Thursday, December 29, 2011
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
Let's face it, while the approach opens the door to an amazing experience for your audience, it can also be quite awkward to invade their current experience to introduce them to a new one.
The trick is to make them curious, not defensive. (It's difficult for one to feel defensiveness and curiosity at the same time.) I often do this with a very simple question: “Excuse me, can I borrow your imagination for a moment?”
It's polite, non-intrusive, inviting, and most importantly, different. (“What does he mean, ‘borrow my imagination?’”)
It's now important to follow up with something that does indeed draw in their imagination. I usually continue with, “I'd like you to imagine that I'm holding an invisible deck of cards” or “I'd like you to imagine that instead of these two rubberbands, I am holding the very handcuffs used by the great Houdini.”
So, that's my tip for today — a simple question that heightens curiosity.
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I was a little thrown off. I asked myself, "What does he mean what did I 'learn?' After all, I gave the presentation. Shouldn't the question be 'What do THEY learn?'"
Vince asked be again, "What did YOU learn?"
I get it now. It's about being consistently curious and learning something about ourselves in everything we do. From that day forward, "What did I learn?" has become a question I've asked myself countless times - nearly daily. It's applicable to professional work, family life...and yes, my career as a professional magician. It's especially revealing when you ask this after you TEACH someone something, because even when we are on the teaching side, we are learning too!
Try it. Be curious. Learn on the go. Grow.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wait, I don't mean that in any sort of derogatory way. They are literally part of your magic toolbox, and you should utilize them just as much as any sleight in your arsenal.
How many times do we, as creators, factor in the audience into the method, not just the presentation? Sure, we design effects that entertain and tickle their magical funny bone, but in terms of intentionally focusing on the intricacies of audience interaction and psychology as part of sleight execution is something I think we can and should do more of.
In my work, which you can see in action on my Brainstorm DVDs among other places, I focus the timing of sleights during audience Action, Interaction and Reaction (A.I.R.). As a result, the moves come across as "airy"—and in many cases, virtually invisible. And while it might all appear casual and off the cuff, make no mistake about it—it is ALL very intentional.
The paradox here is that it is hard to make things appear simple. It takes many hours of practice, preparation and on-air time with real world to make it effective. The reward of all this is that you gain an extra tool (in the form of your audience) in making your sleights appear...well...sleight-less.
So, while your audience comes in to be entertained, little do they know that they are playing a secret vital role in actual the execution of your methods. It's a shift in our thinking. No more laboring over how they might burn our hands; instead, strategically weave them into the construction of the effect so the moves become background noise—and the entertainment factor takes center stage.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Now describe the entire set in about 50 words. Wait. Here's the real key; avoid listing the names of the effects or directly describing what happens with the props. Instead, describe it as a STORY of the journey experienced by the audience.
So instead of writing down your routine as a list of 4 or 5 effects, you might describe it like, "The audience experiences the power of subliminal advertising, then are shown how their own actions could subliminally broadcast their mere thoughts. Then, in addition to predicting the future, the future is actually altered! Finally, the audience sees what it's like to have something vanish up close, then repeat with a powerful twist."
Why do this exercise? 1) It often unveils misplaced effects that interrupt the flow of an cohesive and advancing story; 2) it focuses your view through an audience lens; and 3) it helps to answer the ever important "So What?"about particular effect(s) - such as "So what if I find the Aces?" or "So what if I find their card?" The latter examples can often transcend into experiences that touch your audience in profound ways IF the story and premise are presented as such.
So, what's your story?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
Sunday, March 13, 2011
Okay, so Paul Harris' classic effect has always intrigued me. I'm quite proud of the variation I use, not so much for handling touches, but for the the "moments" I create through simple one-degree shifts. The most notable of these is placing the cards ON the card box during the time they change. It's a hands-off magical moment. Enjoy!
Saturday, December 4, 2010
The Y is another major brand. Their voice consists of five key words: welcoming, nurturing, hopeful, genuine and determined.
So, when thinking about your personal brand as a magician, try speaking in one voice. Identify some key words that best align to your personal brand, and jot them down. Everything from your movements, words, gestures, attitude, collateral material, website and more should all point to the same target and embody your brand. If they don't, imagine the confusion you'd be conveying.
