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11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 12th, 2010, 2:24 pm
by David Rowyn ... sh-in-2011

An essay I wrote a few weeks ago.


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 12th, 2010, 4:30 pm
by Donal Chayce
Usurping an inordinate amount of storage at the Magic Cafe wasn't enough for you, eh David? ;)

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 12th, 2010, 4:39 pm
by Donal Chayce
And another thing: I take great exception to your comments regarding the color beige.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 12th, 2010, 5:14 pm
by David Rowyn

You know, I genuinely would like to see the return of Crystal Pepsi.


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 20th, 2011, 10:08 pm
by Bob Sanders
Dealers definitely want magicians to change props often. It is interesting to a magician to learn something new.

However, if you are a professional magician performing for a paid audience, I think you are essentially barking up the wrong tree.

Case in point: Thursday night Lucy and I did a paid two hour stage show (at $140/ticket) for an audience in a convention center. It was booked many months ago. The specifics of the show contract were that we repeat the same show we did there April 15, 2005. It included 26 silks and Dove in Balloon (with a glass box from a distance and not the cheap mechanical tray you described) and Doves in Dove Cage vanish.

Classics become classics linked to professional presentation. But the caliber of the audience is also very significant. It is a matter of sophistication and match between the audience and performance. How well it is done can be more entertaining than what is done. We are not in the puzzle business. Puzzles are disposable for all of the right reasons and must be replaced after solution. Magic props are an investment in your show.

(Incidentally, there were no card tricks!)

In my years as a booking agent, my most consistent advice to budding artists in a paid show was Play your greatest hits. When you run out, play someone elses greatest hits.

For the first fifty years, it has served me well!

Give it some thought. There is a world of difference in the music in a professional show and on your iPod. The objectives are very different. That is OK!


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 22nd, 2011, 1:48 am
by Ben Roth

"How well it is done can be more entertaining than what is done. We are not in the puzzle business."


No offense old chap, just some helpful criticism.
You know, magicians helping magicians kind of thing.
You should really practice before you go out there.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 22nd, 2011, 6:33 am
by mrgoat

Oh dear. :(

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 23rd, 2011, 1:52 pm
by Bob Sanders
Obviously you are new. This thread's subject is not about the acts. This thread's subject is about the props.

If you will read the whole first post. The poster takes the position in his position paper that he dislikes certain props and is trying to persuade others to agree with him. That is fine. (I don't think he approached it from the perspective of a paying audience.)

The leap to youtube makes many false assumptions and is totally off topic. Criticism of free programing on youtube belongs in a different thread.

That free programing on youtube is shot by someone with a home camera and certainly not my real show. (As you may know, assuming that you have any professional experience, in real shows, voice and video recording is prohibited.) Don't embarrass you or me by believing things you find on youtube.

This was a freebee done for a friend without my having been in bed for 48 hours or more. (I think I drove in from Ohio the night before.) It certainly is not my average work nor is it represented to be.

I currently work 22 states and and have been a professional entertainer since 1958 with a manager and agents. My magic done for television has private owners and stage shows make poor TV shows. They are not the same.

I have NEVER EVER put anything on youtube including that! (I have PhD. coursework in Film and Television Production. Youtube is for hobbyist that work for free. No thank you!) At the age of 66, I have never even had an audition tape. (Never needed it!) Commercial talent buyers keep me busy.

Returning to the thread's topic, my position is still the same. The problem is not the props. The caliber of the audience is very significant. It is a matter of sophistication and match between the audience and performance.

Magic appropriate for bars and truck stops is not the same as what succeeds in a theater with a paying audience. Props also have a fit requirement.

By the way, I also have several hundreds of decks of cards. I make no case that they should vanish either. There are venues where they fit. Then I use them too.

Some props are actually only expendable supplies others are true equipment for show business. Invest wisely and you can use them for decades. Most of my Chalet equipment was bought in the 1970s and still earn their way with paying audiences. (I wish I could say the same for lights and sound equipment.)


