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Tou WENDER 8 j STEPHEN ANH VOLUME | ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The authors would like to thank Milt Kort and T. A. Waters for supplying needed pieces of historical information for this volume. Profound thanks go also to Jim Krenz, Jamy Ian Swiss and Mr. Waters for their perceptive proofteading, which significantly reduced a number of slippery oversights in the following pages. PUBLISHING HISTORY While all previously published tricks and articles in this volume have been revised or rewritten, for the convenience of students of magic history, each js followed by the year of its original appearance in print. Max Mavenss introduction was first published in M A GIC, Volume 3, No. 8, May, 1994. Preillustrative photography by Tommy Wonder and Debbie Murray. Endleaf art by Kelly Lyles. Copyright © 1996 by Stephen Minch and Tommy Wonder. All rights reserved under International and Pan-American Copyright Conventions. Published in the United States by Hermetic Press, Inc., Seattle. Tommy Wonder reserves all commercial manufacturing rights to the tricks and apparatus described tn these volumes. Any transgression of those Tights will be prosecuted. Legal domicile will be Amsterdam. Printed in the United States of America. ISBN 0-945296-16-9 65432 Contents Preface Introduction: The Wonder Yearr— Max Maven Prologue: The Limitations of Theory CHAPTER ONE: ATTENTION-GETTING DEVICES Getting the Mis Out of Misdirection Tough Customers Ricochet CuHapTER Two: TRAVEL TALES OF Mr. Pip Magic Ranch The Mind Movie Fabricated The Architect Elizabeth III Failureffects Here and Not The Pavlov Effect Post-ultimate Rip-off Counting Cards, Unnatural Rhythms and Other Problems The Poltergeist Pack Walk, Don't Run Carpenter's Revenge Rubik’s Card Concerning Eye Contact The Shrinking Card-case Falling Pips Ambi-tilt The Two-second Card Fold The Card in the Ringbox Squeeze All That Glitters 100 105 107 112 115 119 123 129 136 14] 149 156 The Pip-eating Spider The Origin of Originality The Wondereverse Déja ReVurse Breath Control Master or Servant? CHAPTER THREE: THE TAMED CARD The Creative Process The Tamed Card The Kickoff Card Forcing Confidence Slow and Steady Wins the Race Fictitious Danger An Examination of Examinations High and Low The Family Three Reset : CHAPTER Four: PRESENTATIONS IN SILVER Coins Across and Back with Interlude Mud in Your Eye When Tricks Become Transparent Sweet and Sour Simplicity Cigarette Through Quarter: a Handling And Here I Have... Counterfeiter’s Spellbound CHAPTER Five: GRouP ENCOUNTERS Dealers Date with an Inflatable Bunny Rabbit Rouser Practical Thinking The Tobacco Exchange Emotional Involvement The Improved Hydrostatic Glass Acting is Not Making Faces Auto-link The Paradox of Money and Success The Ring, the Watch and the Wallet The Three Pillars Epilogue: Ouroboros 157 161 164 167 173 176 179 181 183 202 204 206 209 zie 214 217 222 ane 229 231 243 248 254 257 261 263 269 271 274 276 278 281 289 291 294 207 300 302 316 323 pA a QO G : 5 - PRETACE WELL, here they are, The Books of Wonder. It has taken me longer than I ever imagined. Roughly seven years ago I bought my first computer with the sole purpose of being able to write these books; and now I am writing this introduction on my second computer. But before you think that for the past seven years I’ve done nothing but sit day and night at the monitor, Ill admit that there were a few distractions along the way that required my attention! In these pages you will find much of the material I worked out over the past twenty- five years. Although all the tricks and routines are described in detail, I hope you see them as things not to be done slavishly, without thought. Such a practice won't add much to your growth. I enjoy reading books of tricks, but never with the intent of finding new material to perform. I see such books as sources of knowledge, and occasionally even inspiration. Sometimes | look for the inherent structures beneath the tricks; sometimes I just read trick descriptions for the pure joy of it. My approach is like a painter taking pleasure in a book of art. I enjoy learning what my colleagues are doing. Maybe I can learn from this, gain new insights, inspiration to strive for a higher magic. But it would seem passing strange to our painter for him to look in art books for paintings to copy. Can you imagine: “I’m a real painter. I paint what others have painted before me.” Or “Sure, I do copies. But, hey, I found the originals in an art book. For what other reason would my colleagues publish their work if not to teach me how to paint their paintings?” Yes, you can look at it in that way, even make a defense of a sort for the practice—but what poverty! Anyway, my main intention is certainly not to teach you how to do my tricks. I want instead to show you through these examples how I solved certain problems, how I went about realizing what I had conceived inside the confines of my skull, and how I think, for whatever worth can be gleaned from it all. I've gained a lot through trying to understand the different ways other people think. Their approaches gave me ideas, opened up new areas of possibility, stimulated my thinking. If something here performs these services for you, even if you totally disagree with my ideas, then you will be the richer for it and I’ll feel these books have been of use. If these pages push you forward, great! If not, what a pity. I find it curious when people remark, “That's a great book! It describes exactly how I feel about things.” I would find such a book not particularly worthwhile. Of course it will provide reassurance for your ideas, but apart from that it does little else. Progress is not always comfortable. Being pulled from your safe world often brings you more in the end. When something forces you to rethink what you thought was truth, this could very well be the moment doors are opened to further progress. Attacking your own thoughts, killing dogmatic thinking; that’s more needed than the safety of little rules, the comfort of having others think like you or for you. These books have quite a few ‘theoretical’ bits and pieces. I hope you won't take them as gospel, turning them toward the cause of dogmatic thinking, but instead that you accept them as food for thought. Thinking and questioning dogma are practices that can bring us fresh growth. The real purpose of these books is not to teach you tricks, nor to teach hard theoreti- cal truths. J firmly believe magic cant be taught. It can be learned, but it can't be taught. How can I know what you need, what you should do, what you should think? The only way to learn is by thinking yourself. You have to think, you have to work, you yourself have to study and experiment. You are the only one who can do that for yourself. Don't believe those people who claim they can teach you. They can’t make proper decisions or think for you, simply because they are not you. You must do it yourself; there is no other way. There are no short cuts to real results, no matter what some may try to make you believe. Instead of mere teaching | hope my real intention is fulfilled; maybe not with many, but at least with a few readers: that these books help and stimulate them to think, to experi- ment, to discard, to embrace, to rethink, to hate, to love and to fight with magic. Push it around, up, down, forward and back, and—let magic do the same with you. It’s an exhila- rating process. Fascinating, interesting, exciting! In this way you will surprise magic, and then—magic will surprise you! Tommy Wonder 1996, Lisse, The Netherlands INTRODUCTION: Tre Wonner YE4rs by Max Maven THE STORY OF “OH!” UNDER duress I could come up with a list of my ten favorite stage magicians, and another of my ten favorite close-up workers. Only one name would make both lists, and it belongs to the subject of this piece. Our story begins as all good stories do: Once upon a time there was a precocious four- year-old, who saw a magician on television. The performer brought out a metal pan, into which he placed some paper that he set on fire. He covered the flaming material, pronounced some mystic words, and when the lid was removed the pan was now filled with cookies. “Oh!” thought the toddler, “This is the gig for me!” Well, that’s almost certainly not the exact phrase that went through his mind; for one thing, he was thinking in Dutch. But you get the idea—as did he. The next day he went out into the yard behind his home, armed with a batch of paper and a pan commandeered from the kitchen, and set to work recreating what hed seen. Alas, the experiment was a failure; in several hours of labor, no cookies were produced. Instead, he got an angry lecture from his mother who, after sternly reminding him that he was not allowed to play with matches, went on to explain that the guy on TV had performed a trick—not real magic, but a theatrical illusion. “Oh!” thought the toddler, “Well, it’s stid/ the gig for me!” And indeed it was, for little Jos Bemelman grew up to be Tommy Wonder. He’s now old enough to play with matches, and for that matter to do his own television performances; but we're getting ahead of our story. It would be some time before the little tyke would gain access to any technical infor- mation, but the lure of the profession of fantasy endured even without external resources. In fact, two years later our protagonist devised his first original conjuring trick. Ic will not be detailed here; frankly, it was not all that good. What is significant is that this rudimentary contrivance made use of misdirection, employing natural body movement to conceal a secret activity. To be sure, it was a relatively primitive form, but at the age of six this was an extraordinary accomplishment. Just how a young child could instinctively grasp this sophisticated concept—one that has clearly escaped the understanding of many adult magicians—is a grand mystery. It tells us something about this person, who has gone on to earn a reputation as one of the true masters of misdirection. Years went by, and Tommy's interest in conjuring was distracted by other career possi- bilities: For a while he considered becoming an ice cream vendor, or perhaps a priest. It was at the age of ten that he finally got his hands on a magic book and was pulled back into the fold (although it can be argued that there are elements of both dessert and theology to be found in his work, as the following pages will show). CCLANDES-TEEN Now began a typical phase of performing for friends, then moving on to birthday party shows. In time, he discovered that there were magic shops from which he could order by mail, but because of his earlier experiences in self-reliance he quickly determined that the best investment was in books; props he could make himself. In this he was likely influenced by his father’s occupation as a craftsman making jewelry and repairing watches. When Tommy was fourteen he saw a newspaper article that announced the forma- tion of a youth group sponsored by one of the area magic clubs, and this provided an opportunity for interaction with others. However, then as now, his approach was rather iconoclastic. The magic club scene offered access to magic contests, which he used as an impetus for developing original material in the stage manipulation category. The feedback that he received from this involvement helped to build his confidence in his creative abilities. As he won several of these contests, the Dutch magic community began to take notice of this innovative fellow. And of course, the predictable outcome was that he began to get cocky. “I thought that I could do magic perfectly,” Tommy recollects. “I felt, well, I should be having as much success as the best—but I didn’t. So, I thought, “What's wrong?’” To seek a solution, after high school he left the small town of Lisse and moved to Den Haag, where he attended the Academie voor Podiumvorming for three years. ‘There he stud- ied movement, dance and other theater skills. It was hard work; initially he found it difficult to apply what he was exploring to the magic he loved, but he persevered. Upon completing his training he joined the Haagsche Comedie theater company, where for two years he appeared in small parts in their productions, occasionally managing to incorporate conjuring into a role. To earn a modest income during this period, Tommy joined up with another young magician who was to go on to international prominence, Dick Koornwinder. Together they would sell Squirmles (the latter-day version of the classic mouse-pitch) on the street. CUPS AND KAPS Around this time Tommy entered the Plankenkans talent contest produced by a Dutch tele- vision network (the title loosely translates to “Stage Fever”). The act featured a highly unorthodox billiard ball sequence with startling instant color changes, climaxing with the production of a giant ball well away from any tables. One of the judges was the magician whose shadow, even these many years after his death, still looms large over European magic, particularly in his native Holland: Fred Kaps. The young competitor felt quite intimidated, and was too shy to approach the famous three- time FISM champion. It was only years later that Tommy learned from Kaps’ close friend Bob Driebeek of what transpired the week after the contest had aired. Fred called Bob and insisted that he come over to his home in Utrecht to watch the videotape. He told Bob, “You've got to see what this kid is doing!” (By the way, the kid won the contest.) Wonder and Kaps did not get to know each other well in the ensuing years, but held each other in high regard. As with many magicians, Tommy found inspiration in Kaps's work, not in imitative terms but rather with regard to attitude and approach. He comments that Pred “had a certain quality, to give [magic] importance; a certain class. Sometimes, when Tam working on a problem, I think, “What would Kaps have done?’—and then usually it’s quite obvious.” By 1975 Tommy had moved back to Lisse and turned his attention to close-up magic. In part this was for purely pragmatic reasons: The greater share of professional engagements available for magicians in the Netherlands has long been table-hopping for corporate parties. Among his topics of study at the time was the ancient mystery of the Cups and Balls, for which he composed an imaginative new scenario. For the benefit of those who have not yet seen it, the surprising twists in this routine will not be explained, except to mention that the routine relies on an audacious application of misdirection. A full explanation of it appears in Volume IT of this work. Tommy remembers that at first, “I was afraid, because I had the idea, but I thought, ‘This is never going to work’ —so, how could I be sure?” The solution was to develop mul- tiple layers of misdirection, combining physical actions and psychological stratagems to yield a construction that was virtually guaranteed to deceive. The cups routine debuted at a magic club meeting and garnered a powerful response. With his theories confirmed, he was ready to present the routine to a wider audience. He honed the Cups and Balls over many performances, and used it as the keystone of the act he entered in the close-up competition at the 1976 FISM in Vienna, Austria. He did not win that contest, but obtained valuable exposure. One who was impressed was Emil Loew, the Dutch expatriate based in New York who arranged American lecture tours for many European magicians. Loew asked him if he'd like to bring his lecture to the United States in 1977. Tommy quickly agreed. He returned to Holland and, as in fact he'd never done a lecture before, spent the next few months creating one. The lecture was enthusiastically received. During that first trip he also attended the Fechter convention in Buffalo, New York. I can recall the impact of that Cups and Balls routine, as over a hundred well-posted close-up workers found themselves utterly nailed, not once but several times, by this fellow wed never heard of. He returned to the U.S. the following year to do more lectures and appear at the PCAM convention in Los Angeles and the SAM convention in New York. Reviewing the former event in Genii, Bill Larsen jocularly described him as “disgustingly young and handsome,” and his work as “astounding” and “splendid!” The plaudits he received in the United States, in turn, helped build his reputation back at home. His renown was furthered in 1979 when he entered the FISM close-up contest in Brussels, Belgium. This time he was a prize-winner. By now, he had discarded his stage act. Despite its acclamation by others, Tommy him- self was quite dissatisfied, It was time to begin work on a new act. FORWARD INTO THE PAST In the mid-1980s, Tommy withdrew from the magic scene. He pulled back from lectures and convention appearances. Instead, he devoted himself to performing for the public. He received a call from Het Curiosahuys, a restaurant with a medieval theme. Could he devise an act that would fit that premise? If so, they could offer him a long-term con- tract. Tommy came over to sce the facilities. The conditions were problematic: The magician would have to work surrounded, competing for attention in a noisy, active environment. After due deliberation he decided he could work out an act to meet their requirements; it would probably take about three months. The restaurant, however, had other plans; they wanted him to begin the following week! They agreed to split the difference. Six weeks later, the new stage act debuted. The act went over quite well with both the management and patrons of the restaurant. Tommy, on the other hand, was frustrated. However, the engage- ment furnished a chance to refine this new material during the course of several shows in a single night each week. That it also supplied a steady salary was also beneficial. He kept the job for five years. During the first eighteen months the act evolved; he spent sixteen hours a day working on it. Gradually, what began as a deliberate period piece progressed into an act that is timeless. The next three and a half years were devoted to polishing every