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Topic: Is it time to snuff out cigarette magic?
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Feb 23, 2019 09:16AM)
Some people still smoke (I'll never understand why), but it is a proven fact that cigarettes are a major cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other threats to human life.

If we magicians are to be responsible citizens -- and I guess that's a question too: should we model responsible citizens in our work? -- should we not avoid magic that uses cigarettes as a prop in simulated smoking? Doesn't that subtly endorse and glamorize smoking? Shouldn't we avoid doing that?

My humble opinion is that doing the classic cigarette routines has become irresponsible. What's your opinion?
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 23, 2019 09:45AM)
Hey! We DO agree on something!
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Feb 23, 2019 09:51AM)
I don't think it's irresponsible so much as it is hanging on to something from another era. People who perform magic often seem to think of material in and of itself instead of realizing that a lot of the material was created and popularized during times when it was relevant.

Houdini's sub trunk worked because people in those days knew what a trunk was: that's how you took stuff on a trip, and they knew how they were built and locked. And his trunk looked like it had been around the block a bunch of times. That was part of the magic: a common everyday trunk. So getting out of and into it in a second was "magical." Most sub trunks nowadays seem to be more like crates, and immaculate at that. So the original idea has been lost.

Cigarrette acts were popular back when most people smoked, when smoking was the thing to do and when movie stars were pushing cigarrettes. There was an element of glamor to it, especially in the night clubs where these acts were popular. To make a cigarrette act work today, you need to understand demographics and do the act for the type of audience that relates to cigarrettes.

Over the years here in the Café, I've gotten the impression that a lot of performers pick material based on what they like without a lot of regard for their audiences. Of course there are exceptions, but I've seen that attitude a lot.
Message: Posted by: longhaired1 (Feb 23, 2019 12:30PM)
I do magic with wine. There are some who may consider that irresponsible. There are some that would like to see any level of sexuality removed from magic as well.

I see the choice to do cigarette magic as not wise based on the things George points out; Changing times. I would think you would be greatly reducing the venues you can work in and the audiences you can work for, at least here in the United States. Elsewhere may be different.

There are certain audiences and venues that my wine act would not be appropriate for. Fortunately there are plenty where it is appropriate.

But to answer the larger question, I don't believe it is the responsibility of the artist to only exhibit model behavior.
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Feb 23, 2019 01:44PM)
I've seen cigarette moves amaze with a crayon or similar shapes. The moves are not tainted.

I would not do a cigarette trick unless it were a call back to an earlier era (like Teller's noir cigarette piece) but I never invested in cigarette skills.

We all make our own calls.

-Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: George Ledo (Feb 23, 2019 01:51PM)
A couple of good points, longhaired1.

Yes, people are getting offended at more and more things nowadays, sometimes to the point that, whatever you do, someone is going to get offended. Cigarette magic offends some people. Wine magic ditto. Animal tricks ditto. Illusions involving female assistants ditto. Character acts, costume acts, historical acts, clowns, goofy professors, comedy, fake stories, kid magic, you name it, it'll offend somebody. And this is true in other areas of entertainment also, not just magic. So where does it stop, and how far can you go if you're afraid that one person is going to get offended and make an issue of it? Let's face it, some people just need to chill out and get a life.

As far as doing cigarette acts in other parts of the world where a lot of people still smoke, sure, why not. But -- and it's a BIG but -- what I said still applies. The old Cardini et al night-club act is totally outdated, especially out of a night-club venue. People don't act or dress like that anymore: they're more casual, more relaxed. Many of our current magic stars got to be stars by playing to their modern audiences and not to the instructions in an eighty-year-old book or routine.

And I also don't believe it's the responsibility of the artist to exhibit only model behavior. It's never been their responsibility, and that's part of being an artist: present your own take, your interpretation, your response to the world as you see it. Besides, given the number of people who get offended at anything, WHOSE model behavior are you going to exhibit?

[edit] Yup, Mary. Cigarette moves can be applied to other objects too, and they can be very effective. Thanks for bringing that up.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Feb 23, 2019 04:18PM)
For awhile,TOOTSIE ROLLS were a good substitute for cigarettes!

I agree with George Ledo's thoughts. Cardini was GREAT! But, that era is gone!

