Breaking the Magician’s Code

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.
Steve V
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Steve V » October 4th, 2008, 10:27 pm

I just watched the show and a few thoughts. First the girls were great, lovely young lasses with sweet...uh...smiles. Mitch isn't as nasty as he was the first time around, which actually iritated me more than anything else, his whole 'magicians just want to fool us' approach. The guy doing the magic came off very fem in my opinion, which means it wasn't me or Richard, we are far to butch for that, and his nails needed cleaned. Over all it was boring as hell and I can't see anyone really hanging in there with it, they actually made Blaine seem exciting.
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby John B. Pyka » October 6th, 2008, 8:45 pm

Travis,

First of all I believe that there is no such thing as a bad trick. I submit my script "Johnny's Angels" from my book Theatrical Magic as proof. It's a script for a horrid trick - the color changing feather wreaths - but I am 100% certain that my script turns it into theatrical magic gold. Read it and see if you don't agree. (available at www.theatricalmagic.net)

So we'll have to agree to disagree. I firmly believe it is persona FIRST, repertoire second. Again, the reasons are spelled out in The 12 Step program in Theatrical Magic. Once you read that you'll understand perfectly.

Tim Ellis,

I appreciate and support your longtime work against exposure. I think though that even if Valentino did expose every trick in the magic catalogue, it would have little effect because of the dilution of the TV audience. Statistically speaking nobody will even see this.

However, the danger here is that it seems to give any performer permission to expose at the drop of a hat. Worse, it actually encourages mediocre magicians to remain so. Who cares if the magic is exposed through a poor performance? They already know how it works anyway...

Which brings me full circle to my original arguement - persona/character. A strong persona can draw the audience in and make them forget about methods and mechanics (because magic doesn't happen with methods or mechanics - it happens in the hearts and minds of the audience), and focus on creating magic.
John B. Pyka
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 6th, 2008, 9:21 pm

Hey Anders... your trick is now famous!

And Harry Anderson's needle trick too (okay I know he did not invent it)

just puzzled by this show.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby David Thomas » October 6th, 2008, 9:33 pm

They revealed needle through arm? That really is a shame.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Nicholas Carifo » October 6th, 2008, 10:53 pm

The show is a nothing, and at best, it's worthy of being ignored... like a crying toddler just looking for attention. I wouldn't have even known it was on if it were not for posts about it here. And, even then, I didn't watch it. I have no interest in the show and don't care what he does. And that's coming from me, an illusionist.

I suggest we not begin posting his list of crap here, or anywhere. Nothing in the show should cause you to change yours, as long as you have something he doesn't -- Talent.

He's just a has-been grasping for a little more attention, and found someone to give it to him. He's a joke.

I suggest, we collectively ignore the show from here on in. Any complaints, lists, or disappointments anyone posts here will only serve the "little show that could" the fodder they want to help promote it. Be assured they are reading these posts looking for just those sort of complaints.

Feel free to use mine ... "Who Cares?".

Nick

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 6th, 2008, 11:06 pm

Is there going to be a coffee table book to sell or give away for the replay on PBS during the next fundraiser?
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Steve V » October 7th, 2008, 12:33 am

John P, you are incorrect. Magic as in magic as in that which is performed by a magician requires that an act takes place inwhich the spectator cannot determine the means in concert with a solid performance. The combination of both make up magical art.

During a stage performance of, say, Peter Pan, during the flying scenes it doesn't really matter if the means of flight is concealed but when Copperfield does it the means must be hidden. Big difference. This 'magic is in the hearts and minds' stuff is like what Michael Jackson rants about and isn't magic but the often used 'oh it is magical!' statement. The magic is in the mind aspects is in the simple fact that if you do it well enough the spectator will take the levitation from six inches off the ground ala Blaine to where they swear it was two feet. The spectator will often exagerate or add to what they saw when they discuss it, if that happens, with friends. Your statement implies that it is the power of performance that wins the day, it doesn't, but it is an important part.

