Eye contact

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
performer
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Eye contact

Postby performer » August 21st, 2015, 12:20 am

I have been out all evening working doing close up magic in the street (not busking I might add) and have missed any amusement that has been going on. I do get a psychic vibe that there may have been some.

When working I was thinking about this eye contact nonsense and was observing myself all evening. As a result of which I have confirmed to myself something that I have known all my life. Eye contact is over rated and in fact is quite DETRIMENTAL to close up magic.

I believe it should be used on the stage but different rules apply there. Before I explain my reasoning regarding eye contact and close up magic I will explain the difference between a close up magician and a pitchman. Study pitchmen. There are plenty on you tube or you can see them live at various events. You will notice there is not much eye contact during the demonstration itself. However, the eye contact happens at the end of the demonstration when it is time to take the money. There are deliberate reasons for this. Eye contact during the demonstration puts undue pressure on the people watching. They want to watch and not feel singled out. Looking at them may tend to make them disappear. I have already explained elsewhere that in order to gather a crowd you don't want to be making eye contact with people. If you ask people to move in and look at them directly they may well resist you.

When people watch a pitchman they want to watch and feel relaxed that they are not being looked at. However, when it is time to take the money the pitchman will look at you for two reasons. One to put pressure on you to purchase and two, so you don't walk away. If one person walks away they will all walk away and by looking at people you stop that exodus. The last thing you want is people walking away when it is time to get the money out. You can lose the whole bloody crowd if that happens. Staring at the people when you "come to the bat" (close the sale) discourages them from walking away.

However, a close up magician is different. The end of the trick is the very LAST place you want to be looking at people. The reaction will be diluted if you do that. I have known this all my life and was very pleasantly surprised when I read last year that Al Schneider came to the same conclusion in one of his books. Great minds think alike it seems.

When you look at someone at the magic moment they know you are expecting them to react and this will inhibit their reaction. So don't look! If you don't want to listen to a wicked scoundrel like myself then listen to Al Schneider. You may well take him more seriously than me.

However, I take things a bit further. I have always known instinctively that when you perform close up magic their eyes should be on your hands rather than your face unless there are reasons involving misdirection. However, there is more to it than that. I have always regarded eye contact as a subtle invasion of privacy. People want to watch you without being looked at. They relax better that way particularly in an impromptu situation. Reaction is more spontaneous and more likely to explode. I have known this all my life and it is one of my little secrets.

Now YOU know....................

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Eye contact

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 23rd, 2015, 7:23 pm

This is a fascinating topic. IMHO the amount of eye contact, the people to whom it is directed, the points in time when it is exercised, and for how long, vary with the setting in which close up magic is being performed.

As a professional close up magician, I would estimate that well over 75% of the time I am on the move (strolling) rather than remaining stationary in a fixed spot. This is in contrast to a magician performing at a trade show, or who has a table set up on the street where people come to the magician. I have found the time-honored axiom, "if people like you, they will like your magic," to be true, assuming your magic is at least reasonably clean and polished.

Years ago, when I was a fledgling performer, I thought people would just naturally love what I do and want to see as much magic as possible sheerly because they would be impressed or blown away by the tricks. I learned otherwise. If people made comments while I was in the middle of a trick or routine, I considered it rude or an invasion, and I would generally ignore the comment or brush it off and return to my "script" as quickly as I could. Now I welcome people's comments, and I stop and actively interact with the speaker, in a good-natured manner, of course. Why? Because I have found that most people want to be involved; they want to feel like they are important, witty and amusing, intelligent - what have you. They want to be part of the show. I have found that sharing the spotlight with them and giving them personal attention often greatly enhances the entertainment for all concerned. People are fascinated by other people and so, It makes for a more lively and organic atmosphere wherein it is not just about the magician and his ego as the centerpiece, but an environment where everyone is welcomed to be part of the show, the fun and entertainment. People will often say hilarious things and the performer will benefit by the laughter that ensues - you will often get credit, and the host or other person who hired you will be impressed that you are able to get audible, joyous, fun reactions. For me it has literally led to a substantial number of bookings and repeat bookings.

I realize this is my personal performing philosophy and style, but it works far better for me than my former way of performing. When I perform the card routine, "The Twins," for example, I will say, "The dark haired gentleman (or king) was married to a lovely brunette." I will then stop, look up at a woman at the table or bar, and quip, "Not as lovely as Lisa here, of course," and then make eye contact with and smile at everyone at the table before continuing. Generally, eye contact with a smile conveys a totally different (less invasive) feeling than when you are not smiling. Although more "serious" eye contact might be more appropriate and effective when doing a more mystical routine when you want evoke a different kind of feeling. I can tell that, generally, people really like the personal attention of hearing their names and having me look at them - they want to know that you care about them personally. This is one of the most beautiful and intimate things about the close up magic arena. So yes, I attempt to interact with pretty much everyone; I learn and use their names repeatedly during the performance, ask them questions about themselves and their lives, and actively make eye contact. It is surprising to find that a person who initially seemed like a really tough 'nut to crack" will often open up and be the most forthcoming in the group.

