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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Grand illusion » » Zig Zag Girl Controversy Revisited (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Christopher Starr
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Just got my March 2009 issue of Magic Magazine, and featured is an article titled, "The American Zig Zag Scandal" by Mike Caveney.

What a great account of the apparent piracy of Harbin's great illusion, and how it later became the most copied illusion of all time. Required reading for you illusionists here!

Chris
Senor Rai
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I can't believe that one year I went to see a young magician. He did the ZigZag, and the entire prop was painted white! I could not believe it, he should have just opened the doors to expose it! Very sad, that this guy didn't have someone to tell him, I guess he thought he knew it all, I never see a amateur illusion show any more! Paul Osborne (the genius) has so many great new ideas, in all his books and plans that anyone with talent can adopt, but no, they all go for what they saw last, and what worked for someone else! Read the old illusions books, and adapt the tricks for today!
Moxahalla
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While awaiting my MAGIC magazine. I assume that Jim Sommers was the root-cause of the "Zig-Zag Controversy??--as he publicly performed it in 1968 at a national magic convention (Abbott's?), without any permission from Harbin.
magicbob116
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Zig Zag Girl was such a milestone that it's not only been copied as a stage illusion, but with coke cans, rocky raccoon, playing cards, and there are even dollar store kid's magic tricks with a pencil or piece of rope that are based on Zig Zag.

In these examples, however, I liken it more to "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery." In most of these cases, the method bears no resemblance to the original illusion. The only similarity is the "theme" of the middle being pulled out.

I, myself, "copied" Harbin's illusion (to be more accurate, I was inspired to develop an improved version of the Zig Zag playing card: www.magicnook.com/magicbob/IHCT1-02The_Zig_Zag_Queen and many other famous stage illusions in The "I Hate Card Tricks" Book of Card Tricks and The "I STILL Hate Card Tricks" Book of Card Tricks.
B. Robert Pulver

The "I Hate Card Tricks!" Book of Card Tricks Vol. 1, 2, and 3
Kards for Kids
Sticky Situations
Sleightly Wacky
http://www.magicnook.com/magicbob
bp
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ENGLAND
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The Magic circle has just had a Harbin weekend with the help of Paul Kieve.

Paul has a great magic mind http://www.stageillusion.com

Some of his client list
Sam Mendes - Theatre & Film Director
Andrew Lloyd Webber - Composer
Sade - Singer
Trevor Nunn - Theatre Director
Cameron Mackintosh - Producer
David Copperfield - Illusionist
Gillian Lynne CBE - Choreographer
Arlene Phillips - Choreographer
Sir Peter Hall - Theatre Director
Alfonso Cuaron - Film director
Leslie Bricusse - Composer
Carl Davies - Composer
Daniel Radcliffe - Actor
Richard Eyre - Theatre & Film director
Matthew Warchus - Theatre director
Improbable Theatre
Orlan - Performance artist
Robert Cohan CBE - Choreographer
Ant & Dec - Presenters
Kenneth Brannagh - Actor
Robin Cousins OBE - Ice Skater & Choreographer
HRH Prince Edward CVO
Ted Hughes - Poet & Writer
Tom Stoppard -
Chezaday
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A very interesting article to say the least. I know Mr. Sommers personally and consider him a good friend. He's still tinkering in his shop. After all he's almost 80.

Last time I stopped by for a visit I mentioned the story about the Thin Saw that was in the "Linking Ring." He told me his side of the story as he remembers it. He does like to chat.

Sommers is still very sharp, even after all these years. He's always been great to me. I do remember hearing the story about the Zig Zag from years ago. Maybe he can fill me in on a few of the details. Inquiring minds want to know.

Steve
Senor Rai
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That was great Steve, thank you for standing up to a fellow performer!
Chezaday
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I would do the same for you ...

Jim is a good guy with a good heart. I'm sure curiosity got the best of him when he saw a photo of this illusion. As a builder this may have simply been a challenge for him to construct. Of course it wasn't the right thing to do but, who knows what he was thinking at the time.

In the article he did come clean in a letter submitted to the magic fraternity. From what I just read, they were trying to drag Jay Marshall into the controversy. Sure enough, Jim took all the blame and made sure none was directed towards his good friend Jay.

Of course it was a different time then, correspondence was through letters and the Internet would have been science fiction. Hopefully some good came out of the situation and we can all learn a little something.

Steve
adam christopher
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But alas haven't magi been stealing from each other since the beginning of time? We are the second oldest profession in the world. lol

AC
Father Photius
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It was indeed a facinating article, and I think handled the topic of the controversy tastefully. As far as magic being the second oldest profession, didn't the membership of the oldest turn "tricks"?
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
Jack Murray
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Quote:
On 2009-02-27 20:27, Chezaday wrote:
I would do the same for you ...

