I had hoped would come of this.

Mr. Davidson, you’ll forgive me, but I do think it’s quite on topic. Fact is that your persona; your character; the contrasts, peaks and troughs you provide the audience; your PERFORMANCE is what determines your material’s impact.

I have seen great actors perform Shakespeare. I also did a good friend a favour and went, with my long-suffering wife, to see his community theatre production of Macbeth. I’m sorry, but Shakespeare, is not always Shakespeare.

In another thread here, someone commented at length at the impact they were able to produce, to their own surprise, from ‘The Magic Stop Cards’. This is a $1, silly effect. But, the point is so overwhelmingly salient, that even the person who posted missed it.

His particular structure of the effect, probably in an attempt to compensate for the effect’s deficiencies, made his performance strong. The natural consequence of this is a powerful audience reaction.

Perhaps the easiest of the effects I perform is often an opener for me. A simple tabled transposition. I present this as though it is of no consequence. Until it happens. And the audience always joins me in that CONTRAST.

I said earlier that gambling effects were a major part of my repertoire for sit down. I have a very structured routine that is presented as half magic, half gambling demonstration. The effects follow a natural progression to where the audience is there with you. Believing they know what you know. And then they are fooled.

Isn’t this the whole point of some of the most classic of classic effects? [i.e. ‘Gambler vs. Magician’, et cetera].

Please…I implore you all…It doesn’t matter. Cards, coins, sponge balls or the elephants I mentioned earlier. The ‘magic’, if there is going to be any, is you. Make it happen for you, and your audience will follow.

All my best to all of you.
Whit Haydn
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I have opened my close-up work in corporate walk-around, formal situations, bar magic, and restaurant work with cards since I started as a professional in 1968. There is a sort of aikido-like quality to beginning with the familiar and sometimes despised and quickly turning everything around.

My opening trick all these years has been Chicago Surprise. As it begins, the wise-ones always think they see some things that are familiar with from their "uncle's magic" but then are suddenly caught short and blown away.

Once that happens, and after I have finished my card routines, I have established myself as someone not to be trifled with, and the potential problem spectators sit back and watch politely as I turn to other things, such as sponge balls--tricks that normally would have them trying to fight with me.
meilechl
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Imho the reason some would shy away from cards is that cards are not ordinary everyday items. Yes, of course, we all play cards now and then but no one walks around with a deck of cards in their pocket.

When we pull out a magic - related item we immediately raise the astonishment defenses of the spectators. They expect to see magic and are therefore not so surprised when you show it to them.

When, however, you take an ordinary object and suddenly thrust a piece of astonishment in their faces, it delivers a metaphorical knock-out punch.

In the first few moments the magician has to present himself to the audience with, "what the heck just happened..? It's like doing a levitation to an unsuspecting victim, like doing T.H.E.M. kinda stuff. It's because of this that I prefer to show my spectators the magic before I introduce the idea that I'm going to do any magic.

Hope I made sense....
Ultra Move
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Dear Messrs. Haydn & Meilechl,

Thank you for your responses. I am deeply flattered by Mr. Haydn’s response, especially given his long experience.

Please note what he describes here. He uses ‘Chicago Surprise’ as his opener. I must confess that I am not entirely familiar with this handling [my apologies, I shall endeavour to compensate for this gap]. Nonetheless, I am aware that it is a variation on the ‘Chicago Opener’.

I am not sure if Mr. Haydn’s version follows the Opener’s progression. If it does it is a card effect. WORSE, it is one of the dreaded, “pick-a-card” effects.

Nonetheless, this effect, or at least the ‘Opener’ such as I know it, is one of the most powerful and, as Mr. Haydn points out, disarming effects one can perform in strolling.

Mr. Meilechl…Perhaps I am too old or, for that matter, my audience is. There is no magical prop I am aware of that is more commonplace to the lay audience than a deck of cards.

A salt shaker from my hostesses table, vanished before her very eyes, brings thoughts of smoke, mirrors and any number of ‘it must be done like this’ solutions.

