Magic's Bad Reputation

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Guest » 06/17/07 12:18 AM

Not everybody likes magic, in fact some people hate it. This can be particularly frustrating if you try to perform for such a person, or a group of people containing such a person. The concept of this thread is to identify and address as many reasons as possible why people don't like magicians.

Here are the reasons I can think of why people don't like magicians:

- They've had or witnessed a bad experience with a magician.

- They think its just for kids.

- They don't like being fooled/confused

- They figure, "its all fake so who cares anyway?"

I'm sure there are plenty more, but for the time being I'm going to talk about the the first one for a bit. Alot of magicians that I've seen perform tease and embarrass their audience - especially the person picking a card or whatever. Sure this can get a laugh, but if the person being made a fool of doesn't enjoy it, they'll come away from the experience with a negative impression of magicians as a whole. The same goes for anyone in the audience who sympathizes with the magician's victim. I've met heaps of people who were more than happy to watch me perform but literally ran and hid when I tried to get them to participate in a trick.

Another trend I've noticed that could fall under the category of having a bad experience with a magician is that alot of magicians (especially younger ones) are jerks. Alot of magicians get this swollen ego thing going where just because they can fool people they think that they're better and smarter than everyone else. It shines through their performance and even their personality when they're not performing. If you're a magician, ask yourself this question: "Does my ability to fool/entertain people swell my ego out of proportion?" Its very easy to get a gassed head when your hobby is making people say, "Wow! You are AMAZING!"

If you want to be a good magician, be a good person first. Be the kind of person that people will say, "Wow!" after meeting you even though you never showed them a single trick. If every magician (EVERY MAGICIAN, not just the young ones, because I know some 45 year olds out there who should take this advice) strives for that, magic's reputation as a whole will benefit tremendously.

So: why else do people not like magic?
What can we do about it?
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 12:54 AM

I hear ya.

In addition to the reasons you've mentioned, my experience has shown that academic types (Doctors, mathematicians, etc) tend to look down on magic. They feel that it's just a 'stupid puzzle', or that I'm strictly trying to trick them. They completely overlook my intent of entertainment.

That said, I've 'converted' a few with a single routine. May be it just took the correct effect that spoke to them that eventually changed them. I dunno.

"Fooling" the audience isn't my primary goal, but it seems it is for most. If I can entertain my audience without a single effect, then I feel I've succeeded.

For those that are anti magic, some solutions are:

*Making that individual the Star. Make them the hero. Everyone loves to be loved. Give that to them.

*Make them laugh. Across cultures, religions, gender, age....everyone loves to laugh.

*Sight gags. Cheap gimmick, but sometimes its the only thing that works.

*Re-frame your perspective. Sometimes they just dont get it that you are trying to entertain them.

What else??
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 01:54 AM

Interesting...
I don't think the problem is with the audience... Except for a few exceptions I would say 2% of the people who don't like magic is because of bad experiences or people that don't like to be fooled..

The main problem is the magician... (imho) The magic world became too accessible and way too commercial, any one can step into a magic shop (and online) and buy anything... and present it the same day.... then it looks bad or like a puzzle... no presentation.

If you take a "virgin" audience that never saw magic... you place a bad magician.. I guarantee that most of the audience will unfortunately "like" the show even if it's bad because they have no source for comparing... and they will think all magicians are like that... I believe that this is really the issue...

The magic world needs to be re-educated... the sense of secrecy is lost...
anyway that was my opinion...
j.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 06/17/07 03:02 AM

I believe that above all magic should entertain and so much magic today is boring. Either the performance is too long or the effects are dull and complicated.
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 03:28 AM

The magic world needs to be re-educated... the sense of secrecy is lost..
I agree. How do we deal with this? Ask magic dealers to be more selective with who they sell to? Maybe instead we should ask magic distributors to expand the instructions that come with a product to include performance tips. Give EVERYONE who buys the trick, a paragraph or two with some DOs and DONTs about performing. Mix it all up with some performance tips that are specific to the product itself and then everyone who buys the trick is exposed to such ideas like: "Don't belittle your audience", "Make the trick out to be more than a puzzle", etc.
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 03:45 AM

I think the main problem some people hate magic,
is because nowadays magician put a lot people under embarass making them the fools!
Like Simon Lovell little clip, where he calls the spectator "This man is alive with personality"
Are we joking?
What do you think this man will do the next time he will be asked to watch a magic show or partecipate into a magic clip?
He'll probably read a good book instead!
Which person likes to be mocked by a magician in front of other people!!??

