Hello everybody, it's me Cap (CapCasino.com and CapCuts.com), this is my first post and before I say anything I would like to make it clear, I have utmost respect for everybody's opinions. If everybody was into the exact same stuff this world would be pretty dull in my opinion. Having said that, below are my thoughts in regards to one of the nets most current 'hot button' topics. You may be familiar with the standard plot, nonetheless I have branched off into a few different areas with this post. I look forward to your thoughts.
My first proposition is this: It's unreasonable to make the jump that if someone has a product they are 100% defined by that product's subject content. Gary Ouellet's book -The Pass- popped into my head. As we all know Mr. Ouellet (R.I.P.) was quite a diverse and talented individual who revolutionized magic performance on T.V. as well as writing numerous articles and even books. He also played an intrical part in the monumental and historical Vernon Revelations video series (these are just the few things that hit me first, I realize Mr. Ouellet was more than that.) even if you're a sleight of hand guy who wasn't into all the illusionists on those shows (me b.t.w.) he did bring people such as Guy Hollingworth, Renee Lavand, Bill Malone and Juan Tamariz in to the homes of millions creating an anti- uncle bob performing the 21 card trick without any presentation image of this sector withing the magical arts. Just because Mr. Ouellet had a book called the Pass about nothing but pass techniques... does it mean all he could do was the Pass? - All day long
over and over, using it in every trick and every performance and his whole show for laymen was the pass and all it's variants? Of course not, still he realized the logic in having a focused topic for that book, mentioning various forms of the Pass which may appeal to some and the rest to others. Therefore if a video is on nothing but flourishes why is the jump made that the inventor has a manifesto out along the lines of 'a magical performers whole show should be nothing but flourishes'?
This is related in some regards to various individuals who's products get ragged on alot.
For example the Buck Twins. (Check out Jamy ian Swiss's totally ill-placed comments/diss of the brothers while reviewing the Paul Curry Worlds Beyond book within the pages of this magazine a number of months back.) In my view they are more focused and practice harder than almost any proponent of the pasteboards I've ever met, and I've seen a good number. While they don't tell jokes or stories really, it is sooo much more than magical masturbation which is a term I hear used a lot. Isnt there unquestionably a vital door in magicdom for the inventors and creators such as Marlo or Vernon, who few people really consider to be commercial as in telling lots of jokes or gags and so forth. This is clear from their classic texts which rarely mention jokes or 'bits of business' of the sort you might find on a Doc Eason videotape for example.
Even Mr. Natural himself was a master of utilizing flourishes to enhance the moment - which is where the minds of the audience make that invisible jump and see the magic happening. This is what the game is all about and what we and I live for.
Why is it that people riffle or spring the cards when causing the signed card to rise to the top in an ambitious sequence as is often done? Even many flourish haters do this. Why? They realize a flourish such as springing the cards or rifling their ends CAN in most instances sell, enhance, and define 'the moment'.
Even snapping your fingers is perhaps in peril if all the hardcore 'naturalist' were to take over magicdom, since snapping ones fingers isnt a deceptive thing or an invisible maneuver which "the most critical observer wouldnt even suspect let alone detect..", its an open technique which everybody sees.
You'll notice my nod to one of erdnase's most famous quotes above. This is often cited by oponents of any displays of skill. It is facinating to note that in Expert at the Card Table there is a WHOLE CHAPTER called Fancy Blind Cutson pg 22- I highly recommend you read Erdnasess brief but extremely intriguing to ponder about opening comments to that section. Even if there WASNT this chapter, are we card sharks or magi? I think the constant quoting of erdnase may be misplaced at times since his purpose was not to entertain but to be invisible not just in the moves but as a person- invisible at the card table.
Is that what we want as entertainers and magicians? Remember Expert at the Card Table is AT THE CARD TABLE. Unless you perform youre tricks in a casino I dont understand why you force yourself into this mental box of unless it would fly at a card table, it cant be worthy as part of the magical arts ... which many people have emailed me saying.
Touching back on the master Dai Vernon for a moment will allow me to bring to light an issue far more controversial than the above points. It is that flourishes can (not always ofcourse) but sometimes BE the deception and an integral part in MAGIC, yes MAGIC if not be the magic. First off, is the legendary Vernon Wand Spin not a flourish? Whats notable about this flourish - the Vernon wand spin - is that it doesnt just look nice but plays an INTEGRAL PART IN CREATING THE DECEPTION! Do the move without the spin, go ahead itll work but its not as effective or deceptive. Everybody mentions be natural dont do flourishes , but here is clear proof of one of our arts greatest minds- Dai Vernon- the one everybody mentions when they talk of being natural- making the decision to add a flourish (the spinning of a wand) to a billiard ball/fan drop move invented in the 40s by silent mora to enhance the deception.
Perhaps the genius of the Proffesor realized that if you condition your audience with flourishes previously they become natural. It's like if you're watching the film Traffic and suddenly a character climbs up a wall doing a mid-air 360 rotation to escape the enemy, you'd think "this is so unatural for this film" I have lost all confidence in it's filmakers logic; but if you're watching the matrix you love the moment and haven't been 'taken out of the film' or had the film 'lose you at that point' since it IS natural for that world. The analogy to magic would be that while flourishy actions have been used, due to proper conditioning no suspision is arised and the deception is totally effective.
