out May 9th 2000
I honestly believe that understanding Misdirection is the single most
important thing for every magician. If you know a few magic secrets and
some basic moves, you can fool some spectators most of the time. But if
you have a thorough understanding of how Misdirection works, then you can
truly mystify all of them, all the time!
One basic Misdirection technique is attitude. If you treat something as if
it's important, they will pay attention. And if you pretend it's not
important, they will focus their attention elsewhere.
In my "Card in Mousetrap" routine, I arm the mousetrap as the
spectator is shuffling the cards. It's not hard to draw attention when
you're arming a mousetrap! (Will he hurt himself..?) This gets the
shuffling spectator's attention away from the deck, where she could
find something sneaky. Also, when I give the spectator the deck for
shuffling, I just hand her the deck and move on to something else. It
looks like I don't care about the deck.
Here, two principles work together. My Attitude is that the deck is not
important - the trap is. Also, my Attention is focused on the trap, and
that leads their attention there too.
ACTIVE AND RELAXED
This is one of the really, truly GREAT techniques that can be found in
Gary Kurtz' book "Leading With Your Head". If you hold out a
deck of cards, spreading them to show that "there are no extra
aces" and then relax as you square them up, you are going from an
ACTIVE to a RELAXED state.
This is when you should do your secret move! The importance of doing
the move on the relaxation has also been addressed by Christian Chelman.
Chelman tells us to do the move as we breathe out. It's basically the same
thing. When you exhale, you relax, and your audience's attention is
I'm also a firm believer in using choreography and body language to
cover moves. There's nothing that can hide your moves better than physical
cover. Carefully planned body movement can provide you with that kind of
cover. Of course, you need logical reasons for your body movements, but
those reasons are really not so hard to come up with.
In my "Norwegian Travelers" routine, I need to get a break under
the top two cards in the deck. This is simply done by pushing off two
cards and pulling them back while the little finger obtains the break.
Simple, but not invisible... I use my body for physical cover. I have the
spectator that signed the cards to my left, and I make a left body turn as
I drop my hand with the deck. My right hand gives something for the
spectator to hold (my reason for turning my body). Behind my leg, no-one
can catch the move.
There's a whole chapter on Choreographic Misdirection in my book
"Pocket Power". You can also read an article that I wrote for
Magic Magazine on my web pages at www.leirpoll.com/choreography.htm
Note that the article in Magic was changed a little by the editors -
the version on my web pages is MY version - uncut!
THEY LOOK WHERE YOU LOOK
Another basic rule of Misdirection. Most magicians know it, but not
everyone has grasped the true potential of it. When I use the pockets for
switching, ditching and stealing, I use this principle extensively.
If you really want to study the power of this principle, take a look at
Juan Tamariz' "Double Crossing the Gaze" switch. (It's described
in my book and video "Pocket Power".) When you try this for real
people, you will see how they follow your gaze while you do the dirty work
under cover of some natural looking actions!
On my web pages you can view a video of "Toilet Paper to Egg"
from my book "Pocket Power". Click here to find the book and the
video sample: www.leirpoll.com/pocket.htm
WANT TO READ MORE ABOUT MISDIRECTION?
Then I would like to direct your attention (no pun intended) to two books.
One is "Leading With Your Head" by Gary Kurtz. This book is my
all time favorite! I think it is the best magic book ever written! I had
read all the classic books on Misdirection, but I didn't quite grasp it.
Then I read "Leading With Your Head" and suddenly got it! Where
other books tell you how to "do it on the off-beat", Gary tells
you how to CREATE the off-beat. What a difference! This is the only book
I've read seven times.
Here's a link to Leading With Your Head on my web pages, where you can
read more about it (and even buy it.) www.leirpoll.com/leading.htm
The other book I want to recommend is my own (shame on me...). I think
my approach to Misdirection in "Pocket Power" is unique. As a cameraman and editor for film and TV, I have a comprehensive knowledge
of the techniques that film makers use to direct our attention around the silver screen. What I've done is to adapt these techniques to
magic and Misdirection, and it works wonders! Here's the link to the Pocket Power Book again:
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Hope to see some of you at the FISM convention!
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