Magicians who hate magicians!

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PickaCard
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Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby PickaCard » September 1st, 2009, 10:48 pm

Richard's post about a successful mentalist who got his start as a coin magician and now apparently hates to interact with other magicians got me thinking. I already knew about Ricky Jay but how common is it for well know magicians to avoid others in the community? Are we really so annoying?

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 1st, 2009, 10:50 pm

Many working pros don't interact with the larger community of magicians. Some are simply to busy working and doing family stuff. Others just prefer not to.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Pete McCabe » September 1st, 2009, 11:05 pm

I think it depends on what you mean by community. Many performing artists hang out with performers in other fields Penn and Teller hang out with stand up comic Paul Provenza, for examplebut not so much with amateurs in their own field.

It's not that we're annoying. We're annoying, but that's not it. It's just that a professional magician and a professional comedian have more in common than a professional magician and an amateur magician.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Dustin Stinett » September 2nd, 2009, 2:19 am

I wonder how my sonwho is a film student that takes learning his craft quite seriouslywould be received by Steven Spielberg if he were to approach the famous director with an attitude of equality, familiarity, and entitlement?

I suspect not well at all.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Diego » September 2nd, 2009, 3:14 am

I remember years ago, I was at the Nevada State Fair, performing in a carnival sideshow, and one afternoon, Siegfried walked in the tent.
He was intrigued, as he had never seen before, the electric girl act or blade box illusion.
While polite and cordial, it was obvious of his regard for himself, in comparison to the venue I was performing in...Which was not unjustified...after all, HE was playing The Stardust (Hotel) and I was playing a dust lot.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Chris Deleo » September 2nd, 2009, 9:19 am

It isn't so much "magician's", but a certain pushiness, and as Dustin mentioned, an attitude of "entitlement" that most amateurs/fans seem to exude.

Im sure most of us remember the SNL skit with William Shatner telling the obsessed Trekkie to "get a life"

I think it's kind of like that

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 2nd, 2009, 9:59 am

Have a read of the posts on this BBS and scan for presuppositions, mindreading, addressing peer readers in the same manner as a lay audience...

Funny thing is most of those I've met who are focused on getting works ready to perform and props set up so they are reliable have been just fine both online and in person.

Maybe it's a magic shop thing?
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby David Alexander » September 2nd, 2009, 3:45 pm

To no small degree it is the sense that all magicians, because of the shared interest in magic, are somehow equal, part of a large family.

I can do no better than direct the interested reader to Tommy Wonder's essay "One Big Happy Family" that begins on page 61 of The Books of Wonder, Vol 2. Tommy gives a marvelous example that I will repeat here.

At a magic convention some years ago, Fred Kaps was sitting in the lobby of the convention hotel. One of the registrants stepped up to him and asked him to explain a certain trick of his. Kaps declined politely. In response this fellow said, Come on, why not? We are colleagues! Kaps laughed and said, Colleagues? Man, I am a magician. You are a gardener. We are NOT colleagues! The dismaying part of all this is that our gardener felt insulted. He thought Kaps was his brother and now Kaps wasnt living up to his brotherly duty, wasnt seeing him as his equal and giving him whatever he asked. Actually, no matter what Kaps would have said or done, he would always have been seen as rude unless, of course, he had explained the trick he had labored over so long!

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Bill Mullins » September 2nd, 2009, 4:01 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Have a read of the posts on this BBS


BBS? Reminds me of the days when I dialed up on my 19.2kbaud modem, on my 286 computer, and a Hercules graphics card.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Sebastien L. » September 2nd, 2009, 4:40 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
BBS? Reminds me of the days when I dialed up on my 19.2kbaud modem, on my 286 computer, and a Hercules graphics card.


The first thing that came to my mind was "A 19.2k modem on a 286? They aren't even from the same decade!"

