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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Is it time to snuff out cigarette magic? (9 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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danaruns
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Some people still smoke (I'll never understand why), but it is a proven fact that cigarettes are a major cause of heart disease, cancer, stroke, and other threats to human life.

If we magicians are to be responsible citizens -- and I guess that's a question too: should we model responsible citizens in our work? -- should we not avoid magic that uses cigarettes as a prop in simulated smoking? Doesn't that subtly endorse and glamorize smoking? Shouldn't we avoid doing that?

My humble opinion is that doing the classic cigarette routines has become irresponsible. What's your opinion?
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Dick Oslund
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Hey! We DO agree on something!
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George Ledo
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I don't think it's irresponsible so much as it is hanging on to something from another era. People who perform magic often seem to think of material in and of itself instead of realizing that a lot of the material was created and popularized during times when it was relevant.

Houdini's sub trunk worked because people in those days knew what a trunk was: that's how you took stuff on a trip, and they knew how they were built and locked. And his trunk looked like it had been around the block a bunch of times. That was part of the magic: a common everyday trunk. So getting out of and into it in a second was "magical." Most sub trunks nowadays seem to be more like crates, and immaculate at that. So the original idea has been lost.

Cigarrette acts were popular back when most people smoked, when smoking was the thing to do and when movie stars were pushing cigarrettes. There was an element of glamor to it, especially in the night clubs where these acts were popular. To make a cigarrette act work today, you need to understand demographics and do the act for the type of audience that relates to cigarrettes.

Over the years here in the Café, I've gotten the impression that a lot of performers pick material based on what they like without a lot of regard for their audiences. Of course there are exceptions, but I've seen that attitude a lot.
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longhaired1
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I do magic with wine. There are some who may consider that irresponsible. There are some that would like to see any level of sexuality removed from magic as well.

I see the choice to do cigarette magic as not wise based on the things George points out; Changing times. I would think you would be greatly reducing the venues you can work in and the audiences you can work for, at least here in the United States. Elsewhere may be different.

There are certain audiences and venues that my wine act would not be appropriate for. Fortunately there are plenty where it is appropriate.

But to answer the larger question, I don't believe it is the responsibility of the artist to only exhibit model behavior.
Mary Mowder
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I've seen cigarette moves amaze with a crayon or similar shapes. The moves are not tainted.

I would not do a cigarette trick unless it were a call back to an earlier era (like Teller's noir cigarette piece) but I never invested in cigarette skills.

We all make our own calls.

-Mary Mowder
George Ledo
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A couple of good points, longhaired1.

Yes, people are getting offended at more and more things nowadays, sometimes to the point that, whatever you do, someone is going to get offended. Cigarette magic offends some people. Wine magic ditto. Animal tricks ditto. Illusions involving female assistants ditto. Character acts, costume acts, historical acts, clowns, goofy professors, comedy, fake stories, kid magic, you name it, it'll offend somebody. And this is true in other areas of entertainment also, not just magic. So where does it stop, and how far can you go if you're afraid that one person is going to get offended and make an issue of it? Let's face it, some people just need to chill out and get a life.

As far as doing cigarette acts in other parts of the world where a lot of people still smoke, sure, why not. But -- and it's a BIG but -- what I said still applies. The old Cardini et al night-club act is totally outdated, especially out of a night-club venue. People don't act or dress like that anymore: they're more casual, more relaxed. Many of our current magic stars got to be stars by playing to their modern audiences and not to the instructions in an eighty-year-old book or routine.

And I also don't believe it's the responsibility of the artist to exhibit only model behavior. It's never been their responsibility, and that's part of being an artist: present your own take, your interpretation, your response to the world as you see it. Besides, given the number of people who get offended at anything, WHOSE model behavior are you going to exhibit?

[edit] Yup, Mary. Cigarette moves can be applied to other objects too, and they can be very effective. Thanks for bringing that up.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Dick Oslund
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For awhile,TOOTSIE ROLLS were a good substitute for cigarettes!

I agree with George Ledo's thoughts. Cardini was GREAT! But, that era is gone!

I especially agree with his comments about 'dong the tricks that I like'!!!

I had learned early, not to fall in love with PROPS!

When I decided to go "full time", I wrote up a CRITERIA for the tricks/routines that WOULD be not only PRACTICAL, but also COULD be made ENTERTAINING, with the right PRESENTATION, for the wide range of audience ages for whom I would be performing. For the first season or two, a few adjustments were needed, but, my CRITERIA, "WORKED".