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 23rd, 2011, 2:52 pm
by Ben Roth
mrgoat wrote:

Oh dear. :(

I just wanted to see who this talent is that can get $140 per person in a convention center. I don't even think Copperfield can do that anymore.
If you are a professional then you understand you either get good enough to nail your act 10 out of 10 on command or don't do it.
Good Luck in all your endeavors.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 23rd, 2011, 4:26 pm
by Richard Kaufman
Ben Roth is not new--he's a known person posting under a pseudonym for reasons I don't understand.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 23rd, 2011, 4:39 pm
by Brad Henderson
I think a good poster child for this argument is the change bag. At one time, this magicians secret switching device resembled a real 'thing' - a collection bag. Now it is merely a device, unseen anywhere but a magicians show, that is most often (if not always) openly used as a device that switches or conceals things. Further, it is so commonly used (and many models still resemble each other so closely) that it has become a 'known' item to many lay people.

When Davids post appeared on the cafe, oodles of magicians (all of whom used the prop) attempted to defend it to their last breath.

Is the classic change bag PROP defensible as a tool for the creation of deceptive magic? (not talking about the principle, or other devices that do the
same thing - we are talking about the PROP) would we not be better served abandoning this device in favor of something which is seemingly more mundane in our times, or something that effects the same method but differently?

And why are so many magicians content with something that with just a little thought could be improved upon dramatically? Is this because we as a culture are loathe to change, laziness, or an unwillingness to be critical and honest about the effectiveness of our performance choices?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 24th, 2011, 8:54 am
by Bob Sanders
A little change can go a long ways. You have my agreement on that.

In my (mis-spent)youth (starting at age 13) I had the good fortune to be the guitar sideman to many recording artists and movie stars on tour. It was a priceless education used when at 18 and starting to college helped me start American Artist Enterprises and harvest the benefits of the contacts made. As the "kid" surrounded by older and certainly more accomplished artists there was access to human resources that gave me advice and encouragement simply not available otherwise.

One piece of advice a show business professional gave me really is appropriate to magic.

There are only 88 keys on a piano!

His point was that everything else is up to the artist.

I didn't start doing serious magic until I was sixteen. Becoming a serious student of magic brought the lesson home. There aren't many changes in magic tools either. Colors, sizes and cabinets are visible changes but the tools don't change. Magic was just around long before pianos and guitars.

Show business is about applications! Tools are required.

I am not any more impressed with change bags than I am colored rope, obsolete coins or special color cards. They are just tools. They are appropriate sometimes and somewhere. In one audience they create interest and in another they spell FAKE. Vanishing them from the world of props is majoring in the minors. Give the customers what they are buying.

Willie Nelson's audience still expects to see one particular (worn out) guitar. They finance the show!


PS --- I still have four guitars left from my old days. Nobody seemed to ever notice my favorites! However, guitars certainly got me off to a career path that hasn't stopped. Have people seen those guitars before? Does it matter? is the real question.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 24th, 2011, 12:20 pm
by Brad Henderson
Your analogy is flawed because music does not rely on deception, magic does. If there is no deception, there can be no 'magic'. There can be color, energy, laughter, and in the best of cases, self referential commentary which could be rationalized as performance art, but not magic.

You seem to be suggesting that 1) we should play to the lowest common denominator and not worry about the smart/informed people in the room and 2) people expect magicians to present material which is undeceptive - that's what the buyer expects and wants.

I believe both of these attitudes and practices stemming therefrom are a manor part of why magic is held in so low esteem on the 'real entertainment' scale; why so many people's knee jerk reaction is 'magic is for the kids.'

Why intentionally use a prop the very appearance of which arouses questions and, even when well handled, usually fools no one capable of logical thought? Is that what the buyer really wants? Is playing to cliches ever good for an 'artist'?

How hard would it be to switch to another switching device, or learn to use sleight of hand and eliminate the suspicion of the prop altogether? Do our audiences not deserve the best we can give them? Is an outdated, over used, anachronism truly the best we have to offer?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 24th, 2011, 10:23 pm
by Spellbinder
It seems historically that magicians have always taken a "good thing" and run it into the ground with overuse and making it the center of attention. This can be said of the Mirror Glass, the Mirror Box, the Change Bag, and a whole lot more. The Change Bag was never the center of attention until it got into the hands of the kid show performers. It was used to collect billets and discretely change them for other billets that looked exactly the same. Billets went in and billets came out. The fact that they had been changed wasn't noticed. Now along comes a kid magician and he is using it to change red silks into green silks because it is easier than learning sleight of hand. The audience sees a red silk go in and a green silk come out...very suspicious!

