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T is generally agreed that, within the field of close-up magic, it is best to choose tricks that reset themselves at the end of each performance. The advantages are /fyjuBi obvious. Because the trick resets, there is never a need to go off to a dark corner to prepare the props for the next performance. This means that you can continue performing for as long as you wish without ever leaving the room. This looks much more professional. After all, if you must go to the rest room after every set, your audience and the person who hired you might begin to believe that you are either lazy or very ill. And if the spectators start to suspect that perhaps you are preparing your tricks, it isn't long before it will occur to them that you may be using special props and gimmicks. Once this thought arises, it kills forever the idea that what you do is genuine magic, for after all, you are merely relying on tricky apparatus. I'll grant that the audience may not truly believe that you are doing real magic, but that doesn't mean that you should negate the wisdom of avoiding the impression that you require special preparations to accomplish your feats.

Another great advantage resetting tricks provide is that when each set is over everything ends up in the place and condition it started. You know that everything is in its place and ready to go again. There's no need to make sure that everything is ready—you know it is! This not only helps to build confidence, it also prevents you from starting a trick only to discover halfway through it that something isn't prepared or where you need it. Although you might think it very careless to begin a trick without having checked it, when you are working tables there are many distractions, and the moment you have finished performing for one table you are often called over to another. Under these circumstances, if you have one or more tricks that need resetting, you can be certain that one day you'll forget to do so. The inevitable result is that you will look foolish and unprofessional as you are forced to stop a trick without explanation after having begun it.

Another solution to the resetting problem that occurs to many performers is to have several sets of duplicate props prepared, so that one after another can be used without resetting. Although this isn't an entirely bad idea, it will eventually put you in the same straits as those just mentioned. One day you will believe that you have a prepared set of props still available, only to find, after you've started the trick, that your last set was expended in the previous performance!

All these considerations are practical and extremely valid reasons to see to it that your close-up material resets during performance. I feel this is essential, as will be evidenced by many of the tricks taught in this volume and the next. There is still another great advantage to using resetting material, a psychological one:

I place great importance on believing in your own magic. This is one of the greatest tools toward instilling conviction in one's presentations. However, imagine that you have a trick that requires that you leave the room to prepare it for each performance. This means that every time you do the trick, you are forced to be acutely aware of its method. You must handle the thread, see the extra coin as you move it from pocket to purse, etc. What you are doing is repeatedly reminding yourself that to accomplish the trick you must use deception. This makes it very difficult to keep intact your belief and conviction in your magic.

It is a fact that learning is best done at regular intervals. One hour of study is not as effective as ten minutes of study repeated six times with intervening breaks. Consequently, by preparing your tricks regularly between each set, you are in effect implanting in your mind in the most potent way possible the fact that you are dependent on secret methods, that you are in essence a fraud. I can't think of a better way to assure that you convince yourself that your effects aren't real magic.

The real harm here is that when you constantly make yourself aware that your magic isn't real, subconsciously it colors your performance. Yes, a good actor's silent script can aid in battling this patina of deceit, but it will be a hard-won battle at best. Under such psychological circumstances it becomes more difficult to portray a convincing piece of magic.

With resetting tricks, though, all these problems are avoided automatically. You are only confronted by the effect, and it is now that effect that you implant repeatedly in your mind each time you perform it. After a while you will truly start to forget about the method. You will certainly forget the method if you use an efficient actor's silent script. In time your subconscious will only recognize the effect. Understanding this process, you can see that it becomes much, much easier to believe, and I do mean believe, your own magic. And that belief pushes the door to conviction wide open. How much easier it becomes to draw your audiences into your magic, to generate a true sense of the magical. This, I feel, is the most important benefit resetting tricks provide.

Another, lesser point, though one to be appreciated, is that practice becomes much more efficient. You don't waste time, since you only practice the effect. In addition, practicing the effect is much more fun than attending to boring preparations.

Problem Tricks

There is one category of close-up effects where automatic resetting presents a problem: when such resetting causes a prediction always to result in the same outcome, or when the same card is chosen (that is, forced) each time a trick is done. With repeated performances, automatic resetting in such tricks would give away the secret or a part of it. To eliminate this drawback, a wav must be found to reset automatically, vet provide for a ranee of outcomes.

