David Ben - exposer

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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 12:16 AM

Where do you draw the line on what constitutes exposure? Should magic shops sell to magicians only and not the curious who wander in? Should there be some sort of test to determine who's entitlted to buy secrets? Or if someone is willing to lay down money is that enough to guarntee his sincerity?

Watching the video, it seems obvious the exposure wasn't blatant or gratuitious and I'm sure the performer had no intention of harming magic. And I can't imagine many who saw the demonstration will remember the specifics -- I have trouble remembering my own phone number. We tend to discard that which isn't relevant to us. If you're not into magic you're probably not going to remember the secret of an effect for very long.

Exposure happens. The alternative is nobody shares or sells anything and each invents his own material entirely, and that's not gonna be good for the art. Magic is much more than the secrets. Just my opinion.
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Postby Brian Marks » 12/30/04 12:36 AM

I am a big P & T fan. They expose some stuff for educational purposes and I support them. Thats irrelevant since they could care less what I do. Its the same with David Ben. I see what's wrong in what he's doing and if I did there is nothing more than complaining that I can do.
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Postby CraigMitchell » 12/30/04 02:34 AM

Its exposure - plain and simple.

The question remains whether its justifiable ?

And that's where the argument will always lie and I doubt will ever be resolved ...
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Postby mrgoat » 12/30/04 03:58 AM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
I am a big P & T fan. They expose some stuff for educastional purposes
What have P&T exposed for educational purposes that they didn't invent specifically for the sole reason of exposing (ie TrapDoor and The Trick Truck thing)?
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Postby mrgoat » 12/30/04 04:00 AM

Originally posted by Craig Mitchell:
Its exposure - plain and simple.

The question remains whether its justifiable ?

And that's where the argument will always lie and I doubt will ever be resolved ...
It is so easy to resolve this one.

How many 'masked magicians' specials have there been now? I don't have cable, so I don't know for sure but I remember at least three.

How many magic acts have closed as a result? Again, I don't know for sure, but I would wager none at all.

If anything, this 'exposure' seems to get people talking about magic.

They next day they can't remember the method anyway as - get this - they don't *really* care.

IMHO - as ever.
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Postby Brian Marks » 12/30/04 04:32 AM

Originally posted by mrgoat:
Originally posted by Brian Marks:
[b] I am a big P & T fan. They expose some stuff for educastional purposes
What have P&T exposed for educational purposes that they didn't invent specifically for the sole reason of exposing (ie TrapDoor and The Trick Truck thing)? [/b]
They expose. Thats it, their exposure. What they expose is irrelevant. If people complaining about David Ben are so outraged, than why not more about P & T who expose every night?
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Postby Joe Z » 12/30/04 08:06 AM

It's sad when certain magicians (both professional and amateur) intentionally expose magic/mentalism concepts to lay people. It's even more pathetic when magician sycophants support that same exposure.

I still recall reading John Mulholland and Henry Hay years ago when I first began my serious interest in magic -- they both were very adamant about keeping the methods of magic secret. It seems that tenet of the craft has fallen by the wayside -- in my opinion, that is truly unfortunate. And pathetic.

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Postby Jim Morton » 12/30/04 09:55 AM

Interesting...

I see that fundamentalism exists outside of the realm of religion.

Jim :sleep:
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 12/30/04 11:41 AM

One of my Genii Forum pet peeves is people who register and then make their first post to trash somebody. It's even more offensive when the person does not reveal his own identity, and infinitely more so when the target is somebody who has raised the magical bar for so many of us.

I predict that Tom G. will post to this thread only, and never become a vital and interesting contributor to this on-line community. I also predict that David Ben will continue to sustain his very high level of magic and encourage the rest of us to do the same.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/30/04 11:57 AM

I watched Ben's presentation. He exposes more than just the Tossed Out Deck. He exposes the Force, the Top Change, the One-Handed Second Deal and, interestingly enough, gets a better reaction from the audience out of the exposure than the original tricks.

Fortunately, an experienced performer could follow him and, using the Cassandra Deck, easily fool the audience again.

He also makes several nonsensical statements such as, "Dai Vernon was the greatest magician of the 20th Century," and claims that "Vernon taught magicians how to solve problems."