Obviously you need to cultivate a sense of when and how long to look someone in the eye; of course you don't want to make them uncomfortable, or verge upon staring them down. And some people are far more comfortable with eye contact than others. If someone quickly looks away averting your gaze, then you don't persist. This all varies with the individual, culture, ethnicity and even gender. (Research shows that women, for instance, make more eye contact during conversation, while many men are more comfortable conversing when side by side or not looking at one another). When performing for a couple, you obviously do not want to devote an undue proportion of time gazing at the woman or one partner, while virtually ignoring the man/other partner. You need to win both over and not come across llke you are flirting with or hitting on one's wife or partner. But if performing for a single, unaccompanied woman or more than one, the rules change. So it is about developing propriety depending on the setting or the particular people involved.

Vernon said, "You must have an emotional hook" and IMHO, this extends beyond the mere performance of the trick.

Carlo Morpurgo
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Re: Eye contact

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » August 23rd, 2015, 9:04 pm

performer wrote:I have been out all evening working doing close up magic in the street (not busking I might add) and have missed any amusement that has been going on. I do get a psychic vibe that there may have been some.

When working I was thinking about this eye contact nonsense and was observing myself all evening. As a result of which I have confirmed to myself something that I have known all my life. Eye contact is over rated and in fact is quite DETRIMENTAL to close up magic.

I believe it should be used on the stage but different rules apply there. Before I explain my reasoning regarding eye contact and close up magic I will explain the difference between a close up magician and a pitchman. Study pitchmen. There are plenty on you tube or you can see them live at various events. You will notice there is not much eye contact during the demonstration itself. However, the eye contact happens at the end of the demonstration when it is time to take the money. There are deliberate reasons for this. Eye contact during the demonstration puts undue pressure on the people watching. They want to watch and not feel singled out. Looking at them may tend to make them disappear. I have already explained elsewhere that in order to gather a crowd you don't want to be making eye contact with people. If you ask people to move in and look at them directly they may well resist you.

When people watch a pitchman they want to watch and feel relaxed that they are not being looked at. However, when it is time to take the money the pitchman will look at you for two reasons. One to put pressure on you to purchase and two, so you don't walk away. If one person walks away they will all walk away and by looking at people you stop that exodus. The last thing you want is people walking away when it is time to get the money out. You can lose the whole bloody crowd if that happens. Staring at the people when you "come to the bat" (close the sale) discourages them from walking away.

However, a close up magician is different. The end of the trick is the very LAST place you want to be looking at people. The reaction will be diluted if you do that. I have known this all my life and was very pleasantly surprised when I read last year that Al Schneider came to the same conclusion in one of his books. Great minds think alike it seems.

When you look at someone at the magic moment they know you are expecting them to react and this will inhibit their reaction. So don't look! If you don't want to listen to a wicked scoundrel like myself then listen to Al Schneider. You may well take him more seriously than me.

However, I take things a bit further. I have always known instinctively that when you perform close up magic their eyes should be on your hands rather than your face unless there are reasons involving misdirection. However, there is more to it than that. I have always regarded eye contact as a subtle invasion of privacy. People want to watch you without being looked at. They relax better that way particularly in an impromptu situation. Reaction is more spontaneous and more likely to explode. I have known this all my life and it is one of my little secrets.

Now YOU know....................


What you say is very interesting, but I hope you relegate these ideas to close up magic, or the kind of magic that requires the spectator to see how good you are with your hands. Not sure if it woud apply say to mentalism. In general, it's definitely not true that eye contact is overrated...a person telling a joke while looking at the floor is not a good joke teller. A teacher/speaker explaning concepts to an audience while staring constantly at the blackboard (or the screen) is not a good teacher/speaker.

performer
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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 9:05 pm

Thank you for your thoughtful and constructive post, Alfred. Magic is all things to all men and there are different approaches according to temperament and personality.

I try hard not to do bookings where I wander up to people. I have certainly done a lot of them in my time but you are generally in a position of weakness when you approach people rather than having them come to you. Therefore nowadays I try to avoid such work although on occasion I have combined the walk around stuff with palmistry. During the strolling I tell the people that I will be set up to read palms at a certain specified location in say an hour or so.

Then I am in a position of strength since they come to me and a line up of people forms immediately. It is always the hit of the evening and far more powerful than close up magic will ever be no matter who the performer is. I have always said the worst palmist will draw more interest than the best close up magician.

My approach is vastly different than yours. I would never dream of asking people their names. I get very offended if a performer asks me mine. I always feel that it is a breach of privacy and I wish they would mind their own business. I would be utterly horrified talking about "lovely Lisa" and suchlike fripperies especially as she might not always be that lovely after all. I have found her to be only occasionally.

