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About Aaron Smith

Aaron Smith, owner of The Magic Depot, is a writer, illustrator, and magic creator. Follow Best Kept Secrets and The Magic Depot @magicdepot on Twitter.

Something More Convenient than Mentalism…

Magicians are drawn to mentalism for two key reasons…

human-20424_640First, a great deal of the material can be performed impromptu or with very little setup. Second, mentalism is scalable from an intimate one-on-one setting with a single spectator to a powerful connection with an audience of thousands in a large theatre.

A mentalist can perform anywhere, even on stage, with little or no props. Mentalism is one of the most convenient and versatile types of magic on the planet. Plus it’s amazing! Read someone’s mind and they are baffled in a way unique to the craft.

Unless, of course, your audience cannot hear you over the ambient sound of an outside performance, the rowdy nature of a club environment, the honks and hollers of a busy street, or the clattering of glasses and small-talk echoing through the air of a corporate party.

476px-Mind-reading-Russell-MorganIn those situations, mentalism is a billet never burned, a secret never revealed, a thought transmitted into a blaring divide never to be enjoyed. Luckily, early on I learned a type of “fringe magic” that allowed me to elude those nuisances, draw a huge crowd and perform with zero props—silent if necessary.

Impromptu and scalable, convenient and impressive—just like mentalism—yet unemployed by most magicians. And looking back, I probably booked more gigs demonstrating a trick from this one category than from any other type of magic—including mentalism!

So what is this miracle that is more convenient than mentalism and plays bigger than a rainstorm?

Theft.

Honest theft. Watches, wallets, and keys typically. If your spectator wasn’t born with it or it hasn’t been surgically attached, the item is fair game. And people LOVE it! Especially the “victims.”

complete_course_in_pickpocketingEvery summer as a teenager, I would find small towns without busking laws—if they said, “What’s busking?” I was usually good to go. I walked around their festivals performing magic where and when I could. As I built my crowds, I nabbed their valuables for magical reveals throughout the show.

My hat filled faster than a pig’s belly! (I worked fairs too)

Like a number of magicians, I was introduced to mindreading from the legendary 13 Steps to Mentalism—it changed my life. But what you may not know is that there is an equivalent for pickpocketing, called The Complete Course in Pickpocketing.

It’s the “13 Steps” of thievery—for entertainment purposes.

The Complete Course in Pickpocketing converts the common magician’s repertoire into an exciting audience interactive where anything can happen. Now those everyday [missed] opportunities become magical events, which to a pro means more venues.

The Complete Course was $60 when I first read it, but today you can get this book for a steal! Making the first step obvious…

Read it Now: The Complete Course in Pickpocketing!

 

Featured Mentalism: 13 Steps to Mentalism, GhostIt Notes, I know What You’re Thinking, Poor Boy Billet Knife, Poor Boy Billet Knife Full-Size, Mental Marker Special FX Pen, Mental Marker FX Juice

Five Steps to Corporate Gigs

The most successful corporate magicians have corporate knowledge, or at least a corporate attitude. They are performers with experience speaking with and to business owners, merchants, and fellow entrepreneurs.

Don’t worry if that doesn’t describe you right now, it is a skill you can learn. And in the process, you will obtain lifelong clients and friends.

Here’s how to get started…

Step One: Learn to Talk Shop

Any two business owners or corporate officers will find enough in common to have a meaningful conversation, even if they are from vastly different industries. If you want to attract a business market, you have to think like a businessperson and learn to speak their language. Watch business news, network with local business owners, and read business-related blogs. Realize that as a magician looking to book shows you are a business owner. Once you find specific industries you like, study the nuance and focus in on a potential market.

Step Two: Develop Your Message

A corporate officer needs only one small excuse to justify their booking your show. A message is an excellent excuse. If you have something to say that a business owner needs his or her employees to hear, then he or she will hire you to speak—to perform your show. Developing a message, or several messages that appear as separate shows, adds to your product line. Plus, having multiple messages allows a company to book your show more than once. Constantly develop, refine, and promote your message(s) to learn where you might split them into new shows.

Step Three: Incorporate Your Message Into a Show

Once you have developed a unique message that is understandable, teachable, and sellable, you need to build a show around it. The message should be short, sweet, and repeated throughout your show. Do not let the magic take away from the message, instead, use magic to highlight and pound home the message. Remember, in “corporate magician,” corporate comes first.

Step Four: Beat Your Message Online

Journalists, bloggers, and essayists refer to their area of focus as their beat. If your beat is “Theft Reduction” and your market is retailers, then learn everything there is to know about in-store shoplifting. Attend seminars and study techniques and deterrents; develop understanding for the market’s needs and offer the market a solution. Then write about it. Even if you are a lousy writer—you will get better with practice—start a blog that focuses on that one topic and beat it into the ground. Advertise it through your website and social media. Appear to be THE source on that one topic. Write a book if you can. Then network with people in need of your solution—both online and offline—and offer your services.

