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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Right or Wrong? » » Sexually objectifying female spectators and assistants (36 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Melies
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I just posted an article on this topic under "Feminine Mystique," but it should really have been posted here, since it raises questions that go to the heart of mainstream magical performance. Too many magicians continue to objectify women and trivialize their experiences:
https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?forum=220&topic=681384.

Even if you don't read my post, check out the New Yorker cartoon that prompted me to write it--and think about what it says about the way the public still perceives our "art":
https://media.newyorker.com/cartoons/5c0......2361.jpg

Q: When is the magical community going to have its #MeToo moment?
A: Not soon enough.
mantel
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Quote:
On Dec 15, 2018, Melies wrote:
Q: When is the magical community going to have its #MeToo moment?
A: Not soon enough.


Already happened last year: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/ho......821.html But went no where.
Ray Pierce
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There is always a time, place and market for everything. I'll be working with Dita Von Teese again for her New Years Eve show here in LA. Her quote just came to mind, "One of the last taboos to be liberated is to revel in being objectified, and I feel like indulging in taboos sometimes is a way to liberate them."

It is an unabashed evening of body positivity and objectification. I'll also note that about 80% of her audience is female.

That being said, we must always be ever vigilant against the typical "Magician's Assistant as a sex object" trope. I've always been very blessed to get to work with some of the most incredibly talented dancers/assistants who were very talented and yes, very attractive as well. There is however room for every body type and personality type in differing shows. Find what works for each of us.
Ray Pierce
<BR>www.HollywoodAerialArts.com
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On Dec 15, 2018, Melies wrote:
... to the heart of mainstream magical performance. Too many magicians continue to objectify women and trivialize their experiences...


So what do we do with "classics" including transgressions which were, shall we say, of their time?

Any ideas on how to estimate when a transgression is harmless?
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Melies
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Ray, if it's such a good deal to "revel" in being objectified, maybe you should try walking around and performing in a G-string during your act. Just sayin'.

It isn't liberating or "transgressing" (Jonathan's word) to reinforce the same old, same old thing that one sees in every media venue, porn, fashion spread, etc., etc., day in and day out, throughout our culture. True liberation and transgression would look like something else entirely: namely, equality between the sexes. I know it's hard to imagine that. But we perform miracles every day of the week, don't we? Or is treating women as actual human beings more impossible than turning a bowl of rice into a bowl of flowers?
magicalaurie
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Quote:
On Dec 19, 2018, Melies wrote:
Or is treating women as actual human beings more impossible than turning a bowl of rice into a bowl of flowers?


Interesting. You know, when I attended the 2007 New York Coin Magic Seminar, I was the only female magician there. I sat in the front row. Kainoa Harbottle was running around and suddenly looked up at me wide-eyed and said, "Are you the Laurie from the Café?" I responded in the affirmative, and then heard,
"Oh, I've got to get a picture of this... Curtis Kam doesn't believe you're REAL." I asked, "What?" and got something like, "Oh, nothing, nevermind."

David Roth, however, met me upon my entrance and introduced himself to me with something like, "Magicalaurie, David Roth. Very nice to meet you." which, of course, impressed me considerably. So, obviously, it's very possible, but many have got some more practicing to do, indeed. We're all here learning, and treating people kindly and with respect is a two way street, so I'm not interested in the nasty tone these "movements" can take- that turns it into outright hypocrisy and self righteous indignation, and I think we need more truth: compassion and understanding, and that begins within each of us.

Smile

P.S. I've since met Curtis, at WMS 33 in Vegas, and he kindly offered me some helpful advice and comments on my magic style and presentation leading up to my performance in the Close-up Challenge there. Smile

And Siegfried seems never to have doubted I'm real. What a gracious man he is. Smile

Image



Image



Image



https://youtu.be/CfPDJ27GfR0?t=122
"Every thought you think, word you speak, and action you take proceeds from either love or fear. Peace and upset, innocence and guilt, healing and illness all spring from that one fundamental choice." Alan Cohen
https://magicalaurieblog.wordpress.com/
Ray Pierce
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Quote:
On Dec 19, 2018, Melies wrote:
Ray, if it's such a good deal to "revel" in being objectified, maybe you should try walking around and performing in a G-string during your act. Just sayin'.