You may say that that isn't necessary, because the trick is done at different tables. However, in real-life situations, people often follow you around, or later compare notes with each other. When they discover that their apparent free choice is always the same, or a seeming chance outcome is less than random, part of your secret is exposed.

However, if the apparently free choices produce different cards, and the seemingly random outcomes are various, the force becomes more deeply hidden. You are now protecting the secret even more efficiendy than is possible in a single performance. Let them follow you, let them compare notes—the trick only becomes better! In a sense the cheating in such instances takes place not only during the performance, but also on a wider scale, from performance to performance, on a level the audience will never suspect.

This is a powerful psychological ploy that makes it doubly rewarding to make the effort to find a manner of resetting for such tricks that is both automatic and runs through a range of usable outcomes. One example of such structuring can be found in "The Tamed Card" routine. In that routine the idea is actually taken a step further:

Because of the rotating force banks in the deck and the cycling sets of gimmicked packets, a different card is chosen every time; well, every time within a four-set performance. Therefore, those people who follow you around or observe from nearby tables will note that the chosen card differs from group to group. This gives them the impression that the chosen card is a genuinely free choice, and thus the effect is greatly strengthened.

In addition, when you show your collection of chosen cards, it is seen to contain the same set of identical cards you finished with at the last table. This silently says to those who notice it that these are the very same cards used previously. These repeat observers will then assume that, since you are using the same packet, they have already seen the backs and faces of all the cards; indeed, they have seen these cards held and examined by one of their group. In other words, they are preconditioned to accept the cards as what they appear to be!

Therefore, when someone watches two performances of the trick in a row, or three or four, he will believe that you can change a set of normal cards into any other freely chosen card. The trick, for this person takes on another dimension of conviction. It becomes better than it could ever possibly be, given just one outing. Because this added level of deception happens outside the defined performance, it packs extraordinary power. People never suspect that you would be so devious as to cheat them between performances while you are relaxed and tending to the business of approaching another group. Its as wicked a deception as performing Zombie, then leaving a duplicate ball of heavy steel lying around in your dressing room. When someone backstage picks up that steel ball, Zombie becomes a genuine miracle in his mind!

HAVE used this Coins Across routine professionally for some years, and can assure Y^&m] you that it is solid magical entertainment. I make no claim to original methods ll^Jmi or heights here. There are none. Rather, it is the routining and psychology that I think are important, and that is where emphasis has been placed in the following discussion. In this routine I have succeeded in eliminating any superfluous counting of the coins, and I've found logical reasons for throwing the coins from hand to hand. In addition, psychological cover is employed for the several weak points that are present in the average Coins Across handling.

The routine contains four phases. In the first the performer pours three silver coins and a copper one from a litde metal box. He then causes the silver coins to travel magically one by one from one hand to join the copper coin in the other.

In the second phase, the copper coin is placed inside the litde metal box, and is caused to penetrate through the box and the performers hand.

The third phase features perverse behavior of the coins. The performer takes all four coins into one hand and announces that he will now make the copper coin fly. But instead, one of the silver coins appears in the other hand. He tries again, but the copper coin persists in staying put while another silver travels in its place. A third attempt has the same result, leaving the performer with the copper coin unmoved in one hand and the three silver coins magically arrived in the other.

In the fourth phase, the three silver coins suddenly and unexpectedly fly back to the hand holding the copper coin.

The props required are these:

• A Boston coin box. That is, an Okito box with a shallow recess in the bottom large enough to accept one coin. This box should be deep enough to hold four coins.

• Four silver coins that fit the coin box. These should be large and heavy. In U.S. coinage, this means half dollars or, better yet, silver dollars.

• One copper coin of similar size. This should not be brightly polished. The best coin to use is one that has a distinctly contrasting design to the silver coins. Since, in lighting conditions less than optimal, copper coins can be difficult to discern from

silver ones, the dull, dark finish and odd design of the copper coin aids in distinguishing it from the others. You should do ^ everything possible to accent the differences between the copper and silver coins, for if they can't be easily told apart by the spectators, the impact of the effect is severely diminished. The coin I use features an owl on one side, which I comment on early in the routine for misdirective purposes. A coin bearing the depiction of a bird is not difficult to find, and lends a certain presentational logic to portions of the routine.

To set these items for performance, place the copper coin into the box, then three of the silver coins on top of it. Insert the fourth silver coin into the recess under the box and set the lid into place (Figure 1).

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