Step Five: Repeat Your Success

Find what works, and do it over and over again. Add areas of focus that compliment your primary market and develop additional messages—shows—to offer those to your clients. A half-dozen different shows with versions for closeup, parlor, and stage will give you a better chance at initial success, and net return business from satisfied customers.

You don’t need to have business experience right now to gain business experience over the next few years—though many of the best corporate entertainers have a corporate background. It all starts with mindset. If you are a magician, you own a business. Operate it like a business. Live within your business persona until you can communicate and relate with your entrepreneurial colleagues. You are one of them.

If you need help setting up your blog, ask questions in the comments and I will assist you publicly so that others can profit from the information. If you have specific questions unique to your own situation, email me and I will do my best to help you brainstorm solutions.

CLICK HERE to get the Magic of Showbiz FREE with orders over $50! Discover new revenue streams and increase show potential. Learn how to organize lucrative corporate stress management events, team-building seminars, and get a behind-the-scenes look at staff training contracts. Offer ENDS Sunday at Midnight!

Keep it Simple Sands

sands_of_the_desert_fronts_originalSands of the Desert sales increase dramatically this time of year. Magicians who perform Sands of the Desert regularly tend to refresh their supply right before the onslaught of summer festivals and stage/parlor opportunities.

Those magicians are already familiar with Sands of the Desert and know exactly what they want—typically, 2-3 refill packs of their favorite colors and type; waxed or synthetic. They have made their selection from years of experience.

But magicians new to Sands of the Desert might see all the options and just walk away from this legendary trick. I posted a Sands of the Desert Buyer’s Guide to explain the differences, however, I think it is time I simplify it even more.

What is the fundamental difference between waxed and synthetic Sands?

  • If you want to pour the Sands into the water, get synthetic.
  • If you need the Sand to clump together—for more vigorous stirring for instance—and don’t mind squeezing the Sands and placing it in the water, chose waxed Sands.

Technically, our waxed Sands are pourable, but it is more difficult. Synthetic is the most popular because it is the easiest to use right out of the package—it is self-working and looks like a movie special effect behind the scenes.

New to Sands of the Desert? Start with Sands of the Desert Synthetic and add this incredible trick to your show—it is a lot of fun to practice, perform, and to see firsthand.

As you gain experience or when you are ready to explore the other options available, get a pack of Sands of the Desert Waxed. It is a whole other adventure!

A Secret that Fools Magicians…

When I perform for magicians, I fool them best with one “gimmick” above all others. There is this one little secret—though extremely famous and well known—that flies right by seasoned magicians. I think they just don’t expect it.

And it’s not only magicians who are fooled by this stealthy assistant. It baffles laymen even more!

It’s because this “gimmick” causes the spectator to mark their own card, which allows me to trick my audience under [supposedly] impossible conditions. I’ve heard Dai Vernon used this same secret to mark cards when he wasn’t even in the room.

It’s simple. Direct. Powerful. It’s Daub!

I spent years fine-tuning my Daub products in the workshop, developing new technology and mixing it with legendary tried-and-true techniques. Now, I can announce…

ALL OF MY DAUBS ARE SHEEN DAUBS!

Of course, minerals and metals are very expensive today, which has caused the price of these Daubs to increase. But for you, the price is the same! For the next few days, you can have these Daubs at their original price.

PLUS

Yin-Yang Red & Blue Sheen Daub. The perfect amount of red and blue daub, side-by-side, Yin-Yang style.

Yin-Yang Red & Blue Sheen Daub. The perfect amount of red and blue daub, side-by-side, Yin-Yang style.

Order any two of the following Daub products before Wednesday of this week, and get the third Daub of your choice FREE!

(Yes! Daub Noir for $49.95 qualifies for the FREE offer.)

Write the Daub you want FREE in the comments box during checkout. My Free Shipping Worldwide offer also applies.

Enjoy! THANK YOU very much for your business!

Best Kept Secrets Four – Wand Scrolls!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring Magic Wand Scrolls, Suit Up, and the new Cybergician magic chat!

(click here to watch the video on YouTube)

Covered in this week’s vlog:

 

The Magic Chat is BACK!

Chat with magicians from all over the world. Visit Cybergician.com

Chat with magicians from all over the world. Visit Cybergician.com

For years, I sponsored the world’s largest magic chat. It ran for years and it had nearly 1000 members at its peak.

Now, THE CHAT IS BACK!

I have helped start a brand new online magic community called, “Cybergician.” There are some big things planned with Cybergician, starting with the new magic chat. Click here to start chatting instantly!