So most of the problems with props isn't with the props, but how they are misused by those who don't understand the principles of magic. Sorry, kid show performers, but you know who you are.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 25th, 2011, 9:38 am
by Bob Sanders

Do you think that only magic has deception on stage? Apparently you have no idea how many dead instruments are on stage for live shows with recording artists and movie stars. Some actors are much better actors than noticed!

The second point is that most certainly there are magicians presenting material which is undeceptive. There certainly are sophisticated audiences who well knew how the tricks work before they bought the ticket. Give credit to others. Especially audiences at magic conventions fit. However, they do not have a monopoly. (The Masked Morons audience is not limited to the deceived either.)

Frankly, I wish I could agree with you. This old marketing professor cannot. The most common deception is the magicians self deception. We actually rely on a willing suspension of disbelief for entertainment. It is audience participation. Walt Disney was a pro at it.

(Do you think that voters dont vote for a candidate that they know is lying?)

There are also audiences who do not hold magic in low esteem. It is a matter of target marketing. One of the standard jokes about me is that if I do a childs birthday party, his/her grandfather is chairman of the board. Childrens birthday parties are not in my target market. (I dont even have a listed telephone number!) One size does not fit all.

There is a difference in inappropriate application and denial of the utility of a prop.

Based upon some of the arguments presented in this thread, coin magic should be abandoned because new coins are too small to see. (Old coins are evidently props and FAKE.) And certainly, rectangular playing cards are a dead giveaway that this is going to be a card trick. Weve all seen pick a card before. (Obviously, some magicians still believe you can be paid to use them. I think they are right!)

Spellbinder is a gold mine of aged learnings. So most of the problems with props isn't with the props. (Texting makes billets look FAKE now, right? Applications change and a cell phone is even more FAKE to me.)

Magicians love to believe that they fool audiences. Magicians are routinely fooled by audiences too! And nothing is more powerful than the magic of self deception.


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 25th, 2011, 12:34 pm
by Brad Henderson

Magic REQUIRES deception. Music does not. If the audience is not deceived there is no magic. There can be many things, but it fails to be MAGIC. Your "dead instrument" example is pointless.

Second, I do not see how your coin or billet example follows at all from the arguments presented. In fact, it is EXACTLY wrong. Even though a magician may use a large coin, it is still a coin and people know what they are, what they are used for, what their qualities are, and have experience with them that should make them seem "mundane" in characteristic even if unfamiliar with the specific coin. They are, after all, coins. (though Vernon did advocate using the types of coins people carry in their pockets, and anyone who has seen Allen Okawa work can testify to the difference in impact).

But what is a change bag?

When the bag was invented it was an item people saw when they attended church and, seeing it in a magic show, was probably kind of funny - as in ha ha funny. BUT people KNEW what it was, and that knowledge imbued a sense of the mundane onto the item. It was a common object. As spellbinder noted, it was a common object that did something secret, and the audience was MORE amazed at the impact of the effect. Smart performers used it to produce effects (in this case, mind reading) which were not identical to the method (switching).

But ask an audience today what a change bag is and what do you think the answer will be? Well, as the only place on the planet they will ever see one is at a magic store or in a magician's act (though I have actually seen one at one very old church's "museum") they will reply with "a magician prop" or (after it has been performed) "a magician's prop that switches one object for another."

Is this giving the best to our audience? Is the effort to just change the prop so over bearing that we would rather knowingly serve a audiences with an inferior technique?

People still write things down. So billets are fine. Having said that, the guy who figures out how to "read" information typed onto the iphone notepad will have a memorable tool in his arsenal, and that is NOT speculation. There is a magician in the Northeast who is performing an effect with a phone's contact list - I have people CONSTANTLY tell me about this performance. WHY? Because he is doing something amazing with something MUNDANE. Thankfully for the rest of us, writing on paper still happens. But should we stop, then yes, it will become as out of date as the bag.

You card analogy is, also, just silly. Again, cards (ESPECIALLY ones that look familiar) are mundane. People know what they are and what they do and because of that there can be amazement. Part of the reason card magic is so strong is because we do the extraordinary with the ordinary.

