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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The September 2003 entrée: Whit Haydn » » The importance of being popular » » TOPIC IS LOCKED (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Whit Haydn
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Profile of Whit Haydn
I'm 54 years old. I've been doing magic since I was nine.

It has been my only income since I was 24 years old.

Magic is more popular now than it has ever been in my lifetime.

I'm not sure that is a good thing. What do you think?
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Profile of Bilwonder
The sacred and the profane...
Magic prides itself on being "sacred"...set apart from what is common. It bestows on the possesor the feeling of a priest and protector of this sacred knowledge...What becomes common is taken for granted and is "profaned." The magic is lost.

However, it's not that simple...magic is never lost...only us. All our "tricks" are only the tools we use to engage others with the "magic." Like the Reformation...everyone is becoming a priest...our icons are being sold cheaply and our sense of "specialness" challenged....but all the attention to magic has also created new kinds of magic...new kinds of "priests" who show us magic is still sacred...and we must climb another mountain to keep up.
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." Mark Twain
Al Kazam the Magic Man
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I"m 48, being doing magic for only about 5 years. Now it contributes to about 80% of my income. I like to do mainly parlor style magic, and clowning, and now we are sort of busking on the weekend. (with my kids)
Here in Taiwan, magic is becoming very important. A lot has to do with TV shows, (Blaine has been on many times in the past year, Copperfield is very popular here). Mostly here though, unless a student is very gifted and shows a lot of promise, simple magic is taught to beginners, and hence not a lot of the inner secrets are let out. Although magic here is popular there is still at times when you have to guard the secrets very carefully. Most people are still only interested in the working and secrets, and not necessarily (sp) in the techniques and wonder of magic. Just my 0.2c worth.
Al Kazam --> Magic guy in Perth Australia
Scott F. Guinn
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I think its popularity with the public is good, as it provides more performing opportunities. I think the problem comes from the number of people who feel that it magic is easy to do. They buy three or four tricks at the magic shop and two weeks later, they have flyers all over town proclaiming, "Professional magician for hire--all occasions!"

("All occasions?" Let's see: I need a magican for my nephew's arrest for buying drugs! Hey, my dad just had a heart attack--let's hire a magician! The dog got hit by a car--we should book a magician!)

Because it is so accessible and popular, there are a lot of really bad performers out there.
"Love God, laugh more, spend more time with the ones you love, play with children, do good to those in need, and eat more ice cream. There is more to life than magic tricks." - Scott F. Guinn
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Profile of Kronos9326
I think that popularity plays an important part in keeping magic "fresh". A while back, magic wasn't a very popular form of entertainment, however, with the introduction of several charismatic personalities it has become cool to be a magician.

This is good and bad, since it's even cooler to be a competent magician. *grin*

Pete Biro
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If magic had been as popular as it is today (thanks to Doug Henning, David Copperfield and now David Blaine) I would have been able to make a good living at it... but by the time it became "hot" I was established in another profession and didn't want to take the risk of a major change. Smile
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
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Profile of leefoley3
Whit, Come scout the area where I live. It will make you feel MUCH better about the popularity of magic!! Smile Smile Smile
In December of '06 I was diagnosed with a very rare cancer, Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans. One in a million people worldwide are diagnosed with this type of cancer annually. Sarcomas account for 1% of all cancers. Knowledge is power!
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Profile of ScottSullivan
It seems to me that the more people there are who do a few tricks and think of themselves as magicians the better it is for working pros. A guy who does a few tricks and thinks of himself as a magician will watch all the TV shows and drive a long way to see a pro magician work. And he'll bring non-magician friends with him.
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Profile of sleightly
I really appreciate Whit acting as a catalyst for all of these wonderful discussions. I've started to respond to all of them and found myself writing for hours on end... Thanks again to Whit and to everyone else for picking up the ball.

In my experience (I perform primarily at resorts and in hospitality situations), I rarely encounter "magicians" at my performances, so I can't really see that the "popularity" of magic is really driving those with an interest in learning magic to my shows (and in a way I'm relieved at that). Perhaps they are not identifying themselves? I enjoy having enthusiasts come see me work, but they can require a different approach from laymen (and sometimes don't know when to leave).

On the way out the door for a performance, but this thread (before it gets shut down) begs several questions...

1. What do you think about some sort of "code of ethics" among visiting magicians to a "workers" gig?

2. With the "popularity" of magic in restaurants and bars, are too many people seeing the same material?

I have always worked very hard to avoid material performed by others in my market (although they do not always share my belief in the importance of this). Over time I have developed (or distilled) several pieces that cannot be performed by others in my market without them risking comparison (I'm fairly well known in my market). I know that in at least one instance a "worker" in my area asked my permission to perform a piece from my show. I declined, as I've worked very hard on the piece and don't wish to diminish its impact within "my" territory, but I thoroughly appreciated his asking. It makes me wonder how many take without asking.

Material comes and goes in waves (witness the "Ninja Rings" and "3-Fly" variants running around--neither of which I perform). Many performers think nothing of adding the "latest greatest" or performing material they saw another get great reactions with. I know that it is the desire to succeed that motivates them, but it would be nice to see them explore for personal reasons rather than react to another's success.

It is rare for me to add a new piece to my repertoire, my core pieces remain the core, hopefully getting better for every year that I "work" on them (and that is fodder for another thread entirely).

Some other potentially inflammatory questions are these:

3. What is it about the performance magic that emboldens those with little training to run out and print business cards?

4. Why do people feel entirely justified in jumping into a marketplace (and potentially risk softening the rates of people trying to pay the mortgage)?

As a full-time performer myself I find those enthusiasts who have "real jobs" to be both a benefit (when they attend performances, particularly as sponsors or ticket-holders) and boon (particularly when they decide it is time for them to go out and get "paying" gigs).

If these folks who don't have the overhead (and don't *need* the money) why do they risk alienating the ones they wish to emulate by entering into potential competition with them?

We all begin somewhere, and have to be "bad before we can be good," but does it have to be in my market? (Please note the humorous intent.)

And ultimately...

5. What is the role of the working "professional" versus the working "amateur" and how do they affect each other?

There is plenty of room for everyone to have an opportunity to perform, whether for family, friends, retirement/senior centers, daycares, school, the corporate world, the entertainment industry. We all have our place and niche. For those who really love to perform magic, there is always an appropriate audience somewhere.

I love to juggle, but I will never try to book shows as a juggler. Wouldn't it be great if we all took the time to identify our strengths (and weaknesses) and make a decision about what we can and should (or should not) do when it comes to performing?

Through personal mentoring and my work in The Magic Menu, I have always been happy to help budding performers realize their potential. It is the ones who don't want help and have no consideration for others' needs that concern me...

I may wish I never posted this, but I think that these are important issues and worthy of further contemplation...

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