Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

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Russ Stevens
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Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 10:45 am

Hello Everyone,

Over the past few days there have been numerous threads on various magic forums regarding Shawn Farquhar and his Shape of My Heart routine. I am writing this letter openly as I want everyone to know my side of things. These are the facts

In 1993 I was starring in The Mystique Illusion Show here in the UK. In the March of that year I created a routine using the Sting track Shape of My Heart and performed it on national TV (BBC1) twice, during the following few months. The routine was extremely well received and became something that I use as a piece to this day. Some magicians in the UK became aware of my routine and several people asked for permission to take that idea and use it for themselves. All understood completely when I said Id rather if they didnt.

By 2005 I had released a DVD through my production company Russ Stevens Video Productions (RSVPMagic) called Magics Biggest Secret which dealt with the business of working on cruise ships. Featured on this DVD was my Shape of My Heart routine. During that time I had heard from friends that Shawn Farquhar was asking if they knew Russ Stevens and that I had stolen his idea. I immediately emailed him and told him this wasnt the case. He said that it was obviously just a case of independent creation. I took his word for it at the time and why shouldnt I have?

More recently, over the past year or so, things have been said that made me start to doubt that this was completely correct. Shawn Farquhar has said that he came up with the idea at the same time and on the Genii Forum wrote:

I have however been doing the routine just as long as Russ and it is quite apparent we came up with our presentation completely on our own.

This is not true. Shawn has stated that his inspiration for the routine came when he saw the Luc Besson movie Leon (aka The Professional). The movie featured the music. This movie was not released until November 1994, one and a half years after I started performing my routine using that piece of music. Again, this is a fact.

Moving on now to the Blackpool Convention in 2008, Shawn Farquhar performed his routine on the Saturday Gala Show. I hadnt seen the routine live before and the experience made me feel very uncomfortable (along with several people I know that also watched the same performance).

Recently a rather important piece of information has been passed onto me from a well respected magician, about a VHS promotional tape of mine that ended up in Vancouver in the mid-nineties.

I had given a PAL VHS tape (UK format) as a gift to a magician who had seen my show and who I met in a local magic shop a few days later. It was my promotional tape and featured my entire Shape of My Heart routine as a main piece. The gentleman who had the tape (who lived in Vancouver) decided to get it converted from PAL to NTSC (the USA format). It turns out that Shawn Farquhar offered to pay half the cost of the conversion, so that they could both have a copy of the tape to watch. The gentleman said that he has felt guilty ever since, and that he thinks it is time for Shawn to own up.

I have no reason to disbelieve this person and he has nothing to gain from telling me this.

So, when did Shawn Farquhar actually really create his routine? I dont know. It certainly wasnt when I did as he has claimed in the past. He had a copy of that VHS tape all along, but never mentioned it at any time during our emails.

Since Shawn Farquhar was voted FISM World Champion I have been inundated with emails from people that knew my routine. They sent me links to various blogs and more. People clearly feel very strongly about this whole situation.

A few days ago I made the decision to contact Tim Ellis because I knew Tim as someone that stood up against this kind of thing. That, it turns out, was my mistake, as I didnt know at the time he was a FISM judge and a good friend of Shawn Farquhar. I was asking him in a private way, what he thought I should do about this whole situation but within hours he had posted a blog trying to wash over any problem, despite my email, and he defended the situation by saying Unfortunately, some people are taking the accusations seriously. All of this without even having seen my original version at that time!

I responded on a few forums as my name was getting mentioned. Tim has quoted me out of context, and has even tried to end a thread by quoting only a partial part of a private email to him.

The only reason for this post is to finally put my side of things out in the open. I was the one that contacted Shawn Farquhar and he was the one that was saying I had copied his idea. People say they are not the same, but obviously Shawn Farquhar thought they were too close for comfort too.

Its not about whether I am back-palming and hes doing the Ambitious Card, as both routines are fairly standard in their techniques. What takes this routine to another level is its staging, framing and theatricality. It is a piece of theatre.

I have no interest in entering magic competitions or being the king of self-promotion. I am not jealous of Shawn Farquhar. All I have ever wanted was for people to know that I was the first, not the copy, and that is what I am doing here.
The one undeniable fact is that I was doing this way before him and when he became aware of that fact, he still continued to promote the routine as being his creation and used it as his signature piece. I dont think thats right. He saw my performance on a converted VHS tape all those years ago, and simply reworked it. Thats not good. To then enter the routine into FISM even worse.

As for me No awards, no [censored], no thieving just a guy that loves magic.

Best,
Russ (Stevens)

I have no intention of contacting Shawn Farquhar directly again as previous emails have proved it to be a pointless and empty experience.

Roger M.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Roger M. » August 6th, 2009, 12:04 pm

This isn't a court of law, but anonymous references to "guys in Vancouver" who had your tape, and unsupported accusations that Shawn then viewed it come across as rants.

Shawn won at FISM with this routine, if you want to enter next time around you might win too.

Slagging Shawn at this point in time (he's been very publicly doing the routine for many years now) makes you look a bit petty and guilty of trying to step into Shawn's now very bright light.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby M Dowden » August 6th, 2009, 12:47 pm

Dear All,

I would just like to offer my full support to Russ in this matter, both as a friend and a magician. I would also like to anticipate a lot of the comments that are likely to be posted in reply to Russ' post.

