As explained in my last post this is a method I have never used at a trade show. I think it may be a little flamboyant and it is rarely necessary anyway since it is not particularly difficult to draw a crowd at a trade show with the other methods I have already described.
However, I have certainly used it a lot when I used to sell trick decks of cards in fairs, consumer shows, department stores and other venues, both indoor and outdoors. It was generally used when there was little traffic around. Of course in this situation I would always have a lot of decks of cards on display ( I was selling them after all!) which of course is a requirement for this method.
I have a penetrating voice which, when combined with the following procedure, can make a crowd appear like magic out of nowhere, no matter how dead the venue is.
This system works better indoors because the voice carries better. While the following patter is going on, I am stacking the cased decks in a pile in my hand in a criss-cross fashion until there are too many to balance like this. I can usually get up to about a dozen in a criss-cross tower-like formation before they start to sway precariously and I have to steady them with both hands.
This “tower” draws attention and helps gather the crowd.
“All right now here we go again, the famous magic cards! For those of you that didn’t have the great honour, and the great privilege, and the great pleasure of seeing me demonstrate this, I am going to consider showing you now.
Now in a few seconds, a very few seconds you are going to see the most fantastic card trick you have ever seen in your life. And I mean that. I do. I’m not exaggerating!
Now whenever I demonstrate this, someone always says that the pack I am using is not the same as the one that I am selling. So to show you that it’s honest, to show you that it’s genuine, this is what we’ll do.”
At this point quite a few people will have gathered out of nowhere, yet they have not moved in close yet. However, I need to build the crowd still further before I start the actual pitch. By now the stack of cards is at its height and will be balanced rather precariously.
Now comes a very important part of drawing in more people. I think it can be adapted somehow for anyone that wants to build a crowd. Counting out loud, for some weird reason, draws people. If a street magician were to find some excuse to count “One, two, three…” up to, say 10, with pauses between each number, many people will crawl out of nowhere to see why he is counting. He has to count very loud, though.
I throw a deck down on the table as I count. I will remove any softness on the table temporarily such as a close up mat because I want the crowd to hear the noise each deck makes as it slams onto the table. I take each deck one by one from the top of the stack I am holding.
“Now here’s number one! Here’s number two! Number three! Here’s number four! Number five! Number six! Number seven! Number eight!”
By now a massive crowd will have arrived but they still haven’t moved in close enough. At this point I will throw whatever card decks are left in the tower onto the table in a great untidy mess and say, “ I don’t know how many there are! Which one are we going to use? Point to one, please!”
The spectator complies.
A very large crowd has now gathered. However they have to be pulled in and controlled. Here is how it is done: “Now I ask you all to do me two favours before we start the demonstration. Favour number one is very, very important. Can you all move in to the table as close as you possibly can? That’s it. If you move your legs forward you will find that your body will follow automatically. Take your time but hurry up. That’s it sir, one foot after the other. It’s known as walking. You’re very slow dear; do you work for the post office?”
The crowd is now packed in as tightly as possible to the table with no gaps. I should mention that it is essential for a Svengali pitchman to have the crowds tight against the table so that they cannot escape.
A pitchman does not allow anyone to walk away if he can help it. They can disrupt a tight crowd. If one person walks away it other people will tend to follow suit.
Here is how I handle it.
“Favour number two is also very important. I don’t mind if you don’t buy anything. That is your privilege. What you do with your money is your own affair. But whatever you do please do not walk away in the middle of my demonstration. When one person walks away everybody walks away. Wait till I finish. Don’t worry; I won’t be more than an hour and a half!”
The last sentence is a joke to take the sting out of the fact that you have given them orders.
The crowd is now ripe for the picking. Like a stage hypnotist giving initial suggestions and getting people to obey, the same psychology exists here. If they do as they are told at the beginning, they may well do as they are told at the end. What are they told at the end? To get their money out, of course.
Again, I have never used this as a trade show magician for various reason already explained and of course I don’t have all the decks of cards on hand to stack them up as described. Still, there it is for what it is worth.