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Topic: Men as assistants
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Jul 7, 2004 09:55AM)
I am starting a new show using men as assistants in the box illusions. (Don't worry, the illusions are large enough to hold them.) They'll be muscular and good "eye candy" for the females in the audience. I think this is an idea whose time has come.
My "schtick" is that I'm a 90-pound weakling, and they sometimes play the role of a "bully". (I have one idea where I get revenge on a beach bully by zig zagging him.)
What do y'all think?
Message: Posted by: Rob Johnston (Jul 8, 2004 01:17PM)
I think this is great.

Equal rights my friend....and the women have crowded the assistant scene forever.

This could provide a great uniqueness to your show and a bit of humor.
Message: Posted by: PROOF (Jul 16, 2004 06:13AM)
Not so much.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Aug 2, 2004 11:24PM)
I have used male assistants as have probably most stage magicians over time. For a while I even used aspiring young magicians who had their own spot in the shows. Frankly, I found that even the best worried so much about their part of the show until they were relatively useless on the road and as assistants. I tried very hard to be wrong. I really wanted it to work. I saw it work in the recording industry. For magic it was a very bad fit.

However, true "roadies" that are also assistants during the show are different. Assisting is the important part of the show to them. They do well. They are hard to keep because they receive so many opportunities. Lucy and I need one now for the Star Dancer Castle productions with the Live Magic Unicorn beginning in March. Can we steal yours?

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: amazingluke (Nov 8, 2004 11:02PM)
Hi Lothar,

I have used both males and females in my shows as assistants (although that's a loose term because as I have characters that are in the shows which aren't there purely to assist). I've always worked better with females than males, probably because my character is a womanising type, so there is an interesting dynamic between the characters. I believe that characterisation is the most important part of the decision, rather than gender politics. If the characters interact well, the audience will love the show...and overlook any prejudices with gender roles.

Hope this helps,

Message: Posted by: Harlequin (Nov 11, 2004 08:28PM)
Amazingluke makes a good point in the distinction between assistant and 'other characters' in a show. Males as assistants to a male magician may be a bit strange unless there is an actual reason for it as mentioned in Lothars post with the bully angle. But other males as 'supporting characters' eg. doing a bit of their own magic or actively interacting in the magicians trick, makes for a more theatrical experience for the audience and if done well should draw them in more.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Jan 20, 2005 08:01AM)

You have the knack for starting these good threads and then we never hear from you again. How has your "male assistant" concept worked out?

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Mar 9, 2005 04:38PM)
I have a performance in May at a talent show. Jim Sommers is going to fix my cabinet that I had made by an "amateur" (but the price was right! LOL). The cabinet is made of pressboard (I know, it's heavy.) It can fit a guy from 5'5" to 5'11". (That means most of my friends are tall enough to fit inside.) I haven't found any guy who wants to be zig zagged. I'm thinking that I'll get in the cabinet myself with someone else doing the cutting (a la Doug Henning and his wife doing disembodied). I'll be showing him how to do the illusion and he locks me in and performs it.
My other alternative would be to have an "invisible asssistant". LOL

Posted: May 25, 2005 10:56am

Well, I performed my zig zag last Saturday night. I had to get inside, and a friend did the cutting. I wish my friends wouldn't see being a magician's assistant as "unmanly". Maybe when I get more routines and gigs, then they'll hop on my bandwagon.

Starting a revolution...LOL

"Macho Magic"
Message: Posted by: Chrystal (Jun 24, 2005 03:40AM)
Hi Lothar,

I really like your concept! After reading your post earlier and the hesitation of your friends it got me thinking, especially considering they are bigger in stature than yourself. What if you promoted the zigzag as almost a Fear Factor aparatus. " Only the bravest and strongest, those with no fear...can step into this box" Perhaps that would change their attitudes? Just a thought anyhow. Hey good luck with your show!

Message: Posted by: magicalaurie (Jul 8, 2005 07:52PM)
I like your idea, Chrystal. A little reverse psychology. I'm sure there must be some secure male assistants out there, though. Hope so.
Message: Posted by: Bill Nuvo (Aug 12, 2005 09:27AM)
In my show I have no assistant. I have a partner. He is in the show. He performs magic and juggling just as I do. He is an equal onstage. I often try to make him the star. Maybe it's because he makes less than me. It is my show, design and concept anyway. For any assistant I think it is good to let them show their personality and perform also. Why have nameless people on stage with you?
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Aug 25, 2005 07:51PM)
As I recall, the one taking the chances in a very famous magicial career was named Houdini. Wasn't he a smallish male? Wasn't he the box jumper?

