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Topic: Cups & Balls ethics
Message: Posted by: Swami Bill (Feb 12, 2003 09:20AM)
Hi everyone - There is such a wealth of knowledge and experience here that I'd like to pursue a subject that I haven't yet seen. If I've missed this topic elsewhere, please direct me to the proper place.
I'm putting together a cups and balls street act. I have been working this winter to develope a routine that I hope will entertain folks. In these columns I have heard many cups and balls workers recount their first experiences busking and some have said things like "I started out doing so-and-so's routine".
I have tried to bring my own personality into the routine that I'm working on but I'm having a problem putting it all together.
My question is this: is it proper to use other routines on the street while I search for the "perfect" routine for me? I don't mean cop the whole act (lines, jokes and other bits of business, etc.) but to use the structure of someone else's routine to get started.
Where do I go from here? The answer may be as plain as the blemish on the tip of my nose but right now just sign me "stymied".

Thanks,

Bill
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Feb 12, 2003 10:13AM)
That's how we all started. As long as you get it from a book or video you own it is perfectly ok.

For the street I'd look at Dai Vernon's routine first and load from the front left pocket for the final loads.

As you progress you'll want to check out the work of Gazzo and Cellini.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 10:44AM)
You say that as long as you get it from a book or video, you own it... What about if you borrow a book from someone else? OR you see a standard routine that you know is from a book or video at a show, figure out how it's done, and then use your own patter? Is it still ethical to use it? A good example of what I'm talking about is cut and restored rope. You see a magician perform it on say TV. You have video taped it, and you watch it over and over again. You watch it frame by frame, and figure out how he has done it. You then practice it, and figure it out yourself. Is it still ethical to use it?

Sorry to be a demagogue on this, but I love ethical debates.
Message: Posted by: RandomEffects (Feb 12, 2003 11:05AM)
[quote]
....You watch it frame by frame, and figure out how he has done it. You then practice it, and figure it out yourself. Is it still ethical to use it?

Sorry to be a demagogue on this, but I love ethical debates.
[/quote]

NO

It's that simple if someone has put the time and effort into creating an effect than you need their permission to do it. Rather than retype this i am just going to paste me comment from an earlier thread o levitations.



Quote:
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As for reverse-engineering other people's effect, yes that can be done -- sometimes, even easily. However, CREATING such effect is the tough part. And I respect the effort from the originator.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



This is so very true, and something that so many of us forget. It is so asy for us to figure out how it is done after someone else did it. yet no-one figured it out before someone else did it. i.e,. i figured out bisection by andrew mayne, yet i still bought the booklet because without him i would never have thought of it.

As to levitation..... all the methods out there from Balducci to Corey King's King Rising to The Elevator (sorry peter i could not spell your last name) work great............IF you present them well!


It is all about the presentation people, I don't care if Copperfield himself designed your show, if you cannot make a good presentation than go home! The method of your levitation is only as good as the performer PERFORMING it.

Sorry if i sound mean but this is a big issue to me,

Mat
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 11:30AM)
Ok... the frame by frame argument was a bad choice.

I guess my question is more about more well known effects like, cut and restored rope, cups and balls, Professor's nightmare, French drop, etc.

You watch a performance of cups and balls on the street. You go home, take a set of plastic cups, and some sponge balls, and figure out how it is done. With your own trials and tribulations, you figure out the secret. You show a friend of yours the trick and he goes, "Hey, That is the same routine from Mark Wilson's Cyclopedia of Magic" and shows you his copy of the book.

Without purchasing the whole book, is it ethical to perform this trick?

If the answer is no... Then you are saying that a magician has ever purchased a book, or a trick that incorporates a french drop, can never ever ethically perform the french drop. Correct?
Message: Posted by: Swami Bill (Feb 12, 2003 11:32AM)
I see Sonny Holiday do a cool cups and balls routine on the Cellini DVD. I see him use the Charlie Miller Move, the Tip-over Load, the Vernon False Explaination... it's a demonstration only. In the Ammar Cups and Balls book, Ammar explains all those moves and . I, in turn, cobble together a routine using these techniques. It sounds like Mat is saying that if the presentation is good, it's OK to use. If the presentation is bad, then I've ripped someone off. Is this the case? Mat, can you clarify?

