Tuesday, June 12, 2007
The Magic is a Journey of Ideas
What makes a magician? Years ago when I was a kid there was a Fur ad..."What becomes a Legend?" This ad showed famous female movie stars wearing Mink coats. Now it's not PC to wear fur but back then it was about the image of Hollywood and the magic of being a star . Magic is Illusion, never forget that. I love movies and travel the path of each movie I watch. I personally love now on DVD the back stories on how the magic is made. Not so different from how a trick is done but how did that stunt get done in that movie. This is that magic we seek as tellers of the tales of magic. Just think if you never found out how to do a double lift or a French drop and called yourself a magician and later fooled by another magician. I t is the principle of knowing the effect that creates new magic. If you never seek the knowledge of the old then you will spend a life time trying to recreate that basic concept. Magic is a journey. Tonight I am honor to have a magic legend share in my tips section a great view about magic. So be open to his views and understand he is a working pro like all that share in my blog and his view may change you mind as well as open you mind a bit.
Here is yet another magical creation from the comedy mind of Robert Baxt. He is one of our creative friends at Hocus Pocus and Robert lives in the real world of the working pro to come up with fresh ideas from the routines of the past. This routine Funny Money is Robert's idea of the classic "cards across" only using 2 wallets and cash. This routine is full of Robert's classic humor and jokes. It is a five minute routine that you get to see on DVD from a live performance at the Magic Castle. Included are the wallets and "Funny Money" (which as a side idea you should make up with your face on the dollar bills) but you can use real money. His idea is one more classic routine that will go down in the magic lexicon so don't miss getting one.
From our magical friend from the great white north (Canada) Peter Loughran, comes MindShades. Here is something out of the James Bond school of spy's. Something you would see in the first Casino Royal movie when Orson Wells was able to see the cards on the table. These shades have been produce by not one but two makers to make them look like regular sunglasses. Here is a set of glasses that will make you be able to do many effects that Peter has taken the time to explain in a fully produced book that comes with the shades. Don't miss your chance to have that secret power that can be performed anywhere, from the Stage to company picnics.
From our friend Jim Pace that in the past few years has created effects that the like of Lance Burton have used on TV shows comes Lucifer's Wallet. Well made in leather is a fire wallet of high quality. Lending it self to many comedy effects. Here Jim has taken the time to make a fine Fire wallet for many comedy effects. It is well made and will give you a life time of use for Bill in Wallet, Card in Wallet effects, as well as if your smart enough to use for Harry Anderson's card and bill in Wallet routine.
New York Coin Magic
Here is a set of DVD's (4 in all) from the creative minds of NY magicians like David Roth and Dr. Rubenstein , Mike Gallo and many more. The first DVD alone is 2 DVDs and is over four hours long. These DVDs were part of the NY Coin magic seminar and feature these top pros best of the best routines. Coins across, Copper/Silver ideas and so much more. I can not personally believe how many ideas are shared are these 4 DVDs. This is killer coin magic at its finest. I remember calling David Roth just to learn one of these routines when I was a kid. I woke him up and to this day he can laugh about it but I was still feeling opps "I imposed on one of my idols". So get this entire collection to learn the best of the best of coin magic without a early AM wake up call.
Here is yet another version of Max Mavens routine Kurotsuke (from his DVD series Videomind which you should also own) but this time with yet another twist which is killer. I personally learnd Max's routine and know that I am at the the mercy of making this routine work if I don't read the folks just right. Wayne Dobson has taken that worry out of the mix as this routine is self working and totally easy. The basic concept is to find the odd ball out from a bag of balls you present to the spectators. Wayne has a few twists in Max's routine and this is what makes the routine truly Wayne's Check out the full run down on the website as he turns it into a clever "bet you" routine.
This week it is my pleasure to welcome Whit Hayden. Whit is an all around performer and has been honored by the Magic Castle with many awards. He is also the VP of the Magic Castle and I am Lucky to call him a myspace "friend" as well as a friend in real life. and his knowledge, wisdom and friendship with magic's legends is a lucky thing to have. Whit has created many DVD routines which we sell and he still performs so you know that this is again "real world magic". If you are a myspace person you can see his performances of these routines at the magic castle. Again I am honored that Whit is sharing with my readers some honest writings of what magic is about. Thank you Whit! Whit has a forum site called School for Scoundrels http://www.scoundrelsforum.com/ Here is a place for anyone interested in magic, short cons, big cons, cheating at cards, dice, and other games, pool hustling, scams, and any of the soft rackets.
The forum also has members who are interested in the history of the theater and the relationships of various kinds of show business with the development of modern advertising and marketing.