The 286 was introduced in 1982 and was in use during that decade. The 14.4k modem came out in 1991. So that would have been a very old computer with a state of the art modem.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Ian Kendall » September 2nd, 2009, 4:49 pm

I had a 28k8 modem hanging off a 286 in 1994. Interestingly, if you look at the Wikipedia page for the 286 it quotes Bill Gates saying that the 286 could not run Windows. I had Win 3.1 running on the 286 with 1Mb of RAM, albeit very slowly.

"How much of a geek am I?"

I would say entry level :D

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 2nd, 2009, 6:06 pm

Let's add easily distracted to that list of things which make those who are supposedly perfecting their will seem less than congenial adults to others.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Chris Deleo » September 2nd, 2009, 7:50 pm

The Fred Kaps example hits it right on the head.

That being said, it still confuses me how someone as talented as Gary Kurtz could stop creating original material. My guess is that he still is, but only in private.

You cannot shut down the creative gene

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Dustin Stinett » September 2nd, 2009, 8:41 pm

Chris Deleo wrote:That being said, it still confuses me how someone as talented as Gary Kurtz could stop creating original material. My guess is that he still is, but only in private.

The community of the hobbyist magician is a very hungry beast. With a few exceptions, every professional magician I have ever known has made his living with less than a dozen effects in their repertoire. The average hobbyist devours ten (or more) times that amount in a years time. Not everyone can or wants to live up to that expectation of creation.

One name I could drop but won't—because goodness forbid should he be viewed as someone who has abandoned the magic community—once told me that he simply got tired of burning out good material on other magicians.

Dustin

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Chris Deleo » September 2nd, 2009, 9:09 pm

Exactly, Dustin

Hobbyist's ARE a hungry beast. As is the public, who never seem to get enough no matter how many pearls are thrown at them.

But creativity isn't a choice. Kind of like, you can run but you cannot hide.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Matt Sedlak » September 3rd, 2009, 12:45 pm

You can redirect that creativity somewhere else though.

Anyway, regarding the Kaps story:

That attitude is present in so many ways. Professionals and amateurs, technicians and performers, pretty much any way you could label someone within the magic community you will find disdain amongst those groups. It really is childish though. The magic community is so small that it is much easier to develop a reputation here than in other circles and I think that is a big reason for the feeling of self-importance that seems to prevail in magic. But in every case it is easy to point out the fallacy in the classism. Pros can speak with disdain about amateurs meanwhile they are using an idea, effect, theory, or whatever that was developed by Marlo or Vernon, amateurs. And it goes the other way as well.

I just think it is so funny how much we argue amongst ourselves about things that aren't even constructive to argue about. The majority of people involved in magic are hobbyists and the arguing seems to be strongest between them. I think it is because in the magic world they are able to be somebody whereas in everyday life they are just an everyday person. Certainly there are a lot of amateurs who are incredibly successful outside of the magic world but I tend to find those people to be among the friendliest and most helpful.

Anyway, one can only put up with so much before you realize that it just isn't worth it anymore and I think that is a reason why so many magicians "hate" other magicians.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 4th, 2009, 2:07 pm

David Alexander wrote:...
At a magic convention some years ago, Fred Kaps was sitting in the lobby of the convention hotel. One of the registrants stepped up to him and asked him to explain a certain trick of his. Kaps declined politely. In response this fellow said, Come on, why not? We are colleagues! Kaps laughed and said, Colleagues? Man, I am a magician. You are a gardener. We ...


Even if this story of boorish behavior is somehow related to real events - let's forgive Fred Kaps for his faux pas and treat it as a lesson in how not to treat those who ask for explanations. Let's also keep in mind that telling such stories tells about the teller.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 4th, 2009, 2:57 pm

Vernon was a professional magician, not an amateur.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 4th, 2009, 3:11 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Vernon was a professional magician, not an amateur.


And this means ...?

Do you think the Disney acquisiton of Marvel will generate cartoons where Minnie and Mickey help Wolverine ask She Hulk out on a date?

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 4th, 2009, 4:04 pm

Jonathan, sometimes I just have no idea what you're writing about.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby NCMarsh » September 4th, 2009, 4:44 pm

I should preface this by saying that I think magic is a wonderful hobby and I begrudge no one for enjoying it -- the house of magic has many rooms, so come on in and have fun, but please don't pee in the pool.

