We performed strolling magic at a wonderful event this weekend. It was quite the scene – the event, not our performance. In one of LA’s museums, it was brimming with attractive and important people dressed well with great food and even a red carpet.
Our pockets were packed with three routines’ worth of props. We had Invisible, Rising, Marked and regular decks in each of our coat pockets. In our pants pockets we had dental floss for Gypsy Thread. A Professor’s Nightmare rope set was wedged in our waistband. A Pen through Bill was in our shirt pocket. The four of hearts affixed to the back of our beautiful silk tie. We had a Toppit in place and in it was our Thumb Tip and a black silk for vanishing. Wedged into our front pocket were our Mogar Color Changing Knives. We were, in the parlance of zookeepers, loaded for bear.
But the contents of our pockets remained in place. We performed for about 30 small groups and did essentially one effect – Sponge Balls.
We have not performed Sponge Balls in an actual public routine since 1974, during the Close-up Competition at the Florida State Magicians Association Convention in Winter Park, Florida. We brought the set with us almost as an afterthought. They do not take up much room, are visible and it can be performed in noisy surroundings.
We approached our first grouping of beautifully attired attendees and asked if they would like to see some magic. They consented and we reached into our pocket to pull out a deck of cards to perform our standard 42-minute ambitious card routine but our fingers lingered on the Sponge Balls.
It was like we were back in 1974 at the Langford Hotel. We were once again that young magician performing an endlessly rehearsed routine for judges. Here and now, the judges were comely women and men with more disposable income than we have earned since 1974 but they were just as receptive. We did our routine with very little talking and when the balls appeared in the startled volunteer’s beautifully manicured hand, she squealed with shock.
“Do me next,” her companion urged.
We performed the kicker ending for her friend and they reacted in a way we are used to seeing on every YouTube video of a street performer.
The reaction was better than we could have hoped to receive from any of the other items packed about our person.
As the evening rolled on, we performed Sponge Balls repeatedly. Using the same patter we developed while still an acne-scarred youth, we worked the room.
In our younger days, we would have insisted on performing something different. We do not know if it is a sign of maturity or laziness but we decided to stick with what was working. The room was dark and loud so a Book Test would not have worked. Our delightful patter that accompanies our 90-minute version of The Professor’s Nightmare rope trick would probably not have been heard above the din and may have been a tad too long given the event.
As we drove back to West Hollywood with our top down – plus we had the convertible top down – we thought about the lessons learned.
First, give the audience what it wants.
Second, don’t give the audience what you want unless it is also what they want.
Third, magician’s rope expands when exposed to sweat and can become uncomfortable when wedged in one’s waistband for long periods of time.
It was a magical night.