Just in case you are wondering I did read your book. You clearly view yourself as a masterful and powerful performer and god bless your heart for that but don't go thinking that doing the magic badly while thinking you are charming the audience (not you as in you but in general) is winning the day. Just look at some of the horrible performers that tried out on Americas Got Talent (I think that is the name), those guys realllllly thought they had it together and didn't. Don't lose contact with the magic thinking you are 'magical'.
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby David Thomas » October 7th, 2008, 1:06 am

We shouldn't have even made this thread in the first place: Like Nicolas said, this is exactly what promotes the show, angry magicians talking about about the tricks they revealed and saying how bad it is (myself one of those people). We really should ignore it and not mention it in a public domain, because this is where I heard of it for the first time also. It would be best to ignore it and not mention it.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Pepka » October 7th, 2008, 1:16 am

I watched it Monday night, and laughed my head off at some of that material. What was the deal with the big giant "Donut of Death" thing? Is that even a real illusion? The needle through arm looked horrible in the performance. I really don't expect this show to last long. When they did it 10 years ago, there was a big shock factor that wore off a little with every new special. How shocking will it be once it's been on the air a few months?

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jim Riser » October 7th, 2008, 2:27 am

Pepka;
Only a guy who spends time in a bakery would call that old illusion "The Donut of Death"!

It is actually an Ed Massey invention patented in 1935. Howard Thurston had one made for his show; but I do not know if he ever presented it.
Jim.

P.S. The real name for it is "Vivisection".
Last edited by Jim Riser on October 7th, 2008, 2:51 am, edited 0 times in total.
Reason: To add illusion name.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 7th, 2008, 8:29 am

Steve V wrote:...
During a stage performance of, say, Peter Pan, during the flying scenes it doesn't really matter if the means of flight is concealed ...


That's an experiment worth doing if one has the means. How would an audience respond to a character flying around in a way that registered as authentic. A few years ago I posted about breaking the fourth wall by having Peter Pan not only use such a rig but pick up a youngster from the audience and fly them away at the end of the show (rather than that creepy maudlin scene which Barrie likely regretted).

Anyway... IMHO it's likely to seriously impact the show. There's something comforting about large semi-concealed hydraulics and/or wires which offer a little tell-tale swing even if they are themselves not directly seen.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby John B. Pyka » October 7th, 2008, 9:57 am

Steve V.

That is the most civil well thought out response you've ever given me. Bravo.

I just want those who view the method as the magic to examine their thinking on this. I am not saying that the magic must not be excellent, but I am saying that the trick is not the end all be all. McBride refers to these magicians as "heads down, hands down" magicians - they focus only on the trick, with little if any thought to where the magic actually happens!
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Terrence » October 7th, 2008, 10:22 am

MyNetwork is owned by News Corp (owners of Fox) -- Rupert Murdoch

Agree with you Dave -- they want anyone to talk about their crappy show -- free publicity.

And Valentino continues to expose himself...

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Travis » October 7th, 2008, 10:37 am

John B. Pyka,

You changed your stance a bit here, it would seem. Only a few posts back you said that "magic doesn't happen with methods and mechanics, it happens in the hearts and minds of the audience", and now you're stating that, indeed, the magic, not just the performer's personality, must be excellent.

By your original line of thinking, it would make perfect sense for me to go onstage and perform illusions with all-plexiglass props so that every aspect of the workings of the illusion would be visible to the audience; to remove all of the mirrors from mirror boxes, and use clear cellophane instead of black velvet for black art effects. If the magic only happens "in the hearts and minds of the audience" there is no need to actually deceive them, right?

Wrong.

The method is absolutely critical to creating the magic! And some methods are better suited to certain illusions. Secrets absolutely do matter in this profession.

No one here said that we shouldn't focus on performance and instead be "heads down, hands down" magicians. I am simply pointing out that the opposite (which has become a rather prevailing view, it seems) is not true: that is, to focus only on one's personality. This, in my opinion, is equally "head down, hands down".

Sometimes the performer needs to get out of the way of the magic. We guide the audience and direct them, but all too often I see performers step all over the magical moment and, instead, make it all about themselves.

To paraphrase Jim Steinmeyer (who you'd certainly agree knows a thing or two about this profession), magicians often wear it as a badge of honor when, after a show, people say "What I liked best was the way you talked to the audience". They take it to mean that they were better than the material. But, perhaps, this is a kind of backhanded compliment which says "Your tricks weren't really very impressive".
To clarify the point, he applies it to another profession: would a dancer be excited to hear, "Yes, you danced. But I really enjoyed the way you smiled".

