A possible starting point to prevent exposure

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Tim Ellis
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A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 19th, 2008, 5:44 pm

I posted this on my blog a few days ago:

I just read an interesting snippet of "insider goss" that I think all magicians and especially magic dealers need to think very carefully about.

"I have just returned from a trade show in Cannes. It is for the TV industry and they were selling the MM show on a trade stand and I spoke with someone who new a lot about the show. He thought I was working for the BBC and was happy to share info. It seems that the show has been re commissioned due to the success of the original series being repeated on the MyNetworkTV station. He boasted to me that the show has saved the network and as a result they ordered another thirteen shows and a project that was dead was suddenly revitalised.


The guy I spoke to was from a company called Alfred Haber and it was him that told me that although they have numerous magicians working behind the camera, the MM is only a Dancer to ensure a theatrical performance. I also asked him how they were able to reveal the secrets and he explained that anyone can buy illusions if you know where to look. He said that they have bought illusions from some very well known magicians but they were never sold with any sort of contract that limits the use or exposure!"



So there you have it.

Now you know exactly who is responsible for the Masked Magician... we are.

Jim Steinmeyer has famously said "Magicians guard an empty vault." Maybe if we had bothered to lock it in the first place, it wouldn't have been emptied so easily...



It got me thinking.

The producer of the show is right. We do sell our secrets to anyone, with no caveats.

I know there are a lot of lawyers in this forum so here is my question -

Is there a way that SOMEONE could create a standard 'non-disclosure agreement' that could be used everytime a magic trick is purchased?

Would this help prevent the sort of mass exposure we are seeing on TV and Youtube?

Is this a practical idea or merely a pipe-dream?

Personally, if I was made to sign a legal document agreeing not to expose the secret of the trick I was buying, I'd certainly take the whole issue quite seriously.

Tim Trono and the other dealers/manufacturers out there... what do you think?

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby NCMarsh » October 19th, 2008, 7:42 pm

The lease for the Kohler holdout is an attempt at just that -- and on this forum people are complaining that signing/transferring the paperwork is some kind of burden on the purchaser...

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 19th, 2008, 8:07 pm

The lease is a burden on the purchaser--one of questionable legality. How ridiculous to think that every time you buy a magic trick you have to sign some silly legally invalid piece of paper suggesting that you can't resell it, give it away, or tell anyone how it's done.

WAKE UP.
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Tim Ellis
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 20th, 2008, 2:12 am

Well as you read above, the producer of the MM TV shows seems very pleased that he was able to buy illusions without any contract limiting the exposure of the secret.

The public, in general, seems to believe that magicians are not "allowed" to expose the secrets of magic without serious repercussions... they seem to accept that as part of the mystique of the magic business.

The IBM/SAM have warnings against exposure in their constitution.

Magic shops won't give you a refund on a trick once you've learned the secret.

There's is a lot of emphasis on the keeping of secrets, but no enforcement of it in any way at all.


Do you have any suggestions Richard? Or do you feel the horse has already bolted and we might as well accept that our secrets will not be kept?

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Bill Duncan » October 20th, 2008, 2:38 am

I have the Books of Wonder. I have read them.
I have the Visions of Wonder DVDs. I have watched them.
I own three sets of cups, and have performed the Cups and Balls.
I would rather watch Tommy Wonder do the Cups and Balls than nearly any other magic effect, known or unknown.

When I watch Tommy Wonder do the cups and balls I still see the magic.

When I watch David Roth do the Portable Hole (a trick I could do in my sleep) I still see the magic.

Perhaps we should work on making our magic so good, and our selves so charming our audiences don't care how the tricks are done?

Just a thought.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 20th, 2008, 5:37 am

The fact of the matter is, that nobody will remember these secrets in about five years or probably much less. There isn't any lay person who can tell me what the hec they saw on the first MM show ten years. They barely remember something about an elephant in a cage and mirrors. Hell I barely remember the darn show myself.

Any lay people that see this will just be looking for that quick hit of "ooh ahh that's how they do it", then they'll be or over it. So much so that they will want more and forget that too after they see it.

Sadly this isn't much different that many of our own magic shows now is it, no matter how wonderful and well crafted we believe our shows to be. Oh yes don't get me wrong, we all of those couple of effects that everybody talks about later but that far from covers our whole show. No, our whole show can have many wonders in it. And they are very happy to see those wonders, but unless you got more different wonders there's really nothing else in it for them to remember and hold onto other than that feeling of wonder, which is nice but just not enough sometimes.

I've said this before on this topic and I'll say it again, the Masked Magician was one of the most "relevant" things magic had given lay audience since say Henning wore tie-dye. And, that's not saying a lot for all of the parties involved (meaning us) Why was it "relevant"? Because in the end all we offer the public are performances of secrets. Some how we think if we throw in some lighting, some music or maybe some intellectual references it makes it a richer experience and then they won't want to know the secrets. Well that's an illusion we are pulling on ourselves.

