I would like in this article to present the Ten Commandments of Close-Up magic, or rather the ten principles that I strive to remember while performing. Have a nice reading !
I. Thou shalt master thy technical skills.
It may seem like common sense (guess what? it is!) but how often have we witnessed subpar performances? Prior to presenting yourself in a professional setting, you must possess a great deal (ha ha) of technical expertise, such as mastery of sleight of hand techniques and other vital magic skills. Sure, achieving this level of proficiency is an endless goal which requires many years of dedicated practice and a commitment to perfection. I started back in 1998 and still learn new moves! Never stop exploring (sounds like a North Face slogan, right?) new techniques and refining existing ones to guarantee that the magic is flawlessly executed.
II. Thou shalt develop thy performance abilities.
Merely mastering technical skills is insufficient. A prosperous close-up magician must also possess a compelling presence, be "charismatic" (I hate this word, but you get the idea...) and captivating, because in the end it all comes down to establishing a personal connection with the audience. Accomplishing this necessitates cultivating a performance style that is both distinctive and genuine, enabling me to connect with the audience on an emotional level.
III. Thou shalt be adaptable.
No two settings are the same. No two audiences are the same. Always keep in mind that close-up magic is frequently perfomed in various situations, ranging from intimate private events to large public venues. You must have the capacity to customize your performances to meet the specific requirements of each group and circumstances. This entails working on your flexibility, adaptability, and the ability to think on your feet. What would be the point of a performance that does not suit your customer's specific needs ?
IV. Thou shalt be creative and innovative.
You must consistently pursue novel and inventive ways of performing magic. This demands a willingness to take risks, experiment with new techniques and push some limits. It also necessitates keeping abreast of latest trends and advancements in magic and utilizing this knowledge to create original performances. This is especially relevant in a small counry like Luxembourg, where I am frequently hired by the same clients. I certainly do not wish to present them with identical magic effects repeatedly, and therefore must continuously develop new material.
V. Thou shalt pay close attention to detail.
"Details matter" Steve Jobs used to say. And sure enough, close-up magic is an art form that hinges on the minutiae. Good close-up magicians must display meticulousness in their preparation and execution of every trick, paying attention to every movement, gesture, and subtlety. If you were to request two magicians to perform the same trick, you would notice that apart from their unique (hopefully!) personalities, one would deceive you more than the other. Esteemed close-up legends such as Vernon or Marlo were renowned for meticulously refining every aspect of their routines, including the minutest details. If you feel that writing extensive descriptions of the correct method of tuning a card over from face down to face up is useless, then you are missing the essence.
VI. Thou shalt communicate effectively with thy audience.
Close-up magic, as well as mentalism, revolves around communication. If you are the type of person who avoids conversing with your audience or disregards their input, then perhaps performing on a stage and making doves appear would be more fitting! (with no disrespect for stage performers, of course) However, when performing so close of a live audience, it is crucial to communicate effectively. Interacting with spectators will elevate the overall experience. This demands a strong command of language and the capacity to connect with people from diverse backgrounds and cultures. This is particularly vital in Luxembourg, where almost half of the citizens are foreigners. In my city alone, which has a population of 8.500, we have approximately 102 different nationalities!
VII. Thou shalt always behave in a professional and respectful manner.
Once again, it is a matter of common sense, but it is imperative to conduct yourself in a professional and respectful manner, treating customers and audiences with courtesy and consideration. Sure, your "acting persona" may adopt a cheeky or even rude demeanor, as long as your audience recognizes that you are in performance mode. But apart from that, it is crucial to be punctual, reliable, and respectful of the rules and regulations of each venue.
VIII. Thou shalt continually strive to improve thy craft.
A great close-up magician never stops learning. As I wrote earlier : close-up magic is an endless field of study, so study! Always seek out new knowledge and techniques to enhance your abilities and keep your performances fresh and exciting. Be open-minded by studying other fields that could relate to close-up magic (cinema, history, ...) and stay humble. Once in a while be sure to attend magic conventions to learn from others in the industry.
IX. Thou shalt never reveal the secrets of thy magic.
No secret, no illusion! Magic is founded on the enigma and awe of the unknown. You should comprehend the significance of safeguarding this mystery. Of course I am not referring here to close-up conventions or lectures where methods are shared for educational purposes. I am specifically referring to the demonstration of methods on socal media solely for the sake of gaining exposure and a few likes.
X. Thou shalt maintain the highest standards of ethics and integrity.
To be honest, with all the mentalism techniques at my disposal, opening a fortune-telling business would be a breeze. Or I could just as well swindle people out of their money by performing three card monte and other scams on the main square of Luxembourg City. But I don't, and not only because the cops run faster than me ... Magicians must maintain ethical and moral standards, refraining from using magic to deceive or cheat anyone. We are all aware of "artists" who claimed to bend spoons and perform other psychic stunts; however most of them end up inevitably exposed as frauds by skeptical investigators in a short amount of time.