Another problem for me is that nowadays, magicians are too narcissist.
They care mostly about their ego.
Their shows are not adressed to the primary object:
THE AUDIENCE!!
The magician is at the service of the AUDIENCE, not the other way around!

And probably all this fast food street pseudo magic thrown in the face of the audience in the wrong place at the wrong time, maybe puts the audience in a position where they eventually won't like magic.
Magic should be placed in the right place at the right time.
If i'm walking on the street and someone offers me a plate of great pasta, maybe i won't like to eat it, also if it is a great pasta and a great cook.
The right place would be a restaurant, where i purposedly go there to eat and enjoy a meal.
One can't produce all these pyrotechnics tricks in too short time in a place where people always rush!

And i won't become never tired to say that all these tv editings and internet easiness to find secrets, are destroying the magic secretive cloak that has always surrounded magic.
Nowadays, i see a trick, go to the net, and in two seconds i know the secret.

As the great Ascanio said:
People should never suspect about how the trick is done, but most importantly they should never suspect there's a trick at all!!

Crim
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 06/17/07 06:45 AM

Well some people just don't like magic.Period.
Like I'm not crazy about sports.
I don't like rap music or opera.
But that ok
Just move on and find the people who enjoy magic.
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 07:00 AM

Surely some people don't like magic..
but there are a lot of people who COULD love magic..but because of a lot of factors(the most coming from the magician end) finish up hating or not liking magic.

Trying to analize what could be done in order to transform the people who COULD like magic in people who DO LIKE magic, is a good thing.

Just my opinion

Crim
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 11:00 AM

People like people who are charming and do interesting things. It's about that easy.and that difficult.

Magic is a vehicle for an interesting personality to interact with an audience. It is not therapy for the performer to make up for real or imagined deficiencies in personality and/or social skills.

The professional is about fulfilling his audience's needs while the amateur is about satisfying his own needs. Audiences can sense this on multiple levels.

Charm, respect for the audience, and high-level social skills will go light years beyond mere technical/manipulative skills. The history of amateur magic is littered with high-level technicians who were loved and respected by the amateurs but were miserable performers who couldnt entertain an audience of lay people if you held a gun to their heads.

When asked which book a wannabe pro should read, I always tell them How To Win Friends and Influence People. Its a great place to start. People skills are far more important than any sleight youll ever learn. Indeed, every person who aspires to the title "magician" should read the book and learn from it.

Add to that the show biz maxim of "Always leave the audience wanting more," meaning you learn to stop before they get bored.
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 11:24 AM

Once again David sums it up perfectly! Great post. I, however, think Harry Lorayne's MIND POWER book is a must-read for all magicians!

Paul Gordon
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 12:25 PM

Thanks, Paul.

One of the things I learned early on as a tyro professional was that if a booker buys a bad singer, bad comic, or a bad musician, they'll buy another.

Unfortunately, if they book a bad magician they'll think that magic doesn't work for their group. It will be a long time before they hire another magician and, often, only after they see him work at another gig.

Too often the public does not see the difference between magicians and magic.

And on commercial material...

One great story told to me by a friend who has make a good living a a close-up entertainer for years is when he was working a party for a regular client. As the client was paying him he asked my friend to show him his "best" card trick.

Now, purely for his own amusement, my friend can do riffle shuffles and a whole lot of the material out of Erdnase. He can do wonderful things with a deck of cards, but in this instance he did Harold Sterling's creation, Miko.

That's right, he did the 3 1/2 of Clubs trick. It stunned his client to the point that he handed my friend a $200 tip.

