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Topic: Mistaken for real magic...
Message: Posted by: Wolfgang (Jun 8, 2003 07:57PM)
I did a show yesterday morning at a rehab center, and there was a staff member who was glued to my act.

He was a young man (probably 30 years old) from Haiti. After the show, he came up and spoke with me. He said he had never seen anyone do the kind of things I did. Then he started telling me about his wife and how she doesn't love him anymore.

He asked if I could use my magic to make her love him again. I politely explained that I don't do real magic, just tricks for entertainment. He was terribly disappointed.

Has anyone else had an adult audience member think their act was real witchcraft? It was very freaky.
Message: Posted by: stine (Jul 1, 2003 06:30AM)
Once after performing floating bill a woman across the table kept bowing to me in some sort of martial arts style. I thought it was her way of applauding. She then asked me how long I studied my technique that allowed me to levitate things. What amazed me wasn't so much she thought it was real, but that after seeing someone FLOAT something (she just witnessed a miracle) her response is basically to clap? That's like watching Jesus walk on water and say "not bad, but I saw a magician once.... etc....
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jul 2, 2003 12:02AM)
Hi Wolfgang and Stine,

Both interesting stories.

Wolfgang,a touching story.

I had that happen to me once and it too involved a family from Africa. It's very culturally based as I've had the opportunity to visit Haiti. Magicians may be viewed as shamans or spiritual healers from that part of the world.

Thanks for sharing.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (Jan 10, 2004 10:00AM)
Shamans , Huh? Hmmm. I wonder if that's why David Blaine was so anxious to perform there? LOL :bigsmile: But to answer the question, I too have had people accuse me of witchcraft or being in leauge with the devil. In fact one was the pastor of my church. Which was why I quit going there. But that's another thread under gospel the gospel magic section.
Message: Posted by: Xia (Jan 10, 2004 05:45PM)
Not me, but a friend of mine who is also a magician had all of his tricks / props/ books thrown out by his flatmate who thought he was in league with the devil!! :mad: :mad: :mad:
Message: Posted by: Skeptic (Jan 12, 2004 03:27PM)
I was asked to perform at a co-worker's daughters birthday party but he cancelled after complaints from his daughter's friends' parents. Turns out the stricter baptist don't like magic. Oh well.
Message: Posted by: Dallen (Jan 15, 2004 11:38PM)
I remember reading a similar story in book 3 of Paul Harris's AOA series. It was an article written by David Abrams and how he went to Asia and there was someone who believed he did real magic. This person was a fisherman and wanted David to use his magic to help him catch fish. Really interesting story, check it out if you haven't already.
Message: Posted by: marko (Jan 16, 2004 05:13PM)
The story Dallen refers to is called "The Other Side of Magic" writen by David Abrams. I agree, a fascinating read.
Message: Posted by: Matt Graves (Feb 11, 2004 07:55PM)
These people who think that people doing magic tricks are in league with the devil have to be complete idiots. Having said that, if somebody like that threw out all my magic stuff, they would definitely see my devilish side!
Message: Posted by: Alan Gold (Mar 27, 2004 10:24PM)
I have had people tell me I was in league with the Devil, I WAS the Devil, they hated me, I sucked, I was possessed, I was a witch, and I just wasn't right. Of course, these were all said in a nonreligious way, and got me telling them that magic is one of the only fields I know where such comments are considered COMPLIMENTS.

But every now and then, I get some people who are JUST a bit too serious. I have had more than one person (though not a whole lot) tell me, "No thank you...that is against my religion." The oddest one of those was a table of two guys where the one guy said sure, show me something, and the other guy told me it was against his religion. So the religious guy turned his head and didn't watch, while I did tricks for his friend. I didn't question it (out loud), but his friend was like, are you kidding dude? It was...interesting.

I do know that last night, when I was doing a multi-card revelation, and got to the last girl, and could not get her card and kept getting the wrong card, she freaked when I told her, well, if I ever lose your Seven of Hearts again (spreading out the cards to show the 7H the only one face up), I'll just give you call at 555-4658. And there was her number, laid out with all the cards I had missed her card with. She was already blown away prior to that...but after that, she was just gone. I did the same trick once for a girl from Pittsburgh, and she went three feet straight back in her chair. Would have gone probably six feet, but there was a wall there. My friend, doing the same trick, had one girl so blown away afterwards that she walked away in a daze...and right off the dock into the water.

