Breaking the Magician’s Code

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Tom Frame » 10/02/08 10:00 AM

Oh crap. Here we go again. Breaking the Magicians Code: Magics Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed premieres tonight at 9/8c on MyNetwork TV. To find out what channel MyNetwork airs in your area, go to: http://www.mynetworktv.com/stations.php
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/08 10:11 AM

Last edited by Jonathan Townsend on 10/02/08 10:14 AM, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: lurid... but sassy
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Postby Magic Newswire » 10/02/08 10:31 AM

I tend to agree with Eugene Burger's comments in our interview with him. There is more meaningful exposure in the improper performance of magic than was ever contained in these specials. In spite of that, it is worth noting that the show referenced here is an all new weekly show one hour in length, not reruns of the original. You can see a video clip HERE
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Postby Dick Christian » 10/02/08 10:50 AM

In addition to agreeing with Burger, I believe that few people (other than magicians) actually watch such shows and those who do will forget the "secrets" within 24 hours. In any event, the number watching tonight is likely to be even fewer than usual as it will be competing with the VP Candidates Debate.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/02/08 12:28 PM

What the heck is My Network? How many people watch it? 12?
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Postby Magic Newswire » 10/02/08 12:33 PM

MyNetwork is one of those that sell programming. Here in Atlanta, the programming is shown on the same channel that shows (not surprisingly) Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Jeopary, & Wheel of Fortune. Tonight's "preview" is is preceded by "Wrestle Mania" and followed by reruns of "Friends", "That 70's Show" and local news.
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Postby Gord » 10/02/08 01:31 PM

Featuring the WWE Divas
I am so there.

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Postby John B. Pyka » 10/02/08 01:34 PM

MY TV netork - the former UPN. The show is called Magic's Biggest Secrets revealed and co-stars WWE Divas Eve And Michelle. This one follows the broadcast premiere of Wrestlemania 24, and will be promo'd through that show to capture a lot of viewers.

FYI...
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Postby Irving Quant » 10/02/08 01:47 PM

This is great for me! I hope EVERYONE finds out about this show and watches it. You know why? Because the more they see that this type of magic is just a bunch of boxes with some showmanship (the showmanship not to be taken lightly) they are more optimistic about hiring me, a sleight-of-hand guy. Don't believe this happens? It already is suckas! People have been calling my agent requesting sleigh-of-hand and close-up stuff than the big boxes. For all I care, he could even reveal the close-up stuff. People still will hire me to see it live, to see somebody who is actually able to do this stuff. So...let it air :)

Though luck for Criss Angel...


Something else that I would like to mention: Magic is not about tricks. People should want to come to your show because of you. THIS is the new approach to magic, magic that is based on the performer and not the strength of the magic effect.
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Postby Travis » 10/02/08 02:48 PM

Irving Quant wrote:Something else that I would like to mention: Magic is not about tricks. People should want to come to your show because of you. THIS is the new approach to magic, magic that is based on the performer and not the strength of the magic effect.


I can't tell you how sick I am of hearing this. Yes, performance is very important, but this notion that the strength of an effect is insignificant is preposterous. There absolutely are bad tricks (see Jim Steinmeyer's new set of lecture notes for an excellent discourse on this topic) and, as a MAGICIAN, one should choose material that is magical and strong. If the strength of the effects don't matter and only the personality of the performer does, then, for Pete's sake, don't be a magician. Be a Personalitian and do a show where you simply stand (or sit) and let your wonderful personality wash over the audience.

Apply this "logic" to other art forms and see how it sounds (answer = ridiculous):
Comedy - People should come to your show to see YOU, it doesn't matter if your jokes are funny.
Singing and/or dancing - It doesn't matter if your songs or dance routines are mediocre, they just want to see YOU
Painting - All that matters is your personality. Your paintings can suck, as long as they remember YOU.

Sorry for the soapbox, but this drives me nuts. Frankly, too many magicians let their overbearing personalities get in the way of the magic and step all over what might have been a truly astonishing experience.

Read Tommy Wonder. He speaks the truth.
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Postby John B. Pyka » 10/02/08 02:55 PM

I agree with the theory stated that the performance is about the performer. In answer to your questions...