Is the change bag, today, ordinary?

And yes, people have picked cards before - magicians have found them. But this has nothing to do with the prop. But, to keep the discussion going, I should point out that if the audience knows how the picked card is found, there is no magic. ANd this may be where you wanted your argument to go: You can use a method "known" by your audience, as long as one's use still results in deception. THe key card remains a powerful method even though most laypeople know it, in essence. The problem with the change bag is that, in it's classic form, it tips it's method by its very existence. It would be like the card magician, before beginning his trick, reaching into his pocket and removing an odd backed card with the words "I will use this card to find your card" written on it, openly sticking it to the back of the selected card, and then looking for it.

Next, Unlike theater and disney, magic (as both Charles Reynolds and Teller have discussed) is not a willing suspension of disbelief. In the theater we see an orange disk and we choose to believe it is the sun. When we go to the magic show, do we choose to pretend we don't see the threads? OR - if we see the threads - "do we think, that's a pretty crappy magician, I can see the threads". In theater, one could very easily present the zombie ball without the cloth and it could be a profoundly magic-al experience. BUT without the deception, without an "agreeable illusion" it fails to be MAGIC. Need proof? Sit next to a 13 year old and ask what they think. I wonder if they are willing to "suspend their disbelief" when the rod peeks up past the cloth. If we saw the wires holding the witch in wicked, the impact of this special effect would be lessened, but we would not consider the production a failure. Can the same be said of a magic show?

And yes, magicians do enjoy watching magic shows. But is their EXPERIENCE one of MAGIC? Remember what that was like? The first time a sponge ball appeared in your hand. The first time you flipped over those two packets and you had separated them into all red and all black. The first time a well executed final load appeared under a cup you would swear your eyes never left.

That moment when your chest kind of hurts. Your head spins a little. When everything you know about the world seems both totally wrong and totally right all at the same instance.

Do we as magicians get that feeling when we buy a ticket to a magic show?

And yes, many who do buy tickets to see magic shows do know how some of the tricks work before the lights come on. But is this something we should be PROUD of? Isn't this an admission to failure out of the gate? Is this to be our giant justification? Is this to be used as a reason to play to the dumbest guy in the room, and not the smartest? Do you think copperfield became who he is by saying "this will fool some of the people, it's good enough, let's film it."

How hard is it to buy a different FREAKING PROP!!!!!!!

What's with you guys and your devotion to the change bag? It's like Stockholm syndrome, for Christ's sake.

Two more things:

1) You might want to check out pop culture references to magic. (I believe Wiseman even did a study on this.) How are magicians portrayed in the media. How is "being a magician" represented? Do you really believe that magic is an art held in esteem by the world at large? Do you believe that many even think of it as an art?

2) I think the most revealing line is your "marketing guy" reference. I don't know you, Bob, but I know I've seen a lot of "marketing guys" magic shows. I realize this is a broad brush, but MANY of them take an attitude, some explicitly stating, it's not about the tricks, it's about getting the show. Consequently, magic as an art may be of no issue to you. Doing the least required to get the money may be the only thing that matters to some with this attitude. "As long as the kids are having a good time, the parent's will continue to buy tickets."

But let's not deceive ourselves.

If what we are doing is "magic" it must be seen as impossible. For something to be seen as impossible, there must be no explanation.

Do you really think people who see the magician reach into the bag and take something out of it don't know EXACTLY what happened?

How is that "impossible"?

How is that "magic"?

Do you want to be a "magician" for some of the people in the room, or for all of them?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 25th, 2011, 12:39 pm
by Bob Farmer
I bought a couple of the Wal-Mart shopping bags and made a change bag to switch some Rubik's Cubes. Keep the principle, toss the bag.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 25th, 2011, 1:02 pm
by Brad Henderson
And that's the point. The walmart bag is a common item that secretly switches something. The change bag is a magicians prop that obviously switches something.

Why are we as a community so loathe to abandon an anachronistic?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: November 30th, 2011, 3:26 am
by Bob Sanders
I'm not convinced that they are.


