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Anthony Vinson

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I do not perform nearly as much as I would like to these days, and it shows. Self-employment has been liberating on many levels, but one downside is that I spend much of my time at the keyboard, writing and marketing, and far too little in the company of others. Beyond a relatively small repertoire of ready-to-rock tricks, my confidence has eroded, and I often feel ill-prepared to perform something new when the chance arises, even though I practice every day. (My family and friends have seen 'em all.) This must change. Otherwise why spend the hours practicing, right?

Beginning in January, I am committing to getting out once a week and finding places to perform. Senior centers make sense as great places to start, and there are three within easy driving distance. Beyond that I am fuzzy, but getting started is more important than strategic planning at this point. I will figure it out, and am also open to ideas and suggestions.

While similar to Evil Dan’s public performance challenge, what I am doing is different. Rather than being prepared to perform on the fly, I will be heading out prepared to perform short sets of more formal routines. I am already practicing them as units and looking forward to getting started. In fact, I am excited about the project.

Why post this here? Two reasons. First, doing so publicly makes it more likely that I will follow through rather than make excuses. I am going to document my progress here, not to excess or in great detail, but as a journal. The second reason is that there may be others out there in similar circumstances who might want to join me in spreading more magic. If so, I welcome you to be a part of this little adventure. If this is something that appeals to you, then please sign on and let’s get started.

A note that despite the witty title I chose for this thread, that this is less a New Year’s resolution than it is a commitment to myself that happens to coincide with the flipping of the calendar pages to 2019. It’s simply time.

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Rudy Tinoco

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Reply with quote  #2 
That's a great resolution, Anthony!

I first started feeling the need to go out and perform at the prompting of friends. I always took a deck of cards to gatherings with friends and families to try out the magic that I'd been working on. As I got better, I found that they actually wanted me to show them my latest trick.

At a certain point, they began wondering why I wasn't out there trying to make a living out of it. I heard it enough times (from people that I trust) that it finally gave me the courage to try.

Within three weeks, I secured two regular gigs. One at Out of This World Pizza (a family restaurant with an indoor playground) and the other one at a little bar in Portland.

How did I do that? I was at birthday party at Out of This World Pizza and saw lots of kids playing and parents sitting around, bored. I saw the manager, introduced myself, and told him that I have a unique way of creating a fun atmosphere for both kids and parents. I asked him right then and there if he'd give me just 10 minutes of his time to show him what I do.

He called me later that day and said he'd like me to come in every Friday night. He'd pay me $75 in cash and $100 in store credit (we ate a lot of pizza). Dan Waterman occasionally filled in for me there.

It hardly sounds worth the money, but I spent the next 3 years there getting better and better as I performed the same 8 to 10 tricks over and over again! There even came a point when he added me as an option on their birthday packages. This forced me to create a stand up show! 

Anyway, I just want to encourage you to be bold. Don't be afraid to ask a local establishment if they'd be willing to have you come in on a weekly basis. Even if it's just for a free meal or a drink.

Good luck, Anthony. You can do this!

Rudy

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #3 
These are great ideas. It's also the perfect time of the year to let these thoughts grow in out minds. 2019 is about to begin, and it's traditional to make "resolutions." The trick is to keep them very reasonable so we don't give up on them. The percentage of people who start the year with a resolution to lose weight and then blow it off after a month is extremely high. When goals are set too high, or there are too many goals, we humans tend to slack off.

I think Anthony is correct in his observation that making a resolution public helps to make it stick. I've been laying low on performing for quite a while as I turned my attention to writing. As 2019 approaches I've been thinking along the lines that Anthony articulated i.e. volunteering to perform some magic at the Senior Center or the Hospital. Not only would it create some needed fun for other human beings, it would start to remove the "rust" from my performing repertoire.

So, inspired by Anthony, I'm resolving to get back into the performance of magic in 2019 - either with a paying gig or a freebie or both.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #4 
Blathermist, it was a reference to the Fabs. [cool]

Thanks for the encouragement, everyone. I have no aspirations toward performing professionally. I just want to perform for the joy of it at a professional level!