A deck of cards, which the spectator handles…one that may even be theirs, from which impossibilities are produced, is a minor miracle. If you find that people are suspect of your cards, you need only introduce one effect that is performed in its entirety by the spectator themselves.

The inevitable response to this type of effect is---and it’s one of the most satisfying in magic---“But you didn’t do anything.”

I have been very hard pressed to produce that same reaction with any other prop.

Again, I beg of you all…I am not saying you should only do cards. I am only trying to dispel the notion that opening with cards is bad magic. I have seen this enough times here that it has encouraged me to write when I have never before.

Mr. Haydn may have put it best when he said, “As it begins, the wise-ones always think they see some things that are familiar with from their "uncle's magic" but then are suddenly caught short and blown away.” That’s the whole point.

This built in conflict, the “I know what you’re doing,” and “Guess what? You don’t,” makes the effect that more powerful on those poor souls whose uncles subjected them to the worst that cards have to offer.
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2004-08-14 20:28, meilechl wrote:

When we pull out a magic - related item we immediately raise the astonishment defenses of the spectators. They expect to see magic and are therefore not so surprised when you show it to them.

When, however, you take an ordinary object and suddenly thrust a piece of astonishment in their faces, it delivers a metaphorical knock-out punch.



I'm sure to get attacked for this...

This is popular culture magic of which some will know to what I refer. This is guerilla-style magic, and in my opinion, akin to setting a trap and waiting for some unsuspecting prey to walk into it. This is Whoopie Cushion and Fake Doggie-Doo type practical joking, using magic as the vehicle.

"Wow... you really freaked me out... (son of a b****....")

What is wrong with owning up to being a magician? Why is sneaking in the backdoor getting to be so common?... because some people might get the impression that we are there to fool them?... or to make fools of them?... or because we don't respect what we do enough to think other people might too? I really don't get it.

Most people really do like magic... and if you show them something that says to them, "You have not been in the presence of a person who does magic, but rather in the presence of a magical person.", then you have given them something to take with them for the rest of there lives. They feel privileged and honored to have been there when it happened. They don't feel as if they should be "watching out".

The strength of the performance comes from this trust that you are going to give them something and then you end up giving them more. It gives them a sense that you did something extra, just for them.

This is the difference between being someone the audience is proud to say they saw and being someone they are proud to say they know.
~michael baker
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Ultra Move
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A big AMEN to the post above.

Please indulge me as I explain an experience from this very afternoon.

I worked a private party. A cocktail reception at a ludicrously large home. The job came to me, as most my work does, by word of mouth.

It was sit down…That is, I was basically invited as a guest…I mingle, I talk. At some point, guests are invited to congregate around a table. One of the people there, an older gentleman, came to the table with a five-year-old, whom he sat on his lap. Please understand…The nature of the work I do is not conducive to children. I have no problem with children, or magicians who perform for them. It is simply not part of what I do.

The gentleman’s daughter, the child’s mother, passed through the room. The gentleman called out to his daughter and said, “Don’t you want to see the magic tricks?” She responded, “I’ll let my son describe them for me.” That smarted, somewhat, but I am accustomed to this. The child screamed for his mother and she, for no other reason than to quiet her child, sat at the table.

Throughout my performance, which runs approximately twenty-five minutes, it was to her I performed.

Her previous indifference, converted to astonishment, was contagious. The table as a whole followed her lead.

The consequence of this was that I booked five performances over the next nine days. Two, for the woman in question.

It may be true…cards may be boring. I am not patting myself on the back here, nor am I trying to prove myself right and anyone wrong. I am simply saying that NOTHING is boring. The axiom, ‘Don’t kill the messenger’, in my experience, is totally wrong. The bringer of bad news is always punished. However, I have found that he who brings news, and tells it in a fascinating way, is rewarded. No matter how reticent the listener may be to hear it, a story told well is a good story.
R2
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Quote:
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



I agree and I open with cards depending on how I feel?
I don't stick with card effects. I change things up with various items for a little variety and contrast as per Brother Larry Davidson.

