Horrified and Appalled at Exposure

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Postby Todd Lassen » 01/10/07 11:23 AM

Took the kids, this past weekend, to see "A Night at the Museum". I had high anticipations that this would undoubtedly be one of the best films ever made. And since it was filmed at the Chicago Field Museum, a place the whole family is familiar with, I was almost giddy when entering the new deluxe theater complex here in greater Davenport, Iowa. I just knew that I was going to be a hero for bringing the fam for a round of real entertainment.

Just as expected, Night at the Museum started out with a bang and was almost immediately entertaining, especially since we were all familiar with the interior of the museum...we could really relate. But unbeknownst to all of us, a horrific scene was lurking just around the corner. Ben Stiller is reading up on his history to find out how to get along with the museum characters. He finds that Attila the Hun is a magic affectianado, and in his efforts to befriend Attila he performs some simple magic effects.

Just when things are going good, he EXPOSES a thumbtip with a silk clearly hanging out of it..not only to Attila and friends, but also to the entire theater audience. The camera actually zooms in on the exposure. It was clearly horrifying.

I tried to enjoy the rest of the movie, but when I thought about how many people would be going to see this movie, sweat began to form on my forehead and I could feel my blood pressure starting to surge out of control.

Truly a sad day for all magicians and total devastion for my entire family. I'm sure it is too late for protests, but next time I see Ben Stiller......
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 11:53 AM

I wouldn't worry !
There was an exposure on a french public site of "sealed & healed" , i was shocked to see it on a public "non magician" forum .. but the comments of most of the people amazed me even more... they almost all said that it's not possible in "life" only on video...

I suppose it would be the same here...

J.
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Postby Glenn Farrington » 01/10/07 01:49 PM

I though the same thing Todd did when I saw that. However that did not keep me from loving the rest of the film.

I was with laymen and asked them afterwards about the trick. Each one thought he was just hiding the handkerchief behind his hand. No one saw or figured out about the tip. Just shows you how good the tip is...even when it's exposed...it still fools people.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 01/10/07 02:32 PM

I wasn't upset with the exposure -- the use of a thumb tip to vanish a small silk is a favourite trick of bad magicians all over the world (along with the vanishing cigarette). It's usually done very badly. Its time is over -- let's move on!

Check out Roger Klause's handling of this effect: a fooler, even if you know about thumb tips.

I once saw Jack Chanin do a fabulous routine with a thumb tip that was painted bright red -- but you never saw it.
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Postby Todd Lassen » 01/10/07 03:02 PM

Sorry boys, it was a joke. I didn't think anyone would really take me seriously, especially the sweating and high blood pressure stuff. Actually, the whole thing was pretty rediculous. Cheers.
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 04:21 PM

I knew you were kidding when you said there was a theater in Iowa.
Steve V
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Postby Todd Lassen » 01/10/07 04:55 PM

Yeah, actually the 'deluxe theater complex' gets pretty cold here this time of year because the speakers don't allow you to roll the windows all the way up.

Ah well, snagging Farrington made it all worthwhile. :) Hi Glen!
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 09:58 PM

Regarding Bob Farmer's Chanin story about red thumb tip, Chanin would also experiment with an unpainted bare metal thumb tip. (to show off)
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 11:08 PM

Regarding Chanin....not only was he a master of the thumbtip, but also on the art of sleeving cigars(lit), silverware, thumbtips, coins, glassware,..etc. I think that Vernon once quoted that Chanin could sleeve a brick if given the opportunity...alex
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 11:22 PM

We're getting away from the original thread, but yes he would also produce a brick if I remember correctly and make a lot of noise with it for effect.
I had the honor of illustrating for him on the manuscripts for the sleeving book among others. (not re-published)back in the 70's.
To stay on the thread, I think he'd be initially shocked at the exposure of the TT but realize like most of us that laymen nearly always forget any exposure they witness.
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Postby Guest » 01/10/07 11:57 PM

Ben Stiller was, for a short time, a Slydini student. (no joke).
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Postby Matthew Field » 01/11/07 04:55 AM

Originally posted by Jon Stetson:
Ben Stiller was, for a short time, a Slydini student. (no joke).
He was trying to teach him how to act.