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: December 5th, 2011, 5:07 am
by Jonathan Pendragon
There is only one performance rule, all things are good things except boring things, the ethics of theft of material not included. You are arguing en mass and art of individuals. Denounce Oil and Water, but then explain the beauty of Tamariz and Levand's work on the effect. Hate the Zombie, but tell me honestly that you wouldn't present Losander's Soap Bubble Zombie (he sells it) in a bubble routine on the mere principle that too many magicians do the Zombie badly. Every time we cringe at the sight of another badly done Linking Ring routine, someone else comes up with a new and wonderful idea for the 500 year old trick. Not tools, CRAFT!

In my book and lectures of the past 20 years I have often discussed the difference between "Power and Puzzle" props. Power meaning a prop which looks ordinary, thus implying that all magic comes from the performer. Puzzle meaning and odd, ornate or exotic looking prop that seems an anachronism in a reality based setting, thus implying there is more to the prop than meets the eye. What defines the style of prop you use... is you. Are you an actor playing the part of a real magician or just a really clever guy. Both points of view are legit. All other considerations are considered through the unique filter of your personality, should you have one.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: December 7th, 2011, 9:42 pm
by David Rowyn
Hi Jonathan,

I like the distinction of power vs. puzzle and what it means for the style of performer to have an ordinary looking prop versus an extra-ordinary one. That's some good thinking there.

Reading through the essay, you'll see that I mention I'm only referring to the standard or most common presentations that we see with the props mentioned. While I don't mention cards in the essay, so I'll skip that example, I do mention Zombie. The overall argument against the prop, however, would not apply to Losander's Soap Bubble Zombie---for the aforementioned reason. The Linking Rings gets a bit more tricky, but I would certainly allow for certain exceptions there as well---based on the same reasoning.


Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: December 7th, 2011, 10:44 pm
by Edward Pungot
I really enjoyed Mr. Pendragon's commentary here. Thanks.

I think we need to remind ourselves that in dealing with props, there is an element of symbolism involved that also needs to be taken into account. The reason why the zombie, the linking rings, and the cups and balls, and billiard balls are so popular and considered classics is precisely because of the symbolic simplicity of the objects used. Spheres and circles, solidity and basic properties of base elements and everyday physics--these are what are showcased and ultimately subverted. It almost resembles baby toys and our acquisition of visual and motor movement and coordination brought from bumbling to mastery of symbolic manipulation. When we were first understanding the world as toddlers, the continuous byplay of shapes and objects and the registering of them in a fluid continuous motion must have been a cumulative en devour. The reason why magic which uses such props plays well, is because it is probably working on this subconscious level of when the world was probably non sequitur in nature. That's why magic brings childlike wonder, because of it reminds us of this brief interlude we all went through of data acquisition and our brain's first efforts of trying to piece together a story that makes sense. Or in the case of our magic, reverting back to nonsense and enjoying the experience of being brought back to that state.

I sort of rambled on here, but I hope that makes sense. If not, then I will have to check with my Annotated Alice to see where I went wrong.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: December 8th, 2011, 5:32 am
by Jonathan Pendragon
Of course it's good thinking, I thought it! .... :-) It's a running gag between me a West.

There is nothing I want to erase more than standard presentations in the professional arena. Those new to the art need standard presentations to learn. It's when they continue to present them without change that learning stops, that growth stops: Stagnation is artistic death.

I truly believe that this can only be done through the craft of performance. Inventing new magic is very difficult. Developing new perspectives through an examination of our unique personas can be accomplished, this kind of work can make the old and stale seem new. I don't think magicians realize how many effects there are that are capable of doing this. I must admit that problem here is that one person brings something new to the Gypsy Thread and soon there 20 routines out there with modest innovation. I do feel your frustration.

I too am drawn to the circle and the spiral (1.618), it's in my DNA. I was born an astronomer, a child of the "music of spheres." The imagery is so ingrained in our mind that we don't realize the impact. The 14th century Florentine artist Giotto was asked by the Pope, before a commission, to prove his skill as an artist. He drew a perfect circle freehand.

Contrariwise, If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't. That's logic!

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 10:57 am
by Bob Sanders
Ironically, Tony Slydini was considered a very unique and inventive magician. Over the decades, I never saw him use a prop that thousands of magicians before him had not used. What I loved about Tony was his ability to use timing and presentation to earn decisive credit as an outstanding entertainer. As a tailor, he also made some money off props he made and sold in lectures and to students, like me. (Since I am really a dove magician, he even made some of his UnKnotting Silks for me in colors. For other students he even made their costumes.)

