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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Based on Mind Phantoms post of Seven Golden Nuggets, I bought a copy of "Magic and Showmanship" by Henning Nelms. The latest book in my rather small magical library.

I'm just a few pages in, and there seems to be a great deal to of meat on the bones of this book.

One of the things the author says, is we have to know the difference between a trick and an illusion.

A trick is simply a puzzle, "Hey, guess how I do this when I pull this coin out of your ear." 

An illusion is, "I have the power to pull a coin out of your ear, let me show you."

But he also defines a good illusion as one with drama, "Oh, you need a quarter for the parking meter and you don't have one? Neither do I as you can see by my empty pockets, but Luckily for you, I can pull quarters out of people's ears." Good drama, and therefore agood illusion, has a point to it.

He also states (I'm paraprhasing) people get bored with tricks, but they love illusions (good theater).

This seems very reasonable to me, however I find myself reluctant to claim preternatural powers. I also sometimes struggle with "finding a point" to a trick, although I am getting better at doing that.

I personally don't see a lot of magicians, other than people playing characters like "Merlin" at renn faires, doing the magic powers bit, except for maybe mentalists. 

Do you agree with Nelms and think you need to claim extraordinary powers to make an illusion?

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #2 
This book is one I have read many times over the years. It has been a valuable resource for me in many ways. A lot of magicians have found it useful, and a lot tend to disagree with his thoughts... it all depends on your perspective and what your aims are in magic.

There are many great concepts and lessons to be found within the pages of this book. As to whether you need to display any supernatural powers or not, well I guess that depends on the setting in which you intend to perform your magic.

Just keep reading, studying and field-testing your ideas... as the book suggests it is better to learn from the reactions of the general public than the opinions of magicians.
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TheAmazingStanley

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I have not read this and am curious. There are honest liars and real liars. To claim your routine uses methods that cannot be explained by science and/or deception is a real lie. To make it look like you work in the realm of the paranormal, without making such a claim, is entertainment. Where does his teaching fall on this spectrum?

I think charisma and performance skill are what hold an audience’s attention, more so than the trick itself or whatever claims you may or may not make about how you are doing it.


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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Originally Posted by TheAmazingStanley
I have not read this and am curious. There are honest liars and real liars. To claim your routine uses methods that cannot be explained by science and/or deception is a real lie. To make it look like you work in the realm of the paranormal, without making such a claim, is entertainment. Where does his teaching fall on this spectrum?

I think charisma and performance skill are what hold an audience’s attention, more so than the trick itself or whatever claims you may or may not make about how you are doing it.



He likens magic to a dramatic play, which is a false narrative with actors pretending to be someone they are not, but he states that people enjoy drama and like to see stories and can experience emotions even if they know it is a fabrication. So, not a con-man, but story teller weaving a fiction of having magical powers for the sake of show.

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TheAmazingStanley

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Originally Posted by SamtheNotasBadasIWas


He likens magic to a dramatic play, which is a false narrative with actors pretending to be someone they are not, but he states that people enjoy drama and like to see stories and can experience emotions even if they know it is a fabrication. So, not a con-man, but story teller weaving a fiction of having magical powers for the sake of show.


I absolutely agree with that. People love stories. Look how entertaining Harry Lorayne’s “don’t gamble” routines are. The “tricks” in those routines wound stand on their own, but with his storytelling skills they take on a whole other dimension.

I would guess that drama and narrative can come in other forms too, not just literally telling a story. A routine can have a “direction” (where are we going with this?), suspense, and surprises. All elements of good drama.

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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Reply with quote  #6 
I've now worked my way through the first couple of chapters. I'm really trying to absorb the information and see if I can apply it. There seems like a lot of wisdom in the book

however....

I finally realized why I dropped magic back when I was kid. I cannot understand the directions to the tricks in the book. I'm not twelve years old anymore, I've been doing magic for a little while, I'm reasonably intelligent, I've got a college degree, but I can't make heads nor tails of these tricks in the books no matter how many times I read through the darn things. This is why I like videos so much. I'm still getting a lot out of the principals the book talks about, but I don't think I am going to learn any new tricks.

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #7 
Absorbing the principles and wisdom from the book is key. Darwin Ortiz, Juan Tamariz, Tommy Wonder, David Blaine and many others have studied 'Magic & Showmanship' by Henning Nelms... as I've said before this book is jam-packed full of amazing information. As for learning tricks from books, well that's another thing altogether, video instruction is something my early mentors advised me against, but more and more these days people are turning toward video for learning - you can see this now with the internet and Youtube, just look at the amount of tutorials there are for so many different topics.

But back to the book, reading Henning Nelms allows your mind to think about magic on a deeper level as there are great chapters on misdirection, scripting, trick design and more... it's such an affordable book and well worth investing your time and energy in.

You've inspired me to dig out my copy and read it once again,
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Originally Posted by Socrates
Absorbing the principles and wisdom from the book is key. Darwin Ortiz, Juan Tamariz, Tommy Wonder, David Blaine and many others have studied 'Magic & Showmanship' by Henning Nelms... as I've said before this book is jam-packed full of amazing information. As for learning tricks from books, well that's another thing altogether, video instruction is something my early mentors advised me against, but more and more these days people are turning toward video for learning - you can see this now with the internet and Youtube, just look at the amount of tutorials there are for so many different topics.

But back to the book, reading Henning Nelms allows your mind to think about magic on a deeper level as there are great chapters on misdirection, scripting, trick design and more... it's such an afordable book and well worth investing your time and energy in.

You've inspired me to dig out my copy and read it once again,


I've heard learning tricks from videos is not as good as learning from books because books force you to work on a trick until it fits you, while videos create carbon copy magicians. I think that's true, but it doesn't have to be if the person learning applies creativity to work. My coin routine is based on Kainoa Harbottles's basic routine he shares in Reel Magic Magazine, but I've added different vanishes and techniques from various sources like Rick Holcombe's videos.

But as far as the book is concerned, it was definitely written by someone that has thought about magic very deeply.

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Gareth

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Reply with quote  #9 
This book arrived on my doorstep today. Will join the conversation when I get into it.
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SamtheNotasBadasIWas

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Originally Posted by Gareth
This book arrived on my doorstep today. Will join the conversation when I get into it.


I think you will find it an interesting read.

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