The svengali pitch

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performer
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The svengali pitch

Postby performer » August 18th, 2015, 10:13 pm

It occurs to me that some of you might like to see me ripping off the public with the svengali deck, an activity which I find most commendable.

Here you are:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxwujHN0w7s

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » August 18th, 2015, 10:26 pm

And here is another one that has, for some reason, garnered great amusement. Please note the disappointed look on the child's face as she has just learnt a hard lesson in life and that is not to trust wicked people like me. I have always felt a great sense of satisfaction that my customers have never been able to do the tricks I sell. As I have explained on another thread I am completely against exposure and I derive a great sense of satisfaction knowing that my customers will never figure out how the tricks I sell are done. I do make sure the instructions are quite incomprehensible after all.

I really should be given an award from the Magic Castle for services to magic in keeping secrets secret. I really would not be able to sleep at night if I thought the customers were actually able to do the tricks I sell them.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SCkXktFnUtw

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby I.M. Magician » August 18th, 2015, 10:34 pm

Your just kidding, correct? Selling Svengali decks should not be thought of as ripping them off. Hopefully, they will learn how to use it and enjoy themselves entertaining others. Of course, some will end up in a drawer while others will work miracles.

Let's hope that you are just using your blend of humor but are not really serious.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » August 18th, 2015, 10:36 pm

Dearie me, old chap! You really have a lot to learn! Thank you for making me laugh though!

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby I.M. Magician » August 18th, 2015, 10:43 pm

You are very welcome!

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby I.M. Magician » August 18th, 2015, 10:46 pm

Come to think of it, how in the world are your customers going to learn how to perform the deck when you haven't mastered it yourself? :lol:


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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » August 18th, 2015, 11:00 pm

It appears that I had better educate you on these matters. The mentality of a pitchman has to be different than the mentality of a magician otherwise they will starve. Magicians are usually the worst salesmen of svengali decks. That is because they think they are doing a show when that is not the purpose of them being there. The true purpose is to deprive people of their money.

I think the best way to explain it to you is for you to think of Howard Thurston. Before he went on stage he used to jump up and down saying "I love my audience. They make it possible for me to earn a pleasant living and I am grateful to them" or words to that effect anyway. A most commendable attitude for a magician.

However, a pitchman has to say something different before he starts work. He has to say, "I hate these dirty bastards who are walking about with my money in their pockets and I am going to do my best to get it back from them."

There. I do hope I have furthered your education in these matters.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby I.M. Magician » August 18th, 2015, 11:13 pm

Quite frankly, although you have ticked off many on this Forum for whatever reasons, I get a kick out of you. While you have found a way to annoy so many, I don't have a problem with you. I think that you are a master at ticking off some of the Forum members but only because they allow you to do so. They should lighten up...

I watched your clip performing for dinner guests. Your performance was okay (not nearly as horrible as some may think) with the exception of you referring to the "key ring". I suspect that it was nothing more than a slip of the tongue. Don't ever do that again! :roll:

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » August 19th, 2015, 4:20 am

Of course the "Key Ring" mention was deliberate! It was an inside joke for the magicians present. Laymen wouldn't know what I was talking about especially when it was covered by the "bunch of keys" remark.

The secret to annoying people is first to identify the people with even bigger egos than myself. Then say something provocative, aim it in their vicinity and they will fall for it every time. And there are no lack of egos in the magic business so there are plenty of people to irritate. Observe carefully and you will never see a modest person ever attacking me. Only the insecure.

Yes, some of them are talking nonsense about that performance. And of course their remarks are based on bias. It isn't the performance that is bothering them. It is the fact that I have annoyed them. The critics always neglect to mention the reaction of the audience which is always positive. They aren't laughing and clapping for no reason.

The truth of the matter is that I am really a close up magician and that is what I specialise in. I just happen to be able to do some sort of stand up act. And kid show. And hypnotism show. Plus psychic readings. Plus the svengali deck. But these are all extras and mere bonuses. I have never made a big deal out of them. My main thing is that I am simply a close up card magician. I do basic card tricks from the Royal Road to Card Magic and try to get strong reactions to them using certain psychological techniques that you won't find on a video and are hard for me to explain. It comes down to manipulating the people more than manipulating the cards as I use very simple methods.