I can't speak to the experiences of others. For me, unfortunately, when I cross paths with a hobbyist in my working life, they're often causing a problem of some kind for me or for professionals generally.

The most frustrating for me has been seeing hobbyists leaping into professional venues for which they were unprepared. People see a lot of comedy and music, so when a comic or a singer bombs they will still come see other comics and signers. When a magician bombs, they walk away saying "I don't like magic."

I made the mistake of advertising a series of theater shows on the Genii forum last year. My client -- who had never been approached by a magician prior to me -- was suddenly inundated with solicitations from magicians (which, in and of itself, is sort of lazy and boorish) . He made the mistake of booking one. The act was un-professional and un-prepared, and bombed. The local theater critic, who had published an article announcing the show and a brief interview with the performer, received 11 letters of complaint from readers.

An unprepared, inexperienced hobbyist wanted to play magician for a day, and the result:
  • this particular booker will never book a magician without seeing the show live
  • this theater, like every theater, lives and dies on its reputation for quality -- which took a hit
  • the relationship between the theater and the paper, on which it depends for publicity, was strained
  • the reputation between the critic and her readers was strained
  • and, while my shows have been extended at the venue through Spring '10, there's no way of knowing how the negative word-of-mouth from this guy's show will affect my ticket sales.

Likewise, there is a local magic club I've been to that is in the habit of performing strolling magic at upscale restaurants for free...while they're nice people, they don't have the experience to professionally entertain...so they're setting an expectation of a.) the quality of table-side magic, and b.) the value of table-side magic in the minds of up-scale restaurant management in the area.

The same club has a "library" of duped VHS' that members can check out...guys spend their lives refining strong material, then give it to you on a platter for less than the cost of a nice dinner...and you're going to steal it from them?

I know amateur magicians who are terrific magicians and fine human beings; but when you keep bumping into this kind of behavior (and I'm sure it is a case of the squeaky wheel getting the attention) it's hard not to be a touch resentful of the group as a whole...

So, just as a thought:
  • if a magician is performing publicly in your area, rather than try to get booked yourself, why not get together a group of friends and support the show?
  • If you'd like to perform publicly, but don't have significant experience, start off with a starter venue -- a place where you can learn and grow without the pressure that comes (or ought to come) from a professional venue...there are so many organizations -- hospitals, nursing homes, etc. -- that would be ecstatic to have entertainment but cannot afford a professional...why not make their day?
  • Don't believe the hype from your magic club buddies...the real world is not populated by the people who write ring reports...take an honest and deep look at the quality of your act and the venues that are appropriate for it
  • If an accomplished performer comes to lecture in your town; please consider that the guy is sharing -- in many cases -- the secrets that feed his family; and he's doing it for a birthday party fee...don't berate him if he doesn't teach everything, and consider that the product sales are what allow him to come to your town for a fraction of a professional fee
  • Not exposing secrets, sometimes, means not exposing to other magicians...it's his/her material, s/he decides when and to whom it gets tipped
  • you don't always have to be the center of attention, when you show up to someone else's gig with your own cards you look like a tool...to everyone
  • if a performer comes to your company with a polished act of classic, laymen-focused material; it doesn't make you look any bigger to have a dismissive attitude about the performer because you are familiar with the basic secrets of the material


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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby David Alexander » September 4th, 2009, 5:24 pm

Nathan,
Well said.

Jonathan,
Read Nathan's post. He covers things well.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 4th, 2009, 5:52 pm

Let's add "offering suggestions when not asked for and phrasing them as commands" to that list. ;) :)

Keep em coming.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Brandon Hall » September 4th, 2009, 6:30 pm

David Alexander wrote:Actually, no matter what Kaps would have said or done, he would always have been seen as rude unless, of course, he had explained the trick he had labored over so long!