Comedy - People should come to your show to see YOU, it doesn't matter if your jokes are funny. - Jeanine Garofolo isn't funny, she's controverial.
Singing and/or dancing - It doesn't matter if your songs or dance routines are mediocre, they just want to see YOU - Uh ever heard of William Hung?
Painting - All that matters is your personality. Your paintings can suck, as long as they remember YOU. - The success of Picasso, Dali & Warhol is amlost certainly tied to their very colorful personalities
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Postby Travis » 10/02/08 03:18 PM

Allow me to clarify. I am not saying that a performer's personality has no place whatsoever (read the first half of the second sentence of my original post). Of course, it's important. It is this popular idea that it is the ONLY thing that matters that bothers me. I hear it all the time: "There's no such thing as a bad trick, only bad performers." [censored]. There are plenty of bad tricks. Just plain bad.

And I stand by what I said before; many magicians let their personalities actually hinder the magic at times.

Regarding my examples, I realize that art appreciation is subjective. What one finds funny, another will not, etc. However I am making a general point here.

So, to respond. I think that Jeanine Garofolo is often very funny as well as being controversial. But, she's saying something. She has a point of view. She's not just smiling at the audience and trying to make sure they like her regardless of the material.
William Hung is not a good example. He's a novelty act. People will watch train wrecks. They simply will. It does not mean that it's good. I am not slamming Hung, so please do not take offense. William Hung is an everyman and people cheer him on. People get behind that kind of lack of inhibition. They see themselves and wish that they could do it. I think this is a very different scenario from what we are talking about.
As for Picasso, Dali, and Warhol, certainly they were colorful and it added to their legacy, but I would hardly call their work mediocre. Of the three, I'd say Warhol was pushing it at times, though.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/08 04:14 PM

Is this going towards the zsa zsa/eva gabor school of celebrity where just having a pack of cards and saying "whodini" every now and then suffices to bill oneself as a magician?

Whatever happened to the notion of actually leaving them astonished/astounded with the apparently impossible feats performed live and in person?
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Postby David Thomas » 10/02/08 07:05 PM

Whatever happened to the notion of actually leaving them astonished/astounded with the apparently impossible feats performed live and in person?


Exactly, Jonathan (or Travis)!!!! Material first, presentation second. Can't someone entertain someone else with pure astonishment combined with a bit of smooth presentation? Just my 2 cents.

No one I know gets "my network" and neither do I so hopefully it won't be too popular, and there's already a debate on around the same time I believe...good thing they don't reveal things average magicians actually do...what a shame, it is a big insult to Copperfield and the big names on TV.
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Postby Travis » 10/02/08 07:24 PM

Not to steal Jonathan's thunder or anything, David, but I believe he was echoing and supporting my comments.

Render unto Caesar... :)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/02/08 07:30 PM

thunder? who me? nah

channel 9 in NY area - what was WOR or UPN
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Postby Paul Q » 10/02/08 07:53 PM

The MyNetwork also airs on various local affiliates. It will be on our (Temple TX) FOX station tonight but because of the debate it will air at a later time. (11:30 pm.) From reading the press release on the series they say they will expose over 120 effects over the run of the show including "Flying", Train Vanish, (Copperfield) Car appearance, Wood Chipper Escape, Walking On Water, (Criss Angel).

I will make a prediction, when Criss is asked about various trick exposures he will reply "They got the method all wrong!"

You don't have to be a mentalist to see that coming.

btw Looks like they have the same smug voice-over guy.
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 10/02/08 10:01 PM

Its over. Looks like tonight was Copperfield on display!1
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Postby Greg Phillips » 10/02/08 10:06 PM

It listed Val Valentino as Producer.
Didn't appear to be Valentino.
Though I am not sure about that.
But this episode consisted of
Buzz Saw/Z-Table Base
Cut and Restored Rope (extra l--p)
De Kolta Chair/Base
Dental Dam
Car Switch-Bentley to Lamborghini (TV Only!)
Floating a Soda Can (TT)
Vanishing a String Quartet (Elevated Rot--ing Platform)
Cap in Bottle Penetration (PK)
Walking Thru a Famous Wall-the Great Wall (Steel Cargo Containers)
Next week...CA
He's Funbelievable!
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Postby David Thomas » 10/02/08 11:05 PM

Cut and restored rope? Really? That's too bad.... :(
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Postby John Signa » 10/03/08 01:46 AM

He may not have been Val, but he certainly wasn't a hand model either. Hands were certainly beat up with dirty fingernails, ugh.
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Postby Pepka » 10/03/08 02:04 AM

