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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Trouble in the Magic Circle BBC Radio 4 Programme. Interview with Bill Palmer (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

BlackShadow
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The programme itself was nothing remarkable. It was more a "This is where we are" type of affair than "where are we going?"

If you missed it, you can listen on the internet:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/progs/listenagain.shtml

I thought the most revealing section was where Jeremy Vine interviews Bill Palmer:

Bill Palmer explains how if someone bought something for £20 they would be less likely to share it with their friends because of the amount of money involved.

Jeremy says: (and I'm paraphrasing) "You're not prepared to give secrets away but you will sell them. Isn't there something wrong there. You see for example, if I say I'm a very secretive guy, I don't believe anybody should know anything, any gossip in the office or intimate details of my friend's lives and someone says "OK, understood, but will you sell them to me for a pound" and I say "Sure, of course I will."

Bill Palmer "Aha"

Jeremy Vine "There's no sense in that."

Bill Palmer "No there isn't, but I don't tell people anything for a pound."

(Interview cut)

Jeremy Vine (In commentary mode) "I never managed to get a more satisfactory answer from anyone in the Magic Circle..."

The implication here is that magicians in the circle don't mind making money out of secrets. It's not the principle that matters, it's the greed of a trade organisation.

That was how the programme left me thinking. I wonder if the way the interview was presented was fair. It seemed to be cut in mid flow.
Bill Palmer
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It definitely was heavily edited. I haven't listened to it yet, but I have gotten a lot of positive feedback on it from other members of the Magic Circle, including Alan Shaxon, himself.

I have tried to listen to the program, but the link I have to it required Real Player, and mine seems to be on the fritz.

I was interviewed for about 45 minutes, so you can imagine how much was actually cut.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Jolyon_Jenkins
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Bill - I will send you a CD of the programme and I hope you will not think you were unfairly edited. You were actually interviewed for 19 minutes. Of course all documentaries edit interviews heavily, and no one would be flattered by broadcasting a verbatim transcript of the entire proceedings.

I cut the interview where I did because we essentially were going round in circles and there was nothing to be gained from repetition.

Of course, the documentary was made for laymen, not magicians, and naturally magicians will have found a lot of it familiar - after all, these debates have been taking place for more than a century. It was meant to be entertaining as well as informative.

Jolyon Jenkins
Producer, Trouble in the Magic Circle
Jonathan Townsend
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Thanks for making that BBC special happen.
It was a treat to hear directly from folks like Shaxon and Palmer.
Also a treat to hear that Robert Harbin story.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Bill Palmer
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I finally got to hear the programme as it was broadcast.

All of us at the Magic Circle felt that most of the members came across well.

I understand what Lenahan and Pradier said, but when you get into the Inner Circle, most of those fellows are either professionals or retired professionals.

For example, you have guys like Bobby Bernard, Terry Seabrooke, John Wade, Paul Daniels, and a host of other folks who I would not categorize as grandfathers, plumbers, lawyers and doctors who are standing around doing card tricks for each other.

I mentioned that the difference between teaching and exposing is transactional. I've stated fairly much the same thing here on the Magic Café in fairly much the same words.

The transaction may involve money, services or simply an indication that a person is going to study.

Slydini's relationship with Jim Cellini is a perfect example of the latter. Their relationship was one of almost the father that Jim never had and the son that Slydini wished to have.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Partizan
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First of all, respect to Bill.


Look at it like this.
The public now expects to see how it was done, why?

Every film and DVD has a section exposing how the movie magic was created. Laymen get too see every little detail of how this magic was thought of, written, and executed.
People now expect this type of package with any fantasy item given too them.
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
Bill Palmer
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Thanks.

BTW, Jolyon Jenkins is right. The actual taping was about 19 minutes. However, it took longer than that, because we had some interference from outside sounds, and whe had to find a place to do the work,

I will say this. They are not easy interviewers, but I felt confident that I could defend my postition and that of the Magic Circle.

I have received many supportive e-mails from my friends across the pond.