First, I treat all of my dancers and assistants with the utmost respect for their talent and abilities. I also treat everyone that comes on stage to help me with the same respect. I will never make fun of someone or objectify an audience member for any reason.

That being said, let's be realistic about the entertainment medium.

Do you think for a moment that Rick Marcelli's goal for David Copperfield wasn't to increase his sexual appeal by aligning 100% of his imagery and content with sexually provocative and appealing concepts? Why do most performers dress as they do... wear make up, style their hair, etc. It is to be appealing to the widest audience. Yes, there are certain character acts and performers which break this mold but they're in the minority.

Look at most professional acts working in major venues. They try and look as good as possible to be appealing to the most people. Like it or not, that is the initial appeal for many performers. After passing that goal post we might find out that they are talented and have many other likable traits that increase their appeal.

Why do you wear a nice black jacket and tuxedo shirt when you perform? Isn't it to make you look better? Why not wear jeans and a stained T shirt? Ah... because you want to be appealing so you choose things that make you look better. Like it or not, people are judging you and your choices every time you go on stage. They are making choices based on how you look before you even say a word. Welcome to performing. You're being objectified until you give them something else to think of.

I have performed in fairly bare costumes in my past years as a dancer in various revue shows. The goal was always to look our best. Believe me, if I looked the best in a G string now, I would have no problem wearing one. Dita, unlike me, still looks amazing in one and is probably a bigger draw than we both are.

Then again I work with Katy Perry, Heidi Klum, Salma Hayak, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Christina Applegate, Ingrid Michelson, Aisha Tyler, Bridget Marquardt, , Leeza Gibbons and many others. I'm very realistic in my opinions.
Ray Pierce
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Senor Fabuloso
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I'm sorry but I don't see the "objectification" in the cartoon. It looks to me like a bored assistant and terrible magician. Like ink blots, I guess you see what you want in it?
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
danaruns
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On Dec 20, 2018, Senor Fabuloso wrote:
I'm sorry but I don't see the "objectification" in the cartoon. It looks to me like a bored assistant and terrible magician. Like ink blots, I guess you see what you want in it?


The caption is missing. It says something like, "Watch as I magically turn this ordinary woman into a sex object," or something like that. I forget, exactly.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Dannydoyle
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So it is a pretty ham handed joke anyhow.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
magicalaurie
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The cartoon is called "A Self Aware Magician" by Will McPhail

https://cartooncompanion.com/dec-10-2018-issue/

Here it is with caption from the artist's Twitter:

Image


https://twitter.com/willmcphail?lang=en
"Every thought you think, word you speak, and action you take proceeds from either love or fear. Peace and upset, innocence and guilt, healing and illness all spring from that one fundamental choice." Alan Cohen
https://magicalaurieblog.wordpress.com/
Dannydoyle
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I guess context is king.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Senor Fabuloso
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Quote:
On Dec 20, 2018, Dannydoyle wrote:
I guess context is king.


Or Queen, depending on your perspective.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
Melies
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Thanks for clarifying the caption, Dana (I hadn't realized that the link I sent didn't have it).
Magical Laurie, that's heartening to hear (about David Roth, etc.). I of course agree that compassion and understanding are the key to much social change. But I also think that indignation and anger are at times legitimate responses to sexism and male violence.

