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Topic: Angle Managment
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 14, 2015 01:16PM)
I recently was at a house of many grandchildren, and was doing a little coin magic for some of them. It wasn't a show or anything, just me offering to show a trick here and there or being asked to see some tricks. Well, there were a few irritating things about that little series of performances. So irritating that I am seriously doubting whether I ever want to perform for kids.

But the main irritating thing that I'd like to hear the experts' opinions on is angles. There was this one point during lunch where one of the kids came up to me from behind as I sat at the table and asked to see something. Not wanting to disappoint, I did my best. But of course he saw EVERYTHING, being at the exact perfect position. My question for all of you is: how do you manage situations like this? How do you get people to stop surrounding you, or to back up? Is it possible to adjust certain sleights? What do you do if you need to use a table and it's behind you? And so on.
Message: Posted by: Mb217 (Jun 14, 2015 01:39PM)
Hi Bin, Welcome to the Café… :)

Good questions!

Angles are important in magic. I've messed up many a good trick by not being careful of them and or thinking they did not matter much. I was wrong in both instances. :D

First off, kids can be difficult. Most just enjoy the magic, but some can be quite challenging…I guess this could be said of them in general. :D I do a lot of magic for children on a daily basis and have found out much as to what works and what don't. It's really quite a psychological treatise in itself, coming to better understand this stuff. :D

I don't want to bore here, so simply as to angles and children, recognize that they are little people and you must play down to them (as to your hands - palm up and palm down). Keep the magic ahead of them and of a surprise nature, like pulling a coin from their ear or vanishing a coin and then pulling it from your mouth, etc). Keep it along those lines, and don't keep repeating on the spot just because they keep asking for more, because the little darlings will ask forever! :D

If you're called out by them, just jump quickly ahead of them with something they can't figure out. They will most times immediately forget whatever they thought they caught you on. ;) The same youthful mental quickness they have to figure out things, also works to confound them just as easily. :D Remember, that you are still in control and there's just so much kids do not understand as to nuance, discussion and or debate…They are no match for you or your great powers! :D

Stay ahead of them, and don't do anything that can't fool them, or allows them to quickly figure it out. Keep the angles down low on them, and move your body to place yourself in an advantageous position, even if it means saying, "Stand over here," of "I'll show you something a little later." Not good to let anyone stand behind you, as you can give away a lot of built-in advantages that way. Though, I do do a couple of effects where I ask a person to stand in front of me and one behind me. When I finish, I ask the person behind if they would explain what they saw. They never see anything, as I have all those angles already long time figured out as to what I'm showing them…They see nothing but magic, and the guy behind me is even more perplexed than the guy in front of me, because they just believe that they are in a position to see what's really happening. Yeah, RIGHT! :D If I didn't have absolute control of the situation, I would never do something like that. ;) So, stay in control with big kids and the little ones and you'll be angled properly. ;)

Keep working and learning. And again, "Welcome here!" :)
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Jun 14, 2015 01:41PM)
One way is to insist on people being in front of you, not behind. You can suggest politely that they will be able to see better if they move to the front. Or adjust your own position so no one is behind you.

Another way to prepare for this is to practice with a close-up 3-way mirror. It won't solve the "behind" problem, but it will help you work on angles to the left and right.
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 14, 2015 01:57PM)
I wasn't talking about angles for little kids in specific, but that is some all around good advice, MB. And yeah, kids are ... interesting. I've had such mixed results with them - sometimes they're a dream, sometimes they're a horror. And it's hard to tell what causes it. I would think that smart kids would be the worst, but that seems to have no bearing on it. Whatever, that's a discussion for a different thread in a different subforum.

I guess I just have to remind myself that "I'm a performer, dammit!" and that I /can/ tell people what to do. They're watching me, they'll do it on my terms or show disinterest and I'll skedaddle. (And also people tend to treat people who act like they wield authority as if they do.)
Message: Posted by: Ray Haining (Jun 14, 2015 05:30PM)
What tricks, specifically, have you had angle problems with?
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 14, 2015 05:51PM)
The only thing that comes to mind is some basic improvised coin tomfoolery like through the table and vanish and reproduce and such. I don't think that at that time I was doing much more. But it did bring to mind the whole issue of angles (I often have trouble with them when performing for a group) and how to handle difficult situations like that one.
Message: Posted by: arthur stead (Jun 15, 2015 12:46PM)
If you're going to be performing for children, it seems you need to study some kid-control techniques!
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 15, 2015 12:51PM)
I'm not. Well, I may be, but that's not the exact issue I wanted to address. My post was a bit misleading - I wanted to discuss angles in all contexts, not just with kids.