I can see that some are going to accuse Russ of being childish in his efforts to establish that his routine preceded Mr Farquhar's. Some might even say things like "I've met Shawn and he's a great guy..." or "Why can't we just congratulate him on his win..." However, as someone who knows Russ very well, I can say without doubt that he has been pushed into this situation.

Through a combination of comments posted and spoken by magicians, Russ has been forced to defend his position just as any of us would. This is not a case of mud slinging, Russ has simply had to display the facts and evidence available to him to put the matter to bed once and for all.

The fact of the matter is that if Mr Farquhar had just been a magician performing the routine on a Cruise ship somewhere, you wouldn't have heard a word from Russ. The problem is that Shawn has been performing at conventions and entering competitions with it which brings the issue very much into the magic fraternity, and as we all know that opens up a whole other can of worms. He was told of people saying that he had been accused of stealing Mr Farquhar's routine. Now, it is one thing to find out that someone has possibly stolen your routine, but it is a step too far to hear that that person or other people in the magic community are suggesting it was YOU who stole the idea. I don't think any of us would keep silent at that point.

Something else that I noted from reading posts on other forums is the lack of respect for Russ as a magician. Before anyone accuses Russ of being jealous, or implying that Mr Farquhar has had greater career success, please do some research and look at Russ' career. You will find that Russ is one of the most successful magicians that the UK has produced and he has achieved and done more in a career that most magicians can only dream of having.

MD

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby magicman550 » August 6th, 2009, 12:52 pm

I totally disagree with Roger M. I don't thing Russ Stevens looks petty or guilty of trying to step in the Shawns limelight at all quite the opposite...it appears that he couldn't care less about that sort of thing. This is possibily the best time for Mr Russ Stevens to tell his side of the story. Just because some has been doing the routine very publicly for many years doesn't necessarily make it their own if they ripped it off in the first place.

This may not be a court of law but it the web is a great place to people the chance to say their opinions. If Russ's statements are true then it must have been extremely frustrating to see someone openly and boldly utilise their idea and make money from it. It's like when you see something in the Press, Media, News papers etc many times you believe it must be true and maybe this is the same with this routine, Shawn now has been performing it so much, many people will swear it is his routine because thats where they perhaps saw it first. The video on youtube does show Russ Stevens performing the effect on TV in 1993 which is when the song was first released in the UK.

I'd imagine there is very little chance of Shawn ever admitting if this was true, for him to do that would be basically negating all the awards he has won with that routine and he would completely lose face with the magic community, but Russ's post is a very interesting and intriguing read.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Hatch » August 6th, 2009, 1:20 pm

I trust Sting is getting royalties from both Russ and Shawn each time they perform this! If not, he's the one getting ripped off!

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2009, 1:54 pm

The theaters pay an all inclusive fee for the right to use music in their venues.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 6th, 2009, 1:58 pm

I've seen both acts - and believe both to be sufficiently different.

The common denominator is the use of Sting's song and choice of props - cards.

Russ is claiming that Shawn is a thief. You cannot steal something which didn't exist in the first place.

Russ is claiming exclusive use of the "staging, framing and theatricality" Russ - please go into explicit detail as to what "theatricality" elements are yours uniquely ? That is very broad. Unfortunately I believe you are seeing ownership in something which isn't necessarily yours to own.

Shawn does his act to a video camera. Does this preclude any other card worker from doing a card routine to music to a video camera ? I would hope not.

The real crux of the matter appears to be:

*is this a case of independent creation
*or did Shawn see Russ and use that as inspiration

Both are ultimately immaterial. Even if Shawn had used Russ' act as an inspiration - he has invested enough of his own personality and creativity to make it his own.

The fact that Shawn has achieved such success with his own version of the routine unfortunately does mean that it will eclipse Russ - and any magician watching Russ ( not perhaps knowing the background ) may well believe that Russ was inspired by Shawn. But that unfortunately is how the cookie crumbles.

But to call Shawn a thief when your routines are so different is ridiculous.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Brad Henderson » August 6th, 2009, 2:37 pm

I think popularity may be playing a role here. If Russ created the routine and can establish use of said routine prior to Shawn, then regardless of how beloved Shawn is - THAT'S the way the cookie crumbles.

I understand Shawn felt the sting of a similar situation a few years back when he saw a popular magic 'celebrity' present one of his own signature pieces on a fism stage.

Hopefully he will realize that the pain and frustration he felt there is the same that anyone would feel and be willing to participate in a dialogue to clarify/rectify the matter.

I do not know either individual (having met Russ only briefly in eastbourne and only seen Farquar clones in northeast pa). I have no affiliation to either side, but I do not think it is fair to let popularity over shadow facts.

I recall one well known magician who chastised a british street performer for stealing a celebrity magicians act, only to discover that the street magician had trod that ground first.

Popularity should be irrelevant in the discussion of these matters.

Good luck to all sorting it out.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 6th, 2009, 3:11 pm

Brad = but that is exactly the point.