He has sections on carnival and side show, circus, burlesque, vaudeville, medicine shows, chatauqua, dime museums and more. Tonight Whit shares his take on Originality in magic and you are going to be surprise at this concept.
Against Originality In Magic
In magic convention contests and in the meetings at local rings, much is made of the importance of originality. It seems to me that this concern is sometimes misdirected, and most certainly so when it comes to young or beginning magicians.
It is essential that those who want to learn magic start by copying or imitating others. There is nothing wrong with this—provided of course, that the effects and routines being copied have been published by the originators. In fact, I don't believe one can learn to be a good magician except by imitation.
A beginning guitar player isn't told to make up original songs. He first learns to play other people's work. Neither should a beginning magician be asked to do original tricks.
The way that patter goes with the presentation of the trick, the feel for routining, the subtleties of misdirection—these are all learned best by the student taking a great routine and learning to do it the way it was created by a competent working performer. I have too often seen magic students learn a classic routine and then immediately begin to muck around with it for the sake of "originality."
Often, one doesn't understand the subtleties of a routine until he or she has performed it many times in front of people. It is only from faithfully reproducing the routine in front of an audience that one begins to see why certain moves or patter lines are structured or placed the way the originator had them. Without spending time performing the routine the way it was created, the student abandons all the experience, knowledge, and thought that went into its creation.
Routines should not be changed for the sake of being "original." Originality should come in when there is some need—when the routine as written doesn't suit the personality of the performer, his performing situations, or has some inconsistency or fault that the performer finds and corrects. This should come after the routine has been explored in front of an audience many times.
All the great magicians had to learn their craft somewhere. They all began by copying the work of those that they admired. In Zen brush painting, the student would apprentice with a master for eight years. Each morning the master would let the students watch him create a few paintings, and for the rest of the day, the students would try to exactly copy those paintings with as much speed and accuracy as possible. In the evening, the teacher would look over their work and give them suggestions for improvement in their technique.
Students were not encouraged or allowed to be "original." At the end of the eight years, the students were sent out into the world. At this point they would have absorbed the point of view, values, and tastes of the instructor. They would have an appreciation and understanding of their art.
The idea was that if they could capture whatever image the master showed them perfectly, then they could capture any original image that came into their heads. If they were not original
thinkers, then they would always be good copyists and could make a living at that. If they had original ideas, then they would have the skill to realize them.
In magic, I have often seen very clever and original material that suffered from a lack of knowledge of the basics of the craft. I prefer to see classic or familiar magic done well, than original magic that fails to fool or to entertain. Much can be gained from reading the philosophy of magic in books such as Maskelyne and Devant's Our Magic (my favorite magic book), but it is only in the experience of performing that these lessons really begin to make sense and can be applied.
There is nothing wrong with a magic act that lacks originality but is professionally and competently done. In music, this would be the equivalent of the cover bands that play for weddings and similar events. These groups are respectable and serve a need. The lack of originality will keep them from going beyond these sorts of venues, but within this area, they are perfectly fine.
Many magicians would fall under a similar category. Not everyone has the skill, originality, and dedication of a Lance Burton, but magic that is well executed, and performed entertainingly is always going to be well received. As the magician grows in his understanding of the art, his need for originality will grow as well.
I would like to see magic organizations encourage young magicians to learn the classics. Too often, the need for the hobbyist to see something new and different regardless of its quality overtakes the need for entertaining, well-executed magic. The great street magician Jim Cellini hosted a famous get-together of close-up performers in Greensboro, NC a few years back. Slydini, Frank Garcia, Bob Sheets, Karl Norman and many other top performers attended.
The performers concentrated on their most commercial magic, without regard to repetition. We saw many different variations of the card on ceiling, the cups and balls, and other classic effects. It was an incredible experience. Watching fine performers do their own versions of the same routines provided a hugely rewarding lesson in the art of magic, and a resource for future ideas.
The contests for young magicians might best be structured around classics like the linking rings, cups and balls, etc. Within the context of a cups and balls contest, for example, a premium should be placed on skill, technique, and entertainment value. Originality should be relegated to its rightful place—as an important but not necessarily the most important criteria.
Thank you Whit for your insight to what has to be the most interesting thing about magic. For years I heard that you need to do the stuff that's different from other magicians. To hear of these great legends all doing the same trick but yet indeed coming up with their own version is truly inspiring.
Hope you get some insight from this great article by Whit Hayden and check out the School for Scoundrels. Again Thank you Whit for your insights to the world of magic and performing.
Best Magical Wishes,
Write me to share, you will be featured. If you do this for a living share or the magic you create will be lost...................forever!!!