But the best is when the adults, not the kids, look at me with that complete wonder, and say, "But...HOW...?" or "But that's IMPOSSIBLE!" or my favorite, "But...but...but..."

Heh. Heh. Freakin' heh.


Message: Posted by: James F (Mar 28, 2004 10:12AM)
When I was visiting a friend in Florida a few years ago, we went to this girls house. I was playing with some IT and a bill and the girl saw it and like freaked out and told her parents and they kicked me out of their house. They actually thought it was "real" magic and told me I wasnt welcome back at their house. A while after that my friend tried to perform magic in the school talent show and the girl went to the principal. They told my friend he couldn't perform magic in the show. Very weird...

Message: Posted by: Alan Gold (Mar 31, 2004 04:31PM)
James, sounds like a great community to live in.
Can you let me know where it is so I can make a point of not moving there any time soon?


Alan Gold
Message: Posted by: James F (Mar 31, 2004 08:09PM)
It was Tallahassee Florida. She’s the only one I’ve ever encountered like that. I even offered to explain it because I didn't want to get kicked out and have them have something against me. They wouldn’t even listen to me. Just kicked me out...ha ha.

Message: Posted by: Alan Gold (Apr 1, 2004 03:58AM)
Well, James, I live in the other end of the state, Key West, and I have to tell you, magic is pretty much accepted down here. ****, we have enough magicians! Then again, as anyone who has ever been here will tell you, Key West IS kind of "different"!


Message: Posted by: James F (Apr 1, 2004 08:57PM)
I’ve actually been to Key West but it was only for a day so I didn't get to really get a feel for it. Glad to hear everything goes well down there.

Message: Posted by: jcards01 (Apr 2, 2004 11:31AM)
Yes, circa 1969, Viet Nam, out on a week long patrol we camped out the first night in a Vietnamese village we came across. We actually formed small groups and moved into the huts with the people.

The captain, me (radio operator) and Vietnamese counterparts shared one such hut. The captain, knowing my skill with cards, said I should show the family some things since they were nice enough to share food and their hut with us.

I took out the cards and started performing the card effects I was doing at the time. By the way, this was a different sense of timing, as everything I said or asked had to go through an interpreter first and come back as the tricks were shown.

After about 1/2 hour, nothing, just blank stares on the faces of the people. I asked the interpreter what was wrong, they don't seem to be enjoying this!!!

He said, they think you are black magic. The only magic these people know of is NOT the kind I was doing. I asked the interpreter what card games did they play? He told me Chinese Poker. Things are a little sketchy now, but it was deal out all the cards (there were 4 of us playing) so we each got 13 cards. You divide your cards into three groups of 3, 5 and 5. You must win (high poker hand) 2 out of the 3 hands. Well, I shuffled and dealt out the cards and when I showed my 1st hand as 2, 3, 4 of spades, the 2nd hand of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 of spades and the 3rd hand of 10, J, Q, K, A of spades, they erupted in laughter and relaxed and had a great time for the rest of the evening.
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Apr 3, 2004 09:24AM)
Wolfgang and Skeptic:

I belong to a Baptist church, and most of my fellow congregants experience varying degrees of discomfort at any display of Magic. Eh, que cera, cera; they don't force "Ambrosia" on me at the church potlucks, and I don't force "Voodoo Ashes" on them.

Most of these folks don't actually think what I do is real, or that I'm in league with dark forces. Rather, my pretended display of supernatural powers is simply unsettling to them (what fool demon would bother with twaddle like changing a silk into an egg is completely beside the point, by the way!).

But there have been instances when someone was deeply and profoundly convinced that my stuff was real. I do paranormal shows, and 'received' a 'message' for one of the 'sitters,' which she then personalized and completely 'bought' the effect. Afterwards, she asked for an "interpretation" of what she had just witnessed.
I looked her square in the eyes and told her, "Ma'am, what you've just seen was a theatrical performance, nothing more." Her response? "I don't know what that means."