At the height of the Camel Cigarette exposure ads of the 1930s, Blackstone Sr enlarged the ad exposing Sawing A Woman in Half and prominently displayed it in the theater lobby. He then presented the Buzz Saw and fooled the hell out of the audience.

I've done a Linking Ring routine for years and, like many others before me, had people come up and say that they had a set of "those rings" in a magic set when they were a kid and that "mine must work differently."

The real damage of exposing like what was done by Fox Television and Valentine, The Masked Magician, was to give the strong impression that the "secret" was in the box and that anyone could purchase the box and be a "magician," something that every pro knows is nonsense. Nevertheless, Fox and Valentine contributed to a cheapening of magic that didn't benefit anyone but themselves.

What David Ben is doing benefits him and his presentation and is inconsequential in the greater scheme of things.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 12/30/04 12:00 PM

So many of us had our start in magic through the easily accessible works of Mulholland, Hay, and a few others, available in the public libraries. It so happens these authors emphasized the importance of secrecy; maybe they believed in it, or perhaps they knew they were reaching out to hobbiests who would not readily appreciate the history of what they would be doing. In any event, it so happens that other authors, before and since, though less accessible, emphasized the exact opposite -- secrets are not what magic is about (Fitzkee, Nelms, etc).

Adding to the weight of the secrecy-at-all-cost mythos for many neophytes like Tom G., we have two entities: (1) magic clubs, and (2) magic dealers, both of whom seem to have "special interest" in perpetuating the mythos.

That's my two cents worth. What are your thoughts?
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Postby Randy Naviaux » 12/30/04 12:07 PM

Two points: Taking in the talk/performance as a whole then the effect was a card to wallet. The two "explanations" were done to throw the audience off track of the last effect. This is not much different than many effects were we pretend to explain how it was done. ie. Silk to egg.

The other point is...wow! He is one of the best performers I have ever seen. That was a polished and smooth presentation.

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Postby Joe Z » 12/30/04 12:41 PM

Adding to the weight of the secrecy-at-all-cost mythos for many neophytes like Tom G., we have two entities: (1) magic clubs, and (2) magic dealers, both of whom seem to have "special interest" in perpetuating the mythos.

That's my two cents worth. What are your thoughts? [/QB]
Both magic clubs and magic shops require a layman to show at least minimal interest in the craft (i.e., to make the effort to seek it out and then pay for the right to learn the secrets).

Certainly there is much more to magic/mentalism than the secrets -- practiced technical skills, performance development, stagecraft, etc. And once upon a time, there was an ethical standard that is rapidly diminishing throughout the magical world these days. This lack of ethics is exhibited in the outright exposure of concepts and material developed by those creators who preceded us.

It just galls me to see magicians support this behavior and attempt to justify it by prattling on that exposure doesn't hurt the craft and gee whiz, Houdini and Dunninger exposed so it can't be all that bad.

IMO, wanton exposure is insulting to the craft and its past masters whose knowledge is now in our stewardship. We should be a lot more careful with what we know and how we use it.

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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 01:06 PM

Great topic of discussion!

To this day... I'm upset over Muhammed Ali's constant exposure of the thumb tip! I still use mines, but I know a lot of magicians that are afraid to make a scarf vanish for fear of some adult yelling out.... "Hey, he has a fake finger!"

I guess it's safe to say that we magicians our own worst enemy! Maybe it's the many illusions that we are surrounded by that makes us contradict ourselves.

"There is no REPEAT PERFORMANCE VALUE behind exposed tricks." - j.Mirage
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Postby David Alexander » 12/30/04 01:22 PM

Sorry to disappoint, but knowing magic history as I do, there never was an "ethical standard" about exposure in the "good old days" that is "rapidly diminishing" today. People exposed back then....people expose today, only today there's more communication available to the individual such as the Internet. Other than that, little has changed.

David Ben has to be seen in context.

Angelo Lewis, the vaunted Professor Hoffman, was considered an arch exposer in his day, his books being aimed at the public as they were. Many of the things we see as quaint today, carefully described by Hoffman, were highly expensive apparatus in his day, gratituously exposed as the majority of his readers would never be able to afford them. His first book contract was 500 pounds, a princely sum. His books today are "classics."