We as magicians.....let me rephrase that, we has artists must begin to give the greater public something MORE in our work. That "thing" that "spirit" that comes from a deeper place. Every other artist in every other art form does this (that's why you have your favorite bands or comics or actors) why don't we do this?!

Until "we" all begin to challenge ourselves to find something deeper in our performances, until we begin to inspire new artists to create their own personal and moving performances, instead of encouraging them to buy yet other DVD of "easy to master" this or "mind blowing" that's; then and only then will our audiences respect the craft of what we do. Then, and only then, will audiences, NOT WANT to know how we do what we do.
Then and only then will MM just not mean a darned bit of anything, hec, they won't be even able to get past the shotty performances to see how it's done....(really? that guys a dancer? are they sure?)

As for Jim S.'s quote about the empty vault. I believe he already imagined that the vault WAS LOCKED, and yet still very, very empty. Locking it some more just won't make a difference.

As for legal contrats, Jim S. has also said that contracts used for the big time illusionists are really nothing more than the equivilant to a handshake. Not that that makes it ok to give away secrets, but that there's really never been a lot behind those contracts anyway. At least that's what he's said in the distant past. Things maybe different now.

And if things have changed or were to change tomorrow then.... WE ALL should be thrown in jail or be bankrupt by now for the secrets WE HAVE ALL shared with each other, paid for or not. Every successful, well known, highly repsected and rightious magician should go back to every artist they have ever heard of and apoligize to them for the atrocity to their work they a have commited. I say that because WE ARE ALL GUILTY OF IT. We have all said, "Hey I'm working on this new version by so and so, it goes like this." Or "Don't buy that, it works like this, it's not worth it." etc etc etc.

Even the people who complain about giving away secrets have done it, thinking, "Well this is a friend, we are just talking shop, it's innocent."

Maybe that's the problem, yes?

However my point is, none of us are in any position to cast stones. A large portion of what we all know is due to the fact that we obtained a secret with out paying for it, even though we all thought what we were doing or being told was benign.

But, this is also IN PART how many great performers, inventors and writers in magic have been created. So it's a bit of a catch 22 now isn't it? If magic had always been "LOCKED UP" like that, most of us, even our favorite-beloved names in magic, wouldn't be here right now, they'd still be lawyers or barbers or actors or fiction writers, but many fewer magicians. And even fewer innovative performers. Fewer than we have now.


Lastly....it's MyNetwork TV! If the MM Show is the thing that SAVED a c#$ppy syndicated network that nobody watches anyway who the hec cares, people will get tired of it and that network will be on the ropes once again.

Sorry it's getting late and I'm getting cranky. Don't mean to offend.


C

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 20th, 2008, 6:34 am

I detest apologetics.

As to tolerating the open sales of magic data on the grounds that to curtail such would diminish our (admittedly small) population of inventive conjurers... I simply disagree and remind all here that folks like Hofzinser and Germain did not require YouTube and internet marketing to develop their works.

Is it really fine to help the MM team set up their next show where more material from our market - say Paul Harris, Dai Vernon... will be made plain so folks can appreciate the design and skill behind it?

I leave the matter of whatever Steinmeier has in his safe to him and those he has invited to make sure it stays empty.
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tom Gilbert » October 20th, 2008, 9:32 am

While we all have our own opinions and we certainly have that right, I think it boils down to one thing-- money. I would doubt that any donates or loans illusions or plans to the MM, and if the show is popular, they have sponsors lined up ready to throw big money at them.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 20th, 2008, 11:05 am

We have a deal with society. We offer them delight and demonstrate that it is okay to hope to accomplish the impossible. In return the rest of society permits us to use the mechanics of guile and deception as we see fit. As long as we don't destroy what we set out to protect and nurture in our audiences we are free to do almost anything we please. Almost means not setting up false prophets among other things.

So what's this about showing children how the furniture is false and every action they see on stage or TV is false and designed to further an ulterior motive?

Okay Tom, how much for innocence? How much to turn those fireflies and moths back into fairies?

How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tom Gilbert » October 20th, 2008, 11:58 am

Jonathan, you certainly can't put a price on innocence and awe. It would be great to eliminate all exposure, but truth is if people want to buy secrets, there are people that will sell. I certainly don't agree with it. But how do you stop it?

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 20th, 2008, 12:39 pm

Tom, Tim, folks

IMHO it would be counterproductive to focus on stopping a thing which is both legal and profitable as things stand. The internet seems to be putting a damper on purely venal interests - as by now it's understood that to publish is pretty much the same as putting the work up for free for all and sundry.

