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McAllisterMagic
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Here is an article from ITricks.com

What are your thoughts??

Jay Sankey: Magic Is Definitely In Decline


From a story about how magic is affected by The Internet in today’s Toronto Star:

In the days of the Internet, magic is losing its mystery, and some magicians are running out of rabbits to pull out of a hat.

“Magic is definitely in decline,” says Toronto comedian/performer Jay Sankey, who creates magic and consults with the best magicians in the world, including David Copperfield. “It’s shrinking.”

Sankey and others lay some of the blame on a saturated market brought on by hundreds of cable television channels and the Internet, where people expose tricks to the world and sometimes claim them as their own.

And more…

“Magic has to reinvent itself,” Sankey asserts. “Magic is irrelevant and has been irrelevant for a long time, and I think it’s caught up with us.”

The most popular acts — Copperfield, Penn and Teller, David Blaine and Criss Angel — are still commanding presences. But few make a full-time living at in Canada. Sankey believes the profession is limited to dozens, “but not hundreds.”
AndrewJ
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I lost a lot of respect for Sankey when he angrily posted "Typical Vegas BS" on his Twitter account. It wasn't even so much that I am also a fan of the magician he was after, but that he was gunning after a style of magic that is larger and more theatric.

It is odd, then, to see him choose large theatric acts as his examples of success stories.

I still feel like the "new guy", and I don't mean to gun after Sankey's credibility. It is just odd, from my own perspective, to see this. He openly attacked the kind of magic that the successful performers are performing. He complains about over saturation but the front page of his own site reads: "Over 100 magic products, downloads & training dvds for complete beginners and experienced magicians." His point about exposure even seems moot when compared to the next link on his site: "Learn 5 magic tricks free. Start learning with Jay right now."

To be fair, he certainly has an impressive list of accomplishments. No one can accomplishment that much without a lot of admirable work and skill. It's just that I can't make the things he says line up with the things he has done.
McAllisterMagic
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On 2011-01-06 22:54, AndrewJ wrote:
I lost a lot of respect for Sankey when he angrily posted "Typical Vegas BS" on his Twitter account. It wasn't even so much that I am also a fan of the magician he was after, but that he was gunning after a style of magic that is larger and more theatric.

It is odd, then, to see him choose large theatric acts as his examples of success stories.

I still feel like the "new guy", and I don't mean to gun after Sankey's credibility. It is just odd, from my own perspective, to see this. He openly attacked the kind of magic that the successful performers are performing. He complains about over saturation but the front page of his own site reads: "Over 100 magic products, downloads & training dvds for complete beginners and experienced magicians." His point about exposure even seems moot when compared to the next link on his site: "Learn 5 magic tricks free. Start learning with Jay right now."

To be fair, he certainly has an impressive list of accomplishments. No one can accomplishment that much without a lot of admirable work and skill. It's just that I can't make the things he says line up with the things he has done.


You make a very good point,but I do see where Jay is coming from. Take the Masked Magician for example, taking well known secrets and exposing them to the world. It makes magicians like us very angry,as we can no longer use our favourite effects. there many websites where a twelve year old kid can post how to reveal "Healed And Sealed Soda". Not only is it bad because it discredits the original creators, but now people can learn from inexperienced magicians. Then to eager magicians go out and accidentally expose our tricks of the trade to laymen, because they were not taught properly.

that's just my two cents..
volto
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There are two prime-time magic shows on terrestrial TV in the UK at the moment; a Penn and Teller series ('Fool Us') and the BBC 'The Magicians'. Channel 4 also ran a 'Derren Brown Night', including Derren's full 'Enigma' show, which was excellent, as well as a documentary about Derren himself. In other words, there's magic at prime time on the three most-watched networks in the UK. There is hope.

On another front, I have two small kids and of the last dozen birthday parties I've been to, ten had a magician. I'm a magician - I'm into this stuff - but it was kind of a relief when the portable animal petting zoo guy showed up at the last one... Smile
AndrewJ
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You make a very good point,but I do see where Jay is coming from. Take the Masked Magician for example, taking well known secrets and exposing them to the world. It makes magicians like us very angry,as we can no longer use our favourite effects. there many websites where a twelve year old kid can post how to reveal "Healed And Sealed Soda". Not only is it bad because it discredits the original creators, but now people can learn from inexperienced magicians. Then to eager magicians go out and accidentally expose our tricks of the trade to laymen, because they were not taught properly.

that's just my two cents..
I do agree there, too.

But I also think some of this decline has been a while coming. This isn't so much from looking at a magic angle, but the marketing one. I do think Sankey was right about the saturation.

I also have long believed that a lot of the push for a teenage audience was an almost guaranteed recipe for eventual decline. When these teenagers start getting jobs, going to college, getting serious about their interpersonal relationships or even becoming parents, it will be a lot more difficult to get excited about the latest youth-craze magic effect. The next set of kids won't want to live in the shadows of the guys who came before them.

