After performing as a professional magician for years as a young boy and adolescent, why now do I hesitate to practice and to perform for people? That could take years of psychoanalysis to figure out. Perhaps it is just the fact that my mother sold all my magic apparatus when I joined the Army and went away to college back in 1985. What ever the reason, I need to over come that fear. The question is how do I do that?
So far in my life I have found the best way to overcome fear, is to just jump right in and “rip off the band-aid”. Ignore the pain and realize the pain will quickly go away. Then each time it will get easier since you know what to expect. The pain level is the same, but my tolerance will increase each time. Sort of like repelling, the first step is always the worst, once the rope holds the fear level drops.
Special thanks go to the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Earl Edwards Ring 103, Hampton Roads, Virginia. After being stationed in Norfolk, Virginia for three months and missing several meeting, I went to their July meeting. Meetings are held at classroom 18, Blocker Hall, Virginia Wesleyan College, at 0715 pm, on the first Tuesday of every month. Fortunately I had the forethought to stuff a few things into my pockets and got there early enough to beat the crowd. This gave me about half an hour to look through my few effects and pick and practice a few of them.
I brought a small checkbook style wallet which contained eight to ten small card tricks, including a couple of variations of a three card monte, a dollar bill to card, 10 or 12 gaffed cards, two color placards which change sizes and a couple of paddle effects. I practiced two of the three card monte effects (one of my own design and one more an adult version), the size changing placards and a paddle effect. I decided I would wait and size up the audience before actually decided what to do if called upon to perform.
Once one of the fella’s arrived, an older very kind looking gentlemen who goes by the nickname of, “Musty”, all practice ceased. Then more people arrived, about 10 people showed up including a guest form upstate New York. James Johnke their President Pro temp ore, just wrote everyone’s name, including mine on the board and asked each of us to perform either a magic trick or tell a joke. Some did both or several of each. It was awesome. My name was third on the list and I had a couple of acts in front of me. Seeing a bit of nervousness in them actually quelled my jitters just a bit.
I decided on a three card monte trick where two of the cards, I suggest using summer cards, where “summer red and summer black,“ two are of one color and the center one is of the other. I also use two decks with “summer” backs, the two red cards (5D and 5H) have dark backs (typically blue) and the center card, the black card is (red backed). You ask your spectator to keep their eye on the odd card and to remember its’ face value (3 of clubs in this case). You then deal the cards face down in order, blue back, red back and blue back. Remind the spectator that, “The hands can be quicker than the eye!” Move the cards around very slowly at first and as you speed up remind the spectator to keep their eye on the 3 of clubs and not get it confused. Remember it is the only red backed card. When you stop, ask the spectator to place their finger on the 3 of clubs, ask them if they are sure. When they assure you they have it, simply snap your fingers and have them turn the card over, which has now changed before their eyes to 5 of clubs. When I looked into my spectators eyes, I saw the magic. All the fear of the performance in me was gone, and the amazed look was all the motivation I needed.
I adapted the original three card monte with the differing backs twelve years ago, and after this meeting have added the “Summer Cards,” bit; which was used by several of the performers at the meeting. Being around like minded people helps. I saw a few shaking hands, and heard a few cracked voices. It just helps to realize sometimes that everyone stresses over something, stress and anxiety are just part of life. Doesn’t matter what the cause is, it truly can be overcome. Thanks to the members and guests of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 103, I was on to my next performance within days of the meeting, which was my first performance in years.
Friday afternoon, I was in my office at Naval Station Norfolk and as I was preparing to leave I noticed a deck of cards setting innocently on someone else’s desk. I picked them up shuffled them and fanned them out and asked a young Sailor to select a card, look at it, remember it and return it somewhere into the center of the deck, which rested squared face down in my hand. I pulled a card out and said, “That isn’t your card is it?” “No,” he said. I then placed the squared deck on the table, snapped my fingers and fanned the cards out, all face down, except for one, the Ace of Diamonds, his chosen card! Who knows, Monday quarters just might be the time for my third performance in a week.