So, How was MAGIC Live?

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby MaxNY » 08/25/11 12:39 AM

I don't think Johnny mentioned anything about a book.

Master Payne was one of many highlights. He had great barbs while a visual power point presentation kept us all laughing at ourselves.

The Film Festival was a huge hit. 8 or 9 films were shown, they all were shot by very talented magicians. Some films may be viewed on the Magic Live after Midnight news reels. The winner was "The Magician's Wife" and can be viewed on the evening news reels. Williamson put together his own film, about having to sit through viewing these...of course his piece was the best. I believe parodies are easy today, I was hoping a serious film would have won...like mine (see other thread under Buzz).

"Divided We Stand" was a real treat. David Charvet as Harry Blackstone Jr. was too eerie. About a hundred guys had to stop him in the halls, just to hear his Blackstone voice. The hairs on the back of my neck rose up. He spent some time talking about how he insisted that 2 of Blackstone's original helpers be present, and also Bill Smith. He even dressed in Blackstone's Tux! It was good to see Pendragon back up on stage too. The Charvet piece was the convention highlight for many.

"Darkness" brought about many polarized opinions. I loved it. 2,000 ushers made sure you were blindfolded, then comfortably seated. A box was velcro'ed to your thigh. Great fun. many fell asleep, as you put blindfolds on guys who had sleep deprivation... I had an older brother who was blind, so this hit home for me. I wish he could have experienced this.

Dealers were great. Pure was the biggest hit. A terrific price point, and a wonderful illusion. I take back the crap I said about smoke from the mouth of a close-up contestant at SAM. I thought this guy was using poisonous chemicals, Boy was I wrong. I think we were all wondering just how Michaels would top his Helicopter from two years ago, but he did with a giant Scorpion. (check my avatar). I have a thing for Scorpions...especially the Italian car. Eric Jones is the coolest cat working today. I heard a buzz about some new Roughing stuff, but that is all I can tell you about it.

Spina showed a clip from Mr. Electric, then put newer music over it. I never, ever like lyrics in my magic music, she doesn't seem to mind. And, as we watched Mr. Roy pull about 60 bulbs from his mouth, a friends couldn't help but notice that some guys today are pulling only about 3 feet of LCD's.....? from their mouths. Jimi played it loud. You think these guys could fit 80 feet of LCD's.....anyway.

Some guys are looking old...I guess that happens.

Biggest surprise was the attendance of the Wilson's! Mark, Nani and Greg were selling off old scripts, DVD's all kinds of stuff from the vaults. Greg has the best smile, this guy is the real deal, and you can tell that he was in heaven. Great stories about the New York World's Fair...they showed some of their old corporate illusions. Huge! Tell me where else are you going to talk with one of your childhood idols? There was the Train Track Saw In Half performed during the "Divided We Stand" Show, with Mark and Nani on the big screen behind Greg and Company in front, just wonderful.

...and speaking of Swiss, he was there! This guy doesn't go to any magic get-togethers.

Hobson was on fire, and he knew it! My God was he hot during my show, (two Carnival shows the last night) "Bob" makes me laugh still, just hearing him say a stupid accent from a man's name. Hobson stole the show, and was there after hours trying to meet everyone that wanted to say hello..all 1,200 of us. I don't know how he smoldered that night. How does a guy who gives such a hot set like that, cool down?

No color scanning or cardboard paper at the Hotel Copy Center WTF?

Lack of water everywhere. Since the General sessions were held at the theatre...there was no decanter of water in the lobby. The few times I found a decanter, it was empty. I had to carry my water bottle around 21 hours out of the day.

The last evening's cake was loaded with rum, no warning. I have been sober for 13 years, I can't eat any rum cake....If I do, I'll be smoking crack with the bitches behind the Car Wash till 7am. A small sign would have been nice.

Weber was on Fire doing the news. He poked fun at all the guys who needed to be jabbed, including Bob Markwood......Groans from the whole audience. "What, too early?" It is a great sound to hear a whole audience groan, than a whole audience laugh. I viewed both his sets, after viewing the first, I went out of my way to view it again. But, again with the split groups, the "too early" joke wasn't delivered the second time around. I just didn't like the split groups..at all.

