to win something. If this were true, only port unity to win the money would be interest^013101' of the audience would be bored. Jn tlie pf.°

The real appeal of these presentations is not th IK

win something of value but that the perform..,3' tl,s aPeeta, of value. This doesn't mean that the audie m'ehtfose! '»¡j, performer lose. They no more want to see you *'»t» to'",etl|i»I they would want to see a tightrope walker fall °8l iout aon^® % cross Niagara Falls. But it's the POssMliL .^V* «tetZ'V combined with his willingness to face that ri £ ®'8ht l'

interesting. Similarly, when you risk money on th """ °»k ^

its the risk you're taking, the prospect lhat you 6 ""I"*0« of a « question of how you'U react if you do, that give the"' lt>Se- «»d Performer's Physical Risk. For that reason even J"1""'00 b^** the audience does not stand to gam anything iV,T'lt<itio,>s performer is taking can be riveting. That's why 2, the '«k performer risks his safety or physical well-beL,„ 0,8 "ken ^ almost hypnotic hold over an audience. The audien Ml5ie,< *>'

gam anything from the outcome, but the performer Z^**** great deal. cr «ands to ]ose

The field ofescapology has used this form of situational m Since the days of Houdini. Escaping from a ^ZltZT^^ substantive meaning whatever for audiences Since molt of tb * had no experience with straight jackets and don't fores«^ restramei m one. However, suspend the steaighHaS' upside down by a rope over a field of upturnS ^

the rope on fire and the situation will nmvid» P 315 ani M substance lacks. Countless oth™™^ that fa escape field, from HoucS ^er^l^

itt^tiit1 risit m their * e«ting his brari owf out th ?r',,Wh"e.the PBCf™Et Setting his neck s retT^ j 1 GalloWS Test where >>e risk, fr™ ani the Test" where he must drml deadly acid ""taming water and avoid the one ouitato, the faHofdosiuu'm' ri8k„has been all™st completely ignored m possible to find nn„ , However' with imagination it should be rist into certain clos"u™ff«tsb> ™0rp0rate the drama AvsW

Spectator's Risk- Not D i the performer dW<° ®n effect be™' meaningful because fMmngfid because , a°methlne of value at risk, it can beccim a spectator places something of value at nil.

Strong Magic

• , usually have a comedic an well »» dramatic „ pre»«"»"0"!«,"«tor is usually a reluctant participant. "¿J"^ PTthat a spectator lends the performer a la.fie-ek lCal scenario is that a sr ; jewelry, only to d,»cover

Tt-e "Son bill or a Pie« »f ££ £ „ be t ¡n Bome W 1-te »at the^^*BJk Night" effect in which We've 0wn money at risk. Terry Seabrookea

SiSS-TSrS wiSrf demonstrates that the same effect t^ "S,Srven more compelling, and certainly more funny, when can become e m(mey u put at nsk.

& ' ^'Tl Only This is a good point to remind ourselves that we orWl Unf c ^^ing illusions- What I've been discussing in i'in the "L^ can be made meaningful hy incorporating

Si. section iB how =aec ^ ^ ^^^ in the cxtreme lhe illus«" ^ n^meone else's property at risk. Similarly, it would »ctMto ««* ehsmces Wjth your safety just for the sake of a be foolhardy to tM reaeQtalion M be effective, the audience must trick. 1» »'to™ yJre at risk; that doesn't mean you actually have be made to ahe3t risk. ^ wager money on an effect it ahould be 0ne tt-tfE^ of failure seem great but are actually nil. It must the Cha ( at aU t.mes and no 8pl,ctator can do stew you up, either unwittingly or wittingly. (Money ouUh worsi in some people.) Not only would it be financially I to fail, it would be a very uncomfortable experience for veer audience to witness it. So make sure you pick a trick that is absolutely failsafe. If nothing else, the money you put up should provide you with incentive to practice.


One of the most effective, and versatile, ways of creating a meaningful situation during a trick is to appear to get into trouble during its performance. Most magicians realize this to a greater or lesser" extent, but many don't really understand why. I've heard magicians say. "Audiences love to see a magician screw up." If this were true, most magicians would be very popular indeed with their audiences. Unless you've managed to alienate your audience, they won't want to see you screw up. Nevertheless, the spectacle of a magician in trouble can exert an almost hypnotic control over an audience. They don't want to see you screw up, but they can't turn their eyes away if you do.