Here is a continuation of that performance. I am doing Danny Archer's Pig Trick which oddly enough I first saw mentioned on this very forum. I have used it ever since:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCsB1FpopxY

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » August 19th, 2015, 4:41 am

But this is the kind of magic I like to do best. It is a variation of Ramsey's four little beans trick. I use only three and they are not beans but little balls of aluminium foil!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQIhl8GbG0k

And here is my version of the Dr Sack Dice Trick which is being discussed elsewhere. I have renamed the trick the Mark Lewis Dice trick in honour of myself. Dr Sack didn't mind a bit since he is somewhat dead at the moment. However, I did contact him in the spirit world in my capacity as a psychic reverend and he gave his permission.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRvT_6msjcs

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby Joe Mckay » January 30th, 2017, 6:02 pm

Hey Mark,

I was just reading an old issue of Apocalypse magazine and Harry Lorayne had a clever tip for helping with the Svengali pitch:

A line that took me into the "turn" (getting
the money) I always used was, "If you have
a thumb you can do these miracles."

And I'd say to a boy or girl in the tip, "Do you have a
thumb, young man? Good - bring it up here."

And I'd have him run his thumb across the upper end
of the deck, face to rear, to display all different
cards. Then I'd have him run his thumb
the other way - rear to face - to "change" all
the cards to, say, 9H's.

His parent was usually the first to buy a deck when he or she saw the
kid's eyes light up. The parent became my steeizick
(stick), or sheeizil (shill).


This seems like a very strong moment. Just wondering if you ever thought of using it in your pitch?

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » January 30th, 2017, 11:29 pm

Every svengali pitchman in recorded history does a variation of that. Most get the punter to hold them in their own hands. However, I have seen Joe Stuthard do it exactly as Harry has described.

It really is an essential part of the pitch. However, for me it is doubly important as it helps me to sell my psychic readings as it gives me an excuse to look at their hands and reel of some palmistry lines.

I always sell svengali decks at psychic fairs, counter intuitive though it may be. If I didn't sell them the number of readings I do would go down by around 20%.

Here is the handling in question at 5.50:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3GSItQV6io

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby Joe Mckay » February 7th, 2017, 6:18 pm

Hey Mark,

I wanted to ask you a question. So thought I would ask you it here.

In another thread you mentioned the importance of entertainment in magic, and how if a magician is not entertaining you lose interest after the first 30 seconds. No matter how great the magic might be.

Well - I was wondering how you define entertainment?

Does it come from the patter?

Or - as I suspect - does it come from some inherent quality the performer has? Such that you either have it or you don't?

A great entertainer like Al Goshman will be more entertaining than your average magician. Even if the average magician is using better lines and better gags. So - I am curious as to how you define what it is you are looking for when you talk about entertainment in magic?

I suspect you can develop your skills as an entertainer by simply performing a lot. Although it does create a slight chicken and egg situation - since the best performers tend to be the ones who get to perform a lot in the first place.

Anyway - I would be interested to hear your views in this area. If I remember correctly - you think that a lot of this comes down to the power the magician's voice can have on an audience. Some people simply have more effective voices than others. Since the voice seems to say a lot about the "energy" you have as a character.

Perhaps this all rolls back to the simple fact that just as some people are inherently more interesting, funny and charismatic than others in real life. The same is also true in magic. And one thing I have noticed in real life is the power the voice has in shaping your character and the impression other people have of you. It is why first impressions are so powerful since that is the first time you get to hear a person's voice.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » February 7th, 2017, 8:17 pm

I will expand on this a bit later. Just a couple of things for now. I don't necessarily accept that in every case the more you perform the better you are. There are too many crappy performers around who have been performing for several decades for that to be true. In many cases it just means they get more practice doing things the wrong way and these bad habits become embedded and it becomes too late to do anything about them.

I have often stated that the best advice I have ever read on presentation is contained in the back section of Expert Card Technique particularly the first few pages.

I will expand later in more detail about all this. However, if I were to sum up the answer to your question in one word it would be PERSONALITY.

Your personality is the main factor in entertainment. YOU are the magic, not the tricks. A great magician does not present magic. He presents HIMSELF doing magic. I will explain all this later.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » February 7th, 2017, 10:49 pm

I suppose I had better exert myself to answer this. [color=#FF0040][/color]

Joe Mckay wrote:Hey Mark,

I wanted to ask you a question. So thought I would ask you it here.