"If Russ created the routine and can establish use of said routine prior to Shawn"

We are not talking about the self-same routine / effect / patter or presentation that has or has not been copied. Until we can define what the subject matter is that we are claiming theft of - we are going around in circles.

Russ = back-palming and "staging, framing and theatricality"
Shawn = Ambitious Card and seated with video camera

Both use Sting's music.

So again - we need clarification as to what the fundamental routine is that has or has not been copied ?

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Magic Newswire » August 6th, 2009, 4:13 pm

Wasn't there some controversy awhile back with regard to Russ publishing someone else's routine on a DVD without permission? If I am remembering this incorrectly, I apologize.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Roger M. » August 6th, 2009, 4:36 pm

Shawn has posted a very detailed and classy reply to the lies being spread about him by envious miscreants over on the Cafe:

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... 2&start=60

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 4:43 pm

Dear Dodd and Roger M.,

Yes, you're quite right about the Mel Mellers situation. It was I who contacted Bob Kohler, after Seth Kramer informed me of the situation and it was I who immediately withdrew the DVD from the market. It was re-issued without the offending routine. That was the right thing to do.

I think that should tell you something about me as a person.

As Roger M. has linked to the magiccafe forum, I suggest you read the post from Reg Donnelly after Shawn's post on another thread.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... forum=36&9

Best,
Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby jamesdixonmagic » August 6th, 2009, 4:53 pm

I'm interested to know one thing.

If, during a gala show (say the upcoming Blackpool convention), Shawn Farquhar and Russ Stevens are on the same gala show, can they both do their routines or are they too similar to each other.

I showed my girlfriend a youtube clip of both guys doing their thing and her comment was that they looked the same.
In other words - a magician sitting on a stool with Sting's music playing while they do a card routine. It's the theatrics of the routine including staging AND music that make both routines special. (I like them both, and wish I'd thought of it)

If, as many people are saying they aren't alike at all, then I guess you could have both performers do their routines on the same show. If you feel they could NOT be on the same show because they are too close, then obviously the routines ARE too close to each other. This seems to be Russ's arguement.

I hope this is sorted out and right now I must admit I'm in the corner of Russ Steven's because he started doing his signature routine 16 years ago - a few years before Shawns.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby jamesdixonmagic » August 6th, 2009, 6:03 pm

Roger M.
Just read on the magic cafe an article from the person WHO GAVE THE TAPE to Shawn in 1994. This is the proof that was needed.
I think Shawn will have his say when he returns to his home.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2009, 6:16 pm

I don't think Shawn will have a problem with my porting over his post from the Magic Cafe to here:

Shawn writes:
What a difference a week makes. A few day ago I was surrounded by friends and colleagues as I experienced a dream come true. Now all that seems so distant.

I am writing from China where I have been since FISM. Internet here is censored and I have been quite busy working on projects here in Asia and spending time with my Wife and Daughter.

I am unable to view most of the sites I normally access like Facebook and YouTube. I have however received a number of emails from friends posting a link to a blog where I am being attacked not only for my magic but for who I am.

I cannot reply to this blog as it is blocked here in China, but with the help of a friend I am able to read the writings of this vicious individual and his friends with no credentials other than their right to use the internet. I will make no comments to these people as that would only help them in their quest for celebrity.

I will how ever address others who have posted in this thread and the blog with the truth and not the fiction that has been left unchallenged until now.

Jim McDonald:

First congratulations for championing what you believe is a mis-justice, no matter how misguided.

On the blog you wrote:

"...you really can't compare Shawn to other FISM winners such as Fred Kaps."

You are absolutely correct. No one can compare to Fred Kaps ... that's why he won three Grand Prix's. duh!

Next you wrote later on iTricks:

"This IS a serious issue as we have a well known magician winning the biggest award in magic with a routine that he saw somebody else do, and is really taking us ALL FOR FOOLS."

This is a lie. I had never seen Russ perform his routine until years after I had established a reputation with mine and was confronted by a number of British magicians who accused me of stealing Russ's routine following my performance at FFFF in New York. They in fact said the routine was identical and that I was a thief. I immediately contacted Russ Stevens to confront him as I believed he had stolen my routine based on the information I was given by his friends. I sent Russ a video link to my performance and he suggested I buy his newly released DVD on the Biggest Secrets of Magic which included a performance video of his routine. I bought the DVD and watched his routine which had nothing in common other than the music and a stool (which by the way I did not use at FISM 2009). I wrote Russ and said it was obvious he had never seen mine and he agreed that I had not seen his either and it was a simple matter of independent creation. I though the mater had ended. Over the years I have corrected friends who have called or emailed to tell me of Russ and his theft of my routine. In each Case I explained how we had independently created the routines and were OK, with each others use of the same song with different routines and that Russ was not a thief, but an ethical magician.