Great story, Rudy!

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chris w

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Reply with quote  #5 
A noble commitment, Anthony. I look forward to following along with your progress... and, who knows, perhaps even being inspired to perform more myself.
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Chi Han

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Reply with quote  #6 
Great goal!

But I would recommend you start now! No reason to wait till New Years!
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chi Han
Great goal!

But I would recommend you start now! No reason to wait till New Years!


I agree, however the holiday season is here and the next week - beginning tomorrow - is packed with family visits, including four days with my daughter, and other events that I am committed to be a part of. And since those events include the family and friends who already know my current "comfy" repertoire... Sigh. Sounds like an excuse, but I'll tell you what, if given the opportunity to begin sooner, I will do so. Thanks for the encouragement!

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #8 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chris w
A noble commitment, Anthony. I look forward to following along with your progress... and, who knows, perhaps even being inspired to perform more myself.


Come aboard when ready!

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ianmcrawford

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Reply with quote  #9 
Anthony, you're inspiring me!  I think Seniors residences are a fantastic place to get flight time!  I'll spend the next week, contemplating a similar resolution.

Thanks!
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #10 
Made my first foray yesterday. Arrived at the Spalding County Senior Center unannounced. Breezed in and engaged a group of five seated at a table. I explained that I was an amateur magician looking for places to practice. They were receptive. I performed Hopping Half - yeah, yeah, yeah, but come on, it's sure fire and a great intro, right? - then segued into a couple of card tricks. ("Perhaps you'd prefer a card trick?") Did a pseudo-mem routine using Harry's HaLo Cut as a reveal, then led into John Bannon's Proximity. As I ended Proximity another person approached the table and politely waited till I was done, then asked to speak with me. I thanked the table, stepped to one side with the intruder ;-) and was asked if I was a member. No, I was not. In that case I would need to either join or leave. I tried to explain myself, but she was firm. I asked if she wanted to pick a card. She did not. I thanked her and left. No use in burning a bridge, right?

I left with a good feeling about the magic portion of the experience. There were no Penguin Magic level reactions from the spectators, but there was laughter, smiles, and engagement. Cool. As a non-resident of Spalding County it'll cost me $55.00 annually to show up and do magic for free.  On the other hand it's a nice, relatively new facility with lots to offer, and I just happen to be more than old enough to join, though on the lower end of eligibility! We'll see.

So far, so good!

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ianmcrawford

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Reply with quote  #11 
Congratulations and well done Anthony.  Laughter smiles and engagement - thats whats its all about.  Hope you go back (despite getting "bounced". 
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Vinson
Made my first foray yesterday. Arrived at the Spalding County Senior Center unannounced. Breezed in and engaged a group of five seated at a table. I explained that I was an amateur magician looking for places to practice. They were receptive. I performed Hopping Half - yeah, yeah, yeah, but come on, it's sure fire and a great intro, right? - then segued into a couple of card tricks. ("Perhaps you'd prefer a card trick?") Did a pseudo-mem routine using Harry's HaLo Cut as a reveal, then led into John Bannon's Proximity. As I ended Proximity another person approached the table and politely waited till I was done, then asked to speak with me. I thanked the table, stepped to one side with the intruder ;-) and was asked if I was a member. No, I was not. In that case I would need to either join or leave. I tried to explain myself, but she was firm. I asked if she wanted to pick a card. She did not. I thanked her and left. No use in burning a bridge, right?

I left with a good feeling about the magic portion of the experience. There were no Penguin Magic level reactions from the spectators, but there was laughter, smiles, and engagement. Cool. As a non-resident of Spalding County it'll cost me $55.00 annually to show up and do magic for free.  On the other hand it's a nice, relatively new facility with lots to offer, and I just happen to be more than old enough to join, though on the lower end of eligibility! We'll see.

So far, so good!