What we can do is be reserved and quietly supportive of those who understand that what this craft is about and work to bring magic to audiences - be they performers, mechanics, technicians and those who keep older items around for ready reference - our collectors. In the late twentieth century it was finally understood that secrets themselves are not a currency. Likewise self deception and denial are expensive 'habits' when they no longer serve as coping mechanisms. IMHO within this little community we don't need secrets per-se and self deception does not help our audiences or even our own progress as people. When someone asks "how can I" it seems sensible to respond with "go ask so-and-so". Two more obstacles to a happier community vanish when we get over any interest in "fooling" peers or ourselves.

IMHO the question is not how to stop what is but instead how to make something else more appealing. Perhaps it's worth being trustworthy to have access to those who spend their lives crafting wonders?
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 20th, 2008, 1:02 pm

Number 1
Who's apologizing? Not me, that's for sure. Nothing of what I said above was meant to apologize for anybody, only to call us all out on this problem.

Number 2
I know perfectly well that Hofzinzer and Germain didn't have Youtube, or the Cafe, or the Genii forum or......., but neither did most of us up until 3 or 4 years ago; videos and DVD's weren't that big until about 8 or 10 years ago, and the same words and state of magic apply.
(Again I'm not apologizing for anybody or anything.)


Number 3
After reading Jonathan's words in the last post above, I hope Jonathan can see that we are both much more on the same page and wave length than he realizes.

Humbly,
Christian

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jim Riser » October 20th, 2008, 1:08 pm

Several years ago I seriously looked into non-disclosure agreements and came to the conclusion that the costs to enforce them would be too high. Another type of written agreement concerns subsequent sales types of contracts where the maker would receive a portion of all subsequent sales of magic items. The main goal of this would be to make reselling magic less attractive.

Rather than either of the above choices, I decided to restrict who I sell to. I have an undisclosed set of criteria that I use for approving buyers. This method has proven to be hugely unpopular with many of the Magic Cafe crowd - exactly the potential buyers I want to avoid. The more people moaning about my policy; the more I am sure it was a wise decision.

By screening buyers for my items I hope to eliminate exposer types. Those who know me are aware that I do not need to make magic items for a living so I can afford the luxury of selecting buyers for my creations. I offer selective marketing as one way to curb the exposure problem.

Another tool I use in my attempts to curtail exposure is simply to not make it common knowledge that I am making certain items. Those who need to know about such exclusive items will be aware of them. It's the old "need to know" principle. It is my feeling that everyone does not need to know. No one is entitled to anything.

Exposure is a strange thing all tied up with ego problems. How many times have we seen someone with thousands of posts on various forums blowing off how he is against exposure in any form yet if someone wants to know a secret he writes "PM me". That kind of exposes this person's real position.

Restricting the flow of info seems to be the best solution to the exposure problem. With such a system, info can still flow but mostly only where it is really needed. In order to keep new developments happening in magic, info must continue to flow to those who require it. This is why I developed my restricted sales policy. It is my attempt to cut down on exposure in magic by limiting the flow of info.

If people did not sell to the MM and his staff, there would be little for the loser to expose. I do not see sales restrictions being widely embraced within the magic community. There are too many business involved that consider all sales to be good - even going so far as to offer drop shipping services to fly by night "dealers". Until the magic industry cleans up its own act, we can expect losers like the MM to exist.
Jim

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Ray T. Stott » October 20th, 2008, 2:21 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
How many fingers am I holding up, Winston?


[size:11pt]"Four! Five! Four! Anything you like. Only stop it, stop the pain!"

O'Brien, are we still at war with the masked magician and his ilk?

Oceania has always been at war with disclosure in Eastasia, has it not?
[/size]
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Steve V » October 20th, 2008, 4:03 pm

Magic is not simply performance it must have the additional attribute of mystery. If you do not give a darn about the secret and think you are such a dynamic performer that it doesn't matter then don't do magic, become a stand up or join your community theater and just be the best you you can be, which likely isn't real good anyway.

The show revealing magic is an insult to magicians and I'm not surprised that magicians are helping with the program. If these guys have egos that tell them that their performance is bigger than the art then why wouldn't they happily help out that which they don't think is important? These same morons will put on their websites that they were 'magic consultants on TV' without tipping what they 'consulted' with.

13 Episodes? How are they going to fill 13 episoded? Why not just show the explanation parts of videos? And you folks don't think people remember? I certainly remember things I saw 40 years ago! It doesn't matter if people remember correctly, it doesn't matter if they are tipped a method no one uses or ever used, people will THINK they know how the effect is done and rather than enjoying your world class performance (uh huh) they will be trying to disect the effect. Any magician who has no problem with exposure I hope you come out with something and keep that in mind as everyone releases it themselves and slices into your market share.