This youth-craze marketing is what I personally believe is causing a perceived decline. I think of it more as a previous expansion based on youth marketing, which will never last for any trend or product.

My wife's nephew (I'm ready to disown him) is the type of kid who learns magic from YouTube and the masked magician. I wasn't very happy to hear that one of my best and favorite effects got the masked magician's treatment. Then again, I've been performing it on and off without anyone saying "I saw that on tv."
thethirteensteps
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I think a magician can get discouraged to find so much exposure out there but I think we notice it because we spend so much time on magic related websites and doing magic related google searches. The vast number of websites, TV channels, and other entertainment options out there now cut down on the impact magic is having on the general public. Yes, now if you want to you could watch magic on the internet 24 hours a day for years. But does the average Joe see more magic now than he did 10, 20 or 30 years ago? You go out on the street and do ambtious card for the first person you see and I bet they've never seen it.

I do the simplest things for people all the time and usually they've never seen it. Then other times I ask them to pick a card and they tell me they know that one.
MagicBrain
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O.k. This is my first message to this forum even though I am a registered member for several years. I have never wrote a message but this thread ''Magic Decline'' have my higgest interest. I been questionning myself on this subject for a long time. Currently I am not a regular performer but rather a big magic enthousiast for 35 years. I was performing in the late '90 beginning of 2000.

After several years of magic exposure (Masked Magician, Internet, even Magic shows that reveals the tricks they had performed !) I quit doing magic shows. I was at that time very discouraged of what was happenning to my fantastic art. As Sankey, I was sure that magic was 'declining' and that people whould be more interested to learn the secrets rather than to see magic shows for what they were. At that time my shows were focussed on magic 'tricks'.

A lot of questions went into my mind. Today I miss a lot of that old magic that I learned when I was young. You remember ''Marshall Brodien TV magic tricks (that was my introduction to magic) but also all those David Copperfield magic special or Doug Henning's colourful magic and Mark Wilson weakly morning tv shows. That was the good old days of magic for me.

When I quit in 2003, I didn't search any magic on internet or elsewhere. For me it was the end of my magic hobby. But it got back in my life in 2009 and I was very suprised to see the evolution of new tricks (or new twists from old tricks) and how many new magicians were now in this field.

When I read Sankey comment (and I believe also Simon Lovell), I was not against was he was saying, but I think he is also wrong because there is a lot of new magic out there and new magicians. But one thing is for sure, magic today is drastically different compare to the '80, '90 years.

The big difference for me is that laymen do know much more now than before (yes I know that is not a suprise). If I try to do a regular linking ring routine, it will not get the same response as before. I need to turn my old magic thinking ''upside down''.

For me, magic is born again but not as tricks for tricks. For paid shows, I think what is declining is when we perform a trick to show... a trick. I believe that what is born (or reborn !) is a new kind of magician : a comedian and a storyteller that uses magic props as a tool and not as and end to itself. Be a good comedian first, a good storyteller first and then use magic to enhance your show. It took me 30 years to understand that ! What a shame on me !

I think that magic tricks is o.k. for fun with our friends and family members. That's fine for me. But if I want to make a new living out of magic shows, I need to start and apply this principle : before thinking what tricks to perform, I need to build the scenario of my show and then, only after a well laid out theme show, should I think of what tricks to incorporate. This is not new... it as been written for many many years...

Last summer, I saw a very good magician performing very old tricks (regulat TT tricks, Linking rings, Cups and balls, Cut and restored rope the old way, ...); I knew all the secrets to his perfomance, but he was so good with his character, music and stories that it was a very magical moment. That is for me what 'magic' is all about and it changed the way I was looking at it : Create a 'magical moment' and not a 'magic trick moment'.

Stop thinking about 'what tricks' and think about 'what scenario'. Use magic tricks as a tool and not as an end to itself. I just saw a cool trick (in fact it is gaffed cards that allow to do highly visual twisting the aces). I think this is very good trick. But I don't want to perform that 'good' card trick just because it is a 'good visual trick'. If I do not find a proper patter and story that fits my style, I won't perform it. If my scenario needs this gaffed card trick I will use it.

For me, 'magic tricks' are declining but 'magical theatre show' is just beginning !!!

I think we as magicians need to 're-think' our art in reverse order. I believe that David Copperfield and Doug Henning have long understood that !! I also believe that magic will exist for a very very long time, but not as we learned it in the past. What do you want your audience to remember : performing tricks or performing magical moments!

Thanks to all, and I hope that this will keep you thinking ...