Mr. McDonald also made a post in regards to my getting standing ovations on the ship using the song "stand up for the champions" by Right Said Fred. My friend and I are having problems finding the post anymore so I suspect it my have been removed... hmmm

Regardless:

Your friend, who recently cruised on NCL, is either mistaken, lying or a figment of your own imagination. The video you viewed on YouTube with the music of Right Said Fred is only for promotional purposes. That music has NEVER been used to close a single show in my professional career. Anyone who has actually witnessed my show will tell you this is a fact and that you, your friend or your imagination is fabricating a lie to fuel your initial anger at me for an act you accuse me of committing that is just as false. I have in fact received over 500 standing ovations onboard the vessel of Norwegian Cruise line and the only reason they stood was they felt compelled to because of a connection I made with my audience and my unique style of performance of magic.

dfield wrote:

"However, this should not be about a persons personality. We can't like everybody or their style of performance.

We are getting away from the main point. Did FISM award first place to somebody who took an idea from another person.

Many people are getting caught up in the personality of Shawn Farquhar. This has nothing to do with his character. It has to do with his routine winning first place at FISM. "

You are right. This should not be about personalities. Yet I have been called "hubristic ***", "self-opinionated ****face", "grinning, presumptuous ***' and my favorite "waste of humanity". I am saddened that these comments will be forever available on the internet.

FISM awarded me a prize for an original routine that involved multiple decks switches, an ambitious card routine to music which I have performed for fourteen years and my signed card in sealed deck effect which was inspired by the original plot of the Dean of American Magicians, George Schlinder.

korttihai_82 wrote this interesting post and noted he was fellow Fin and felt his friend, Kristina Nivala should have won:

"Its also worth noting that in everything, there is also lots of politics going on. Farquhar has been 2nd in FISM for at least 3? times??? He has won pretty much every competition out there and last year he has been in pretty much every possible magic convention known to a man just to make sure he is known... Its worth noting that when "magic superstar" meets "not so well known" guys in competitions, do you really expect that they will get same judging..."

I resent that you think politics had anything to do with the contest. I have "won pretty much every competition out there" but have lost ones too, such as the IBM/SAM last year in Louisville. I laughed out loud when you wrote "magic superstar". Are you implying that the other competitors are the "not so well known" guys? Backstage on my preliminary day was a who's who's of outstanding acts who I am proud to call friends. In fact it looked like the dressing room of the Ron McMillian contest in December. As an aside I would like to publicly state ... your friend Kristian is an excellent magician and a fellow 4F'er and I wish him nothing but the best in the future.

And now for the one you have all been waiting for ...

Russ Stevens:

Russ wrote on the Caf:

"Shawn did NOT come up with his routine when I did. The fact is, that I was doing this routine for at least TWO years before him and have the proof to back that up. Shawn was very nice in his emails and I accepted that we'd just had the same presentational idea ..."

Russ I never claimed to performing to Sting's song for as long as you. I understand from our emails that you found the song on the CD which I believe came out in 1993. I discovered the song on a video of the movie Leon which was sometime in the Spring of 1995. I did not see the movie in a theatre but rented the video. This makes your discovery earlier than mine. What I have said repeatedly is that I found the music and created my routine independently and in fact years before I had ever even heard of you.

In a new thread on the Caf dated August 6, 2009 you have written:

"The gentleman who had the tape (who lived in Vancouver) decided to get it converted from PAL to NTSC (the USA format). It turns out that Shawn Farquhar offered to pay half the cost of the conversion, so that they could both have a copy of the tape to watch. The gentleman said that he has felt guilty ever since, and that he thinks it is time for Shawn to own up."

I know nothing of this and in fact owned a PAL/NTSC conversion machine through most of the nineties (in fact it is still in my spare bedroom), so why would I offer to pay to have something converted? Who is this well respected person you are being so cryptic about?

You then write:

"I have no intention of contacting Shawn Farquhar directly again as previous emails have proved it to be a pointless and empty experience."

Russ, I have replied with honesty and integrity to every email sent by you.

Russ wrote on iTricks:

"Tim knows full well that what I was saying was that I wasnt the one making the accusations at the time, it was Shawn Fawquar that was doing that. Therefore, unlike you Tim, he obviously thought they were close enough too."

No Russ I did not think they were close enough. In fact I was told by your friends at the FFFF convention that the routines were identical. I had never seen or heard of you for that matter! I contacted you based on their statements and soon discovered the routine had nothing similar other than the use of the same music. As I wrote above I thought we had settled this dispute. In fact you wrote, "I wouldn't want to ever fall out, and of course, as discussed before, I know that we've simply had the same presentational idea. In fact when a few people first told me of yours, I checked out what you were doing and found it to be obviously different to the extent that a rip-off wouldn't do." Now you appear to be upset that I used my routine to compete and win an award. You have also since written you were uncomfortable by my use of a stool ... what?


On the Caf you wrote:

"... what really lifts them above the norm IS the staging and use of the music. To not understand that, it to not understand the performance of magic. I'd also like to point out that even Shawn considered the routines were too close as it was he who initially was accusing me."

First you are correct in the fact the staging and music are what make our routines. It is also true that our staging is different as pointed out above. As to your claim the I consider our "routines were too close". Nothing is further from the truth and I believed I cleared that up in paragraph above.


In response to Tim Ellis you wrote:

"The only time I've publicly spoken about this was because of Shawn's comments about me to friends at conventions accusing me of copying his idea. I'm completely 100% ethical and the thought of anyone watching my routine and thinking I had stolen Shawn's horrifies me. I suppose at least people now know the truth."

