by Eddie Tullock with Gene Urban and Kenton Knepper
If you don't know who Eddie Tullock is, go back and read Paul Gertner's excellent article and interview in the October issue of MAGIC. Mr. Tullock has achieved a legendary status in magic for a couple of reasons: he has for the most part avoided magicians, and consequently his routines and methods are not well known; and, he pretty much single handedly started the business of trade show magic. Eddie has recently retired from the grueling trade show schedule, and he has begun to make appearances at magic conventions. In this book he reveals several of his techniques and tricks, and he also discusses the business of trade show magic.
First, a couple of general comments. Mr. Tullock has been doing trade show magic for 40 years. This book is 62 pages long. At first glance it would appear that this is a slender volume in which to encapsulate such a vast amount of performing experience. But in the same way that carbon, over time, becomes a diamond, I believe Mr. Tullock has compressed his experience into small nuggets of extremely valuable information. Every sentence is important, and suggestions which seem trivial ("Don't be in a hurry to deliver your pitch," "Do not try to break in new shoes at a trade show.") are actually the real work. If you're looking for new, "cute" tricks, look elsewhere. If you want to find out what it takes to make a living as a trade show magician, this book has the information.
The first third of the book details some of Eddie's tricks and techniques with a deck of cards. You'll find a couple of easy card controls, Eddie's handling of the Top Change, a really excellent in-the-hands false riffle shuffle, and the item which will be of most interest because of its legendary status: Eddie's work on the Classic Force. The force is explained in great detail, with information on how to deal with stubborn spectators. Following this are two bits of business which Eddie uses when spectators try to replace their selected cards.
Three tricks are then explained: "Stop it Now" shows how Eddie takes the simple effect of changing a "wrong" card into the "right" card and uses it to draw the spectators into his sales pitch. "The Four and One Half Trick" is the routine Eddie uses to close his set and to bring the crowd into the booth. The psychology involved here is excellent. "Busted Transpo" is the transposition of two selected cards and involves a great deal of byplay with two spectators. None of these routines are remarkable for the methods involved; all the moves are standard ones. What is of enormous value is the psychology involved and the methods Eddie uses to slide his sales pitch into the presentation.
The last two-thirds of the book explain Eddie's thoughts on the nuts-and-bolts of trade show magic. There is tremendous amount of real world information here. Included is information on the types of props to use, your performance attitude, necessary equipment, how to get booked, how much to charge, attracting a crowd, pacing yourself, and much more. Much of this material addresses the reader in a such a way that he will have to do some serious soul-searching, and this is good, because anyone planning to go into this field should have a realistic assessment of their magic, sales, and business skills.
I have only done a small amount of trade show magic, but I have discovered one thing: trade show magic is to magic as writing jingles is to music. The key to success is in understanding how your craft (either magic or music) relates to what it is you are trying to do (sell a product). This is a message which comes through loud and clear in this book. You may be doing magic, but first and foremost, you are a salesman, and if you want to be successful you have to sell the product and you have to sell yourself. Eddie Tullock is a master at doing both, and at giving his audiences a hell of a good time in the process. This book is an invaluable resource, and I highly recommend it.
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