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Bill Palmer
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There has been a huge hue and cry over Penn and Teller's "exposure" of the cups and balls on "Mindfreak." From the responses to the exposure and various comments about it, I have come to the conclusion that many of us do not know the difference between exposure and teaching.

There are also many of us who do not know the difference between what is legal and what is ethical.

In almost every presentation I have made against exposure, I have made a clear distinction between exposure and teaching. Sometimes people fail to see or comprehend it.

A book on the shelf in a library does not expose anything until someone opens it and reads it.

When you purchase a DVD, a video or a book on line or in a shop, it's not exposure.

When you go to a magic lecture, the material that is being taught is not exposure.

When you take a magic lesson or give a magic lesson in exchange for something tangible or intangible, it's not exposure.

When you tune in to "Mindfreak" to watch magic and there are Penn and Teller doing their C&B routine, that's exposure.

So, what's the difference?

Each of the above, except the last one, involves a transaction. You are "purchasing" the knowledge.

In the library, you have to find the book, determine that it has the information you need, and then read it. The search is the transaction.

When you purchase a DVD, Video or book, the purchase is the transaction.

Joining a magic club and/or paying for the lecture is a transaction.

Taking or giving a magic lesson in exchange for other knowledge, money or services is a transaction.

Having exposure thrust in your face is non-transactional.

It's not prostitution. It's how our art survives. As magicians, we learned from someone when we were beginning. Most of us are still learning. We teach those whom we can help. But we do need to set boundaries. The neighbor's Doberman does not need to know how to do a Diagonal Palm Shift. He can't do it anyway, because he has no thumbs. He can't appreciate it, because he doesn't know one card from another, except maybe by smell.

The transactions should be conducted on a need to know basis.

The transactions become problematic when the "teacher" does not have the right to share the material with the student. For example, when you go to eBay, purchase a download of "All of David Blaine's Magic for $4.95," that's not a legitimate transaction. That's buying hot merchandise.

I'm just surprised that with all of the "knowledgeable" magicians on this forum, so many are crying foul at an exposure that has been going on for more than two decades.

I don't condone it.

But I know there isn't Jack Schmidt I can do about it.

After all, they have broken no laws. The routine they are "exposing" is their own, really. Most of us can't reconstruct it from seeing it one time. Seeing it several times may make it easier to comprehend. It's almost like a "hand and cup ballet."

Wakeup call! There is no law against exposing magic. The only thing you can do to a magician who exposes a piece of magic is to kick him out of the magic clubs. If he isn't a member, then tough cookies. If you call him names because he is an exposer, he may be able to sue you, especially if what you call him is slanderous or libelous.

The only possible exception I see to this is if an exposer seriously impacted your ability to earn a living with magic. If you could prove damages, then you might be able to recover them, but it's doubtful.

Imagine this scenario:

"Your Honor, these Las Vegas stars exposed the cups and balls on Mindfreak and now I have had several birthday party shows cancel. (sniff)"

"Do you do the cups and balls for children's birthday party shows?"


"Get out of here! Case dismissed!"

Friends, they have been doing this routine for 25 years. Does Gazzo have any problems making money with the cups and balls? No.

Don't waste your time trying to fight Penn and Teller.

"The Swatter"

Founder of CODBAMMC

My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."
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