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EndersGame
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Reviewer EndersGame
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To the original poster: it depends on where you want to go with magic - if you're intending to do any serious performing, it's hard to imagine being able to avoid buying gimmicks or individual tricks. But if you're like me (an amateur who has been doing close-up magic for 20 years) then I guess I would classify as one of the people you're asking about, since I avoid buying tricks and props. I mostly do effects using everyday objects like rubber bands, coins, and regular playing cards, and have got excellent mileage from the few books and videos that I have.

Videos I've bought? Jay Sankey's Amazing Magic & Mentalism Anyone Can Do Vol. 1 & 2 ($22).
Books I've bought? David Pogue's Magic for Dummies ($14), Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic ($14), Royal Road to Card Magic ($10), Darwin Ortiz' Strong Magic ($35).
Props and tricks I've bought? Invisible thread ($3), magician's wax ($2), and the Invisible Deck ($6).
Total cost? ~$100

The Invisible Deck is the only real trick I've purchased, and it was worth every penny, because I've really worked on a presenting and performing it well. I also consult the internet and forums like this when I'm working on a new effect, to help get ideas in presenting it well or improving the handling. Since I have a special interest in card magic, I've recently purchased a few other books dealing with that, including Garcia & Schindler's Magic With Cards ($10), John Scarne's Scarne on Card Tricks ($10), and Tom Ogden's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Magic ($13).

Not counting those, my investment in magic is almost exactly $100, and I've probably got enough material for a lifetime. But obviously I'm an amateur and for me magic is a hobby, so this would never suffice for anyone doing magic professionally. But I'd rather learn how to do one trick ten times better than learn ten new tricks and do them poorly. And the books I have give me some very solid material, and lots of room for learning and improving. If I'm honest with myself it's easy to lust after the latest "killer" effect, thinking that the next trick I buy will be the holy grail that brings me to the next level of magic, but for the most part this is an illusion, and I'm better to work with the material I have. You might benefit from reading the related discussion in this thread:
Should I buy another trick?.
airship
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It's taken me awhile to learn, but I'm finally to the point where my magic investments break down into three areas:

(1) Knowledge. I prefer books, but if you're into DVDs, that's OK, too. I'm more than willing to spend some big bucks for the good stuff. I read reviews on the Café by people I respect - or whom others seem to respect - before I buy.

(2) Standard props. A couple of the old standard gimmicked decks, like the stripper, rainbow, and invisible decks. A penny & dime, and a copper/silver. In short, the old standard magic props that are good for lots and lots of tried-and-true effects, and that I can use to create my own twists on the old standards.

(3) A few really good, high-quality props. I've got two Higleys that I prize. These are the kinds of effects that really set you apart from the crowd.

I avoid the standard over-the-counter stuff now, though I admit I've got a boxful of that crap that I bought in the past. I've found that they're generally gimmick-heavy, often cheaply made, and actually have less audience effect than good old work-at-it-until-you-get-it-right magic.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
donrodrigo
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U.S.A. and Europe
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Hernan,
In the begining I was always told to buy books 1st.Little that I could as a yougster of course.Later in high school as part time job,like many of us I began to invest here and there. One evening going to a xmass show for our magic club I saw a 16yr old kid on stage with his big illusions. Money will buy ???????? He stank,needless to say
If being an inteertainer(pro) means having money to buy this and that,were is the pro and intertainer???????? after 30yrs I'm still learning and always will...
Brad Burt
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I always looked at it from the viewpoint of the EFFECT produced. I honestly don't care what the method is, although I prefer sleght-of-hand. I want the BEST effect possible with the least amount of work. How 'clean' is it and other considerations all come into play. There's nothing sacred about sleight-of-hand. It's no more pure a form of magic than performing Crazy Cube well.

That greatest advantage to sleight-of-hand is that it leaves no tracks. It's 'pure' in the sense that nothing of the method is left once the routine is presented, etc. But, how do you do Color Changing Knives, one of the best tricks ever devised, without the 'special' knives AND the 'moves'?

Look for the best EFFECTS and learn what you need to to produce those effects and you'll always be happy with the magic you do. All best,
Brad Burt
Andy the cardician
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Beginners, lock your pockets! The temptation is big to buy skills. Well, here is the bad news, you can not.