I'm not surprised the masked magician is a dancer, he doesn't act like a magician, he acts like a dancer, a wussy one.
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Ray T. Stott » October 20th, 2008, 5:16 pm

Steve V wrote:13 Episodes? How are they going to fill 13 episoded?...
I'm not surprised the masked magician is a dancer, he doesn't act like a magician, he acts like a dancer, a wussy one.


Steve V,

I must confess that I sold the production company my Walsh Appearing Cane and Adam's Snapper - the way they drag things out, these should be good for 22 minutes of tape.

Caveat on the "wussy" reference - you may get tagged as prejudiced or sexist or possibly even an some kind of anarchist with a Deland Automatic Deck in your pocket and carrying a sign saying, "Deland Cards Have Superiority" :)


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

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Steve V » October 20th, 2008, 6:29 pm

I'm not scared....I have a homeless gay man living in my house, until someone can trump that I'm okay. By the way, my homeless gay guy told me the MM set of his gaydar and asked me if I knew who it was. I have no idea but if any of you all know tell me cuz I need my couch back.
Steve V

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 20th, 2008, 6:48 pm

No one said anything about someone's performance being bigger than their art. In fact THAT'S the problem. Once we start actually making some moving and engaging art with our art and put our egos aside, then the confrontational need to discover the secret won't be as potent anymore.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 20th, 2008, 7:06 pm

It's interesting that people still say "The public can't remember any of the secrets on the last MM special."

Yet, if you ask a member of the public how the Sawing in Half works, they will give you a fairly accurate explanation. This effect has been so exposed in so much media (including by the MM) that it's method has almost become part of the public's collective consciousness.

The existence of thumbtips is now "out there" as well. Go back a dozen years and they were a really well kept secret. Now, thanks not only to the MM but also to kids magic sets, youtube, and indiscriminate magic shops the old "false thumb" is known as part of the magicians modus operandi.

Way back in the old days when magicians wore long flowing robes, people would cry "It's up his sleeve!" because that method had been leaked and the public knew magicians used it.

Years later "Mirrors!" and "Trapdoors!" were added after they had been exposed as magicians methods.

Now we have "False Thumbs", "Trick Coins", "Illusion Bases", "Magnetic Rings" etc all being exposed in tutorial detail on TV and the internet.

It's not wrong to be upset when we see the secret tools of our trade being revealed to our audience, but we do need to address it.

1 - Some choose to ignore the exposure and go on performing the same effects, saying "presentation is more important than secrets", unaware that the "wised up" members of their audience are now looking for the "false thumbs" and pointing them out to their friends when they spot them, or at least think they did. Wasn't it better when they weren't even looking for them?

2 - Some tried to fight the MM, which only gave him more notoriety and caused the public to become more aware of him.

3 - Others say we should simply keep all of our secrets to ourselves as that's the only way we can guarantee they'll stay secret.

Maybe that's the only answer.

I was trying to discover if there was a fourth option... perhaps there isn't.

Maybe magic has gotten so big and so popular as a hobby that those who wish to pursue it as a profession will have to isolate themselves from the "secrets don't matter" crowd just so they can continue to amaze people?

Bill Duncan is right. We magicians can watch others do magic effects and still "see the magic" even though we know how the tricks are done, but I don't believe the public view magic through the same eyes. I've sat with non-magician friends watching Tommy Wonder as they verbally stripped his act apart trying to discover the secret. They certainly enjoyed his performance and were fooled, but they weren't going to leave it at that.

And with the MM out there exposing the Zombie principle, and YouTube and Dave J Castle and all out there on the net, it's as if we've left a trail of breadcrumbs for the public so they can discover Tommy's secrets and smugly say "He does it well, but I know how he does it!"

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 20th, 2008, 7:11 pm

ChristianCagigal wrote:No one said anything about someone's performance being bigger than their art. In fact THAT'S the problem. Once we start actually making some moving and engaging art with our art and put our egos aside, then the confrontational need to discover the secret won't be as potent anymore.



Just because you perform your magic well, and move people emotionally, doesn't mean they won't want to know how it's done.

People are moved and engaged by Copperfield's FLYING, but that didn't stop so much exposure of that effect that he doesn't even perform it anymore. The method is so well known now (as opposed to when he started doing it) that the trick (and the presentation) has lost much of it's potency.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 20th, 2008, 7:24 pm

Tim Ellis wrote:..is right. We magicians can watch others do magic effects and still "see the magic" even though we know how the tricks are done, but I don't believe the public view magic through the same eyes. ...


I have to disagree with that one. It seems more like two steps backward and maybe one forward there.

Someday I'd like to see a performer do the zombie trick as invented and finish by accidentally getting distracted and letting the heavy metal ball clump onto the table and then onto the stage floor. (yeah, a solid metal ball is supposed to be heavy - see how much we manage to deceive ourselves) :(

First, there is no friggen way you can watch a trick you understand and process it the same way as a person with innocent eyes. Kindly can that self deception. How about we put that away where we put "santa coming down the chimney" and let's get back to real people.