In another thread you mentioned the importance of entertainment in magic, and how if a magician is not entertaining you lose interest after the first 30 seconds. No matter how great the magic might be.

Well - I was wondering how you define entertainment?

Does it come from the patter?

Or - as I suspect - does it come from some inherent quality the performer has? Such that you either have it or you don't?

A great entertainer like Al Goshman will be more entertaining than your average magician. Even if the average magician is using better lines and better gags. So - I am curious as to how you define what it is you are looking for when you talk about entertainment in magic?

I suspect you can develop your skills as an entertainer by simply performing a lot. Although it does create a slight chicken and egg situation - since the best performers tend to be the ones who get to perform a lot in the first place.

Anyway - I would be interested to hear your views in this area. If I remember correctly - you think that a lot of this comes down to the power the magician's voice can have on an audience. Some people simply have more effective voices than others. Since the voice seems to say a lot about the "energy" you have as a character.

Perhaps this all rolls back to the simple fact that just as some people are inherently more interesting, funny and charismatic than others in real life. The same is also true in magic. And one thing I have noticed in real life is the power the voice has in shaping your character and the impression other people have of you. It is why first impressions are so powerful since that is the first time you get to hear a person's voice.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » February 7th, 2017, 11:21 pm

[ I suppose I had better exert myself to answer this. [color=#FF0040][/color]

Joe Mckay wrote:Hey Mark,

I wanted to ask you a question. So thought I would ask you it here.

In another thread you mentioned the importance of entertainment in magic, and how if a magician is not entertaining you lose interest after the first 30 seconds. No matter how great the magic might be.

Well - I was wondering how you define entertainment?

Does it come from the patter?

This is indeed a very big factor. More important than the trick itself in some ways. However, it should not be overdone. Many magicians talk FAR too much under the delusion that this is showmanship. It isn't. It is talking too much. I really hate long winded magicians. And the very worst aspect of this which makes me cringe beyond measure are those people who yap and yap and yap as a preamble before the trick even starts. They call it "framing the effect" However, I call it "framing the boredom"

Or - as I suspect - does it come from some inherent quality the performer has? Such that you either have it or you don't?

You suspect correctly. But there is more to it than that. It isn't purely a matter of having it naturally or not. If you have it naturally as a gift of the Gods then all the better for you and you should make the most of it. However, if you are not gifted with it as I certainly wasn't when I first started all is not lost. You can most certainly develop it. How? Simple. The recipe is in the first few pages of the presentation section of Expert Card Technique.

A great entertainer like Al Goshman will be more entertaining than your average magician. Even if the average magician is using better lines and better gags. So - I am curious as to how you define what it is you are looking for when you talk about entertainment in magic?

You know it when you see it. I would personally define it as something that doesn't make me fall asleep during the performance but I suppose I shouldn't be cynical. The main factor is YOUR PERSONALITY. If you have the personality of a dial tone which many introverted magicians have then you are obviously going to be less interesting than someone with a more charismatic way about them no matter the technical expertise or the quality of the tricks they do.

As for Goshman he was a prime example of something that was written in "Our Magic" by Maskelyne. It was pointed out in that book that someone who is not a natural magician who works and works and works to achieve proficiency is far more qualified to be described as an artist than someone with natural charisma, looks etc; It was pointed out that someone who works hard to achieve success in magic is more of artist than someone who has been gifted by the Gods with natural attributes but doesn't do much with them. I think of Goshman in this way. He had a lot going against him but he worked hard to overcome those disadvantages and eventually became successful. He was an interesting CHARACTER and this is, in my view, the most important thing in magic. It is not a separate virtue but part and parcel of being a magician in the first place. In fact I look at it as an essential tool of your trade. With it you have achieved a lot. Without it you are merely a pedestrian, ordinary and even, dare I say it, uninteresting performer no matter how good your magic.


I suspect you can develop your skills as an entertainer by simply performing a lot. Although it does create a slight chicken and egg situation - since the best performers tend to be the ones who get to perform a lot in the first place.

Not always necessarily so. I have already explained that in a previous post.

