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Chris Miller
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I don't believe it is the quality (or lack thereof) of magicians which makes magic into a niche art. I think the problem is two-fold: 1) From the point of view of artisitic suppliers and artistic schools, the need for secrecy (real or perceived) makes providing magic supplies, books, and instruction a bad idea for purely economic reasons. People get interested in magic, love the flow of beginner-level information, and then, the flow stops or slows down after they have developed a certain proficiency. The flow of advanced information then only happens in hidden circles, and while this advanced view of the art might garner respect from the performing arts community, it is not made visible to them. 2) From the point of view of the general community, and the entertainment that they choose, I think they view magicians in three general categories: The large venue illusionsts, such as David Copperfield, the school, auditorium, and birthday performer, and the hack hobbyist. (I say this at risk, since I am a hobbyist, but hopefully not a hack). One is impressive, but rarely in town. The second is polished but often corny or unoriginal. The third is funny perhaps, but often embarrassing. There is a fourth category, which many could be the missing link, and this is the quality close-up magician. Unfortunately, I do not believe the general public sees enough of this type of magician. Unfortunately, most people may only see this type of magician perform this type of magic between ordering and the cheese sticks arriving. I wish there were more close-up parlor shows. Intimate affairs. I wish these were more available to the public, but they are not. Probably has to do with economics again. Smile

Chris
saxmangeoff
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Quote:
On 2005-10-31 07:49, Andini wrote:
Can you imagine table-hopping singers (or jugglers for that matter)?


Yep.

Have you never been to a restaurant with strolling musicians?

(I'll grant you the jugglers though. Hard to imagine that one.)

Geoff
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George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2005-11-01 11:15, Magical_Mystifier wrote:
From the point of view of the general community, and the entertainment that they choose, I think they view magicians in three general categories: The large venue illusionsts, such as David Copperfield, the school, auditorium, and birthday performer, and the hack hobbyist.

I'm not sure I agree with this the way you've put it. From what I've seen, the general public tends to view magicians like any other entertainers:

a) The big stars, such as DC and Penn & Teller.
b) The local performers.
c) The amateurs and hobbyists.

This is no different from the way we perceive, say, musicians. There are the stars, such as Yo-Yo Ma, Perlman, and so forth. Then there are the people who perform at local clubs and venues, including the harpist and pianist at the high-end restaurants, and the organist at church. And then there's Uncle Bill, who plays the piano now and then, and little Johnny, who plays the guitar or the drums as a hobby.

We expect that the big stars are full-time professionals making the big money. That's what we've been conditioned to expect. We also expect that the local performers work part-time at it and usually have a day job; some local musicians teach music and others have an unrelated job. Then we expect that the hobbyists are into playing part-time, don't usually perform for money, and are nowhere near as polished as the full-time or part-time pros.

Sports are the same way. The Rookie, with Dennis Quaid, is a wonderful movie (based on fact) about a high-school science teacher and baseball coach who was convinced by his team to follow his dream and try out for the big leagues. He made it, played for a year, and went back to teaching. He went from being a guy who coached ball in his spare time, to a guy who played in the minors, to a guy who finally pitched in the majors. He went from one step to the next, and he knew what the expectations were at each step.

From what I've read in the Café over the past couple of years, I'm getting a distinct impression that people interested in magic (those we tend to refer to as "magicians") have a far bigger problem accepting that magic can be a perfectly acceptable hobby, than those we call the "general public."
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kregg
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Magic started off for everyone, from superstar to collector, as a hobby. Osborn or Steinmeyer's name don't come up at a cocktail partys. But, when a "name" magician appears on TV my friends don't ask what skill level I perform. They only want me to tell them how a particular trick was done, because "he (I do) does magic."
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Chris Miller
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Quote:
On 2005-11-01 14:50, George Ledo wrote:
I'm not sure I agree with this the way you've put it. From what I've seen, the general public tends to view magicians like any other entertainers:

a) The big stars, such as DC and Penn & Teller.
b) The local performers.
c) The amateurs and hobbyists.