I especially agree with his comments about 'dong the tricks that I like'!!!

I had learned early, not to fall in love with PROPS!

When I decided to go "full time", I wrote up a CRITERIA for the tricks/routines that WOULD be not only PRACTICAL, but also COULD be made ENTERTAINING, with the right PRESENTATION, for the wide range of audience ages for whom I would be performing. For the first season or two, a few adjustments were needed, but, my CRITERIA, "WORKED".

After the first season, word got around among the managers, They called ME to find out my open time! For almost fifty years, I was never at liberty.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Feb 23, 2019 04:34PM)
If this is about your feelings about being a role model as performer - and you have stopped doing tricks with cigarettes - good for you and bravo!
[quote]On Feb 23, 2019, danaruns wrote:
...should we model responsible citizens in our work? -- should we not avoid magic that uses cigarettes as a prop in simulated smoking? ... [/quote] This question is about our roles as adults - a group matter. Thing is we are working as theatrical performers and our scripts tend to get nostalgic. Cardini was working venues where people smoked.

What is the performing character's context and what values is the script attempting to communicate? Is the smoking supposed to be a cue for the audience to see the character as reckless, self destructive, somehow a part of a long gone era?

If you want to take on the smoke/vape/nicotine /crop industry here's some reading for larger context: https://www.tobaccoreporter.com/category/leaf/
Message: Posted by: Mary Mowder (Feb 23, 2019 05:45PM)
I don't do Sword through Neck or rope through neck but I've seen others do them both and the audience enjoyed it.

I think Magic can and should evolve (in a positive direction) but I think it is a one Magician at a time process.

I applaud anyone making positive choices. Even thinking about this subject is a good thing.

Most Magicians haven't made a choice, we are just doing what we're used to doing without judging if it conforms with our current beliefs.

- Mary Mowder
Message: Posted by: tommy (Feb 24, 2019 06:40PM)
Joints are in fashion - Especially with hippy magicians.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Feb 25, 2019 01:24PM)
[quote]On Feb 24, 2019, tommy wrote:
Joints are in fashion - Especially with hippy magicians. [/quote]

Hippy magicians? Like those of us with a little extra padding?

Or Hippie magicians? Like, far out, man. Make love, not war. Peace, love, dope!


Where is Doug Henning when you need him? ;)

Peace out.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Feb 25, 2019 05:26PM)
I can imagine a hippy magician doing a Cardini like act, with joints rather than cigarettes, being stoned rather than drunk. I do not think magicians are or ought to be social justice warriors.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Feb 25, 2019 07:20PM)
[quote]On Feb 25, 2019, tommy wrote:
...social justice warriors. [/quote]

Ooh, that's a derogatory right wing political term. Let's not bring politics into this, please.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Feb 26, 2019 06:39PM)
It is a normative social influence, which often leads to people exhibiting public compliance but not necessarily private acceptance of the group's social norms. A magician may smoke but in a particular group of none smokers in order to fit in with them.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Feb 27, 2019 03:03PM)
If you want to make positive choices for your life that is wonderful. But I do not think it is necessary for all of us to make the same choices.

I'm not certain it is for us to be roll models either. I'm not even sure it is about being good citizens. (I believe everyone should be but this is another matter.)

If you want to be a roll model then this is the right choice. If another does not want to do so then this is also correct. I respect everyone's choices, even if I disagree with them.
Message: Posted by: Senor Fabuloso (Feb 28, 2019 08:24AM)
Trying to IMPOSE ones OWN choices on others, is totalitarianism. That is what I find IRRESPONSIBLE.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Feb 28, 2019 09:11AM)
[quote]On Feb 28, 2019, Senor Fabuloso wrote:
Trying to IMPOSE ones OWN choices on others, is totalitarianism. That is what I find IRRESPONSIBLE. [/quote]

Who here is saying anything about imposing on others? Certainly not me. It seems you're inventing your own thread subject, here. Here's what I said in the OP:

[quote][S]hould we not avoid magic that uses cigarettes as a prop in simulated smoking? Doesn't that subtly endorse and glamorize smoking? Shouldn't we avoid doing that? [/quote]

On another note, Fabuloso is my favorite floor cleaner. :)
Message: Posted by: Terrible Wizard (Feb 28, 2019 09:17AM)
Smoking is bad for you. Drugs are bad for you. Being overweight is bad for you. Drinking is bad for you. Driving cars, living in cities, having sex, bungee jumping, and skiing are risky activities.