I completely forgot this was on. I really do understand what Irving was talking about. As someone who performs primarily close-up, I get all kinds of compliments after one of these specials air. "Wow, they showed how all the big boxes and stuff work on TV and I realize how stupid it is. But I have no idea how you got my card to the top of the deck!" Even if some close-up stuff is exposed, there are dozens and dozens of methods which cancel each other out. Not always that easy with illusions, especially when you're paying the big $ for each prop. Also, don't they usually INVENT some of the methods for these things? I remember one with a disappearing elephant in a cage that used little tiny mirrors between the bars. There was also one where Psycho-Kinetic time was exposed, but instead of the real method, it was a hold-out type device that did the dirty work. Gimme a break!
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Postby Travis » 10/03/08 02:37 AM

Well, the mirrors between the cage slats on the elephant vanish is in fact a very old and real idea which was used by Howard Thurston to make a car disappear onstage. The car was not in a cage, but rather driven behind two slatted walls (more like a large fence) which formed a "V". It was based on Tobin's Sphinx illusion and was developed by Charles Morritt.

On the subject of "all the big boxes and stuff", I find it unusual that a layperson describes it as "stupid". Is that truly the word they used? I assume you're paraphrasing as you're referring to many people at once and certainly they did not all say the same thing.

Close-up has been the type of magic I've performed most, both in my private and professional life, but I also perform illusions and I love them. I love magic of all kinds. I am bothered when I hear magicians describe illusions as stupid, or act as though using props is beneath them somehow.

When audiences come to a stage show, they expect and look forward to seeing something. And illusions are not stupid. They can be wonderful and astonishing, just as close-up can be. Audiences appreciate and enjoy a well-executed illusion that mystifies them.

The exposure of our mysteries, large or small, hurts all of us.
To quote the newly-discovered book, De viribus quantitatis (written in the 15th century and discussed in a separate thread on this forum) "the more secret things are, the more beautiful they are".

We should all take those words to heart.
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Postby Irving Quant » 10/03/08 08:04 AM

I agree with you Travis. I believe that first I assumed that everyone in this forum already knew that there are bad tricks out there that shouldn't be performed. That everyone already understood your argument and would get mine. However, what I was going to is the current standard of "hot magic". The clear example is Blaine vs Angel. Angel does the over-the-top (not good also) magic, while Blaine did the "Simple" magic. This range is where I was referring to, not about going all the way to the bottom of the barrel and start doing crappy magic.

Then again...I could take a crappy magic trick and turn it into a great piece...But that's just because I'm arrogant :)(this is a joke in case everyone is on an uptight mood today)
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Postby Tim Ellis » 10/03/08 10:39 AM

David Thomas wrote:Cut and restored rope? Really? That's too bad.... :(


So I assume that's the only trick that directly affects you...

This series will expose virtually the entire magic catalogue, and will affect everyone.

Who cares what network it's on, I'm really cheesed off that the series got made in the first place. I think it's absolutely hopeless that magicians have no way of protecting their secrets, and even worse to think there are magicians like Val Valentino who would rather expose other people's creations to get famous than try to make a name for himself by performing.

Val might have his moment in the sun, but he'll be remembered in a very different light to someone like Tommy Wonder.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/03/08 10:54 AM

Remembered? No laymen will ever remember Tommy Wonder.

Valentino's Masked Magician character will be remembered by millions.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 10/03/08 12:04 PM

Don't think Tim was referring to laymen remembering Tommy
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Postby John Sturk » 10/03/08 12:06 PM

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Postby Magic Newswire » 10/03/08 12:26 PM

I'd forgotten all about that video.. Hah!!
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Postby Magic Newswire » 10/03/08 01:53 PM

Billy sent us some background on the clip. Very funny!
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Postby Irving Quant » 10/03/08 03:28 PM

I am going to assume that the only people that are pissed off at this are the stage guys. Magic is not vulnerable, just stage magic. Don't know about you, but I am going to enjoy the show instead of scorning it.
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Postby Jim Riser » 10/03/08 04:07 PM

This post will be a little disjointed - a series of random thoughts . . .

The construction of the illusions used in this show is interesting. The quality of workmanship ranges from crude to not too bad. At least all wannabee illusion builders now know that it is not necessary to waste materials and time on putting backs on your illusions!