And if anyone even dared to ask me questions about myself and "my life" I would probably request them to mind their own business.

Don't get the wrong impression though. I am not saying you are wrong. I am merely saying it isn't what I would do. It is a function of personality rather than anything else. What is right for me may not be right for you.

All I am saying is that eye contact is over rated and is not always necessary. In fact I believe there are times it can be detrimental. I find the strong reaction comes because you are NOT looking at them although I will concede that you are forced to look at them a little more when doing strolling magic.

I do a lot of impromptu magic for no money whatsoever and I feel that in this situation the less looking at people in the eye the better. The reaction is far stronger that way.

For me that is.
Last edited by performer on August 23rd, 2015, 10:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 9:12 pm

Carlo, old chap. If you read my post carefully you will see that I stated plainly that the stage has different rules. Here it is a good thing to look them in the eye. If you wish to tell stories then look them in the eye. I am talking about close up magic only.

I have done many lectures and many stage shows. I have even worked in a circus ring. Here I look them in the eye. However, when doing close up magic I find it preferable not to except occasionally. I can assure you I know what I am doing. After all I have probably been doing this stuff before you were even born.

I get incredibly strong reactions when performing close up magic. And one of the reasons for this is that people do not feel under the microscope. They can watch in a relaxed manner knowing they are not being looked at.

Incidentally, when I do psychic readings I barely look at the person either. I believe they prefer it and I get the vibes better that way.

Carlo Morpurgo
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Re: Eye contact

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » August 23rd, 2015, 9:37 pm

performer wrote:Carlo, old chap. If you read my post carefully you will see that I stated plainly that the stage has different rules. Here it is a good thing to look them in the eye. If you wish to tell stories then look them in the eye. I am talking about close up magic only.

I have done many lectures and many stage shows. I have even worked in a circus ring. Here I look them in the eye. However, when doing close up magic I find it preferable not to except occasionally. I can assure you I know what I am doing. After all I have probably been doing this stuff before you were even born.

I get incredibly strong reactions when performing close up magic. And one of the reasons for this is that people do not feel under the microscope. They can watch in a relaxed manner knowing they are not being looked at.

Incidentally, when I do psychic readings I barely look at the person either. I believe they prefer it and I get the vibes better that way.


I read what you wrote, and I actually agree with you on the close up magic part. I am not sure that being on stage has anything to do with it, frankly... it's all in what one is doing. For example, I think your ideas (no eye contact for close up) would apply well to a skilled guitarist performing in front of a handful of people, or even just one person. It's a purely selfish act (in the sense that you the performer are at the center of the attention by definition, the attention goes all on you)

ps. I doubt you were doing this stuff before I was born....
Last edited by Carlo Morpurgo on August 24th, 2015, 11:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 9:45 pm

I am sorry Carlo. I thought you were referring to the stage when you were talking about blackboards and such. And when I mean the "stage" I was referring to standing before an audience of any kind such as a classroom etc;

I really do believe that for a magician performing in front of a seated audience in a stand up situation he really does need to be looking at people. There is less pressure on them since they are part of a larger audience.

Thank you for the guitar reference. It never really occurred to me before but now that I think of it guitarists don't do too much of that eye contact business. I suppose they have to look where their fingers are going instead otherwise they will end up playing the wrong tune.

Carlo Morpurgo
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Re: Eye contact

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » August 23rd, 2015, 9:57 pm

performer wrote:I am sorry Carlo. I thought you were referring to the stage when you were talking about blackboards and such. And when I mean the "stage" I was referring to standing before an audience of any kind such as a classroom etc;

I really do believe that for a magician performing in front of a seated audience in a stand up situation he really does need to be looking at people. There is less pressure on them since they are part of a larger audience.

Thank you for the guitar reference. It never really occurred to me before but now that I think of it guitarists don't do too much of that eye contact business. I suppose they have to look where their fingers are going instead otherwise they will end up playing the wrong tune.



Actually they don't have to look at their fingers, in fact when they don't, it's even more "relaxing" from the audience point of view. The point is that the message is clear "you are here watching me now, I will catch your attention with my skilled playing alone".
Last edited by Carlo Morpurgo on August 24th, 2015, 9:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 10:05 pm

quote]


ps. I doubt you were doing this stuff before I was born....[/quote]

OK. When were you born? (I am trying to emulate Alfred by asking nosey questions)

Carlo Morpurgo
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Re: Eye contact

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » August 23rd, 2015, 10:10 pm

performer wrote:


OK. When were you born? (I am trying to emulate Alfred by asking nosey questions)



1961

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 23rd, 2015, 10:18 pm

The year of the Ox (or Buffalo) in Chinese Astrology.

Yep. I was doing magic before you were born. And I was working professionally when you were 6 years old. And performing on national television when you were 8 years old.