Anyway - I would be interested to hear your views in this area. If I remember correctly - you think that a lot of this comes down to the power the magician's voice can have on an audience. Some people simply have more effective voices than others. Since the voice seems to say a lot about the "energy" you have as a character.

A good voice is indeed a decided asset. But at the same time it is a gift of the Gods. You either have it or you don't. If you have it all well and good. But if you don't have it that does not put you out for the count. You can always develop other strengths to compensate for it.

Perhaps this all rolls back to the simple fact that just as some people are inherently more interesting, funny and charismatic than others in real life. The same is also true in magic. And one thing I have noticed in real life is the power the voice has in shaping your character and the impression other people have of you. It is why first impressions are so powerful since that is the first time you get to hear a person's voice.


Yes. As I have already stated the more interesting you are the more interesting your magic will be. As I have often stated the trick is merely a peg to hang your personality on. As for the voice, as I have already stated it can be half the battle. However, if your voice is not that pleasant to listen to then don't despair. All is not yet lost. There are still other qualities you may well have to make up for it. The only oth er thing I would add to all this is that a good close up magician needs to learn how to manipulate the people as well as his cards, coins etc; And this manipulation of the people and understanding of human nature will do you more good than a thousand tricks no matter how astonishing they are.

There. I do hope I answered your question.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby Joe Mckay » February 8th, 2017, 7:14 am

Interesting stuff.

In my rush to learn magic tricks - I never thought much about these issues growing up.

Thanks for taking the time to give such a thoughtful response.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » February 8th, 2017, 7:55 am

Tricks are the least important thing in magic. Most tricks are pretty good but even if they aren't you can make them good. As Dunninger once said, "Anything will do. Nail through finger will suffice if you have some way of magnetising and hypnotising that audience"

Presentation was almost all I thought of when young. I was very interested in the tricks of course and far more passionate about magic than I am now. I would even watch it for 5 minutes before I got bored rather than the 30 seconds I do now.

I remember being very frustrated as a beginner that I couldn't get the reaction I wanted. Then I read this from Expert Card Technique. It fitted me to a T.

"But you are a magician and you love magic; and lacking experience, you are floundering about in all directions and you are getting a little discouraged. You present magic but not very well, and you don't know what is wrong. You tell yourself that what you need is a new trick, something very new and amazing and impossible; but when you get this trick you are just where you were before and you decide that what you need is another new trick, also very amazing and impossible. And you don't know what is wrong"

Those words almost made me cry because it fitted me so perfectly. But then it went on:

"It is to you that these words are addressed, and not to those others who have already learned from experience that which we hope to say here"

And it did. The following pages after that described what I was supposed to do. Particularly the first few pages where it described how you are supposed to create an interesting persona when doing magic. I remember reading it on a tube train in London and it was as if a bolt of lightning had struck me and I realised what I had to do from that moment henceforth if I wanted to improve.

I never underline or mark books as some people do. I just hate to do that. But I made an exception here and I am looking right now at something I not only underlined but marked in little crosses underneath nearly 60 years ago because I considered it so important. Probably the most important sentence in magic and I swear I am the only one who ever noticed it. It referred to great magicians. Here it is:

"It is not the tricks they perform that are important so much as the illusion they create about themselves"

I believe the words from Expert Card Technique are just as important now as they were when written even before I was born. YOU are the magic! The tricks merely come along for the ride.

I would love to know who wrote the presentation section of that book. Was it Hugard or Braue? It changed my life.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby Joe Mckay » February 8th, 2017, 11:10 am

The aura a magician creates around himself is something I have thought about in the past.

My three favourite performers in magic are Derren Brown, Ricky Jay and Penn & Teller.

I will leave Penn & Teller to one side for now since their work is outside the traditional realm of magic. Their success comes from a unique point of view, a ton of stage time and a radical reinterpretation of what magic is.

I remember Derren Brown saying the real magic effect was not the trick but the impression you left with the audience. In his case - he is not looking to fool people. But to leave the audience with the impression they have met a real life James Bond type figure. David Berglas creates a similar aura as well.

With Derren Brown - he also throws into that mix the ability to very funny as well. That lingering impression is the real goal of his work. A bit like the way you feel about a movie character after the movie ends. Even if you can no longer recall a specific piece of dialogue.