tiny detail. The fruits of this discipline are now known throughout the conjuring world. The act had its first major showing at the Den Haag FISM in 1988, where Tommy was once again a prize-winner, this time in the stage category. As with his close-up, in the stage act he has delved into classic material and come up with radically new results. The basic ingredients are commonplace: The Orange, Lemon, Egg and Canary; the Zombie; and his beloved Cups and Balls. What he has transformed them into is astonishing. INTRODUCTION: THE WONDER YEARS No one who has seen Tommy’s act will look at Joe Karson's “Ball-on-a-Stick Trick” in quite the same way ever again. As Eugene Burger notes, “I think he does Zombie better than anyone on this planet. The cage is just floating, and you believe it! You believe it so much that you don’t even care what kind of weird gimmick he must have!” The act intertwines a charmingly poetic storyline, superb technique and, of course, misdirection. Tommy observes, “People underestimate misdirection. Sometimes, they use it wrong, so they try it and it doesn’t work, and that ‘proves’ it doesn’t work. ..” The ongo- ing career success of Tommy Wonder proves that it does. MYTH DIRECTION There is much to learn from Tommy Wonder. Prior to these twin volumes, his published work was limited: two sets of lecture notes (Original Magic from Holland in 1977 and Wonder Material in 1982), sporadic contributions to magazines (notably Fred Robinson's Pabular) and a book, Tommy Wonder Entertains, written by Gene Matsuura in 1983. When asked what motivates his work, Tommy explains, “The psychology of magic I find very fascinating — how you can deceive someone, how you can put pictures in a persons mind. It’s a world in itself, where the impossible is true.” The gateway to that world is something that Tommy refers to as Point Zero: “Where negative and positive meet; where reality and fantasy meet; maybe life and death, I don’t know. Suddenly, you're at the other side, and you can go back, but at Point Zero you can- not stay. You can only go through it, because it has no time, no dimension. And that is what happens when you see a magic trick! It’s like wha... and then quickly you go back to real- ity, because otherwise you might die. It’s a very unusual experience, a very necessary feeling. A lot of art forms can bring you very close, but never pull you through it; maybe move you around it, but only with magic do you have this shock, as if you're turning inside-out.” Tommy Wonder continues to turn people inside-out in top venues from Monte Carlo to Tokyo. In addition, he has made numerous appearances on international television. Who knows? Somewhere there may be a precocious toddler who sees one of those performances, and thinks, “Oh! This is the gig for me!” One could hardly ask for a better inspiration. Max Maven 1996, Hollywood PROLOGUE: THE LIMITATIONS OF THEORY INCE a large part of this book and its companion volume consists of theoretical essays, it seems judicious to consider first what theoretical discussions can do for us and how important a part theoretical concerns can play in the realm of magical performance. Some may say that theory, nice as it may be, doesn’t contribute significantly to the development of a good performer. In support of this they point to many such performers who never practiced theoretical analysis. Indeed some fine magicians have never formally studied the theories behind their work, but rely on some instinctive feeling for what is right for them and what is not. There are also magicians who study and study, who know a great deal about the theo- ries of magic, but when they apply these theories in their performances they fail to achieve the great magic for which they hoped. From all this one could draw the conclusion that theory seems to contribute little or nothing to the making of a better performer. RAW DIAMONDS While this contention is obviously open to debate, I do agree that there is a certain some- thing, an instinctive insight, a raw knowledge, that it is essential to have to become a good performer. Call it talent if you like. The more of this special something one has been given by nature, the better performer one can become. I say become, because even if one has all the talent in the world, it still must be developed. Talent is like a raw diamond. An uncut diamond is not particularly interesting, but once it is polished to perfection, it becomes a thing of beauty. The same is true of talent. The more talent, the bigger the raw diamond, the better one can become. But it still requires polishing! Polishing this raw diamond brings out the sparkle and brilliance, so that audiences can begin to enjoy it. However if the base material, the talent isn't there, if instead of raw dia- mond there is only flint, no amount of polishing, no amount of work can bring out the brilliance of a diamond. The idea that, without talent, no amount of work can make one a truly good performer may seem pessimistic, even elitist; bur I believe it, nevertheless, to be true. However, I’m not really the cynical misanthrope this statement might at first suggest, for I tend to think that most, if not all people have some measure of talent—maybe not much, maybe just a speck; but a tiny little diamond polished to perfection is far more enjoyable than an enor- mous unpolished one. So don't despair if you find that your “raw diamond” is not huge. Your magic can still be admirable. I don’t believe that one can enlarge one’s talent. One can only polish it to bring out its qualities for audiences to enjoy. If this is true, there is really no need to be worried about the amount of talent one has. We shouldn't be concerned with how big the raw diamond is. There is nothing to be gained by feeling depressed over a lesser stone. We should only consider how well we can polish the gem we have; and we should only feel discouraged if we fail to polish it sufficiently. I always smile a little when I hear people rationalizing the absence of quality in their work by saying, “But you see, I don’t have as much talent as so-and-so!” I don't pretend to know exactly what talent is, and maybe some do lack it completely—but I do know that the phrase lack of talent is often used as an excuse for a lack of polishing. Whether we have talent and how much is something for others to worry about. Let's ban that fear forever, and let’s also stop using the amount of talent we imagine ourselves to have as an excuse. These things are senseless and will never bring us any closer to our goals. FEELING RIGHT One of the best ways I know of to polish the talent one has is to use it as much as possible. In other words, practice and perform magic as much as you can. In doing so, you will come to see and feel almost automatically how you should do things; you will sense when it is right. The more magic you perform, the more experience you gain and the more your sense for “what is right for you” can be developed. This sense can become so sharp that, after a time, you will even be able to tell when something is right just by imagining yourself doing it. And you will certainly be able to tell when it is right by actually trying it. Let’s say that you want to work out a new effect, and at home you try various moves and sequences. You do it this way, you do it that way; and suddenly you feel that a particu- lar way is, well—just right. This feeling that something is just right for youis, in my opinion, the primary basis for making decisions, and should never be ignored. Many great perform- ers make decisions about their work solely on what they sense is right for them. They can't explain exactly why they do the things they do in a particular way—but it just feels right. This “right feeling” is a much better, much more secure basis for deciding these things than any theoretical analysis can ever be. Of course, the amount of “feeling” you have will depend on how much natural talent you possess and how thoroughly this sense has been developed. If the sense is very small, then “feeling right” might be a shaky, possibly even a ‘’ROLOGUE; LHE LIMITATIONS OF iHEORY misleading basis for making decisions. If you should fail to develop this sense of rightness, it’s probably better to forsake the performance of magic. Before you can hope that intuition will lead you to correct decisions, it is first necessary to develop it as much as you can. The intuition, the feeling, must be developed by intensive practice and performance. If you fail to achieve this development, basing decisions on intuition will be an incorrect approach. One can't base decisions on a sense one does not yet possess. To place intuition above hard analysis is not a very scientific approach. It’s probably not even scientifically defensible; but can our theoretical analysis be scientific? For a theory to be scientifically valid it must be complete and all encompassing. Is magic theory today this complete? And even if someday we do understand magic so thoroughly and precisely that the extant body of theory does encompass all aspects of magical performance, won't that theory be too large and cumbersome to be workable? At any rate, our theoretical understanding of magic today is still limited, and is easily overshadowed by even a moderate amount of intuition or talent. And intuition and talent certainly work a lot faster! WHY THEORY [Fall the above is truc—and I believe it is—then the question must be asked, What is the use of theory? Shouldn't we just forget it and develop our intuition, then just do what feels right? I don’t think so; for by doing that we would be discarding an invaluable tool! You see, after your intuition tells you what to do, theory can become a great aid. Once you have decided that something feels particularly right, thought guided by theory can give you important insight concerning your decision. Understanding why something feels good can lead you to more precise or effective utilization of that insight. Intuition is, after all, an obscure, subconscious process that doesn't offer clear reasons for its decisions. Only through theoretical analysis can we refine, improve and broaden those hazy lessons thar intuition presents to us. Intuition isa great step toward accomplishing good magic, but intuition alonc is unlikely to achieve the full potential of the ideas it generates. That is the job of theoretical analysis. However, if theoretical thinking is applied without that first intuitive leap the result can be pure rubbish. It is far too easy to use theory to twist a completely misshapen assumption into something that gives the appearance of being straight. You can do this without ever being aware of it. But all the theoretical patches in the world won‘ stop a rotcen foundation from crumbling when a ramshackle structure is set before an audience. I believe this misuse of theory is possible because our theories are incomplete. We still have so much to learn, and it is highly unlikely that we will ever understand it all. The main function of theory, then, is to solidify and refine the fruits of our intuition. That is its real purpose. Once we have, through theoretical analysis, made the vague feel- ings of intuition concrete concepts, it is much easier to determine if and how the teachings of our feelings can be improved and better applied. Intuition first; theory and analysis second. This progression is essential! DEVELOPING INTUITION I began this discussion by observing thar the best (perhaps the only) way to develop your larenc intuition for magic is by practicing and performing it as much as you can. Of this I am. certain. | am far Jess certain of the following thought, but I am confident enough in its possibility to offer it for your consideration. I believe that theoretical analysis, when prop- erly applied as we have discussed, can heighten your intuitive faculties. It is my impression that by having constantly examined those things that have felt right to me in my magic, my sense of intuition for what was right became better and surer. This might be because my mind was made to delve regularly into these matters, and my subconscious subsequently gtew more at home with such thoughts and more adept at handling them. Tt could be that I'm wrong about this. I can’t prove thar theorizing and analysis really improve one's intuition for good magic, that they can enhance whatever raw intelligence you might possess—but I suspect that they do. If so, this is an added benefit to be gained by busying yourself with matters of theory. REFINING THEORY ‘To broaden our knowledge of theory, it is nacural to presume that further thought about these matters will deepen our understanding of them. And it certainly can. However, it is also possible to carry such exercises too far: to focus on a certain theory and, in an attempt to elaborate on it further and further, wind up with sheer nonsense. J don’t believe chat theory alone should be the basis for elaborating further theory. The true basis must always be well- grounded intuition. The surest source of new theoretical ideas lies less in the theories themselves, and far more in your sense of what is right for you. Exult in those moments when, as you analyze yout intuitive feelings, you suddenly understand something, something new, something that can be added to your theoretical knowledge. Also watch for those times when you discover a bit of knowledge that can change or refine existing theories. This is the way our theoretical knowledge grows. And the greater that knowledge becomes, the better able we will be to understand our intuitive thoughts, and to handle those thoughts and make the most of them. No RULES From this it follows that theory should never be used, or should I say abused, as if it were a set of rules to be slavishly followed. Never permit theory to become dogma. This can only lead to disaster. Our theoretical knowledge is far too incomplete to forge rules from it. However, theoretical knowledge can and should be used as an aid to furthering our under- standing of intuitive insight, and for this our theorics don’t have to be complete or totally encompassing to be of value. Some individuals who haven't sufficiently developed their latent intuition might come to the conclusion—and quite rightly—that their feelings can’t be trusted, that intuitive decisions too often prove wrong in performance. This of course undermines their trust in their own sense of rightness. Others may have different reasons for lacking confidence in their intuition. No matter what the reason, deprived of this confidence, such people may be attracted to theory as a means to compensate. This is perfectly understandable, but regrettably it won't lead to consistently desirable results, If you don’t trust your intuition, you must learn to develop it, work with it, have faith in it! Heed your feelings, don’t ignore them. Understand the importance of intuition and the subordinate importance of theory. If your intuition curns out to be wrong time after time, it only means that it is sal] underdeveloped—or that the talent simply isn’t there. Remember, the size of one’s talent caivt be enlarged; but keep working and, if there is even alittle talent in you, the day will come when you find that you can trust your intuition more and more, and that your intuitive decisions more frequently turn out to be right. Theory is extremely important— but it can never be more than an aid, a tool for crys- tallizing and refining natural intuition; and as such it must always come second to that intuition. Your intuition! CETTING THE TS Our OF FISDIRECTION ISDIRECTION. So much is written about it, so much is said about it. Often, when spectators talk with magicians, you hear, “I'll bet you misdirected me, didn’t you?” For we readily confess to using misdirection—and it is true. It is B one of the strongest and most interesting tools we have. Many, although canheditinitely not all, magicians will admit this. However, do you use it as much as you sometimes “confess” to your spectators? Do you use it as much as you should? Are you really using it at all? OUTSIDE— INSIDE I suppose that there are several reasons readily cited to account at least in part for why mis- direction is not used to the extent it should be. But even with those who do use it consistently and are very aware of its power, I often sense that its entire benefit is not reaped, that we are not always deriving from this tool the full strength and illusion it can provide. I think this occurs because misdirection is often applied as it is learned. As you discover certain things, characteristics of certain misdirectional ploys, those ploys are used wherever they seern suit- able. Often, though, such applications are not suitable at all. Let me explain. The usual way to understand something new is to approach it from the outside. Often that’s the only way. From the outside we examine the subject and probe more and more deeply into it; and at the same time our understanding of it should grow. When examining misdirection, it doesn't take long to find out that there are all kinds of little systems, ploys, tricks of the trade. For instance: Have something happen away from the secret-—Ask a question—If you want the audience to look at an object, look ar it yourself —Look them in the eye iF you want them to look atyou— Make them laugh—Take advantage of relaxation. On examining successful misdirection one will find that these things, these tricks of the trade, work; and it is logical then to use them, or at least to try to use them to cover up weaknesses or perilous moments in your work. Do you have to palm a card? Ask somcone a question and, while they are busy answering, bingo, you palm the card. Problem solved! Do you necd to load a cup? Say something funny. They will laugh and you can safely load that lemon. Once again, problem solved! Isn't misdirection great? This method of applying the tricks of misdirection—which your study has shown to be effective in the performances and writings of other magicians—may seer valid; and yes, properly applied, all these different techniques will definitely work. They will help to hide the weak spots, discrepancies, secrets, unnatural