I am quite ancient you know. Beware. It will happen to you one day.

Carlo Morpurgo
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Re: Eye contact

Postby Carlo Morpurgo » August 23rd, 2015, 11:14 pm

performer wrote:The year of the Ox (or Buffalo) in Chinese Astrology.

Yep. I was doing magic before you were born. And I was working professionally when you were 6 years old. And performing on national television when you were 8 years old.

I am quite ancient you know. Beware. It will happen to you one day.


:) Point taken... You need to update your website though...it says you have been a performer for 35 years....

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 24th, 2015, 6:16 am

Carlo Morpurgo wrote:
performer wrote:The year of the Ox (or Buffalo) in Chinese Astrology.

Yep. I was doing magic before you were born. And I was working professionally when you were 6 years old. And performing on national television when you were 8 years old.

I am quite ancient you know. Beware. It will happen to you one day.


:) Point taken... You need to update your website though...it says you have been a performer for 35 years....


I have no idea what a website is or what it is for. Some silly woman put it together for me. I did instruct her to say 35 years instead of 58 years so I didn't scare too many people off expecting a geriatric patient to show up on their doorstep in order to entertain them.

On the other hand I can outwork people half my age. Most mamby pamby trade show magicians seem to do a mere two shows an hour. I never stop.

Fonz
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Re: Eye contact

Postby Fonz » August 24th, 2015, 8:21 pm

Refreshing to read through a thread related to the actual performance of magic and not the review, mechanics, or history of a specific effect. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 24th, 2015, 9:53 pm

Fonz wrote:Refreshing to read through a thread related to the actual performance of magic and not the review, mechanics, or history of a specific effect. Thank you to everyone who has contributed.


Indeed. I am glad I started it. However, what you say is quite interesting. It is very true that actual performance is not discussed very much here and I never realised it until you mentioned it.

On reflection I suppose this is because most people on this forum are either amateur magicians who don't get a chance to perform much or they make their livings in fields which although related to magic have little to do with the actual performance of it. They contribute to magic certainly but they hardly ever perform it except on occasion to their fellow enthusiasts (and of course that doesn't mean a thing).

Or perhaps they performed it once in their younger days but these days have been over for a long time.

This is not a criticism. It is just a reflection of the magic community at large. However, it does make the opinions of people who do not have much in the way of performing experience a little less credible or at least should be viewed with a bit more scepticism.

People who perform frequently can still be wrong of course but at least they do have more credibility and should probably be listened to more carefully even if you don't necessarily agree with them.

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Eye contact

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 25th, 2015, 2:00 pm

Performer, thank you (as well as the other magicians on this Forum who have contributed) for your response. It is a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion. I think you are absolutely right in your observation that what is right for one is not necessarily right for another - in magic, and in life in general.

With all due respect, I believe you are in a small minority in that you consider a performer asking your name to be a breach of privacy, and that you take offense at such an inquiry. I also find that people respond very positively when you show an interest in them and are curious about their lives and what is important to them. At least this is what experience tells me. Like the old quip says: "I went to school, but I didn't let it get in the way of my education." By the way, if you ever do happen to be at one of my shows or at a restaurant where I perform in California, and I ask you your name, please don't cuss me out too bad!

Before I became even reasonably competent with sleights, my connection with people garnered me a lot of work. At least this is what the events planners told me. BTW, I recommend Dale Carnegie's classic book, "How to Win Friends and Influence People" to any performing magician (amateur or professional), in fact, to anyone, in any walk of life. IMHO, it contains great insight into human nature, and what is important to people. After all, as performers, is that not who we perform for?

Since my livelihood depends on it, I have learned to overcome most of my former fear and apprehension about approaching people. Rather than walking up and saying, "Hello, I'm Alfred the magician, would you like to see some magic?" thus setting myself up for rejection, I usually break the ice with a quick flashy trick such as the production of an old silver dollar out of flash paper. If they show interest, I can take it further with them. If not, I I do not linger. I typically say something pleasant or humorous (e.g. "I am now gong to make myself disappear now") and move on. If I misread them, they will ask me to stay and do something more. If I am "rejected," I no longer take it personally, or as a blow to my ego. Often people want to talk business, are busy trying to resolve a personal issue, want to watch sports, catch up on old times, or have a private romantic moment. Or maybe they are just in a mood to be alone. I have learned it's nothing personal. And yes, there are a substantial number of people who have a predisposition against magicians due to having seen patently obvious or sloppy magic, or having been the brunt of the "wise guy" type of performer.

Because I do not try too hard to insinuate myself upon approaching people, I have found that in many instances after I gracefully walk away, those same people sometimes later seek me out and ask me to do something for them or their friends or family. I would add that it is much easier to approach people at private bookings than when working in say, a restaurant, because they generally realize you have been hired as an "entertainer," thus giving you "legitimacy" and built-in respect, whereas in restaurant and bar gigs, a lot of people (other than your regulars) are taken completely aback by being approached, or they feel awkward or uncomfortable because they believe they are expected to tip. (Yes, table tents are probably a good idea in restaurants, although I have never yet used them. Maybe I will start to soon...)