I respectfully disagree. There are many ways to let someone down nicely. Of course he had no obligation to be a gentleman.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby John Lovick » September 4th, 2009, 7:29 pm

I think the professtional/amateur status of the players in the Kaps anecdote is being over-emphasized. Kaps was not rude and it was not a "faux pas" as someone described it. Re-read the story. The scenario (and result) would have been essentially the same if the other magician had been a professional.

Here's what happened. Someone approached Kaps, and said (in effect): "You've got something that belongs to you that I want. Give it to me." Kaps POLITELY DECLINED. The person persisted: "Come on. Gimme. We're colleagues." Kaps stated the truth about their relationship.

If the man had been a professional, Kaps would, most likely, have still told him to get lost, and might have (justifiably) truly been rude about it.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 4th, 2009, 7:53 pm

John Lovick wrote:I think the professtional/amateur status of the players in the Kaps anecdote is being over-emphasized. Kaps was not rude and it was not a "faux pas" as someone described it. Re-read the story. The scenario (and result) would have been essentially the same if the other magician had been a professional.

Here's what happened. Someone approached Kaps, and said (in effect): "You've got something that belongs to you that I want. Give it to me." Kaps POLITELY DECLINED. The person persisted: "Come on. Gimme. We're colleagues." Kaps stated the truth about their relationship.

If the man had been a professional, Kaps would, most likely, have still told him to get lost, and might have (justifiably) truly been rude about it.


Were you there? Let's presume not for the sake of argument just for now and add: "Conjecture and projection with a goal of self justification" to that list. Makes us seem real charming group no? Just like saying "Hey if my hero can act like a boor, what's your problem?" and expecting not to get a look that hides "one more dolt to avoid at parties".

Keep em coming folks - there must be some pretty good reasons some of the nice creative folks would openly express their discomfort with our group at large. I mean they can't all be delusional paranoid egomaniacs now can they? ;) :D

**Shirley nobody here needs to be told that there are other ways to fend off such requests. One such would saying something like this: "I'm glad you liked the trick. I'm not sharing it this tour but next year I might if you remind me then - here's my card". They may just help market your next lecture tour.
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby David Alexander » September 4th, 2009, 8:42 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Let's add "offering suggestions when not asked for and phrasing them as commands" to that list. ;) :)

Keep em coming.


Thank you for proving my point...and Tommy Wonder's, too.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Nathan Muir » September 4th, 2009, 9:13 pm

David Alexander wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote:Let's add "offering suggestions when not asked for and phrasing them as commands" to that list. ;) :)

Keep em coming.


Thank you for proving my point...and Tommy Wonder's, too.


Good Lord. A subject on which I agree 110% with David Alexander. Think I'll go have a lie down.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby NCMarsh » September 4th, 2009, 9:40 pm

I think the professtional/amateur status of the players in the Kaps anecdote is being over-emphasized.


By way of seconding that, Wonder goes on in the essay to delineate a distinction between magician and "magic fan" -- which has nothing to do with pay.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Chris Deleo » September 4th, 2009, 9:50 pm

Tommy Wonder used an extreme example to prove his point: knowing a few self working tricks does not entitle a person to the secrets of a master.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 4th, 2009, 10:06 pm

Chris Deleo wrote:
Tommy Wonder used an extreme example to prove his point: knowing a few self working tricks does not entitle a person to the secrets of a master.



Entitle? Just how delusional are some folks? I mean beyond the King/Queen of Denial thing.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Chris Deleo » September 4th, 2009, 11:24 pm

folks can be mighty delusional....especially the ones who think they are entitled to something for nothing

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby NCMarsh » September 5th, 2009, 2:51 am

So, the edit function on a prior post has timed out (disabling a useful feature of the forum seems bizarre).

I was re-reading it and thought it worth adding this:

if a magician is performing publicly in your area, rather than try to get booked yourself, why not get together a group of friends and support the show? (to those who -- on the opposite end of the spectrum -- kindly and generously support live magic in your community: thank you! I know you are out there, too)
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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby erlandish » September 5th, 2009, 3:49 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Jonathan, sometimes I just have no idea what you're writing about.