procedures..,. Bur is this the #est approach? Is it best to examine your routine, find the weak or dangerous spots, then plaster over each of them with some form of misdirection? Alchough this approach can do what you ask of it, distracting from the defects of your method, I doubr that such a path will yield the finest results possible. Undoubtedly, misdi- rection can offer such services in abundance. However, by applying it in this way, you use only a sliver of its potential. Aren't we merely patching up leaky holcs in a less than perfect trick or routine? Of course, patching such holes will prevent the boat from sinking, which is always better than going down. But wouldn't it be better to build your boat without holes in the first place? Won't that-pive more artistically satisfying results right from the start? In magic you have an effect, an ideal. Maintaining this ideal, originally pristine and beautiful, is difficult if, before even the first performance, you find holes that need patching with extraneous ploys. Such an approach originates from outside. Misdirection is used as an external measure, a tool divorced from the effect. Thus it cannot be an integral element of the procedure, woven naturally into the original design. I believe char, in such circum- stances, you will have an extremely difficult time devising misdirection that functions logically and naturally within the envisioned effect. At one point Slydini speaks of magic asa piece of cloth. When creating a presentation you weave your cloth using misdirection as just one of the threads. It is then fully part of the whole, integrated. The misdirection is woven in during the initial designing, This is much different from weaving a cloth, then discovering thar there are one or two holes in it, and sewing those holes closed with an extra thread. The result is a cloth without true beauty, for the mended parts will probably be a little rough and stiff. The cloth won't have the beauti- ful feel and texture ir could have. It stands to reason that mending weak parts afterward can only resule in a patched piece of work. Studying misdirection only to find little strategies thar you might use will surely give you a means to strengthen your magic; this can't be denied. However, | believe there is another way, one that will unleash far more power for you, and one thar offers far better chances of achieving something of real beauty. This other way, an insideapproach, is not easier ar faster than the usual owiside approach, and therefore might be considered less practical by some. In the beginning this inside approach will take more time and effort; indeed, at first it may seem hopelessly difficule— but once you get used to it and have gone through the process several times, it becomes easier, Ic will never be as easy as the usual method of patching up your work with misdirection, but then again, the results will please you more. I am certain that with an inside approach you can achieve misdirection that is woven naturally into your routines, an integral part of them, inseparable and far more artistically sound; and falling short of true artistry, at the least they will be more subtle, more devious and more effective. In addition, you will find them incredibly easy to execute and with greater protection against failure. Sound promising? Perhaps, then, we should have a look at chis inside approach. How- ever, I must ask for your patience. Before we can see how an inside approach can work, we must first gain a clear understanding of the different factors that affect misdirection. We must first study the often used systems, the standard tricks of misdirection. I will not attempt to make a complete analysis of all the ploys available. Other people have already done that in an admirable way. Fitzkec’s book, Magic by Misdirection, although written in the 1940s, is still a monumental work on this subject. Henning Nelms, in his Magic and Showmanship, has some very important things to say as well. I can only advise you to study these texts along with other books on the topic, the performances of other magicians, your own experiences and, most important, your own obscrvations. What I will discuss here are various ideas of mine, some of which I believe differ to some degree from those already published, and some of which | have never read anywhere else. I will also make some general observations that offer no fresh concepts in themselves, but are necessary to understand ensuing ideas that are new. But I repeat, I make no attempt at completeness. Ler’ first approach this great invisible beast from the outside. Let's dissect it, tear it apart, analyze it, consider it and try to understand it. Then, when we understand the parts sufficiently, we'll unite them again, enabled by our understanding to play with their union, since it has become a part of ourselves. We can start, armed with a thorough understanding of the elements involved and with an approach from the inside, to create the most elegant, artistic and effective misdirection imaginable. At least it is the most beautiful formulation of misdirection that I can conceive. MISDIRECTION Okay, let’s begin at the beginning: MIS-DIRECTION— It’s truly unfortunate that in magic we have many terms and expressions that don’t accurately reflect what they are incended to. This is a pity because the use of cor- rect terminology helps to keep one’s thinking straight, anc greatly simplifies matters when magicians communicate with each other. One of our more serious misnomers is the word misdirection. Misdirection implies “wrong” direction. It suggests thar attention is directed away from something. By constantly using this term, it eventually becomes so ingrained in our minds that we might start to perceive misdirection as directing attention away from rather than toward something. Newcomers to magic will almost certainly think along such incorrect lines, because we have chosen a word that promotes this misconception. Let me try to explain with an example why misdirection should never be a diverting of attention from something. Suppose I say, “I want to get out of the city for the weekend.” Here I have not said where I will go, only that it will not be in the city. The city, where I wont be, gets all the attention in my sentence, and the place I will go gets none. If | said instead that I wished to go to a specific village for the weekend, I wouldn't be speaking of the city at all, but only of the village I intend to visit. When I go to this village, _I naturally won't be in the city, but no attention is focused on the city. Auention is properly placed on the village to which I will wavel. The sentence becomes a positive one, carrying a positive meaning directed at the village. Let’s now translate this into magical terms. Let's assume you wish to do a trick in which you palm a card from the deck using your right hand. While you are palming the card, you want to direct the audience’s attention from the right hand. All your efforts are concentrated on getting attention off the right hand— off the right hand—off the night hand. And in your mind, all you are thinking about is your right band! It’s hard for you to forget that hand; and your audience may sense your concern and concentration on your hand. They may actually become intent, just like you are, on your right hand—and then they will see you palm the card! However, now imagine that you use your left hand to move a glass to your left on the table while you palm the card. Now, dontt try to direct attention away from the right hand; instead direct all attention to your left hand as it moves the glass. Don't worry if someone is watching your right hand. Forget it. Don’t be concerned about it. Concentrate instead on the glass, on how you grasp it, where you move it, etc. Now your mind is entirely focused on the glass, and you will actually be able to forget that the right hand is palming a card. This is a much more positive approach than the previous one, and it results in there being no attention on your right hand. Your attention and the attention of the audience will be on the glass. It is said, and I believe it to be true, that the subconscious mind is capable only of tak- ing in the positive meaning of things. This is due to its ability to think in concrete pictures rather than abstract words. Words have no power in your mind. Imagining something with words alone is hard, pethaps impossible. For instance, imagine that you wish to ask your employer for a raise. Mentally, though, you envision his telling you no and dismissing you from his office. As you picture this scene you can say to yourself, “I don't want that to happen,” but your mind pushes this denial aside and continues to see your failure. This mental picture can shape future reality, resulting in your actually being denied the raise! This occurs because the scene of failure you have imagined causes you to behave a bit nervously, perhaps, or unsure of yourself —litdle uncontrollable things, which convey to your employer an impression that you arent sure yourself if you deserve a raise. This, naturally, makes it easy for him to dis- miss the idea. Essentially the same thing occurs when you are concentrating on your right hand and the card it must palm. The picture is there, containing your fear of the palmed card being seen, and consequently uncontrollable signs produced by your fear betray you, causing the palmed card to be detected. Returning to our example of the raise, imagine that you were now to concentrate on a positive scenario: You see your employer agreeing with you that you deserve a raise, after which he grants it. This mental picture helps to produce behavior in you that broadcasts different signals. Behind your actual conversation there now lies an impression that your employer will give you the raise; and he will sense this confidence through subtle details. Consequently, he will find it more difficult to deny the raise, since your attitude has made it easier for him to perceive your request as a reasonable one. The chances of your getting the raise are much greater. This is nothing more than the power of positive thinking. People are generally pushed in the direction that takes the least effort on their parts. In magic this translates into adhering only to positive ideas. Negative approaches, like that of directing attention away from your hand as it palms a card, only create negative pictures that fulfill themselves, drawing attention to the hand. It is much better to use a positive picture, like that of your other hand moving the glass. Such piccures are also self- fulfilling. The idea is quite simple: Misdirection must be arrention directed toward something, not away from something, and positive images are the way to achieve this. Directing atten- tion fren is a hopeless and virtually impossible approach. The moment you start trying to misdirect, the battle is lost! It would be far better for us if msderection had not become an accepted term in magic, and direction had been adopted instead. Alas, misdirection long ago became so common a term, I don't think we'll ever be able to replace it by direction. Well, you're right. That is very negative thinking on my part. Okay, YES, we will be able to replace the word rmisdérec- tim with the more precise word direction. SOMETHING OF INTEREST The above makes clear that for our secret moves to avoid unwanted attention we must direct attention toward something else. From this it follows that we must have something else available at those times, something of interest. The more interesting this certain something is, the easier it will be to focus attention on it. The next time you wish to hide something, don't think of hiding it, but rather think of what you can offer of interest in its place. Pref- erably this should be something thoroughly intriguing, The concept of offering something of greater interest is, although simple, an impor- tant and essential step in hiding your secrets. I believe it is ignorance of this concept that has caused many magicians to fail in what they thought was misdirection. Presenting some- thing of erearer interest that attracts attention, rather than trying to direct attention away from your secret, is a much more dependable way to protect that secret. This is a key con- cept, and if it hasn't already become an automatic part of your thinking, making it one could well be the single most productive step you can take toward a more successful use of atten- tion control. Many know this concept; some even apply it. However, it is so easy to forget, because it is so simple. It is like the gasoline in your car: Without it you will not get far. You must have something of interest to offer. While the importance of this concept cannot be emphasized enough, it is nevertheless only the first step in hiding your secrets. There is another well-known but often ignored principle, a major principle that has many other benefits: “continuous direction”. CONTINUOUS DIRECTION In legitimate theater, techniques for directing attention are constantly used. Nort, of course, to hide a multitude of little secrets; no, these rechniques are used to present the story in a clear and uncluttered manner. No matter what you perform, there will always be countless little things that are there out of necessity, though they bear no importance to the plot or idea presented. Many things must happen to get the story across effectively, but it isn't important for the audience to perceive those things, because they simply arent significant to the plot. For an audience to follow the story, you don't want to bother them with details of stagecraft; you want only to impress on them those elements that matter—nothing more, nothing less, When we perform as magicians, our job consists of morc than simply hiding the secret. ‘That is just a small part of our objective. Much more important is that we highlight the important details, those things thar arc necessary if the audience is to understand and follow the action and its intended meaning. You should be giving your spectators an uncluttered impression of the effect. We want to enhance the most interesting and important points, to paint one clear picture in the spectators’ minds, Only then can they appreciate what we are trying to convey to them. Simply stated, we must present our work in a clear and efficient way if it is to be effective. To do this, itis necessary for us to point out only the important details, to display them, to throw a strong light on chem. It is then only logical that we should direct the audience's attention continuously, from one important point co the next. If this isn’t done, attention may stray to something unimportant, which may complicate or confuse the information the audience receives. Therefore, from the first moment of our work to the last, the instant an important point has been digested by the spectators, the next important point should be presented to them, all without the intrusion of clutter and unimportant detail. Continuous direction is essential if we are to create sound theater; we can't do without it. Since magic is theater as well, it needs continuous direction as much as any other theat- rical form. With continuous direction we control the attention of the audience, focusing it where we want it by presenting a series of important and relevant ideas and occurrences. BELIEVING IN YOUR OWN MAGIC Often I’ve read advice in our books that one should forget the sleight or gimmick. The best way to use a thumb tip? “Just forget that it is on your thumb!” Afraid of palming a card? “Forget that you have it palmed!” Now, this advice certainly seems valid. It might be very beneficial if you could forget you ate doing a sleight or forget that thumb tip on your thumb. But chis advice doesn’t offer much real help, does it? It instructs thar you consciously forget! How on earth does one do that, forget on purpose? Just one attempt will be cnough to convince you that such a thing is impossible! However, this laudable but impossible idea of forgetting, provides an excellent case for the practice of structuring your performances as a string of highlights. Focus attention on something other than the secret and the audience will pay no attention to the secret—but just as importantly, it correctly directs your attention as well! One cannot purposefully forget, but you can substitute one thought for another. If you don't want to think of something, think of something else! The trick is not to forget the thumb tip; the trick is to chink of something else while you wear the thumb tip. And if there is a strong, point of interest, you can place your interest there as well. It can and should be so strong a point that it will make you think of the important and relevant features of presentation, the highlights only; and this makes it impossible for distracting thoughts concerning method to enter your mind. Your conscious mind is com- pletely occupied with the important aspects of the effect. No place is left in it for you to think about the secret; and the secret is pushed into the shade of your subconscious mind. When you do this, you can deceive yourself! Of course, it takes practice. You might not succeed the first time you try (at home); but if you really concentrate, if you force yourself while practicing to think only about the highlights of the presentation, soon thoughts concerning method will slip into the safe dark- ness of your subconscious. You simply won't have time to think about sleights and gimmicks, as your thoughts will be too engaged for such things. To learn to believe your own magic, apart from good direction you will need a solid “silent script”. The silent script, a basic acting tool, is well described by Henning Nelms in Magic and Showmanship. A silent script correctly grounds your acting. While it is formally an acting tool, it also helps you to avoid undesirable thoughts concerning method. This idea of replacing certain thoughts with others may sound a bit mystical at first, but it is practical and not particularly difficult. However, it isn't automatic. It must be prac- ticed. Otherwise, when you execute some secret action, before