Thus, the value of commercial and entertaining vs "technique."
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 06/17/07 12:39 PM

Like Paul Daniels said,K.I.S.T.I.T.
Keep it simple and think it through.
My friend, Dick Oslund has another,K.I.S.M.I.F
Keep it simple and make it fun.
A few things that make magic bad is lack of practice and not thinking though. Like what can happen in a trick.
Here's a video
http://youtube.com/watch?v=SlPRaQpdqMc
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 09:00 PM

The magic world became too accessible and way too commercial, any one can step into a magic shop (and online) and buy anything... and present it the same day.... then it looks bad or like a puzzle... no presentation.
I also think that this is a big problem. While I doubt very much that we'll be able to convince magic distributors to sell less, we might be able to convince the people who write the instructions to put some of the ideas talked about in this thread in a section called "Performance tips"
Sure, some people will buy a trick, read the method section of the presentation and then throw the instructions away, but some people will hold onto the instructions and eventually read the "Performance tips" bit and get ideas like:

- Magic is about entertaining the audience, not just yourself

- Anyone can fool someone, it takes presentation, practice and personality to ASTONISH someone

- You probably shouldn't belittle people who are nice enough to participate in your tricks

Sure, this would slightly increase the production costs of magic tricks (by about 5 cents) but I think it'd be worth it. If you or someone you know is in a position to put this idea into practice - please do so. I think we'll all benefit from this in the long run.
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 09:27 PM

Dare I say it's becausefor 100 years many "magic tricks" that people witness suck, and (or) are presented by performers that suck?
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Postby Guest » 06/17/07 09:40 PM

castawaydave wrote:
Dare I say it's becausefor 100 years many "magic tricks" that people witness suck, and (or) are presented by performers that suck?
______________________________________________

My vote goes to the sucky "performers" who are not willing to spend the time and study needed to present magic entertainingly.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 06:09 AM

One other thought, perhaps magic is too fast. It is rapid fire versus other sort of entertainment a person might do in a close-up or platform situation. A song takes time and there is greater consistancy to it than moving many close-up effects. A stand-up comic gets closer to the speed but again, I think there is greater cohesiveness to the material than a bunch of effects strung together. A person reading or reciting a poem is slower and so are most acting situations. Magic is choppy and I think some people move at a slower pace and therefore find magic too much for their heads and senses. Of course, this is not true for all magic but I wonder if my observations are correct and if something can be done to ease people into watching a performance about magic rather than magic effects performed. Restaurant and walk around magic can't be this way but other types can be. Perhaps Ricky Jay has the benefit of 90 minutes in his show but again I wonder about the pace of magic and magic having a bad reputation.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 06:42 AM

I have been reading this thread with some interest and I agree with a lot of what David Alexander and Paul Gordon have said about magic and I would like to add a few comments if I may...

In my opinion magic does not have a problem because people still are entertained by magic if it is performed by a good magician. In my opinion magic is still very much in demand in the markets that it has always thrived in. And that is in the "live" entertainment markets.

Magicians are being booked at trade shows, and other venues in the privet show markets and to do public shows.

Yes, there are bad magicians out there and their always has been bad magicians along with the good and the bad magicians getting booked. But that doesn't wreck magic.

In my opinion the only thing that hurts magic is a bad performance of magic. And the best thing that helps magic is a "good" performance of magic. In my opinion people still like magic but often do not like the magicians doing it.

Why?

Perhaps they do it at the wrong time.

Perhaps they do it at the wrong place.

Perhaps they do magic for themselves and their own ego and not the audience that they attacked and pushed into watching a magic trick.

I think knowing what to do for an audience is just as important is knowing "when" to do it. But there is also a "how" involved in my opinion. That is how the effect and you the magician is presented to the audience. And how the audience responds to the "effect" of magic.