Technically the conventions was flawless. A few dead batteries during power point presentations, but there was always Scott backstage waiting with a replacement. The close-up focus session (not my choice) without cameras was voiced by many.

The laminated passes need to change. There was a 2 or 3 hour wait between the photo being taken, and the picture delivered. many guys just hung around, as you were told that you needed photo passes to get into the opening night's show. As soon as they realized that was NEVER going to happen, they allowed you inside with a temp pass. One fella had a great idea, and that was to send your photo ahead of the convention. I like the idea of the photo, but the crew must be doubled for the first and second day.

The time you found out that your ticket had either an "A" or a "B" or a "C" , that correlated to when you could take a seat ( a reward to those who registered early)...it was too late. This seating arrangement was not discussed with anyone during the time we picked up our convention programs. It would have been nice to sit closer to the stage, as this was my 5th Magic Live. Crowds outside Carival of Wonders shows looked like the Who General Admission Shows from the early 80's.

I loved the "Final" captions that we all were encouraged to add, during past Live conventions, guess that got voted down this year.

Toupees, Tattoos, coiffed facial hair, and mail order brides were down this year.

Best deal are the $1.50 hot dogs by the Sports section.

One word....Jinger....

Sos did a small lecture where he showed you some costume tucks that had us all squirming in our seats.

Chocolate bars seem to be the biggest new thing to hit all of the Vegas Hotels.

Mark Kalen uses way too much fire. Every illusion has burning this, or flaming that......I swear I was too nervous watching his hair get thisclose to the flames. Pyro....Jing daring, that man is dangerous...Let me take you away from all of those flames...

A lot of kids in diapers running around...

And Adults too.
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Postby Jeffrey Korst » 08/25/11 03:11 AM

Well, Max, seeing as how we never ran into each other the entire convention, I'll have to agree with you about not liking the split sessions. Darn.

I wonder how many other people I haven't seen for 30 years I missed.
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Postby MaxNY » 08/25/11 07:23 AM

Oh Shoot...you were there? Point!
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Postby Jeff Eline » 08/25/11 07:24 AM

erdnasephile wrote:Jeff (or anyone else who saw Johnny Thompson lecture): did he fully explain his combination of the Nemo 1500 wallet and the Koran 5 Star Miracle? Is it described in his lecture notes?

Finally, did he mention anything about the book he is working on?

Thanks!


No he didn't go over that effect with the wallet.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/25/11 09:12 AM

e*, both the deck and the wallet(s) are part of the trick as sold ever since it hit the market as Nemo 1500 back when it was a Ken Brooke item.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/25/11 10:14 AM

JT did teach a trick based on the Koran deck (sort of), but mentioned a version that predated Koran. I thought he said it was the Dream Deck in Expert Card Technique, but I couldn't find it in there. Anyone recall the correct reference?
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Postby Jeremy Greystoke » 08/25/11 10:44 AM

A quick peek at MagicPedia provided this reference in the description of the Koran deck:

"Audley Walsh's Magician's Dream which appeared in The Jinx (No. 43, dated April 1938 on page 298)."

I knew it was the Walsh deck, but for some reason thought it was first published in the pages of The Phoenix.

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Postby Tom Dobrowolski » 08/25/11 10:56 AM

In the break out session I was in Johnny Thompson was asked about the book and said it should be out soon. He didn't give any specifics on timing.
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/25/11 11:26 AM

Thanks, Tom!

Jonathan: Johnny Thompson has some unpublished work on how he combines the Nemo 1500 concept with an additional wallet. Hopefully, it will be in his new book.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 08/25/11 12:56 PM

It was the bagshawe bank deck thompson referenced.
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Postby Doug Thornton » 08/25/11 08:12 PM

Max, Martin, Master Payne, Jeff, Donal, et al,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I concur with many points, have different thoughts on others.

The two-part convention aspect wasnt terrible but disappointing. One notable senior member of the magic world said to me, Its like there are two separate conventions. I preferred the groupthink of the previous MAGIC Lives, having the big session start the day, then having the afternoon to attend the smaller Focus sessions.