you know it, a thought about this action will appear in your mind. But if you practice, while seriously concentrating, to supplant such thoughts with presentational ones, eventually che divorcing of secret actions from thoughts about them will become easier and easier. And eventually this detachment from method will work for you during actual performances as well. You must, though, stick to your silent script during practice. If you attempt to use a silent script only during your shows you will have trouble. Only thorough practice with the silent script will produce the desired results. From this you will see that there must be not only continuous direction, but continuous thinking as well! LACK OF CONFIDENCE IN THE POWER OF DIRECTION The four concepts just discussed are basic and widely recognized. Their simplicity may seem to suggest that they can be taken for granted, but they are vital, and you should always keep them foremost in your mind if you wish to direct attention effectively. | offer the next idea with the hope that you will find it helpful in becoming comfortable with what must seem at times to be an intimidating tool. One of the greatest difficulties with the use of misdirection —sorry, direction—to cover elements of method, is that it is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to achieve if you lack confidence in its power; for without adequate assurance you won't be sufficiently relaxed to pull it off. For many this may be the main stumbling block. Suppose you try performing a trick thar requires the camouflaging power of direction. The first time you perform a trick for an audience it is perfectly natural that you should be a little nervous—and this lack of confidence might give you away at the crucial moment, resulting in the failure of your direction of attention. This failure will of course injure your confidence in the power of direction to caver the method. So the next time you try this trick, your level of confidence probably will be even lower, and so on in an ever accelerating descent. Eventually, you might come to conclude that all these ideas of attention management are not your cup of tea, upon which you abandon the idea of ever using it again. It is important that you don’ find yourself caught in this downward spiral, because if you do, it may mean that your chance of becoming a good magician will be forever cut off. Good magic without proper attention management is an impossibility. Confidence is one of our most important assets, and we must always try co avoid any- thing that can hurt this confidence. It is important, then, that we gain confidence in the power of direction. To believe in it on a theoretical basis may not be difficult, but there is a world of difference between theoretical belief and putting that belief into practice. Belief during performance can only be gained through experiencing the power of direction in front of an audience. Since failure and the fear of failure are elements that can seriously undercut our belief in the power of direction, you must try co find a way to experience this power without there being a chance of failure. The first trick in this book, “Magic Ranch” (p. 45), provides such a way. In it you pro- duce an egg on the table while you are several feet away from it.The method is pure attention management, but there is no danger of jeopardizing your reputation if the strategy fails. Should you see that someone in the audience has noticed you place the egg on the table, you simply forget the production, act as if everything is going as planned and continue with the surrounding larger effect: the revelation of a chosen card inside the egg. However, when you learn how to direct attention reliably away from the egg, you can use its appearance on the table to yield an extra bit of surprising magic. Because this effect can’t go wrong, you will be less nervous about trying it, and because you are reasonably at ease, the chances of it working are much better. When you experience the power of direction several times, you will be amazed. Ic is exhilarating, and later, know- ing the power of the tool, you will gain the confidence necessary to do more daring things with it. Then you will have at your disposal the greatest tool in magic! So find a few effects that use attention control without hazard. Doing so will make you feel much more at case, and your chances for success will be higher in your first attempts— much higher than they would be if your reputation were at stake. Having looked at the basic concepts of attention management, let’s now examine in a bit more detail some ploys available to us, There are rwo basic types of attention manage- ment: One is the manipulation of mental attention and usually deals directly with a spectator's thoughts; the second is used to control the direction of a spectator’s gaze. Let's first examine some aspects of the visual type. In considering visual direction, we can differentiate between two general situations, each the antithesis of the other: the broadening of attention (relaxation) and its concentra- tion (tension). - Each of these has its own characteristics, and you should be familiar with both, so that you can choose the best one to suit the particular situation at hand. BROADENING ATTENTION You will often find that in your effect there are moments that result in a short period of relaxation as a natural result of the current action. When the audience relaxes, their atten- tion broadens, spreading out over a wider and less carefully observed field. Such moments of relaxation seem perfect for the hiding of secrets. Indeed, this strategy is frequently used and it certainly can be effective. Some performers seem to use this method exclusively. An example: The magician is performing a cups and balls routine, and during it he produces something from one of the cups. The spectators are surprised and amazed; after which they relax and—w+oosh'—the magician grasps his chance to make another load. This technique certainly works, but there are problems connected to the use of relax- ation. First, one can’t really make the audience relax on command, I can‘ tell them (directly or indirectly), “Now relax, damn it!” Although you will often find that relaxation occurs at a specific moment of your routine, particularly after something amazing has happened, taking extra precautions to assure that relaxation will indeed result is wise. One of the best ways to achieve relaxation with certainty, I’ve found, is to create it through the release of tension. ‘To create relaxation, you must first build tension in your audience. Then when the tension is discharged, relaxation results. The higher the tension, the greater the relaxation that results. It is important to understand this, because it shaws how relaxation can be intensified. If you want greater relaxation at a certain point, just intensify the preceding tension. In this way you can exercise some control over the degree of relaxation created. It is important when using this technique that as tension is released the moment of release should be crisp and distinct. Relaxation that begins fuzzily won't be as effective. You must give a clear signal to your spectators that lets them know when they are to relax. Usu- ally you signal this moment by obviously relaxing yourself. Another way to induce relaxation is by giving the audience a strong experience. The production of an unexpected large load, for instance, can be quite shocking, and asa result the audience will feel a need to relax. The stronger the experience the deeper the momen- tary relaxation. This suggests another possible way to increase the degree of relaxation. Obviously, both methods of intensifying relaxation can work together quite naturally. At their roots they might even be considered the same concept. No CONTROL Relaxation, as valuable a tool as it is, does have one serious drawback. When spectators relax, they are basically out of your control. You have no idea where their eyes may go. During moments of relaxation, they may look at one another, at the ceiling, at the floor, to the left or the right. Suppose you intend to execute some secret action during this period of relax- ation. Since you have no control over where the spectators will be looking at that moment, through coincidence it could very well be that one or more spectators will look directly at your hands just as you make your move! Granted, because attention is not intense or focused, you might get away with the move while someone is staring at your hands. It might not be noticed, but you cant be sure. WAITING It follows that by using relaxation to cover a secret action, you must be very aware of where each member of your audience is gazing. If sameone happens to look at you when you are about to execute the move, you must wair! You must wait until the person's gaze moves on. When using relaxation as cover, you must carefully observe if the period of inatten- tion is indeed permitting your move to be done unnoticed. You have to choose the exact moment, wait and grasp it when it arrives. Having understood this, it must be possible, then, for you to delay the move. Bur some- times that is difficult, perhaps even impossible. Ifyou must do a move that can’t be delayed, or would become unnatural at a later moment, the use of relaxation is generally not a desir- able strategy for concealment, Consequently you may need to change the method, so that the secret action falls at another time or is replaced with an action that will withstand delay when necessary. In addition, within the context of a stage performance, in which it is impossible for you to check everyone's gaze and judge the right moment, relaxation is generally not a reli- able technique to use by itself, On stage, relaxation is better used in combination with another direction technique, to reinforce it. Although it seems simple enough in concept, waiting is a very hard thing to learn. At least ic was for me. It takes a certain amount of courage and confidence; confidence that, even when the right moment has nor yet arrived, eventually it will come. Another thing that can make waiting difficult relates to the way you practice and rehearse. When you practice at home, things are done in a certain tempo and rhythm; and when it comes time to perform before an audience, you should have practiced the trick so often, the tempo and rhythm of the moves will be almost automatic. However, now instead of the mirror watching you, you have live human beings. The timing that was perfect for the mirror may need adjustment for an andience. You are now faced with something torally new: adapting your well-rchearsed timing and rhythm. Since being a bit nervous the first few times you do an effect for audiences is normal, you may find that you have no chance to concern yourself with precise timing; so you use the timing you practiced at home—timing that might very well be totally wrong for this specific show and audience. Forcing yourself to wait for the appropriate moment will be difficult in such circumstances. The alternative to waiting, though, is the possibility of get- ting caught and, further, of having your confidence in direction techniques shattered —well, dented at least. My advice is that, if you use relaxation for cover, be very aware that in an actual show you may have to adjust the exact moment a move is done. Being aware of this while you practice will help later. When you practice, imagine that a spectator is watching your hands, and wait until this imaginary spectator looks away. In other words, practice the technique of waiting as well as the moves and presentation. Then, when show-time comes, such delays aren't something new for you. You will have included the practice of watching your audience and waiting for the correct moment in your rehearsals, Now, you may think, this sounds fine in theory, but what if a spectator doesnt look away? What do 1 do then? When I’m depending on relaxation to cover a move and I see that a person is watching my hands, I keep them still. There is nothing duller than watch- ing nothing happening. You will find that the spectator, being relaxed and not knowing that you are about to make a secret move, will soon look away. After all, there's nothing interest- ing to see, There is more, though, to handling a spectator whose eyes coincidentally sete on the critical area during a period of relaxation. Here, [ must assume that you have not aroused suspicion in the spectator, for chen it becomes very difficult, if not impossible, to make the person look the other way. A suspicious spectator will usually not relax, but will insist on keeping a watchful eye on you. Even if you haven't aroused suspicion before the actual moment of the secret action, it's still possible to arouse it during the relaxation period. One ching you should not do is steadily watch the spectator who is watching your hands to see when he looks away. It is far better ta look clsewhere, and observe this person from the corer of your eye. As a result, the spectator notices that you aren't interested in him, that his behavior doesn’t matter to you—and if it doesn’t seem to matter that he is watching your hands, he concludes that there will be nothing to see and his attention moves on. Of course the spectator probably doesn't reason this thoroughly, but if you were to watch him like a hawk, he might very well conclude that his attention on your hands concerns you, upon which suspicion will rear its nasty head. We will look deeper into the matter of difficult spectators in the other two articles that occupy this chapter. KEEP IT SUBTLE, KEEP IT SHORT Try to keep the intensity of relaxation as subdued as possible while ir still does the job you require of it. In other words, don't build tension unduly before you let the audience relax, If the degree of relaxation is enormous, people may suspect that you purposely created an opportunity to do something secretive. You want to keep the level of relaxation subdued to prevent spectators from recognizing that they did relax their attention, and that you might have exploited this, For the same reason, try to keep the period of relaxation brief. To accomplish this, you must have a definite plan for recapturing attention: a remark, a gesture, an action. What- ever method you decide on, it must regain attention in a positive way. This is the price you must pay for relinquishing control. Relaxation created by laughter at a joke has a special problem: You have less control over the degree and timing of the relaxed period. Let's say that your spectators are roaring with laughter; maybe they're even holding their sides and crawling under the tables—all at a joke that normally brings only mild chuckles. In such a case, you must be prepared with a good, reliable way to regain control; or be ready to accept the fact that the cabbage you just loaded under your hat won't make much of an impression when you produce it later. NOTHING HAPPENED Allow me to mention one more little technique, which is applicable in virtually any situa- tion where the audience has looked away from a certain spot. The technique is useful with either the principle of relaxation or that of concentration of attention, but it is especially valuable when attention is relaxed. You have been successful in relaxing your spectators and they are not watching your hands while you execute your secret move. Now, if possible, bring your hands and what- ever props they might hold back to the original positions occupied before the move occurred. Once the hands are in position, keep them there. Shift your attention to a spectator, talk to him, catch his eye, then look down at your hands. In other words, after the work is done, as quickly as you can, try to focus attention back on your hands. The spectators will see thar, seemingly, nothing has changed and they will conclude that nothing has happened. If the hands or the props on the table have changed position, the audience might subconsciously realize the hands have made unobserved motions. The spectators might not conclude from this that some secret action has taken place, but subconsciously they will know that infor- mation has been missed. Understand, the spectators don’t perceive any of this consciously, but subconsciously these things do matter. Your goal is to make everyone believe that they didnt miss a thing, yet miracles happened. Summary on the Use of Relaxation ‘To use relaxation of attention properly we need: 1) Either a way to build tension just before, or some strong experience for the audi- ence—or a combination of these elements to create relaxation. 2) Further we must choose the precise moment for the secret action to go unobserved, which requires that we be able to delay the action when necessary. 3) We should also try to keep the period of relaxation as short and subdued as possible, 4) We must have a way to regain attention in a certain and clearly defined manner. 