Just a few thoughts.
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Postby Brandon Hall » 06/18/07 07:52 AM

I think a small part of the problem is that it is somewhat embarassing for some "intellectual laymen" to be be put in a position where they have to pretend to accept that magic is real. It makes them feel "silly".
I'd also like to point out that there are a great number of doctors AND mathmeticians studying/performing magic.
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
P. Townshend
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 09:36 AM

Aside from all the good comments already posted, I think part of the problem is venue. Most magicians don't perform in theaters. They perform in places where people have congregated to do something other than watch magic. The magician is forced to approach people. Naturally, the magician runs into people who either don't like magic or don't like being interrupted.

There are many types of entertainment that I don't like, such as country music, but I don't resent those forms because I can avoid them. They aren't thrust upon me unwillingly at restaurants or corporate parties.

Even if a party has live music, it's usually background music. When the music is loud, it does become an intrusion for me, just as some people perceive a magician as an intrusion.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 02:53 PM

I think gegood makes an excellent point. Some performers just rip through their material, thinking that the more they can shove into their time, the more the client thinks they're getting. That is, in my view and my experience, a mistake. Witness how Harbin performed the Zig Zag Girl and how most stage guys tend to throw it away by doing it as quickly as possible, without the volunteer from the audience. Ask Pete Biro. He knows.

In club date performances the audience wants to understand and participate in what you're doing. I do around 40 minutes in my club date act. The first 20-25 minutes is occupied by four, sometimes five effects...the first six minutes, only two.

I keep up a good pace, but the effects are so structured so that the audience can both see and understand what I'm doing. Trying to shove in as much material as possible is counterproductive to entertaining an audience. Working in a hurry is a sign of insecurity.

And on strolling - I've been doing it for a very long time and just don't encounter the problems often described here. When I work I am properly dressed and I wear a discreet name tag that identifies me as a magician. Experience has taught me how to determine when a group is ready for a bit of fun.and perhaps most importantly, I work with a professional demeanor. Im not emotionally needy when I perform any more than any other professional entertainer. I am relaxed and confident in both myself and my material. Audiences can sense insecurity in a performer and react accordingly. I know my material inside and out and I dont experiment on paying audiences.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 02:57 PM

I am happy to see this discussion being so openly and honestly approached. There is alot of great informatiom here. I must admit that I am an advocate of taking Magic back underground. Many of the so called "magicians" around today are simply people who bought an effect online and learned a couple of card tricks. Others have learned an effect on You Tube and repeat it's miserible performance as well. I honestly believe that the only way for magic to progress and produce quality Magicians for future generations is to be selective as to who to teach.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 03:04 PM

As usual, Alexander speaks the Word.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 03:37 PM

I honestly believe that the only way for magic to progress and produce quality Magicians for future generations is to be selective as to who to teach.
Just be the best performer you can...thats all we can do. Anything else is a waste of time.

Crying about exposure, becoming a professional armchair magician, pointing fingers, isn't going to help anyone. Magic is already elitist - which I detest. Being selective is futile.

Raising the standards of what is acceptable may have a chance. All I can do is raise my own standards.
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 04:19 PM

Magic is already elitist - which I detest
Am I to embrace those who think magic should be free to those who want the secrets? Would you have me exhibit a sense of kinship for those who copy Don Alan's Invisible Deck and Eugene Burger's Inquisition because they lack enough personality to create their own presentations?

Or should I shun those who refuse to treat magic as anything other than a "hobby" like stamp collecting or video gaming?

--If someone calls you a snob,it's because you have better taste than he does.--
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Postby Guest » 06/18/07 06:38 PM

audioslave wrote:
Magic is already elitist - which I detest. Being selective is futile.
_________________________________________

I'd appreciate you expanding on these two assertions, please.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/07 08:49 AM

"Crying about exposure, becoming a professional armchair magician, pointing fingers, isn't going to help anyone. Magic is already elitist - which I detest. Being selective is futile.-"

First of all, I never cry. Second, I don't have an armchair. Third, I only point at myself or the object I want the spectator to focus on. Magic should be elitist and selective. Thinking that just anyone can or should learn magic is what has caused the overflow of exposure by those who do not respect the art.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/07 10:53 AM

My elaboration will fall on deaf ears, but I'll try. By no means am I suggesting that any/everyone should learn magic. Nor do I imply that it should be given away without cost. Financial costs are irrelevant in my mind. Its the sweat, tears, and wounds from the trenches that is the cost I refer too.