The public by and large IHMO don't get to see much magic in person, especially up close to perhaps it would be useful to those who perform not to have an "as seen on TV" and "as you may have seen explained on the web" type show as the default options.

The Genii article that mentioned the broom suspension trick where magicians in the audience gasp when the release move is done under good cover ... it's not that the safe is empty but how well the assistants spin it around onstage? Click? Got it? No? Guess that secret's still safe then. ;)

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 20th, 2008, 7:39 pm

I was moved my Copperfields flying as well but in the end it was still just the execution of an illusion, although beautifully done.

I'm sure you can recall his early years, yes he made Statues and Planes disappear but he also did many stories and vignettes. Yes some of those illusions may have been exposed by MM since then, but not because "Copperfield did them" but because many (not all) were standard illusions.

Back then the illusions that people wanted to know the secrets to were those big TV illusions, the ones that were inherently the "look at me do something you can't do" types of effects.

If you watch his Artist's Dream though it was so magical (and his ego was out of the way)nobody back then was demanding to know how it was done. Yes of course there will always be people who want to know, but that need is lessened by the performance. I'm not saying we don't need to worry about hiding the secret of the effect while performing or that one shouldn't find a clever way to get around the exposure of a TT (which I have seen many smart performers do on stage while using a TT.)

What I am saying is that in the loooooong run, if we make performances that truly touch people, deeply, where most magicians (even the great ones) are scared to tread; performances that really mean something to our audience, then THAT could be the biggest protection from exposure we would have.

Not contracts or punishments but the audiences own desire to NOT want to know how we do it because they will have found themselves personally invested in some way with our work.

Yes that sounds a bit naive, but hec, "we all" haven't tried it as a culture and community yet so how do we know it won't work in the long run?

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 20th, 2008, 8:18 pm

Ah... bizarre magic..."for this one performance while the stars are just so... can spend a few moments in the grace of Cthulhu the dreamer and so experience the world as a shared dream. Consider this newspaper.. today's... but since this is a dream you already know what..."

Sure - move them to things and places - mind you it's a challenge to avoid things which could trigger serious personal issues.

IMHO most of us are better off keeping things light especially if the material looks like you are using real magic or are an actual agent of some elder god who's got you doing some scouting work.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 20th, 2008, 8:44 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Tim Ellis wrote:..is right. We magicians can watch others do magic effects and still "see the magic" even though we know how the tricks are done, but I don't believe the public view magic through the same eyes. ...


I have to disagree with that one. It seems more like two steps backward and maybe one forward there.

Someday I'd like to see a performer do the zombie trick as invented and finish by accidentally getting distracted and letting the heavy metal ball clump onto the table and then onto the stage floor. (yeah, a solid metal ball is supposed to be heavy - see how much we manage to deceive ourselves) :(

First, there is no friggen way you can watch a trick you understand and process it the same way as a person with innocent eyes. Kindly can that self deception. How about we put that away where we put "santa coming down the chimney" and let's get back to real people.

The public by and large IHMO don't get to see much magic in person, especially up close to perhaps it would be useful to those who perform not to have an "as seen on TV" and "as you may have seen explained on the web" type show as the default options.

The Genii article that mentioned the broom suspension trick where magicians in the audience gasp when the release move is done under good cover ... it's not that the safe is empty but how well the assistants spin it around onstage? Click? Got it? No? Guess that secret's still safe then. ;)






Jonathan, I think you misunderstood what I was saying.

I was quoting another poster who was talking about enjoying watching Tommy Wonder do the Cups & Balls, even though he knew how it was done. I believe that is a very different type of enjoyment compared to the way an audience member, who DOESN'T know how it is done, reacts.

Personally, I love watching well executed and entertaining (and moving) magic, but I love it even more if it fools me too.

If I have become aware of the possible methods used through YouTube clips or TV exposures then I can't get the same enjoyment.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 20th, 2008, 8:52 pm

Glad to read that we agree about innocent eyes and enjoying the magic show as intended. :)

If you are willing to trust yourself to the show it is possible to take the sentimental track while watching magic rather than the rational one - but it's still a one eyed view of the performance rather than the combined experience we want audiences to enjoy.

*that work for folks - sentimental+informed logical perspectives as two eyed vision?
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 20th, 2008, 10:25 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Ah... bizarre magic..."for this one performance while the stars are just so... can spend a few moments in the grace of Cthulhu the dreamer and so experience the world as a shared dream. Consider this newspaper.. today's... but since this is a dream you already know what..."

Sure - move them to things and places - mind you it's a challenge to avoid things which could trigger serious personal issues.

IMHO most of us are better off keeping things light especially if the material looks like you are using real magic or are an actual agent of some elder god who's got you doing some scouting work.