Only sometimes? You got me beat.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 5th, 2009, 10:10 am

erlandish wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:Jonathan, sometimes I just have no idea what you're writing about.


Only sometimes? You got me beat.


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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Matt Sedlak » September 5th, 2009, 1:40 pm

Nathan, I certainly agree with what you said and think it is good advice to follow. However I have met hundreds of magicians, both amateur and pro and I can probably count on one hand the number who either don't agree with what you said or would have the audacity to act counter to it. Of course when that small minority act in such a way it leaves a strong and lasting impression and can cause quite a stir.

I know those people make a nice scapegoat but they aren't what is killing magic. Personally I think there is just something about magic itself, or at least the way laymen approach it. I would suspect that more people have seen a bad comedian live than have seen a magician (good or bad) live, yet those people probably still enjoy comedy. And I would be willing to bet that there are people who have only ever seen magicians we would consider to be good yet still dislike magic. But I can't really think of anyone, that I know at least, who would say that they hate comedy, even though they could probably point to comedians they dislike. I know that there must be people who genuinely dislike going to a comedy show though, just like there are people who genuinely dislike going to a magic show. I don't think that is killing comedy. Then again, perhaps this idea that people don't like magic is exaggerated, especially since whenever we meet someone who does it hits home more than if they disliked something else. I've only ever met a few people who actually hated magic. But maybe...well comedians don't usually try to give performances outside of a venue where people would go to see comedians while magicians seem to enjoy the idea of performing anywhere people are at. So a comedian is less likely to perform for someone who hates comedy than a magician is for someone who dislikes magic.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby NCMarsh » September 5th, 2009, 2:06 pm

Hi Matt,

I should be clear, I don't think anyone is "killing magic." The point of the post is that there may be reasons, beyond irrational "hate" (which is a dumb choice of word for someone who would rather not be in touch with the "community" at large), why we aren't all cheerleaders for "brotherhood" in magic.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Matt Sedlak » September 5th, 2009, 3:21 pm

Nathan, I can certainly get on board with that. Magic is such an individual thing and when it comes to those who make a living through it I can respect their wish to keep things for themselves.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Brad Henderson » September 5th, 2009, 4:03 pm

I think that the notion of "pro" versus "amateur" clouds the issue. Ramsey was a grocer, Jennings a plumber, and the list goes on. Likewise, I can think of that toolshed from Florida who was on AGT who is technically a "professional."

I think the difference really is one of attitude. There are many people who never make a dime with magic who treat it "professionally" and with respect, and there are those out there with the Magic Makers stratospheres and routines lifted from the last televised TV show who make their living doing tricks.

I feel these people are just as problematic to deal with when they interact with magicians, if not worse. Whereas the hobbyist troublemaker is often keen on just letting other people know that they are "in the club" it is the desperation of the talentless hack that leads to such nonsense as trying to pitch himself to the tradeshow booth manager while the magician has his back turned.

I don't think it has anything to do with how one makes their living, but with what type of person they are.

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Re: Magicians who hate magicians!

Postby Bill McFadden » September 5th, 2009, 5:06 pm

Fascinating topic and a great discussion. I immediately remembered something Max Maven said (in the Genii, Nov. '07 profile by Jim Steinmeyer) with respect to having encountered Dunninger in Al Flosso's shop: "No, I didn't say hello. . .I couldn't figure out why he should want to meet me, the justification."

Who enjoys being bugged, especially in public? My hunch is that guy was bugging Kaps to the point where a request to buzz off became his only option.

This thread is also a welcome reminder that no matter how I view my progress in magic, good manners are to be observed - whether in public arena or on forums such as this. Good manners, and a sense of humility (defined loosely as knowing and accepting one's place in the world) are necessary elements toward success - personally and professionally. So I need to remind myself that getting too big for one's britches will only keep me in short pants. Fewer, if any, people get bugged that way.

The gig poaching issue is something I only read or hear about. Scumbag territory for sure. I often wonder why talent buyers would even give them a hearing.


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