By elitist, I mean the clicks. The exclusion of sincere individuals who have a desire to study. My experience with many has been poor, so I'm left to study with a select few. My experience of Magic Shop owners is unfortunate, and will refrain from commenting. My teachers range from the unknowns to high profile masters. Ironically, I've met a few on this forum whom I greatly respect and have a solid relationship with.

Do you sincerely believe that adding a cautionary note and performance tips to products will force buyers to heed them? Many pro's out there dont f'ing heed them.


How can one be effective in being selective on who to teach? It usually comes back to money. While I feel that charging high fees is indeed warranted based value on the material, it's fruitless to use financial means to limit it to those "who are serious". I keep hearing that. Thats BS. Attend any of the high price, exlusive lectures - and come back to me and give me a profile of the attendees. How many are performers?

Youtube isnt the problem - I'm not sure if there is a single source. I think magic dvd's are a more significant problem. Poorly produced, multiple volumes with filler crap, untested material, etc are a worse culprit in my puny mind.

Hypothetical idea - Eliminate ALL magic DVD's. Only produce hard copy texts....

Instead of focusing on "exposure", use that energy on ourselves to be better performers.

Go to any magic gathering, and observe the social skills of the individuals. This is the core problem of "bad magic".

This thread has evolved a bit, but all relate bak to the initial question. The bottom line in my mind is:
castawaydave wrote:
are presented by performers that suck?
YES. YES. YES.
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Postby Guest » 06/19/07 10:59 AM

re: "Dare I say it's becausefor 100 years many "magic tricks" that people witness suck, and (or) are presented by performers that suck?"

IMHO it's not just that they suck, want to be admired for sucking and then claim to have invented how to suck... no it's something less amusing.

IMHO our craft has fallen from the graces and into a market which encourages the student to give up their self respect, abandon any path of development, and instead settle into deluded narcissism and vanity fueled by acquiring the latest offerings of fascination.

What can an audience do but wonder at the effects of "magic" upon what otherwise appear to be seemingly mature adults in our society?

Where once we were free to show people that their maps of reality have room for hope and that even the most common of objects has a potential for wonder, we now ask that audiences admire our knowledge of guile and skill at base manipulation.

So is magic the spoonful of sugar or the medicine?
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Postby Guest » 06/19/07 04:59 PM

Certainly performance has something to do with it but I suspect two other factors also are a factor: magic is performed across a large spectrum of venues and much of magic is performed with tongue in cheek/corny humor.

First the spectrum of venues. "Magic" can be performed from a kid's sandbox to the largest stages. All of these venues differ in the feeling we get being in those environments. If magic was limited only to large venues like large concert halls and involved complex arrays of people and props, we probably would not be having this dicussion. But magic occurs in the backyard, prisons, street corners, bars, etc. In fact the average person probably has been exposed to more backyard and bar trick magic than any other form. Does this make for holding magic in the highest art form? Perhaps magic is not elitist enough in the sense magic, as least in some form, can be easily pulled off without tremondous economic or logistical barriers.

Now concerning the presentation of most magic as tongue in cheek or with corny humor. "Hey, this is truly a mind over matter issue. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." Did Woody Allen's movie presentation as a goofy magician sell as well as The Prestige or The Illusionist movies? So many of us were attacted to the serious presentations in The Illusionist and The Prestige. I don't know how this can translate to restaurant and festival magic but perhaps we need to take on different sort of gigs where there is a more serious and artful presentation of magic. "Hey, if you don't take your magic seriously, why should I" probably is what most people think. I think a lot of humor is introduced as we are learning to cover any mistakes we make or might make. "Hey, I was just goofing around." Some how that goofy humor travels along with some people to the magic club, night club, street corner, etc.
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 02:44 AM

A few years ago, I was performing walkaround at an event for the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau. I had originally been booked to perform with my cowboy troupe, but the events of 9/11 meant that we couldn't do our normal act, which included a rehearsed gun fight.