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 7th, 2008, 11:14 am

Folks, I strongly suspect you can get the same reaction to a strongly anchored reframe as you can to a magic trick - the former being a completely internal experience. Let's take that as a working hypothesis awaiting some fMRI or PET evidence to the contrary and look at conjuring as a method of eliciting an internal response from people rather than merely another way of dancing with cabinets or juggling with playing cards.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Philemon » October 7th, 2008, 1:31 pm

I feel that the only people who are even watching these shows are magicians.

In any case, I suspect the ratings are so low, that I'm guessing that no more than 1 out of a 1,000 people have actually seen one of these shows, and of those, only a fraction even remember what they say.

I wouldn't worry that your audiences will know how your tricks are done.

And if you succeed as an entertainer first, no one will really care how you did it anyways.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Magic Newswire » October 7th, 2008, 2:59 pm

Guys... Blaine only got 7.5 Million watching DoD. That's 1/2 of his last special. Do you really think that that many people are watching such a poorly produced piece of dross?

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Travis » October 7th, 2008, 4:09 pm

Philemon wrote:And if you succeed as an entertainer first, no one will really care how you did it anyways.


And on it goes.
This is exactly the pervading laziness that I'm talking about: It doesn't matter how it's accomplished, or if you choose your methods carefully, or if the magic blows. No one will care as long as ya entertain 'em, right?

Wrong.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jeff Haas » October 7th, 2008, 4:49 pm

Remember that the first Masked Magician special went on after there had been several "The World's Greatest Magic" specials and imitations. Fox even tried their own versions of those specials, to little effect. Then they hit upon the Masked Magician, sort of an anti-hero to the other specials, and they tapped a nerve in the public. It was their "bad boy" response to the Vegas cheesiness of the other networks.

This was all before Blaine showed up, he changed the game.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby John LeBlanc » October 7th, 2008, 5:06 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Folks, I strongly suspect you can get the same reaction to a strongly anchored reframe as you can to a magic trick - the former being a completely internal experience.


I could make the argument that the effect of doing a trick for someone -- just like delivering the punchline to a good joke -- is the poster child for reframing.

John

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Ray T. Stott » October 7th, 2008, 5:32 pm

[font:Times New Roman][size:14pt]"Magicians guard an empty safe."[/size][/font]
Direct Steinmeyer quotation - Opening sentence in [color:#FF0000]Art and Artifice and Other Essays on Illusion[/color].
It's not about the magic; it's about the daily box office gross.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Naphtalia » October 7th, 2008, 6:51 pm

I've seen plenty of folks who over-reached their technical ability but were great personalities. I've also seen any number of folks with incredible technical abilities who should never get in front of an audience. You can't offer a great performance with just one or the other.

I will admit to having done a show where everything seemed to go wrong, and yet the audience still had a good time. I didn't.

Depending on the particular piece of magic I'm doing, I may have a number of goals. Sometimes I want to build relationship and trust with my audience; sometimes I want to make them laugh. I always have a goal to create mystery. My overall goal is to mystify or astonish. I can still accomplish my other goals when the magic doesn't work, but I can't achieve my primary objective doing magic badly....and it doesn't matter what kind of person I am.
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby JFox » October 7th, 2008, 7:03 pm

I watched it Monday night, and laughed my head off at some of that material. What was the deal with the big giant "Donut of Death" thing? Is that even a real illusion?
_______________________________________________________________

Re: the "Doughnut Illusion":

Exposing impractical or out-of-date illusions such as the above -is something that we at least can be "THANKFUL" for. Perhaps it's even Valentino's "wink" at the viewing magicians.

Similar to Penn & Teller's "Blast-Off!" see-through illusion spoof: it's not an illusion that other magicians will be performing in this day & age...so, if you HAVE to expose---expose "fantasy illusions" like THAT one.

I do WISH the MM would expose more of the old clunky illusions such as the above "Vivisection" - rather than the more modern illusion principles & props. I am NOT pro-exposure...but since the MM is going to do it ANYWAY, then I'd wish he'd stick with the older impractical methods.

The laymen are happy because they think they learned some big secret (like the "fork-lift" levitation method from years ago)..and magicians can breath a small sigh of relief.

Unfortunately, many other legimate modern illusion principles & props WERE exposed.

