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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Did you hear the latest? » » Russ Stevens - Shape of My Heart Routine » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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russ stevens
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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 I’d rather if they didn’t.

By 2005 I had released a DVD through my production company Russ Stevens Video Productions (RSVPMagic) called “Magic’s 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 wasn’t 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 shouldn’t 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 hadn’t 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 don’t know. It certainly wasn’t 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 didn’t 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.

It’s not about whether I am back-palming and he’s 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 don’t think that’s right. He saw my performance on a converted VHS tape all those years ago, and simply reworked it. That’s not good. To then enter the routine into FISM even worse.

As for me… No awards, no ********, 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.
Stanyon
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So what you're saying Russ is that you are not going to hold your breath waiting for Shawn to send you the trophy.

I was fortunate enough to have been in England at the time your creation was shown on BBC1 and later when I saw Shawn perform "his" routine I thought "Whoa! I think I've seen something similar to this before!"

Nice job Russ!

Cheers! Smile
Stanyon

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"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
Payne
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I could see where one routine might have been inspired by the other but the two performances are completely, apart from the song, different.

The staging and framing too are completely different. Russ's framing focuses both on the performer and the cards while Shawn's is completely focused on his hands and the cards. Even when performed live this is the case as the audience is completely focused on the big screen display showing Shawn's hands. He even takes advantage of this fact with the card in the mouth revelation. So the argument about them both being too similar theatrically is just as weak as the argument that Shawn somehow stole this routine.

I just don't see it myself
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
mumford
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Does anyone remember last year when Russ published a Mel Mellers DVD with a carbon copy reinvention that belonged to Steve Spill? Unfortunately like this incident, in that case it is assumed that Russ was also victim and didn't know the routine belonged to someone else, but he did the right thing by editing it out of the DVD. But it's odd in life how history sometimes repeats itself in strange ways.
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......start=30
russ stevens
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Hi Mumford,

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.

Best,
Russ
mumford
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Sorry you have to endure bad luck on both ends of the equation.
Shawn Farquhar
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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 Café:

"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 Café 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 wasn’t 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 Café 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 wouldn’t expect 2,000 people cheering Shawn’s 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 I’m 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 guy’s, I’m not a serial magic competitor and unlike you guy’s, I don’t feel the need to mention my achievements to anyone that’ll listen. There’s nothing wrong with a little self-promotion, but as I told you before Tim, that’s just not my style. I’ve worked as a professional magician for over thirty-two years and have always let my work speak for itself. I’ve 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 communiqués 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
MagicMichealMan
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Wow, I never thought that a grate magician like shawn farquhar after just winning an award he deserved would get trashed.

I have read threads before and it seemed to have say you 2 agreed that they were different routines.

When I first herd the song, before I saw shawn or russ do it, I thought it would be AWESOME to make a card routine to. It just naturally comes to thought.

It's like magicians doing the linking rings, same items, sometimes with music sometimes talking, but they are 2 completely different routines.

but when it comes to an idea I don't think there is anyway you can rip off a thought, If I think of a routine, then find out its been done...I'll still do it, but differently, to make it my own. But because I thought of it, I want to use my ideas.

I think shawns routine is beautiful, my favourite routine in magic, I also think russ's routine is a work of art. But in my mind, completely different. the only similarities are the song, and the fact they use cards. other than that, they are 2 completely different performers, 2 completely different styles, and 2 brilliant minds. this just proves the old saying "great minds think alike"

Magic Mike
R Don
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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.
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magicnewswire
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Other than the music.. I just don't see a lot of similarity between the two acts.
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Dodd, do you mean to tell me that if Shawn and Russ were on the same show - you would put both acts on together. I mean, the fact that they both sit on stool performing a card routine to Stings music in an intimate moment of magic - they aren't the same to you? I think to a lay audience they are exactly the same!

To Mr. Donnelly - it seems that you have been the key to this entire thing and finally the truth is now out there. I salute you sir for telling us the truth and it appears Mr. Farquhar had forgotten about the copy. I know this can happen because we can get too close to something and we honestly believe we came up with it. I hope now that Mr. Donnelly has jogged your memory you will at least credit Russ with being the originator of the SHAPE OF YOUR HEART card routine.
magicnewswire
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To quote my friend Craig Mitchell...

Music for both by Sting, otherwise:

Russ = back-palming and "staging, framing and theatricality"
Shawn = Ambitious Card and seated with video camera
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EscapeMaster
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Oh, come on, show them to a spectator and they are the same -- except one routine ends with a card stab, one with the sealed deck (seen that idea before too...)
natmagic
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Dfield, to answer your question NO you couldn't put them on the same show because they are too similar in appearance. In music we call it Variations on a Theme. It now appears that the theme here was put together by Russ Stevens. The variation was done by Shawn Farquhar.

To RDon - your comment will no doubt jog Shawn's memory and I'm sure he will now acknowledge where he got the 'theme' from. He is a good person and perhaps it simply slipped his mind after 14 years.

Dodd - I love your podcast! although I don't agree with your comments, however, I respect we have different opinions on this issue - keep up the great work ...
magicnewswire
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Thanks Nat! I am the first one to accept correction if I am in error. I am certainly not claiming to be right, just offering my opinion from what I do remember of both acts. Maybe someone could post links to both videos for us to compare side by side instead of speculating on what "I remember" (or don''t) about a performance.
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magicnewswire
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BTW.. on the non controversial side of FISM (so far...) I have just posted our chat with the new World Champion of Stage Magic SOMA! LISTEN HERE !
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Donald Dunphy
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Quote:
On 2009-08-06 17:53, magicnewswire wrote:
Maybe someone could post links to both videos for us to compare side by side instead of speculating on what "I remember" (or don''t) about a performance.


--> Here's one page with both videos.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
Max Krause
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I too had the inspiration of using Stings song when I first heard it on The Professional. I think that almost any magician that heard that would immediately think about how they could apply it in a magic context. Same as Kenny Rogers "The Gambler"

However, even if two performers are using the same song which happens all the time you are still going to get two entirely different presentations.

After watching both videos I can not see any similarity in any part of either performance other than the music. Saying that because they both used a stool so they are identical is like saying they both had black close up pads.

Honestly, I felt that Shawn's was far more of a theatrical piece than Russ' and had much more flow and logic. Russ' Did more of a manipulation routine and played more as a stage effect than an intimate close up piece.

I think they both have very distinct presentations and even if they were performing them in the same show they would be two completely different routines even in the audiences eyes. There is just far to many differences in effect.

As far as having permission to use the music, the only one that we need to get the permission from is the author of the music. What we do from there is entirely up to us.

My humble opinion.
Max
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Why is everyone bashing on shawn? He's one of the greats and always will be, if you have seen him perform or lecture you would understand why he is a world champion

Magic Mike
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Quote:
On 2009-08-06 19:09, Donald Dunphy wrote:
--> Here's one page with both videos.

- Donald


I have absolutely no dog in this fight and have never seen either of these guys perform this or any other routine. I watched the two videos simultaneously with the sound off, and for the life of me I can't see any connection between the two other than cards, a stool and apparently the choice of music.

Two entirely different routines otherwise.

That's the opinion of someone who could not be more neutral on the subject.
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