Except for children's shows, I don't see artists and entertainers as having any moral obligation to be role models, or espouse any particular ideology, or promote any set of virtues or whatever. Indeed, I often wish entertainers butted out of moralising and politics and 'issues' a bit more than they do since I find it rather cringe-worthy, though it's really up to them.

When it comes to cigarettes I actually find them aesthetically and artistically pleasing. I like people smoking in old movies, for example. I think it looks good and has certain artistically enriching connotations and symbolism that are difficult to replace with substitutes, like crayons or straws. If it wasn't for the health issues I'd take up smoking myself.

But, individual performers are free to decide what goes into their act, and what they preach about, and to tell others their opinions. And no doubt there's practical advantages to not having a cigarette act. But I'll leave it to individuals to decide what to do.
Message: Posted by: Animated Puppets (Mar 3, 2019 01:40PM)
Dang, and I just got my cat puppet Behemoth to smoke a cigar. I guess I'll have to teach him to do something more wholesome like swallow razor blades and slam his paws down on paper bags with a hidden blade in one of 'em. ;)

I have (somewhere) the vanishing cigarette up the nose but never found a legit use for it. Crushing cigarettes in a TT may look cool but you end up having a foul smelling thumb.

Besides, Vaping is what's hip (not hippie related) and expect to see something incorporating vapes in the future.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Mar 3, 2019 04:53PM)
Yes, it is all vape and mirrors now.
Message: Posted by: Animated Puppets (Mar 3, 2019 05:16PM)
[quote]On Mar 3, 2019, tommy wrote:
Yes, it is all vape and mirrors now. [/quote]

Message: Posted by: A Magic Cafe User (Mar 6, 2019 03:16PM)
I think that cigarette magic is outdated. There was a time where cigarettes were widely used but now it's not. I [b]don't[/b] think that magicians should be promoting cigarette magic.
Message: Posted by: Animated Puppets (Mar 6, 2019 03:29PM)
I dunno... a lot of people still smoke and for the right crowd in the right setting...

I do agree that it should not be performed in front of kids.
Message: Posted by: A Magic Cafe User (Mar 6, 2019 03:35PM)
You have a point there... something I hadn't considered. All about appropriateness I guess..
Message: Posted by: Animated Puppets (Mar 6, 2019 03:41PM)
Yeah, I know... I don't care for the sponge dingdong (wait, that came out wrong) but I'm sure there is a time and a place for it.

It's all about the target audience.
Message: Posted by: A Magic Cafe User (Mar 6, 2019 03:46PM)
Just seems to me that it's not worth investing in cigarette magic as there are fewer and fewer opportunities to perform it...
Message: Posted by: Senor Fabuloso (Mar 6, 2019 03:49PM)
In the thread there is talk about, how the same moves and sleights used with cigs, can be used with other things. Lets not let this area of magic die because of a societal norms. We are magicians and always buck the system ;)
Message: Posted by: A Magic Cafe User (Mar 6, 2019 03:50PM)
I agree. Many of the classics of magic (Tarbel etc.) also mention cigarette magic. I've always skipped over this part but I guess I'll go back and read it! :D
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Mar 6, 2019 05:53PM)
Natural pass vanish, three-finger vanish, repeat production, fake throw, drop-over vanish, palm switch, fist production, etc. Every cigarette sleight I can think of is also used with other media. Coins, thimbles, and balls, for instance. I can't think offhand of any valuable sleight that can only be learned in cigarette magic.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Mar 7, 2019 12:51AM)
Now how can you burn your fingertips with a coin?
Message: Posted by: tommy (Mar 7, 2019 08:30PM)
Now that depends on whether you are old fashioned or using cryptocurrency.
Message: Posted by: Animated Puppets (Mar 7, 2019 08:52PM)
Cryptocurrency burns someplace else....
Message: Posted by: magicianbrady (Mar 17, 2019 09:00AM)
I never really liked cigarette magic before but then I saw the LOPEZ volumes and just had to try the routines... they're brilliant
Message: Posted by: Animated Puppets (Mar 17, 2019 01:13PM)
Give a homeless man a cigarette and he'll have one smoke for the day.