The cutting a woman in half presentation Divided We Stand, put together (ha!) by Mike Caveney was definitely a treat. I wondered if it could even play as a Vegas show - nah - although the talent was top-notch, the layfolk wouldnt sit still during the smart talk in between performances. Still, it was more entertaining (and enlightening )than a bunch of other shows Ive witnessed.

The 9 movie shorts were of good quality; a mixed bag of ideas with a few standouts.

The blindfolded From the Dark presentation was engaging, unique, well-organized and fun. It bogged down with the last piece where people were passing the microphone down the rows. I was afraid Id get walloped or groped. But then again, it was Vegas and some people go there specifically for the walloping and groping.

Yes, Master Payne, you did a fine job with your ironic humor.

Jeff Hobson makes me laugh when someone merely mentions his name. In recent years, has he ever bombed? Kalin and Jinger added the Wonder to the Carnival.

I also liked the talks by Darryl, Barrie Richardson and Paul Kieve, who consulted on the third Harry Potter film and shared video from some shows hes worked on in Londons West End including The Invisible Man and the recent production of Ghost. Cool stuff.

Is Johnny Ace Palmer the calmest, gentlest man in the business? He exudes charm and tranquility; I want what hes got. (And you cant buy it in the dealers room.)

The roughing stuff Max referred to is from the Phoenix deck man, Christian Schenk. I think hes on to something. No, Im sure he is. One effect knocked me over. The stuff's called Science Friction.

Joshua Jay? Kudos to six shows in a row. I wouldve been happy with one less torn corner effect but the ring on glass stem was a highlight and inscrutable.

Kornhauser? Yes, sir, give this man a spot anytime and he shines. And Max was right about his talking dog bit. Sometimes the laugh is there, you just have to let the audience enjoy it. That takes more skill than a diagonal palm shift.

Veronin? Only a minute and a half with a one-minute encore? Come on! Give us more. It took him longer to put on the makeup!

Michael Weber was top-notch as usual. I didnt take to Derek Hughes as host at first, but he won me over with his card to pocket and zingers zingers! of quick asides.

The museum excellent. Too bad it was just a one-nighter. (But thats another reason folks go to Vegas.)

I also missed the Finally captions. (I had one published last year, but you dont want to see the dozens of mine that were rejected. )

Overall, I think we agree that its a unique convention. A Genii convention would be a treat, too.

On a side note, I bookended my trip with a visit to shows by Penn & Teller and David Copperfield. P & T floored me with their new opening piece. David was the best I've seen him in years; loose, funny and amazing. Thanks, guys.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/25/11 08:55 PM

Is Jeff Hobson still doing his fake-gay and fake-Chinese stuff? That sort of humor is no longer acceptable or funny. Everyone keeps saying how funny he was--I hope he wasn't mincing around the stage acting like a queen, because unless you are a queen it's not funny. Ditto for the buck-toothed Chinese stuff.
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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/25/11 09:29 PM

About a 15-minute synopsis of each day's events, hosted by Jonathan Levit, is available on YouTube. Find them at http://www.youtube.com/user/magicmagazine. Fun to watch.

Hobson was hilarious. Still a bit swishy, but both he and the Kalins subordinated themselves to the carnival theme which made the whole thing very special, not your typical illusion show at all.
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Postby West McDonough » 08/26/11 12:13 AM

Yes, Richard, he did both fake-gay and fake-Chinese, and I wasn't a fan of either. It was the first time I've ever seen him so I'm not sure how it compares to his past material as to amount and level. When he first came out I thought he had great presence and would be fun, but the more of his material I heard the less I enjoyed it, and by the time he got well into the Chinese stereotype I was completely turned off. The show overall had a great look, and a lot of enjoyable materialI always enjoy Kalin & Jinger's workbut I admit that those parts of it left a bad taste in my mouth. However, from the audience reaction it sounded like plenty of others found it quite funny, so I may just be a curmudgeon.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 01:36 AM

Having seen Carnival of Wonders several times as well as seeing Hobson perform solo several times, I think that there is something not being taken into considerationat least as far as the flamboyant character goes. (The faux Chinese character has never been a favorite of mine: I always thought it was a very poor comic version of Tony Randalls character from 7 Faces of Dr. Lao.)