No one here at my office has approached me at all about my opinion on the Masked Magician...so, not too many people can be watching this program, nor care :-)

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 7th, 2008, 7:11 pm

Ray T. Stott wrote:[font:Times New Roman][size:14pt]"Magicians guard an empty safe."[/size][/font]
Direct Steinmeyer quotation - Opening sentence in [color:#FF0000]Art and Artifice and Other Essays on Illusion[/color].


Which is why he posted a performance and explanation video of the Hooker (card rise) act on YouTube.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Steve V » October 7th, 2008, 8:37 pm

I watched a stage play (I use to be a season ticket holder, great seats, for the San Jose Civic Light Opera until I married a woman who hates all things entertaining) and during the show the main character flew. I don't recall the show but it was a popular one, and the flying was flawless. I checked it out and Jim Steinmeyer was the designer.
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Paul Q » October 7th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Steve V.

Your wife "hates all things entertaining"?

Just how rich is she?


Kidding, my friend. God bless you as you sneak out to a movie.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Steve V » October 8th, 2008, 4:58 pm

She thinks she is independently wealthy, must be, I got laid off two years ago and can't find a job due to making too much before and age.

Yes, the wife hates anything entertaining. I gave up on live theater because I ate too many tickets. The last movie we went too, which she slept through, was Three Men and a Baby. She demanded I take her to see The Steve Miller Band and someone else at the Cow Palace. I begged her to let me give the tickets to our friends who would enjoy it and we would baby sit for them, she refused and swore she would behave. We walked in, I'm not kidding about this, sat down and she turns to me and says "I smell pot smoke", gets up, and storms out. She walks out the front door and heads to the parking lot followed by me, the Cow Palace security force, and the Bill Grahm (sp) Presents drug overdose team. The reason for the security and drug team? They had never seen anyone leave a concert as it was starting unless there was an emergency or drug problem. I can't take her to a festival as she will, upon arrival, demand to leave... cruises are out since I took her on one and she decided only to leave the room for food intake and that was because they wouldn't deliver every meal to her. Her favorite music? I've no clue, she seems to not like any of it, favorite TV show? Couldn't tell you, she watches shows about people hunting ghosts and that is about it.

She does love Max Maven and Jinger and Kalin though but more so as people than anything else.
Steve V

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Bill Palmer » October 8th, 2008, 11:52 pm

Where was all the righteous indignation when the rest of us were sticking our necks out about exposure during the first series?

Where was all the support?

It didn't happen.

You reap what you sow.

I was the first person to reveal who the masked magician was on an actual, permanent web site, along with a photo of Valentino. That was 72 hours after the show. I verified who it was with two different sources, and put it up on the net. I got support from David Berglas and Abb Dickson. Loren Lind, the Mostly Impotent President of the SAM declined any support at all, saying that he would go away.

All of this is still up on www.nomagicexposure.com .

Now, I'll tell you the real problem. If you protest, and you do so en masse, the networklet simply states that there are all these viewers.

They usually multiply the number of letters by 1000 to get a working number.

You can't protect magic secrets any more.
Bill Palmer, MIMC

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Steve V » October 9th, 2008, 1:09 am

Gee, that was clear as mud. Sticking your neck out? Wow, saying exposure is wrong isn't exactly standing under the gallows is it? You are more accurate when you say the network or producer will just use any protest to promote the show ant it will serve no purpose. I don't think complaints would have done any good, it isn't reaping what was sown, and congrats on being the first to say it was Valentino.

I think the entire show is sad. I think the tone is nasty and insulting to magician and magic fan. I find it sad that some very nice effects are being exposed and there isn't a damn thing the creators can do about it unless they put that pitiful "TV rights reserved" and even then who knows what they can do? I think exposing Glorpy and the crushed can and all that was a bad thing and if I got hold of the guy setting up the stuff or the writer I'd bitch slap 'em.

You are right about not being able to protect magic secrets anymore, the net has done more to hurt magic than anything else because it gives a means to idiots via youtube and all that good stuff. I'm proud to say I've never done a search on youtube for magic or attempted to find 'secrets' to magic because I don't want to be part of adding another visitor to their ticker or viewership which strokes their lil' pitiful egos.