Blackstone, Dante, Thurston, et al. all "exposed" simple magic tricks in their programs and in various other places, Thurston's two books, for example. There was a flap over Tarbell "exposing" tricks via mail order instruction in his early days. John Scarne had several books of cards tricks aimed at the general public, etc.

Max Holden was reported to be the source of the info for the Camel Cigarette exposure ads...and he was a respected dealer.

Bruce Elliot took items from The Phoenix and reproduced them in Classic Secrets of Magic, a book once found in nearly every public library in the country....also viewed today as a classic. I don't recall a hue and cry for Bruce's head, the tricks he described including the Egg Bag and the Cups and Balls still entertain and fool people.

The Magic Circle expelled David Devant for "exposing" at a time when there wasn't a member qualified to shine his shoes. They came to their senses a year later and reinstated him, proving that some sliver of sanity prevailed in a largely amateur club.

Then there's A.C. Gilbert and the hundreds of thousands of magic sets he produced (along with dozens of other manufacturers) which exposed generations of kids to magic principles. Nearly every set had a set of Linking Rings and a set of Cups and Balls.

And if we're going to get upset about exposure, what about the various famous magicians and magic "consultants" who happily provide the breadth and depth of their knowledge to corporations for non-magical purposes for a fee?

A very famous guy rented illusions and props to Disney for the "Mickey Mouse Magic Show," where costumed characters performed instead of a "real" magician. This was done because Disney figured they couldn't afford a "real" magician. Kirkham once told me of a meeting with Walt and Roy Disney. Walt loved magic. The purpose of the meeting was to explore the feasibility of a magic show at Disneyland. Walt asked Kirk how many people he [Kirk] would need to produce a quality show. Kirk replied, "Five."

Walt turned to Roy and said, "Can we afford it?" and Roy nixed the deal as "too expensive." Another magican, some time later, rented the props and Disney had their show on the cheap...but no one complained about the cheapening of magic or exposure to non-magical people.

Then there's all the dealers who happily appropriated Chop Chop's idea of the Chop Cup seconds after he died, producing it in a variety of shapes and forms without the widow getting a dime in royalties. Where's the outrage at that?

Sorry, putting Ben's behavior in context of magic history, I can't get worked up over what he did. As I said, what Ben did is inconsequential.
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Postby Joe Z » 12/30/04 02:18 PM

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Sorry to disappoint, but knowing magic history as I do, there never was an "ethical standard" about exposure in the "good old days" that is "rapidly diminishing" today. People exposed back then....people expose today, only today, there's more communication available to the individual such as the Internet. Other than that, little has changed.
Many magic writers that I read in my youth emphasized the importance of secrecy and imparted that concept in me through their books. For example, Jean Hugard, the respected magician and author of such classic works as "Royal Road to Card Magic" and "Expert Card Technique," wrote about the traditional stance that magic societies (circa 1944) took concerning exposure:

"Every magic society requires its membership to take a vow on joining that they will not reveal any secrets of magic. If any member feels his urge for publicity... compels him to break his vow, then he should be made to suffer the penalties provided in such cases... If such offences are condoned or glossed over, the societies stultify themselves. It is strange that such artists (?) cannot see that such exposure ruins the whole effect of their acts, for the spectators naturally conclude that their other feats are done by equally simple methods and the whole glamour of magic is destroyed."

This was the prevailing ethical stance of the past that I am talking about. I could cite you a lot more from the bookcases of old books I have from that era. And, of course, there were exposers back in the early to mid 20th century. Sure, even some past big-name magicians exposed to some extent. However, that doesn't make their exposure ethical or excusable.

Many of the examples of exposure you cite are general magic books that were penned for the lay public. There is a place for this kind of publication, and I have no problem with magic books that interested individuals must either buy or seek out in public libraries. This isn't wanton exposure in that a curious individual must make an effort to find out how a trick may work.

Originally posted by David Alexander:
Sorry, putting Ben's behavior in context of magic history, I can't get worked up what he did. As I said, it's inconsequential. [/qb]
I watched the performance David Ben includes on his own website and witnessed him revealing the workings of David Hoy's Tossed Out Deck, a staple routine in many working performers' repertoires. It was not his routine to expose, and IMO the resultant exposure was unwarranted and inexcusable for a professional of his caliber.