Magic Brain
vernon
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Hi Brian First post ever Feel chuffed to be the first to reply. With you all the way on what you say. The advent of video sharing websites throws up all sorts of inane, crass, and harmfull aspects, not just how something is done (badly or otherwise) But also in the thoughts if others who think that this may be the direction to go. Too much of this and whatever foundation that has Bern laid down by those who came before, will disappear in deference to the quick fix of ' meagic', and the one trick.

I don't think it's a ball we can stop rolling ( not that we could) and may just have to let theses ' kids' do their thing. For meeeagic! to happen, there has to be a performance, whether it's for one effect, or a whole show. It's the performer and not the ' trick' that will be 'remembered', and if the performer isn't remembered, neither will the effect be
JJ
McAllisterMagic
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Very good points so far guys!
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I disagree with the notion that magic is in decline. Like everything in the modern world, changes happens quickly and magic is evolving and recycling. It seems to me that during the 80s-90s, magic did decline in popularity. But as much as magicians dislike Cris Angel, Angel and Blaine have caused a great resurgence in popularity. I think audiences may have lost their taste for big illusion shows but I think close-up, tv street magic and childrens magic are just as relevant as ever. Larger stage shows will make a resurgence when someone reinvents the experience.

I think part of the problem that contributes to the "decline" theory has nothing to the nature of magic. The competition for our attention has never been greater. We all have internet, cable, smart phones, 3D movies and video games. The entertainment options are staggering. Sports are more popular than ever from kiddie leagues to the pros. When I was a young lad, kids didn't get into sports until middle school. Now, your has to start competitive sports in kindergarten in order to have a chance at playing in middle school. People are working two jobs. Women have careers and are moms too. My point is not that magic in special and unique in it's decline - everything performing art is impacted due to the sheer options and commitments that people have in their lives today.
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gaddy
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“Magic is irrelevant and has been irrelevant for a long time, and I think it’s caught up with us.”

Truest thing I've heard regarding "the state of magic" in a long time. It's a huge problem, but most magi do not even understand what this means...
*due to The Magic Cafe's editorial policies, words on this site attributed to me cannot necessarily be held to be my own.*
BanzaiMagic
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On 2011-01-07 19:00, AndrewJ wrote:

This youth-craze marketing is what I personally believe is causing a perceived decline. I think of it more as a previous expansion based on youth marketing, which will never last for any trend or product.


I agree. The Blaines and Angels have done a great job re-inventing magic for a new generation and making it "hot" again, but I see that Chris Angel is now selling Magic kits. If that is not a sign of decline, I don't know what is. But I don't worry. Magic has been a part of all cultures throughout time. Chinese, East Indian, African cultures have all made room for the Shaman or magic man. Back in history there was always room for the court wizard, and the ancient Greek and Roman temples packed 'em in with sophisticated magic shows using some of the most accomplished engineers of their time creating effects using scientific principles to animate metallic animals or "levitate" heavy statutes. People have always and will always want to be amazed. The rest is just presentation.

Frankly, I have thought that the Blaine/Angel concept along with similar themed street performers would not have lasted as long as they have, but they still seem to be going strong. It is time for a re-invention (or re-discovery). It's only a matter of time. Whether it is Dunninger-style mentalism, Blaine/Hoidini style public performances, Vegas style Mega shows, or my personal favorite, A re-invention of Neff style spook shows, it will happen. The inventive and the creative will satisfy the human need for amazement.

I am actually surprised that the kid's love of everything Harry Potter hasn't manifested more in the over all themes of magic shows. Not copying, mind you. I have seen Harry Potter props used in acts (not very creative, IMHO). But where are the great costumes (say a monster performing magic, a Snape type character). There is a long history of this - Okito is not just a style of prop.

Just my thoughts.

Regards,

Alan
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It's interesting coming from a guy who's over saturated the market with his own material.
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You know what? I think magic has to adapt to the culture once again. Think about it. Magic has adapted a lot over the ages. The rabbit and the top hat are symbols of magic. But do we see them today? No, they were taken out of acts when they went out of style. Was street magic relevant in the 80's? No, but magic adapted to it during the 90's when people became more self-conscious and intimate with others. Heck, magic itself probably was shunned when the first person ever deceived someone for the first time, but it has adapted into an art form. We can't look on what is ruining magic, we have to adapt to it and make magic THAT MUCH BETTER.

What could be the next big thing in magic entertainment? Could it be a MAGIC tv channel on basic television? Could it be interactive magic through the computer (and I'm not talking about simple card tricks that "read minds". I'm talking about actual magic through the computer, live magic with an audience.)? Could science literally make magicians transform, disappear, and fly? The iPhone apps are great improvements. Magic isn't declining. Our magical minds are declining. We have to think outside the box. And then 100 years down the road when we are literally levitating people will have forgotten about the secrets of today, and then we can bring those back into a new lime-light.
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