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Postby Lisa Cousins » 01/11/07 09:36 AM

Originally posted by Bob Farmer:

I once saw Jack Chanin do a fabulous routine with a thumb tip that was painted bright red -- but you never saw it.
Wait, wait, wait. You saw this? And by that I mean: YOU saw this? You yourself?

The reason I'm asking is that I've heard the story of the never-seen brightly-painted thumbtip so many times and in so many versions that I had concluded that this was a bona fide magic urban legend. My first hearing of it occurred the second time I ever attended my local magic club - and in that version, it was a magic shop demonstrator, and the tip you never saw was painted bright neon green.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 01/11/07 10:07 AM

I am actually surprised there hasn't been a "real" complaint about the "exposure" in the movie yet, especially on other forums. After all, people are still made at P and T for exposing the thumbtip ---- when they never did.

I thought this would lead to a mob riot, at least.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/11/07 10:15 AM

I liked Stiller's parents... but now it looks like they did a poor job raising him... :whack:
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Postby Guest » 01/11/07 12:19 PM

If you're worried about people figuring out your thumb-tip silk vanish, learn Alexander De Cova's handling. It's fantastically magical and will fool any spectator who "knows" about thumb tips.
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Postby Todd Lassen » 01/11/07 12:30 PM

"I thought this would lead to a mob riot, at least."

I can think of things entirely MORE unethical BRAD that SHOULD have led to a "mob" riot. It involved something that also had the initials TT. Go figure.
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Postby Guest » 01/11/07 02:18 PM

Brad Henderson wrote:
I am actually surprised there hasn't been a "real" complaint about the "exposure" in the movie yet, especially on other forums.
Don't worry, Brad, there has been. I ran across one at the Cafe'. Don't know what it said exactly because I don't have the time or energy to read all the outraged at exposure threads.
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Postby Guest » 01/11/07 04:47 PM

IMHO, the exposure was presented in a way that was so obvious, I doubt that anyone (other than those of us in the know) seriously considered the method as something that would be regularly used by magicians.

DonB
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Postby Guest » 01/13/07 03:13 PM

The thumb tip method was exposed several years ago by the ailing Mohammed Ali in a 60 Minutes profile.
Ali was showing Fidel Castro how it was done.

The movie on Andy Kaufman , Man on the Moon (1999), also gave it away. Jim Carey (playing Andy) realises at the end that psychic surgery is just another mundane trick. And there ain't no cure for cancer.
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Postby Guest » 01/13/07 04:15 PM

A friend of mine took a girl out to see 'Night At The Museum'. He had been impressing her over dinner with a few tricks with the vanishing silk leaving a particularly strong impression.

As they sat in the cinema and the exposure scene came on he looked across at her and the look she gave him in return was impossible to describe. Suffice to say that her estimation of him as a magician dropped considerably at that point.
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Postby Guest » 01/13/07 04:46 PM

The Thumb Tip is exposed....again. So what? Properly used with the correct technique, no one will know you're using one or even suspect you're using one.

Tens of thousands of magic sets had a set of Linking Rings, yet a well-handled set with a good routine will fool even kids who own the prop. Same for the Cups and Balls.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/13/07 05:48 PM

Tim: Then he had better learn some better magic!
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Postby Guest » 01/13/07 06:51 PM

Originally posted by Tim Ellis:
A friend of mine took a girl out to see 'Night At The Museum'. He had been impressing her over dinner with a few tricks with the vanishing silk leaving a particularly strong impression.

As they sat in the cinema and the exposure scene came on he looked across at her and the look she gave him in return was impossible to describe. Suffice to say that her estimation of him as a magician dropped considerably at that point.
Guilt will betray you before technique. If he hadn't looked guiltily at her to see what she was thinking, and instead laughed at a funny scene she probably would have thought what most folks did: that it was a "Hollywood" method. Movie-goers know that Hollywood uses prosthetic limbs for a lot of special effects... I think the natural assumtion would be that it's not a "real" method, but a joke.

And if her opinion of him as anything was changed by the exposure of a magic trick it couldn't have been a very high opinion in the first place.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/13/07 10:37 PM

Up at Lou Tannen's when it was at 1540 Broadway during my childhood days, they kept a thumbtip that was painted silver behind the counter and often used it to make the point that, well used, the thumbtip is never seen.
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Postby Guest » 01/14/07 03:17 AM

Pat Page finished a masterful workshop on the use of the thumbtip by once more vanishing a purple hankie - vanished - gone...