Your post implies that I have made the accusation of theft more than once. You and I are both aware that I have only accused you once and that was when your friends accused me of theft at the FFFF convention. We communicated via email and you indicated all was well. I too am 100% ethical and to read your post that claims I have repeatedly accused you is wrong and you should clarify this in your reply to this post. This is not the act of an honest person. This post is deceptive and wrong.


Russ also wrote:

"when I did finally see his version 'live' in Blackpool a few years ago, the style of performance and staging was uncomfortably close."

Russ there is nothing close about yours and my style of performance. As for staging I use a giant screen, a video camera, a signed card and sit to the extreme left of the stage. I have never seen you perform 'live' but from the DVD you suggested I buy and the YouTube video you posted it appears you sit center stage, use an unsigned card, no screen nor camera and have a card sword as a finale.

In a reply to Tim Ellis you wrote:

"I wouldnt expect 2,000 people cheering Shawns win to be shouting my name. Shawn has spent the last ten years promoting this routine as his signature piece, despite knowing about mine and Im just setting the record straight."

My math shows that I have been presenting the routine for closer to fourteen years and it is my signature piece. Your routine is yours and you can promote it as you feel, but mine is mine. Original and independent of you. I'm just setting the record straight. Since our initial confrontation I have never said you are not entitled to your presentation. To do so would be wrong, as it is for you to say the same to me.

"Unlike you guys, Im not a serial magic competitor and unlike you guys, I dont feel the need to mention my achievements to anyone thatll listen. Theres nothing wrong with a little self-promotion, but as I told you before Tim, thats just not my style. Ive worked as a professional magician for over thirty-two years and have always let my work speak for itself. Ive had no shortage of that, so I guess I must be doing something right."

I wasn't aware that I was a "serial magic competitor". I have done my share of contests but since 2003 I have been in just five. Unlike you I do feel the need to promote my accomplishments which allows me to ask high fees and work where and when I want, so I guess I must be doing something right.

Finally you wrote:

"Since Shawn's win, I've been shocked by the number of emails I've received and some of the aggressive feelings that were vented towards him. People have sent links and even photographs with cartoon bubbles, which I believe have been doing the rounds. Personally, I just feel sorry for the guy."

I too would be shocked if I were to receive emails from people with aggressive feelings being vented at an individual who does not deserve their wrath. You could easily have stated the truth and facts as I have laid them out and the issue would be mute. Personally, you should feel sorry.


Russ, you closed your post with this paragraph:

"I don't even dream of comparing myself to such a great technician and creator as people like Roy Walton, but like him I also smile when doing my DVD productions, working with great people who I consider real friends, performing and have a great life with someone that I truly love. No awards, no bulls**t, no thieving. Just a guy that loves magic."

I'm not sure why Mr Walton's name was brought into this discussion? I too would never compare myself to such a brilliant magician and man. I just recently had the chance to meet him in person and loved the time we spent together. Just like you and Roy Walton, I love performing, creating and sharing my magic. My Wife, Daughter and I travel the globe, get paid to do what we love ... lots of awards, no bulls**t, no thieving.

I'm not sure why you have decided now to protest something you had already settled. Your emails to me seemed civil and understanding. I heard nothing from you when I competed in 2006 in Sweden with the routine. Suddenly, after I win this award and am being attacked by a small group of vicious bloggers, you choose to open a discussion you basically closed. Why would you not have address this when I saw you at Blackpool?

I want to thank the people, friends and strangers, who have stepped forward to defend me in this forum. I am touched by the hundreds of communiqus of support.

I have spent my life as a magician trying to do the best I can. Not every show is my best but I strive to improve and elevate the art I love. I do not tear down others. A friend recently told me that "burning down your neighbors home, doesn't make yours look better." To those that think otherwise ... nothing I can say or do will change you.

Sincerely,

Shawn Farquhar


p.s Please be patient with the length of time for my replies as I am moving throughout Asia and internet will continue to be limited.


"Card magic is a pretty standard category. But Shawn Farquhar from Canada provided an interesting twist on the genre, that was both flawless and beyond imagination." CCTV - China FISM 2009
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Magic Newswire » August 6th, 2009, 6:39 pm

BTW.. on the non controversial side of FISM (so far...) I have just posted our chat wit the new World Champion of Stage Magic SOMA! LISTEN HERE !

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2009, 6:59 pm

I'll take a chance and wade into this overheated exchange.

Many people who do card tricks, upon hearing Sting's song, are going to think of doing a routine to the song where you produce the cards in some manner as they're verbally named. I see that as a PROBLEM with the idea: it's an obvious choice rather than an inspired one.

Do I think that 12 guys could have independently come up with the same idea to do a routine to the Sting song and produce the named cards? Yes. Would the routines all be different? Yes. Some better than others.

The fact that only two guys seem to have been inspired by the song is a statement on how unimaginative most magicians are regarding their presentations.