His primary persona remains funny to many people because that characters sexuality is (purposely) ambiguousnot gay. There are many lines designed to keep the audience off balance in that regard. The proof is in the type of laughter he gets. Its not weak, nervous laughter (as I think it is with the Chinese character); its strong, raucous belly laughs.

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Postby West McDonough » 08/26/11 01:53 AM

Which may just emphasize the problem with the totality of the presentation. In the beginning I thought like that: that the character was just flamboyant and ambiguoussomething in the way of the Host character in Cabaret. But it got pushed a bit further towards the offensive caricature as it went on, and by the time we'd gotten through the Chinese section the entire thing seemed offensive to me. Perhaps I was harsher on the "flamboyant" parts specifically because I found the Chinese section so off-putting that I was no longer giving him the benefit of the doubt on the rest of it. Perhaps if he'd left that part out, I would have enjoyed the rest of what he did more. It's difficult to tell, in retrospectthe entire performance was tainted for me by the end.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 02:30 AM

I do believe one thing is certain; that it will eventually stop working. As tastes change, Hobson will need to as well.

It reminds me of the great comic, Foster Brooks. During the 1960s and 70s, his inebriated character was a comedy mainstay. He was simply brilliant at playing absolutely plastered. But, by the 1980s, societys view of public drunkenness and alcoholicsno matter how loveablemade a 180-degree turn and it was no longer funny. He changed and worked as a character actor well into his 80s.

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Postby Ian Kendall » 08/26/11 03:05 AM

I remember watching Hobson on a TV show with a gay friend back in the early 90s. After about two minutes Dan said 'OK, _now_ I'm offended'.

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Postby mrgoat » 08/26/11 05:15 AM

I wonder if Hobson would have the balls to do a 'black' guy. And do it in Compton.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/11 09:44 AM

Hobson's stereotypical and racist/homophobic "comedy" has always been questionable--there was a lot of awkward glancing around the room from the first time he showed up.

And I disagree with Dustin entirely: there is nothing ambiguous about his portrayal. His behavior and vocal delivery portrays one thing--a swishing queen, not a sexless person. It's offensive and stupid. The last time the Chinese business would have gone over well was in World War II.
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Postby erdnasephile » 08/26/11 09:57 AM

Mr. Hobson was quoted in an interview saying that he stopped worrying about whether he was being offensive to Asians when he looked out at the audience and saw some Asians laughing hysterically at his fake-Chinese character.

What he probably didn't realize was that those Asians audience members probably thought he was portraying a different ethnicity than the specific one they belonged to.

Damian's point is a fair one--people can get away with slurring Asians in these parts because as "the model minority" the sterotype is we just "take it" as opposed to other minorities who are stereotyped to being "angry". It's almost as if they think that insulting buck-toothed grin is actually plastered on our faces.

To put this in context: I am not overly sensitive about racial humor amongst my close friends--but that's because they have earned the right by their past friendship to be able to kid in this manner. They get away with it, because I know who they are and exactly what they truly mean.

In a similar manner, I suspect Mr. Hobson most likely gets away with it because some audience members have decided he is a good guy early on in the show and give him the benefit of the doubt when the fake-Chinese schtick comes out.

However, for some of us who have had to overcome actual racially-motivated physical and verbal abuse, a stranger--no matter how talented and funny--will never have earned enough good will to publically mock our ethnicity.

Since Mr. Hobson has publically declared many times that he just doesn't care what people like me think (and he points to his fancy car and house on a golf course to make his point), I made up my mind a long time ago that I just won't care about him.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/11 10:02 AM

I certainly would never hire him. Why? Because what's next? Someone in blackface eating watermelon with a chicken walking around at his feet? That, by the way, describes a cartoon Harlan Tarbell drew for The Sphinx 100 years ago. Or should we just have some Jew jokes and n*gger jokes at the next MAGIC Live?