Your first statement: HILARIOUS! Funny because it's true(but not always...and it doesn't have to be like that either.)

Your second statement: seems to be addressing previous conversations you've had with others on this topic. Do I do bizarre? Yes. But, my audience ain't stupid (yes I actually do have an audience doing what I do), and I make no bones about it-it's theatre through and through and I don't hide that fact, I respect them too much.

Your third statement: there's nothing wrong with all light enterainment all of the time but then realize all they will care about in the end is how the trick is done. And, that can give MM a larger audience.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 20th, 2008, 11:10 pm

One example of the "It's all about the presentation" just came to my mind.

Amazing Johnathan does (or did) a bit in his act using Don Drake's black art cards. The giant cards seem to appear and disappear at will, and the audience seems genuinely impressed. It's a rare moment in his show where the audience thinks "Wow, this is real magic!" (As in, conjuring, not the occult variety...)

Then AJ turns a card around and "accidentally" exposes the secret to the audience. They laugh, and the moment of magic evaporates.

Does it lessen the audience's enjoyment of the act? I don't think so.

Does it take away the magic? Absolutely.

The audience, as Johnathan Townsend puts it, is no longer viewing through "innocent eyes". They know the secret, can appreciate and enjoy the performance of AJ, but the magic is gone.

In my opinion, the MM specials and other forms of exposure DO hurt magic performances in the same way.

The point of this thread was to see if there was a way to STOP (or at least slow down) this exposure based on the revelation that the MM Producer was exposing tricks because - when he bought them - nobody told him not to!

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 20th, 2008, 11:45 pm

Secrets have NEVER been kept, Tim. As soon as magicians began doing the Back Palm in their acts, other magicians were exposing the method on stage. This is old old news. What is new is the number of people being reached via TV and the internet, but the problem itself is just not new or news worthy.
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby MaxNY » October 21st, 2008, 12:01 am

Richard, I just want to say this once...It floats your boat, not many boats.

Secrets can be kept, but only if you never sell the illusion. Two secrets that are only known by few..P&T's Bullet, Hans Moretti's cardboard box.

Most of this stuff is too deep for me, and I like to go deep. Here is one of the most important things taught to me by the late great Mike Bornstein...If you show laymen a trick that is done with...say, magnets...then, in their minds all tricks are done with magnets.

This is how their brain justifies magic... "It's done with strings....." There is a need to latch onto something, anything. Bam.

I applaud anyone who wants to a make a difference. We need a starting point, Yes, thanks Tim. Someone give this guy a wooden cigar...

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Bill Duncan » October 21st, 2008, 12:29 am

I've sat with non-magician friends watching Tommy Wonder as they verbally stripped his act apart trying to discover the secret. They certainly enjoyed his performance and were fooled, but they weren't going to leave it at that.

Some (many?) laymen think their job during a magic effect is to figure out how its done. That is entirely our fault. If we had not spent so many years teaching them that the secret is whats important, and making them feel made fools of with our magic we might not be having this discussion.

Jerry Seinfelds now classic description of a magician: Heres a coin, now its gone. Youre an idiot. is proof of just how badly we have treated them over the years.

We use drunk tests, and observation tests and catch me if you can presentations, and wonder why they think magicians are lower on the entertainment evolutionary ladder than mimes, for (Henry) Christs sake.

Nothing on this green earth is going to stop exposure. Nothing is going to keep our secrets unless we keep them ourselves. That means never sharing them with each other, either. The only way two people can keep a secret is if one of them is dead.

But there is hope. Stop bitch slapping your audiences, and treat them with love and respect. In a few generations they may stop caring about how its done. In the mean time, we just have to be content with solving the problem one spectator at a time.

None of this is meant to say we shouldnt try to fool them. Anyone whos read the coins across routine in Tubthumping knows that I think fooling them is very important. But its important like a seat belt, not like the engine.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby David Alexander » October 21st, 2008, 12:38 am

I always thought the real damage done by the earlier MM specials was the cheapening of magic as a performance art by the endless carping of the narrator who gave the impression that if you had the prop and the assistants, you were a magician. The box was everything.

The good thing this time around is that this crap is on MyTV, the bastard child of Fox and the least viewed "network" in the country. I couldn't get a rating on the Nielsen website, so there aren't a lot of eyes on this show.

The reason it's on the air at all is because it's CHEAP to produce. Bruce Nash, who produced the earlier Masked Magician "specials" is producing again as is Leonard "Val Valentino" Monatono who is credited on the IMDB as a producer. I guess that's a step up from being a performing rat. He may be in the mask again, apparently one of the few times he gets to perform these days.

But this isn't anything new for Lenny. By his own admission, he's been doing this for years. From his official website: "In his teens, Valentino performed with the International Cultural Awareness Program for over a million students throughout the Unified School Systems. The performances also included revealing magic secrets to encourage others to become magicians."