The key to this paradox lies in Dariel Fitzkee's brilliant insight that people are more interested in people than in anything else. Character

Darwin Ortix fascinates people, and character is revealed under the time you can maintain a façade in dealing "with^^- MQ when things go wrong, that s when the real you emerges People know this instinctively and are therefore alwav* how another will respond to pressure. Audiences aren't *****^ the fact of your screwing up. It's the question of how you ®,racWt the screw-up that holds them captive. Indeed, the more lU likes you—the more they want to see you succeed®"91^ captivated they will be by the situation if you apparently ¿£ ^ If what interests people in a trick going wrong ia how y0„ ►„ how do they want to see you react? Assuming they like you y' ¡H clear they would like to see you triumph over the problem! ^ wav, the magician-in-trouble premise offers the classic d ^ formula. The hero sets out to achieve a goal. Unforeseen pS* threaten his success. In the end, he overcomes them and achiev goal eshis

There are many effects that are structured to allow you to do many examples yourself. If you've never experimented with^i that. There are, in fact, too many to mention; I'm sure you could^

effects I strongly recommend you do so. You 11 find that such effects can be among the most powerful you can perform. The failure technique is often used by magicians, but seldom effectively. Too often when a magician tries this ploy, the audience simply thinks, "Oh, I get it. Now the magician is going to pretend he's in trouble." In order for this technique to give meaning to an effect and generate emotion in the audience, they must believe you really are in trouble. This requires some convincing acting on your part. I recommend you read Henning Nelms' discussion of the "silent script* concept in Magic and Showmanship for help in this department. Because credibility is central to the success of this technique, it's particularly effective in tricks that seem to require great skill or those that are performed under impossible conditions. In such cases, it's difficult for the audience to see how the effect could possibly work. Therefore, they'll find it easy to believe that it didn't work. Some magicians avoid "sucker effects," believing that audiences will resent being made suckers of when they discover that the performer was never really in trouble but was only conning them into believing he was. This thinking fails to grasp the proper psychology of this type of effect.

It is true, of course, that you're only pretending to be in trouble. It's also true that, in retrospect, the audience will realize intellectually that this was the case. However, if you sell the trick properly, people will react, not on the basis of their intellectual beliefs, but rather on 166

hnsia of their emotion,. 1 beliefs. To put it differently Tthe dramatic reality rather than what they £ J* «¡J

' . however, critical that you understand the effect you're .rv U »tt That effect is not that you fooled the audience Sv* here in trouble. The effect should be that you reriW ^ ■V° .Me but were able to extricate yourself through your Z ,r°I a Ifyou act your part in the drama with a clear lwK'

tic reality you're trying to create, you won't aliennt* „ "oXnee You will, instead, create tremendous situational^ t!c effect will become important to the audience because they waJ> ¿ see how you deal with the situation that has unexpectedly arisen The failure of many magicians to understand the psychology 0f the iflgician-in-trouble ploy is indicated by the very term "sucker effect" For an audience to see you m trouble doesn't provide enter tainment, it only creates the conditions for entertainment. It generates audience interest. The next question is how you get yourself out of trouble. If you do it by applying your magical skills-by doing something ingenious or impossible—the audience will be pleased. And the more hopeless your situation seems, the more emotionally gratifying it is for the audience when you triumph. If, however, your attitude reveals that you were playing the audience for suckers, they may not be pleased. The failure technique should not be an opportunity for you to gloat or make people feel like suckers. Like the various substantive meaning topics we discussed, this situational meaning technique offers you an opportunity to show that your magical powers have practical applications—that they're useful. In this case they prove useful in getting you out of an embarrassing situation.

Magic Happening To The Spectator

One final situation that can give great meaning to an otherwise meaningless effect occurs when the magic actually happens to one of the spectators. I'm not speaking here merely of audience participation as such. Audience participation can offer many advantages, for example, in strengthening the conditions. Ifyou shuffle the deck, you may cheat; if a spectator shuffles, everyone knows the cards are really mixed. Audience participation can also have disadvantages, for example, slowing down the pacing of an effect. It almost certainly will take the spectator longer to shuffle than it would take you to do so. However, there is a big difference between the spectator merely participating in an effect and being the subject of the effect. It's the latter case I want to consider now.

my own specialty, card magic. Annemann's "Thoua Card," David Hoy s "Tossed-Out Deck" Dolu. > Miracle Gimmick" effect are good examples of tricks A ^au] -" the spectator, and the rest of the audience, feeli *tea Vb, ^ penetrated his mind and read his thought. ng that yS

TA Waters has argued that prediction effects can be ri mentahst to sell because they're so amazing they lack ^«ult points out that, in some cases, the problem can b % H* presenting the effect, not as a prediction, but as a demn ^ i psychic control. In the "Newspaper Test," for example the t!'n* can claim he will try to exert his will over the spectator trr*^' him to arrive at a certain word. ^flue^

I bring this up because the "psychic control" approach al another advantage. It makes the spectator the subject of th ^ The effect becomes a great example of invasive magic * ^ performer proves he can penetrate the spectator's mind and8* i?* influence his will.

The Spectator's Possession: When you perform magic with an h with which a spectator strongly identifies, you can achieve sodkm the feeling of the magic happening to him. I don't, however, think that all borrowed-object tricks achieve this feeling. You have to do' trick with something a spectator identifies with intimately, fcr example, a piece of jewelry, and transform that object either temporarily or permanently.

A good example of what I have in mind is the "Linking Finger Rings; Similarly, in my tricks "Signature Effect" and the "Dream Card" 1 conjure with a spectator's signature. The complete ego identification each of us has with his signature makes these effects very much like doing magic to the person himself.

Regardless of which of the above approaches you use, when you make the magic happen to a spectator, you inject the human element into the trick. It's the human element that creates a situation—the kind of situation that will capture an audience's attention and make your magic important, which is what meaning in magic is all about.

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