I feel that there are some guys who instead of trying and experimenting and coming to their own discoveries have heard someone else say they suck and now figure well he said so, I guess Ill live my life that way... while a stretch, you can almost call it flourishism ala ageism, racism, or sexism in the way in which people make blatant statements about flourishes. I cant emphasize how its simply not possible to make blatant statements such as all are bad or all harm magic performances about flourishes! Im sorry if you saw somebody overdo the cuts or fans and it bored you, but in no way does that mean all doers of them are boring or dont make them work for their specific audiences.
While jokes, gags, spectator assistance, story telling or ANYTHING can be overdone the fact is that flourishes enhance entertainment value. Thats why we put the effort in to mastering them. Its amazing how so many think that if you do a flourish you are a lazy person who hasnt read card college, expert card technique, or erdnase .
If you think flourishers are fools then- Jeff Mcbride, Alex Elmsely, Ross Bertram, Paul Harris, Dai Vernon, Michael Ammar are fools since they not only do them but have entire videos or chapters in their books on them- just on the flourishes. Those above are merely the tip of the ice berg by the way...) Why is it that one of the most popular of the Magic Magazine covers (the 1995 December issue) is the one with an image of Cardinis hands doing the billiard ball elevator flourish? Was Cardini a fool, or a damaging, negative influence to our art? The cover of that Magic Magazine issue is quite revealing, it has a one line caption which reads : (Cardini) 'the most imitatied magician in the world...'
I recommend you check out Bill Malone doing Sam the Bellhop on Worlds Greatest Magic 1. The trick has been called by many the most entertaining 3 minutes in card magic yet its jam full of fancy cuts and that summersault 1 card popover move he uses every time a 2 comes up. Why is it I never here people dissing Mr. Malone? But then we have the Buck Boys again, which I have seen as the focus of many hotly debated discussions and destroyed relationships. In fact as I was sessioning with them at the recent 100th SAM event a person came up to us screaming and cussing " you fools! you ignorant fools #%&^%&^# !!!, you're all going to card man hell! You're the destruction of this
art! Vernon is rolling over in his grave!"
(a small tangent: is the twist used in Vernons classic Twisting the Aces a flourish?)
I really find this type of outburst to be ill placed. Not to have an attitude but I must wonder why it is that there was a large crowd of laymen (!) completely fixated by their (the B.Boys) activities with our beloved instrument; while this guy was alone in the corner venting instead of practicing ( was he jealous since he hadn't devoted the time, effort nor passion to acquire the ability the twins have ? Or was he ageist since they are teenagers? Now maybe what they were doing wasn't magic but let me ask this, and I'm really curious about this- is Juggling not a respectable art form? Some will say yes, but it has no place in magic! foo!' Well why is it that almost every big convention I've been to - IBM, SAM, and lesser known ones such as Alain Nu's phoenix gathering out where I live often have jugglers booked at the evening magic shows? (The bookers of these events are often highly knowledgeable and respected magicians, yet they clearly seem to think juggling isnt soooo distant from magic, or at least it's not unreasonable considering them as 'all part of the family' - the family being the variety arts) To go even further- why is that often the jugglers are the ones who get standing ovations at these evening shows? This is for crowds of many hundreds of people of all different races, genders, and ages; audiences often full of magi AND laymen.
Perhaps humans have a natural facination with displays of skill by one of their fellow human beings? In every other form of popular entertainment calling flourishes stupid in all circumstances is ludicrous- a huge part of the success of superstars and events such as a Rolling Stones conert [ Elvis, Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler of Aerosmith- flourishing with the mic stand, seeing Michael Jordan- the showtime dunks, Gymnasts at the Olympics, Billy Idol flourishing with his lips... j/p about that one- well sorta] and a lot of other examples is the electric atmosphere they manage to create often with the help of flourishy actions and interactions. Considering how all the above for some reason have a lot more respect than the art of magic in many laymens minds should make you think.
Sometimes I get the vibe that ant-flourishers have never really tried one or are not truly against flourishes but PRACTICE, and yes flourishes often take a good deal of practice. ( but not always! to prove this there is
a free explanation video clip of z grip and Blind Rotational Sybil at: http://expertmagic.com/html/store/c4/pr ... chor-49575
As Dr. Zeuss points out in one of the favorite childrens books from my youth- Green Eggs and Ham: "just try them try them, TRY THEM ...who knows what you might see.. and for godsakes whats to lose since theyre free?
I appologize if some will feel this post is mean spirited, in no way do I intend it to be.
The just having a normal disscusion with my brother tone in my voice is what a forum cant convey perfectly. I love this art so much and the magic community so much, anybody who knows me, really knows me can vouch for this. There are posters of MAGICIANS, not jugglers on the walls of my room.
Ive heard so much about this issue and basically tried not to go there for months, but I simply felt that with my aol mailbox suddenly full of questions (um... perhaps make that passionate rants) about this topic due to the release of my video CapCuts, a new solid post with my take on the subject was warranted. Feel free to Email or Instant message me anytime. I wish you a great day.
- Cap Casino of CapCuts.com, CapCasino.com and ExpertMagic.com