Regarding the exposure of special effects:

James Drury "The Virginian" lives in Houston, and is one of my friends and fans. The first time I met him, I was performing walkaround at a grand opening of a bank. I did a couple of routines for him and he said, "I never want to know how any of this is done. The movie business is giving away too many secrets, and it is making things dangerous for us."

He continued, "The folks at Universal told me that they were going to open an amusement part to show people how the effects were done. I asked them why they were going to do that. They said it would make a lot of money. I told them, 'Why don't you just open a w****house? At least the money you made would be honest.' "

Then he added this: "When we reveal the secrets, we have to work much harder to be convincing. This just cost me a close friend, Vic Morrow. We were in Blackboard Jungle together. He was killed along with a couple of children while they were filming special effects for the Twilight Zone movie."

That hit me hard. Nowadays, more is being done with CGI scripting, and Vic Morrow's death is one reason that insurance companies won't let some actors do their own stunts. But it gives one pause.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Jolyon_Jenkins
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Absolutely - we dragged you round half the ghastly Royal National Hotel looking for somewhere quiet enough to record. We never quite succeeded. The acoustic for Jim Steinmeyer and Angelo Carbone was even worse. London was buzzing with helicopters that week because of the bombings. Once the interview started it was 19 minutes. I know that recording quite well because unfortunately the sound file became corrupted by my equipment and eventually I had to send it off to engineers in Germany to get them to recover it, which they did, but only after a week. So it was a hard-won bit of audio.
Bill Palmer
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BTW, Jolyon, thanks for the opportunity. I do appreciate it.

I'm reasonably certain that the fellows at the Magic Circle -- pros, amateurs, magicians, lawyers and plumbers alike -- are pleased with the results.

I don't know if Jim mentioned this in his interview, but David Devant's ouster from the Magic Circle was for a period of one year.

The Magic Circle has been very inflexible about exposure. One of the provisos of the charter is that there is a minimum price that may be charged for a book that is written for the public. Patrick Page wrote a book a few years back that was intended to be published at a price well above the minimum. However, the publisher went bankrupt and the new purchaser sold the book at a very low price. Many of the members felt that when Patrick was expelled from the Magic Circle over this, that it was unfair. However, a year later, he was readmitted.

The Magic Circle is not a trade union. It is the equivalent of the International Brotherhood of Magicians or the Society of American Magicians. But there is prestige among parts of the magic community that is associated with the Magic Circle. There will always be differences of opinion among the members, but by and large, they try to keep standards up and keep things secret.

So we do what we can.
"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Richard Evans
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I thoroughly enjoyed the programme: it was indeed entertaining and informative (mission accomplished BBC).

Richard
I have six locks on my door all in a row. When I go out, I only lock every other one. I figure no matter how long somebody stands there picking the locks, they are always locking three. Elayne Boosler
Partizan
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Jolyon, so you are recording straight to a digital file? I would have thought you would use a DAT for recording as you eliminate the problem you had with corruption.
There a few guys in the UK who can repair audio files, you might have gotten a faster turnaround with one of them.
Anyway, well done for a nice article.

I don't belong to the MC, I will never belong to the MC. I was twice given the opportunity and declined.
For me the MC is a network of magicians with deputy badges, it is a back patting and ego rubbing celebration of secrecy.

As for exposing. Why would any magician want to expose and thus throw away any of their material. The only thing that makes you a magician is that most other people are not.
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
Jolyon_Jenkins
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We stopped using DATs some while ago. They had their own problems, believe me - I have lost DAT recordings thanks to faulty equipment.
We now use digital Nagras. The problem, it turned out, was not with the Nagra but with the card reader I was using to transfer the material to the editing computer. However at the time we thought the Nagra was at fault and so the BBC sent it to Nagra to deal with; they sent it to Germany. In the normal run of events I would have used the BBC's own world-class expertise.

Glad you liked the prog - and Richard too, thanks.
Partizan
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I have had to recover over 20 DATS so I can see why you avoid them, it was more a question of going to permanant media.

The Nagra-D is a fine piece of engineering, I have had the pleasure of using one to load into INDAW when I was editing.

Don't trust the Beeb techies! They are in league with the devil himself!!!
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
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