In the tread below - I shared my experience, so please feel free to look at it, as I do not want to recount everything.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......um=41&44

Andy
Cards never lie
pradell
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There really are no right or wrong answers in this post. Magic is a personal experience. Props are vehicles which assist performers in their entertainment of audiences. Depending upon your personality and the ideas and effect which you choose, as a character in performance, the props will hopefully support your role in entertaining your audience. That being said, it is easy to get overwhelmed with pure collection and overstimulated by the ease that comes with just watching video after video or acquiring trick after trick. If you have the money and enjoy collecting magic, and it gives you some benefit, by all means go for it. Once your spouse can't park in the garage because your illusions take up all of the space in the house, you may have a problem. Max Maven can entertain audiences with just his mind. Other magical characters fill up the stage with tons of confetti, balloons, coins, silks, fans, etc. The varieties are endless.
:magicrabbit:
fxdude
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Hollywood
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Quote:
On 2003-02-07 22:31, Dave Egleston wrote:
Herman,

Most of the folks that will give you advice regarding core skills have already bought all the "stuff" - I know I have - Then you can settle down and "learn the core skills"

It's almost a rite of passage

Dave


That's exactly my thoughts. I was already a gadget freak before I started magic so of course I loved all the gimmicks you could buy. I've settled down a bit now but still pick up the occasional gimmick here and there. It's all about entertainment and what the audience experiences (at least for me it is).
gaddy
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Agent of Chaos
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I know my peers in the know are going to be very angry at me for tipping this, but I guess the cat is out of the bag and there is nothing to be done but let people enjoy these books while they last (a number of these books have *ALREADY* been stolen)-

one of the "magicians" in San Francisco caused a lot of controversy by donating quite a few professional magic books to the public library- for whatever reason all these books when into the general collection and not the reference section. So if you want to check out some great books (Paul Harris, Paul Gertner, Harry Riser, Dai Vernon, Tommy Wonder, Giobbi, Tarbell, ETC. To name a few...) try your local library's inter library loan system- Just PLEASE remember to return what's left of this collection to the SF library...

How about THAT for free!
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
DanielSkahen
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Haha, I like it gaddy.

I agree that the core essentials of magic are a good place to start, though I think it's a bit naive to deny the value of everything else. To the few magicians I've helped get started, I've recommended buying one or two awesome, instant-gratification gimmicks, like the Svengali Deck and the Invisible Deck, just to settle the craving for fast, powerful magic. Then I turn them to the classic essentials.

I wish magic sites would give free samples from their products - as it is done in almost every other market I can think of. Perhaps this would not work with gimmicks, but especially with books and videos, I think giving away a few tricks that people can put to the test before they invest not only makes the product more marketable, but also more of a contribution to those magicians who may not be ready for the full investment. I make a point to do this in my own business, and it's resulted in better relationships and more success overall.

To you, Hernan, I would say this: It's not too late to go back to the proverbial basics, nor was it a waste of time or money to invest in the collective "stuff." Just keep learning, keep practicing, keep performing, and your own path as a magician will continue to unfold.
- Dan Skahen
ViciousCycle
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When you perform magic, you need to be very comfortable with your tools. One of the problems with some prepackaged magic tricks is that each has its own unique props that are not readily reusable in other tricks. And so your only chance to work with those props is when you're working on that specific trick. So you might never get a chance to get REALLY comfortable and REALLY familiar with those props.

If you practice tricks that rely on ordinary objects (cards, coins, cups) and/or tricks that rely on utility items that can be reused in other tricks, then you have a chance to become REALLY comfortable and REALLY familiar with those props.

I've had times where I've made a mistake while performing a card trick, but my comfort level with cards has allowed me to recover by doing a different trick than what I set out to do or by doing a different method altogether. There's a flexibility there that a number of one-trick-props just don't have.

It's one thing for a professional to masterfully use one-trick props as part of a professional performance. It's quite another thing for a hobbyist like myself to do so. I don't want to lug a lot of odd props around with me. I'd rather just have a small set of tools that I feel comfortable with
daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2008-03-13 05:50, Lord Anacho wrote:
Well who doesn't love gimmicks? But then again, one guy I know does a neat Bobo switch and magicians have asked him where they can buy that awesome trick !

Kind of says it all, I guess...

Ciao for now

Erik


To me gimmicks demonstrate, (at least to those of us on the inside) the true GENIUS of magicians IN GENERAL. After all gimmicks are inventions, and they take a brilliant mind to create IF they work!
I mean, magicians are a lot who say "Hmmmmmmm. Now I want to achieve thus and thus particular magical effect, but that is a physical impossibility. And their is nothing presently on this earth that will accomplish that effect. So what do I do? I INVENT something from scratch that will do the job."

And if the person does successfully invent the gimmick that does the dirty work and creates the desired magical effect, then to my way of thinking, that person is a genius!

Of course, in this nasty world in which we live,sadly, their are parasites who insist on STEALING the original creation of that magician's intellect and selling it and promoting it as their own.

We call them knock offs and hacks....
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
airship
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Doug, Thanks for making that point.

That's the main reason why I said above that I now buy only a few VERY good, high-quality effects. If you buy only quality goods from those who truly innovate, you'll not only support those who make a real difference in magic, but your shows will feature good-looking, highly functional props that will make you look good.

You'll also benefit from their polished, professional presentations. Besides the fact that they're often cheaply made (and look it), knock-offs generally tell you how to DO a trick, but they don't tell you to effectively PRESENT it as real magic.
'The central secret of conjuring is a manipulation of interest.' - Henry Hay
Andy the cardician
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Gimmicks are great, as long as you do not assume that they will guarantee your magic. One of the greatest gimmicks ever invented is probably the TT. I guess 99% of all magicians have or had it at a certain time. My guess would be that only 15% truly master it.