Truth be told, if he had a real performing career - if people were willing to pay money to see him work - he would have no need to whore himself out.
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Steve V » October 21st, 2008, 1:57 am

Well said David.

Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free? Exposing magic doesn't lead folks to magic, seeing well done magic and kids wondering how it does leads them to it.

What gets me is I know there has to be a few magicians behind this and I wonder what happened to respect? I respected magicians when I was learning the art, I respected the history and the secrecy and I still do. There are people here, one on this thread, who don't want MAGICIANS to know how they do things let alone the damn public! The show is a shame.
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Ryan Matney » October 21st, 2008, 2:27 am

Just to comment on something said earlier: Any of you that have performed for real audiences know that there are some people, not a lot, but some, that want to know the secret no matter what you do.

Just recently I had two experiences with people who viewed the tricks ONLY as a puzzle to figure out. As in, "ok, Im ready, go magic man."

I've also encountered people that actually regard it as a shortcoming that they can NOT figure out the method of the effect. they tell you "I must be stupid, I don't get it." or something similar. It takes all kinds.

Just saying, it's not always the performer's fault. Some people just don't view magic in the same way.
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby David Alexander » October 21st, 2008, 8:56 am

When I was doing restaurant magic in the mid-to late 1960s I encounted this reaction occasionally, often from women. I would immediately stop my routine and explain to the person that they should be fooled because it's my job...that there were probably a number of things that they did or could do that would be a mystery to me.

The purpose of this was to make them feel good about themselves. It always worked and gave them a new way to look at what I was doing. I worked one restaurant in Century City for almost three years, not just because I was technically proficient but because I knew how to make people feel good about themselves. Each encounter was not a contest to see if I could "beat them," but to entertain them. When I left the table they would feel good about our interaction. In the end, if one is to be successful as a performing magician you will learn that charm and social skills are more important than mere technical proficiency.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 21st, 2008, 2:31 pm

This is probably way off topic now, but to echo what was said above.

A solo performer friend of mine saw me perform recently at an intimate gathering. She had seen my old show a few years ago and liked what I did but she never had the heart to tell me that she didn't like magic at all. To her it was a frustrating puzzle no matter who did it and what they did.

What I did at this intimate gathering was a piece of mentalism using an antique music box, Burgers "Inquistion" for Card Warp, and my own version of Bob Neale's "Soul Survivor" (which uses a rarely used force in card magic) I perform it with wonderfully old and tattered mini-playing cards from the early part of the 20th Century. All three pieces had a humorous, childlike and yet dark feel to them, especially since the last 2 pieces are stories about death.

Mind you this friend of mine is not a particularly morbid individual at all.

Afterwards she told me that, that was the first time she ever really experienced the feeling of magic as someone watching a magician. She went on to confess to me her disdain for magic in general and then thanked me for my performance because she really loved it. She was transported. She didn't know how I did it...and she didn't want to ask me either.

Ok to jump back onto topic...
If we really want to protect our secrets, give them a performance so good that they themselves don't want to ruin the magic. Yes some will always fight us and want to know, but our job is to combat that with grace, showmanship, respect and artistry.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Pete McCabe » October 21st, 2008, 2:57 pm

If you don't want spectators to think about how you did it, give them something better to think about.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Jim Riser » October 21st, 2008, 4:48 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:If you don't want spectators to think about how you did it, give them something better to think about.


Pete;
Do you mean like WHY you did what you did?
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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Tim Ellis » October 21st, 2008, 6:32 pm

ChristianCagigal wrote:This is probably way off topic now, but to echo what was said above.

A solo performer friend of mine saw me perform recently at an intimate gathering. She had seen my old show a few years ago and liked what I did but she never had the heart to tell me that she didn't like magic at all. To her it was a frustrating puzzle no matter who did it and what they did.

What I did at this intimate gathering was a piece of mentalism using an antique music box, Burgers "Inquistion" for Card Warp, and my own version of Bob Neale's "Soul Survivor" (which uses a rarely used force in card magic) I perform it with wonderfully old and tattered mini-playing cards from the early part of the 20th Century. All three pieces had a humorous, childlike and yet dark feel to them, especially since the last 2 pieces are stories about death.

Mind you this friend of mine is not a particularly morbid individual at all.

Afterwards she told me that, that was the first time she ever really experienced the feeling of magic as someone watching a magician. She went on to confess to me her disdain for magic in general and then thanked me for my performance because she really loved it. She was transported. She didn't know how I did it...and she didn't want to ask me either.


So, getting back to the point of this thread, would you friend have been as easily transported if the night before she'd seen a Masked Magician TV show exposing the three tricks you performed?

Yes, I'm sure the story and emotion would have engaged her, but if the magic was no longer deceptive because she now knew how it was done, surely your routine wouldn't have had the same impact on her?