I personally don't like close-up magic done to music. It puts a wall between you and the audience. Instead of communicating with them, you are mutely pretending they're not there. Also, you are allowing the song to do the heavy lifting in the presentation. It is far more appropriate, and in fact is generally the case, that a card manip act is done silenty to music. However my feelings are irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

The acts seem entirely different to me--forget about the music. Shawn is doing close-up magic using techniques designed for close-up. Russ Stevens is a card manipulator using techniques designed for stage. The routines bear no resemblance to one another aside from the obvious fact that cards identified in the song appear at certain points. In Russ's case, unless people are watching his act on TV, with the cameras close-up on his hands (which they shouldn't be during a manip act as Juliana Chen found out to her dismay on World's Greatest Magic), who is going to be able to identify the exact cards from the audience? The fact that some of the cards match those mentioned in the music seems almost incidental to Russ's act, whereas it's pretty much the point in Shawn's act.

Shawn seems like a straightforward honest guy, so I don't believe he would have consciously stolen the idea. I don't know Reg Donelly, so can't speak to his position that he gave a tape of Russ's act to Shawn to convert. Is it possible that Shawn duped the tape 15 years ago and forgot? I suppose anything is possible. I can't remember where I put my shoes yesterday.

Does it make a big difference if that's true? I'm not sure, but I don't think so because the acts are entirely different.

Would I book them on the same show (as someone on the Magic Cafe suggested in Russ's defense)? Of course not: how can you book a close-up magician and stage manipulator in the same show unless it's a TV show, then of course I wouldn't book them together. The question is silly: it's like asking if I would book two guys doing the Linking Rings or Metamorphosis in the same show. No.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Tim Ellis » August 6th, 2009, 7:23 pm

I've been dragged into this from the very beginning because:

1 - Russ Stevens emailed me because he stated he knows me as "someone who is 100% against the theft of other people's illusions and ideas".

2 - Jim McDonald emailed me saying "I feel it is important that magicians are made aware of the fiasco that is going on in the magic world to do with awarding first place to somebody who took the idea from another act then denies it." and linking me to the Weekly Magic Failure blog.

I looked at the WMF blog and saw rants, raves, accusations and a character assassination of Shawn Farquhar that staggered me.

I finally got to see Russ Steven's 'Shape of My Heart' routine and, in my opinion, it is a very different routine.


However, because I didn't side with Russ I'm being told I'm "defending my friend" (Shawn) and "defending my decision" (as a judge at FISM).


IF Shawn was inspired to create a routine to the music 'Shape of my Heart' after seeing Russ Steven's act, then that's ALL he can be accused of.

Unless you write the music yourself, you really can't make a claim if someone else uses it for a routine.


It's not as if he decided to do Snowstorm to the music from Edward Scissorhands or fast-paced dove productions to music by Cirque du Soleil. Even on the Gala Show at FISM we had Peter Marvey doing Flying and, during his routine, use a grab of music that Copperfield uses.

If Shawn did card productions or used a card sword to 'Shape of My Heart'... that would be a different matter.


Almost every magician I know, on hearing 'Shape of My Heart' for the first time has said "Wow, I want to create a card routine to that song". Cyril performed card manipulations to it one year at FISM, I even created a routine similar to Shawn's (without seeing Russ's) back in the 1990's when I first heard it as well.


I feel very sorry for Russ that people will see his routine and think he copied Shawn, just as I feel sorry for Shawn that people will see his routine and think he copied Russ.

At FISM this year we had two young magicians in the stage comp doing CD manipulation acts that looked almost identical (though they used very different music) but was one copying the other? (I'm glad I wasn't on the stage jury having to figure that out).


It's very important that magicians try to come up with unique routines to make them stand out from the others, but it's inevitable that some magicians will see the success of others and copy their routines to try to have the same success (as one "pro" magician here in Australia is prone to do... and as he gets on TV a lot, people see my routines and think I've copied him... so I'm well aware of how both Russ and Shawn feel, but in my case the copying is far more obvious).


Russ - please stop assuming that my friendship with Shawn or my position on the jury has anything to do with my opinion that your claim that Shawn copied your act is not true.

I've now seen both acts and, as I said before, I think they are both very different and the worst I could accuse Shawn of is seeing your act and saying "Hey, I could do something quite different to that song".


Someone asked if you could put both acts on the same show. You could, but would you put two Zombie balls or two linking ring acts on the same show? Of course not. I hardly think that's a standard by which to determine intellectual theft.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Master Payne » August 6th, 2009, 7:30 pm

I agree that the "Would you book both of them together on the same show" question is trivial and mostly pointless.

Magic suffers greatly from generic looking sameness. Try watching all of the "Worlds Greatest Magic" specials back to back and then list what show had which tricks and performers in it. It can't be done as each program was pretty much interchangeable with any other. How many subtrunks interludes and origami's were on those shows anyway? Heck, how many gala club or convention shows have you been to with multiple manipulation acts that to the untrained would look identical.

What started off as, more than likely, a case of simultaneous development has turned into a pointless game of who was first -- which ultimately is unproovable -- finger pointing and has now become a free for all forum for name calling and character assassination.

Is this why FISM is only held every three years? It takes that long for the controversy to fade away.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 8:24 pm

Hello Tim,

You posted that blog after getting my private email and before seeing my routine. To say you weren't taking sides is just ridiculous.