- Bill
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Feb 12, 2003 12:18PM)
ok....there is nothing new under the sun....so with that said, if you own 10 videos and 10 books....and they all have cups routines in them...you have the right.,...because they sold you the right to do them line for line...move for move...they knew this would happen when they put it out there....in saying that...you might want to consider this....taking moves and lines from all of them and put together your own routine...if you look at the Ammar videos ...there are a ton of moves that you can use to create your own routine....the problewm with this...and most routines i see...is...there is so much stuff going on....x-tra stuff...to impress the magicians that are watching....mnost routines you buy are for magicians....vernons routine is too long...and has too much stuff in it....take gazzos routine...simple...to the point...great routine...cellinis...i love cellini...hes my friend...but lots of stuff in there...i wouldn't do his routine..i would simplify his routine..more like sunny holidays...its to the point...i like it much more...eric evans.....my favorite cups routine....powwerful....full of surprise...and it doesn't last an hour...its just magical...try to keep it simple....

koz
Message: Posted by: kasper777 (Feb 12, 2003 12:22PM)
I would say that if someone published a book or video with their explinations and moves, then they are giving your permission to use their routine, moves, etc... E.G. Gazzo released his cups and balls routine. I would take it as it is his permission for you to use his routine. But of course, change the patter and other frame work to fit you.
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 12:25PM)
But is it ethical to use Gazzo's routine without purchasing his book or his video?
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 12, 2003 02:02PM)
ClodAppleleft writes: "I guess my question is more about more well known effects like, cut and restored rope, cups and balls, Professor's nightmare, French drop, etc."

Please don't put the Professor's Nightmare in the category of "generic" magic.

The cut and restored rope, French drop, cups and balls, etc. have, indeed, been around for a long time and there are multiple variations on them.

But the Professor's Nightmare is an effect by Bob Carver, based on a two-rope idea by Hen Fetsch, and the original patter was written by Gene Gordon.
The rights to Professor's Nightmare are currently owned by Magic Inc. of Chicago, I believe (formerly Ireland Magic).
It has the rather dubious distinction of being the "most ripped-off trick in magic".
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 02:09PM)
I never said that the Professor's Nightmare is generic, I just said it is well known. I apologize for any confusion.

<snip>
But the Professor's Nightmare is an effect by Bob Carver, based on a two-rope idea by Hen Fetsch, and the original patter was written by Gene Gordon.
The rights to Professor's Nightmare are currently owned by Magic Inc. of Chicago, I believe (formerly Ireland Magic).
It has the rather dubious distinction of being the "most ripped-off trick in magic".
<end snip>

If I remember correctly, and I might be completely off base, but isn't the Professor's Nightmare similar to Mark Wilson's "Equal/Unequal Ropes" from his Cyclopedia of Magic?
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Feb 12, 2003 02:53PM)
no its not ok to use gazzos cups routine....it would be stealing to use it.....with out buyiong the video...its his lifes work..its unlike any other cups routine.....its his....he built it on the street for the last 20 years....so if you like...then spend the what ever it is and pay him for the routine..he deserves the money.....

koz
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 03:07PM)
Before I continue down this thread, that I hope people don't think that I'm trying to say that it is ok to Rip off of other peoples ideas and tricks. I'm just trying to get at the heart of the ethical issue:

When does a move, trick, or routine become public domain?

Example: French Drop. If I figure out the "French Drop" and have never bought a trick or a book that contains it. Is it ethical for me to perform it?
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Feb 12, 2003 03:08PM)
Ethics is great but on the street the stakes are a little higher and the rules a little more interesting.

Some guys could care less if you hack stuff out of their show. They are also usually guys who stole it themselves.

Then there are guys who have spent years developing original material. If they catch you hacking their act they will burn your playhouse down.

I have seen fistfights over stolen lines never mind whole routines. On the street it doesnít have as much to do with ethics as it does immediate and often quite harsh punishment.

Some stage magicians are the same way. There is a rather well known story about Johnny Thompson, a Vegas show room, a copycat, and a baseball bat. It made me admire Mr. T. even more than I already did.

If you see my act please do not steal anything from it. It makes me rather upset.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 03:20PM)
Hey Danny,

What if you give the credit to the magician you saw the routine from?

Using you as an example with the next scenario:

A magician sees your show, and really likes X routine of yours. He figures it out, and in another part of the country, you are there on vacation, and you see this guy performing and before he does a part of his show he says, "A couple of years ago, I was walking through Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, and I saw this magician, Danny Hustle, perform this amazing trick. If you ever go to the Boston area, be sure to check out his show." And then procedes to perform the same trick.