The rest of the group backed out of the performance, but, being a person who doesn't break contracts, I went in and did a solo act. I strolled with my banjo and some close-up magic.

I would approach a group, ask them how they were doing and then introduce myself as a banjo player and magician. Then I would ask which they would prefer that I perform for them. EVERY time, they said that they would prefer the banjo. So I would play a couple of songs for them. Then I would ask them why they preferred the banjo to magic.

Invariably, it was the same answer -- they had experienced a performance by a bad magician. In two cases, it involved Ring Flight. In one case, a stone fell out of the ring. In the other case, the ring took flight and disappeared completely. In BOTH cases, the magician refused to cover the damages.

I commiserated with them. When they figured out that I was a relatively nice guy and that I was not going to embarrass them or steal their property, they allowed me to perform a routine for them. They enjoyed what I did.

And in both cases in which the person had suffered from a bad version of Ring Flight, I managed to talk them into letting me perform it for them.

I hate having to clean up after bad performers.

=======================

Regarding the alleged "elitism" in magic, yes, it exists. There are certain things that the tyro needs to do to convince some of us that they are serious students. Just saying you are a serious student of magic doesn't make you one.

I'm sure that every pro on this forum has at one time or another been talked into teaching a move or a trick to someone who said he was a serious student of magic, just to see the same person perform and expose the trick for lack of practice. This tends to make one leery of teaching.

Roger Klause has a way of dealing with this. I asked him for help on a particular sleight at one of the magic conventions. I offered to pay him to teach it to me. He asked me what purpose I had in mind for the sleight. So I gave him the idea I was working on. He said, "That's valid." And he helped me with what I had already learned.

He showed me everything I was doing incorrectly, and within just a few minutes, I was able to get through what I had considered a very difficult sleight with very little trouble. It took another six months to get it reasonably smooth, but I did learn it.

Why was this the right thing for Roger to do?

Sleights have no real value out of context. If you don't have a reason to learn a particular move, what good is it? It's like learning to play a particular chord on a piano. If you don't have a place to use it, it will be of no use to you.

A lot of this is attitude. If you go up to a magician and say, "Hey! Teach me dat trick, huh!" you will invariably get a negative response. But if you let the guys see you are really serious, they will help you.
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 08:08 AM

Why does magic have a bad reputation?

"introduce myself as a banjo player and magician."
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 10:06 AM

Obviously, PIERREDAN has never been to Texas!! :D

....Texas is not really part of the United States, it is really a separate country. If you cannot rope a steer, cook an armadillo on the barbacue, play the banjo and do a magic trick AT THE SAME TIME :D .....you are considered a foreigner!! :D :D

As for Bill Palmer in particular....he is one of the most entertaining individuals I have met and, I for one, think that he improves the image of magic every time he steps out in public!( I think it's the mustache!!! ;) )

....and as far as that banjo business....I have heard there is a law in Texas that you must learn to play the banjo before you are allowed to buy your first pickup truck!! .....and every gun rack in Texas comes with a slot for the banjo right below the Winchester!! :D :D
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Postby Jeff Haas » 06/20/07 10:24 AM

There's a few reasons I can think of...

- They've seen performers who suck. Very common among parents who have seen local children's entertainers. Bill's story about strolling performers is the same thing.

- They think it's cheesy. For example, Sigfried and Roy, while tremendously successful, were perceived by a lot of people as a joke due to the style and tone of the show. (This isn't limited to magic, by the way.) The success of Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas is evidence that there's a shift in public tastes. And need I mention David Blaine?

- They think it's for kids. There's some validity to this, because the emotions that magic invokes make you feel like a kid. But a lot of people don't like that in their entertainment, they want something that appeals to their "adult" sensibilities. So violence, sexual content, aggression, etc. etc. has a stronger appeal.

- They think it's a lot of ridiculous build-up for a simple and/or simplistic outcome. In other words, it's trivial. (i.e., most acts on The World's Greatest Magic, which people used to describe to me as "all those Vegas magicians.") Also due to experience seeing bad children's entertainment or bad closeup.