As a former talent booking/management agency owner, and an old marketing professor and consultant I found that success in the entertainment industry is definitely based on the ability to entertain the specific audience for that specific venue.

Lack of customer orientation has ended more entertainers' commercial careers than their lack of mechanical skill or creativity. Talent agencies live on commissions. Professional talent buyers buy entertainment and see it as an investment not a hobby spending money in the arts. There is a great difference between professional entertainment and recreational magic. Neither is good or bad except in the specific venue. (Of course, the agency wants to book the ones that pay most!)

A war against specific props is like a guitarist's war against B flat instruments. It has no impact on the success of true professional entertainers' accomplishments. The audience is there to be entertained. Professional talent buyers know that there are guitarists who can play with horns and other instruments regardless difficulty. (Today even using cheat bars or the capo is allowed without stigma to the show. Yet to other guitarists, it is an admission of faking it.) The commercial objective is unchanged. The product is entertainment. Personal biases have no penalty in recreational art for the hobbyist. Specific audience for the venue rules the game. (Can you imagine prohibiting the wearing of shorts in commercial basket ball? Audiences have biases too and they pay the tab.)

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 11:43 am
by Brad Henderson
Except magic, by definition, should be unique. When an audience sees the same tired tricks, the feeling of magic dissipates. (this is not just my opinion, but one held by del ray who shared it with me in conversation - a successful, commercial professional magician of there ever were one.)

A great artist can, of course, help us see someone familiar with new eyes - but honestly, how often does that happen?

And once an item ceases to 'fit' in an audiences reality and taste, you are at best a joke and at worst a hack.

Every magic history book agrees Robert-Houdin revolutionized magic by eschewing the out dated conventions of the past and adapting his magic to modern tastes using modern sensibilities and even technology.

That was nearly two hundred years ago, bob, and you seem keen in defending the fact many magicians have not changed since then.

That attitude is definitely not good for art, and it fails to deliver true commercial success either. When was the last time a magician with a collapsible cane and feather flowers made a spot on tv EXCEPT to be ridiculed as out of date and childish by some reality contest judge?

Why are magicians so afraid to change?

And Bob, I say this not to be a personal attack but it will sound like one - you reference your days as a marketing professor as a stamp of authority to your posts. But you are, by your own admission, and OLD marketing professor. The world has changed. People have changed. Expectations and desires have changed. Maybe not completely down deep, but definitely on the surface and that's where the world of marketing enters. Like your resistance to change in the world of magic, the resistance to change in any field - marketing included - does NOT lead to up to date, effective, and successful campaigns. Perhaps it would help to consider the venue, a point you have addressed? The space may be the same - but the people in it are not.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 12:24 pm
by mrgoat
So does this also mean no one can play any jazz standards any more?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 12:26 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
The church type collection bag ... probably just means using a holdout a few times with a non-gaffed prop - then back to business as usual. Other than the context/referent issues the prop is probably a keeper.

What's the appeal of carrot top prop comedy?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 12:29 pm
by Jonathan Townsend
mrgoat wrote:So does this also mean no one can play any jazz standards any more?

About like painting the Mona Lisa with a new hairdo or the patron's face. Craft.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 3:44 pm
by Brad Henderson
Music is a different art with different values. Having said that, as I wrote, "A great artist can, of course, help us see something familiar with new eyes - but honestly, how often does that happen?"

Miles Davis transformed Someday a Prince will Come and a host of other classics.

How many magicians are as visionary as Miles Davis?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 4:14 pm
by Brad Henderson
Further, the original article addresses the issue from the perspective of the contemporary magician. To apply bob's position to music would in effect have us still listening exclusively to lutes and viola da gambas. While a contemporary musician could use a lute, they would be doing so intentionally - as a statement, or as a particular tonal flavor. Music has evolved over the past 150 years to reflect current tastes, themes, and technology. When you have people pronouncing things such as a magician must wear a tux, or there is no place for adult humor in magic, or using props which resemble items which have not been in common use for nearly a century, can wr say magic has evolved as well?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 5:16 pm
by Bill Mullins
Jonathan Townsend wrote:What's the appeal of carrot top prop comedy?