Ever seen an Andre' Kole show?

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Sep 30, 2005 12:51PM)
Does Andre Kole put men in cabinets?
Message: Posted by: davetolomy (Oct 2, 2005 01:32PM)
Lothar, if your male the audience might think your gay...

Not being rude but this might be their perception.
Message: Posted by: RandyStewart (Oct 2, 2005 01:56PM)
On 2005-10-02 14:32, davetolomy wrote:
Lothar, if your male the audience might think your gay...

Not being rude but this might be their perception.

LOL! Well we certainly can't have that! It might even keep you out of Vegas.


Whew! I just recovered from choking on my cheeseburger.

If that is the general "perception" then we have a winner as there will be two unanswered questions or "mysteries" if you will.

1. How'd he do that?
2. Could he be......

Well good luck in experimenting with this. Find what works best for you and the audience and keep the audience in mind as THEIR entertainment comes first and is most important regardless of who gets in that box.
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Oct 3, 2005 09:50AM)
That's kind of the idea. There are several famous magicians who people wonder about (Darren Romeo, Sigfried & Roy, Jeremy Vargus, etc.) As a result, women find them absolutely irresistible. (I know , women love gay men. Just ask Claire Danes and Reese Witherspoon.)
I think it's a great marketing ploy. Not all illusion shows need to be marketed to the male libido.
Message: Posted by: davetolomy (Oct 3, 2005 01:52PM)
So your deliberately trying to look gay?

and also

[quote]1. How'd he do that?
2. Could he be...... [/quote]
Message: Posted by: RandyStewart (Oct 3, 2005 02:16PM)
Davetolomy I was being sarcastic as I didn't think it was an important issue. And no I didn't mean any disrespect or harm by it :)

What I think is important is that the audience remain entertained. I doubt it matters who gets sectioned on stage. It should remain important to be focused on the entertainment value.

By the way, I've seen a couple of magicians put their FEMALE assistant through the rigors of stage illusion etc. and they were a horrible production at best. Maybe the fact that no one suspected he was gay saved the show and the day!

Quite frankly, if the show were truly amazing or entertaining I'd be fine with an all male or all female or all dwarf cast of performers. I just don't care as it's the magic I'm there to see.
Message: Posted by: Bob Sanders (Oct 8, 2005 09:32AM)
On 2005-09-30 13:51, Lothar wrote:
Does Andre Kole put men in cabinets?


Yes Sir! Andre' Kole himself! (Actually he walks through fans, etc.)

Catch his show, if you ever get the chance. I like his work.

Magic By Sander
Message: Posted by: Shrubsole (Nov 10, 2005 05:59AM)
Wow! This is a fascinating thread!

I think it boils down to whether a particular illusion is performed in a sexual way.
Classics of magic like; levitation, sawing in half, and a lot of others have traditionally been very sexual. They have mostly been the all powerful MALE magician having his way with a weak defenceless female (At least that's how the audience see it)

So should this change?
Should we take the sexual angle out of it so that they can be performed with male assistants?

...and what about Female magicians? Should they/do they keep the sexual angle in but reverse it or do they just drop the sexual angle?

...And yes, Gay magicians! (We don't have any problems with that in England) There must be as many Gay magicians in magic as there are in society, so it's a question of whether they choose to use this in their act.
A Gay magician can "act" straight and have sexual looking illusions in their act involving females.
A Gay magician can have male and female assistants and not have any sexual angle in the show.
A Gay magician can of course perform openly Gay shows with male assistants!
(All of the above equally applies to lesbian females as well!)

This topic has so many angles and branches and a very interesting one it is.

I'd especially like to hear from female magicians and get their ideas and views on how they play it.

...and of course, any gay magicians out there: How do you approach this subject?

Message: Posted by: davetolomy (Nov 11, 2005 06:45AM)
[quote](All of the above equally applies to lesbian females as well!) [/quote]

:D I'd watch!
Message: Posted by: Jared Sherlock (Nov 15, 2005 07:28PM)
"They'll be muscular"

Wow let us know how they fit into the Zig Zag!