Monday, September 13, 2010
So, while it may seem like an obvious point, it's important to remember to smile when presenting your magic. I've caught myself violating this rule, as I'm sure we all have. It's usually due to concentrating on executing a sleight or thinking about the next move. Being aware of this, and throwing on a happy face will not only diminish the perception that anything sneaky is going on, it will naturally raise your likability factor and open up an extra degree of connection with your audience.
A smile is one of five key presentational tips that I believe are important when performing. Here are all five, easily framed in an easy-to-remember acronym, S.M.I.L.E.
- S. Smile.
- M. Meaning - Don't just recite your lines; stand behind every word.
- I. "EYE" contact. Please don't stare at your cards the whole tim. Lock eyes with everyone in your audience and you'll "touch" them.
- L. - Listen. Listen to both verbal and non-verbal gestures...and look for opportunities to respond and interact.
- E. - Express YOU. Don't let your props upstage you. Create opportunities to be YOU and express the wonderful, unique qualities only you have.
Friday, August 20, 2010
If you're familiar with Intro-verted from its original appearance in MAGIC magazine, don't overlook some new features: 1) There's a simpler set-up procedure; and 2) Joshua Jay adds an fantastic optional color-changing kicker (see page 23).
TRUTH IN ADVERTISING
This effect exemplifies the whole "one degree" philosophy. The addition of an odd-backed card to my previous effect Optical Opener (Second Storm) results in an massively stronger experience.
I can do this in front of the mirror all day. Show three cards as four with a natural in-the-hands stud turnover sequence.
HOMAGE TO HOMING
With a nod to John Carey, Lance Pierce and of course Francis Carlyle, this is a perfect anytime, anywhere card-to-pocket routine. Three luscious phases with an amazing ending. Tip: Study the Asher Twist at www.leeasher.com
This is a great way to open up a set. It maximizes the staging and psychology in my effect Color Blind (Brainstorm) to add a card to anywhere surprise!
This natural and deceptive sequence is an efficient alternative to the Biddle Steal. And as with many tricks in One Degree, it's completely impromptu and completely in the hands.
BEHIND THE BACK TRIUMPH
Give your participant the freedom to mix cards up and down behind their back. Yet when the deck is spread, the cards are all facing the same way except for the card they named early on.
Tuesday, August 10, 2010
ONE DEGREE as a book and an approach is all about making small, intentional improvements that can turn a good trick into a GREAT trick! It can be something as simple as pausing before the final reveal, replacing a sleight with a subtlety (or vice versa), and more. I see many beginners completely changing effects or trying the latest and greatest stuff in order to heighten their newness factor. I say, instead of making massive changes to try to achieve massive results...make strategic and careful improvements to achieve the same.
I view it in three parts: IMPACT, CONNECTION, and BEING ON TARGET
Build upon an established foundation to increase the impact inordinately. Think about Olympic sprint runners; as they approach the finish line, even the smallest change can make the difference between a Gold and a Bronze. Or as the cover of the book depicts, just one degree above 211°F takes it to the every powerful boiling point. I give practical examples of this philosophy in the form of effects and essays throughout the book.
We've all heard of "six degrees of separation.” Magic gives us the unique opportunity to turn this into ONE DEGREE of CONNECTION...even with a complete stranger. So, how do we maximize these connections? Just being aware of it and intentional in our actions is a great step. Borrowing from my experience in branding, it's important to speak in ONE "VOICE"...not just your spoken voice, but every other way you express yourself. This is how the best brands are built. I have an essay on branding in the book with suggestions to help you hone in your own brand as a magician (complete with my personal notes relative to MY brand).
3) BEING ON TARGET
Imagine yourself aiming an arrow at a target. A shift as little as ONE degree could make the difference between hitting your target...and not. So, in targetting our respective goals, viewing things through a one degree lens is so important.
An important note here is that one degree changes have to be a change for the BETTER. If you have a solid routine, and you make make a small change in the wrong direction, the effect does not just become a little worse...the results could be catastrophic. This is why it is vitally important to be wholly aware of who you are as a magician, what promise you make through your magic (brand), how you want the audience to FEEL...then making careful adjustments that are aligned with this.
You’ll soon recognize one degree changes everywhere...even beyond your magic. You'll become more aware why some magic just works, and some doesn't...or why some commercials grab you and inspire ACTION, while others don't...or why you're loyal to one brand over another. Here’s a quick non-magic example. I took my 2-year old daughter to Disneyland and we ordered pancakes. Out comes a "Mickey Mouse" shaped pancake. Wow! Here eyes grew wide and her smile lasted throughout the day. For Disney, it required very little effort or cost on their part to bring out a Mickey pancake (one degree improvement)...but the results were EXTRAORDINARY. Let's face it, it's just pancake batter...but the one degree change was completely aligned with the Disney brand promise to bring joy...and it worked in a BIG way.