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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 02:33 PM

David Alexander.... you're a writer, and I have a project that I'm working on that you might be interested in! Please forward your email address to magicmx@hotmail.com. Are you a member of the Castle?
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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 02:38 PM

Joel... you may be interested in this writing job too.. I'll send you an email.
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Postby Michael Kamen » 12/30/04 03:40 PM

Unfortunately, the requirement of both magic dealers and magic clubs for (relative) masses of hobbiests to serve their survival and economy lends truth to your statement:

Both magic clubs and magic shops require a layman to show at least minimal interest in the craft (i.e., to make the effort to seek it out and then pay for the right to learn the secrets).
The public-to-be-entertained does not benefit from those masses of hobbiests, nor from the proliferation of tricks to satisfy that market.

Secret societies have their own appeal to many people, and that is more than enough to perpetuate a mythos. In what way does the secret-society thing advance magic as a performance art? Or does it just advance magic as a compelling hobby, as it started being around the 1940-50's or so.

The trick I heard David Ben explain sounded to me very generic -- nice, clever, but generic. Some here have vaunted it as proprietary to David Hoy. If the latter first published this particular sequence of magical artifices, he deserves credit and the recognition of his peers. To treat such a thing as a proprietary "secret" seems just a little bit silly.
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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 04:41 PM

Exposure is still exposure no matter how you try to justify it. Whether in context or not we as magicians (and mentalists) work WITH secrets aqnd ANY exposure is wrong. In fact, we all swear a vow to keep those secrets (regardless of reasons) when we join the IBM, the SAM, the PEA, The Magic Circle, even the Magic Castle and I for one would back anyone trying to throw David Ben out of any of those clubs for this and I for one think that what he has done, regardless of the reasons is wrong. And I know that Dunninger, Blackstone and the others that have were still wrong no matter what anyone says.

MAGICIANS Keep secrets NOT expose them!

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
AB Stagecraft
http://www.mindguy.com/store
Supplying unique mentalism world-wide
(And we do NOT expose secrets)
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 12/30/04 05:21 PM

Always wrong? Under any circumstances?

Dai Vernon exposed the false transfer of a ball during his performance of the cups and balls every time he did it including on national television (Mark Wilsons Magic Circus). Does that count? Again, does the exposure of second and bottom deals by Ricky Jay and countless others count as exposure? They are, after all, techniques used by magiciansmyself included. Ricky Jay also uses the false transfer sequence in his cups and ball routine. Of course, Ricky Jay isnt worried about being thrown out of any magic organizations, and neither is Dai Vernon.

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Postby David Alexander » 12/30/04 05:47 PM

To bolster his argument, Joe Zabel quotes Jean Hugard on ethics and exposure. If you have a copy of Kaufman's reissue of Greater Magic and the huge section "More Greater Magic" you'll find correspondence between Hugard (brought on as editor after Hilliard died) and Carl Jones, the publisher.

Jones had written Nate Leipzig about notes Hilliard had left about two tricks of Leipzig's that Hilliard wanted for the book. (Hilliard actually had more extensive notes on several of Leipzig's pet effects.)

Leipzig wrote back explaining that "These two tricks are in my repetoire and I use them at all my performances." Rightfully, he didn't want to give his competition in New York City his pet routines. Leipzig also explained that he was compliling data for a book of his own.

Jones explained the problem to Hugard, saying to Hugard, "If you think it is important that we have something from him, maybe you can speak to him about it sometime."

Within a few days the "respected and ethical" Jean Hugard who you quote as an example of the old school of magic ethics, replies to Jones re Leipzig's material (with Hugard fully informed as to how Leipsig felt): "I think it wise to include him in the chapter on card experts. If he doesn't respond I can write up a couple of tricks he does."

A week later Hugard wrote to Jones: "Card Stars of the U.S.A. This chapter is now complete with the exception of one trick by Leipzig. I know the trick J.N. Hilliard intended to include and will somehow, without approaching Leipzig, get the full details."

In other words, against Leipzig's expressed wishes, Hugard was happy to steal material from a working pro (presumably a friend or at the least a fellow "magic society" member) to make his employer happy either by writing it up himself or by getting it from a third party without Leipzig's knowledge or permission.

This was around 70 years ago, so please don't talk to me about the "ethical old days."