To those who doubt, no explanation is possible, and for those who believe, it is unnecessary.

Leland Edward Stone
Message: Posted by: avimagic (Apr 22, 2004 07:08PM)
There are also religious Jews with aversions to magic. I am an Orthodox Jew myself, and have researched the topic pretty exhaustively.

First, there is the issue of "Black Magic" (witchcraft). Prohibited by Jewish law. Not a problem, because that's not what we're doing, right? Well...

Next, there is a prohibition of doing anything that *looks* like you're violating Jewish law, for fear that you might lead others down your rocky path. For instance, for those who keep kosher, McDonald's is completely off limits. So, it would be wrong for me to walk into McDonalds (even to use the bathroom or just buy a Coke) while wearing my yarmulka (you know, the little skull cap, or beanie we Orthodox Jews wear), since someone might see me go in and think, "Hey, if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for me."

Finally, there is the issue of lying. When we refer to a black art box as "empty", we are lying, right?

Now, these three apparent violations of Jewish law would make you think magic is strictly prohibited. But it's really not. Here's why:

(If you ever run into an Orthodox Jew who says magic is against his/her religion, you can completely blow them away with this little tidbit. Major bonus points if you remember the rabbi's name!)

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (pronounced Moe-sheh Fine-steen) was one of the foremost authorities of Jewish law of our generation. He concluded the following:

1. Magicians don't really perform witchcraft, so the first problem is a non-issue.

2. In this day and age, *most* people know there's a trick to what we do, that what they see is an illusion, and that you're not performing witchcraft, so you don't need to worry about the second problem either.

3. Finally, since everyone knows that there is a trick to what we are doing, in effect, PEOPLE COME TO A MAGIC SHOW TO BE LIED TO. It's almost like listening to a storyteller. A storyteller who recounts a fictional tale is not a liar. So neither are we.

Leland-- Do Baptists' aversion to magic stem from the same problems? Would the logic of Rabbi Feinstein's conclusions hold water in the church?

Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Apr 23, 2004 09:44AM)
Hi, Avi:

Wow! Your description of the Orthodox Jewish view on Magic -- if the reference to the yarmulka and Rabbi Feinstein were removed -- would be identical to the Evangelical Christian view I've encountered (among both Baptists and other denominations). Not surprising, I suppose, given that my faith is derivative of yours! :)

I've actually used the analogy between Magic and motion pictures, and typically get two responses: 1) That's different [with no further explanation], and therefore doesn't count; 2) The worldview of the audience must be considered. That is, no one believes that Darth Vader really is Luke Skywalker's dad, because those two aren't real (like your example #2); however, some people do believe in 'REAL' Magic, therefore, in practicing my Art I may be guilty of perpetuating their erroneous beliefs. [If you're familiar with the New Testament, this is the "weaker brother" doctrine established by Paul...Christians may at times abstain from indulging in ________, not because the faith forbids it, but because it may personally offend another believer.]

Because I do bizarre Magic and recreate séances [yes, they're fake, but 'fake séances' is a redundancy], I was ready to concede that Christian critics may have a point there. Until I remembered that millions of fellow Christians regularly commune with the dead...and they call themselves Orthodox Christians!

Thanks so much for the insight!

Message: Posted by: avimagic (Apr 23, 2004 10:36AM)

I have been asked by Orthodox Jewish audiences in the past to do one (or both) of 2 things:

1. Emphasize to the audience that this is illusion, not magic.
2. Explain a trick.

I willingly do #1.

In a situation other than the séance, maybe this is also a good answer for the Baptist groups?

Message: Posted by: constantine (May 6, 2004 10:34PM)
I have had several parents march there children out of the magic shop be because I did something (Block and Penny or Cups and Balls) that had to be satanic. These seem to be intelligent, middle class people.
Message: Posted by: daffydoug (May 9, 2004 12:01AM)

Silly question, but if they are that strongly against it, then they had no business being in the magic shop in the first place!
Message: Posted by: redstreak (May 10, 2004 01:07AM)
I was performing for someone once and I saw this guy who was watching us. He looked Indian but I don't know exactly where he's from. After I had finished he came up to me and asked if it was a trick or real. It was the first time someone asked me that and I wasn't expecting it. I told him it was a trick and he said that he knew that some people really did do magic. I told him that I didn't think so but he wasn't completely convinced. I've gotten to know him a little because we both hang out at a coffee shop.