5) Whenever possible, we should return attention to the same apparent situation observed before attention was relaxed. As you see, there are quite a few factors that bear on the effectiveness of the relaxation principle. Used incorrectly, the audience might very easily perceive that you have been exploiting the time they were not paying strict attention, Careful use of the technique is necessary, due to its many pitfalls. Use of relaxation-periods is a valuable technique, but it can be easily detected if not properly employed. CONCENTRATING ATTENTION Now let's examine the other major principle of attention direction. Instead of relaxing attention, one can do just the opposite: concentrate it. This principle seems far less frequently used by most magicians, yet it is a very versatile and extremely strong tool. While attention is basically uncontrolled during periods of relaxation, it is under your complete guidance when you concentrate it. Total control is the main advantage of this technique, and as important and versatile as it is in close-up situations, it is even more so in stage performing. When concentrating the audience's attention, all eyes are all drawn to one point while the surrounding area is excluded from the frame of focus. The tighter the point of interest, the safer che surrounding area will be for your clandestine use. A good example of such concentration of attention occurs in the previously mentioned trick, “Magic Ranch”. In this effect, the performer purposely gets everyone interested in seeing the face of a card just selected. Their concentrated attention on the deck in your hands keeps them from noticing an egg you have secretly placed in full view on the table. Because of the way this type of attention direction operates, there are fewer things to take into account and to deal with than relaxation technique demands. There are fewer critical factors, and the circumstances that foster it will crop up frequently and naturally in your presentations. Consequently, you will find many suitable opportunities to use concentra- tion technique to conceal secret actions. As an added benefit, spectators feel thar they are watching very closely, which they are— it's just that they are watching the wrong spot to discover the secret. | his is extremely desirable, for when spectators believe they are watching intently and you still fool them, your reputa- tion as a magician is enhanced tremendously. However, this aspect also carries a caveat: The technique should not be betrayed to the spectators by having them concentrate on some- thing that turns out to be of no value. The object of attention that you create must have pertinent interest to the action. Don't make the audience feel foolish by making them look at something that turns out to be obviously trivial. :; If the concentration of attention is not strong enough to cover a secret maneuver you can increase the degree of attention by giving it more importance, but do so with modcra- tion or you will find that in hiding your secret you are disappointing the audicnce by placing excessive importance on an incidental point. Such abuse of the principle can mar the over- all impact of your presentation. Although I feel concentration of attention is a powerful (and extremely under-used) tool, it does have a characteristic that may frighten you away from its use, In most cases, when using concentration, waiting for the right time to make your move will not be pos- sible, It would most often be totally unnatural to do so. This is because, in stressing a certain point, once the point is seen and understood by the spectators they will expect you to con- tinue on to the-next point of your presentation. The length of time their attention is concentrated cannot be extended. The concentration must last just long enough for the audience to absorb the information you've given. In addition, since you too are concentrated on the point of interest, you have no opportunity to scan the audience to verify where 4 everyone's attention lies. This means that you have to execute your move or sleight at the very moment atten- tion is concentrated, taking for granted that your audience won't be watching your hands as they do the necessary. When you first present a new trick, you will be tempted to exaggerate the degree of concentration; but with a bit of experience you will feel more at ease and can decrease the intensity of concentration to a subtler, more suitable level. In deciding the intensity of concentration, it's wise to see how large the area of focus will be. Suppose this area is about eight inches in diameter. That is only a moderately restricted field, and your move should be done well outside this eight inches of concentrated attention. However, what if the eyes are drawn to a point encompassing less than half an inch? Then the sleight can safely be done quite close to the area of interest. Whenever you focus attention on a very small point of interest, the intensity of con- centration (that is, the importance placed on this tiny point of interest) can usually be rather light. But whenever the area of interest is broader, and the secret maneuver must be executed relatively close to the area, you must significantly increase the degree of concentration. The same rules apply to the use of concentration of attention as to its opposite, relax- ation: Short and subtle are qualities to be striven for. Keep the degree of concentration as subdued as possible while directing attention reliably. Use just enough to cover the secret maneuver. Try to use so little that, if you used any less your secret would be exposed. Walk on the edge! Living dangerously in this sense is more fun! And such moderation assures that your audiences don’ feel their attention has been diverted. Just as with relaxation, when concentration of attention is applied subtly, your spectators will believe they've paid atten- tion to the various points of your presentation of their own accord. Your job is to guide them without letting them realize they've been guided. All this leads us to a fascinating aspect of visual direction: [HE WEAKER IT IS, THE STRONGER IT Is! “THE TENSION-RELAXATION WAVE We have so far been looking at the elements of relaxation and tension as separate entities, However, by their very nature they alternate with each other constantly, and this alterna- tion creates a wave of attention. The amount of attention an audience can give is a limited commodity. Whatever you do, after the expenditure of attention, the audience will want to relax. After every wave of tension comes a lull of relaxation. That is natural. Onc can’t give constant attention. There have to be respitcs of relaxation between stretches of concentration, and from this alterna- tion we get our wave. Imagine that you have an enormous washtub full of water. You slap your hand on the water, making a small wave. You slap your hand again on the water, and again. If you con- tinue to slap the water, in exactly the right rhythm, the waves in the washtub will grow higher and higher, until they splash over the sides of the tub. he energy of each slap need not he great, but given the proper rhythm, light slaps create a very strong wave. The same can be said of an audience, Create a wave of alternating tension and relax- ation, giving a new surge of tension at the right moments, and eventually the wave will grow very strong. Nota lot is needed to maintain this wave as long as you keep the correct rhythm. Conveniently, if you can create the wave and ride it, the rhythm becomes almost automatic; and being partially automatic, less energy is needed to maintain it at those moments when you need to use it for cover. In addition, it requires less energy to regain attention at the end of a relaxation period. Such a wave makes the use of both the principle ‘of relaxation and that of concentration easier, since less obvious expedients are needed to create them. Thus everything is done more subdly. It also requires less effort to modulate the level of relaxation to a subtle and effective minimum. An important prerequisite for creating such a wave—actually, an essential for any direction technique you wish to employ— is the interest an audience invests in you. When the audience finds you interesting, they hang on your every word, they watch for every movement you make, Because they are interested in what you do, they follow you and every pulse of tension and relaxation you create for them. Their attention is captured by what you do. When such a situation is attained, creating a wave of tension and relaxation is easy. However, your puidance of the audience's attention must be good. So much happens when one’s control of attention is properly executed: The spectators pay close attention to every word and gesture you wish them to, and therefore follow whar you are doing; and when your work is easily followed, it becomes easier to appreciate the magical effects you bring forth. This in turn makes it casicr to like and appreciate your work, leaving the audience with a pleasant experience. Given all this, people may even start to like you! In a way, cause and effect amplify cach other here, forming an ever-increasing wave of their own: Your ability to control attention makes it easy for the audience to begin to like you, and when they like you it is easier to control their attention, which causes them to like you more, which... Once the wave is set in motion, the alternation of concentration and relaxation feels totally natural to an audicnce and becomes much casier to perpetuate. Not only does this make concentration and relaxation easier to use for your secret purposes, it also makes the audience feel much happier and more comfortable. It is similar to breathing in and out. (Breathing, by the way, is another tool for creating tension and relaxation: Breathe in for tension, breathe out for relaxation. I'll have more to say on this subject in an upcoming article on “Breath Control”, p. 173.) A good tension-relaxation wave creates a feeling of being alive, of excitement, of riding an emotional experience together as a group; the audience and performer become one, breath- ing in with tension, breathing out with relaxation, in a total harmony of mutual experience. The rhythm of the wave beats likes an orchestra conductor's baton, carrying the entire group along for an exhilarating emotional journey, Audiences love this feeling of oneness, as do 1, and I presume you do too. Once you establish a wave, take care not to destroy it by delivering a shot of tension at the wrong moment. One ill-timed burst of tension can easily break the wave into ineffec- tual little ripples. Hit that growing wave of water in our washtub at the wrong time and see what happens. When the wave is allowed to roll, though, it can grow so strong and exciting that it becomes a major experience for both audience and performer. Unfortunately, I frequently ruin the rhythm, missing its heights. So often, keeping proper time with the rhythm of the audience is difficult, and all I create is a rather srnall wave. But on those occasions when the wave does grow large... .! MENTAL DIRECTION No matter what we do, our actions always paint a certain picture in the minds of our audi- ences. This is influenced by what we say, what we do, how we look and so on. Everything perceived by the audience influences this picture. The ideas we plant in the minds of our spectators are very important to all aspects of what we want to achieve, not the least of which is the hiding of our methods. There are several things we can use co influence the thinking and perceptions of our audiences. Although I’m sure I don't have a complete overview of all the techniques available, let's look at a few of them. TIME AND PLACE DISSOCIATION Disconnecting cause and effect, either in time or place or both at once, can be an incredibly strong tool, If you carefully analyze Cardini’s classic act you will see how well he uses this idea. Imagine that you have stolen something from the left side of your jacket and wish to produce it. Using the concept of place dissociation, you would bring the item into view as that the ball doesn’t leave your hand. You then suddenly make the sponge ball multiply into two balls. Under these circumstances, the audience might well feel cheated and realize that they had no chance to see something go into your hand because they were watching for the wrong thing, In such a case, the ruse is too blatant. Hor this technique to be effective it should be subd, and the change in intention should seem logical, not contrived. GRASPING AT A STRAW ‘This unusual technique (actually a combination of mental and visual techniques) requires subtlety ta be effective; but when used correctly, it is infallible and extremely strong. It is especially effective when someone is obstinately fighting any direction; the type of person who glues his cyes on your hands, locks out all your signals and stubbornly concentrates. Such individuals invest a lot of energy in maintaining attention on your hands. While one could say that the occurrence of such a situation suggests that you, as a magician, are doing something wrong, sometimes one simply runs into people like this, who refuse to be led, no matter what you do. There are some tricks, coo, with constructions that might encour- age such behavior in a spectator. These are times when the grasping-at-a-straw technique can be valuable. In everyday life, if you want to lead someone, you take him by the hand. But suppose you have your hand outstretched to this person and he refuses to take it, preferring to remain stubbornly on his own. ‘lo force him to take your hand, you can do this: Place your foot on one of his and give him a gentle push. This causes him to start to fall. At the moment he begins to teeter, you again stretch out your hand. Because your headstrong acquaintance has suddenly lost his balance and wishes to regain it, he will surely grab your hand to keep from falling. ‘This action is his “last straw”. The grasping-at-a-straw technique employs this principle. You knock your determined spectator off balance, then offer him something that allows him to recover his footing. You present him with a problem, but retain its solution within your control. If the spectator wants to regain his balance he must turn to you. Doing this, he is forced to deviate from his own path and follow you, which places him under your direction. Let’s put this into a magical context. You have a card palmed in your right hand, which is also holding the deck. You want to give this deck out for shuffling. The moment the deck and the right hand part company you have a rather dangerous moment. The hand might appear a bit unnatural when the deck leaves it, so you don't want people looking at your hand and the deck at that moment. You might then do this: Your right hand, while palming a card, is holding the deck. Look at the spectator who will be shuffling the cards. Say nothing. Look at the deck, then look at the spectator again. These pointed looks will cause your target to start to worry a bit. “What does this magician want from me?” Now slap the deck onto the table right in front of the spectator, but maintain the right hand’s grip on the cards. The spectator is now genuinely apprehensive, not knowing what you expect of him. In short, he is off balance. At this time you can be dead certain that the spectator will look into your eyes, questioning what it is you want. In other words, he is grasping at his last straw. He needs your help. As soon as his eyes meet yours, your hand leaves the deck and you say, “Please shuffle the cards.” In this example the technique is constructed as a planned strategy that is used every time you come to this point in the trick. However, the samc idca can also be employed for emergencies. How it is structured and applied is governed by the specific situation. The general pattern, though, is to say or do something that throws a person off balance, or makes it clear that he is expected to perform some task; then, when his eyes meet yours, you help him recover his composure. The technique is extremely reliable, but it can also be very dangerous and requires sound judgment. It is perilously easy to use with a heavy hand. Like the previous techniques we've discussed, this unbalancing process is best and most effectively used when applied as lightly as possible while still achieving your goal. Ideally, the spectator shouldn't realize that he has been nudged off balance. You don't wish him to feel negatively about his experience with you, and being placed off balance # a negative feeling. Therefore, you want to exercise a gentle touch when you use this technique, so that it isn't consciously noticed. Done with finesse, it is a powerful, subtle and very dependable tool—a much better ane than calling someone's name or asking a direct question, A person who is resolute in watching your hands will probably not fall for such ploys anyway; but putting him off bal- ance, then offering a last straw works! ACTING To call acting a ploy would probably be inaccurate, but it docs have a definite function, or should I say an advantage, in relation to the direction of attention. Perhaps it shouldn't bear mentioning, but when your method is firmly grounded on presentation, rooted in your mental image of the effect, it will blend seamlessly with your acting; and the flow of your acting will automatically conceal the method. (Keep this in mind as you read “Déja ReVurse” in the next chapter, p. 167.) Proper portrayal of emotions and conflict—the essential ingredients of theater—will mave and carry people along while neatly hiding the secret. Obviously, when the acting is unconvincing, it prevents spectators from entering into the mood you wish to create for them; you fail to capture their minds and emotions. They will then watch everything as an outside observer. Such an attitude makes it easy for people to retain an analytical distance, and hard for you to guide their thoughts, because there is no solid connection between you and the audience. It will be clear, then, that attempts at direction are very likely tv fail when the acting is unconvincing. Let’s conclude this section with an interesting aspect concerning mental direction: THE STRONGER IT IS, ‘THE STRONGER IT Is! ADVANCED DIRECTION TECHNIQUES I would like to talk now about some rather advanced concepts. They are not necessarily complicated, but they do consist of several elements working together simultaneously. There- fore, it might secm involved, but once grasped the concepts are simple to understand. Having said that, they are nonetheless very difficult to structure within routines, and to come up with ways of productively incorporating these concepts is difficult; indeed, to sore extent you have to be lucky to hit upon proper applications for these principles. The first concept is... . THE TRAIN First an analogy to explain the general idea: You have arrived at a train station late, The train you must catch is already moving down the track, but you are just able to jump on. If the train has very few cars, you will immediately understand that your chances of hopping onto that moving train are less promising. If the train is a long one, of course your chances are far better, thanks to the larger number of cars. How does this relate to the direction techniques we have been