Within the magic community there are many little factions - each with its own special interests. These little groups are not very accepting of others who may think differently or perform differently or even perform at all. Perhaps Val and his ilk could not find a group accepting of them. So to get revenge on the magic community for this rejection they decided to expose. Or possibly they were lousy performers who could not earn a living performing and figured such programs would substitute for skill and experience. Hell, I'm still trying to figure out why anyone would hire the narrator and writers for the series. Their work is as awful as the magic performances.

The magic community might do well to ask themselves what they have done to create an environment in which such a series might exist. Many who are attracted to magic are drawn to it because they think it will "make them the life of the party". After all, many ads claim this. Perhaps feeling the disappointment of not becoming socially acceptable, such individuals turn to the dark side.

This series is certainly doing no good for magic. Exposing principles is worse than the methods.

It seems to me that the only way to stop these shows would be to resort to illegal methods and none of us would condone such behavior.

I'm certainly glad that I am not trouping with an illusion show at this time. Exposing the Vanishing Lady - damn shame.

My guess is that things will get worse as the series continues. If you have a big show, you are a target for items to expose.

There goes my vanishing quartet illusion.

From past experience we have learned that writing sponsors and networks is a waste of time. Apparently no one in control of things cares.

It would do all well to determine what within the magic community needs to be changed to prevent people from feeling that they need to participate in such a show. We are obviously attracting a few individuals who can ruin it for all. Do we need to be more selective as to who is let into the community? If so, how can this be policed?

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Postby mai-ling » 10/03/08 04:21 PM

i think fox owns my network.
its mainly syndicated TV.

in the chicago market
ch 32 (WFLD) and 50 (WPWR)
are My Network TV stations.

WFLD is a Fox station here.

My network also aired
The World Magic Awards
you will remember my name
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world's youngest illusionista

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Postby David Thomas » 10/03/08 06:47 PM

Sorry Tim, I meant average magicians everywhere and many magicians that I know that do cut and restored rope, not only myself, it's just it's such a widely known trick to all magicians so it affects many, not just myself.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/03/08 06:58 PM

again... Slydini :(

Was Mitch Pileggi the narrator again?
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Postby chipper » 10/03/08 08:36 PM

It's a shame that people like Valentino enjoy tearing down instead of building up. Not only is there zero respect for some of the secrets of magic, there is also ZERO respect to regard it as an artform. Every description on the show is done with total disdain, as if magicians are "ripping off" their audiences instead of creating a visual illusion.

Exposure shows that target con artists make sense. They're done to actually protect people from losing their money, etc. What exactly are the Valentino shows protecting us from?

On a less serious note, why don't we put together an exposure series on everything else out there? Celebrities who wear girdles, Tom Cruise wearing platform shoes so he appears taller, an x-ray showing Pamela Anderson's fake boobs, and many many more. This would be just as stupid as Valentino's program. Lame, totally uncreative and unnecessary.

Hey, how's this idea: Every time we happen to see Valentino on the street, we "accidentally" kick him in the B*lls. Make sure someone is taping it, and we'll at least have a good chance of winning $100,000.00 on America's Funniest Videos.

And yes, Jonathan, Mitch Peleggi was the narrator again. Too bad he can't find legit acting work that he actually had to take this job on.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/03/08 11:46 PM

Chipper, folks,

IMHO there are "better" things to expose which affect many more people. But what would that make us if were did so? And would doing so make our audiences any happier?

Just wondering,

Jon
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Postby chipper » 10/04/08 05:53 AM

That's exactly my point. I wonder out loud how Valentino justifies what he is doing. Is it the "Since I'm not performing anymore, why not?" attitude? Or the "No one has done this before, and since someone out there is bound to do it at some point, why shouldn't I cash in on it?"

It's sad. He's sad.
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Postby Kenardo » 10/04/08 02:41 PM

Everybody has secrets. Would it not be interesting if private personal secrets of the producers and stars of these type of magic exposure shows were sought and discovered by professional investigators and then revealed? Obviously these producers and stars do not mind revealing secrets that can hurt others; it would be interesting to see their reactions if they found themselves on the other end of the stick.
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Postby Paul Q » 10/04/08 05:13 PM

Unfortunately this is the brave new world we live in...instant, worldwide exposure. I'm not sure what we can do about it other than work on our presentations, get as creative as we can, and be entertaining.

Now if he exposes the Hooker Card Rise.......that's when we form a posse!
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