Message: Posted by: Angela (Dec 23, 2005 11:47AM)
Male assistants... I say yes. I've worked with them! Also, Andre Kole does a nice bit where he turns a male into a female. If it makes sense in your show, do it! :)
Message: Posted by: Al Angello (Jun 11, 2006 03:25PM)
The magic of Helene is one of most successful magic acts in the Philadelphia area, and Helene has used her husband as her lovely assistant for at least 20 years.
Al Angello
Message: Posted by: JackScratch (Jun 11, 2006 05:29PM)
Your audience needs to have the final say. The fact that they are men should make little or no difference. The question is how you use them. The audience either will or will not be entertained by this aproach. I wouldn't begin to say which it will or should be.
Message: Posted by: justmatt (Jul 24, 2006 06:23PM)
I think its a great idea! Like many posts before me....it's all about the entertainment! If its done well, the audiences these days will not care about who is in the box!(Look at how much conversation is going on about Chris Angel sawing himself in half (with the camera trick...but that's ANOTHER thread! LOL!).

I know that I created a Yahoo group called "Male Assistants in Magic". Whether people agree with the idea or not...it is a strong group with a lot of participation.....Strangely enough..many of the men who "volunteer" to be an assistant or talk about it are straight.....It just doesn't matter about the sexual orientation. Again, if people like the presentation, they will watch! Just my two cents! :)
Message: Posted by: martinthepirate (Mar 27, 2007 08:11AM)
I have been intrigued by the idea of using male assistants in illusions ever since I saw the host of a children's tv-show getting sawed in half many years ago. I just love the idea of a guy taking the role of the damsel in distress, and if that guy really is an "eye catcher" and "muscular", that's even better...;)
Message: Posted by: mattmccoy (Sep 23, 2007 06:26PM)
Jeff Hobson's entire show, persona, and act is played by a stereotypical gay character. The funny part, he isn't. He's married with kids. Boy, he sure knows how to bring down the house. Just make sure "you" feel comfortable on stage and the audience will respect and appreciate whatever you do.

Message: Posted by: Lothar (Apr 3, 2008 04:32PM)
I have read that Hobson did a show where his opening joke was: "Anybody in the audience gay?" One raised his hand. Jeff took out a toy gun and shot him. Then he said, "Anyone else?"

Is this true???
Message: Posted by: topandball (Apr 4, 2008 02:09AM)
I just saw David Copperfield's show tonight. First thing I want to say is, "Go see it!" It's REALLY fantastic. Second, most of his assistants on stage were men. He didn't do tricks "to" them; they functioned more like stagehands, you could say. They had some VERY funny bits they did, too. Really entertaining.
Message: Posted by: Lothar (Jun 19, 2008 10:26PM)
Here is a great use of a male assistant in the slicer. Great set-up. Great performance.

Message: Posted by: Angel Freire (Jul 1, 2008 07:04PM)
Lothar , no matter what other magicians think ,if your audience enjoys the show and it works for you then use male assistants. Some magicians don't use assistants at all.In the end your audience is coming to see you not the assistants. If it fits your show and your style use it.
Message: Posted by: Nell (Jul 5, 2008 10:51AM)
Live magic at the end of the day is about theatre. If you play your cards right, are well prepared, and have an entertaining show, you'll be successful no matter what sex is helping out. As already stated by many, this is for your audience, not your fellow magicians.

So, if you have a unique idea, by all means, work with it! It will always fare better than the same old clap-trap we see day in and day out...
Message: Posted by: boynextdoor (Oct 18, 2008 01:23AM)
So, I remember asking about being a male assistant years ago. I still want to be a male assistant (At least for a while), and while trying to find stuff out I joined a yahoo group for male assistants. Wow... SOOOOOOO not what I was looking for, if you catch my drift.
Message: Posted by: justmatt (Oct 18, 2008 11:47AM)
I'm VERY confused by your posting Alex! that's MY yahoo group you are talking about and you seemed to enjoy it VERY much (if you catch MY drift!)
Message: Posted by: boynextdoor (Oct 18, 2008 04:44PM)
I thought it was gonna be more like a bunch of help wanted ads. You know?

I mean, I know I'm not bursting with professional experience as a helper, but I was expecting it to be mostly magicians and assistants talking about business stuff. Even if it's less assistant and more good natured box mover who has to clean up messes and make excuses and be the one to say thank you when the magician's in a hurry, I just wanna do something.
Message: Posted by: Mary Jane (Oct 23, 2008 06:31AM)
In terms of the idea of female magicians using male volunteers/assistants, I've recently watched Oz magicians Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster and there are clips of her cutting a bloke in half (might be Tim I can't tell). I think they are partners I don't know them so well but its pretty cool seeing the reversal of gender roles. She looks pretty good with a chainsaw.
Message: Posted by: satcom (Oct 23, 2008 07:29AM)
Make sure you make him wear something nice ;). I almost feel sad for him already.
Message: Posted by: Tim Ellis (Oct 23, 2008 05:13PM)
Yep, it's me she's slicing through!