After the first season, word got around among the managers, They called ME to find out my open time! For almost fifty years, I was never at liberty.
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Jonathan Townsend
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If this is about your feelings about being a role model as performer - and you have stopped doing tricks with cigarettes - good for you and bravo!
Quote:
On Feb 23, 2019, danaruns wrote:
...should we model responsible citizens in our work? -- should we not avoid magic that uses cigarettes as a prop in simulated smoking? ...
This question is about our roles as adults - a group matter. Thing is we are working as theatrical performers and our scripts tend to get nostalgic. Cardini was working venues where people smoked.

What is the performing character's context and what values is the script attempting to communicate? Is the smoking supposed to be a cue for the audience to see the character as reckless, self destructive, somehow a part of a long gone era?

If you want to take on the smoke/vape/nicotine /crop industry here's some reading for larger context: https://www.tobaccoreporter.com/category/leaf/
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Mary Mowder
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I don't do Sword through Neck or rope through neck but I've seen others do them both and the audience enjoyed it.

I think Magic can and should evolve (in a positive direction) but I think it is a one Magician at a time process.

I applaud anyone making positive choices. Even thinking about this subject is a good thing.

Most Magicians haven't made a choice, we are just doing what we're used to doing without judging if it conforms with our current beliefs.

- Mary Mowder
tommy
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Joints are in fashion - Especially with hippy magicians.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
danaruns
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Quote:
On Feb 24, 2019, tommy wrote:
Joints are in fashion - Especially with hippy magicians.


Hippy magicians? Like those of us with a little extra padding?

Or Hippie magicians? Like, far out, man. Make love, not war. Peace, love, dope!

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Where is Doug Henning when you need him? Smile

Peace out.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
tommy
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I can imagine a hippy magician doing a Cardini like act, with joints rather than cigarettes, being stoned rather than drunk. I do not think magicians are or ought to be social justice warriors.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
danaruns
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Quote:
On Feb 25, 2019, tommy wrote:
...social justice warriors.


Ooh, that's a derogatory right wing political term. Let's not bring politics into this, please.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
tommy
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It is a normative social influence, which often leads to people exhibiting public compliance but not necessarily private acceptance of the group's social norms. A magician may smoke but in a particular group of none smokers in order to fit in with them.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
Dannydoyle
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If you want to make positive choices for your life that is wonderful. But I do not think it is necessary for all of us to make the same choices.

I'm not certain it is for us to be roll models either. I'm not even sure it is about being good citizens. (I believe everyone should be but this is another matter.)

If you want to be a roll model then this is the right choice. If another does not want to do so then this is also correct. I respect everyone's choices, even if I disagree with them.
Danny Doyle
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<BR>In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act....George Orwell
Senor Fabuloso
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Trying to IMPOSE ones OWN choices on others, is totalitarianism. That is what I find IRRESPONSIBLE.
No matter how many times you say the wrong thing, it will NEVER be right.

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danaruns
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Quote:
On Feb 28, 2019, Senor Fabuloso wrote:
Trying to IMPOSE ones OWN choices on others, is totalitarianism. That is what I find IRRESPONSIBLE.


Who here is saying anything about imposing on others? Certainly not me. It seems you're inventing your own thread subject, here. Here's what I said in the OP:

Quote:
[S]hould we not avoid magic that uses cigarettes as a prop in simulated smoking? Doesn't that subtly endorse and glamorize smoking? Shouldn't we avoid doing that?


On another note, Fabuloso is my favorite floor cleaner. Smile
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Terrible Wizard
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Smoking is bad for you. Drugs are bad for you. Being overweight is bad for you. Drinking is bad for you. Driving cars, living in cities, having sex, bungee jumping, and skiing are risky activities.

Except for children's shows, I don't see artists and entertainers as having any moral obligation to be role models, or espouse any particular ideology, or promote any set of virtues or whatever. Indeed, I often wish entertainers butted out of moralising and politics and 'issues' a bit more than they do since I find it rather cringe-worthy, though it's really up to them.

When it comes to cigarettes I actually find them aesthetically and artistically pleasing. I like people smoking in old movies, for example. I think it looks good and has certain artistically enriching connotations and symbolism that are difficult to replace with substitutes, like crayons or straws. If it wasn't for the health issues I'd take up smoking myself.

But, individual performers are free to decide what goes into their act, and what they preach about, and to tell others their opinions. And no doubt there's practical advantages to not having a cigarette act. But I'll leave it to individuals to decide what to do.
Animated Puppets
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Dang, and I just got my cat puppet Behemoth to smoke a cigar. I guess I'll have to teach him to do something more wholesome like swallow razor blades and slam his paws down on paper bags with a hidden blade in one of 'em. Smile

I have (somewhere) the vanishing cigarette up the nose but never found a legit use for it. Crushing cigarettes in a TT may look cool but you end up having a foul smelling thumb.

Besides, Vaping is what's hip (not hippie related) and expect to see something incorporating vapes in the future.
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tommy
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Yes, it is all vape and mirrors now.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

Tommy
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