While I have learned a great deal about magic and being an entertainer from other magicians, my primary teachers are the laymen for whom I perform. I do like performing for magicians too, and I disagree that it does not mean a thing, although truthfully, I have learned that the best way to entertain magicians is to perform moves immaculately (I still have a long way to go there!) and/or to fool them.

What is right or wrong is a philosophical and subjective exercise, but what works in the real performance world is what is paramount to me as a close up magician with about 20 years of professional performing experience. And you know, even if "Lisa" doesn't happen to be so "lovely," it is a white lie I can live with if it makes her feel good and adds to the fun and entertainment.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 25th, 2015, 3:42 pm

Alfred. I am afraid you know a different Lisa than the one I do but perhaps we won't get into that.

I have actually seen you perform and think you do a creditable job. You are pleasant and low key and I am sure this takes the sting out of your nosey questions. I still wouldn't like you asking my name though. British you know. We don't really like that sort of thing. Or at least I don't anyway.

I shall give you an amusing example of this. David Nixon may not be well known to American magicians but he was a household name as a magician at one time. A terribly polite and charming man with a pleasant performing style and very unlike the aggressive and unpleasant in your face style of today. He has always been my favourite magician (apart from myself, of course)

Here he is on stage at the London Palladium. Note the reluctance of his volunteer to give up the kind of information you like to elicit.

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

He did not want to give his occupation and politely declined. He showed great reluctance to give his name and even when he did Nixon backed off and decided to address him as "Mr Thompson" rather than "Roy".

I still remember seeing my friend Paul Pacific (who is unfortunate enough to be a Canadian) performing in the UK and he asked someone his name. The response was "I'd rather not say" He then tried again with someone else and the response was even more forthright. The chap replied, "Mind your own business" Quite right too.

As for Dale Carnegie I happened to know he was a divorced man so that was one friend he didn't win or influence anyway. Of course he may not have read his own book at the time.

And no. I am utterly convinced that performing for magicians doesn't mean a thing. In fact if they think you are superb it may mean you had better work on your act a bit more. They always praise and appreciate the wrong thing. The very fact that you say they like to see sleights done well bears out what I am talking about. Laymen shouldn't even be aware of the sleights.

Here is an example. I do a move with the svengali deck that when magicians see it they do backward somersaults over it for no reason whatsoever except that they have never seen it before. Laymen haven't seen it before either but they hardly blink an eye at it. It doesn't mean a bloody thing to them. I am sharp enough not to bother doing it for laymen. However, if I weren't sharp enough to realise that the opinions of magicians mean nothing I would be stupid enough to keep it in.

The WORST thing you can do is try to impress magicians. It will taint your work with the public if you are not very careful. I have seen it happen with far too many.

performer
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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 25th, 2015, 4:32 pm

Oh, and talking about David Nixon here is an episode of his entire television show. Ali Bongo's wonderful act is on there too and near the end you will see the late Victor Burnett who did a beautiful act. I knew Victor personally and despite his lovely act I heard that he became disillustioned with show business. It is a very tough business after all. Anyway, David was a household name in British showbusiness for many years. When he died Paul Daniels took over the mantle.

I loved David Nixon for his gentle manner. And yes, in his day all the magicians criticised him. Yet he knew things they didn't know. He was a prime example of the Leipzig dictum that "if they like you they will like your act."

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnCG2PfunJA

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Eye contact

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 25th, 2015, 6:56 pm

Performer, thank you for your kind words! I do consider it a compliment, given that you are scrupulously honest to a fault, that you feel I do a creditable job as a performer. I am learning every day, and I have a very long way to go before I will even begin to be satisfied. Anyway, I hope you realize that i am not trying to get the last word here, but I feel compelled to address a couple points in your last post.

First, I rarely perform for people from England - regrettably I have yet to make my first trip to the UK. Where I live and work (Northern California) it is a veritable melting pot of ethnicities. I rarely meet anyone with the persona of stand-off-ishness you attribute to Brits. People here are warm, engaging and outgoing and they love to open up, share themselves and be personally involved in the entertainment. I daresay that exponentiates the entertainment.