In addition to more than 20 tricks and moves in ONE DEGREE, I have practical tips throughout the book that cover all of the above.
Some of my one-degree magic examples:
- Adding wine glasses to a classic Ace Assembly
- Adding an odd-backed card to Optical Opener, and crafting a presentation that connects
- Making Palm Reader and Jack Carpenter's "Mysterious" completely in-the-hands
- Taking Triumph out of YOUR hands, and having your participant unmix the deck behind their back
- and so many more!
It's my hope that ONE DEGREE will help you for beyond the tricks I share. The goal is to inspire you to identify small but important shifts that will lead to a WOW factor in your own magic. Needless to say, your one degree shifts will be different than mine since they must be wholly aligned with our respective brands.
For more information, visit www.vanishingincmagic.com and www.johnGmagic.com
NEW "ONE DEGREE" PROMOTIONAL VIDEO
Monday, August 9, 2010
Featured Guest (For Magicians)
August 14, 7:30-10:30 p.m.
Performing at Pop the Cork Wine Bar
O.C. DECADENCE event
Tickets and info at: http://www.ocweekly.com/microsites/decadence/
Featured guest Magic Newswire podcast
Tuesday, September 7
Lecture at International Brotherhood of Magicians
Jeff McBride Ring - Lake Elsinore, CA
September 10 & 11
Performing at The Magic Castle
Hat & Hare Pub with featured performer Matt Vizio
Carolina Close-Up Convention
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
You can order through Vanishing Inc. or directly through me here. With every order, I'm including a FREE clear sleeve for the effect Lost & Found (it makes a perfect bookmark too), and I'll personally sign the book to you!
Tuesday, June 29, 2010
Man, with all this build up to the big meeting/performance with the Board President, I can see how the nerves can set in. Knowing he gets the shakes, then anticipating this moment where all eyes will be on him can seem scary. The scariest part, in my opinion, is the contrived setting...as in, "I'd like to introduce you both; now show us some magic!"
I suggested a few things that I really think would help. Don't look at this as a "performance." Look at as an introduction and conversation. Ask more about him when you meet. To make things less contrived, have a deck of cards handy on a nearby table...as if it's just laying around. Look for a natural transition in the conversation...and continue conversing. Ask an open question (one that cannot be answered with just a yes or no). This keeps the focus shared, and not all lasers on your hands. Don't look at it as instantly switching into performance mode. Pick up the cards and try to make a reference to something he said earlier. In the end, the "effect" is not about Aces or your hands, it's about HIM. This alone helps alleviate the shakes. Take the opportunity to prepare an effect that utilizes his name in some way, but be sure to present it in an "off the cuff" fashion.
A business mentor of mine once said: "Acknowledge and embrace your butterflies. Just get them to fly in formation."
Saturday, May 22, 2010
2. Extra-verted - A powerful and elegant royal flush production
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
- Dinner this week to celebrate my four-year wedding anniversary.
- My new book (ONE DEGREE), which will be out in a few months.
- I'm meeting John Bannon at the Magic Castle next week.
- Raising support for a new YMCA facility.
- A family vacation.
The things we want/need to look forward to never just happen by chance; we must cause them to happen. It requires action. If you think about it, having something to look forward to involves first "looking forward."
As you look ahead, what can you do to create opportunities to look forward to. Maybe start by calling a friend. Accepting a new challenge. Thanking a mentor in your life. Asking a question of someone you respect. Scheduling an overnight getaway. And so on. Actions like these help plant the seeds for opportunities that will naturally grow into important events in our lives...and give us things to look forward to with excitement and anticipation.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
- With bare hands, I produced a Vegas poker chip from the Mirage casino. Just like a mirage, the chip disappeared, reappeared and multiplied.
- The chip changed into a deck of cards, which led naturally into some card magic. The opening effect (Truth In Advertising) is based on my day job in marketing/advertising.
- Depending on the topic of conversation, I performed any of the following card effects: Palm Reader, Lost & Found, Triumph, Homage to Homing.
- After the final effect, I made the deck vanish.
- I finished by passing out my business card. I had mine encircled with a few rubberbands, which provided a natural segue to perform one more but with the rubberbands....and move into talking business.