The general public is only momentarily interested in how things are done. As I said, it seemed that Ben got a bigger reaction when he explained how he did his effects than when he did them, but that is immaterial. If they're not interested, people forget. Question that audience a few days or a week later and they won't have any details of what Ben "explained," primarily because they were only interested in a cursory way.

Could he have done it in a better way?

Probably.

Will this "hurt magic" in any way?

No.

Is this much ado about nothing?

You betcha!
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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 05:48 PM

Like all of us I am against blatant exposure but like others I think there is value in looking at this in context. David probably gets more converts to our art than anybody. His executive audiences are educated and often motivated by his "exposure" to not only learn magic but to use it to more effectively communicate to the people they manage. In his motivational presentations I believe he is teaching how magic can be used to communicate more effectively.
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Postby David Alexander » 12/30/04 05:58 PM

Originally posted by Jmirage:
[
To this day... I'm upset over Muhammed Ali's constant exposure of the thumb tip! I still use mines, but I know a lot of magicians that are afraid to make a scarf vanish for fear of some adult yelling out.... "Hey, he has a fake finger!"

I guess it's safe to say that we magicians our own worst enemy! Maybe it's the many illusions that we are surrounded by that makes us contradict ourselves.

"There is no REPEAT PERFORMANCE VALUE behind exposed tricks." - j.Mirage [/QB]
A well-known mid-West dealer was trying to sell a thumb tip to an inexperienced amateur. The amateur, on seeing the tip (painted metal in those days) scoffed at anyone ever being fooled by the device.

The dealer didn't miss a beat, put the thumb tip away and did a T & R paper with red crepe paper. The amateur was thoroughly fooled and agreed to buy the trick on the spot. The dealer showed him it was done with a thumb tip, painted red.

Properly handled, secret devices are never suspected. I have thumb tips and finger tips for a variety of uses, none of which ever create suspicion that I'm using a "fake thumb."

If you want a quote, try this one: "It's a poor workman who blames his tools."
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Postby Robert Allen » 12/30/04 07:31 PM

David Alexander writes:

"Is this much ado about nothing?"

Well, I thought it was a good trick. I can see no way to justify explaining a good trick to people who aren't magicians. I mean, isn't that literally the very first rule one learns as a 'magician'?

To Dustin I respectfully ask:

How is exposing the workings of something, something which is not public knowledge or public intellectal property, to people who have no need to learn it, NOT gratuitous?

BTW, Dai Vernon didn't "explain" the false transfer, since the next part of his routine shows that he was still able to do the trick, hence in the mind of the spectator he explained nothing.

I don't know Mr. Ben, so my comments are not of a personal nature. However must assume he makes good money for his motivational talks to executives. So what this really comes down to is simply money. That's also what publishing ripoffs of unlicensed tricks is about. That's also what taking money for magic books you never print is about. That's also what publishing material (for pay) based on someone elses as yet unreleased material is about. ALL of these things have been discussed in this forum in the past and for the most part condemned.

The issue is not exposure. As noted that comes and goes, and can be worked around. The issue is integrity. All professions come with rules. And in any profession there are the people who play by the rules, and the ones who do not. The ones who play by the rules have integrity. The ones who do not, regardless of how sucessful they become, do not.

IMHO of course.
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Postby Scott Fridinger » 12/30/04 07:33 PM

Ok well what do you think about this.....

http://magic.about.com/library/tricks/b ... enuesp.htm
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Postby Robert Sixx » 12/30/04 07:35 PM

I have to say that I watched the entire presentation, I thought that it was very interesting and David made some great points -- I personally enjoyed it.

However, he was giving a presentation to business people -- was he being paid to do a magic lecture, I don't know!

In my opinion, with a little thought, he could have made his points just as well without the exposure!

So was it necessary?

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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 07:47 PM

David Ben has made it very clear that he has no respect for the art of magic. I encourage all of you to join me at Mr. Ben's house tommorow where I will be protesting his exposure. Please bring any of Mr. Ben's alleged books or lecture notes, we will be burning them. I'll take care of the life size David Ben doll to burn in effigy. I would greatly appreciate it if everybody could bring some sort of desert for the potluck afterwards.