Jeff
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 10:56 AM

An analogous art is stand up comedy. Different, but similar in many ways. Sure, there's lots of bad comedians out there that I've witnessed. There are also many great comedians. Why are there comedy clubs with paying patrons across the country, but only a handful of magic venues?

A magic bar is a great concept IMO, but are they financially viable?

A comedy club and bar - similar, but much more profitable.

WHY?

If a comedian is guilty of stealing material, they are blacklisted. Why do magicians perpetuate/permit thievery, [censored] jokes, bad acting, lame premises, pointless presentations, audience belittlement, and so on? These all contribute to audiences hating magic. Hell, I hate most magic.

I just realized my problem is that I've not learned to play banjo.
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 01:15 PM

I do not think that magic has a bad reputation. I think that there are some magician in magic that think that magic has a bad reputation.

But in my opinion if they were to get out there and perform magic shows. The public doesn't really care and they only want to be entertained.

But also in saying that - there is a right time and place to entertain the public with magic. And often they have to be in the mood.

The other thing I would like to add if I may is another opinion about content. In my opinion there are magicians that don't like magic. I have heard magicians complain about tricks like the linking rings and the zig zag at magic conventions. Tricks like dove pans etc.

In my opinion magicians see to much magic and for them magic is over exposed.

Magicians often think to much about the tricks and in my opinion not enough about entertaining the audience. In my opinion good performance material for the lay audience is the best thing - but also remember that there "is" an audience out there watching the show.

What do they see?

How is the magic and you presented to the audience?

Is the show, magician, etc. Presented with class?

Just a few more thoughts.

Onward and upward!
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 01:18 PM

Jeff Haas wrote:
There's a few reasons I can think of...

- They've seen performers who suck. Very common among parents who have seen local children's entertainers. Bill's story about strolling performers is the same thing.

- They think it's cheesy. For example, Sigfried and Roy, while tremendously successful, were perceived by a lot of people as a joke due to the style and tone of the show. (This isn't limited to magic, by the way.) The success of Cirque Du Soleil in Las Vegas is evidence that there's a shift in public tastes. And need I mention David Blaine?

- They think it's for kids. There's some validity to this, because the emotions that magic invokes make you feel like a kid. But a lot of people don't like that in their entertainment, they want something that appeals to their "adult" sensibilities. So violence, sexual content, aggression, etc. etc. has a stronger appeal.

- They think it's a lot of ridiculous build-up for a simple and/or simplistic outcome. In other words, it's trivial. (i.e., most acts on The World's Greatest Magic, which people used to describe to me as "all those Vegas magicians.") Also due to experience seeing bad children's entertainment or bad closeup.
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S & R were a sort of gay flamboyant that worked perfectly in Las Vegas where one expects to see things over the top. That they could have toured Middle America and been equally successful is open to question.

The Cirque is spectacle with interchangeable acrobats and dancers. It sells an experience of light and sound, the show itself being the attraction instead of an individual performer.

David Blaine has yet to prove himself a theatrical attraction. People will watch him on television for free, but he has not, to my knowledge, framed a stage show and advertised himself as open for business in a theater. When and if that happens and he proves that he is a theatrical attraction rather than just a novelty creature of television, Ill change my view of him.

By contrast, both David Copperfield and Derren Brown took their television exposure to propel a successful stage career. Brown has matured as a stage performer (a different skill set than close-up demands) and gives excellent value for the price of a ticket as has Copperfield for many years.

And on Brown and Copperfields audiences.they are filled with adults.paying adults.

And on The Worlds Greatest Magic, that program was a product of Gary Oueletts editing where he would slice and dice the acts down to what he considered their best four minutes. He did not edit Bob Arno or Penn and Teller, but nearly everyone else had their acts improved by Gary.

Yes, there are a lot of really bad performers, Id hardly call them magicians, but part of that stems from the club culture where no one wants to criticize another performer because the clubs are social in nature, not farm teams set up to produce the next crop of professional magicians. Even when criticism is given, theres no benefit for the critic.

