The svengali pitch in action!

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 29th, 2015, 7:57 pm

Hold onto your hats! This is it! First time from beginning to end!

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

User avatar
Chas Nigh
Posts: 184
Joined: March 24th, 2008, 10:45 pm
Location: California

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby Chas Nigh » December 29th, 2015, 8:16 pm

Great fun to see you in action. I bought your book-looks like I'm going back to it. Thanks for posting.

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 1087
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 29th, 2015, 9:28 pm

Excellent! Very Entertaining! :lol:

performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 29th, 2015, 10:15 pm

MagicbyAlfred wrote:Excellent! Very Entertaining! :lol:


Yes, it probably is entertaining but oddly enough it doesn't have to be. The main idea of the whole thing is to deprive people of their money. I do believe that it helps to do so if you can make people laugh but you have to be very careful you don't make them laugh so much they laugh themselves out of the crowd!

I am not kidding either. A dangerous part of the pitch is when there is a key card on top of every pile. If I am not careful they will laugh so much that they start to walk away! Sometimes a magic pitchman will kill the reaction just to keep them there. I have to be alert at all times when I am working. If they start to walk away at the point of the key cards appearing I have to be on the alert and say, "one moment please".

Here is a very odd phenomena I have found working in various countries. In the UK if you entertain them too much they will use it as an excuse not to buy and will be quite happy that you have given them a free show. However, in polite Canada and probably in the US too the entertainment helps more than it hinders. They often feel they have to purchase something since you have entertained them so much.

I was quite shocked here when I found that people often tipped me for trying to relieve them of their money. It never once happened in the UK, Ireland or Holland. They give me money here and refuse to accept the tricks in exchange. I used to argue with it until I saw the tips getting quite large.

User avatar
Richard Kaufman
Posts: 24889
Joined: July 18th, 2001, 12:00 pm
Favorite Magician: Theodore DeLand
Location: Washington DC
Contact:

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 29th, 2015, 10:23 pm

A superb Svengali pitch!
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 29th, 2015, 10:44 pm

Thank you Richard. I suppose it is like doing a show. But instead of trying to get applause you try and get money instead. The money IS the applause!

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 1087
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 30th, 2015, 1:42 am

Performer wrote:

"Here is a very odd phenomena I have found working in various countries. In the UK if you entertain them too much they will use it as an excuse not to buy and will be quite happy that you have given them a free show. However, in polite Canada and probably in the US too the entertainment helps more than it hinders. They often feel they have to purchase something since you have entertained them so much."

So, the audiences watching the pitch, be they in the UK, Canada, or the U.S. all have one thing in common; they are human beings. But clearly, the UK individuals, in taking the entertainment for free, are reacting quite differently from the Americans and Canadians, who are "polite" and feel compelled to give something in return when they have been entertained. Is this difference in behavior cultural or genetic, or both? Or, is it attributable to some other factor(s)? Performer, you observed in a thread a few months ago, that the Brits are loathe to tip (even servers in a restaurant, let alone magicians), which seems consistent with what you are saying here.

performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 30th, 2015, 5:23 am

It is definitely cultural. In all the decades I sold the cards in the UK, Ireland and to a small degree in Holland not even ONCE did someone tip me for trying to relieve them from their money. It wouldn't even have occurred to them. And after thousands upon thousands of people had seen me do it. In fact I used to use it as a joke justification for not leaving tips myself. I DETEST this awful tipping habit! I used to say, "nobody tips me when I am grafting. Why should I leave tips to waitresses and taxi drivers for just doing their job?"

And then I came over here and was astonished that they DID tip me when I was grafting! Big tips too like $5 to $10. I would insist they take the product in exchange but they always refused. I found that very odd. To be frank being tipped embarrases me. I tried to discourage it at first but then I gave in to the temptation once the bills started to come in. I detest it when they give me a dollar or two dollars. I feel like a beggar. It actually annoys me because I would prefer them to buy the cards. It feels so odd to be tipped for trying to rip people off.