Apart from this incidence, I've never had someone think that I was doing real magic. I do magic at church all the time but I've never had anyone look at me in a strange way or anything. I go to a very small school (a total of 24 kids) and everyone knows me well enough that they're sure it's all tricks. I think that everyone around here accepts that there is no such thing as "real" magic.
Message: Posted by: rossmacrae (May 25, 2004 11:40PM)
"Do Baptists' aversion to magic stem from the same problems?"

I have actually seen a lengthy pamphlet explaining how ventriloquism is physically impossible, the real method is that demons are making the voices ... anything to fool good Christians and trick them into unwitting Satanism, you know?
Message: Posted by: PROFED (Jun 2, 2004 02:10AM)
I performed a version of color changing knives for a woman who came into the magic shop (where I work part-time) to get out of the cold while she waited for a taxi. She had a strange look on her face so I asked what she thought of the magic. She replied reluctantly because she did not want to be rude. She stated that she did not think that the magic came from God, with the implication that it game from the devil. I told her that of course it came from God and that the magic was a talent.

Her taxi came, and she left repeating: a talent, a talent.
Message: Posted by: JoeJoe (Jun 15, 2004 04:00AM)
[quote]Silly question, but if they are that strongly against it, then they had no business being in the magic shop in the first place!
Just think ... a few hundred years ago, they would have burned you at the stake! We've come a long way. :)
Message: Posted by: Doug Higley (Jun 20, 2004 02:59PM)
I once had a girl show me absolute photographic proof that my tricks were satanic and that I was possessed by a Demon when I performed.

She was a Jehovah’s Witness convert and had a color Polaroid FLASH snapshot of me on stage with RED eye balls! Her whole congregation warned her away!



What is true may not be believed.
What is believed may not be true.
Message: Posted by: mattneufeld (Jun 23, 2004 05:12PM)
Well, this is a most interesting thread!

The first defense against anything is the facts.

First, I'm sure all of you are fully aware--although I note it here because it hasn't quite been noted in this thread--that there actual priests, fathers, padres, ministers, rabbis, cantors, parsons and other types of spiritual leaders who perform magic entertainment. That is a fact. In fact, I've met and talked to dozens of them. As one poster did note, there is an entire magic subculture of gospel magic, as well as religion-oriented magic.

Another fact is that, according to the three Orthodox Jewish leaders who I have talked to, there is nothing in Orthodox, Conservative or Reform Judaism that is against the performance of magic as an entertainment and illusion-based entertainment medium. Nothing. In fact, when I asked one of these leaders if magic was against any religious tenet, the rabbi looked at me in a befuddled manner, chuckled, and said, "Why do you ask that?" I explained that some people have this odd reaction to magic, and he just waved his hands and said, "Then don't perform magic for those people!" I thought that was hilarious. These rabbis said that most people understand that modern-day performance magic is entertainment, and there is nothing wrong with entertainment! (I know, this echoes the comments posted by an earlier poster who consulted with a rabbi, so obviously this issue comes up every now and again in the religious community.)

Third, once a woman said something about how she wouldn't like to have magic performed at her child's birthday party because it was "against our religious beliefs." In a very polite, very nice manner, I softly said, "there are priests and rabbis who perform magic, you know!" She stopped, asked if that was true, and when I said, yes, indeed, she said she would have to re-think her opposition and her views about magic.

Maybe that was a spiritual experience!
Message: Posted by: Shane Wiker (Jun 23, 2004 05:28PM)
Yesterday, a couple of magicians and I were standing outside a building, talking about magic. A woman who left the building quickly walked past us and said, "God bless you guys." When one of us asked what she said (he didn't hear her), she just kept walking. Either she thought we were beggars (which I doubt, because one of us was wearing a very nice suit), or she thought we were evil and working with the devil. I still don't know for sure, but it was a very bizarre experience.


