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RedHatMagic
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Body language is your key to misdirection. You may have heard "your audience looks where you look", don't feel guilty about the palmed whatever, take your time....This is body language to do with the magic. It is a small part of being a magician (in my view). The rest is the body language of entertainment, let the eyes sparkle, be engaged, be interactive, be amazed, be fun.
Let the Entertainment Commence!
Terrible Wizard
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This is the area I find hardest. I'm not a natural liar or con-artist, and I often feel guilty when doing something sneaky - I have to work hard to appear as though I'm not working hard! lol Smile
funsway
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T-wiz, I like your final phrase, but find it inconsistent with the first part. There is an implication that one must be a liar or con-artist to be a magician, but I take that in context.
It is the idea that you are guilty because you are not a liar or con-artist that gets me. "Guilt" is a learned emotional or defensive response to a situation.
I would think one might feel guilty over being a lair/con-artist -- not from the absence of these traits.

We live in a culture in which being a liar and con-artist is the norm. Watch any political news lately?
The typical person in your audience has several false persona/avatars on the Internet. Their opinions on FaceBook rarely reflect who they really are.
They cheat on taxes and their spouse. They have fake credentials on their wall. Their "beliefs" are plunked there by someone else.

In contrast, you as a magician are very truthful. You tell them you are going to entertain them with artifice and psychological ploys and sneaky moves.
You promise to demonstrate something they consider to be impossible. Then you do exactly that. You deliver on your promise. Why feel guilty?

Now, if you reveal method through lack of practice, or fail to entertain by insulting your audience -- that might be something to be guilty about.

That said, I will substitute "self conscious" in your phrase above. You fear that your concern over being perfect might detract from the impact of "must be magic."
That is good. You work on making sure that your sleights have a "never happened" quality. This is good.

You do these things because you are a truthful artist -- never because you are an imperfect liar or con-artist.

Best of all, you work at what you plan to do. I just wish most performers did.
"the more one pretends at magic, the more awe and wonder will be found in real life." Arnold Furst



eBooks at Lybrary.com * questions at funsway@eversway.com
danaruns
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Great topic, RedHatMagic! Smile

Body language is vital to misdirection, but also to so much more. It tells the audience who you are and what you're trying to say to them. It sets the mood and tone. It tells them when the punch lines come, and when to applaud. It lets them know if this is serious or fun, amazing or just ho hum. Ideally, body language can tell the whole story of your act, and augment your patter. It makes everything so much stronger when you're "talking" to your audience with posture, gestures, gaze, expression, etc., that reinforce the magic and your character. Conversely, it takes away from the magic when your body language is at odds with what you are saying or doing. And that's even without the effect it has on misdirection.

But yeah, for misdirection, body language can make or break it. Indeed, with strong enough body language the dirty work can be done completely in the open and no one will see it. Chris Hannibal has a great act where he repeatedly does his dirty work right under people's noses, time and again, and they come to know what to expect but they still never see it, so strong is his body language in commanding attention where he wants it to be. You get to the point where you know what he's going to do -- he even says it's coming -- and then, DOH! The move is done and you missed it again, and it's wonderful!

I have a personal story to tell about that, where body language saved my bacon just yesterday. I was doing an impromptu coins across trick taught to me by Pop Haydn. Stupidly (really, really stupidly), I forgot when I started that I needed to be wearing a jacket, as there is one vital point where some sleeving is involved, and I wasn't wearing one. As I approached that point, panic set in. What was I going to do? The "last coin" depended on that move, and I didn't have sleeves. Hannibal popped into my head and told me to give his body language open misdirection a try, and I was able to substitute on the fly (sorry Pop) with a move completely in the open and not a single person saw it, not even the person seated at the table right next to the hand that was doing it. All because body language is so incredibly powerful in making the magic happen.

Okay, enough. I started this post just wanting to applaud RedHatMagic for starting the thread, and got carried away. Smile Great topic, and I look forward to learning from what others have to say.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
danaruns
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Quote:
On May 3, 2017, Terrible Wizard wrote:
I'm not a natural liar or con-artist, and I often feel guilty when doing something sneaky.


This I don't understand. You have a tacit agreement with your audience that you're going to do sneaky stuff. Why would you feel guilty about doing precisely what they are hoping and exoecting you will do?
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Mr. Woolery
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Tommy Wonder's cups and balls is a great example of this. I love to watch a video of him doing his routine and just miss the loading even when I know when and where it happened. Then rewatch and miss it again. My favorite video is from a live lecture because there's no jump to another camera. You see it all in one frame, but still miss it.

I love that whole concept. He talks about creating and releasing tension, which is all done with his body language.

This is a good topic.

