Philosophies of Magic Tips

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How should I "act" onstage?

Be Yourself

Insist on yourself; never imitate.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

Steal not from thy fellow magician. I never get as many compliments as when I can honestly tell people that a particular move or a complete effect is my own creation. If the best you can do is lie about stealing someone else's magic effect, patter or move, then you can't be a very good magician.

It's important to continually develop your own style. After all, which would you be more proud of, being a unique magician or being a copy of a unique magician?

Why was FOX TV´s exposé of magic bad for everyone?

FOX TV's Exposť

He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.
- Albert Einstein

I just finished watching "Secrets of Street Magic Revealed" by FOX TV. As you probably suspect, I am upset and disheartened by the airing of this show. As a fellow magician I think that I speak the collective opinion that this show is a disaster for all close-up workers.

It is akin to a grand heckler. Sure we all put up with those that try to find fame in discrediting magic, but one should distinguish between the good-natured and misguided personalities of these people and FOX TV. Fox did it for one reason, and one reason only, namely money.

The magic world was shocked by the success of David Blaine's special. It was a refreshing look at magic from outside of the normal perspective. The criticisms of Blaine by other magicians are all of a technical manner, i.e. his routines were mostly store bought and lacked ingenuity - but to give credit where credit is due one must admit that Blaine got it right. He brought the magic to the people. His impromptu act was magic in its most beautiful form - magic done right before people's noses.

The only real fault by Blaine was his use of post-editing. He should not have used camera tricks at all - the beauty of the illusion is not diminished without camera edits but the magical tradition is very much slighted by the use of them. From now on all magic on television is open to the charge of camera trickery. That is a true shame.

Fox tries the ultimate mis-direction with their script. They turn the benevolent entertainment of street magic into something akin to Voodoo worship. In their closing line, "So the next time somebody tells you that they have magical abilities you'll know how it's done. And if somebody actually does we would like to meet them," one can see the overt hostile attitude of Fox. It is as if the magician is evil. This is their justification for the special, or at least it tries to justify the special, because it portrays magicians as people who lie and use trickery and therefore must be bad people.

The truth of the matter is that magic is one of the purest arts around. It requires a lot of skill and many long hours of practice. At its most simplistic magic is done to entertain, but it reaches much further than that. Magic empowers the audience to believe what should not be and to engage in wonderment at the world. Magic for entertainment is not uesd to defraud people, nor do we harm our audience in any way.

At it's heart magic is an implicit contract. It is a contract between the magician and the audience. He agrees to practice diligently in order to amaze the audience and the audience agrees to suspend reality for a short time. It is this two-way street that makes magic the awe inspiring gift that it is. Magic is perfect symbiosis - neither side is harmed in any way.

Exposing the beauty of the trick is equal to robbing a child of the idea of Santa Claus. In deciding the merits of going through life knowing how it is done, or amazed at the idea that it can be done ... ask yourself whether you would rather have a world full of wonder and imagination, or a world with no Santa Claus.


Revealing Magic Secrets

All magicians want to know the secrets behind the latest magic effects. Some will buy it and keep it secret. Others will buy it and share the secret with others. And a small group of magicians will learn the secret and post themselves performing and revealing the secret on video sharing sites like YouTube. To YouTube's credit, if a magician discovers his commercial effect on YouTube and files a complaint, YouTube will take the video down. Unfortunately, they cannot monitor every single magic video uploaded to their site, as they are uploaded at a rate of dozens and dozens per day.

As magicians, young and old, we have an obligation to protect our secrets, not only from the general public, but from one another as well. Magicians make a living selling effects that they have developed through sweat and blood. Getting an effect manufactured, packaged, promoted, and out to market is quite a task, and nothing that the rest of us should take advantage of...

You might be surprised to know that a large percentage of 'new' magic effects are nothing more than old effects re-done. Magicians take old secrets and techniques and find a modern handling, then release the effect under a new name. If the change and handling are sufficiently removed from the original, then all is well in magicland and a new group of magicians rush out to buy an effect they could have learned through magic books published many years ago.

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Mary White