Jim is a good guy with a good heart. I'm sure curiosity got the best of him when he saw a photo of this illusion. As a builder this may have simply been a challenge for him to construct. Of course it wasn't the right thing to do but, who knows what he was thinking at the time.

In the article he did come clean in a letter submitted to the magic fraternity. From what I just read, they were trying to drag Jay Marshall into the controversy. Sure enough, Jim took all the blame and made sure none was directed towards his good friend Jay.

Of course it was a different time then, correspondence was through letters and the Internet would have been science fiction. Hopefully some good came out of the situation and we can all learn a little something.

Steve




Maybe this is something we all here on the Café should remember the next time the "rip-off" accusation is so carelessly thrown around.

Jack
Senor Rai
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Adam is right, in the past the shows of Blackstone, Dante, Thurston,Carter etc,etc. almost all did the same illusions, but there was no television or internet, so really no one knew unless they saw the shows, Look how Dante ripped of Servais LeRoy by patenting the Asrah, when LeRoy invented it. The Sawing that Selbit invented, and Goldin patented it (Although he did improve on it ) I have an orginal newpaper clipping of the lawsuit that followed that. This has been going on for years and years, sad to say. They all used to sneak in a catch the show and the copy them, look at the Kellar Princess Karnac (Still being used!) But I guess it is very difficult being original! Rai
ClintonMagus
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I think we need more of the old-world competition and trash talk among illusionists and magicians! You know, the "good old days" when they set up "shop" across the street from one another, contracted under the table with promoters to provide them with earlier show dates than their competitors in the same venue(s), trashed each other publicly, and stole each other's ideas (wait, we still do those last two). Smile

Oh for the days of yore!
Things are more like they are today than they've ever been before...
Senor Rai
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You hit the nail right on the head, very little has changed, only more exposure to more people!
adam christopher
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Wait for the big show.....papering wars...thievery of illusionary concepts...good old fashioned humbuggery combined with part perspiration and part prestidigitation...ah to have been around in the good old days...Currently rereading Illusion Builder to Fu Manchu...love the part where bamberg stole most of his show from Nicola & Raymond...those were the days....perhaps it's Ms. Paris Hilton has it right...none of it matters if the world doesn't know who you are!!!!

AC
Senor Rai
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Right Adam, Phil Morris published that book and I love it. If you haven't already read "ILLUSION SHOW" my Bamberg, get it and get the real dirt. There was so much of that going on in those days, it is nothing new. Rai
Bob Sanders
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Oops! Now we are getting into professional politics! Information flows have certainly changed how acts acquire "ideas". LOL

In the 60s I was in the recording industry and saw "new original" material everyday that I had heard and perhaps performed years before. We also had to actually fly new records to market to beat the counterfeits there.

There is still very little new or American in magic. It would never surprise me to meet a magician who claimed he invented water. Some I am sure is honest ignorance of what has come before. I certainly do have problems with those who not only steal but make a career of it.

One of the saddest parts is that a prop or trick buyer is often the real victim. He can end up with a prop that he can neither sell nor perform. Censorship of magicians using ripped off props, acts, tricks and other materials understandably comes from other magicians. Audiences are only there to be entertained. The fact that they have heard the songs or seen the trick before is not their measuring stick. Often, the repeat performance is exactly what they seek.

That makes it a tough battle to win for the creator of intellectual property.

There is no doubt that we have debts to those we never knew existed. But isn’t it more honorable to be one of them than one who knowingly stole from them?

I like Steve’s perspective. We never stop learning.

Bob Sanders
Magic By Sander
Bob Sanders

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AmazedWiz@Yahoo.com
ricker
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That is a good read. Many times Pete has mentioned on here how Bob was so upset everyone stole the illusion.

The only legal way to have and perform the illusion is to have the book..

To honor him, I have always performed zig-zag like he does.

Here's Bob doing the full 'monty' back in 1965

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMN9h4ppIbI

And then Syd and I doing it last month on the 13th at the Shoals Theater, as the Harbin Celebration was going on in the U.K.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB7-aDCdOIo
BudTCB
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Hey Steve,.. I could not Agree with you more when you say that Jim Loves to Chat.. haha.. I've talked with Jim on the phone a couple times and Really really enjoy visiting with him. He has sooooo many great stories about magic. Things he has done, things he has seen. The man is Brilliant! I called him one day to ask him a quick question about an illusion and before I knew it 2 hours had passed by. Did he ever tell you the story about him doing his comedy escape that aired on TV over in,... I believe Japan. haha.. funny story.
Anyways... back to the Zig Zag.. I think that is by far my favorite illusion. I have one and it can be done on stage, close up or surrouned. Defenitely an oldie but a goodie. I love illusions like that. BJ
DanielSteep
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Would anyone be able to email me or mail me this article?!

Pleas pm!
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