Ray, to say that I want to make myself "sexy" or appealing as a man on stage misses the point completely. Our society has a double standard when it comes to appearance and to sexuality, and women are made to feel lousy about their appearance every day of the week (check out Cosmo some time, or The National Enquirer--or Hollywood, or porn, or whatever you like). Furthermore, when a man makes himself attractive on stage, he is emphasizing his competence and power as a magical worker--someone who DOES miraculous things. As opposed to the "girls" on stage--I'm talking about the accessorized women who are there because they meet the straight (white) male fantasy about how women are supposed to be, with perfect bods and with their voice boxes removed ("Smile girls! Like you mean it!"). The women are almost without exception the DONE-TO. They are there either to serve as eye-candy for the straight men in the audience, or to be ACTED-UPON by the magical worker, or to mime surprise or "awe" at the (male) magical worker. But in every case, the woman is the subordinate. Unless the magician is a woman, which is why we need more girls and women in magic, and which is why we need to change how and what we perform publicly. I disagree with Ray here about what we should expect from the tradition of "entertainment." It was not long ago when white actors wearing black face were featured in Hollywood films and in vaudeville: should we cling to those practices too, because they were once "traditional"?

But the sexism in the magical arts extends far beyond the stage, as I've said, to the way we handle spectators and the way books, DVDs, chat rooms, etc., demean women continually, most often by putting them in the passive role (the DONE-TO). Just last night, I was at the local IBM meeting here in Boston for our annual Xmas Yankee Swap, and one of the books someone was giving away was Peter Duffie's "Card Compulsions." When I won the book, I discovered that it has lurid drawings of nude women throughout--as though somehow naked women and card tricks go together, that indeed such an association was self-evident. And guess what? Penguin still sells it (I just checked). So, if it's really "the same thing," show me a single magic book or DVD where the imagery depicts a fully clothed female performer surrounded by naked or semi-naked men.

When the next round in the swap came around, I traded the Duffie book for something else.
Dannydoyle
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In other news Santa was just charged with sexual harassment for sitting little girls on his lap and asking them if they are naughty.
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Senor Fabuloso
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It's funny but in today's world, I could see it happening.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
WitchDocChris
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When my wife and I started doing sideshow acts together, we purposely made her the "Strong" character to buck against gender norms. Lately we've been discussing how to make it more explicitly supportive of girls and women getting into performance styles and other arts that are traditionally male-dominated. It's very rewarding to have fans who come up after shows to tell us that we're inspiring their daughters to try things they hadn't thought about previously.

The issues at hand are so ingrained in our society that people think the joke Danny made is funny. When in reality, that joke is "I think it's silly that when a guy puts on a costume he can still get in trouble for flirting with children."

Look - people used to take arsenic because pale skin was thought to be attractive. But we realized that's bad and stopped. Same thing - we used to think it was OK to say and do certain things and now we've realized it's creepy. We should stop.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
Dannydoyle
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Yea no. The problem is when you have those who wish to be offended by absolutely everything at every opportunity.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=fHMoDt3nSHs
Danny Doyle
<BR>Semper Occultus
<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
WitchDocChris
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There are certainly people who seem to go out of their way to find offense. I will not deny that. Just like there are people who refuse to acknowledge legitimate examples of what is no longer acceptable. Extremes exist in all cases. The extremes aren't really the problem. The problem is the people in between who accidentally perpetuate the ideas with jokes and actions that fall into the grey zone without thinking about the potential problems those behaviors and jokes can cause.

It's built into our society (and by extension, this community) which makes it all the harder to acknowledge and fix. Just because it's hard or annoying doesn't mean it shouldn't be fixed, though.

On the opposite end of things, the people who make the effort to change are providing examples and representation for those who have felt oppressed for decades. So at least there's that.
Christopher
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Psycho Seance book: https://tinyurl.com/y873bbr4
Senor Fabuloso
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Quote:
On Dec 21, 2018, WitchDocChris wrote:
Look - people used to take arsenic because pale skin was thought to be attractive. But we realized that's bad and stopped. Same thing - we used to think it was OK to say and do certain things and now we've realized it's creepy. We should stop.


Strawman argument. Obviously health concerns have changed in the face of scientific information. Show me where political correctness, has led to better health outcomes?
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

If I'm not responding to you? It's because you're a TROLL!
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