discussing? Suppose you have something you wish to draw attention to, but just at the moment you do so, one spec- tator moves his chair. His attention is naturally distracted from your presentation. It follows that this spectator will miss the connection, so to speak, and will not have boarded your presentational train, He will not be involved in your attention directing strategy. Everyone else will have been drawn co the new point of interest, but not this fellow. Consequently, there is a greater chance he might see the move you are trying to conceal. Here, then, is the point of all this: If the engaging strategy that draws attention to some desired area of focus is of longer duration, Jatecomers will still have a chance to jump on. The train concept is especially important when you are dealing with attention- concentration techniques. As you will remember, contrary to relaxation techniques, concentration techniques don't allow one to wait for the right moment to make a secret move. Therefore, when using concentration strategies, it is best if the engaging element is prolonged for as long as possible, allowing the distracted and the slower individuals in the audience a better chance to be caught up by ic. MULTIPLE LAYERS The idea of multiple layers of direction is a simple one. If you can use different techniques of direction simultaneously, all of them working toward the same goal, they will reinforce the overall direction of attention. By adding layer on layer of direction, the stacked layers work together to form a much stronger directional force than any of the individual layers could do. From this it follows that, when employing multiple layers of direction, the con- tributing layers can be much weaker than would be feasible ifeach were used alone; yet the sum of the layers remains strong, As I've mentioned several times before, visual direction, to he its most effective, should be used in as weak a dosage as possible while still concealing the deception. With multiple layering we can make each type of direction so weak, so tis- sue thin, that each by itself would be unable to sustain the deception—but all those extremely weak directional methods together are strong enough to hold and sustain the deception again. Now the advantage becomes clear. Each directional method is so incredibly weak that none can ever be recognized. This is not the only virtue of multiple layering. People are different from each other. (Thank goodness! How dull life would be if they weren't.) Some people are more intellec- tual than others, some are more physical, some depend more on their feelings than othcrs. Given the diversity found in humanity, it must be expected that what moves different people, what grabs their attention will also differ. It’s only logical that something you may use to direct attention to a certain spot will be more effective with one person than with another. Different types of direction vary in their levels of effectiveness from person to person. For this reason, the use of multiple layers of direction can prove extremely valuable. It’s possible to exploit different types of direction, specifically combined to be effective for a wider variety of people. In this way, if you miss some spectators with one strategy, you can still draw them in with another. In addition, the simultaneous use of different types of strategies can move spectators on several levels at once: intellectual, physical and emotional. Thus you can move the whole person rather than only a part of him, which gives your work a much deeper appeal. It is almost always better to direct people's attention through simultaneous approaches: physical movement, emotional involvement and intellectual involvement. Direct them on all these levels and you direct the total being! CONNECTING THE TRAIN WITH MULTIPLE LAYERING The concept of the train can also be used with multiple layering. With many layers it is usually not difficult to extend the initial amount of time by “overlapping” the various layers, acti- vating them one at a time. For exam ple, let’s say that you create an intellectual need for the spectators to focus attention on a certain location. If someone misses that direction, you needn't worry, because a moment after the intellectual strategy you provide an emotional push that directs attention to the desired point of interest. And if certain spectators miss that as well, a second later you make a physical movement toward the same area. All layers direct to the same point where you wish attention to reside, but their starting points are overlapped in time. I realize that to make many different layers offering different appeals, then to overlap their starting times may not be an easy thing to achieve, but it’s good to keep the idea in mind, Just keeping it fresh in your thoughts will keep you alert to opportunities for such multi-layered, overlapping direction when they present themselves in your work. To find an opportunity for a direction of more than three or four layers will to some extent be a matter of luck, but one’s luck can be enhanced by an awareness of the possibili- ties and power of such structuring. APPLYING THE IDEAS As promised, I’ve limited myself in this discussion to topics that are necessary for a reason- able understanding of attention management, and to those discoveries and observations of mine thar I feel add some fresh idea (or at least one not widely understood) to the existing body of knowledge on the subject. ‘To obtain a more thorough knowledge of the different strategies of direction, one should study other sources as well. There is so much more to learn. However, I don't feel that you must know everything before you can work with the knowledge—but the more you have available, the greater the powcr you can wicld. Now, what do we do with all this knowledge? Apply it to cover some weak spot in a trick? You'll recall my earlier comments on the practice of plastering direction-strategies onto presentations to cover weak points in their methods. This is an exterior approach, effective to an extent but, in my opinion, not the best. I promised you another way, an insideapproach. This inside approach is only possible when you have a reasonable knowledge of the diverse techniques available. Let’s suppose that by now you have assimilated as much as you can, that you have made these things your own, that they have become part of your system of knowledge. You can think, yes, even feel in these concepts. In an essay called “The Architect” (p. 59) I examine the proper order to do things. The central idea of this piece, briefly, is that in the creation of anything, the order in which things are done is as important as what you do. You can do things superbly, but if you do them in the wrong order the result can be disastrous. In magic I feel it is important to start with an idea, a dream, an ideal vision, some- thing that excites you. This dream will become clearer and clearer the more you fantasize about it, the more you prod and shape it in your mind. We're not concerned at this point with something as unimportant as an actual method. We don’t care about that yet. First things first. Right now we care about the idea we want to portray, about the presentation. We are playing with that idea, making it—or more precisely, dreaming it— into something exciting and beautiful, with an effect that is strong and clear and uncluttered. By doing this you will eventually achieve an explicit picture of what you want. Once the picture is com- plete, once you can envision every word, every gesture, every last detail, you will automatically know the points that will be highlighted and where attention will be directed at any given moment. (I'll say more about the visualization process in “The Mind Movie” on p. 53.) ‘THE CHAIN OF SHADOWS It will be obvious from the above discussion that if you can maintain attention continually at a point where you have decided it should be, there are other points deemed less impor- tant that do not receive attention. These ignored points are what | will call the shadow areas. The existence of shadow areas is a natural result of proper presentation, a result of focusing attention on the important details. Remember, these shadows aren't purposely created; they are an unavoidable result of directing attention to other chosen points. Since these shadowy areas, areas that don’t receive attention, automatically exist, why not use them? Wouldnt it bea fine idea to protect our secrets by placing them in the shadows? Knowing our shadows, we can start examining them. We can look carefully to see what casts ther. What ploys are active? Is a shadow created by relaxation? Is it there because at that time a strange or unusual object is intraduced? Or has a spectator been asked a ques- tion? We are not adding ploys or creating them; no, they are already there. We are just discovering them! We should be especially on the lookout for “trains” or multiple layers at work, since those provide some of the most elegant possibilities. You will understand that the more familiar we are with various ploys, the easicr it will be for us to recognize them when they are present. That is really the only reason we need to know them. Recognizing ploys will help us to understand better the shadowy areas, to fathom their strengths and weaknesses. One shadow, after all, is not equal to another. Through such analysis we can better know each shadow’s specific attributes and possibilities. Having discovered all the ploys, the time has arrived to find a method, a method thar falls completely within our discovered possibilities. When you discover such a method, it does not, of course, have to use all the available shadows, You might find a method that employs only one or two shaded areas. Whenever possible, find more than one method, to give yourself a choice. Then take the method that requires the fewest number of moments thar need cover, and takes advantage of the deepest shadows, or that can be placed in those shadows buile from multiple layers. Considering the method that is the least technically demanding is also important. If we can construct tricks with all their secrets placed in the shade, all we need be con- cerned about is lighting the points of interest; such is the practice of good direction. And with good direction and our secrets safe in the darkness surrounding our string of high- lights, chere is no need for gmisdirection. Good construction is, in my opinion, the first and probably the most important step in assuring the best possibility of protecting the secret and the best chance of capturing the audience's attention through the creation of good theater. Good construction starts with the visualization process just mentioned: the formation of a clear and detailed picture of the effect you wish to achieve. With this comes a knowl- edge of the naturally shadowed areas in the presentation. Now you can start to look for a method to accomplish your dream effect, a method with vulnerable points that fit neatly in the shadows. This isn’t likely to be easy. In fact, it will probably be quite difficult. Neverthe- less, it’s worth the time necessary to find a method thar fits outside the lighted contours of the presentation. If you are successful, you have achieved an exquisite cover, a cover that occurs automatically, thanks to your path of direction. And even more important, your effect will be crystal clear to the audience, making it a pleasing piece of theater. The benefits of such a melding of presentation and method are inestimable. Your method perfectly follows the presentation, making cover casy, and you won't be wrestling with the effect because method and presentation are in agreement with each other. Things become so casy when you are moving with the grain rather than fighting it. When effect and method are in discord, good presentation becomes very hard. Tiy to do things the easy way. Dont make life needlessly difficult for yourself. Time invested on correctly structuring an effect and presentation, then dropping the secrets into the shadows, is time extremely well spent. If you don't invest the time and energy now, working the effect out properly at home, you'll spend much energy later, during your shows, in trying to prevent your audi- ence from discovering how the trick is done. I think you can now fully appreciate how much better it is to know and understand thoroughly the shadows before trying to create a method. Doing the reverse makes it almost unavoidable that you will end up trying to hide the method by “creating” areas of shadow, plastering the tricks of attention control over your work, throwing mud over your presentations just to hide your secrets. Conceiving a method before you have clearly defined the natural possibilities for cover provided by the effect may not be a totally hopeless approach, but it is a topsy-turvy one with little chance of preserving a good presentation and achieving something of beauty. ON MAKING ADJUSTMENTS Sometimes the ideal direction dictated by the effect you have envisioned will not allow you, even with the best intentions in the world, to discover a method that fits completely into the shadows of the presentation. One could say that the correct course to take in such an instance is to keep on searching, no matter how long it takes, until you find a suitable method. This is the best and finest thing to do, and I would certainly recommend it, were it not that this can sometimes take an extremely long time, and ] do mean extremely long! But life is limited. We don’t live forever. So, in concession to practicality, if you really have tried everything, and still can’t come up with an appropriate method, as a final resort you could proceed to make adjustments in the presentation. Understand, though, that making adjustments should be considered only when everything else has failed. For in doing so, you must alter your ideal, change what your imagination created. You are changing the most important thing you have, so be very careful. Don't make such changes because it feels more comfortable to you. Rather than change your original ideal for mere comfort, it is bewer to invest more effort and energy in shaping the method to fit the shadows dictated by the dreamed presentation. Don’t jump too quickly to the conclusion that adjustments are necessary! Making such adjustments is opening the door to second-rate presentations. Such compromises erode the quality of your work. Be careful! Now a confession: To date J have yet to construct a trick so well conceived thar it required no sort of adjustment. Small adjustments at times, perhaps, but something always needed some slight change. Different adjustments can chip away to greater and lesser extents at one's ideal effect. Sometimes you only need to place a licde more attendion on a certain element than was originally called for in your envisioned presentation. Sometimes the changes are greater and more numerous. In each case there will be many points where it doesn’t greatly matter ifa minor change is made, as many points aren't essential to the integrity of the effect. Make such changes if you must. However, don’t assume too quickly that a seemingly small change will have no real effect on the original idea you envisioned. A good way of checking on whether the adjusted derail influences the integrity of the effect is to redream the dream with the change made. Thoroughly picture it in its new form and see if the overall feeling remains the same for you. It is surprising how an apparently insignificant adjustment can have quite an influence on the feel of an effect. Often the change can be enormous. In the end, you must judge whether the cost of the adjustments is too dear, but I feel that a low tolerance to compromise in these matters will eventually make you a better magician. After all, you are diddling your own dream, tampering with that part of you that makes your work unique—and that uniqueness is the only thing you have that will set you truly apart from other magicians! Don't throw it away! An attitude of low tolerance to com- promisc is the true meaning behind the saying “Presentation is more important than method’, as well as its consequence. Yes, that trite and innocent statement, so often abused, does carry its own little price. . Ifyou find that the adjustments you are considering significantly affect your envisioned presentation, it is best to abandon them. We should never allow presentation to become a casualty of method, That, I feel, is too high a price to pay. If you have a good wine, you wouldn't dream of watering it down. Dont treat a good idea any differently. After all, a good idea is worth much more than a good wine! If you find that marrying a method to your presentation requires compromises that are too great, you have several options. You can redream your dream into a totally satisfying new form and try the whole process again. Or you can abandon the idea altogether and go on to another dream. Or you can set the idea on a mental back-shelf and come back to it in a few years. Sometimes it is surprising what giving an idea a little rest can do. Success, and yet—adjustments. Assuming that you have been successful in finding a method thar falls within the imposed boundaries, you have succeeded— but you are not quite ready yer, You should see if there are any areas that might be improved. Examine the ploys being used. See if they can be made more suitable to the situation at hand. Can an initial moment of a ploy be length- ened, in accordance with the train concept? Would it be beneficial to strengthen or weaken a moment of concentration? In short, search for ateas where you can fine-tune and polish. Don’t forget that every possibility for fine-tuning will result in a need for small adjust- ments. As before, see if the necessary adjustment affects the original idea. If the adjustment concerns a detail that does not affect the overall feel of the idea, by all means make the adjustment and improve the cover. And if the adjustment to the ploy you are using doesn't harm the general feel of the effect, adding another ploy might be possible, making an extra layer of cover; but such