This is a civil,informative, and constructive discussion! You certainly set the tone for this in your intitial and subsequent posts Ultra Move! Well done!
~ere-dos~
Leeman
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Quote:
On 2004-08-14 19:58, whithaydn wrote:
I have opened my close-up work in corporate walk-around, formal situations, bar magic, and restaurant work with cards since I started as a professional in 1968. There is a sort of aikido-like quality to beginning with the familiar and sometimes despised and quickly turning everything around.

My opening trick all these years has been Chicago Surprise. As it begins, the wise-ones always think they see some things that are familiar with from their "uncle's magic" but then are suddenly caught short and blown away.

Once that happens, and after I have finished my card routines, I have established myself as someone not to be trifled with, and the potential problem spectators sit back and watch politely as I turn to other things, such as sponge balls--tricks that normally would have them trying to fight with me.


After reading this post I thought up the fact that the spectators slight lack of interest can benefit you. I don't mean that you want the audience to be bored of what you are doing but when you bring out the cards and some of the people might think that they know what you are going to do it would make it easier to amaze them. I think this same line of thought is in some of the other posts in this thread, but they go along the lines of, people are familiar with the cards and might be familiar with some card magic and therefore if you do something more impressive then what they have seen you are amazing. I don't know how well I explained this thought process but here is an example. The first trick I ever do with cards is a combination of color changin deck and Chicago opener, it is very similar to Doc Eason's color changing deck (can you tell that I really like doc eason's work). Now the way that the trick is presented when showing the deck as a normal red backed deck of cards it would not be as convincing if everybody was staring at the deck the whole time. A lot of the coverage comes from joking and interacting with the audience but I am sure that some of it also comes from the fact that there full attention is not on the trick. But as soon as the deck changes from red to blue you better believe that they are watching and that they have never seen anything like what I am doing.

Even though this post was not really on topic I figured I put it here anyway.
Elmsley4
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I believe if the magician is enjoying himself/herself, the audience will as well. I also believe there is no right or wrong answer. Usually when I work a resturaunt or a private party, I'll do some flurishes and ask if the table would like to be entertained. Then I proceed to a card trick. What I like is I can always jump to rubber bands, sponge balls, or impromptu. Soo many options! Do what you like, and everyone will be fine!
gtthecloser42
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I have opened with card tricks in the past and I currently open with one in my close up set. In fact the effect I use involves two spectators. That really throws ALL of the spectators that I have performed for off. They don't expect it plus two sides of my audience is now involved. The effect also ruins their evening if they expected Uncle Ray's key card trick. If I am working for a large group of spectators walk around then I will often choose to close with a multiple selection routine. This also ruins their evening in a good way. Their Uncle DEFININTELY couldn't do that! Unless of course their Uncle was Doc Eason, Paul Cummins, or Ricky Jay or the other countless cardmen that do this routine.

Regards,

GT
rikbrooks
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I've done various effects for many years, since I was a teenager in fact. I've always eschewed cards out of sheer ignorance. Every card effect that I had ever seen reminded me of the Uncle Somebody routines. Even the very good ones, the ambitious card, etc. I always thought, "OK, some sort of sleight, DL, pass, false shuffle, etc." It looked like a skill more than magic and I thought it, at best, mildly interesting.

Then I saw a video for the Snap Change on Penguin Magic and my jaw hit the floor! I couldn't believe the in-your-face type of effect could be done. I was ashamed that I had been closed minded all this time.

I ordered that instant download and then a few more. I read, for the first time, the card routines in Mark Wilson's book. Now I've just ordered the Royal Road to Card Magic.

What I'm trying to say is that there are still a lot of old magicians around (like me) that closed their eyes to card magic years ago, before they gave it a real chance.

By the way, I'm almost ashamed to say it but one of my favorite effects is the invisible deck, without the long patter. I just walk up and say, "I saw you from across the room and turned over one card in this deck just for you. Would you mind naming a card, please?" The response has been great.

Still, more than anything else, I love the visual routines. The snap change, the Long Distance Spinner, cards that change right as the spectator watches. I've discovered a whole area of magic that I had, to my eternal embarresment, ignored.