Hi George,

I'm not so sure we completely disagree. There seems to be no issue as to lumping the big stars together. What you call local performers, I do not see as different from the school and auditorium performers I've called out. My fourth category, the category which encompasses the quality close-up performer would be under the local performers on your list. Your third category is amateurs and hobbyists. Mine was the hack hobbyist. Yes, I am leaving out the hobbyists who are highly skilled or at least studious, but who do not perform outside of their close circles. I don't believe these folks are part of the general public's purvue of magic, since they are private practitioners. I was trying to address the question brought up in this thread, of why magic seems to be a niche entertainment. To do this, I was only trying to count the type of magicians the public would see. So, on one side, I think people know of the big stars, but they are viewed as a completely separate rarity from all other types of magicians. Of the local performers, I think people are jaded from the school/birthday/auditorium type of performances. The hobbyists/amateurs who perform when not properly ready don't help... To my mind, the missing link is the quality close-up worker (amateur/partime/pro). People just don't see enough of this type of amazing close-up magic, and I think this gap is a major contributor to the fact that magic is considered a niche art. Maybe there are those who dabble in the magic arts who think it is an unacceptable hobby (Too bad for them), but whether this is true or not, I don't think it answers the question being posed about the general public's perception.

Chris
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2005-11-01 16:47, kregg wrote:
Magic started off for everyone, from superstar to collector, as a hobby. Osborn or Steinmeyer's name don't come up at a cocktail partys. But, when a "name" magician appears on TV my friends don't ask what skill level I perform. They only want me to tell them how a particular trick was done, because "he (I do) does magic."



This is not true. Brick Tilley started off as a performer. He was an actor who decided to become a magician. He went right into it.

Okito started as a professional. And there are several other descendants of famous magicians who did as well.

They are definitely in a very small minority, but you can't make a blanket statement like "every magician started as a hobbyist." It just isn't so.

But on to the original question -- why don't you see more magic in the newspaper listings, etc. It's very simple. Other performers advertise. Your local theatrical group advertises. So do your local movies. So does everyone else. Why shouldn't magicians. You want people to come to your shows. Advertise.

Even people who run restaurants don't catch on to this. They figure that if they hire a magician with a following, suddenly all his clients will show up to see him the first day he is there. Charles Greene III had an answer for this. He had a regular list he sent out by mail. It had his schedule on it, so if you were one of his fans you knew where he would be appearing.

Regarding the lack of degrees for magicians -- Doug Henning got one from a university in Canada. He proved that magic is a performing art. You can get a degree in theatre. That will certainly help you along the road.
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kregg
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Hey Bill, why don't you say what you mean?
Not to diminish your point, perhaps I should have said, "Every magician I've known..."
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Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2005-10-30 19:44, MagicalArtist wrote:
The weekend section of my local paper lists the entertainments that are going on throughout the region over the next few days. I can't recall the last time I have seen a magician mentioned or profiled in this section. I once posted a question on the Café about magicians that members have seen perform (outside of Las Vegas, a magic convention, television, or a local magic meeting). No one could name anybody. When I was at college, the entertainment committee organized weekly entertainments for the students. They never thought to hire a magician (fortunately, they were open to suggestions and I recommended one). My question is, why is magic, an entertainment that is thousands of years old, still such a rarity and regarded as sort of a "niche" entertainment? Is it "the presence of so many bad magicians out there?" And why have the good magicians not counteracted the bad ones?


I'm going to get more specific about this. I'm sure that the basic problem is one of communication between local media and the people who are sponsoring the shows. If you look in any newspaper, the things that get reviewed and mentioned in the free columns and the "calendar" sections fall into three categories:

1) Advertisers.
2) Charitable organizations.
3) Other private groups.

Each of these does one thing that the people who get no "ink" do not do. They make sure that information about their events gets sent to the people at the newspaper.

When David Copperfield is on the road, the people who sponsor his appearances will purchase a massive amount of advertising. This guarantees that the newspaper will put his show in the calendar. Local clubs and restaurants that feature magic and advertise in the paper will get similar favors. In fact, it is not unusual for a newspaper to give some kind of review or notice other than the mention in the calendar section when a client purchases advertising. In some cases, the freebies will be on a twofer basis. You get two column inches of advertising for each one you pay for -- one in the ad and one in the column that relates to it.

Charitable organizations sometimes purchase ad space. More often, they send out press releases. Newspapers use these. If you send out a press release, keep it short and simple. Expect to see it published in the paper with someone else's name on it. That's really better than having your own name on a "brag" piece, anyway.

The other groups, non charitable, etc., will also send out press releases. They will be used on a basis of whatever is appropriate for the space available when the other groups are taken care of.

In short -- the people who write these event calendars don't seek out the material they put in them. They put in the information that is sent to them.

If you have a show coming up, and it is open to the public, send a note to the newspaper and see what happens. All it will cost you is a stamp. And often, you can do it by e-mail.

