Doug Henning for our times?

Discuss the historical aspects of magic, including memories, or favorite stories.

Postby Curtis Kam » 11/30/01 05:49 PM

This came up in conversation the other day, and although I've read things that came close, I have never heard it put this way. Anyways, I thought it might be an ineresting topic for discussion. (Please move it to a more appropriate catagory if necessary

Agree or disagree:

"Doug Henning was to Mark Wilson as David Blaine is to David Copperfield"
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Postby Terry » 11/30/01 07:58 PM

Mark Wilson's era was the 60's/70's and Doug Henning updated magic into the 70's/80's. Both were accomplished illusionists who carried their respective times. David Copperfield took illusion to the next level from Doug. David Blaine strikes me primarily as a close up person. There can't be a direct comparison. The proof is if David Blaine can last/adapt for 20 years on TV as Copperfield has. My 2 cents worth. :)
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Postby Bill Duncan » 11/30/01 10:04 PM

The statement, without qualifying why the associations are made, is meaningless. I assume you're looking to others to determine what makes the statement true (or false) and justify their assessment? That's what we used to call a trick question. How appropriate here.

My first assessment of this is based on hairstyles so sure... I agree.

My second is based on my presumption about personality based on the character I see on the TV screen so no. I disagree.

How about:
"Steve Alan was to Jack Parr as Jay Leno is to Johnny Carson"

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Postby Curtis Kam » 12/01/01 04:30 PM

Sorry, for those of you who weren't there, (everyone)I suppose I should fill in some of the blanks. The comparison is made from the perspective of the lay audience, with the emphasis being on the impact each magician has had on the public's perception of what magic is.

A related question was, "if each of these magicians were the most popular representatives of magic at their given moments, what does that say about society in general, and what society expects from magicians?"

And, "was the success of the immediate predecessor necessary to each subsequent performer?" Or does the expression, "this is not your father's magic guy" have any meaning for the lay public?

I would suggest that it is possible to compare Mr. Blaine to any stage illusionist, since they're all the same size on your television. In fact, the public's apparent fascination with close-up magic does, I suggest, say significant things about people today, and their desire to get past the hype and spin, and see things that are "real".

And as for Bill's "tonight show" comparison, I suppose the theme is "guys who did or didn't like Harry Lorrayne"?
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 12/01/01 05:40 PM

The question as to what constitutes "influence" should not be confused with other kinds of innovations and contributions various celebrity magicians have given us. David Blaine, to date, works in a couple of venues that are,relatively and comparably speaking, odd. He has yet to work in other venues besides televised street-magic and televised endurance stunts.

Also, consider this: Uri Geller's fame and influence has been enormous, yet there has never been a Uri Geller Special or Uri Geller Stage Show. He has not starred in his own television series and he has not been on Broadway. Yes, he has appeared on television and radio and other forms of media, but he is difficult to categorize. He is also more well-known than almot any psychic-mentalist with the possible exception of Kreskin.

Although it's an oversimplification to say so, perhaps this phrase applies to Blaine and Geller:

It's not what you do; it's what they think you do.

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Postby Larry Horowitz » 12/01/01 08:04 PM

Is the question is David Blaine the next step in the generational process?
Where as Mark Wilson may not have reached into the counter culture youth of the late 60's and 70's. He dress and manner may have made some consider him to old fashioned in style. Thus an opening for a Doug Henning style.

I believe that David Copperfield is still crossing all generational lines. He's been on the go for quite awhile, but yet he is still relatively young. The shows he creates are also on the cutting edge of stage illusion and television shows. What with the regular output from his media handlers and his "romances" with models, he does not leave the kind of opening for Blaine as there was for Henning.

No question Blaine has a unique style, but it is one of mystery, Henning's was one of
joy. I think people will eventually tire of unanswered mystery, but never of joy.

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Postby Bill Duncan » 12/01/01 09:46 PM

One of the many things I considered after Curtis' first post is the old saw that audiences like to think a gentleman has fooled them. Clearly the popularity of most celebrities is based on how much the general public likes them (whatever that means).

I think that audiences genuinely like or liked Wilson, Henning and possibly even Copperfield. I wonder how much lay people like Mr. Blaine?
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Postby Terry » 12/02/01 05:56 AM

"I think that audiences genuinely like or liked Wilson, Henning and possibly even
Copperfield. I wonder how much lay people like Mr. Blaine?"

I would wonder if lay people even remember Blaine. Longevity is the standard for memory and if Blaine doesn't adapt/change with the trends, he will be another passing fad. Copperfield or his people have the foresight to make the transition to keep him in the spotlight without one over-hyped stunt to carry the whole show.
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Postby Guest » 12/02/01 11:52 AM

Hello Terry, you pose an interesting question as to how much laymen like Blain. I think they like him quite a bit; I say this because he is mentioned so often by laymen while I perform for them in restaurants. I hear his name often but others I do not hear so much. IMO this is understandable due to what Blain is doing; Blain is performing some of the best magic there is for laymen on the street. Thinking about it, how often do performers tire of sponge balls for example? Many of us may at times become sick of them but my faith in the power of the routine & the magic possible with them is enhanced each time I perform them for people. I imagine you have the same experience as do other close up performers. My point is that so few witness close up magic, performed by a competent performer. Blaine took super routines and showed them to millions. Blaine was intelligent enough to realize the huge power of classic close up and share it with millions of people, such a simple idea which has paid off so well. Millions have witnessed strange boxes on stage while watching a t.v. magic special but before Blaine, how many had actually seen someone push a cigarette through a borrowed quarter while walking around the streets? How long will Blaine last, who knows. I wont comment on that but I'm happy that Blaine has shown so many the wonders of close up. I wish I had been smart enough to beat Blaine to it. I was not so I'll respect his accomplishments and wish him continued success.

Postby Pete McCabe » 12/03/01 12:25 AM


David Blaine is to David Copperfield
Uri Geller is to Doug Henning

Blaine's identity is that he really has magical powers. Copperfield and Henning's identity was "the world's greatest magician", i.e. an actor who portrays people with magical powers.
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Postby Terry » 12/03/01 08:14 AM

Robin & Pete,

You both make good points. Blaine is a TV creation. The test would be him performing for people without extensive editing to make him look more impressive. I know that DC edits his material for TV, but his show is done live nightly for weeks prior to filming to work out the kinks.

The discussion is basically comparing apples & oranges. I enjoyed Blaine's first special, but I switched back & forth between channels on the second. The second just was not impressive. The over-hyped "will he make it or die" TV hystronics almost make you want to put the spokesman in the ice or buried alive to shut them up. :D
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