As I stated before, I'm not promoting any of this, just trying to get a feel for what other magicians thoughts are on the matter.
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Feb 12, 2003 03:20PM)
you can steal anything you want from mine...its not that good!!!! :)

well i would appreciate it if no one steals anything from mine...because its pretty much original...at least the magic is....i use some stuff...lines form other guys...but i bought them....video books...but they have all been changed some to fit me...i tell ya what...you can try to steal gazzos stuff...but it wont work in your show....only gazzo can do that stuff....

i got an idea from john carney....his cup routine...chop cup....and took it to another level....i'm years into this routine now...and its strong...very strong....builds from start to finish....it doesn't look like carneys routine anymore...its completely different...but i got the idea from john....and i will thank him now.....

koz
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Feb 12, 2003 03:24PM)
[quote]
On 2003-02-12 16:20, ClodAppleleft wrote:
Hey Danny,

What if you give the credit to the magician you saw the routine from?

Using you as an example with the next scenario:

A magician sees your show, and really likes X routine of yours. He figures it out, and in another part of the country, you are there on vacation, and you see this guy performing and before he does a part of his show he says, "A couple of years ago, I was walking through Harvard Square in Cambridge, MA, and I saw this magician, Danny Hustle, perform this amazing trick. If you ever go to the Boston area, be sure to check out his show." And then procedes to perform the same trick.

As I stated before, I'm not promoting any of this, just trying to get a feel for what other magicians thoughts are on the matter.


[/quote]

If he didn't have my permission to do a routine of mine he would be in a quandry.

It would be the same as if he stole my TV and told people at his super bowl party that they had Danny Hustle to thank for the widescreen.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Feb 12, 2003 03:27PM)
The basic moves have been with us for centuries... my suggestion is to just start Jazzing with the cups and see what works for you... it will take time.

DO NOT DO SOMEONE ELSE. I don't mean the trick, but their style, talk, special sequence, etc.

The more you practice, the more you perform, the more it will become you.

If you are still doing someone else... work harder to be you.

Generally speaking, if it is in print it is fair game. But, should you learn from a borrowed book, try to buy the book. If it is out of print... the author didn't print enough... tsk tsk...
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 12, 2003 03:31PM)
<snip>It would be the same as if he stole my TV and told people at his super bowl party that they had Danny Hustle to thank for the widescreen
<end snip>

I understand you wanting to give permission, but I disagree with your analogy. He is not in competition with you, and he is even encouraging people to go to your show, so he is in essence, putting money back in your pocket.

It's almost like if he stole your TV, and then had everyone at his Super Bowl party pool money together, which amounted to more then the value of the TV, and then sent you that money.

At least that is another way of looking at it.
Message: Posted by: Larry Barnowsky (Feb 12, 2003 04:53PM)
Let's not mince words. However you acquire material from another performer (purchased or not), if you perform the exact routine word for word, gesture for gesture, you are being unethical as well as lazy. In school, they call it copying. In the real world its called plagiarism. It's theft of ideas. Use for example Dai Vernon's routine as a template to build one of your one. Get ideas from different sources. Magic is a creative art. Don't be a clone. Be original and you'll be proud of what you do and so will your audience.
:cups:
Message: Posted by: Jeff Dial (Feb 12, 2003 06:07PM)
Speaking of stealing someone else's style. Locally we have been speculating on how many magicians this summer will have broken noses or dislocated teeth from importing Gazzo's material into their acts. :crazydude:
Message: Posted by: Kozmo (Feb 12, 2003 06:42PM)
there are some wonderful little bits in gazzos act....that anyone could get away with...bnot many....but a few...

koz
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Feb 12, 2003 07:57PM)
If the routine is published with the lines and bits of business, the purchaser is free to do the routine exactly as published. Sometimes it is good for a beginning performer to copy the style and patter of a pro. But eventually, you will need to make the act fit your own style and personality if you ever want to move to a performance level that garners respect and will give you real joy.

Gazzo fully anticipates that many will be out on the street doing his act verbatim. He is not concerned about it. That is how they learn.

Nevertheless, most of the guys who intend to do Gazzo's lines should take a second look at Gazzo's biceps. Their's should be as big as his if they want to start using the kinds of lines he uses.

Gazzo is a boxer and health nut. He knows what he can get away with, and he is not afraid to take on any repurcussions from the drunks and testostorone poisoned idiots that might take offense.