Noah Levine

P.S. I will follow this up with an actual post
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Postby Robert Allen » 12/30/04 07:55 PM

Interesting web site, I looked at a couple of tricks. One was the rising matchbox, which is probably one of the first tricks I ever learned as a kid, from a book I bought or checked out from the library. The only part that I'd take issue with, and which was wrong, was the claim that this trick was just like the one sold using a straw figure. But that's fine since in reality they didn't explain the straw figure (as described in Okito On Magic I believe).

People learn magic from other people, from books, and from video. At some point they may step up from the basic materials that have been stock in trade for a century or more. But adding to the list of tricks that people can learn for 'free' makes little sense. It teaches nothing. It's truly unwarranted.

I just don't get it. As children we learn basic rules. Things like "thou shalt not kill". Wash your hands after using the bathroom. As amateur magicans we learn stuff like "never explain how you do it". Is it REALLY that freaking hard to follow such a basic rule, to the letter, at least until the person you're considering showing it to has demonstrated that they have put in a bit of effort to earn the knowledge?

Check it out: in custom knifemaking circles there's a material known as damascus steel, composed of high and low carbon materials this can be laminated and etched to produce wonderful patterns on a blade. It's very hard, very tedious work. But makers nowadays are producing patterns like very small american flags, words, etc, by forge welded laminated steel. At a knife show there was a top maker of such patterns talking to some friends, and one of the friends had brought a newbie with him. The newbie asked "Just how DO you make those little patterns that look like XYZ?" The maker refused to answer, until the person who brought the newbie, told the newbie "Show him your ticket." So the newbie pulled out a basic forge welded billet he had made. This was his "ticket" to show that he wasn't just some bozo out to steal secrets. So he got the answer to his question.

Something given has no value. It has to be earned. If someone was truly talking to a roomful of execs and showing how a neat trick was done to make a point, I'd say first that they can't be that much of a motivational speaker if they can't come up with a less contentious way to make whatever point they're trying to make. Second I'd say that if one wants to expose material, for free or for pay, how about exposing material one has invented. Either that or stick to teaching people how to make drumhead tubes out of wiener cans.
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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 07:57 PM

Two questions that may help this discussion along

Why is exposure bad for magic?

What is the difference between a magician and a layperson?
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Postby David Alexander » 12/30/04 08:06 PM

Thanks to Robert Allen I shall rephrase. I should have said, "Is this much ado about very little?" In the context that I have previously explained, I think yes.

It is interesting to see how wide-ranging this discussion has been and how David Ben has gone from an exposer in a highly limited area to someone without integrity because he does not follow the "rules" of the "profession." I expect a call for a public flogging next.

There is no "profession" and there are no "rules," only those professed by amateur societies for their members, rules which they are too often unwilling to enforce.

Were we to apply Robert Allen's criteria, many
of the world's most famous and successful professional magicians would be seen as without "integrity."

I do not know David Ben. We have communicated a few times and my limited interaction with him
has always been pleasant and courteous. With "all" that has transpired, all that has been said of him in these various postings, I would happily welcome him into my home any time he cared to visit for I see his "transgressions" as utterly and completely "inconsequential."

Unlike Robert Allen I would not put Ben in the same category as someone who collects money for books that have never been printed; stealing tricks from others and selling them as his own; or any of the myriad affronts often discussed here.

I would observe that hack amateurs and wannbe professionals who have little to no understanding of presenting magic before the public do far more damage than David Ben could do in a lifetime of giving motivational talks of the type shown in the link above.

He was professional and entertaining which means he'll help create an opening for another professional to follow.

I would prefer a dozen David Bens doing what he's doing to one or two hack amateurs who bore and offend their audiences, convincing people that "magic" is not good entertainment.

A bit of perspective here would be a good thing.
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Postby magicam » 12/30/04 09:11 PM

Interesting thread. I'm not comfortable with seeing the ethical lines as black and white because I think there are too many subtleties regarding the topic of "exposure."

Lisa Cousins wrote:

One of my Genii Forum pet peeves is people who register and then make their first post to trash somebody. It's even more offensive when the person does not reveal his own identity, and infinitely more so when the target is somebody who has raised the magical bar for so many of us.