Second, you misconstrued my point in regard to performing for magicians versus laymen. In no way did I suggest that if a MAGICIAN reacts to or is impressed with something I do, then I consider that validation and incentive to do it for a LAYMAN. If you read my last post carefully, you will see that I am saying quite the opposite. There is a stark dichotomy in what I do and the way I perform for magicians and how I perform for laymen. I love performing for magicians because they love magic. It is a bond we share, and their reactions and opinions do mean something to me. Without dropping names here, I have known and learned from many magicians - some very illustrious. I am still learning from magicians and laymen alike. If you consider performing for magicians a meaningless exercise, then by all means, I would refrain from doing it - Svengali deck or otherwise. I, for one, happen to really enjoy magicians, and performing for them. My very point was that the material I select for magicians, and what entertains and impresses them is very different from that which I do for laymen for reasons I thought I explained. A magician will generally not be impressed with my signed ambitious card routine encompassing double lifts, top changes, color changes, palming, card to the forehead and ultimately to the ceiling, but it blows laymen away and gets me nice tips and jobs. And while laymen inevitably roar with wonder and disbelief upon witnessing a lemon, lime and orange appearing at the end of my chop cup routine, it is simply not going to elicit that kind of reaction from most magicians. And that's fine with me, because I have a wonderful secret treasure trove of things just for magicians that never fail to kill.

Third, I must take issue with your characterization of magicians who perform at trade shows as "mamby-pamby." Trade show magicians are on their feet often for 8-12 hours at a time, and they must be creative, personable, and all-in-all, pretty dang accomplished even to get such lucrative bookings.

Finally, while he may be far from a master of sleight of hand, Doc Eason made a wonderful living entertaining the rich and famous at John Denver's Magic Bar in Snowmass, Colorado. If you go to his website you will find videos on making a connection with the audience, which features, among other things, asking, learning and using their names, and even remembering those names years later when he sees them again. Although I respect your opinion, I am going to continue to ask and learn the names of people I perform for, whether layman or magician, draw them out as people, include them in the show, and yes make a lot of EYE CONTACT. I guess that brings us full circle.
Last edited by MagicbyAlfred on August 25th, 2015, 7:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 25th, 2015, 7:26 pm

Oh, don't worry about having the last word. Talk as much as you want. I am enjoying our discussion. After all it does seem to be about the PERFORMANCE of magic.

Now the British are not "stuck up" in the slightest. Just the opposite in fact. They can be quite rude and obnoxious in fact. I should know since I am just the same. They are not as friendly as Americans and far more reserved. We tend not to like nosey questions and are very cynical people who smell insincerity a mile away or tend to suspect it anyway. That, alas is why David Copperfield did not do well in the UK.

That is not to say your techniques wouldn't work with the British. In fact I suspect they would lap it up if you didn't get too personal and you didn't meet people like me. You are the gentler type and they would like that.

I think performing for other magicians is a very bad thing indeed. However, if you are able to separate the two and realise that one has nothing to do with the other it may not affect you. However, I do tend to think one mode of thinking can affect the other. I know EXACTLY what you are talking about when you say that the stuff you do for magicians is not the stuff you do for laymen and that is precisely my point. To be a great magician you have to THINK LIKE A LAYMAN and this becomes difficult if not impossible if you are continually trying to amuse magicians with unsuitable material for the public. I regard performing for magicians as pure incest. What is the bloody point if they know how the tricks are done? Just to impress them with your fancy sleights?

But then it is not for me to tell you what to do. You obviously like magicians whereas I detest them. So naturally you are going to do better with them than I will. I find when they watch you have a catch 22 on your hands. If they dislike your work they will criticise it. If they like it they will steal your material. Or perhaps they will exercise both options. I expect in your area half of them are now doing your tricks! Mind you, that won't be too bad as the ones they are stealing are not the practical ones for laymen.

If you ever meet me and show me something you will find me the worst audience in the world. I will look as miserable as sin and you will wonder why you are bothering. And you won't even dare to ask me my name or query about my dreams and hopes.

That is not to say that I cannot be impressed. However, since I think like a layman the best thing for a performer to do is the simple stuff that would impress a layman. Even the ball vase will do. I will still look miserable but will be far more impressed.

There are a tiny few close up magicians that impress me so there is still hope. Mind you, I don't think I have seen ten good ones in my entire life so that will give you an idea of how miserable I am.

I am a great believer in what Joseph Dunninger once said. "Nail Through Finger will suffice if you have some way of magnetising and hypnotising that audience". If you ever meet me then show me that one but don't forget the "magnetising and hypnotising" bit.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 25th, 2015, 7:36 pm

Oh, I see you have added another paragraph to your post. I know about the memorisation of names thing that Doc Eason does and this may well be a useful thing, particularly in a venue you work regularly. It is well described by Harry Lorayne in his various memory books.

I have seen the videos of Doc Eason and have seen him lecture live for magicians for a few minutes. I can't bear watching lectures so I didn't stay. However, I have made a resolution lately never to comment on other performers if I can help it. I will merely mention that he did indeed ask my name and I hated it. And I was amused to hear that someone in my absence informed him that I did children's shows and he was mightily astonished at this revelation, no doubt because of my nasty, grumpy personality.