It seems handling them most often comes down to audience management.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 15, 2015 07:42PM)
"Mathematically speaking", Magic is 5% perceptual illusion, 5% esoteric principles of science, 5% sleight of hand skill, AND, EIGHTY FIVE PERCENT P S Y C H O L O G Y.

It appears to me that you need to learn how to use a little more PSYCHOLOGY!

I skim through many of the fora here, and I note that too many of those making a post are over concerned with sleights, sleights, sleights.

I am definitely NOT AGAINST sleight of hand. Most of my show, that has been my living most of my life, involves skill of one sort or another. (I aint got no "push button" props!) Here comes the BUT: But, I use a lot more psychology than skill.

Never confuse KNOWLEDGE with WISDOM! --e.g.: You may KNOW how to do a sleight of hand trick, (here comes another BUT:) But, you need to acquire the WISDOM not to do it, if the conditions or situation are not "right". Quintino Marucci was an absolute master sleight of hand artist. He would only perform when EVERYTHING was "in his favor"! Oh! "Q M" was his family name. Magicians know him by his stage name: Slydini.

My school assembly program is "virtually" angle proof. HOWEVER, persons sitting behind me will not only not see how the trick is done, they will not even see the EFFECT! (The EFFECT is not a TRICK. The EFFECT is what the spectator(s) SEE, or THINK they SEE.)

I remember a school where the principal was going to seat half the group in back of me on the bleachers. I asked him which half did he want to see the program. He said, "Both of course!" I replied, "Would you watch the TV from behind the set?" He realized what I was saying. He seated half on the floor in front of the kids on the bleachers. They were a fine audience.

Those behind me would soon have lost any interest in the show, and would have become unruly.

Illusions can be presented in a circus ring, IF, one presents illusions like the classic sword basket.

Specifically, I suggest that you learn 3 tricks that you can do anytime, anyplace, for anybody. Then QUIT! Leave them wanting more!

The formula for adding a new trick is:

1. Learn how it it DONE.

2. Learn how to DO it.

3 Learn how to DO it, so that it ENTERTAINS an audience! (THAT is the difficult part!!!
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 16, 2015 07:08AM)
Everything you say is true, Dick. The more I practice, the more the philosophy and psychology make themselves known to me. For example - I'm becoming REALLY aware of misdirection now. (Apparently if you stare at one hand like a [url=http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/38/Duitse_staande_korthaar_10-10-2.jpg]German Pointer[/url], you can get away with practically anything.)

But sadly this is the kind of thing that you can't really learn from a book. I'm sure books can help, but I need to just get out there and perform, gain experience. Which is exactly what I plan on doing when I feel confident in my skills and material - go to a place that has an open mic night and see what people think. So yeah. I'm painfully aware of the psychology, and it bothers me that I can't practice it adequately until my basic sleights are up to snuff.
Message: Posted by: AidanHeritage (Jun 16, 2015 07:26AM)
When I'm working for children doing close up, I know that the situations I find myself in may not lend to certain tricks - you can manage angles by adjusting your position (so for instance sitting or kneeling) but often the best way to manage the angle is to do a different trick!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 16, 2015 07:43AM)
DearFriend Bin...

Dariel Fitzkee wrote a trilogy in the '40s. One of them is titled: "Magic By Misdirection" It's not a Kindergarten book! It's OP (out of print)but,can be found on the second hand market. I recommend that, if you're serious about magic, you obtain, read, and STUDY it.

A relatively new book: "Maximum Entertainment" by Ken Weber, will help you. It's written by a man who was very successful as an ENTERTAINER!

"Our Magic" by Maskelynne and Devant, is old, dry, and tremendously valuable if you want to be more than a dabbler in performing.

Don't forget the classic" TARBELL!

On the contrary, you need to practice PSYCHOLOGY concurrently with skills. John Mulholland once deceived a well known magician by taking a coin from a handful of coins and making it disappear. He used PSYCHOLOGY. (He NEVER TOOK THE COIN FROM HIS HANDFUL OF COINS!) It was ACTING!!!!! John "psyched" the guy!

EIGHTY-FIVE PERCENT.
Message: Posted by: Kabbalah (Jun 16, 2015 08:08AM)
[quote]On Jun 16, 2015, Dick Oslund wrote:


Dariel Fitzkee wrote a trilogy in the '40s. One of them is titled: "Magic By Misdirection" It's not a Kindergarten book! [b]It's OP (out of print)[/b] but,can be found on the second hand market. I recommend that, if you're serious about magic, you obtain, read, and STUDY it.