Mark me down as a 'convert'.
Mike Walton
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It seems this board is all "rah rah" to start with cards as an opener, but there must be "something" to the recommendations of not opening with cards. Doc Eason noted in his bar magic series that he either opens with CSB or his nut/screw/hardware routine and from someone who seems to be so successful at grabbing the attention of those sitting in a bar, this must be based on a lesson learned.

While the comment that individuals acknowledge a deck of cards as commonplace which may lower expectations of one's magic which gives an opportunity for stronger magic, the downside of using a commonplace item may be to create a risk of not grabbing the spectators' attention in the first place.

I personally have experienced that initial burst of more attention given to a non-card item when taken out of my jacket pocket. This additional interest is beneficial when competing for the spectators' attention in a situation when they must make a decision to acknowledge and accept the magic versus noting they're not interested and would rather drink their coconut rummy or continue to banter in the bar, for example, than watch or be part of magic.

At the far end of the spectrum, the hardest competition I experience is for a hospital patient to decide between continuing his non-thinking and isolated disengagement while dealing with an illness or staring out the window or to interact with anyone, be that person a magician or social services individual. Boy, I want to win that competition for his attention so the easiest way to capture his interest is to be as interesting as possible.

Sure, if you're doing parlor style magic and people are waiting to watch, then you already have their attention. I indeed have experienced pulling out a CSB set and the foreign coins have created that look of intrigue among the spectators with a stretch to see what I have in my hands even before I really got started.

Again, I can see that this increased interest will only benefit the engagement for the opener as compared to taking out a deck of cards, which may initially increase the disbelief due to a simple lack of interest. That initial engagement, if you can create it, improves interaction between the spectator and magician while making the choice of watching and believing in the magic a little more worthy than passing on the offer by the magician.

It doesn’t seem this rule is carved in stone, yet in situations where you’re truly competing for attention that pulling out something attention getting to capture their interest can make more sense, especially if your goal is to engage the spectators and secure their attention - which it should be.
Michael Baker
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To rikbrooks,

I actually think your method of approach using the Invisible Deck is quite good. It has a great set-up... you hand them a very intriguing line coupled with the allusion of a very remote possibility. It also requests a response, so the door to interaction is opened. It also seems to say, "This will only take a second of your time."

It never asks if they would like to see magic, it never springs the surprise of magic upon the spectator, but it does hint at the idea that you are about to do something, if not actually magical, pretty darned amazing. Bravo, sir!

Obviously, you would have to then ditch the deck and proceed with non-card magic, or do a really good deck switch (I suppose someone may have found a way to incorporate the same deck for a different trick, but I haven't).

At any rate, I can see this as a great example of myth-busting.

To Jive-Turkey,

Thank you for your counterpoint post. I think this topic would have been leaving rubber on the pavement if not for views from the "What if?" side. Your points are absolutely essential to making the most important revelation come to light here. That is simply that there is no right or wrong way to approach a table, or a group, or start a show in regard to the particular props used, or in fact the method of presentation... provided the magician/entertainer has conceived and developed a way that works.

It should be noted, as I don't really think this issue has yet been tackled, although you (Jive-Turkey) did hint at it, that unless one is performing a set routine, such as a revue show, or any other type of show that must remain tightly scripted, nothing is carved in stone. There are many, many ways to effect the opening approach, and to stay open-minded enough to realize that a magician's versatility is broadened by incorporating more than one, is to make one's self, as a magician, more able to blend harmoniously into the situation at hand.

Personally, I have opened sets with cards, with sponge balls, with coins, with cigarettes (when I used to smoke), with wine bottles produced from dinner napkins that the table had just ordered from the waiter, and in fact, whatever I saw at the time to be the best method. I enjoy being an opportunist. I have often conceived pieces of magic that I have only used once, but perfectly fit the moment.

I believe the original idea of this thread was to disspell the idea that cards are a bad item to open a show/set/routine with. I also think some great minds have been here doing just that.
~michael baker
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Larry Davidson
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Jive-turkey,

I view most of the postings not so much as a "rah rah" to start with cards as an opener, but instead as a "rah rah" for the idea that it's as appropriate to open with cards as it is to open with anything else.