Patrick
davidpaul$
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We can also learn allot from our spectators. Pay attention to THEIR eye gaze in relation to what you are doing. If they stare at the dirty hand in the execution of a sleight you need to reevaluate. It is a difficult thing to create naturalness when in fact you are doing anyting but natural. That's one of the reasons I love this art.
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
Terrible Wizard
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Danaruns (and funsway): I feel guilty because I'm doing something 'wrong'. It's not really rational, but on a gut subconscious level I am lying, and I know I'm lying, and my body language can give this away.

If I have something hidden in my hand which I've led the audience to believe I've placed in my other hand, I'm acting duplicitously - even if in a socially accepted and expected manner. When I say patter which is obviously a false explanation of the method I am lying, even though, again, in a socially accepted and expected manner.

Magic involves, literally, lying and deception - and although these lies can be perfectly rationalised and justified, and they are not (usually) dangerous or harmful, they still produce feelings of guilt (and fear and other feelings) in one as sensitive and as naturally honest as I. Even when up front I know and audience knows I will lie and deceive for the purpose of the trick it cannot wholly remove the feeling - nor does it remove the actual falsehood.

I'm beginning to think that an explicit or implicit disclaimer of sorts might help me here - if I was to signal quite clearly when I was switching into 'magician mode' and therefore 'warn' everyone that everything that followed was untrustworthy and probably false. More for my benefit than the audience's Smile
danaruns
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Terrible Wizard, I totally get where you're coming from (it's actually refreshing, in a way), but you're doing nothing but harming yourself with guilt, and I don't think it's necessary. There are ways to do it that aren't "lying." Your patter can be completely honest. I suggest you study Johnny Ace Palmer. He's an extremely moral, very religious guy, who has a strong ethical code in magic. He uses honest patter in his routines. Indeed, he acknowledges all the time that it's an illusion. He says things in his patter like, "See? The coin looks like it is really vanishing," and, "Doesn't that look real? It's not, but it looks like it," and "That's so you don't think I'm doing anything tricky, even though I am," and, "It's a silly joke, but it covers a pass," and stuff like that. There are ways to be an honest magician.

But in any event, the guilt is a useless emotion for a magician. Guilt is intended to prevent future similar behavior. A magician who plans to magish again and again has no use for that emotion. All it does is harm the entire effort for both the magician and the audience. It would be really beneficial for you to study magicians who perform magic without deceit. They are out there (like Palmer), you just have to search them out. Good luck, and good for you for having a code. Smile
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Terrible Wizard
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Agreed. But try telling my subconscious, irrational side that. It's like telling me not to be scared on a rollercoaster Smile

I'll certainly look into the ideas/people you suggested Smile
0pus
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Quote:
On May 4, 2017, Terrible Wizard wrote:
It's like telling me not to be scared on a rollercoaster Smile


No.

You should be scared on a rollercoaster Smile
Mr. Woolery
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One of my favorite silly presentations for a self-working card trick was to write out the instructions on a set of index cards. The first one says "Here's a stupid card trick." People seem to enjoy the approach, it lets me essentially just show flashcards, and they do all the work. In the end, I can have a final card that says "Wow!" or something like that. It means I don't have to patter at all. The novelty of presentation means I have nothing to be guilty about.

One of the coolest packet tricks I use is Color Monte. Nowadays I just use the jokers and a deuce, openly removed from a deck in front of people. The presentation is "let me tell you a story about how a boy learned not to make bets when he didn't know the odds." I illustrate the story with the cards. I don't try to fool anyone, I don't try to make them feel dumb. I tell a story and the cards illustrate what the con man does. That simple. This is no more a lie than drawing a picture to illustrate the story would be.

Another approach is a manipulation act done to music. Visual magic can be done in pantomime without ever having to lie at all. You are performing a series of moves like a dance. There are a lot of linking rings routines like this. Simple thimble routines can work this way. You never once say "I have only one thimble and I put it in my pocket, etc." You produce a thimble. You remove it openly and your eyes follow it going to the pocket, then your attention shifts to where it has reappeared on your finger. This isn't lying. This is you acting out a story without words. There is a huge difference.

In your head, don't think of magic as lying to people or deceiving them. That's not what magic is, anyway. We get the idea that because secrets are involved, it is duplicitous. Not so. Magic is about surprising people by doing the apparently impossible. Giving someone a moment of astonishment, as Paul Harris calls it, is a gift. Just as you feel great about giving a loved one a present that they didn't know they wanted (but now realize is wonderful and much desired), giving the gift of a moment of astonishment is a wonderful thing. To mess it up by being all guilty is like not wrapping the gift you want to give your child because hiding the contents of the box feel dishonest somehow. The presentation leading to the moment of impossibility is the wrapping.

You are not seeking to deceive, you are seeking to surprise. The difference is vital. It is the difference between a performer and a con man.

What drew you to magic in the first place? I bet it was something like that moment when you saw something amazing happen and didn't see an explanation for it, right?

