This next Blog Post is very dear to my heart.
Again, let’s thank my friend Raj Jethwa for suggesting this fascinating conversation.
I became intrigued with this subject during my first trip to New York in 1982.
The seed was planted after seeing Slydini on television – Christmas Day 1978. I was 14 then and knew that Slydini magic was different.
My mentor Alan Alan encouraged me to study The Magic of Slydini by Lewis Ganson.
I learnt EVERY routine in the book. I don’t smoke, however, I learnt Slydini’s Cigarette Routines along with everything else.
“This was a beautiful period for me. Although I didn’t really know what I was doing, it just felt lovely. The study, the exploration and just being engaged with a subject I loved”.
During my week in New York, I met Slydini at The Tannens Jubilee. I was overwhelmed and in awe of his presence.
After the Convention, Slydini invited Alan and I back to his Studio of Magic and the real work began.
This was a big thrill – I was taught by the Master.
Slydini was very strict.
He insisted on students learning his magic with exacting precision so they would fully internalise his system of Attention Control.
This came with a big problem, most of Slydini’s students picked up a lot of his mannerisms.
I only spent four days in his company.
This was a blessing in disguise. I internalised his system without inheriting any of his mannerisms.
Let’s talk about mannerism for a moment.
In Slydini’s world, mannerism was his take on natural gestures.
Dai Vernon’s said;
Vernon never told us how to be natural. He at least intimated to think about being natural.
Slydini made a point of stressing and pin pointing to me my own natural mannerism.
This was a critical part of my understanding and showed me how I could apply his principles of deception.
In the first Chapter of his book, he goes into explicit detail about how to sit correctly, how the body moves backwards and forwards. His entire system is based in The Ebb and Flow of Tension and Relaxation.
All of this is directed through the body and our physiology.
It is critical that each student understands this and applies it to their own natural mannerisms.
I was lucky and privileged to spend such a short time with him – not long enough to absorb his mannerisms and become a Caribbean Clone with a fake Italian accent. Just long enough for him to give me everything I would ever need.
I never saw him again😢
It took me many years to fully understand his system post our meeting.
By 1990, it all made sense.
I began my own deeper enquiry into Misdirection, Psychology, Human Nature, Rapport, Influencing and Persuasion.
I no longer think in terms of Misdirection.
This terminology is a short cut phrase used by magicians because it is convenient and based on our conditioning.
I often feel when I hear magicians use the phrase, “the misdirection is very strong ” they don’t really know what they are talking about. The routine may be deceptive, on some level, however, I very often see gaps that need filling in.
I propose that we start thinking in terms of Audience Attention Control. This is my baby, my passion and deep interest.
Audience Attention Control is a very deep subject and has applications beyond the tiny world of magicians.
Attention Control is very powerful. I saw it at work in my addictive daily trawling through Facebook. Once I saw it, I deactivated my Facebook Account.
This is the most important thing I have chosen to write about.
If we as magicians do not take control of what controls our attention, how can we expect to perform deceptive magic?
We must understand the principles at work and learn how to use it for our best advantage.
I wrote a book on this subject it is called The Tapestry of Deception.
I am very proud of this book.
I found a way to describe Slydini’s System in a very simple and accessible language.
Here are a few things to consider :
Magic can happen in only one place, that is in the mind of the audience.
Misdirection is no longer an acceptable terminology.
We are dealing with;
Audience Attention Control.
The audience FOOLS themselves.
All we are doing is facilitating that process.
The Eyes Sees
The Brain Registers
The Mind Evaluates
All three work in tandem.
The Eye may see but the Brain may not have registered what the Eye saw.
The Mind makes up a story about what it thinks the Brain saw.
The emotions of astonishment are real.
There is no substitute for sloppy magic or sloppy technique.
Audience Attention Control is the glue that binds the whole deception together.
The construction and design of a routine takes into consideration any shortcomings of Technology, Sleight of Hand, Gimmicks etc
The Power of Assumptions is a very critical element in the design of our magic.
Assumptions made by the audience must be allowed to function naturally.
Why show the Hand empty?
Allow them to assume and see for themselves.
If you would like to learn more about this subject, I provide very powerful
Coaching over Skype and face to face.
To start this process, take a Routine you have had success with and break it down, start again. Study every aspect of it and look for any gaps in the Method. Look and see if you can implement some of the suggestions I just made.
Take a look at the routine below, this is an example of me applying what Slydini taught me.
It is my version of Slydini’s Coin routine.
It features everything he taught me.
Thanks for reading.