Want to have fun? Collect the names of the main people behind the production and have some agency crawl up their arse and publish it and see how they like it....maggots.
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Magic Newswire » October 9th, 2008, 6:34 am

There was talk earlier suggesting that some members of the Academy of Magic Arts were involved in the production, but nothing more has been said. Anone hear anything to support this?

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 9th, 2008, 8:01 am

Magic Newswire wrote:There was talk earlier suggesting that some members of the Academy of Magic Arts were involved in the production, but nothing more has been said. Anone hear anything to support this?


Really? Who specifically was talking and in what context? I mean this was not just the usual voices in your ear, right? Or if they were just voices in your ear did they say anything useful?

As to whether the Magic Castle wishes to participate (via any members) in exposure to all and sundry - becoming a house of ill repute in this craft... that's their own affair and I hope the board elects to avoid that slippery slope.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Irving Quant » October 9th, 2008, 10:11 am


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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Terrence » October 9th, 2008, 11:40 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Magic Newswire wrote:There was talk earlier suggesting that some members of the Academy of Magic Arts were involved in the production, but nothing more has been said. Anone hear anything to support this?


Really? Who specifically was talking and in what context? I mean this was not just the usual voices in your ear, right? Or if they were just voices in your ear did they say anything useful?

As to whether the Magic Castle wishes to participate (via any members) in exposure to all and sundry - becoming a house of ill repute in this craft... that's their own affair and I hope the board elects to avoid that slippery slope.


There's a post on Cafe that this is discussed on iTricks.

Can't get to that server right now.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Travis » October 9th, 2008, 11:55 am

Irving Quant wrote:muahahaha


Might I inquire as to the point of your post, Irving? You seem to have it out for illusionists and take pleasure in seeing them harmed by this. I suppose I thought this was a brotherhood, but perhaps those days are long gone.

Or is that you behind the mask? Somehow, I get the feeling that you wish it was.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Magic Newswire » October 9th, 2008, 12:13 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Really? Who specifically was talking and in what context? I mean this was not just the usual voices in your ear, right?


I ran across a post at the Cafe and then an article at iTricks. Usual voices in my ear? Not sure what that means. You may notice that I never posted any reference to the Castle as a participant in this having no confirming information.

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 9th, 2008, 12:19 pm

Anyway I'm just saddened watching mysteries turned into trivia - usually use the example of fairies turned to fireflies or moths so folks can relate to the experience. Literal disillusionment.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Irving Quant » October 11th, 2008, 10:35 am

Its a joke...perhaps I should put "its a joke on it"

Of course I take no pleasure in this guy making a living with magic exposure. It hurts my friends to. Even though its doing good for my business, I don't really like this Valentino guy. Anyway, the link is for those who missed the show like me.

Has anyone noted the credits? perhaps a clue as to the name of the castle guys show up in there?

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Steve V » October 16th, 2008, 5:57 pm

Okay...which of you magic shop operators sold a bunch of effects to the production company behind this? I've been watching and there are clues to the identity....first, the magician is very flouncy, he may actually be a stocky woman but most stocky women are not as femmy in movement. Second, he is wearing molder boots like I wore in the Navy....so he likes sailors. I care less about who the guy is than I do about him making us look like girly men. Though there is nothing wrong with that.
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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby JMN » October 16th, 2008, 7:02 pm

Regardless, he needs to wash his hands and get a manicure, or at least leave the gloves on
There is no bad Magic, only bad performers!

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Re: Breaking the Magician’s Code

Postby Ray T. Stott » October 16th, 2008, 10:31 pm

Steve V wrote:Okay...which of you magic shop operators sold a bunch of effects to the production company behind this? I've been watching and there are clues to the identity....first, the magician is very flouncy, he may actually be a stocky woman but most stocky women are not as femmy in movement. Second, he is wearing molder boots like I wore in the Navy....so he likes sailors. I care less about who the guy is than I do about him making us look like girly men. Though there is nothing wrong with that.


[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]What with the molder boots and the swishing; I have it on good authority that the masked magician is one of the two guys who wore the sailor suits while singing, "In the Navy" with the Village People[/size][/font]

[font:Times New Roman][size:11pt]There is a 50/50 chance that he is the fellow on the far right in the back row[/size][/font] :)

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It's not about the magic; it's about the daily box office gross.


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