Cybergician is a very simple website, ad-free and only one page. Visit the site and you are already in the chatroom. There’s no need to signup or login.

The site is completely FREE, including behavior. Be who you are. Respect other members, but say what you want. As always, spirited debate is encouraged.

Would you like to offer a magic chat on your website? Cybergician offers customized versions of the chat so you can link to a page you control. Offer your own ads and information without competition. It’s FREE! Visit the site or contact me for details.

Here is The Magic Depot’s custom chat page. Enjoy!

Best Kept Secrets Three: Mental Marker!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring Mental Marker!

(click HERE to watch this video directly on the YouTube website)

Covered in this week’s vlog:

Get Animated Shoelaces FREE with orders over $20! Write “FREE LACES” in the comments box during the checkout process to qualify.

Secret Powers: A Principle for Better Magic

From a very early age, we learn what secrets are, but we have an uncontrollable urge to share them with others. (photo by Clara Rico)

From a very early age, we learn what secrets are, but we have an uncontrollable urge to share them with others. (photo by Clara Rico)

Think about the last time a friend entrusted you with a secret. Remember how it felt? You possessed exclusive information. Knowledge given to only a select few. And good or bad, a secret is a powerful thing.

If the secret concerned another person, when talking to that person you probably felt like you had the upper hand. You might even have the overwhelming urge to spill the beans and share your secret with that person or with other people.

When secrets are exposed, they are often preceded by, “You’re never going to guess…” or “You’re not going to believe this…” That’s because we feel the secret is so surprising no one could possibly assume the details, or we have hidden the secret so deeply within our mental vault, there is little risk of it being revealed.

But not when it comes to magic secrets.

When a magician—especially a beginner—knows a secret, they automatically assume everyone else knows the secret too. I mean, how could they not? We convince ourselves the secret is right there in the open for everybody to see. We think magic feels like common sense once the puzzle is solved; even complex magic tricks rarely require rocket science to perform them.

This is part of “the loss of innocence” felt by every magician. Sometimes referred to as “thinking like a magician.” It is a feeling you must learn to control and eventually overcome.

Magicians feel guilty of their secrets. It’s like we think our hands are the local gossip blabbing on the phone to anyone who will listen. In fact, the secret—the method—is tucked away out of view, and it is our guilt that is obvious.

If you never take anything else away from my blog, remember [and live by] this fundamental creed:

“Magicians are NOT guilty of a secret, but rather empowered by it.”

A magic trick is not a game of charades wherein you gradually expose the method. Relax. Entertain. Picture your act like a good movie: the audience is so caught up in the story they forget to yell out, “That dinosaur is CGI!” or “They would have called the match as soon as Rocky had the first cut.”

Guilt will ruin a good magic trick more efficiently than bad technique ever could. Magicians are not judged by the sum of their secrets. Magicians are measured by their confidence.

###

Some Secrets are Easier to Keep than Others

There are tricks on the market that require either very few moves and sleights, or none at all. While those tricks are easy to do, you want a routine that challenges you a bit more when practicing your secret keeping.

Here are a few magic tricks—a mixture of classics and new releases—where the secret is in the back of your mind, allowing you to focus on the presentation:

Best Kept Secrets TWO: The $100 Billet Catch!

Here is this week’s Best Kept Secrets video blog featuring The $100 Billet Catch!

Click HERE to watch this video directly on YouTube.

Here’s what is covered in this week’s Best Kept Secrets video:

Picture Perfect: Make Impromptu Photos Magical

Aaron Smith's $100 Billet Catch is the easy way for closeup magicians to perform on stage. The perfect addition to any Commando Act.

Aaron Smith’s $100 Billet Catch is the easy way for closeup magicians to perform on stage. The perfect addition to any Commando Act.

The Magic Depot celebrates 11 years of business: SAVE 11% OFF STOREWIDE! Discount factored automatically at checkout. Includes specials prices already discounted PLUS Free Shipping Worldwide on orders over $60!

Aaron Smith demonstrates The $100 Billet Catch, only $19.95!

The world’s deadliest magic trick, now funnier than ever! With only a couple of ordinary props, all of which fit in your pocket, you can fill the whole stage with magic, comedy, and suspense. Sure, bullets are frightening, but today, money goes so fast it’s scary!

A signed $100 dollar bill magically travels from the spectator’s “hand gun,” through the air, popping a balloon along the way, and the magician catches the bill in his teeth! You get to mess with your audience’s minds, bullet catch style, without risking your own brains!

The $100 Billet Catch only $19.95!

 

Picture Perfect: Make Impromptu Photos Magical

Neil Patrick Harris always strikes a nice pose. You can see in this photo all of the tips outlined in Picture Perfect.