[/quote]

[i]The Fitzkee Trilogy[/i] is readily available, either as the set or individually.
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 16, 2015 08:39AM)
I'm making a note of those books, Dick. If I've got a "bible" for coin magic, I should have one for performing in general.

And for what it's worth, what I meant about not practicing the psychology was more that I can't adequately practice it until I get some real audiences. Contrast that with the bare mechanics, which you can practice on your own. That's why I'm eager to get out there: so I can stop neglecting that half. But yes, read read read, then do do do.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 16, 2015 09:19AM)
Good! Sounds like you're on 'the right track'.

Sophocles said it a couple thousand years ago: "One learns by DOING the thing"! Just be sure that you've practiced a trick, lines (patter)moves,the entire routine, well enough that you can DO it WITHOUT HAVING TO THINK!

Like brushing your teeth! or tying your shoes!, performing, whether on a theater stage, or at a dinner table, should not require ANY thinking! The psychological aspect is where your thinking should be.

Remember always: "Practice" and "Rehearsal" are DIFFERENT.

You PRACTICE a sleight, or picking up a prop, or "killing" a prop, or just "using" the prop.

You REHEARSE the entire "act". Opening, middle, closing. If you make a mistake in rehearsal, you "cover it" as best you can, and continue, because if you screw up when performing for someone, even if it's not a SHOW, but. simply A trick, a "real" magician manages to "bring the ship into port"!

You are probably beginning to realize that, "There aint no SHALLLOW END in this pool"! You should at least be able to "dog paddle" before you jump in!

You seem to have, unlike some magician "wannabees", a good attitude.
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 16, 2015 11:00AM)
Well, hey. Thanks! :)
Message: Posted by: Bill Hegbli (Jun 16, 2015 11:42AM)
[quote]On Jun 14, 2015, Bin wrote:
My question for all of you is: how do you manage situations like this? How do you get people to stop surrounding you, or to back up? Is it possible to adjust certain sleights? What do you do if you need to use a table and it's behind you? And so on. [/quote]

Now that we have heard about all this heavy thinking, I will express, on how you should have handled the kid. It is simple, with your words, smile, greet them, direct them.

I would have said, Hi, what's your name. I would be glad to show a trick. Turn and put your attention on the kid. Ask questions, having fun today. etc.

Now, either position yourself, if you can, or say something like, hey partner, come around here so I can see you, and you can get a better look.

In other words, be friendly, pay attention to them, and then guide them.

If the kid refuses or is scared, don't keep going and try to make them do anything. Just turn back around and let it go, say nice to met you and the like.

I once was doing a show for kids, and was working with the Rabbit in Hat puppet. It was just short bit, but I looked down and there was this little blond girl in a nice dress, maybe 3 or 4, who was looking up at the rabbit and was saying, Hi, to the rabbit. I just went along with the little girl, as she still believed in puppets being real. We interacted, and she was satisfied with your meeting the rabbit.

This comes about by knowing your magic, I don't have to think, what will the puppet do next. This frees my mind up to think about my audience, and enjoy the moment myself.

I guess I would say, it is taking into consideration your audience or the people that you approach and that approach you. Whenever anyone approaches you, and ask to see trick, turn and say, Hi, my name is Bin, what is yours. Glad to meet you. Take that moment for just them. That is part of being in control of the situation, and if not, attempt to gain control. Sure I will show you a trick, come around here so you can get a better view.
Message: Posted by: Bin (Jun 16, 2015 02:46PM)
Interesting, Bill.

It seems like it's not really the angles themselves that matter - it's the spectators and how you interact with them. An out of control audience goes where it shouldn't.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 17, 2015 05:10AM)
YES! "INTERACTION W I T H THEM!

When performing, whether it's a casual/informal presentation close up at a party or a bsr or, a stand up club/party show, don't talk TO the audience. --talk WITH them!!! You should be having a CONVERSATION.

INTERACTION...INVOLVEMENT..."They" may respond vocally, or with a smile, or laugh, or a "wow". But, unless they are responding, it's a "one way" conversation. The prefix "con" in "con"versation is from the Latin "cum" which means "with". Talk WITH!

You wouldn't normally hold a conversation with someone sitting/standing BEHIND YOU!

Too often, magicians have a tendency to write a script and then DELIVER it like a valedictory address!
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 17, 2015 05:34AM)
MISDIRECTION! Harry Kellar once said that if he had the audience's attention, a CIRCUS PARADE with 26 elephants and a brass band could pass by behind him, and "they" wouldn't notice it!