With regard to the politeness aspect I find that if I have just one person in front of me I can work very quietly to them and they will feel obliged to get their money out to purchase the cards in both Canada and the UK. There is an unseen pressure on them to buy. Oddly enough it works better in the UK than it does over here. In Britain they will either buy or walk away. Over here they tend to look embarrassed and say "thank you for your demonstration" and walk off. In the UK you won't get a thank you if they don't want to buy!

Incidentally the size of the crowd has no bearing on how many decks you sell. That might surprise some of you. The fact is that they can escape better in a big crowd. Same thing when working a trade show. The bigger the crowd the easier it is to escape when
you finish. I did hear a second hand report once of a hot shot performer who charged 10 grand a day at trade shows and got massive crowds maybe even 100 to 150 people or so. I don't know who the performer was. I just heard through the grapevine that the company complained, "we paid him 10 grand a day. He got massive crowds and not a single person came on the booth afterwards to talk to us!"

As I say, I don't know who the performer or the company was and I heard the story from another magician. I don't disbelieve it though. I have often had a large crowd in front of me and nobody buys. There is safety in numbers. I am often better off if the crowd is smaller and I can obtain a rapport with individuals better.

Back to the tipping thing. I am quite sure other pitchmen over here who sell the usual kitchen gadgets don't get tipped but magic has that unique appeal and people think you are almost like a busker. I should mention that the tips are not frequent but in a week's work I can expect it to happen about two or three times. I find it very weird.

I no longer resist. I just take the money.

MagicbyAlfred
Posts: 1087
Joined: June 7th, 2015, 12:48 pm
Favorite Magician: Bill Malone
Location: Myrtle Beach, SC

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 30th, 2015, 6:25 am

So it is a cultural difference that explains why people in Europe don't tip, and people in Canada and the U.S. do. But this leads to the question of what accounts for this cultural difference? In other words, why does that cultural difference exist?

And, a second question arises from your statement: "It feels so odd to be tipped for trying to rip people off." Why does pitching and selling the monte deck equate to trying to rip people off? You are not like a 3 card monte dealer who is cheating anyone. You give them a new deck and the secret in exchange for their money. Plus, you have entertained them with your skill and wit. Does trying to make a living by selling the deck mean you are trying to rip people off? Even a young child can do tricks with the deck sufficient to fool his friends with even a modicum of practice, and with further practice, could ultimately develop enough proficiency to fool and/or entertain many people, and maybe even eventually become a pitchman, for profit, himself. Sure, it is going to take practice to get good with the deck, but the same is true of a beginner who, for example, buys a chess set, or a set of golf clubs. Is the proprietor of a business that sells such items trying to rip people off? I did not see in your pitch that you made any representation to would-be purchasers that they would immediately be able to possess the same level of skill you possess upon purchasing the deck. I did not hear any statement that there would be no practice or skill whatsoever required to do the kind of effects you were doing. You are demonstrating what is possible to accomplish with the deck, and it is the truth that it is, in fact, possible to accomplish wonderful effects. If they don't practice and/or bring their own creativity to bear, or seek to learn, just as you did after acquiring a Svengali deck, that is their fault, not yours. Is it not then they who have ripped themselves off?

performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 30th, 2015, 7:06 am

I am not a sociologist so I cannot explain the cultural difference. People do tip in Europe but not to the same extent as over here. It is insane over here and way over the top. Very off putting I must say. They don't tip at all in Japan, Iceland and other sensible countries and quite right too.

As for the "ripping off" thing don't take me too seriously there. However, you have to be a grafter to understand the mentality. It is the mentality rather than the action itself. I am not just a magician-I am a grafter and we have a different mentality than the rest of humanity. We are terribly wicked people and associate with other kindred scoundrels and it rubs off on all of us.

I shall merely say that ethics and value for money are not a particularly high priority for us. But then we are probably no worse than large company corporate executives. The main difference is that we are quite open about our great wickedness.

You would have to be "with it" to understand. This is an old carnival expression and unless you have been in the business for a while it would be hard to figure out what I am trying to get at.