Then there are the people who hire a bad childrens magician. I can, with almost 100% certainty, guarantee you that they went through the phone book calling performers and the first question out of their mouths was, How much do you charge? Price, not experience or quality is their only criteria. Thus you have crappy performers at the bottom of the quality barrel driving out the better people who believe they should be paid for the quality the deliver. John Ruskin had these people in mind when he wrote:
"There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey."

That, and the fantasy sold by dealers that all one needs is the prop (no practice required) and suddenly, youre a magician. Thats like buying a scalpel and suddenly youre a surgeon. The Internet has made access to information about magic relatively common, which is a sad thing for most of us who love the craft.
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Postby Stan Willis » 06/20/07 05:14 PM

Why does Magic have a Bad Reputation?

In the words of Chris Berman, ESPN Sportscaster/Analyst describing a team's performance during a football game:

Mumbling; Bumbling; Stumbling; and Fumbling

I wonder if this analogy can be applied to a good percentage of magic being forced upon the general public these days ?
Stan Willis
 
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Postby Guest » 06/20/07 06:42 PM

Not bad, Stan. It applies to many who walk on stage unprepared, unrehearsed, and ignorant of why they're really there.
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Postby Guest » 06/21/07 10:58 AM

audioslave accurately observed:
Go to any magic gathering, and observe the social skills of the individuals. This is the core problem of "bad magic".
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Well, not all of them, but far too many.

And for the other comment made about "elitism," here's the problem in a rhetorical question not directed at you personally, but tossed out for discussion: Who are you that we should talk to you openly?

It is a fantasy concept that we are all supposed to be "brothers and sisters in magic. This is a nonsensical idea. If you think Im wrong, Ill fall back on a far better-known authority than myself, the late Tommy Wonder who wrote a marvelous essay in Book II of the Books of Wonder entitled One Big Happy Family. I quote:

I assure you, I dont have a problem with people having a good time together, or being brother and sisters united by a common interest. Definitely not! I do, thought, feel there is a serious problem with the expectation that everyone in magic unthinkingly and spontaneously accepts anyone else involved to any degree with magic into the family. Is it realistic to believe that, just because we are all interested in the same thing, we are by this virtue alone equal? I think not. We are not all equal and we are not automatically all brothers and sisters.

The false idea of fraternity leads people to behave as if they were equal when they are not. This is not to say that they are not good people, just that everyone who is involved in magic is not equal to everyone else. This is an absurd notion that is too often overshadowed by the idea of fraternity.

Wonder writes the following as a typical illustration, not an aberration. Fred Kaps, easily one of the finest performers who ever lived, was sitting in the lobby of a convention hotel. One of the registrants stepped up to him and asked him to explain one of his tricks (something Kaps made his living with). Kaps declined politely. In response this fellow said, Come on, why not? We are colleagues? Kaps laughed and replied, 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.

To add to this, we have the Internet with its pervasive use of screen names which gives anonymity to the writer. Yes, magic, as a human enterprise, has its own elitism. What group of humans doesnt? We prefer to congregate and interact with people we view as peers in our field of interest. Frankly, all you need do is prove to those you perceive as elites is that youre one of them and theyll bring you into the fold. Otherwise, my question stands: Why should anyone talk to you just because you have an interest in magic?
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Postby Guest » 06/21/07 03:05 PM

Frankly, all you need do is prove to those you perceive as elites is that youre one of them and theyll bring you into the fold.
With a few exceptions, this has been the opposite of my experience. On ALL fronts, I despise those who feel entitled and righteous. They can keep their 'tude.

Otherwise, my question stands: Why should anyone talk to you just because you have an interest in magic?
I don't EXPECT anything from anyone. never have. never implied it. My intention of posting here isn't to convince anyone of anything. By introverting, avoiding many so called magicians and 'professionals', and discovering several that I feel are masters in magic/art/life, I've grown considerably. My teachers and I take magic much more seriously than a mere 'interest'. We develop ourselves on many levels that not only enhance our own technique and performance skills, but consequently for magic in general and its perception by lay audiences.
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