And if you simply can't get away from feeling dishonest, perhaps there are other performing venues you would enjoy more. Music is wonderfully rewarding. I play a couple of instruments. People either like it or hate it, but you can sometimes bring a smile to a face that really needs it, if that's your thing. If you like active stuff, knife throwing is great fun. And there's no deception, there. Either you stick the knife or you don't. Story telling, puppetry, and juggling all fall into the same general class of entertainment as magic. One of my favorite magic pictures is Breugel's woodcut Fall of the Magician Hermogenes. It depicts a lot of what was done by magicians of the late 16th century, and includes acrobatics, plate spinning, music, and even puppets.

If I'm not being too personal, is this a religious conviction that's tripping you up? Or is it more like a personal compulsion about honesty? Neither is bad, by the way.

-Patrick
Terrible Wizard
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Hi Woolery Smile.

I don't think it's either religion or a personal compulsion, more just the way I'm built. I guess I'm emotionally over-sensitive - I tend to feel rather easily and more strongly than the context suggests.

However, I wouldn't say it's tripping me up either - I can perform, in my amatuer way, magic - it's just that I have to work on dealing with feelings of guilt, and fear, and nerves etc. This conversation focussed particularly on guilt, but fear is probably the most hindering to me. I suppose it's about finding strategies that work with who I am and which help me do what I enjoy without issue.

Regarding what got me into magic it wasn't so much seeing a trick that excited, fooled and amazed me - it was when I discovered a method that I thought I could do and which I found clever yet simple. I think, to be honest, I'm more attracted to methods than presentations - I enjoy practice, I like learning things, perhaps more than, or at least equal to, performing for people - though I get a kick out of that too! Smile

Also, a part of me (and many others) is quite attracted to the romanticised magic version of the con-artist, the trickster, the hustler, the scammer. As Mac King said, at heart magic is about 'I fooled you b*tch!', and I think there's definitely an element of that in me - I want secrets others don't have, I want to do things they can't do, I want to be superior to others in some way. A poor and negative motivation, a dirty inner secret, but it's there - I want to shock, to impress, to trick, to fool - and I bet many other magicians have that dirty little motivation hidden amongst their more noble desires to entertain, amaze, spread wonder, and create joy. The positive and negative are not mutually exclusive - I think it might take the right balance of both to perform magic really well. It is, perhaps, one of the interesting paradoxes of magic that our audience be seen both as spectators and suckers.

Anyway, even just talking about it on here helps a bit Smile.
Station10
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It's an admirable quality to not want to cheap and trick someone . . . but in my view doing so to entertain is completely different. Yes I believe that it is wrong to cheap someone for your own gain and their detriment but when performing magic it is to delight, mystify and entertain them. So because of this I can morally and ethically justify it and not feel bad about it.
John Gilmore
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"I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life - all mystery and magic." ~ Harry Houdini

"To Strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!"
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Terrible Wizard
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Cool Smile. I can justify it, yet still have a niggling feeling remain ... Smile
Aus
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Danaruns point on misdirection is spot on, the fundamentals principles of misdirection are:

The audience will pay attention to what moves. They will also pay attention to what makes noise.

What doesn't move and doesn't make noise doesn’t attract attention.

The audience will always look where the magician looks.

The magician must never look at what he wishes to conceal.

The audience will treat as important what the magician treats as important.

The audience will treat as unimportant what the magician treats as unimportant.

The magician nearly always treats what is important as if it were unimportant. Likewise, he treats what is unimportant as if it were important.

Also an interesting video which might bring a new perspective on body language is a TED talk by Vinh Giang who suggests we start assessing ourselves through a process called sight, sound and sync.



Magically

Aus
davidpaul$
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Thanks for posting Aus. Enjoyed the TED talk. Sight sound sink
Btw nice handling on Stand Up Monte.
If you can't help worrying, remember worrying can't help you!
Pop Haydn
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Not lying is often immoral. Lying is neither moral nor immoral.
Pop Haydn
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I truly don't understand how people can feel bad about telling a story like Hansel and Gretel to children. How can you feel bad about telling a joke about three guys walking into a bar, just because you know it didn't really happen.
DaveGripenwaldt
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This is a great topic because it is a great reminder...body language is not just a nice thing to think about applying to magic, it is (or should be) a basic tool at work constantly.

The ability to read body language seems to be at some level hard-wired into us and people do it all the time at a subconscious level. Something about an arm held stiffly at your side says "I'm hiding something in my hand" to people who have never thought about the concept consciously. And when you address it, like with Vernon's admonition that, after you false transfer something, your should let your dirty hand fall with its own weight to your side and slightly swing before going still. That reads as "empty hand" in a powerful, subconscious way, and can make all the difference in the world selling a small-object vanish.
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