Yes, it's important to add emotion, feeling and purpose to our performances, it certainly is more effective than the standard "puzzle presentation" many magicians use. But it won't stop exposure.

As I said earlier, Copperfield's FLYING was a great piece of theatre. That didn't prevent it from being exposed to the point where it's almost impossible to do a FLYING without a majority of the audience being aware of the hook-up.

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby ChristianCagigal » October 21st, 2008, 7:24 pm

Your point is very valid: nothing anybody say's matters if they already know how it's done. You then bring up the question how do we prevent that from happening? Contracts maybe?

My point is: to prevent it from happening let's start creating a culture of magic and art where what we do is so meaningful (and yes still very amazing) that they won't want to know how it's done, begin with.

You then go back to: if they already know then who will care if the performance is moving?

My point is: yes your right, if they already know then nothing I'm saying matters, so let's ALL create work so good and so amazing they won't want to know how it's done. Of course they'll try to understand it and puzzle it out for themselves to some degree, that's the sign of a healthy and intelligent mind and I wouldn't want to perform for anything less. But, if the experience actually meant something to them personally,(I'm not talking "occult" here so no one please simply pigeon hole what I'm saying as someone ready to start new religions)but again, if it meant something to them, then most won't want to know how it's done to begin with, they won't ask, they won't google, they won't run to the magic shop in hopes of having someone tell them and they won't bother giving MM the ratings on what is already a dieing network. And, then MM disappears into the dark,unforgiving and all encompassing caves of pop cultural memeory.

Let me repeat that last point again
"they won't bother giving MM the ratings on what is already a dieing network. And, then MM disappears into the dark,unforgiving and all encompassing caves of pop cultural memeory."



You then say: Copperfields Flying was moving and that didn't stop anybody.

I say: Yes you're right, Flying was moving. It moved me. I loved it. But does that mean that's the "deepest" we can go? Doing an illusion to a beautiful score, is there no other places we can travel to with in our art? I say yes we can go deeper. Flying while wonderful was still a standard magician's presentation of Look at Me Do Something amazing. That's the subtext. No matter how much you tell your audience "this is about living your dreams", the subtext is the same, "you've seen me do amazing things all night and here's another one." So to me it's not surprising that audience would still be curious to find out how it's done, maybe even seek out the answer.

At this point some accuse me of delving into the "evil" side of magic...with a "k" because many think to go "deeper" means exploiting dead-grandmas name in a billet routine is the only way to go deeper. What about Burgers, Gypsy Thread and Vishnu Story or Peter Samelsen (sp?) and his snow storm? Punx? Harry Anderson's Three Card Monarch routine and story, or all of David Copperfields stories and vignettes from his younger days( I already mentioned above his barely known take on Artists Dream from the mid-80's)

And you say: What does it matter how beautiful any of that is if they already know the secrets.

I say: They won't want to know if it's that good.

You say:....

And we continue to dance in circles.



So Tim,
Your belief is that we must stop the exposure at the root, no matter how far back and deep we have to go to find that root: contracts, limited selling, maybe even legalities, etc etc.

I say: All of that probably won't work, because none of us, unless you are Copperfield himself, can afford to police and prosecute such behavior. But, what we do have the power to do is change the worlds perception of what magic and illusion (even on the "light entertainment" side) can be. That can save our secrets in the long run. If nobody wants to know how it's done then MM has no ratings.

You say, we need to attack the exposures.

I say, that's a short term answer. To me the long term answer is...well.....

....we continue to dance, my friend....


C

ps
...and one, two, three, one, two, three, one, two three, one, two, three.....

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Re: A possible starting point to prevent exposure

Postby Steve V » October 21st, 2008, 8:17 pm

If no one wants to know they don't watch? No one wants trains to wreck either but most slow down to check it out. The simple point is exposure is wrong. So far no one has come up with a valid reason but have come up with nonsensical ones. For example that if one watches the show they will soon forget the explanations. That may be true, they will forget about it UNTIL they see a similar performance and then the memory will pop back into their lil' noggin. Others seem to forget what magic is and say that the performer can be bigger than the magic...well, if they are they would likely be doing a more popular and lucritive art form rather than magic.

My main problem continues to be the insulting manner of the show. Why not do "Secrets of TV Series Revealed" and see how long they get away with dialog like:

"See how Bill Cosby called Philisha (sp) Rashad 'dear' as if they were really married? Well it is Bill dilluting himself because they are actually co workers, as if they could fool us"

A lesser problem I have is some lil' punk ass magi want to be in LA is helping them to stroke his own ego but hasn't the balls to place their name in the credits. I know they did that. It was LA, they likely bought the stuff at Brents place, hey Brent, anyone come in buying a truck load of magic stuff like cake pans etc? Give us the names!
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