Hobson may not give a crap what anyone thinks, but before you decide that what he's doing is okay, watch this:
http://www.itgetsbetter.org/video/entry/4a4mr8oi_b8/
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Postby Jim Riser » 08/26/11 01:33 PM

Gay, straight, white, brown, black, yellow - it doesn't matter. It does get better the older you get. I'm much happier now than in my younger days. Life itself just gets better. The key is to accept yourself and be the best you can be.

Now, there are topics that are wide open for poking fun at someone - like how the illustrator in the beginning of the above video holds a writing instrument. I can really laugh and identify with a "strange hold" as I am a lefty and hook! Such topics are friendly humor rather than mean spirited humor. Big difference.

Thanks for calling attention to the video, Richard.
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Postby MaxNY » 08/26/11 03:59 PM

I have seen, and own (pirated copy) Hobson doing a huge corporate event. I can't remember the client, but this Fortune 500 Group had a name that could be, ever so slightly, twisted into a nickname for a man's junk.

Man, he was relentless. At first he had them all squirming in their seats, but, by the third time he made fun of the name, they were all in hysterics. Talk about cutting off the hand that feeds you...
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Postby MaxNY » 08/26/11 04:26 PM

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 04:54 PM

Richard Kaufman wrote:And I disagree with Dustin entirely: there is nothing ambiguous about his portrayal.

That's fine except for the fact that you are wrong. You seem to be ignoring the fact that there are many lines in his act, including references to his wife and kids, designed to make his character ambiguous.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 08/26/11 05:06 PM

Mister Humphries, John Inman in Are You Being Served, type ambiguous?
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Postby Doug Thornton » 08/26/11 05:51 PM

Hobson's Asian character makes me cringe, the flamboyant one brings me to tears of laughter. I don't think I can explain it. In some older movies we had actors such as Katherine Hepburn, Myrna Loy, Edward G. Robinson, even Marlon Brando and John Wayne playing Asian characters. It seemed to work for that time, but you'd never see that today. For the most part, those characterizations were done respectfully. Then there's Mickey Rooney in Breakfast at Tiffany's where I'm very uncomfortable. Today I don't think any non-Asian actor would portray an Asian except in a blatant Judd Apatow-type comedy farce.
Would a Chung Ling Soo be able to pull off that stunt today? Probably not.
I don't think I'm insensitive to the plight of any group, and of course, humor is subjective.
I've seen and heard audience members uneasy and offended by both of Hobson's characters.
For me, when he's prancing around the stage, I'm laughing. With the Asian guy, no. Can't explain it.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 08/26/11 07:20 PM

John Inman was an openly gay man. He can make the joke if he wants to (like African Americans who use the word "n*gger"--if you're black you have the option, if you're not then you don't).

Thanks Dustin, but I tell you that I disagree with you, and you tell me I'm wrong. Sorry: it doesn't work that way. References to a wife and kids from a lisping faux-Queen don't raise any ambiguity about his character.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 08/26/11 10:05 PM

Of course they do Richard. I have personally overheard more than once--and was once asked by lay person (he had seen me chatting with Mark & Jinger away from the receiving line, so approached me to ask questions about the show)--the comment, "Is that guy gay or not?" That's ambiguity and it is created by his script which I have heard live about ten times. It doesn't change much.

And there are other lines designed to create that. "I'm not, I'm not...I was, I was...and I could be again for you" [addressed to a man]. And there are others; more in his solo act than in "Carnival" or when he's MCing, etc., all of which I have seen him do many times.

How can the undeniable fact that these lines are part of his script--used countless times--be denied? And if they are not designed to create ambiguity (or uncertainty if you prefer), what are they designed to do? (Besides get laughs.)

I don't know Mr. Hobson well at all. I've only met him a few times and they were always brief, so Im not defending a friend. But I know what I've seen and heard.

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Postby West McDonough » 08/27/11 01:41 AM

So he's being an offensive parody of bisexuals instead of homosexuals? Doesn't make me like it any more, I'm afraid.

Mr. Hobson was quoted in an interview saying that he stopped worrying about whether he was being offensive to Asians when he looked out at the audience and saw some Asians laughing hysterically at his fake-Chinese character.