Give a homeless man a cigarette and a TT, and he'll smoke crushed cigarettes all day.
Message: Posted by: diamondjack (Mar 24, 2019 09:29AM)
You could argue that the bullet catch is irresponsible considering it's basically magicians shooting each other in the face.
Message: Posted by: Dannydoyle (Mar 24, 2019 01:09PM)
Many have argued just that.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Mar 24, 2019 06:10PM)
What is responsible for the magic is whatever you tell them.
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Apr 2, 2019 08:02PM)
Much that you do with Cigs can be done with: Crayons, chalk, small pencils, and on and on and on.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Apr 3, 2019 01:58AM)
A young fellow we know started selling Vapes a couple of years ago and he is now a multimillionaire. We call him the Vape King and he has booked our joint a number of times for Vape parties to promote his business. The Vape community is like a massive cult and while they look like Hells Angels they are a really nice crowd. They have big meetings/parties often where a magician could get booked.
Message: Posted by: Aus (Apr 9, 2019 01:57AM)
How about cigarette magic from a motivational and context perspective of the manipulations. Take a look at tellers cigarette routine in the embedded video below, much of the manipulations are motivated by the very fact that the item being used is a cigarette. The bringing of the hands to the mouth for the switch is contextualised by the natural action of lighting the cigarette and for the vanish throwing the cigarette on the ground in an act of stamping out the cigarette. How would we justify the context of the manipulations if it wasn't a cigarette?


It also might be appropriate from a creative perspective to cultural appropriate a period of time where smoking was very much part of the imagery of that time or era. If for example if you're going for a throwback of hippy culture of the 1960s and 1970s when smoking and cigarettes were in fact very much a part of the scene, then I could see the justification on the grounds of artistic and authenticity as firm reasoning for such a choice.

On the moralistic front of glorifying smoking, I think it's somewhat naive to think that the average person's moral fortitude is so wafer thin that a simple showing of a cigarette in a performance is all of a sudden the catalyst of glorify cigarettes and therefore creating a new generation of smokers.

I have worked as an assistant manager for a fuel/Gas Station for the past ten years and have seen customer behaviour under some of what could be considered the most strict tobacco laws in the world.

In Australia, it is against the law in the retail sector to openly display tobacco products to the public in an open and free manner and must be held behind fully closed cigarette cabinets where they are obscured from public viewing. There are laws against incidental viewing where you must limit the exposure to the public in cases where staff need to facilitate stock management tasks which may result in people indirectly viewing tobacco products. Our federal government has mandated nationwide universal packaging laws making all tobacco products appear the same as well as mandating health warnings on every pack with ghastly pictures of people dying of Lung Cancer and other smoking-related health issues. Tobacco companies are not allowed to advertise on any public media or sports events. They have tried to increase taxes on tobacco products in an effort to price people off the habit.

All these laws and many others like them are all a vain attempt to mitigate public exposure and subsequently the perceived influence of the smoking industry. Has it had any affect on tobacco sales and the habit of smoking? Empirically from my ten years experience at my place of work, all these things made very little difference, cigarettes and other related tobacco products outstripped all other forms of sales in terms of merchandise we sold by thousands of dollars. So I believe glorifying cigarettes in the simple act of showing them in public is an oversimplification of a more detailed and nuanced problem.

I don't think a person will start taking up smoking because a magician did a retention vanish with a cigarette.


Message: Posted by: Nem (Apr 9, 2019 10:49AM)
Even watching Lance Burton in the early days the cigarettes seemed out of place. John Calvert Continued to do the act with unlit cigs, but explained to the audience his views on smoking and that the demonstration was just that, a demonstration of skill for the entertainment.
In it's day it was an important manipulation skill for many of the reasons pointed out,but out of vogue for most audiences today.
Message: Posted by: A Magic Cafe User (Apr 9, 2019 06:00PM)
Agreed, but I think it is worth learning. All the 'cigarette slights' can be applied elsewhere...

- A Magic Café User
Message: Posted by: Nem (Apr 11, 2019 04:47PM)
Your right, and it's another skill you would have for those impromptu moments.