This falls under the general category of publicity.
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Fescue
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Perhaps the profound suspension of belief and sense of astonishment that can be produced by a magician is intimdating for some people, for different reasons.
kregg
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Bill,
I agree with your comments regarding advertising. Magician's, it seems, (unless they are dating super models or get devoured by tigers ) rarely get tabloid or periodical coverage.
When David Copperfield comes to the Fox Theater, I never find out until the day he's in town. Unlike rock concerts, the radio coverage is slim to none, I scan the news paper even more so with the internet and the phone poles have more lost cat signs. Magician's need to canvas the market better if they want people to make plans to see their show.
Of our contemporaries Criss Angel seems to have a pretty good marketing campaign, I wonder how much advance I'd see if he came to Atlanta?
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Bill Palmer
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I have a feeling that this is due to a complete lack of advertising in local media. I wonder who is sponsoring his apperances. The last couple of times he was here, Society for the Performing Arts was the sponsor. They had ads in the papers for a month ahead of time.

Sometimes sponsors of shows don't have a clue as to how to get people into a theater.

If you had Alex Baldwin appearing in a one man show, he wouldn't draw anything unless someone advertised it.
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tommy
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I have not seen a magician’s poster for years. I used to see many when I was a kid but then did live next door to a theatre.

You can get digital printing done now at some printers in short runs which makes it cheap. The quality is as good as litho, which was expensive and only long runs made it viable for colour printing.
Commercial Digital Printing is not like what you might print on your inkjet the machine they use can cost a million bucks. http://www.victorptg.com/body_digital_press.php that sort of thing.
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Well in Nashville, the Music City Magic guys have completely changed the media's coverage. We have our OWN section in the weekly papers just to cover the magic events we are producing in town, and our performers appear on the local news shows regularly. Some day I'll write a book or article about how to do it. Real, practical stuff. it can be done. And I didn't have to get Dave Dee's course to figure it ou!
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George Ledo
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Quote:
On 2005-11-05 23:24, Bill Palmer wrote:
In short -- the people who write these event calendars don't seek out the material they put in them. They put in the information that is sent to them.

If you have a show coming up, and it is open to the public, send a note to the newspaper and see what happens. All it will cost you is a stamp. And often, you can do it by e-mail.

This falls under the general category of publicity.

Awwwww, gee whiz, Bill... are you saying that magicians have to play by the same rules as any other entertainers? Smile
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Bill Palmer
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Yep! And people who sell soap, and cars and all that other stuff that gets written up.

Now if you want a free write-up without doing anything like that, you can do what a former president of one of our clubs did. He impersonated a police officer. He got a lot of publicity from that.

Ironically, he had just written a column in our newsletter about dressing properly. I wonder what kind of cufflinks go with orange prison overalls.

Fortunately, they did not mention he was a magician.
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drwilson
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Bill is right about newspaper coverage.

For the local newspapers here, if you write a nice article that matches the length and style of their other articles, you can email it to them with a picture and they will just run it. It's easier for them than writing an article. The calendar sections typically have a picture with a caption over the week's events. If you send them an interesting picture with a properly written caption that doesn't require any writing or editing on their part, you will often "win" the spot on the calendar page. If your picture is really good, they put it on the front page in the left-column "index" to the paper's features.

A reasonable digital camera is all that is necessary to produce color pictures at newspaper resolution. If you have a few extra lights and some good backdrops (I use my sideshow banners or a plain drape), you can take photos that are better than any they are likely to get that week. It also helps to have a clear story that the picture tells, with a hook to the season or some local interest.

None of this is rocket science. It is all covered well in any of several books on publicity for magicians.

Then, of course, there is the publicity stunt, which in a small market can be big news.

Yours,

Paul
RandyStewart
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Has it caught on yet?......
Bill Palmer
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No. Magic died in 1947 right after all the magicians got back from the army. It never picked up any interest, and is only practiced by people who have no social life.
"The Swatter"

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saxmangeoff
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It lasted that long? I thought it died on October 31, 1926.....

Geoff
"You must practice your material until it becomes boring, then practice it until it becomes beautiful." -- Bill Palmer
George Ledo
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I always thought it started dying a slow death around the early 30's, when the world continued moving forward but magicians kept doing stuff the exact same way. Imagine a pop singer today dressing in the style of twenty years ago, singing twenty-year-old songs, and using staging conventions from the 80's.

From the photos I've seen in the magic history books, going to see a magic show in the 40's must have been like entering a time warp.

Okay, okay, I know there's the Dead and the Stones and a couple of others, and we can certainly discuss why they kept their old charm even twenty years later. Maybe we can learn something from it.
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