He also has another weapon that is hard to copy--one of the greatest smiles in the world. Once he smiles, it becomes clear to anyone with any sense that there is not a trace of malice, spite, envy or bigotry in his heart. That is the real reason he can get away with so much. Anyone that copies his lines needs to have a pure heart as well as a really good left jab.
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Feb 12, 2003 10:09PM)
[quote]
On 2003-02-12 16:31, ClodAppleleft wrote:
<snip>It would be the same as if he stole my TV and told people at his super bowl party that they had Danny Hustle to thank for the widescreen
<end snip>

I understand you wanting to give permission, but I disagree with your analogy. [/quote]

See the thing is it doesn't matter if you agree or not. The fact remains if I see something stolen from my act I am going to react a certain way to it. So will many, many, others.

I am not talking about ethics I'm talking about the street and I am telling you what will happen.

It isn't a topic for debate in this case it is an actuality that happens everyday. You can agree with it or not it doesn't really matter.

Some guys let you get away with it some don't.

[quote]
On 2003-02-12 19:07, Jeff Dial wrote:
Speaking of stealing someone else's style. Locally we have been speculating on how many magicians this summer will have broken noses or dislocated teeth from importing Gozzo's material into their acts. :crazydude:
[/quote]

None. I've spoket to Gazzo about it. He sold it to you he doesn't care one way or the other.

Now the other street performers will snicker and call you a hack but they do that to any hack.

Hi Whit,

Iím glad to see you chime in on this. I loved your article about not being original. But, didnít that apply to a singular routine for learning and breaking in and not an entire act?

You changed my mind about that I wouldnít be surprised if you could do it again here.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: Jeff Dial (Feb 12, 2003 11:49PM)
Danny,

You wrote: None. I've spoket to Gazzo about it. He sold it to you he doesn't care one way or the other.

You missed my intent. It is not Gozzo they have to worry about. It is the "drunks and testostorone poisoned idiots" that Whit referenced that may be intent on doing some facial reconstruction.

I do agree that one can use any published patter and bits of business, but it is not always right for everyone. I think we are on the same page.

Whit,

I would add one other advantage that goes into Gazzo's persona -- he has a British accent.
Message: Posted by: Hernan (Feb 13, 2003 02:23AM)
Remember that tempo and rhthym are a large part of any performance.

There is little chance that you will(Naturally) have Gazzo or anyone elses beats and timing.

If you dropped into your own rhthym and tempo and riffed on the exact moves you are stealing, eventually, they would become yours. Open yourself up to minute variations find the moves and patter that slow you down and jettison them.

Golfers hum while practicing thier swing. I mean it!
Try it. The hum will alter when you hit a performance (or swing) Bump". If the "Bump" is substantial, the hum will stop.
I will elaborate more (along with documentation) over in the beginner section.

Anyway , pure theft will lower the amount in your hat. The tip will hip to the fact it is not 'YOU', and somewhere nagging at you in some recess of that wonderfully creative mind of yours a critic will be yelling at you.
In the lenghth of time it took for this topic to unfold you could have made Gazzo's routine indistinguisably your own.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 13, 2003 05:32AM)
Larry Barnowsky and others are right on:
Don't be a clone; be original.

Use a published routine as the basis for your own, original handling of whatever it is -- cups and balls, French drop, the bra trick (good grief! did I just say that!), etc.

Remember:
A poor original is still better than a good copy!
Message: Posted by: Danny Hustle (Feb 13, 2003 06:31AM)
[quote]
On 2003-02-13 00:49, Jeff Dial wrote:

You missed my intent. It is not Gozzo they have to worry about. It is the "drunks and testostorone poisoned idiots" that Whit referenced that may be intent on doing some facial reconstruction.

[/quote]

Ahhh, my mistake. I agree.

Best,

Dan-
Message: Posted by: ClodAppleleft (Feb 13, 2003 07:37AM)
Hey guys,

Thanks for the debate, and what you all have said makes much more sense now. I'm sorry if I stirred up too much animosity with this topic, but as I said, I love a good ethical debate, and I've learned to be able to see the side I disagree with, and sometimes argue for it.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Feb 13, 2003 11:27AM)
I disagree with you, Peter. I think a good copy is much better than a bad original. I don't know any lay audience who wouldn't share that view. When have you ever seen an audience that felt, "The magician sucked, but at least it was all bad tricks that I hadn't seen before..."?