Harry Blackstone "proved" that when he presented the "DUCK INN"! A dozen, quacking ducks "disappeared", and, NOBODY saw where they actually "disappeared TO"! (Ha! I just did another Charlie Miller! ==I used a preposition to end that sentence WITH!

Nick Ruggiero, was an 18 year old assistant in those final years of the Blackstone show of '1001 Wonders", and Nick "provided" the misdirection. I saw him "do it" many times. Nick and I have discussed the timing and his part in the presentation. "Ya" had to see it!
Message: Posted by: AidanHeritage (Jun 17, 2015 05:40AM)
Yes, Jay Marshall commented when Blackstone vanished something - even though he KNEW what he should be looking for (and I seem to recall it was an elephant) he STILL missed it
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 17, 2015 06:03AM)
HOUDINI vanished an elephant at the old Hippodrome theater! (in Baltimore, I think). Two men pushed a huge "cabinet" on stage. The ephelant entered it. The doors of the cabinet were closed. Houdini (like Thurston!) fired a pistol. The doors opened. The ephelant was gone. Then TEN men pushed the cabinet off stage! --Well, that's how magicians described it! nee hee

I never saw Sr. or Jr. VANISH a "pachyderm", but, I saw Harry Sr. produce a honking goose AND a live burro from a few silks! I know it was a LIVE burro, cuz I helped "walk the beast" in downtown Milwaukee with Nick.

Harry Jr. produced a camel AND an elephant in that New York theater.
Message: Posted by: AidanHeritage (Jun 17, 2015 06:24AM)
Ah, the tricks our memories play - I can remember the quote, but I cannot remember where I read it or the full details. It probably wasn't an elephant, as I'm sure it would have been something more like "act as known" - however, with the usual caveats, http://www.lohud.com/story/life/2014/01/25/-he-has-more-than-a-few-tricks-up-his-sleeve-/4823507/ does have reference to Harry Jr and an Elephant vanish.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 17, 2015 03:02PM)
If you are referring to the Kellar statement, it's from one of the older books. All I remember was the broad statement about the brass band, and the parade.

I never SAW either Blackstone vanish an ephelant, but, then, Harry Jr. did a lot of shows that I never saw. I do remember following Jr. in Davenport Iowa in the Masonic Auditorium, about 25 years ago. It was a big corporate Family Christmas Party. I had an audience of about 500. The client told me that Harry had been there about two weeks before. He was sponsored by a fraternal group, which had advertised the BIG Blackstone show. They had not done a good advance sale, apparently due to poor planning and promotion. They called Harry, or his manager, and requested that Harry bring his "concert" show instead of the "big one". Harry came with Gay and a girl, plus a couple of young fellows to push the props and load in and load out..

He did a fine show. I've seen the concert program many times. He brought several self contained illusions like Zig Zag, and the Harbin Sawing, plus his "personality" stuff. (cage, bulb, handkerchief, committee, silks & ropes, etc.

The audience liked him (here comes the BUT: The show was reviewed by a reporter who didn't like magic. He came, expecting to see an elephant, tiger, the Karnac Levi, the buzz saw and a "company of thirty -- mostly girls", etc. and he saw the much smaller concert program. He panned the show. It, of course, was not Harry's fault.

I do have s fairly good memory of the history of this business, and, although, I try to tell an anecdote with as much "color" as I can, it is possible that I may not recall the color of the tux that Jr. was wearing at a particular show!

It's like the young kid said, "I know Harry Blackstone"! The kid's friend replied, "Yes, but does Harry Blackstone know YOU"? (Harry knew me!)

If you want some trivia, do you know what color were the trunks and crates on both Blackstone (pere et fils)shows? And, do you know whose work trunk's color did not conform to the show's color? And, do you know what color IT was? And, whose trunk it was? Do you know who made Harry Sr.'s Girl to Rose Bush prop? It was for years, the finish to the Flower Garden Opening,

Do you know which of the old man's illusions brought Jay Marshall back 4 or 5 times? --and Jay still could not figure it out! --and why the assistants hated it?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Jun 17, 2015 03:47PM)
Dear AidanHeritage!

I owe you an apology! When I read your last post (January 17, 7:24 AM, I misunderstood. I thought you were questioning my memory, and, I came back at you rather strongly.

After a cup of coffee, I re-read your post. I think I understand it better, now! I hope you'll accept my sincere apology.
Message: Posted by: harris (Jun 20, 2015 06:13PM)
Though most of my gigs are music and puppets I still keep both hands in coin magic.
I find that even though some would say I have the chops that
Schtick gets the gigs and audiences.