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To avoid the unfortunate challenge if you are a member or not and being asked to leave, is to get in touch with the people in charge.  There is usually a board or an entertainment director.  Letting them know who you are and what you do and asking if you can go in and perform is the correct thing to do.  The folks in charge at senior centers have a lot of responsibility on their shoulders.  They don't know you.  They have not 'vetted' you. They don't know what risk you might pose.  It would be horribly embarassing for them if one of the Senior's family members came in for a visit, watched you in action and then asked the management about you (for good or bad) and they had to admit they had no idea what they were talking about. That situation looks really bad on them. 

But if you approach them like a pro, and are offering free entertainment and explain your reasons why.  They would probably try to keep you there forever. 

This is true of any establishment.  Let the owners/managers whoever know.  To walk into another persons business and just start performing for their clients/customers is not right.  Regardless of motive.   

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #13 
And where were you yesterday, Bmat?! [wink] Had it been a private facility I would certainly have done as you suggest. Being as it was a public facility I believed myself immune to such drivel and marched right in. (I viewed it as more like a public park.) Besides, I had been inside before, last year during Evil Dan's Performing In Public Challenge, and hadn't any problems.

I left out a great deal - in fact most - of my conversation with the lady who buttonholed me. She was polite and professional and suggested that I consider joining. She also explained that they had recently experienced some problems with unauthorized visitors and had instituted the policy of requiring everyone to sign in to the facility. It was my failure to do so that alerted her to my incursion. I understood, apologized, and took along the paper application for non-residents she offered. She even said she hoped I would consider returning. So it all worked out... even though she really did decline to take a card!
To reiterate, for me this is all one big adventure and learning experience. This lesson is learned, though there will doubtless be many more.

Thanks, Ian, for the encouragement!

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #14 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blathermist
Have you really thought this through, Anthony?

What your "professional, polite" inquisitor seems to be saying more than anything else is that you look ancient enough to be signed up.

The dashing conjuror is just another old timer in need of care and attention.

Or perhaps not.

[smile] [smile] [smile] [smile] [wink] [rolleyes]


[rofl]

To be clear, this is a senior center, not an old folks home! Here in America these facilities have sprung up over the last couple of decades to cater to the abundance of active, healthy Baby Boomers - those born between 1945 and 1960 or so.

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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #15 
It all sounds great to me. You made some people have a better, happier day and and it seems like you got some great experience in along the way.

About that party-pooper... Is it time to try a stage effect...like the guillotine?  Could you say, "Yo lady, make like an Asrah and disappear."?


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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #16 
By the way, I think Hopping Halves rocks right up there with Invisible Deck IF the performance behind it is strong and has a good hook. I perform it A LOT! I use a premise similar to Carl a Andrews as he taught in his Penguin lecture: “I do a lot of card magic, but I am learning this cool trick with a half dollar and an old British penny. I take the half dollar and put it in my pocket and ... oh ... I forgot something ... let me start again.” You snap your fingers and with that open you clenched fist showing the half has magically appeared back in its ‘starting point.’

And you’re off to the races
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mbreggar
By the way, I think Hopping Halves rocks right up there with Invisible Deck IF the performance behind it is strong and has a good hook. I perform it A LOT! I use a premise similar to Carl a Andrews as he taught in his Penguin lecture: “I do a lot of card magic, but I am learning this cool trick with a half dollar and an old British penny. I take the half dollar and put it in my pocket and ... oh ... I forgot something ... let me start again.” You snap your fingers and with that open you clenched fist showing the half has magically appeared back in its ‘starting point.’

And you’re off to the races


Great point, Mike. I just do ye olde basic presentation. It did seem to go well, but you've inspired me to come up with something more original. At least a spin of my own.

I have also been practicing Copper/Silver/Brass using Doc Eason's handling, which is excellent. I have toyed around with Bannon's handling from Smoke and Mirrors too. It uses a purse and requires a bit more work, but I think the result may be worth the effort. Dunno... All I do know is that I am having a difficult time deciding which to go with. The paradox of choice!