Same as any comedy -- it makes you laugh.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 27th, 2012, 10:46 pm
by Jonathan Townsend

What is the appeal of taking out obviously contrived and "trick" props as if one were a prop comic?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 28th, 2012, 9:58 am
by Bob Sanders
I think the real problem here is that we are still dealing with the misconception that there is only one right way and only one audience. That is neither change nor compliance. It is vanity.

Magicians are likely the worst judges of magicians as entertainers. They are esoterically invested into the fun of recreational magic rather than the success of commercial entertainment. Very few magicians are successful commercial entertainers. Too many have never even had a repeat booking. (Ask a booking agent!) And repeat bookings are the meat of a successful career as a professional magician.

There is certainly nothing wrong with enjoying magic recreationally by the performer rather than the audience. They are not duck and ducks. Perhaps an easy way to spot this is by who, if anyone, pays them. Working only magic conventions is a good indicator that the audience is recreational magicians. What is wrong with that? Nothing!

A few actually do both. Johnny Thompson is certainly a commercially successful entertainer who also performs for recreational magicians. How much has his commercial act changed in the last 35 years? Why should it? The judgment to quit comes from the recreational magicians rather than entertainment professionals. Recreational magic would not justify custom made acrylic fake chewing gum as a prop to sew to your costume. Johnny and Pam have a very loyal paying audience that looks forward to seeing it again! Few magicians achieve that.

There is a great difference between a publicity stunt and a professional entertainment stage show using magic. Even new professional talent buyers and agents know the difference. Some magicians do not. Publicity stunts must change or change audiences. There is nothing wrong with that either. Street magic existed before streets! Again fit is important.

One size does not fit all!

Know what works for you. The others are in charge of their decisions!

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 28th, 2012, 11:21 am
by Brad Henderson
Hey bob, other than Amish arts and crafts, what modern art advocates the same fear of change that you preach?

And how many of these commercial acts that are getting booked has anyone - a real audience - ever heard of? Bow many feather flower/change bag magicians have the public following to compare with even the smallest of indie bands? How many 'one two three days ago' bead chopping magicians earn per performance what even lesser known contemporary artists make for a single piece?

In fact, how many magicians are known to the public and held in esteem by them?

What does the public think about magicians as a whole? How are they most often represented in public discourse?

I spent time with a cruise ship booking agent. She joked at how similar magicians were and that the moment they saw the sketchpad bowling ball or straightjacket she instantly tossed the DVD in the trash.

What other field has people preaching that it's prioponents must dress and exhibit a sense of humor from a by gone era?

Is there a market for flowers that look like feather dusters and gags coated in dust? Probably. There is also a market, when you look at the number of them, for people who think thrift store clothing and a little dollar store makeup is what makes a clown.

But that doesn't make it good clowning, or advance the art of clowning. It only reinforces the negative stereotypes.

Magic has many negative stereotypes (I believe wiseman did a study on this). It's attitudes like bob's which continually reinforce them.

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 28th, 2012, 11:27 am
by Jonathan Townsend
@Brad, even though most recognize and accept the notion of evolution in nature and social progress - they are also wisely averse to deviating from tradition. This because they accept the fundamental subjective experience of evolution - that most variations are not personally beneficial. Similarly, as creatures so far back down our collective history as schooling fish go, most can understand the benefits of doing what worked before with perhaps some small variance which is given positive feedback from ones audiences. Personal learning that may take generations to diffuse into the collective "best practice".

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 28th, 2012, 11:30 am
by Brad Henderson
And how can magic - an art the very name of which embodies the connotation of the unique and special - thrive when it's proponents (without intention) offer only the same and the tired, the out of date and the anachronistic.

Many magic acts are less artistic endeavors and more like a trip to a colonial springfield, expect they don't even do that well.

There ARE many ways to do magic. Some are a throw back to bygone eras, some are modern.

How many modern comedians are still using Sid ceasar, bob hope, and jack benny's acts? Dressing in their clothes?