instances are extremely rare. In all of this, however, be alert and cautious: If there is even the slightest change or suspicion of a change to the overall effect, forget this bit of fine-tuning. You have, after all, a successful construction already. In summary, here is my recommended system for applying techniques of direction to a presentation: The dream will give you the highlights. The highlights will give you the shadows. The shadows will give you the method, And the method will give the dream to your audiences. POSTSCRIPT On first exposure to this system of trick construction, it will likely seem a near-impossible task. Besides appearing extremely difficult, it might also seem a thoroughly roundabout way of achieving a good result. Certainly, the common practice of plastering directive devices over a less-than-perfect trick in an attempt to bring it closer to perfection must be easier. However, | believe that this course of action promises a much smaller chance of accomplishing truly excellent results. The system P've recommended promises a far better chance of achieving a perfect (or at least a near-perfect) construction. Once you have gained some experience with the system you will find that it grows easier and easier to use over time. With practice, recognizing the shadows within a particular con- struction will become easier, as will the detection of usable possibilities. Who knows, you might even find buried in your presentation totally new ways of concealing secrets, new stratagems never before considered! Yes, it is a more difficult system to prasp and use, but in the end I'm positive it will bring you far greater returns, Therefore, | hope you give the inside approach a fair try. oWcH CUSTOMERS WAS once witness to the following conversation between two magicians, one a lecturer, the ocher an attendee of his lecture. The attendee asked, “What do you do when a spectator refuses to be mis- directed and keeps watching your hands when you need to do a sleight?” The answer was “You wait and grab the right moment when it comes.” “Yes, but this spectator just keeps watching your hands!” “Then you're doing it wrong. You must be presenting the magic too much like a chal- lenge. You shouldn't challenge people. If they don't feel challenged they'll be more relaxed and not so focused on trying to catch you.” “Yeah, but even when I’m doing, a presentation with no element of challenge in it, I'll sometimes have spectators who just won't relax. They seem to be determined on finding out the secret.” “You must be doing something wrong!” the lecturer insisted. It was an interésting conversation and I personally think that both parties are right. Yes, if you find repeatedly that your spectators are refusing to be directed by you, then you are probably doing something wrong, Very likely there is somewhere in your presentation or attitude an element of challenge, a “Catch me if you can” or “Tm smarter than you are” message. Such attitudes are of course quickly resented by your audience and are indirect ways of inviting people to try to discover how you do your tricks, If you find that your audiences frequently concentrate on how the tricks are done, the first thing you should examine is whether some clement in your presentations incites people to such behavior. It might be something small and very subtle, a little suggestion, perhaps, overlooked by you. Go over your work with a magnifying glass. Examine every remark you make. Search out anything that suggests a smarter-than-you attitude. It is highly desirable not to push spectators into the role of detectives on the trail of your secrets, because it can make your job harder; and, whar is more important, it can pre- vert your audience from experiencing other elements of your performance, elements capable of far grearer entertainment potential than mere puzzlery can offer. Good magic has so much more to give than puzzlement. If you can transport people out of the role of detective or, better yet, prevent them from entering into that role, you will have done them a good ser- vice, since you can then offer them something of much greater interest. Probably the best way to stop people from assuming the role of detective is to be sure that something besides the mere posing of a puzzle is present in your work, something to watch and enjoy. This means an engaging presentation, something to get involved in other than puzzle solving. When spectators concentrate too much on discovering how a trick is done, in nine out of ten cases it is probably because the effect has nothing further to offer them than the challenge of detecting the trickery involved, With no interesting presenta- tion to enjoy, no wonder they grab onto the only interesting aspect left chem! Some people (among whom [ number myself) believe that apart from having an interesting presentation, people are dissuaded from concentrating on how effects are accomplished if the performer has a charming or, more precisely, an interesting and engag- ing personality. This is certainly true. However, and this is important to understand, wooing the audience with unlimited charm and wit may work with many people, but to assume that you can lure everyone into liking or being interested by your personality simply isn't realistic. Even should you be utterly captivating, you will eventually meet someone who isn't engaged and charmed. Therefore, it's safer not to depend on your personality alone, but to have an interesting and engaging presentation as well. Suppose now that you have managed to get all this in order: captivating personality working within an engaging and interesting presentation, Is it realistic to chink thar the audience will never turn to analyzing how your tricks are done? Some spectators may not, but many still will. Or at least this aspect of your work will be important to them. This is not illogical; after all, magic is (also) trickery. Deception is a part of it, and we magicians must accept that fact and learn to handle it efficiently. That people want to find out how the effects are done is a logical and natural part of magic. We must also remember that some people are conditioned, have it engraved in their mind, that when they see a magician they should try to determine how the tricks are done. The moment they know you are a magician, they throw themselves into the role of detective. With many of these people, you can possibly lessen this concentration on puzzling out your methods (and you should try, so that they can enjoy the other aspects your magic has to offer); but there are some who carry such strong preconditioning that, even with the most engaging personality and presentation, you will experience difficulty in luring them into another role than that of detective. These are the “tough types”, and they are impossible to avoid completely. Being occasionally confronted with them does not necessarily mean that you are doing something wrong, as our lecturer in the beginning of this discussion suggested. It is unwise to think that, with presentation and personality, you can always transport every member of your audiences into a dream world where chey will exercise a toral and continu- ous suspension of disbelief. Such thoughts are better left to those who sceill fever to have been out in the real world of performing. But how do you handle these tough types? Sometimes one does have to deal with spec- tators who are single-mindedly, even fanatically engaged in their detective roles; so much so as to be blind to anything else. Your mere acceptance of this fact wil] bring you to recognize that you must find ways to deal with the problem. If, like our lecturer, you simply perceive that you must be doing something wrong, thus denying part of the problem, this very de- nial makes it impossible for you to find ways to handle it. As already mentioned, the best coping methods are an engaging personality and good presentation, and I will assume that these things have been attended to; if not, what is to follow will be senseless. First things first! So, you are facing a tough type, an obstinate spectator who refuses to take your direc- tion and concentrates, as if wearing blinders, on ferreting out the secret to the trick. What you need to do is to force this person into accepting guidance from you. As I’ve explained in the previous article, the guidance you give should not be recognized as such by your spec- tators. The way you guide should be subde, so that they think they are perfectly free, that they themselves choose the things they give their attention to; but in the reality, of course, you do have to guide them. ‘To force spectators to accept guidance you need to force them to abandon an attitude like “I won't listen to what you say or where attention is directed. I'll just stare at your hands,” In essence, such spectators are trying to remain uninvolved with your presentation. You must then find a way to involve them on some other level than that of merely observing. For example, borrow something from them, or give them somcthing to hold or do. In other words, get them physically involved. When this happens it is nearly impossible for a specta- tor to maintain the distance of a stark observer, avoiding psychological involvement. Once spectators are involved and have been hit, so to speak, by the first effect, they do not, in most if not all cases, return to the role of dispassionate detective. Changing these roles takes considerable energy. Once they have been guided (or sometimes pushed) into another role, people tend to remain in it. You have changed a person who wishes to be only an analyzing eye into someone who is involved! While you can usually change a spectator’s attitude toward the procedure of the trick, you may still find that some individuals constantly resist following your guidance and refuse to plunge into the current of the presentation; they insist on going their own way. In such cases, it is good to keep the following in mind: You must first decide whether you intend to do your secret move at the height of at- tention or in the depths of relaxation. As I’ve observed earlier, with concentration of attention you cannot adjust: You simply make the leap and hope for the best. Because tough types concentrate so much on procedure, when you use direction of attention based on concen- tration, it functions with reasonable precision and, with persons of this sort, it is quite easy to apply successfully, Executing the secret move within the shadow of relaxation, however, tends to work less dependably, sometimes much less so, with tough types, because they often cut short the relaxation period, afraid thar, if they relax too long, you might capitalize on their lack of vigilance. After all, they are fighting you, trying to catch you; they have a strong motive not to relax their attention. They are so fixed, so concentrated on detecting your deception, they have no time to relax. An interesting aspect can be found in all this, Such great concentration takes a lot of energy and is very tiring. The more someone concentrates, the more tiring it is for him. This can help us. It is impossible to concentrare intensely for any great length of time. One needs moments of relaxation, One's mind must, in a manner of speaking, catch its cerebral breath. Nobody can remain totally concentrated all the time. Concentration moves in waves of concentration and relaxation, although with a very determined spectator, the times of relaxation might be quite short. Nevertheless, there is a wave. To have a consistent rhyth- mic wave of attention and relaxation in your work is very important for both your “normal” audience and (particularly) the tougher individuals in it. When your work contains a defi- nite attention-relaxation wave, the audience will eventually drop into its pattern. This is because following this wave of attention and relaxation is much easier than fighting it. After a while the whole audience will fall into its wave. It’s important though that the rhythm of the wave be consistent and relatively constant. If it is erratic, your audience wont follow it. An cxample: Let's step back to the tub of water I used in the previous article as a metaphor for the way waves of attention function. If you slap your hand lightly on the water, small waves form. If you now slap the water with a steady rhythm, coinciding with the small waves, the waves become larger with every slap without use of undue force, until they eventually splash over the rim of the tub. The same phenomenon works with an audicnec’s attention. A steady rhythm will even- tually create a forceful wave of attention and relaxation. This is a great aid in guiding and controlling acrention, and it makes the audience feel much better. A sense of group expeti- ence is created. The spectators, all swimming with the same wave, feel united with each other and with you. ‘The jab of our tough types, who are trying to fight any direction and consequently any period of relaxation induced by you, becomes very difficult. They wont feel connected. with the rest of the audience. There is consequently a greater need felt to join with the oth- ers in following the wave of attention and relaxation. This is especially true when the existence of such a wave is not apparent; and, of course, its source should never appear to emanate from you. It seems to be something that arises naturally from the situation and the group. And—here is the lovely twist—because it doesn’t seem to originate or to be controlled by you, there is no great need for tough types to fight it. However, such spectators can still suspect that you will use the periods of relaxation created by the wave. Nevertheless, with a distinct wave, after a while tough types will easily fall into it, even if only from the sheer exhaustion that results from their intense concentration. The use of an attention-relaxation wave is too important a concept not to have been recognized by others before. Join Ramsay was one. This renowned Scottish master suggested starting with a couple of self-working effects to establish the wave, so that it would be oper- ating strongly by the time you began to perform effects more heavily dependent on direction of attention. Other facets and applications of the wave concept can be discovered once you become aware of its existence and think clearly about its use. Before leaving the topic of tough spectators, I'd like to explain one more tactic that can be used to overcome undesirable scrutiny. It is a technique I call the... RICOCHET ET’S consider once more the uncomfortable performing situation discussed in Me the preceeding article, one that happens with some frequency to almost every VOSA magician: You are in the middle of a trick and have reached a point where the fora! audience’s attention must be directed elsewhere than your hands, so that you can execute a secret maneuver. However, you note one spectator tenaciously staring at your hands, the danger zone. What do you do? You could try to make this spectator look you in the eye by asking him a question. This practice is generally accepted as good directive technique. However, in performance I’ve found that it fails as often as it works. The critical variable seems to be the level of sus- picion harbored by the spectator; on how determined he is to discover your secret, or on how relaxed his attitude is concerning the current action. You see, the moment you ask a question while someone is looking at your hands, he may clearly understand that you're trying to distract him, especially if you haven't success- fully led him to relax. Once even the slightest suspicion of attempted distraction is aroused, the game is lost. The spectator then becomes firmly resolved not to look away, not to look up inco your eyes. In other words, he sees through your ploy. Such cases, in which suspicion or full understanding of your directive tactic occurs, account for the majority of failures using the technique. In situations demanding that a question be asked or a remark be made to steer a spectator'’s attention to safer ground; the normal tendency is to address the spectator who has become a problem, the one who is watching the danger spot. However, it is important to understand that it generally doesn’t matter which spectator you cngage with your ques- tion or statement. [ve found it to be much better not to engage the difficult spectator directly with a question or comment, but rather to neglect him and ask your question of someone else! This tactic avoids any possibility of arousing or intensifying suspicion. Furthermore—and this is most important—since you busy yourself with someone else, you send a signal to the watchful spectator that you don't know that he is watching, or that you don’t care. Since you are wise enough not to move your hands, giving him nothing interesting to observe, and since you are relaxed and don’t seem to care about his acute attention, he will quickly sense that he has fixed his gaze on something unimportant. Additionally, since such persistent spectators are usually eager to discover how the trick is done, they don’t want to miss anything important. Therefore it’s highly probable that such a person will look up at someone else to see whar response they give you; and when this occurs, you can see it from the corner of your eye, at which time you grab your chance to do your work. In such cases an attempt to steer attention elsewhere, directed specifically at the prob- lematic spectator, is less effective than an indirect attempt. Although the tactic is aimed at the difficult spectator, it is bounced off a codperative one, resulting in a ricochet effect. While this technique is not absolutely certain, it is far more effective than the standard one of posing a question directly to the spectator whose gaze you wish to control. Even greater success can be achieved with the ricochet technique if you direct your question or comment at the least suspicious spectator in your audience! Actions, rather than questions and statements, can also be employed to create a rico- chet effect. Your actions tend to be viewed by a suspicious spectator as more important than the remarks you