That reminds me: Here is another cultural matter which might fascinate you. British grafters, particularly those who work in street markets will imply heavily to the public that the items they are selling are stolen! Of course they aren't and are purchased from wholesalers in the normal way. The British public love this and are more inclined to get their money out when they hear that. In stuffy Canada and probably the US too they would be horrified and might even call the police!

Mind you, I still get away with it to a degree even over here. If you look at that video again I manage to slip in a couple of lines implying my great wickedness. The "honest face" thing for example and saying, "there is a money back guarantee--providing you can find me" works very well too possibly because the public detect that there might be a grain of truth in it.

Grafters are street wise and they know how to "duck and dive". That is the best explanation I can give. Murray the great escapologist once said to me, "If you go through life and never do business with a crook you will never get anything done".

I have found that to be splendid advice over the years. Murray was a very wise man.

Ian Kendall
Posts: 2421
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Edinburgh
Contact:

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby Ian Kendall » December 30th, 2015, 8:15 am

I was trained by David Cronin to pitch Svengalis for him on his booth in Harrods in the mid 80s. I remember being somewhat surprised that David was selling Sven decks (in those days) for five pounds, when I knew for a fact that he got them for just under ten pence each.

I imagine this is the mindset to which Mark refers when he talks about 'ripping people off'.

Jack Shalom
Posts: 738
Joined: February 7th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Brooklyn NY

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby Jack Shalom » December 30th, 2015, 8:18 am

Great to watch. Thanks, Mark.

performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 30th, 2015, 8:29 am

Ian Kendall wrote:I was trained by David Cronin to pitch Svengalis for him on his booth in Harrods in the mid 80s. I remember being somewhat surprised that David was selling Sven decks (in those days) for five pounds, when I knew for a fact that he got them for just under ten pence each.

I imagine this is the mindset to which Mark refers when he talks about 'ripping people off'.



Bloody hell! How on earth did David get them for 10 pence each? I know it was a long time ago but I could swear I paid a hell of a lot more for them than that. Mind you, I do know David imported them direct from Hong Kong by the truckload so I suppose that must be it.

Yes. David had the wicked mentality all right. I knew him well. You would never have thought of him to have the mindset under discussion as he looked so dignified and respectable. However, he used to sell an eyeglass cleaner that could not only clean eyeglasses it could clean silverware and all sorts of things. Of course it was just a large tub of soap but the punters didn't know that. It was called "the Blink Fake" among the grafters. And note the word "fake". It is there for a reason.

I personally would not be able to sleep at night if I thought my customers could actually do the tricks I sell. One does have to protect the secrets of magic after all.

Ian Kendall
Posts: 2421
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Edinburgh
Contact:

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby Ian Kendall » December 30th, 2015, 10:22 am

Yep. He had a direct contact in China (or possibly Hong Kong) and had hundreds of the boxes. He had a wee glint in his eye when he told me the real cost :)

performer
Posts: 3052
Joined: August 7th, 2015, 10:35 pm

Re: The svengali pitch in action!

Postby performer » December 30th, 2015, 3:33 pm

I actually have a letter somewhere from the company in China that David used. I have no idea how I found it out. Way before the days of the internet anyway. I think I contacted the Hong Kong Trade Development centre or something.

I can't remember the price and I can't find the damn letter although I know I have it somewhere. I know it was a low price though. The snag was that they had a massive minimum order and they wanted paid in advance. I vaguely seem to remember a letter of credit or something was required from the bank.

They were quite eager to sell them to me but I never did follow it up.

Another thing I never completely followed up on was one of my dafter ideas about selling the decks in Russia. I was even talking to the Soviet Embassy in Dublin about it. My brother talked me out of it since my grandfather was a deserter from the Russian army and stole a horse to escape. He thought the sins of the grandfather might be taken out on the grandson so I never did bother. Just as well now that I come to think of it. A rather hare brained scheme which might have ended up with me in some gulag somewhere.


Return to “Buzz”