I never thought magic was a subject of interest to the Amish. Apparently I was wrong n

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 28th, 2012, 11:36 am
by Brad Henderson
@jt but when we look at other arts, we see progress. What makes magic different (or perhaps i should ask, what makes many of the people who do magic different) that they choose to fight to stay relevant to a time which no longer exists. Even using items which no longer bear resemblance to anything in the world in which they actually find thenselves performing? Did they all collectively forget the lesson taught by houdin - the impact of becoming modern? It's like we valued modernity up until 1948. (and even then a lot of that modernity was that of a century before,) why do other arts and artists, even the amateurs in other arts, realize and reward growth and we have the magical Amish?

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 29th, 2012, 8:44 am
by Bob Sanders

I would love to get you into one of my marketing classes for MBAs. It would surprise you how the focus for a professional differs from the focus of a layman. Substance and form compromises become very comical in real life. Your misconceptions of the commercial markets wont help you get into the higher dollar markets.

As a professional with 53 years in the professional entertainment industry, I am still amazed that the best earners among talent in the industry are virtually unknown to the general population. But the venues are not the same and the masses dont know this. Bars and truck stops dont hold a candle to the private parties of the accomplished.

Im not opposed to the indie bands. I spent years in them. I worked my way through college in the recording industry. Lucy and I have a guest house here on the ranch where some of those friends still pop in for the night. Of course, internationally known (and currently working) magicians are also guests here. We seem to still be very much in the loop. There are successes that last many decades!

Old props are useful. Two years ago while Lucy and I were performing in Europe, we learned that we were new stuff because we did MisMade flag with a French flag! Yesterday I surprised some of your Texans with Card in Balloon. Venue, venue, venue!

Learn the difference between your taste and that of the paying audience. It pays! Why create barriers to success?

Believing that appropriate dress and a sense of humor are from a by gone era may be way off target!

Open up your world to the possibilities. Dont let your attitude define the attitude of others. In psychology we call that projection. (It means projecting false accusations, etc., onto others for the sole purpose of maintaining a self-created illusion.)

I can sympathize with your cruise ship agent. But that is also her market. Cruise ship management seeks out standardization and interchangeable parts from cooks to skippers. Entertainment is also just another unit of the same. At one point when malls began, I booked 542 malls across the nation and it was true there too. Neither is the top of the market for professional magical entertainers. They seek clones!

PS --- I had an offer of $30,000 for one of my old guitars from the 60s. I wonder why!

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 29th, 2012, 10:46 am
by Brad Henderson
You really believe being offered high dollars for an item no longer in production is comparable in theory to pricing a show filled with out of date and unoriginal material

It may suprise you bob, that there may be other out there earning good money of which YOU are unaware. And those people hear from their clients that the reason they get invited back is because what they do, and this is a quote, is 'so much better than magic.' some of these people have even followed the hackneyed performer attempting to work the same venue. Sure, they got paid (a decent magicians fee in their eyes, maybe) but they won't be invited back when 13 year old kids label them, as they did, hack.

Ever think there may be a reason that successful magicians remain unknown and working these banquet room programs? If so many of these people are actually exceeding their audiences needs, why are magicians continually the butt of jokes related to their illegitimacy as an art, commercial or otherwise? If your theory were correct, comedians would be performing the same material they did in the 50s. You know what - they aren't. More so, some of those movies we find hilarious, young audiences find boring. Yes, it is about venue - and part of venue is the decade in which you find yourself performing. I'm sure there is money to be made in nursing homes, but you can't always perform for the grandpa set.

Are you proud that when people think of the art you have devoted their life to, they conjure up anachronistic images out of touch with anything in culture today?

We got rid of the minstrel shows, perhaps magic can some day move into the 20th century. (I know, it's no longer the 20th century,... Baby steps).

Re: 11 Stage Props To Vanish In 2011

Posted: January 29th, 2012, 9:34 pm
by Bob Sanders
Brad, this isn't a contest. I like those millionaire grandpas. Life is good! We very obviously have very different audiences. I don't object to you keeping yours.

Nursing homes we generally do for free while we are in town. Do you charge for charity work?

The standard joke about me by those magicians who know me is that if I play a birthday party for a child, grandpa is chairman of the board.

Your projection makes responding to you a moving target. Of course, I know there are others making good money too. Didn't you? Open yourself up to the realities of life.

One size does not fit all.