Reactions to the Blaine article in the Times?

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/19/02 08:41 PM

Please voice your opinion on the David Blaine article "Making a Spectacle of Himself" by Glen David Gold that appeared in the Sunday New York Times magazine section.
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Postby Alain Roy » 05/20/02 09:02 AM

It was a fairly well written article.

I found the description of the bill switch for the homeless guy to be very interesting. Although it won't solve the homeless guys problems, it was an interesting gesture. Applied magic, so to speak.

I wonder what other sorts of applied magic we could do, to have a meaningful impact on people around us.

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Postby Guest » 05/20/02 10:13 AM

I thought the article was quite fair and was clearly enriched by the author's lurking on this forum!
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Postby Brian Morton » 05/20/02 11:14 AM

Speaking of lurking on this forum, I thought I'd bring something up, since my quote in the piece came directly from here in a post I made back in April.

I was contacted by Mr. Gold and he asked if I'd be okay with the use of my line about Blaine's cultivation of messianic affectations and stud-double (since I originally wrote this, I guess I don't need to use quotation marks), as he liked the phrase and thought it fit into the article.

I was initially troubled, as I thought talking in public about a double-lift would be "exposing a method." However, I told him that as long as this was bereft of context -- what's being "double-lifted?" -- I was okay with it. Although another GENII writer and good friend of mine thought it was "inappropriate."

I was later amused to find out my quote followed that of the Chief Genii, opining on Blaine's double-lift.

One final note: in the article, Richard is quoted discussing Blaine's technique from the standpoint of Blaine's first TV special. And I agree: back then, Blaine's technique was terrible. And camera shots were deliberately aimed and shots were selected in editing to hide his technical failures.

That special originally aired in 1997.

However, when I made my comment about his double lift, I was making it from the context of someone who saw him live, working for real people, on the corner of 42nd and 5th Avenue at about 6:15 on Friday, April 12th, 2002. One month, one week and one day ago from this posting, for those keeping track.

And from what I saw that day, his stud-double is, I repeat, pretty damned good. Better than some magicians I've seen at the Castle who have won awards there for performing in the various rooms.

It is obvious that Blaine cares very much about how he perceived by the magic intelligensia at least, judging from his reactions to Max's comments. And from my view, he's put in some work on his skills. But on that you can judge for yourself on Wednesday night.

I don't dislike him, but as for magical role models, if asked, I could think of much better skilled and more entertaining than David Blaine.

brian :cool:
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Postby walkinoats » 05/20/02 11:19 AM

I enjoyed reading the article.

Would anyone like to answer the question that was asked in the article "The complaint among Blaine's peers is that his magic is ordinary, so why does he get to be so rich and famous?

My answer to this question is that ABC enjoyed that first tape that David sent in. I guess because close up street magic was different from the usual stage magic which most lay people have seen. And those "stunts" David has performed got him the publicity he needed to make people watch his show. Plus that levitation trick seemed to make him popular. Overall he presented magic which was new to a lot of people, performed in your face, and the stunts that he did in New York City got the name David Blaine to be well known.

I admire the magicians who are not rich and famous at least by the public's eye, the ones who laymen have never heard of, AKA the magic underground.

P.S.

Richard, is his double lift really that bad? When I first saw it, I was impressed.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 05/20/02 11:35 AM

Originally posted by walkinoats:
Would anyone like to answer the question that was asked in the article "The complaint among Blaine's peers is that his magic is ordinary, so why does he get to be so rich and famous?
Why? Simple. He's put in the work to become rich and famous. He knows the right people, he knows how to sell himself, and most importantly, he knows how to captivate his audience.