I predict that Tom G. will post to this thread only, and never become a vital and interesting contributor to this on-line community. I also predict that David Ben will continue to sustain his very high level of magic and encourage the rest of us to do the same.
Not that I agree with Tom G., but Im not sure that he/she is trashing David Ben. Criticizing, yes; trashing, Im not so sure. Ive read Lisa Cousins posts many times and they are thoughtful. But I have to disagree with the notion that a newbie is not entitled to an opinion. This is a forum and the expression of opinions is what GF is for. As to revealing his/her identity, Tom G. seems open enough, and his/her e-mail address is not hidden. Further, I do not agree with the idea that a valuable contributor to magic (which is, I believe, Cousins opinion of David Ben) should not be subject to honest, albeit candid, criticism. If Tom G. never posts again, that is his/her prerogative.

Im not trying to be too harsh on Cousins and I hope my comments are accepted in the spirit of honest dialogue. Its just that, on this particular point, I disagree fairly strongly with Cousins. The point that I disagree with most is that the comment should somehow be interpreted in light of the person making it (newbie vs. experienced or well-known poster). There are of course times when the person speaking lends weight to the idea expressed. But, generally speaking, I believe a comment should stand or fall on its merits and not on the identity of the messenger.

Finally, in the few moments I had with David in New York City one evening, I found him to be an utter gentleman and a genuine lover of magic. His enthusiasm was very apparent and infectious. But, even with the greatest of respect accorded to David, should he be immune from being criticized in a civil and good faith manner? IMHO, I dont think so. And I would venture a guess that he would be the first to agree.

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Postby Guest » 12/30/04 10:49 PM

David Ben is one of the most highly skilled, respected and successful magicians in North America. Perhaps the best in Canada.

Tom G., whoever he is, must logically be less famous, skilled, and well paid, which may explain the reason for this attack, and the title of the thread.

I would have preferred to see this speech and presentation posted in the Link Watch section, as "An Amazing 30 Minute Video of David Ben Online for Free!" [Direct links here or here.


Anyone who has David Ben's book "Tricks" will benefit from watching this material, as he demonstrates his take on Everybody's Card which, trust me, the businessmen are not going to go home and perform unless they can do two dribble forces, a Top Change From A Spread, and a One Hand Second Deal.

Instead of wondering if Mr. Ben is a candidate for a public burning, you might wonder if he's not the victim here, since he didn't ask Canspeak to post a free version of his talk where everyone, including magicians who like to "borrow" lines of patter, can see it at no charge. It would be a shame, in fact, if he responds to this by asking them to take it down.

A few years ago I attended a presentation by an American-born Buddhist practitioner, who taught martial arts and esoteric Buddhism.

He was reading from a copy of a secret mikkyo scroll, and said "Hm. It says here 'Very important. And very secret.'" He looked up at us and smiled, "Oh, what the heck, I'll tell you anyway."

Here's the point about exposure: I promptly forgot the esoteric Buddhist secret. Went right out of my head, and I have a good memory.

Not relevant, I'm not much of a believer. (But I can still do the some of the martial arts maneuvers he showed us.)

The businessmen in the audience are not going to get anything harmful to magic from this. They're just going to get the motivational message.

And yes, they're also going to have much better experience of magic than they would get from many practitioners of Magic Aversion Therapy.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 12/31/04 01:51 AM

Originally posted by Robert Allen:
I just don't get it. As children we learn basic rules. Things like "thou shalt not kill".
I've never killed another person. I think people shouldn't kill other people.

But if someone were trying to kill my wife or one of my sons I would kill them without hesitation. I would regret, for the rest of my life, having to do it, but not having done it.

So if "thou shalt not kill" has exceptions, surely "don't expose the secret of a magic trick" is not more stringent.

Sorry to pick on Robert Allen, but:
Is it REALLY that freaking hard to follow such a basic rule, to the letter, at least until the person you're considering showing it to has demonstrated that they have put in a bit of effort to earn the knowledge?
Which is it? Do we have to follow the rule to the letter, or just until the person you're considering showing it to has demonstrated that they have put in a bit of effort to earn the knowledge?

You can't have it both ways. Either you absolutely insist on the rule being followed to the letter, or you allow for exceptions. It sounds like Robert Allen allows for exceptions. I agree. But why then does he argue otherwise?
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Postby timbrown » 12/31/04 07:42 AM

What is the difference between a magician and a layperson?