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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #18 
I went the other way, Anthony. Started with CSB. Also live Doc’s routine with a few slight adjustments. Then I was shown Hopping Halves at Tannens in New York. Several of the guys there said HH was easier than CSB and produced the same reactions. I agree and switched over to HH. THEN I saw the Carl Andrews version and I was inspired!!

One cool thing about using HH in this style of routine is I can use it to break up a card set and switch to a stacked deck along the well.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #19 
Was unaware of Carl and looked up the lecture you mention. His version uses regular coins? Is that the one you're doing? I have added his lecture to my Wish List. If wishes were horses, huh?

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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #20 
Nah.. I use the gaffs!
It is his concept I borrow: the let’s start over bit
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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #21 
That's a good set, Anthony. Tricks people can easily understand since they don't know you. Takes guts to just go on in and get moving. Well done.
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #22 
Thanks, Michael. I appreciate the kind words, but honestly feel it's less guts and more just really missing the feeling of performing. Self-employment, as I mentioned in the opening to this thread, has necessitated a great deal of time alone, whereas before, since I traveled a great deal for work, I had plenty of opportunities to perform for new people. Going on nine years now, I performed less and less to the point that I lost confidence and polish. The good thing is that it seems to come back quickly with exposure. 

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #23 

Haven’t posted on this thread in a while, but I have been acting on my goals and things are going well. One of my favorite places to perform has turned out to be the laundromat. I know, right! Let me ‘splain.

Once a month or so I gather up a bunch of bulky items best not laundered in the home machine, and haul them to the local laundromat. The best way I know of to spend downtime while the items are washed and then dried, is to practice magic. I sit at a table and start playing around with cards. Invariably, someone takes note, makes a comment, and we’re off to the races. Launderers have turned out to be great audiences. Who’d have thunk?

Yesterday I was having cards selected and returned and having a good time with five fellow launderers. An older man asked if he could shuffle. Of course, I said yes, and he did. He also “palmed” a card out of the deck before returning it. It was sloppy and obvious, but he thought he was clever and I went along. At least one other person noticed; I could tell from her body language.  

Having recently been practicing a Ben Blau idea from his excellent book Truth Fables, I got a wicked idea. I told the man to simply think of a card, any card, and hoped he’d name the card he’d held out. He did! He pretended he needed to clear his throat, turned, and good golly miss Molly took a peek at the card in his mitt. Oh frabjous day! Applying Ben’s idea, I asked two questions, then instructed the man to think of every other card in the deck other than his own. (I know, but I was playful and it worked.)

In short order, riffing all the while, I eliminated every card except the Four of Diamonds, Clubs, and Spades. Holding them up, backs toward the audience, I said, “Okay, I’m down to three cards, and while I might not have got your exact card, I think I’ve come as close as I can.” (Thanks, John Bannon, for the line.) I then asked him to name his card. He named the Four of Hearts. The crowd went wild. Seriously. I was a rock star by the washing machines.

The man later came by and said he was impressed, that he’d just been testing me. Think I passed?

I think I need to email Ben and say thanks. For anyone who has the book, the technique I used is to be found in Castaway Cards.

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #24 
Michael Vincent also believes we should getting out there and performing, coffee shops and trains in his case: 

"We magicians need to kill our egos and get out there and share our magic with the world. Some of my most meaningful encounters took place outside of my professional contexts. My coffee shop is my testing ground. My friends from The BBC Radio 4 are my testing audience. Most days it’s show time. Don’t be shy"
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #25 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
Michael Vincent also believes we should getting out there and performing, coffee shops and trains in his case: 

"We magicians need to kill our egos and get out there and share our magic with the world. Some of my most meaningful encounters took place outside of my professional contexts. My coffee shop is my testing ground. My friends from The BBC Radio 4 are my testing audience. Most days it’s show time. Don’t be shy"


Hear, hear.

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