And she LOVES doing that trick! (You should ask her about the time the chain came off the saw while she was cutting through me during a show! Or the time she used a client's chainsaw and sliced through the metal table causing red hot sparks to burn through my clothes! She LOVES doing that trick!)

On a side note, I was an assistant to Terry Dansic back in 1981 in 'Star Magic Show'. I played his "apprentice" and was Zig Zagged among many other things.

Also, I had Michael Boyd play my assistant in a show called 'Pure Magic', and he played a role that was sort of like my butler rather than my assistant.

I think it's very important that your assistant, whether male of female, has a character or at least some kind of identity that takes them beyond the standard two dimensional helper.
Message: Posted by: justmatt (Oct 24, 2008 10:38PM)
Any video of the zigzag performance available, Tim? Would love to see it!! :)
Message: Posted by: Tim Ellis (Oct 25, 2008 04:27PM)
LOL! Yes, some video exists... but it hasn't been transferred onto the net yet... hopefully it won't be either!!! LOL
Message: Posted by: escapologist2001 (Jul 14, 2010 01:02PM)
I've just come across this thread - should have spotted it years ago.

I use male assistants for the sawing in half routine. Do people think I'm gay? They may well do. If they do, they're right. I am.

Most of the acts I do are at gay venues - private parties cabarets etc, and it's quite nice to get a nice guy from the audience and perform the jig-saw illusion on him.

There's already been mention of the sexual aspect of magic - usually a handsome male magician and a beautiful female assistant. Why shouldn't there be a gay equivalent? Or lesbian equivalent come to that ????

Lothar, did you ever get your guy zig-zagged?

Message: Posted by: KerryJK (May 1, 2011 11:40AM)
A plot I've worked on using my Harbin sawing involves sawing a guy based on a misprint. I get two volunteers up, one girl, one guy, making a big build-up to them assisting with the classic illusion of Sawing A Lady In Half. The equipment is unveiled, along with a flamboyant painted sign announcing "Sawing a laddy in half".

Cue much embarrassment, hand wringing and lines about the guy who painted the sign ("I spelt it out to him.."), before taking it as a cue to have the girl help saw the guy in half instead of the more traditional way round.

I haven't performed this enough yet to comment on how it is received, but it also has the benefit of being easily adapted on the fly, should the prevailing wind make sawing the better option on a particular occasion.
Message: Posted by: Lothar (May 20, 2012 07:38PM)
I recorded a performance of my zig zag.

Message: Posted by: Lothar (Jun 13, 2012 09:39PM)
I gotta get back on my soapbox-

I just saw the latest episode of Australia's Got Talent- after searching for 3 hours. (The important thing is that I found it.) I only watched it for "Merlin award winner" Cosentino. He uses his brothers in his illusions, which makes him one of my favorites. Anyway- the bumper ad AGT runs right before Cos' segment shows him saying "This is a dangerous stunt I have never done here before." He ends up performing the broom levitation , with his red head female assistant. This is a guy known (by me) for creativity, great escapes, and complete originality. I really hope he keeps illusions in his act. He has an upcoming TV special that will be mostly street magic and dancing with his red head.

I guess it's up to me to carry the torch. My thin model sawing is my newest illusion. it's big enough for 5'8"- 6'0" and made of solid steel. I'm thinking the background song may be "Iron Lung" by the band Big Pig, lol.
Message: Posted by: escapologist2001 (Jun 15, 2012 10:55AM)
Unfortunately your youtube link is blocked in the UK :-(

Message: Posted by: Lothar (Jun 15, 2012 10:58AM)
Try this one: (I might need to "Friend" in order for you to see it.)


Sorry for the rant. I should lay off the O'Douls.
Message: Posted by: escapologist2001 (Jun 17, 2012 03:58PM)
No, can't see that page either :-(

But feel free to add me as a friend - Robin Fox
Message: Posted by: Steve_Mollett (Aug 28, 2015 07:55PM)
I primarily perform as an escape artist. When I did nightclub gigs in the late 70s, my assistant (called my 'stage manager') was a burly guy who doubled as a bodyguard if needed.