That should say it all.

Andy
Cards never lie
daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2008-03-17 11:10, airship wrote:
Doug, Thanks for making that point.

That's the main reason why I said above that I now buy only a few VERY good, high-quality effects. If you buy only quality goods from those who truly innovate, you'll not only support those who make a real difference in magic, but your shows will feature good-looking, highly functional props that will make you look good.

You'll also benefit from their polished, professional presentations. Besides the fact that they're often cheaply made (and look it), knock-offs generally tell you how to DO a trick, but they don't tell you to effectively PRESENT it as real magic.


True. As with Richard Sanders, the real pros..shall we call 'em the good guys?... The real pros are willing to share their deeper knowledge in the form of tips and finesse that the knock off artists, as you said, don't do. The reason is blatantly obvious: The knock off artists don't really possess any deeper knowledge, because they have never performed the effects they sell in real world conditions! They are simply in the business of knocking off; making a buck.

Why should they care about actually performing? That would take time away from their knock off efforts!
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
daffydoug
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Quote:
On 2008-03-17 19:00, Andy the cardician wrote:
Gimmicks are great, as long as you do not assume that they will guarantee your magic. One of the greatest gimmicks ever invented is probably the TT. I guess 99% of all magicians have or had it at a certain time. My guess would be that only 15% truly master it.

That should say it all.

Andy


Sometimes. though, a gimmick is really the only possible solution for a proposed magical effect. What I'm saying is that in a lot of cases, a proposed effect can not possibly be accomplished by sleights. A gimmick is the only thing that will fit the bill.

This is true with smaller effects, as well as stage effects. Examples? Well, imagine trying to accomplish the linking rings without a k-- ring! or try to do the dye box without the gimmick! Or the classic moving spot card.

Close up? well, the first one that comes to mind for me, since I love the effect is Dan Harlan's Card Toon. You gotta have the gimmick to accomplish the effect! Or Hollow 2 by Menny Lindenfeld. Try pulling THAT one off without a gimmick.

And just about any floating effect that I know of is going to require either an ITR or SOMETHING that sleight of hand will never be able to accomplish.

Gimmicks are weaved into the very fabric of magic, and we just gotta have 'em.
The difficult must become easy, the easy beautiful and the beautiful magical.
NurseRob
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I started with a store bought trick, and like crack, I was hooked from then on. I collected several more that appealed to me, then I sought out the literature, Mark Wilson, Bobo, royal road. And though I am s-l-o-w-l-y improving on the skills, I cannot help falling back on those first instant gratification items that got me started. someday I hope to be able to back palm and double lift, but it ain't happening this week. I got a killer french drop...woo hoo
Ut imago est animi voltus sic indices oculi ~
The face is a picture of the mind as the eyes are its interpreter ~Cicero
Der Magier
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I too was started on store-bought tricks. In fact, they were a birthday present... they were fun to preform, and weren't too hard to work, but I personally think that the tricks worked with ordinary objects are way more fun.

The reaction from the audience is also usually better! Not to mention the fact that if you get one of those akward 'let me see that moments' you can go ahead and let them see what ever it is- there is no gimmick or gaffed coin, card or what-have-you(usually).
clarissa35f
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While I believe there is room in a magic routine for anything. Gaffs, and Gimmicks, sleights etc. The temptation can be strong to buy gimmick, after gimmick. When I started taking my magic seriously, I said to Myself.." Focus only on knowledge at first." So I would buy books like Card College, or VHS tapes like Ammar's Easy to master Card Miracles.

While I do not put gaffs, and gimmicks down, I do feel a person should never just be a " gimmick" magician. " Sorry, can't do anything now, all my stuff is at home." because then people will give the gimmicks credit for the effects instead of the magician, even when it takes skill to actually use the gimmick in a way that entertains.

I was practicing my Erdnase color change the other day, and this girl saw me. She comes to me and asks me.." Are those magic cards?" so I guess you cannot always escape the idea that the props are gaffed. But it is nice to perform magic with borrowed items. So in my opinion, it's perfectly fine to use gimmicks, and gaffs, as long as you can still perform without them.

Teller was commenting once ( yes, he DOES speak )that close up magic is a branch that will allow a magician to perform, naked....on a beach... if he had to... and that He ( Teller) had performed... naked...on a beach. While all of us may not be able to...or maybe even want to, I find that is a worthy goal to aspire to...to be able to perform naked on a beach if need be.

Now after several years of DVD's and Books, I am finally allowing myself the temptation of buying gimmicks. Will be getting Extreme Burn By Richard Saunders on Monday... Looking into getting The raven as well.. etc... Not saying that you should wait as long as I did, it just worked out this way for me...
“Amateurs practice until they get it right.
Professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.” <Anonymous>
"There is no such thing as magic, there is no other way that could have been done" <Whit Haydn>
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