I'm not sure if "real possible magic" means anything.
Magic is the experience of knowing -- in a dry and intellectual way -- that what you are seeing isn't real but of being absolutely convinced -- emotionally -- that there is no possible explanation for what you are seeing.
This is where your George Lukacs metaphor breaks down. The difference between Stars Wars
and Street Magic
is that, while the former is beautiful and amazing, we know that the creation of these images is possible -- thus it is non-magical -- with Blaine's work we approach the tension between "I know this isn't real" and "there is no possible explanation for what i'm seeing." That's the difference between movies and magic specials that use the medium of television intelligently.
I have never said that I think magic is being brought to "a new level" by this special. I do think that magic on television was brought to a new level by Blaine's first television special. I also think that the level of impossibility of the material presented can be an added incentive to offer our audiences the strongest material possible.
I may be misreading you, but you seem to be suggesting that actors are involved in these specials. I would be extremely
surprised were this the case, do you have any evidence?
I have never been asked by a client to duplicate an effect that was on t.v. -- so I can't speak to the possibility from experience. I can say that my response to questions about Blaine is heavily influenced by a conversation that I had with Bill Malone about these questions. Bill gives David tremendous credit whenever the topic comes up with laymen...saying "yeah, that guy is really amazing..."
I don't know Bill well enough to speculate as to how he would answer a request to do another performer's material (the conversation in question happened during the only evening I have spent with him). I would, however, be extremely surprised if he entertained such a request.
The key is artistic integrity. You don't approach the question, even if it is meant this way, as a challenge. You answer it from the perspective of an artist who does the material that interests him -- not a magical "tribute" act that regurgitates other performers' work.
If a client or booker specifically requested a piece from a television show, my response would be something along the lines of:
"I would rather give your guests an experience that they cannot get from another performer than offer them an imitation of another man's work."
Depending on the client, and my relationship with him/her, I might follow up with:
"If you need to have David Blaine, then by all means hire him."
Being able to experience wonder yourself does a huge amount for a performance because it melts the tension of "he knows what's happening and we don't" and creates a dynamic of "we're all in this together." Fred Kaps, Tommy Wonder, Cardini, Roy Benson, Juan Tamariz, Bill Malone, Doug Henning, Denny Haney, Bob Sheets, Del Ray are all exemplars of this...it is a powerful
tool...and it is all the more powerful when you have the balls to check your ego and acknowledge the greatness of other performers...it goes a long way to establishing a connection with your audience and, provided you have a strong act, you will always have more impact with an effect that they have only seen you do, than you will when you repeat something they've seen someone else do before..
So would I say to someone "instead of me levitating for you 5 feet of the ground like Criss and David do on TV, here is this..."? I'm still trying to figure out what can compare to that.
There is material in my repertoire that, when performed live, has greater impact than watching Criss Angel levitate 5 feet on T.V. If you're just interested in getting that impact, it really isn't that difficult -- with a center tear and a strong script you could start a religion.
This is, I think, the perfect time to under-sell strong material. This is the time to self-consciously mumble "well, this isn't as good as that stuff" then (for example) hand them a deck, have them mix it behind their back and place two cards into separate pockets without seeing their identities...you focus and not only announce the identities of the cards, but ask which pockets they should be in...the punch comes three times harder because they're surprised that what you're doing is so strong...
you didn't float five feet off of the ground, but don't be surprised if the next magician that they run into gets bugged about what you did -- and not about Criss Angel...
I like that our conversation has gotten away from the typical monday morning quarterback talk that usually follows these specials and has gotten into how we react to them in public.