make. If, instead of asking someone else a question you ask this person, for example, to hand you some object, chances are greater still chat the difficult spectator will turn to watch this action. After all, he doesn’t want to miss anything that might give him a clue; and your receipt of a prop from another spectator would be even stronger incentive for the watchful one to follow the procedure. Such actions carry powerful attraction for a suspicious spectator, since they are initiated by you and therefore would seem important to watch, Of course, such a ploy makes it necessary for you to do your secret maneuver or sleight with only one hand, while the other draws attention to itself: Whenever you are in a situation where a question is asked or an action taken to pro- vide cover, spot the most difficult spectator at that moment and direct the action or question toward someone else—preferably someone who is completely relaxed and who is scated or standing where you can address him while you just barely keep track of the difficult person from the corner of your eye. Even when there is no outstandingly stubborn spectator, play nevertheless to the most relaxed person in the group. If you apply these tactics correctly, you will find that the ricochet technique is far more reliable than the direct approach so often recommended. PTACIC RANCH LOSE-UP magic in the second half of the twentieth century owes a large debt to Don Alan, a performer who has given far more to the craft than most magi- cians realize. The trick ’'m about to explain is almost one hundred percent Don Alan's, and comes from the 1951 booklet Close-up Time with Don Alan (see “Card in the Egg”, p. 9). The effect, typical of this performer's work, is novel, humorous and sur- prising. The performer places an epg on the table. This is nota real egg, bur a hollow, plastic one that can be split into two parts. A card is chosen, noted and lost again in the pack. Then the egg is “broken” open—and a miniature playing card is found inside: a duplicate of the card just picked! This is puzzling enough, but the effect is deepened when the performer spreads the deck face up, revealing that it contains only duplicates of a different card—the card just chosen couldn't possibly have come from this pack! My little addition to the trick is to cause the egg to appear magically on the table, well away from me. This occurs near the start of the effect and provides an extra element of surprise and mystery. It also conveys a valuable lesson in the use of attention management to cover a rather bold subterfuge. It is an admirable opportunity to gain confidence with your ability ta command and manipulate an audience's attention, and carries no danger of embarrassment through failure as you learn. wee You will need three things: a hollow plastic egg, a miniature playing card to fit inside it, and a special deck of cards, The egy should be the approximate size of a chicken’s egg, and is made to come apart at its seam (Figure 1). These plastic eggs are fairly common, especially around Easter, and can be found with party and craft supplies, and often in children’s toys. Don Alan originally used the egg in which Silly Putty, a children’s novelty, came packaged. I use an egg that is light brown in color, rather than white or some bright color, as the brown is similar to my skin tone. This makes accidental flashes of the egg less likely while it is palmed. Light brown also approximates the color of chicken eggs in most parts of the world. You can certainly use an egg of another color if you choose, but you will have to be more careful of side angles. The miniarure playing card should be as large as possible while still fitting comfort- ably inside the egg without being folded. For a reason that will be explained shortly, | recommend that this card be double faced. It can be made by gluing two miniature cards back to back, both faces of which match the card you will force from the prepared deck. The deck is essentially a one-way forcing pack with one contrasting card. Perversely, that odd card is the one you will force, and should contrast strongly with the surrounding duplicates that make up the rest of the pack. I use a low black card for the force card (say a Five of Spades) and a high red card (say a Nine of Hearts) for the balance of the pack. The force card must be corner-shorted to facilirate a riffle force. With the card turned face dawn, you need to clip off a small crescent from both the outer left and inner right corners. Place this prepared card near the middle of the deck and pencil-dot or otherwise mark the cor- ners of the card lying directly under it. The final bit of preparation is to treat the face of the force card and the back of the pencil-dotted card with roughing fluid (Figure 2). Carry the egg, with the miniature card inside it, in a holder under your jacket, or ina convenient pocket, or in your prop bag or case: somewhere where your right hand can quickly and secretly get it when it is needed. And this need arises just before you are ready to begin the trick. Palm the egg in your right hand (either a classic or finger palm can be used) and hold the deck squared and face down in left-hand dealing position, ready to execute a riffle force. (If this is not the first card trick of your performance, you will need to switch the deck you have been using for the special pack.) Before we begin the action, a brief comment about the psychology of the riffle force may be warranted, Forces like the riffle force and Hindu-shuffle force, in which a selection is made without the chosen card leaving your hands, can seem artificial and therefore sus- picious if they are performed with a spectator within easy reach of you and the deck. If someone is sitting directly in front of you, the normal and logical way to have him select a card would be for you to spread the deck and let him draw one. However, if you choose to involve a spectator positioned several rows back from you, procedures like the riffle force become both logical and considerate. “Please, don't bother getting up. Just tell me when to stop as I run my thumb down the cards.” How thoughtful of you! He needn't work his way through rows of other spectators and can remain comfortably in the audience. And how convenient as well for you, for now you have a solid reason for using a method of selection that accommodates the force you require! If you are working for a small group where every- one is close to you, you can still apply the same psychology. Just position yourself in some way that makes it awkward for the designated spectator to reach over and take a card. SyeZ Now let’s start the trick. Single out someone appropriately seated for your purposes and to your left. Make your request that she stop you as you riffle your thumb down the cards, and lean out toward her, bending at the waist and extending your left hand with the deck. In doing this, lightly steady yourself by resting your loosely closed right hand on the table, near the right side and somewhat forward. (Figure 3. Note that, due to considerations of page space, in this and subsequent illustrations I am shown working to a spectator seated closer than would be done in actual performance.) Outwardly, this posture is assumed to allow the spectator a better view of your hand and deck as you riffle your thumb down the outer left corner. You are again being thoughtful and open. Beneath the surface, though, your leaning forward in this way serves two important functions: It widely distances your hands from each ather (though this mustn't be exaggerated to the point where your stance looks unnatural), and it focuses all attention, yours and the spectators, on your left hand and the deck. 3 Work slowly and deliberately at this point. Release the corners of the cards from the left thumb at a relaxed speed as you concentrate your gaze on the deck and on the assisting spectator's face directly beyond it. In doing this you condense the entire audience's frame of attention from you and the room behind you to the narrow space immediately surround- ing your left hand and the deck. Your gaze, your body, your silence as you wait for the spectator to say stop, all force attention to converge on your left hand. When the spectator calls “Stop,” your thumb should be nearing the center of the deck and the force card. In the time-honored manner, as you see her lips starting to move, release all the remaining cards above and including the corner-shorted card and stop the riffle. You should see the marked corner of the card below the force card. This is a safety check. At this point everyone's attention should be firmly fixed on the deck. They are watch- ing intently to see what will happen next. It is at chis moment that your right hand gently leaves the palmed egg on the table and rises to meet the left hand. Keep the left hand ahso- lutely still as the right hand moves, and your gaze riveted on the cards. With your palm-down right hand, cleanly grasp the packet above the left thumb’s gap by the ends and lift its outer end an inch or two as the left hand pivots clockwise at the wrist, tipping the bottom half of the deck to a roughly vertical position and away from the right hand's packet. Don’t move the hands more than an inch or two apart. You want to maintain a tight focus of attention on the hands and cards as you display the card on the face of the right hand’s half to your helper (Figure 4). She and everyone else in the group will wish to see her selection. 4 To this point your upper body is still bent forward from the waist. Now calmly straighten up and take a single step to your left and back a bit, distancing yourself somewhat from the table as you draw the gaze of the spectators upward. Immediately begin to turn slowly to your right while keeping your hands and the cards fixed at chest level (Figure 5). By doing this you are deliberately displaying the chosen card to the rest of the group as you keep attention focused safely above the table. 5 | ) fs a Vs 0 gi \ o aa La) While you make this slow sweep of the audience, move your gaze accordingly, keep- ing it up and in line with your hands and cards, However, as you do this you look directly into the eyes of the spectators and note the direction of their gaze. And here is where the “fail-safe” aspect of the trick is lodged. If your direction of attention has been successful, all eyes will be raised and on the cards or your face. In this case, you can continue with the appearance of the egg on the table: Drop the right hand's packet square onto the left’s, clearly losing the selection in the center of the pack, At this point you should still be turned somewhat to your right. Look directly at the person sitting nearest the egg on the table; then look down at the egg, let an expression of surprise show on your face and look up at the spectator again. In doing this, you guide everyone else’s eyes down to the egg. In feigned shock you ask, “Sir, did you lay thar?” This question combined with the sudden appearance of the egg at a conspicuous distance from you will create surprise and laughter. “Well, in that case I suppose I can incorporate it somehow into the trick.” However, what if, as you make your survey of faces, you see someone looking down at the egg while you are still displaying the chosen card to the group? It is likely that the spec- tator saw you place the cgg on the table. Should this occur, you simply forget about the magical production of the egg. In fact, if you dont feel certain that you've managed the audience's attention effectively, if you sense that everything hasn't gone as smoothly and surely as you would like it to, forget the production of the egg. Instead, smoothly ribbon spread the deck face down across the rable, then with your right hand pick up the egg and set it in the center of the table, just in front of the spread cards (Figure 6). As you do this you say something along the lines of “Here is the deck; and we'll also use this egg.” The appearance of the egg on the table will still surprise many people, but you deliberately avoid dramatiz- ing the production, making it seem to the one or more spectators who spotted the egg prematurely that its presence was not intended as a magical effect. So you see, with chis procedure you can safely learn how to control an audience's attention with no fear of embarrassment should your direction, in the beginning, be less than perfect. This trick is a perfect exercise for gaining the confidence and skill required to do a piece like my Two-cup Routine in Volume II (p. 105), in which attention management is crucial. From this point forward the trick follows Don Alan's plan. Whether the egg produc- tion has succeeded or not, you ribbon spread the deck face down across the table. Another technical aside here: I think it is better in this context to spread the cards in an are that curves toward you (a smile), rather than away (a frown), as is commonly done (see Figure 6 again). The reason for this is that in a few moments you will domino the spread face up, revealing that it consists of nothing bur red duplicates (Figure 7). You want no hesitation here in the audience's speed in comprehending the situation, which might spoil the timing of this visual punch line. By spreading the cards as described, the exposed indices will rest right-side up from the spectators’ point of view, making the situation immediately clear to them. Having moved the egg in front of the face-down spread, resting centered in the curve, _ pause for a moment; then say, “I'll tell you what. I'll make your chosen card appear by magic inside this man’s egg.” Using both hands, make a magical gesture over the egg, incidentally letting the hands be seen empty. Then pick up the egg and rap it on the edge of the table, simulating the action of cracking the shell of a real egg. At the same time, look up at someone seated at the table in front and ask her to hold out her hands, cupped to catch the contents of the egg. You then hold the egg in both hands, poised to separate the halves. You can at this point throw in a brief bir of by-play, in which you remove one hand momentarily from the egg and shake it as you say, “Sorry, this is a little messy, isn't it.” Now, the fact that the egg is not genuine will be clear to just about everyone. After all, it has a visible seam. So this bit of nonsense will be perceived mainly as playful playacting. But no one is quite sure what is inside this plastic egg. Maybe you have put a real yolk and white in it. This thought will naturally make your helper worry just a little, but you don't dwell on it or make her feel uncomfortable. Immediately ask her, “What was the name of the card?” When she answers, “break” open the egg and let the miniature card fall inco her hands. Since it is double faced, its identity is immediately seen, whichever side is up, assuring that the timing of the climax isn’t ruined. The appearance of the little card and the release of the tiny anxiety you have created should bring another strong reac- tion of humorous surprise. Let the audience react to the production of the card as you take it from the spectator's hand and display it to the entire group. But when the laughter and applause have peaked, interrupt with a look of uncertainty on your face: “Are you sure it was the Five of Spades?” When the group asserts that it was, say, “Bu that’s impossible! How could you have picked the Five of Spades from shir deck?” As you finish this question, domino the spread deck over (the roughing fluid keeps the Five of Spades from showing), revealing that it is made up of nothing but Nines af Hearts! 1982 Te Ny Moule 4i( N the two volumes of this work, at various times I will talk about the rind movie. This is a very important tool for me, and I consider it an essential guide to qual- ity performance. Whenever I wish to create a new effect, it starts of course with » an idea that occurs to me. I then begin to consider the idea, pondering it and looking at the effect from every angle I can imagine. I try to discover as much as I possibly can about it. Even if the effect is totally original and unlike anything that has come before, there are still many details to be ferreted out. Then eventually, slowly perhaps, yet surely, an ideal version of the effect begins to take shape in my mind. So far ’'m not in the Icast concerned about modus operandi. Instead, I think of the effect as if anything is possible. My imagination is without limits. I’m unfettered by such realistic thoughts as “Yeah, but how can I do this?” By constantly rethinking the effect, imagining myself doing it again and again, my misty idea grows into something crystal clear. After a time I will know every movement, every word, every gesture. I will know exactly how the effect will be. To aid myself in this process of applied imagination, | will frequently run through the effect physically. Often I gather the necessary props and use them during these fantasy rehearsals. One valuable thing that comes from this practice is that ] quickly discover any awkward spots. A handling sequence may consume more time than | imagined; or | might find that some procedure must be changed duc to the props. Yet, even now J dont care about methods. Anything is possible! For several years I have been the happy possessor of a video camera. I've found it a good idea to tape my fantasy rehearsals several times on video. With a tape of my dream, it is easier to envision it and to detect any rough spots. Of course I can't really do the effect, because I don’t yet know how it will be accom- plished; but that doesn't bother me. Suppose that during the effect something must vanish from my hand. In my fantasy practices I just drop the prop on the floor while pantomim- ing its vanish, and continue as if the disappearance has happened by truly magical means. Tm still not trying to work out the secret method that will eventually accomplish the effect. ‘That process comes much, much later. All T want now is to make my dream as concrete as possible. My thoughts must become totally clear. The clearer the desired effect is in my mind, the easier it will be to achieve later.