As for trade show magicians being "mamby pamby" I was merely referring to this nonsense of only doing two shows an hour. To a svengali pitchman like myself this is actually quite laughable. Sure you have to take breaks to let the sales staff talk to the attendees but two lousy ten minute shows an hour leaves 40 whole minutes where nothing is happening. Seven to eight hours working for a mere three days is NOTHING! I have worked for 20 weeks in Blackpool 7 days a week from 10 am in the morning until 11pm at night pitching svengali decks. Sure there were breaks but I could keep up the pace for months on end.

I mainly do trade shows nowadays and by dint of this experience can outwork those half my age. I find this one or two shows an hour laughable, quite frankly.

You would have to be a svengali pitchman to understand my mentality and attitude to humanity. Alas there are only a tiny handful of us in the entire world.
Last edited by performer on August 26th, 2015, 7:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 25th, 2015, 10:27 pm

Performer, I suspect that you are not nearly as miserable as you fancy yourself to be. And yes, if you come to see me perform, I would magnetize and hypnotize the socks off of you - and I have this amazing trick I do with 21 cards. Probably wouldn't fool you, but I fool myself with it all the time.

t think magicians are like the population of humans at large, which means some of them are quite likable, and not necessarily looking to steal or criticize. I have some good friends who are magicians who are far from detestable. BTW, I do not continually try to impress magicians. Actually, I rarely encounter them. I don't belong to any of the clubs or hang out at magic stores or conventions. But inevitably, some come to see me at my regular restaurant/bar gigs, and I want to have some things I can do for them that will fool them (which I do). After all, we have to fool laymen to have any credence as magicians, don't we, so why not magicians? As a professional magician, I feel I have an obligation to perform for everyone who wants to see me provided they are not utterly rude, obnoxious and/or insulting. Unfortunately, unlike yourself, most magicians simply do not look at magic like a layman - in fact, as I see it, that would be a contradiction in terms...

But a good fun discussion; I am really enjoying this thread!

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 25th, 2015, 11:06 pm

I trained myself to think like a layman. I had to psych myself up to do it but I realised it was important when I read that I had to do it in the presentation section of Expert Card Technique. I regard this section of the book as the most important theory I have ever read on close up magic and I find it surprising that I am the only one who ever mentions it or seems to even know about it.

I have had magicians tell me it is impossible to think like a layman. It is indeed difficult but it is essential to do it. Now of course you know the secret of the trick and that makes it more difficult. However, it is important to get over this and see things from the perspective of the spectator. After a while it becomes second nature. You learn to do away with convuluted plots and keep things simple. You learn what tricks to do at what time. You learn how to manipulate the mind of the spectator.

You can't do this when you are continually misdirecting yourself into a different mentality by working for magicians.

I do a lot of impromptu close up magic. When this happens my persona changes and I become absent minded and a little shy. I don't look people in the eye and let them underestimate me by fumbling around a trifle. Then I go in for the kill.

However, when I am working professionally I can't perform like that and I become much more aggressive and fluent. In other words the exact opposite.

And when I sell svengali decks I become the devil incarnate!

Here is a sample although I am nowhere as vicious as usual here. This is one of my more gentler demonstrations:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxwujHN0w7s#t=38

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 26th, 2015, 6:38 am

Alfred. I am in the process of trying to convince Richard that you are not me. He thinks that I am talking to myself. I do hope you are not too traumatised to be confused with me. Despite my obvious fascination with myself I prefer to argue with other human beings as it saves a lot of typing going to waste. I have furnished him with evidence of your work to perhaps convince him.

Incidentally on reviewing your work I see evidence of the points I have made to you regarding working for magicians affecting the work that a performer might do for laymen.

I watched that Twins Trick you do. That is plainly an item for magicians but somehow it got into your work for laymen. You do it very well indeed but it doesn't suit the venue or a lay audience in my view. You will now probably tell me that it goes over great with laymen but I will have to be convinced of that. It seems to me to be a typical convuluted and not necessarily easy to follow plot devised to amuse magicians rather than laymen. You do it very well indeed and I can quite see magicians raving over it.

I view this as a typical example of getting the two demographics confused. Not your fault-it is just the inherent danger caused by trying to please two different categories of people and occasionally forgetting which one is which. That is why I stick to laymen only. Less danger of falling into this trap.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 26th, 2015, 1:11 pm

PERFORMER,

Thank you for sharing the video of you pitching the Svengali deck. I found it quite enjoyable! Yes, I can confirm that i am not you - I haven't learned how to do that one yet, but stay tuned. However, if you find yourself at your pitch table some day in the future asking everyone their names, where they're from, and what they do, then you will realize, with a sense of horror, that your worst nightmare has become reality, and that Alfred has perfected his human transposition effect. (Or is it transformation?).