From insisting it was just a case of two people having the same idea, you now seem to be edging to the side of Shawn saying, "Hey, I could do something quite different to that song". If that's the case then at the very least Shawn has been less than forthcoming about things hasn't he? That's pretty serious.

You even told me that when you heard the track and decided to do a routine to it yourself, you dropped the idea when you found out that Shawn was doing it. I think most magicians have thought like that, because apart from a few kids on YouTube, it's not being done anywhere is it? It seems like Shawn didnt feel the need to do that though after he saw mine.

You also say:
IF Shawn was inspired to create a routine to the music 'Shape of my Heart' after seeing Russ Steven's act, then that's ALL he can be accused of. Really. If that is the case then I once again suggest he has been less than forthcoming about things hasnt he? Again pretty serious.

There are quotes from the old emails and posts made during 2005 between Shawn and I that try to make it sound like I'm contradicting myself. Initially I wanted to believe Shawn and took him at his word. Over time things have changed and this is not the case anymore (See my first post), so of course my feelings have changed.

To Richard Kaufman, we've never met but I enjoy your magazine. Obviously you are entitled to your opinion and it's something that we disagree on, which is fine with me. As a performer, I personally don't believe you could do both routines on the same show, but there you go.

I think the real matter here is one of honesty and integrity. Shawn has claimed that he created the routine around the same time as me and he did it here publicly on this forum, where he wrote:

I have however been doing the routine just as long as Russ and it is quite apparent we came up with our presentation completely on our own". Not True.

He has also claimed that up to the ffff's convention in 2005:
"I had never seen or heard of you for that matter!" Not True. As the video tape now proves.

Oh yes, the video tape from 1995:
"I know nothing of this". Well, we'll just have to wait and see if his memory comes back to him on that one.

I'd like to also say that I don't take pleasure in doing this, but it's got to the point where I have to speak out. I have nothing to say to Shawn Farquhar right now as I stand by everything I wrote in my first post.

Best,
Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2009, 8:46 pm

Russ, your routine is NOTHING like Shawn's.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Tim Ellis » August 6th, 2009, 10:01 pm

Russ, previously you accused me of taking your words out of context, and now you say:

"From insisting it was just a case of two people having the same idea, you now seem to be edging to the side of Shawn saying, "Hey, I could do something quite different to that song". If that's the case then at the very least Shawn has been less than forthcoming about things hasn't he? That's pretty serious."

If you are willing to twist what I say in a post that's very clear and directly above yours, then there is really no point in discussing this any further with you.

I'm sorry, but I thought you were a reasonable chap.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 10:05 pm

Hi Richard,

As I've said elsewhere, but will repeat it again. Yes, I Back-Palm cards and he does an Ambitious Card Routine and both routines are pretty standard in their techniques, but what really lifts them above the norm IS the staging and use of the music. To not understand that, it to not understand the performance of magic. I'd like to point out that Shawn considered them close enough to accuse me of copying him.

If you're talking tricks Richard, fine of course you're right. If you talking staging, framing and as a theatrical piece, then no I don't agree with you.

However there is more to this situation than just that point as you can see.

Best,
Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 10:07 pm

Hi Tim,

Please read my first post again. I stick by every word.

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Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2009, 10:10 pm

I don't understand how your staging and framing is similar to his: you are doing a stage card manipulation act. He's doing a close-up trick.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 10:11 pm

As I think he's not a member here and this has been posted on Magiccafe, I don't think Reg Donnelly will mind me posting this here. It's extremely relevant.

"In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a
copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at
that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later ( could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.It is possible he had forgotten.I mean 14 years has passed".
Reg Donnelly

Best,
Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 6th, 2009, 10:16 pm

Dear Richard,

It is the same. You're looking at the tricks and not the presentational plot. Same music, same staging, cards appearing to the lyrics (although mine is more subtle I feel). It's not about the tricks. That's not my problem.

This is only one issue though and there are many other elements to this situation as you can read from my initial post.

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Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 6th, 2009, 10:24 pm

I think that's the issue it's going to come down to: you feel it's the same, others don't. I don't think that will be resolved.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Gord » August 6th, 2009, 11:50 pm

Ok folks. I'm going to throw myself into this head first. I figure since I have never met any of the major players in this story then I am the perfect person to help clear up this debate.
How?
I watched the video's of the two routines.
Russ, it's a different routine.
Yes, there are things that they have in common, and you seem to be particularly angry about the use of music. But honestly, even with the music, they are two different routines.

I have nothing to gain by writing this, nothing at all.

Gord

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 7th, 2009, 2:22 am

Richard has summed the situation up perfectly:

"I think that's the issue it's going to come down to: you feel it's the same, others don't. I don't think that will be resolved."

You have some highly knowledgeable names independently viewing both acts - and coming to the same determination that we have made from the start ... both acts are sufficiently different and unique to each performer - they are not the same.

Again, you may disagree with this assessment, but that appears to be the view.

Russ, I believe that everyone does truly feel for you - and that the situation ( from your perspective ) is not ideal. But from Shawn's perspective - neither are things rosy red either as he is having to ward off unwarranted character assassinations and unsubstantiated allegations.

Neither are fair to either party - but you are going to have to agree to disagree ...

