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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Pardon me, sir... » » The pickpocket let down (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Ragman
I would like to address a problem I have with picking pockets so that others may get some enlightenment from the idea. So many times I have seen performers (including myself) perform a watch steal under the guise of an effect that fails. In other words the idea is to make them focus on the spoon which will bend within their own hands and does not. Perhaps a coin which is held in the palm of one hand will fly from the right hand to the left and you will never touch the coins after they are in their hands and does not. The only saving grace to this is that you now have the spectators watch but is this really enough to cover the failure you have just perpetrated.

Here are a couple of things I would offer, do not do this more than once while performing. I think this says you are pulling their leg and if all of your stuff fails but you do produce their watch it maybe magical but it is the only effect you have done. If you do use this approach cover your failure as a joke as if you did it simply to get a laugh and follow it with a really good effect that stuns preferably with the object you have used in their hands.
I think a follow up effect is every bit as valuable as the effect you start with to establish yourself as a performer so that you can put your into position to perpetrate the stunning theft you are about to perform( that is right theft).
One last, remember for about two seconds you are a thief until you give the spectators stuff back. So it is important that you see it through the spectator’s eyes and make sure they know you will give them their stuff back. If you think they do not think you are a thief what is the next thing that a spectator says after you give their watch back.....I better check my wallet and then they really do check for it. That is because they really do not trust you to some degree if they did they would say it and never really check.

When a big says that for your sake I hope he did not forget his wallet at home that day.
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725 Posts

Profile of Woodfield
I used a spongeball routine to do the watch steal, even if the steal failed, I knew I could end the routine successfully. I believe Kevin King has a video out called Watch Bandit which utilizes a watch steal during a card stab routine.
With enough thought, you should be able to develope a routine that is not dependent on the steal.

Chris Stolz
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Mississauga, Ontario
1957 Posts

Profile of Chris Stolz
I often do this while strolling around and event: After having a card selected, I have reverse it and cut it to center of the deck (secretly of course). While instructing the spectator on how to shake the deck lightly to cause their selection to turn over, I steal the watch.
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The District
357 Posts

Profile of Diavo
I never like the idea of failing magic. Unless it has a killer kicker, like leading the spectators somewhere and completely reversing the effect or blowing them away; but that's not failing.
To me, failing a trick then revealing their personal item is still failing.

I do a variation on the Hopping Halves where after 3 take-away-magically-came-backs I put both coins in the spectator's hand, turn their hand palm-down, then take one coin out (the sun&moon), do a magical change, then they open their hand and they have the opposite coin. [Is that descriptive enough without exposing?]
I'm wondering now if I could, while holding their wrist to turn their hand palm-down, steal the watch. Therefore I get the watch and the magic doesn't fail. Then I could continue with the last phase of HH, making both coins vanish, then reveal the watch from the pocket the coins have been going to...!
I'm not just a magician, I'm an interpreter of Reality.
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Robert Ace
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Profile of Robert Ace
I agree completely. I've never liked the failing magic. Instead I try to figure out ways I can make it work. For example: It is possible to bend a spoon when it's in someones hand, I've seen mentalist do it. So either you can make it work (bending the spoon) and steal the watch at the same time. Or you can "fail" first, stealing the watch and building suspense around the spoon bending, to directly after make it bend in their hands.

Also so true on the trust thing. Overall a great thread, thanks for posting and bringing this up Smile
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Inner circle
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
2133 Posts

Profile of jlevey
If you're doing a stage show, I find one of the simplest ways is to steal it during the natural physical movement of leading your volunteer by the "hand" up to the stage. Another way is to "assist the volunteer in waving the wand in the "right" direction by supporting his wrist as he does so (ie. as he points at one of the turned over cups during a cup and ball routine in the act of making the ball beneath the cup vanish.
Works every time. Of course, one way to be effective with the art of watch steals (and pickpocketing in general) is that the performer needs to have (or develop) a strong stage persona that is rather "fun and constantly physical --touchy with the volunteers. but (of course) in a very friendly inoffensive way.

Hope these suggestions help.

Max & Maxine Entertainment
Magicians with a touch of comedy!
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In search of Vlad Dracul and his
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Profile of Dr_J_Ayala
Jlevey is right about stealing as you lead the helpers on stage. Michael Finney and Jeff Hobson do it that way.

As far as using a failed effect goes: sponge ball routines work very well for the reason that you can actually show a wonderful set of effects and with audience participation. They also build up to the climax of producing the stolen watch. If you choose to do a coin/spoon bend, use them for what they are and not as something that failed, and just to provide cover.

I used to put this spin on the failed effect: I try once or twice and it fails, even in their hands, as I steal the watch. After producing the watch, the effect that failed earlier now worked! This never failed to get great reactions for me.
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Profile of Vayron
With sponge balls you can also do it that way : put a ball on each hand, pretending that the ball will move. Do the watch steal and when they open their hand you say that the balls changed places. It's a gag and at least your trick didn't fail.
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Gainesville Fl
3059 Posts

Profile of MeetMagicMike
This is a very good point. A magician should never use a trick as cover for the steal that he wouldn't use if he wasn't doing the steal.

As a kid watching magician's I also never liked it when a magician built up some amazing trick he was going to do and then ended with a gag. I always thought "ok, the joke was kind of do the trick".

For instance "think of any card in the deck and I'll bet I have it right here". He then shows the 52 on 1 card. Ok. It gets a laugh (or a groan) but the audience has been let down. Why not follow the gag with actually doing the trick that was built up (just use the Invisible Deck).
Magic Mike

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