Shane Wiker
Message: Posted by: Dave V (Jun 23, 2004 08:42PM)
I'm pretty sure that in her mind it was meant as an insult. Some people have even nicknamed people like her "shuteyes."
Message: Posted by: avimagic (Jun 25, 2004 04:54AM)
Another fact is that, according to the three Orthodox Jewish leaders who I have talked to, there is nothing in Orthodox, Conservative or Reform Judaism that is against the performance of magic as an entertainment and illusion-based entertainment medium. Nothing. In fact, when I asked one of these leaders if magic was against any religious tenet, the rabbi looked at me in a befuddled manner, chuckled, and said, "Why do you ask that?" I explained that some people have this odd reaction to magic, and he just waved his hands and said, "Then don't perform magic for those people!" I thought that was hilarious. These rabbis said that most people understand that modern-day performance magic is entertainment, and there is nothing wrong with entertainment! (I know, this echoes the comments posted by an earlier poster who consulted with a rabbi, so obviously this issue comes up every now and again in the religious community.)
While I agree that nothing is wrong with magic according to Jewish law, and likewise agree with the rabbis you asked that you should perform but not for those people, it is incorrect to say that there is nothing in Orthodox, Conservative or Reform Judaism that is against the performance of magic. If you look at my post above from April 22, you'll see that there actually is/was basis for a prohibition, but was overturned in the past century as people grew accustomed to "our kind" of magic.
Message: Posted by: Stephen Barney (Jun 25, 2004 06:43PM)
I have one lady at the riding club I belong to who is so freaked by the sponge balls she won't allow it done to her but keeps bringing others like her daughter along to have it "done to them" so she can witness it again she really is freaked by it.

Great reaction if you can get it.
Message: Posted by: Logan Five (Jul 1, 2004 08:37PM)
Great thread!!

Yesterday, I was at Starbuck's practicing my sleights with the cards. This is very normal for me as I like to practice in public as it simulates almost a real performing environment.

This Starbuck's was very small ( the one across from the UN Plaza on Market St in SF ).. so I find myself a corner table in which I place my close-up pad down & start doing the card work.

You guys know how people are in big cities ..there in a rush or have got somewhere to go & kinda defensive.

After about 30 mins, a lady with a very young child sits about 2 tables from me. And the child is looking at me and doesn't know what to think. I smiled back at the child and went on about my business.

Well I should say that I tryed to go on about my business.. the child left the table & came over to my table & picked up the cards with "awe" the mother said" No.. leave those along!" The mother then smiled at me, and I said " It's ok". Then the child looked at me with the same sort of "awe". I did a D/L in which I showed the child a card- then I placed the card in front of the child, yes.. she turned the card over & it changed to a face card. The look on her face was unforgetable!!

She let out a loud laugh.. and gave me the look to do something else. So I did another card transposition, and got a simular result from her. When I looked up the WHOLE coffee house was laughing and watching us.

I don't know if she thought I was doing real magic. But that experience taught me that some things are more magical then magic.

Message: Posted by: paulajayne (Jul 1, 2004 09:47PM)

Nice story.

Gotta catch them young.
She will remember that magic for a very long time.

Message: Posted by: John McLaughlin (Sep 17, 2004 11:42PM)
In the early 90's I was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, working as an Interpreter for the Haitan "boat people". To pass the time I would do simple tricks for the childern. Many of the adults were afraid of me, thinking my powers came from voodoo. One day, I was called to the camp by a large group of Haitains, who began holding out there hands for me to touch. At first I didn't understand what was going on, until one of them explained that a man had stolen some money from one of the tents, and they wanted me to identify the thief with my powers!
Message: Posted by: Daryl -the other brother (Sep 27, 2004 11:02AM)
I just purchased a "voodoo doll" last week for halloween. The other day I did it in the lobby of a movie theatre for some people going to see a zombie movie (can you guess the patter I used?) When I was done one kid looked at me very seriously and asked "Does it hurt your head to focus your energy into such a small object?) Now that's magic!