Thank you for your kind comment on my handling of the Twins. But respectfully, I could not disagree more on your comment that it is meant for magicians, and is bad for laymen. I think the opposite is true. I believe it is actually the consummate routine for laymen, and contrary to what you say, it is far from convoluted or hard to follow. It is a very basic, direct and entertaining story to which laymen react enthusiastically and ask me to do again and again for them and/or their friends/family. So am I deluding myself that it is a solid worker that elicits copious tips, and should I realize that it is really meant for magicians, notwithstanding that it gets tremendous reactions from laymen? Honestly, I would never do it for a magician, as the only reaction I would probably get is: "That's Brother John Hammon's Gemini move isn't it?" or something similar.

In any event, this has been a lively and broad-based discussion, morphing into a lot of interesting issues considering it started out as a thread on eye contact...

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 26th, 2015, 1:41 pm

I shall take your word for it that the Twins has a splendid effect on laymen. I have a very low attention span watching magic so I may well be wrong. The fact that I don't get excited about a trick means nothing if you are getting good reaction from it.

Now if I were to ask people their names at the pitch table the results would be horrific! I wouldn't sell a bloody thing! As for asking people where they are from or what they do the whole damn crowd would disappear before it was time to rip everybody off in the way they most certainly deserve.

And let us get back to eye contact for a moment. There was a pitchman I knew who never looked people in the eye. Never. Not even once. When someone asked him about it he said, "If I look them in the eye they will see how much I hate them"

I hate looking people in the eye when pitching because they are eating bloody ice cream and hot dogs which I find quite disgusting and worst of all indulge in that revolting North American habit of chewing gum. I have been known to dismiss an entire crowd if I see someone chewing gum right in front of me and I refuse to do a psychic reading for anyone indulging in that disgusting habit. I think they should bring in the death penalty for it. Come to think of it, in Singapore it is actually illegal. Quite right too.

To give you an idea of the grafter's mentality I will explain the following. (and I had better explain that a "grafter" is the correct British expression for that silly American word "pitchman")

Howard Thurston would jump up and down before a show saying "I love my audience" according to your hero Dale Carnegie. He felt it sent his love of humanity over the footlights. A grafter has to have a different mentality. He has to say at the start of every morning, "I hate these verminous people walking around with my money in their pocket. I am going to do everything I can to get it back from them"

Without that you can never be a pitchman/grafter so I think it highly unlikely I will see you in that role, Alfred.

Here is an example of what I mean. Please note the disappointed look of the child whose mother has been silly enough to purchase sub standard merchandise from an evil grafter. If looks could kill I would be dead. However, I am terribly proud that I have given her a harsh lesson life which will harden her for tougher challenges in years to come.

I suppose I could anaesthetise my conscience by saying the $25 she spent was worth the price of the show but I won't bother. I know your philosophy is "How to Win Friends and Influence people" Mine is similar but with a couple of changes in the phrase. Mine is "How to Lose Friends and Alienate People"

Anyway here you are: This should illustrate my philosophy admirably.

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

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Re: Eye contact

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 26th, 2015, 2:16 pm

At the end of the day, I will walk away with what I consider a very solid piece of advice from you. Performer. It is something you said in your initial post in this thread:

"The end of the trick is the very LAST place you want to be looking at people. The reaction will be diluted if you do that...When you look at someone at the magic moment they know you are expecting them to react and this will inhibit their reaction. So don't look!"

Makes very good sense.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 26th, 2015, 2:34 pm

Indeed. That was Al Schneider's philosophy too. I really like reading his theories on close up magic. I find them very astute.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby Dougini » August 26th, 2015, 2:38 pm

Hi Mark!

I am impressed! Great pitch! Hey, I would have NO problem forking over ten dollars for all that! I lived in Europe for two years. My best friends were from the UK. I still use British terms from time to time. Spot ON, bloody good, right, and all that sort of rot! LOL! Amusing, you know.

I am really enjoying reading your posts! I am really starting to feel at home here! Pip, pip! Cheerio and such! :)

Doug

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 26th, 2015, 2:43 pm

Thank you Doug. Of course I have been selling those cards for a long, long time! I even do it at psychic fairs and it actually gets me loads of psychic business which may seem counter intuitive but it is actually quite true.

I actually sell a course on pitching for magicians. 3 DVDs but I try not to push it particularly as I am, oddly enough not overkeen on people entering the business. Odd I know. Maybe I don't like money as much as I pretend.

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Re: Eye contact

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 26th, 2015, 6:04 pm

Mark, what is posted about you on Reddit is not an issue for this Forum. Do not go into it again.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

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Re: Eye contact

Postby performer » August 26th, 2015, 6:38 pm

Fair enough. There have been three further obscene messages from him since my last post. Still, I will keep the matter on Reddit as per your requirements. Besides I think he needs to think when he is in a calmer mood as to which path he wants to take. And so will I. I will make my own decision Friday night. We will see how it goes.

And now to more positive matters. I give my word you will not hear about it from me again.


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