As for Ricky Jay. I used to obsess over him - back in my serious card guy days. This was about 15 years ago. He was brilliant at creating that persona of an intellectual, with 19th century tastes (Michael Weber once said he struggles to remember anything that happened after 1900) who was connected to an underworld full of arcane knowledge and expert skills. I always found it interesting how much of this was real and how much of this was a persona he set about creating. Ricky Jay really is connected to the magic underground in a way that 99.9% of magicians are not. And that authority comes across even when watching him do a trick or gambling routine that many other magicians could recreate.

I always felt Ricky was a master at creating that aura. And it is the most powerful thing that comes across in his work. As a result - in a strange sort of way - I used to get as much pleasure from reading his New Yorker profile as I did from watching him perform.

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1993/04/05/secrets-of-the-magus

The mood surrounding a performance is an interesting thing. It is why a card trick performed at 10 in the evening can have much more impact than one performed at 10 in the morning. Stand-up comedy is like that as well.

Magic is about having a strange power that others do not have. In that way it is quite a seductive art form. There are lots of pretty women in the world. And some end up as strippers (which as a single man I am very grateful for) and a very select few end up as glamorous movie stars. And the difference often comes down to the aura you create around yourself. And that comes from the mindset you have. Ricky Jay is a master at creating that aura around his performances.

He is doing you a favour when he shows you a trick. Not many magicians communicate that power in their performance.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby MagicbyAlfred » February 8th, 2017, 1:25 pm

Ironic that in the book entitled, "Expert Card Technique," far and away the most important chapter is the one on presentation. More important than all the tricks, sleights and moves in the book combined - at least for one who aspire to entertain with magic. How is entertainment defined? Does it come from the patter? Yes, to a great degree, but it may be more important to understand where the patter itself comes from - or should come from. I think that the answer, at least in significant part, is an understanding of human nature and psychology. This comes more natural to some than others, but it is at least as worth of study as the technique behind the tricks (or more), takes as much time, study and attention (or more), and is certainly easier said than done...

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » February 8th, 2017, 1:49 pm

I learned the best way to work out patter from cantankerous old Wilfrid Jonson (or at least he seemed to come across as a little cantankerous in his books). First in his book on card conjuring and then later in Mr Smith's Guide to Sleight of Hand. He did not seem to favour learning the words off by heart as some daft performers do but favoured a more flexible method with a sort of loose script that became tighter every time you performed so that in the end you said the same thing more or less at every performance.

I also invented my own method which I no longer use but was very useful at the time. It was more a way of coming up with what words to say rather than how to learn it. I wish I had the energy to describe it.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby MagicbyAlfred » February 8th, 2017, 4:44 pm

In my experience, the spectators are quite assertive, particularly in a close up setting (and especially so, if alcohol is part of the equation). They want to participate and interact with the magician. In the "old days," I saw this as a rude interruption and affront on their part, and would hasten to get back to my patter and the "plan" of the routine as quickly as possible. Eventually, I came to realize that their comments should be acknowledged, welcomed - even embraced. I learned that these were, for the most part, fabulous opportunities for enhanced entertainment. They will often say very funny things, or make remarks on which you (and other spectators) can, in turn, improvise and make witty or otherwise entertaining comments. When they feel they are involved and part of the show, versus this egotistical magician guy expecting them to be docile and admiring onlookers, who is trying to fool (or make fools of) them, they are more receptive and appreciative, and the reactions, fun, and overall entertainment value of the experience are exponentially heightened.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby performer » February 8th, 2017, 8:39 pm

Indeed. A very important factor in close up magic is a knowledge of people and human nature. A magician should be a good psychologist.

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Re: The svengali pitch

Postby MagicbyAlfred » February 9th, 2017, 1:04 pm

performer wrote:Indeed. A very important factor in close up magic is a knowledge of people and human nature. A magician should be a good psychologist.


Absolutely. And it's not really the kind of psychology to be learned from academic treatises. Trial and error (I guess that is another way of saying "experience") is the best teacher. Many times what you expect to be the reaction to what you say and/or do is not, in fact, the case. But then, eventually, through experimentation in the "human laboratory" (when and wherever you perform) patterns begin to emerge, ad you can start predicting with some reliability, when i say or ask x, they will say or respond y; or when i do x, they will react in a certain way. Certainly not an exact science, but pretty darn reliable nonetheless.


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