Neil Patrick Harris always strikes a nice pose. You can see in this photo many of the tips outlined in Picture Perfect. (photo by Lan Bui/TheBuiBrothers.com)

For decades, magicians have used pictures of themselves to entice potential clients to book their show. The final selection—the best photo out of a hundred professional studio stills—would appear on the magician’s business card, flier, brochure, and website.

This isn’t an article about whether or not your promo photo should be a picture of you with a card coming out of your sleeve, a dove on your shoulder, or standing behind a beautiful floating female assistant.

This article is intended to reveal the fact that potential clients may never see your promo picture and they are relying on all those candid shots you post on Facebook and Twitter to book your show.

Uh oh!

I know what you’re thinking… you didn’t anticipate that picture of you in cutoff jeans sipping your third beer from a solo cup at a family picnic to be Ford Motor’s cover page in their talent file.

And what’s worse, even in the “good” candid photos of you, your hair is a mess, your eyes are closed, and your shirt reveals chunks of your body you wish weren’t there. You might even wonder why you can’t be more photogenic like other people that grace your social media news feed.

You’re in luck! There are methods—magic tricks in and of themselves—you can learn to make every picture a stunning representation of your awesomeness, even if your mug is as asymmetrical as mine.

Here are a few tips to increase your on-camera charisma:

Find Your Good Side

Your phone probably doubles as a digital camera. Have someone take your picture from both sides, front and back, and all the angles up and down in between. Find which parts of your body and face look best, and put those forward in every photo. Don’t just say “cheese” when someone whips out a camera; turn to your good side and pose.

Smile with Your Eyes

Your eyes reflect only genuine feelings. Even though your mouth is smiling, your eyes may be cold. When you see the camera, picture it is someone you love, respect, or would most like to meet. Better yet, imagine the camera is a girl/boy you had a crush on in high school. Your eyes will light up and your expression will brighten the photo.

But Smile with Your Mouth Too

You may look great with a full smile—open mouth—but many people do not. A three-quarter smile is the most authentic. Be careful, though, if your smile is not symmetrical it might be perceived as a smirk. Practice different smiles in a few pictures, wait a day and then look at them again and choose which looks best on you.

Look Above the Camera

This picture of me was taken during the same photo shoot as the main image on my blog. Always remain focused.

This picture of me was taken during the same photo shoot as the main image on my blog. Always remain focused.

This is an old modeling trick (or so I’ve heard). If you look into the camera lens, your eyes may appear closed, especially if you are mid-blink. But gazing just above the camera creates the illusion you are looking into the camera in the final print, yet reduces red eye and gives your eyes a fuller appearance.

Be Aware of Your Lighting

Lighting is important. You want the light to brighten up your good side and darken your bad side. This is a good way to hide unshapely body problems. The reason some people are naturally more photogenic than others is they have features compatible with a variety of common lighting arrangements. Cameras flatten your face and expose shapes. Without makeup, lighting is your 3D friend. Take pictures of yourself with the light hitting different parts of your face to see which you like best.

Don’t Square Your Pose

Women naturally turn three-quarters towards the camera in a lovely pose when their picture is taken. Men tend to turn square to the camera, which looks just awful. Do not turn your whole body flat towards the camera. Turn part of your body—the bad part—away from the camera and smile.

Wear Clothes that Fit

Baggy clothes are not in fashion today and they look terrible in photos. Even if you are overweight, you want an outline of your body clearly visible. Color is important too. Black on black makes a big blob in pictures and looks cliché on magicians. Breakup your shape with flattering colors and current styles.

Hand Gestures are Unnecessary

Hand gestures are defensive measures. If your pose is polished, you won’t toss them out there subconsciously. Potential clients may like to rock as much as you do, but it’s hard for corporate booking agents to push a performer sporting a devil’s horn rock-on hand gesture (unless that’s your style of course). Keep your hands at your side, perhaps one holding a drink at stomach level if you’re caught boozing, or in your pockets if you feel totally exposed.

Untag Yourself from the Bad Pictures

Did your mom post a picture on Facebook that doesn’t reflect positively on your business persona? Untag yourself. Your friends and family already know who you are. There’s no need pointing out to potential clients how funny you look with asparagus spears in your teeth. But this isn’t a foolproof way to hide your antics. Some social media services have facial recognition, Google+ for instance, and this technology is becoming more and more popular.

Be a Magician 24/7

In my interview with Jeff McBride, he mentioned his, “Magician 24/7 Philosophy.” Performing whenever and wherever the opportunity arises—family functions, school events, free festivals, block parties—has a positive affect on your social portfolio. There will be countless pictures of you performing magic. Potential clients and booking agents see magic throughout your profile and know you are dedicated to your craft, even practicing on weekends and after hours. Plus, many of the phones today are twice the megapixels of professional digital cameras from just a few years ago. One of those pictures might replace that studio headshot in your media kit.