I understand and respect your reasons for opening with non-cards, but there's no one-size-fits-all in my opinion and opening with cards does work for some magicians so there's no reason for them not to.

Doc Eason is not comfortable opening with cards so he shouldn't. I know a number of "name" bar magicians, however, who do open with cards and since it works perfectly for them there's no reason for them to do otherwise.

In my opinion, it's most important to open with your personality and to get people to like you, regardless of what objects you use. In walk-around, I introduce myself in a humorous way to let people know what they're in for and to establish rapport. Only then do I begin performing. Interestingly, I usually begin with a short card gag, again just to highlight my personality, and the first actual effect I perform involves coins. What works for me, though, may not work for another magician and vice versa.

Larry D.
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Gentlemen,


Mr. Baker states that:

Quote:
…there is no right or wrong way to approach a table, or a group, or start a show in regard to the particular props used, or in fact the method of presentation... provided the magician/entertainer has conceived and developed a way that works.”


Mr. Davidson seems to concur with this by saying:

Quote:
“…there's no one-size-fits-all in my opinion and opening with cards does work for some magicians so there's no reason for them not to.”


These points are, and have been throughout, the basis of what I have put forth. Far from being ‘rah-rah’ over opening with cards, I am simply opposed to the idea that you shouldn’t. Doc Eason has an excellent reason for not opening with cards: It doesn’t work for him. I am not implying, and I hope that I haven’t implied, that he is wrong.

I am, however, stressing that that, “You should NEVER open with cards,” may be wrong. What compelled me to write here was what seemed to be an overwhelmingly repeated statement of what is portrayed as a cardinal rule. I do not see it as being so.

To all those who have been good enough to respond to; react to; agree with; disagree with these posts, it has been a sincere pleasure spending this time with you. To some of you who have said very kind things to me either here, or via PM, your appreciation is valued.

I hoped to make a point. Perhaps I have, perhaps I have not. Perhaps I have done little more than obfuscate the issue further.

Regardless, my objective was to begin a dialogue…More so, a dialectic. It is my sincere hope I have, at the very least, opened a door toward that end.

I wish you all only the very best in what it is you do.

Please take the time to read the works of the dead guys. Ascanio, Vernon, Dingle, Marlo, Hugard & Braue, Scarne, Erdnase, Annemann, Slydini and any number of others. Their insights are the basis, no matter what you do, of everything we do.

I will leave you with one more of the myriad analogies I have peppered this thread with…

A singer/songwriter does a song. It’s a monster hit. Ten years later, someone records a cover. Maybe good, maybe bad…Still, the same song. Some time later you, through some sick twist of fate, find yourself in a karaoke bar. Someone sings the song. You are in pain.

Point is: A good song is a good song, but the performer makes it music. Sing your work…Please…and sing well.

All my very best.
Michael Baker
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See you down the road, Ultra Move!
~michael baker
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Mike Walton
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Quote:
On 2004-08-15 11:34, Larry Davidson wrote:
In my opinion, it's most important to open with your personality and to get people to like you, regardless of what objects you use. In walk-around, I introduce myself in a humorous way to let people know what they're in for and to establish rapport. Only then do I begin performing. Interestingly, I usually begin with a short card gag, again just to highlight my personality, and the first actual effect I perform involves coins. What works for me, though, may not work for another magician and vice versa.


Well Heck Larry, you're more likeable than I am. I usually have to rely on bringing out a live monkey from under my jacket just to get their attention Smile

Great points and I do agree...that there are no rules only recommendations that can be adapted one way or another. I thought it important that someone take an opposite side to see the merit of starting with some non-card item, of which in certain cases I believe there can be merit. It seems that the stating of any "rule", especially in an art, and the use of the word "never" are ideas set up to get trampled and rightly so.
Larry Davidson
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"...Well Heck Larry, you're more likeable than I am...."


No, I'm just good at faking sincerity. Smile
jezza
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The good thing about cards when table hopping or party strolling as springing cards etc automatically says your a magician and 9 out of 10 times you'll get asked to perform
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