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Curtis Kam » August 7th, 2009, 3:22 am

If "staging" means what I think it does--and it's hard to know what Russ thinks it means, since he has not defined it--the "staging" is not the same. As Richard points out, and Rus apparently agrees, Rus is doing card manipulations "staged" for the stage, and Shawn is doing card manipulations "staged" for close up, but brought to the stage via camera. The manner in which the cards are displayed, the focus of attention in relation to the performer's body, the effects achieved, the phrasing of the various sequences, are all different, because stage card magic is different from close up card magic in those respects.

Frankly, if the audience has to be able to see the identities of the cards in order to appreciate the piece, I find the choice of stage magic techniques and staging to be an odd one.

The only substantial similarity is the music. If you doubt, then try watching both routines with the sound off.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby mrgoat » August 7th, 2009, 6:04 am

No offense meant to either party, but am I alone thinking both of these routines are cheesy and corny?

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 7th, 2009, 6:18 am

Yes

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Russ Stevens » August 7th, 2009, 8:30 am

Put yourself in my shoes.

I am accused of stealing Shawn Farquhars routine.

I prove to Shawn that I didnt.

He concedes.

We accept at that time that we both created similar routines by coincidence based on what he told me (which on reflection is ironic now).

Shawn told me hed not seen my routine when he developed his. It now transpires that he had seen it. I quote:

In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later ( could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.It is possible he had forgotten.I mean 14 years has passed.
Reg Donnelly (Reg Donenelly was traveling with magic illustrator Frank Martinaeu and I met them both in Blackpool in 1994).

Shawn Farquhar then enters the worlds most prestigious magic competition with a routine based on my routine (that he denied) and wins. It is simply unethical, thats all.

Our routines (the tricks) arent the same, but owe their impact to the same staging and music. The music and staging accounts for 60% or 70% of the worth of the piece.

If I told you I was entering a silent dove/manipulation act into FISM and was going to use Vivaldis Four Seasons for backing would everyone not understand that that piece belonged to Lance Burrton? Or that David Copperfields presentation of the Dancing Cane to Gershwins Rhapsody in Blue made that piece of music his when used in a Dancing Cane routine? Please understand that I dont dare compare myself to these brilliant performers, but its exactly the same.

For me thats what putting an act together is all about. You start with you add the tricks and music and then random items become a whole, a piece, theatre Look at Jeff McBrides original card routine. Fantastic! Performed to Joe Samples Carmel. I wouldnt have dreamt of taking that piece of music in a million years. Jeff had made it his. And I respected that.

I think Shawn Farquhar has behaved disgracefully.

If hed said all along that hed seen my act, and was going to rework it for himself by using a close-up card trick on stage instead of my card manipulation sequence that would have been one thing. But to have deceived me all along is really something else.

That is what has been hurtful the most.

He can keep his awards, as they really have no interest to me. This has not been a pleasurable experience and is something I would rather not have done. All I ever wanted was for people to know the truth and now you do. I stand by everything I wrote in the post that started this thread.

Thats all I wanted to say.
Best,
Russ

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 7th, 2009, 11:39 am

In 1994 I was in England with Francis Martineau and Russ gave us a copy of his promo tape It was in pal.The conversion to NTSC at that time was more than I wanted to pay. So at a meeting a few months later ( could have been early 1995) I asked Shawn if he wanted to pay half; and we both ended up with a viewable copy.It is possible he had forgotten.I mean 14 years has passed.
Reg Donnelly

--> this has not been substantiated and Shawn denies this. So now we have a case of 'he said' / 'she said'

"Shawn Farquhar then enters the worlds most prestigious magic competition with a routine based on my routine (that he denied) and wins. It is simply unethical, thats all."

--> Shawn has been entering FISM with this routine on numerous occasions and only now it has become an issue.

"I think Shawn Farquhar has behaved disgracefully."

--> others disagree

"Our routines (the tricks) arent the same, but owe their impact to the same staging and music. The music and staging accounts for 60% or 70% of the worth of the piece."

--> You do not have exclusive use to the music and nor is their exclusivity in your staging ( I must add that you have yet to define what constitutes your unique staging ). In fact - the majority of people here are unable to see any similarity in Shawn's act to yours besides the music and use of cards.

--> Russ - if you truly feel aggrieved with the situation - you do have the option of taking your allegation of theft to FISM and lodging a formal complaint.

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 7th, 2009, 11:42 am

mrgoat, I'm with you on that one--but we are in the distinct minority.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 7th, 2009, 12:40 pm

This is interesting - 2 video clips worth seeing

http://www.mediafire.com/?mwjgauz3ymd

http://www.mediafire.com/?gtgm12tyudy

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 7th, 2009, 1:03 pm

What are the files? I don't like downloading stuff.
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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby CraigMitchell » August 7th, 2009, 1:18 pm

They're Video clips ( mp4 format ) of Shawn & Russ' act with an alternative soundtrack.

People are very quick on the draw - just got emailed this one, too:

http://video.yahoo.com/watch/5704206/14947434

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Re: Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine

Postby Bill Mullins » August 7th, 2009, 1:23 pm

It seems odd, two guys arguing about originality, when the key to the act is the creative work of a third party.

Shouldn't Sting be named as a co-winner on the FISM award?


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