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/20/02 01:09 PM

I have not seen the article, but in the early '50s we used to switch coins as we gave them to panhandlers. Show a 50 cent piece and when the dude opens his hand it's a nickle! :D

Hey, he was five cents ahead!
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 05/20/02 08:54 PM

We can all see that Pete Biro is a cruel man.
As for Blaine's Double Lift, yes, I thought it stank to high hell. It looked exactly like mine looked when I was 12, before I met other magicians who showed me how to do it.
I bought the new DVD and watched Blaine's third special (the second version of it) the other night. It was stinkingly awful: every trick involved putting prepared objects into the hands of either stooges or laymen, or doing tricks that could NOT be done in real life.
His sleight of hand has improved somewhat over the last four or five years, but his ability to present magic has not improved one iota.
He is the anti-christ of magic in that his performance is the antithesis of every single thing we know to be good in magic. There are lots of other instances in popular culture when people of little discernable talent become famous ... frankly, I've given up trying to figure it out!
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Postby Guest » 05/21/02 07:52 AM

I thought it was a good article. Max's quote was very funny - and perfect, "In response to Blaine's idea that through his stunts, suffering brings transcendence, Max says: ''Climbing Mount Everest brings transcendence. Going on the Matterhorn at Disneyland does not.''

The effect where David asked the journalist to think of a card...well, that was the effect he did for me as well. He used the same patter and everything, so he is definitely "performing" and is scripted, to a degree. And, he completely fooled me. I had the same reaction the writer did, "Holy ---!"
:eek:
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Postby Josh Mandel » 05/21/02 11:23 AM

The article left me feeling only pity for Blaine. He came off as a man achingly desperate for attention and completely reliant on a constant stream of adulation. He is the embodiment of the actor who, in his heart, believes he's only as good as his last audition, and thus must audition constantly to reassure himself.

Despite the celebrity pals, the cameras, and the publicity, he struck me as a wholly lonely, unhappy, pathetic individual for whom peace of mind does not come from within and cannot last for more than a moment.

--Josh
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Postby Mitch Praver » 05/21/02 01:43 PM

Originally posted by KBeriss:
The effect where David asked the journalist to think of a card...well, that was the effect he did for me as well. He used the same patter and everything, so he is definitely "performing" and is scripted, to a degree. And, he completely fooled me. I had the same reaction the writer did, "Holy ---!"
:eek: [/QB]
Karen,

Just based on the article's description (and now yours), I'm wondering if Blaine's method is the one offered by Dai Vernon in the video series, Dai Vernon: An Interview 1974. It's the section in which the Professor is discussing the psychology of magic and understanding the character and the mind of the audience member.

Without going into too much detail, Vernon's idea was to, subliminally, force the mental selection of a card through a method of suggestion (exposure) during the preceding effects.

Did Blaine show you any other effects prior to that one? If so, do you recall how many/which ones?

Mitch
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Postby Guest » 05/22/02 11:40 AM

Huh! I am quite interested in seeing the Vernon interview now. David did do other magic for me that evening, as well as for a few other folks. Unfortunately it was a few years ago and since I can barely remember what happened this morning, I'll never remember the other tricks he did. Sorry - I really wish I could remember now. :(
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Postby ashburner » 06/23/11 04:19 AM

Everybody should just relax. The average layman does not know the skill level of a magician. We can all see little nuances that need fixing but as long as the double stays in register and the cards dont spread the effect in the eyes of the lay person stay the same. Only magicians obsess over tiny details. Don't get me wrong it's good to continually try improve moves and iron out weaknesses; it's what separates the best from the rest. Blaine is a showman. He contrived a guru like character with Paul Harris and peoples interest in magic was stoked again. All I heard after his first t.v. special was "did you see that guy on t.v. who levitated on the streets? Is he for real?"
His presentation of magic leaves a scope of 'what if' in peoples minds. He has done more good for magic than harm.
So what if his classic force; double lift; riffle force; mercury fold etc. is not of the so called 'high standard' that most magicians come to expect. The effect remained the same and no secrets were betrayed.
Most magicians when a new gimmick comes out say "why didn't I think of that?"
It's the same with Blaine. Magicians that have had their f*****g coin collecting dust in their drawer for over ten years are upset because he didn't put it in a bottle. He used it for something alot simpler; so what? His switch at the end was not what I would call great; so what? Are his stunts Magic? NO! but people love the strange and bizarre. You might not be able to learn sleights from him but you could take a page out of his book about showmanship; presentation and marketing.
Houdini made his name getting out of the box; Blaine made his name staying in it.
Much love and peace.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 06/23/11 12:11 PM

ashburner: this thread is nine years old! I think most people's opinion of Blaine has changed since then. Mine certainly has.
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