I suspect "magic ears" at work here.
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Postby Diego » 08/27/11 01:45 AM

I had not seen Hobson do his stuff since The Magic Castle 15+ years ago, where I saw 2 Asian couples quietly walk out, with a Jewish couple who later said, "I wouldn't tolerate that for me, why should I for them?!"
The trouble is they left quietly.
The reality is that anti-Asian mongering/doing demeaning stereotypes of Asians, (American or otherwise) is still the politically correct/acceptable racism among too many.

After Wednesday's show, I asked a number of attendees-Asian, Jewish, Gay, South-American, Irish: was I crazy or was I the only one who found it offensive? They said no, they agreed.
What if Hobson had put on a skull cap, and thick glasses with a fake hook nose and did a fake Yiddish accent?
Or went out in blackface and shuffled while trying to sound like Stepin Fetchit ?
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Postby Diego » 08/27/11 01:51 AM

From "Jersey Boys":
"Remember in the early 1960's, Liberace was (not acknowledged as gay) considered, flamboyant "

The wonderful Charles Nelson Reilly was a flamboyant, off the wall personality, but he never, (on broadcast television anyway) did it with sexual overtones...of his or anyone else's.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/27/11 04:31 AM

Offensive, in my opinion. But I seem to hold the minority view (no pun intended) about his act over here in the UK.

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Postby mrgoat » 08/27/11 05:15 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:How can the undeniable fact that these lines are part of his script--used countless times--be denied?


Art is interpreted by different people in different ways Dustin. It isn't 'wrong', and suggesting someone's opinion is wrong is a little rude.

It is just different from yours.

You think there are some lines there to make it look like he is in fact a big hetrosexual. RK thinks that those lines do not achieve that.

You could also look at a picture and feel different things. Or a song. Art is subjective.

I wonder if Hobson would have the balls to do it at a Gay Pride event. I doubt it. And that, really, is the clue to this being offensive and out of date.
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/27/11 07:52 AM

I remember a chap (who shall here remain nameless) competing in a Magic Circle Stage Magician of the Year contest 5 or so years ago, doing a mock-Chinese magician. He nearly got booed off the stage. He couldn't understand why -- he'd been doing that act for 20 years.

20 years ago, maybe a bit more, these things were acceptible -- I'm thinking of Buddy Hackett's Chinese Waiter act.

But, like "Amos & Andy", these things change in acceptability as times, and social mores, change. Dumb blonde? Women drivers? Woe betide the performer who fails to recognize this shift in society's values.

Hobson is a fine magician. I understand his reluctance to give up his bread and butter act. But it's an embarrassment for me to watch it.

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Postby Steve Bryant » 08/27/11 08:20 AM

About .001 percent of this discussion has anything to do with what Hobson did at MAGIC Live! Carnival of Wonders was a huge hit and Hobson was one of the reasons. I share some of the opinions of his past performances, but those were not what he did last week. He was playing a character in a play written by Jim Steinmeyer. From Mark Walker's review in MAGIC August 2009: "Speaking of Steinmeyer, what really makes this show tick is Jim's wonderful script. It ties everything together with a big red bow and allows the production to work as an entertaining concept, rather than being just another hodgepodge illusion show with some talentless magician rushing about from one trick to another and rock music blaring in the background. This show is like a great wine; it's mean to be savored and enjoyed. It has meaning and real sincerity. I have to admit, I've never experienced anything like this at a regular magic show."
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Postby Matthew Field » 08/27/11 08:45 AM

You're right, Steve. As I said, Hobson is a very talented performer.

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Postby MaxNY » 08/27/11 10:23 AM

Chinese? I thought he was making fun of Ali Bongo.
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Postby West McDonough » 08/27/11 08:38 PM

I don't know, I have no problem believing Jim wrote the overall concept and structure, which I enjoyed quite a bit. But did he actually write the faux-Chinese piece and the jokes that left me (and others) feeling distinctly uncomfortable? That seems unlike him. I would guess, rather, that he left a structure into which Hobson inserted his own material... but then I don't know that for a fact. You could be right, but if so, I'm surprised.

I'm not referring to Hobson's past at all, because I never saw him in the past. My reaction to him in this show is to seeing him for the first time. I enjoyed other parts of the show quite a bit, but much of Hobson's portion left me stone-faced.
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