He then gave us the 'thumbs up' sign with the other hand
- the thumb draped in the purple hank!! We still hadn't seen it go.

Used properly...
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Postby Guest » 03/07/07 06:10 PM

To a layman though, is there really any difference between seeing the thumbtip, or knowing a thumbtip was used because they saw the method exposed on a movie?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/07/07 08:41 PM

Then vanish the silk with a pull.
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Postby Matt Stevens » 03/07/07 09:40 PM

I don't think laymen really care too much, if they know and you present it well they will be impressed. If they don't know wave it front of them a couple times and have a chuckle.. :)
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Postby Guest » 03/07/07 10:24 PM

Back when I was doing restaurant magic for the Trader Vic Organization I would open my work with the vanishing of a lit cigarette. (This was in the Dark Ages when people smoked in California restaurants.) I used a sleeve pull and had the technique so practiced that there was no sound or finger movement. The lit cigarette went into the left fist and after a few seconds the hand was open and there was no cigarette. It was a perfect opener because their attention was piqued immediately and maintained throughout the performance. I never brought the cigarette back, which kept their interest high.

Probably a half dozen times over nearly three years (and many hundreds of cigarettes) I had people reach out and examine at my thumb, surprised that there was nothing there. They would smile and look at me in a new light.
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 01:28 AM

Interesting observation David, you used a pull and they assumed a thumbtip even though they didn't see one.

The people who touched your thumbs were impressed... I wonder how the people who wanted to touch your thumbs but didn't get to felt...?

That's my point.

Lay people are let in on the "thumbtip secret" for a vanishing silk and will assume any silk that disappears goes into a thumb, even if they don't see it, unless you go out of your way to disprove it...

Don't believe me? How many times have you heard magicians say "He just used a stooge." They don't have any proof you used a stooge, it's just a method they know works. They couldn't figure out the real method the magician used so they took they easy way out, used a "stooge" to explain the trick away and that was that to them.

I guess, especially after reading a review in the paper of 'The Illusionist', I'm really becoming more and more convinced that lay people put more value in the secrets of magicians than magicians do.

The reviewer felt that 'The Illusionist' was a better movie than 'The Prestige', primarily because 'The Illusionist' didn't "tip it's hand" and reveal secrets the way that 'The Prestige' did. Both were entertaining stories, told well, but to the general public a magician is considered good if they can't figure out his (or her) secrets. It's as simple as that. Even if they find out the secrets from another source (a movie, another magician, the net) they are (pardon the pun) disillusioned in the magician.

Anyway, that's my opinion. I'm not going to go crazy when people reveal magic secrets, but I'd rather they didn't because I do think it diminishes the art just a little every time it happens.
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 05:44 AM

Tim Ellis wrote:
Lay people are let in on the "thumbtip secret" for a vanishing silk and will assume any silk that disappears goes into a thumb, even if they don't see it, unless you go out of your way to disprove it...
Excellent point. I once saw a magician performing on the Santa Monica Promenade doing a silk vanish with a thumbtip. Some kid in the audience called out "he's using a fake thumb" just because he knew that secret and strongly associated it with that effect. No fault in the magician's technique or anything. Erdnase provides the solution: The resourceful professional failing to improve the method changes the effect. :)
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 07:52 AM

Regarding the dude on the movie date mentioned above, if she's shooting you bad looks because of a magic trick exposure...you might be better off without her.

I wonder, if John Carney reads this, if he would mention his story about getting caught with a thumbtip when he was younger & starting out in magic. He told this one at a lecture once in Toronto, and it was pretty good.
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 07:12 PM

T Joseph, it's an easy cop-out: Girl looks at you in a different light when she finds out the magic you did that so impressed her was nothing more than a cheap plastic thumb... so you are better off without her?

If that's true, then 99% of the married magicians should be taking their wives off to the divorce courts. *g*
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Postby Guest » 03/08/07 09:00 PM

Ah, do it again for her with a Sanada gimmick and waggle your thumbs at her suggestively.

John R
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Postby Guest » 03/17/07 09:36 AM

Square one, I don't like exposure. However, the secrets of magic are hardly secret. The mark of a master magician to me is one who has multiple methods of causing the same effect. Sometimes we are under an obligation to use them. That may be the real secret of magic!

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
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