A magician is someone who, with a few mouse clicks and a credit card, purchases the secrets of magic.

A layperson is someone who hasn't yet clicked that mouse.

Let's face it - there isn't a whole lot of difference between Mr. Ben's lecture and an instructional DVD (I actually think that Mr. Ben's lecture is better than most of the instructional DVD's). In fact, it is more likely that a layperson would obtain secrets from one of the thousands of online "Magic Shops" than from Mr. Ben's lecture. After all, the lecture is open to only a few but the online shops are open to all.

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Postby Guest » 12/31/04 08:13 AM

My God...not the tossed out deck. What is this world coming to. Time to grow up kids...As Shakespear once noted...Much ado about nothing.
David Devant and Penn and Teller would be nailed by some but I would rather hang out with them any day...since, you see they are real magicians and so is David Ben. Like it or not, exposure is a part of this artform, unless we all leaned from a secretive master without venturing into a library to read a book on magic by, oh let's say, Blackstone, Scarne, Bruce Elliot to name a few. And not everyone that went for the book ended up a magician but some were turned on to the art by having it explained (exposed). I have been to David's lecture when he did the tossed out deck and I would venture to say that few, if any, that did not have an interest in magic would later remember how the trick was done.

For the record, my belief is what hurts magic the most is not exposure but the poor performer and there are too many of them to count. David Ben is a consumate performer and gives back much more to the art then most.

By the way, Tom G, I noticed that you joined this website under this false name on December 29th. Interesting how you find it easy to smear someone while remaining incognito...and, at the same time, talk about ehtics. Strange set of principles that you share with us.

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Postby Guest » 12/31/04 08:52 AM

Originally posted by Nick Sacco:
By the way, Tom G, I noticed that you joined this website under this false name on December 29th. Interesting how you find it easy to smear someone while remaining incognito...and, at the same time, talk about ehtics. Strange set of principles that you share with us.
Numerous people join numerous websites under false or cryptic names. While I don't prefer to do so myself, I don't see why it's considered unethical.

That's not a comment on the gist of this thread, only on the subject of user names.

Dave
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/31/04 09:25 AM

It would seem that "Tom G." is someone who has a particular grudge against David Ben.
It's highly unlikely that anyone would run across the link he posted by accident.
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Postby Robert Allen » 12/31/04 09:29 AM

The earlier analogy about "who is a magician" is interesting and I agree. But by pressing the mouse button and spending some of one's own cash on an item you have demonstrated in a very small way your interest in magic. People who get that information for free have demonstrated nothing. People who get that information free as a way of explaining a point while paying for something else also have not demonstrated an interest, and thus have no rightful claim to the information.

David Alexander writes: "There is no "profession" and there are no "rules," only those professed by amateur societies for their members, rules which they are too often unwilling to enforce." LOL. I see, so since magic tricks aren't patented or copyrighted, there's no problem with ripping them off. Thanks for clearing that up.

I'm not sitting here fuming about David Ben exposing a trick to a room full of execs. I'm just baffled as to how a magician would pick the tool of exposing a trick to laymen as part of a presentation used to make money. It's like doing a Catholic communion and just handing a bag of wafers to the first person in line and telling them to take one and pass the bag down to the next person while the priest goes out for a cigarette. It's just not done.
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Postby Joe Z » 12/31/04 10:07 AM

Originally posted by Nick Sacco:
[QB] Like it or not, exposure is a part of this artform, unless we all leaned from a secretive master without venturing into a library to read a book on magic by, oh let's say, Blackstone, Scarne, Bruce Elliot to name a few.
IMO, writing and publishing a general magic book for the lay public or even magic community could hardly be considered exposure. However, when a magician purposefully reveals to lay audiences the concepts and working of a gimmick or ploy used by other working performers -- especially when that concept is not an original idea of the magician -- that is what I would call exposure.

Originally posted by Nick Sacco:
For the record, my belief is what hurts magic the most is not exposure but the poor performer and there are too many of them to count. David Ben is a consumate performer and gives back much more to the art then most.
No doubt, poor performers do hurt magic and there are lots of bad performers. However, I would guess that most of them probably don't intentionally mean to demean the craft or expose through their wretched performances.

David Ben is certainly a hard-working and gifted performer, and for this reason I am saddened that he would choose to expose in this manner.

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