It is as true in music as it is in magic, and a cover band that is competent will be much more successful than an "original" garage band that can't play the instruments and that writes bad songs.

Danny, I do think copying is a good way to learn magic, and I believe that most performers will admit that they were "heavily influenced" (copied) someone early in their careers. It is almost the only way to learn timing, presentation, and misdirection. But I am only talking here about material that is published, and few magicians publish their entire acts.

I have had many performers copy my "teaching act" verbatim from start to finish. I don't think it has ever taken a dime out of my pocket, and it doesn't bother me personally at this stage of my career (actually its kind of nice to think that someone can make a living with that act), but it is not ethical behavior to copy a whole theme and act that has not been published, even if two of the routines (The Mongolian Pop-Knot, Four Ring Routine) have been made available. If it had been done earlier in my career I would have been really ticked off.

I think that this is too long a discussion to get heavily involved in here, but I will refer everyone to my essay that you mentioned "Against Originality in Magic" for my full opinion.

It does seem to me that the beginner is going to grow faster by exploring more than one perfomer's style. The more styles you experiment with, the more ways you will find to extend your own personality, and the sooner you will be able to emerge from the shadow of the performers you are emulating.

But you will never get very far in show business as a copy. You will be relegated like cover bands to weddings and bar-mitzvahs and other low-end performing situations.

But for some people that is enough, and for many it is all they are capable of. If a performer is not creative or original, he should take the best material available and learn to do it really well. Hopefully, his own personality will eventually shine through, and then at least in some ways, he will be an original.
Message: Posted by: ixnay66 (Feb 13, 2003 11:58AM)
Somebody tell Koz his period key is sticking!
lol
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (May 6, 2005 11:34PM)
[quote]
On 2003-02-12 15:09, ClodAppleleft wrote:
I never said that the Professor's Nightmare is generic, I just said it is well known. I apologize for any confusion.

<snip>
But the Professor's Nightmare is an effect by Bob Carver, based on a two-rope idea by Hen Fetsch, and the original patter was written by Gene Gordon.
The rights to Professor's Nightmare are currently owned by Magic Inc. of Chicago, I believe (formerly Ireland Magic).
It has the rather dubious distinction of being the "most ripped-off trick in magic".
<end snip>

If I remember correctly, and I might be completely off base, but isn't the Professor's Nightmare similar to Mark Wilson's "Equal/Unequal Ropes" from his Cyclopedia of Magic?

[/quote]

Actually, the rights belong to Phil Willmarth.
Message: Posted by: Whitewolfny (May 13, 2005 08:18PM)
I've bought Gazzo's tape and learned it's okay to do something different than the Vernon presetation. I've bought the Ammar tapes and learned basic moves that everybody uses. I copied Vernon's routine to get the feel of doing a routine, but I've expanded on the final load sequence because Gazzo showed how it can be done. But my final load is nothing like Gazzo's nor is it like Vernon's. It's mine. I don't have an ethics problem with any of this for myself. I'm not copying any of the routines move for move and certainly not word for word (I could never talk to an audience like Gazzo does) but everything I use in my C&B routine I learned from all these tapes.
If you want to figure out how a magician does a trick, fine, rerun the TV tape a dozen times to learn what he or she did. But if you now go out and perform that trick, you have stolen it from the magician that created the presentation. The best example is Elvis impersonators. They think they have worked hard to develop a style but they haven't. They stole the style of Elvis and the problem is so many people loved the King, they let these wannabees go on stealing and draining the image of Elvis. You do the same thing if you copy another magician word for word, move for move. You have to find what works for your personality and style.
Message: Posted by: Magicmaven (May 13, 2005 08:33PM)
I agree with Whit. Copy a routine, perform it, perform it... after all this experience you will understand WHY the originator did each move in each place and time when he did.

Everyone has their own opinions on tricks, and others routines. When you perform a trick, you are bound to disagree with some of what the originator had. For instance, I learned Vernon's C&B, I have changed sooooo much merely because I did not think it fit, was justified, didn't like the responce, how it felt...
I think you should copy someone's routine, and change everything you don't like in it, so that you like it.
Where would we be without the Giants before us.

Another thing that Whit didn't mention about Gazzo, is that he has 3 enormous heavy cups that are great throwing devices, a stong wooden wand, 6 oranges, and a melon--no one will come close to him.