Jazz can apply to musical bits and coin magic.
I can improvise and change ongoing coin routines.
I can move to help create better performances. I got into coin magic
Because I liked the eye candy. I've learned to fool myself that us so nothing is noticed even from my point. ..behind the arms rather than only the front.
Getting lower can help
These days getting back up us part if a line that gets a laugh with truth of comedy.
...and allows something to be brought into okay covered by movement and laughter
I learned these thing the old fashion way
By learning what didn't work.
Message: Posted by: daniel116 (Jun 20, 2015 07:51PM)
Back in the army I used to do tricks (can't really call the way they were presented "performing"), I was always surrounded 360 degrees, I found that sucker moves were the best and easiest solution for me.
The ol' spider vanish served me well... while in service!
Message: Posted by: MaxfieldsMagic (Jun 20, 2015 10:15PM)
[quote]On Jun 14, 2015, Mb217 wrote:
Hi Bin, Welcome to the Café… :)

Good questions!

Angles are important in magic. I've messed up many a good trick by not being careful of them and or thinking they did not matter much. I was wrong in both instances. :D

First off, kids can be difficult. Most just enjoy the magic, but some can be quite challenging…I guess this could be said of them in general. :D I do a lot of magic for children on a daily basis and have found out much as to what works and what don't. It's really quite a psychological treatise in itself, coming to better understand this stuff. :D

I don't want to bore here, so simply as to angles and children, recognize that they are little people and you must play down to them (as to your hands - palm up and palm down). Keep the magic ahead of them and of a surprise nature, like pulling a coin from their ear or vanishing a coin and then pulling it from your mouth, etc). Keep it along those lines, and don't keep repeating on the spot just because they keep asking for more, because the little darlings will ask forever! :D

If you're called out by them, just jump quickly ahead of them with something they can't figure out. They will most times immediately forget whatever they thought they caught you on. ;) The same youthful mental quickness they have to figure out things, also works to confound them just as easily. :D Remember, that you are still in control and there's just so much kids do not understand as to nuance, discussion and or debate…They are no match for you or your great powers! :D

Stay ahead of them, and don't do anything that can't fool them, or allows them to quickly figure it out. Keep the angles down low on them, and move your body to place yourself in an advantageous position, even if it means saying, "Stand over here," of "I'll show you something a little later." Not good to let anyone stand behind you, as you can give away a lot of built-in advantages that way. Though, I do do a couple of effects where I ask a person to stand in front of me and one behind me. When I finish, I ask the person behind if they would explain what they saw. They never see anything, as I have all those angles already long time figured out as to what I'm showing them…They see nothing but magic, and the guy behind me is even more perplexed than the guy in front of me, because they just believe that they are in a position to see what's really happening. Yeah, RIGHT! :D If I didn't have absolute control of the situation, I would never do something like that. ;) So, stay in control with big kids and the little ones and you'll be angled properly. ;)

Keep working and learning. And again, "Welcome here!" :) [/quote]

That's brilliant, MB. You really seem to understand children. And angles, of course. But understanding kids is much tougher than understanding angles. Very insightful advice.


:stuckinbag:
Message: Posted by: Quentin (Jun 21, 2015 04:18AM)
A couple of points.
David Devant (remember him, whose motto was, "All Done By Kindness"), pointed out that children see magic from underneath. This was brought home to me when a stand-up magician was doing a set at a party I was at in a private house. The room was busy so some of us, including me, sat on the floor. I saw a lot more than I should have, including discovering the method of a trick that had fooled me badly.

Blackstone Jr produced both an elephant and a donkey without boxes on a fully lit stage as part of his Bicentennial full evening show. If you can find the HBO TV special, "Blackstone Live in Seattle", you can see an hour of that show including the production.
Message: Posted by: Banedon (Jun 21, 2015 09:24AM)
[quote]On Jun 14, 2015, Mb217 wrote:
<snip>
place yourself in an advantageous position, even if it means saying, "Stand over here," of "I'll show you something a little later."
<snip>[/quote]

This to me is one of the key answers. It has been a LONG time since I worked any parties, but I recall being faced with situations of people insisting on standing behind me. My default reaction was to make it into a joke by providing some ludicrous reason of having a phobia of people standing behind me. Usually people got the hint in a way that was entertaining to that person and the audience. More than once someone refused to move so I simply stated that everyone had to be in front of me or I would not continue because he was too distracting to the audients. Phrasing and emoting it just right got the rest of the audience on my side who heckled the person into moving. In other circumstances (which is not always possible) I intentionally positioned myself so that it was extremely unlikely that someone would be able to come up behind me (walls and whatnot).