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Huw Collingbourne
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In a few posts on the Cafe, I've read comments (often in reference to David Blaine) that magic is very popular/hot/trendy in the USA at the moment.

I don't think this is true at all here in the UK. Obviously, all of us on the Cafe have an interest in magic which may make it difficult to be subjective about this.

However, even though David Blaine does get coverage on UK TV and in the press - and has plans to increase that coverage with some forthcoming stunts - I get no feeling that the UK public at large is more interested in magic now than formerly. In fact, I think the reverse is true.

For example:
- Most people in the UK aren't even aware of the existence of many of the 'big name' magicians.
- There is no regular prime time magic show on UK TV (as there used to be with David Nixon, Paul Daniels and The Secret Cabaret - not forgetting Tommy Cooper).
- When US magic shows are broadcast they tend to be in the TV graveyard of the mid-afternoon or early morning. Even the 'exposure' shows featuring masked magicians have been consigned to those slots and I personally know of nobody (other than magicians!) who has bothered to watch them.

True, Derren Brown has had some TV coverage (though most people don't think of him as a magician) and there was a '50 Greatest Magic Tricks' special a while back. All the same, these are very much the exceptions to the rule.

How about other countries? Try to be brutally honest. Do you think the public at large is more or less interested in magic now than in the past?

yours (controversially Smile )
Huw
p.b.jones
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Hi,
I agree with you, Hugh, about so called celebrity magicians, I have made this point on several threads. Most people over here would likely name "Paul Daniels" or "Tommy Cooper." However, I do not think that we should judge the popularity of magic to a lay audience by what's on TV. Fencing (as in swords, not gardening) is hugely popular (I myself did not realise how many people did it), yet how often is it on TV? In fact, how many comedians do you see on TV?
Yet, early every week there is one at most local clubs. I think TV does draw attention to magic, but I do not think that it is any true indicator of it's popularity.
Phillip
Brian Proctor
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Absolutely right Phillip. Television has played a huge part in the success of magic's popularity. In America especially. I believe it is so popular because we have a huge liking for entertainment. Magic is obviously a top way of entertaining people. We are like mosquitios drawn to a light bulb when we see it. In other countries, I dont know if it is as popular as much because of lack of television exposure, or maybe just huge cultural differences. Entertainment is not number 1 in all areas of this great world. But it seems to be here. Do ya follow where im going? I think i kinda lost myself too. So no one out there start feeling dumb in any way shape or form.
Alex Reeve
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here,in France,
magic was for a long time considered just for children. people would call you and ask if you can keep the children for two hours. we were considered as baby sitter. but thanks to differents TV shows over the years (including some of the Coperfield's specials).people slowly starts to think of magic as a "real type of entertainment", but the road is still very long to be recognize as full artist.
Steven Steele
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Here in the United States, specifically southern California, the entertainment pie is split into so many different venues, that Magic isn't as popular as I would wish. In addition, there are so many magicians competing for that piece, fees are abismally small, compared to other regions of the country.

Las Vegas has made a point of promoting magic, but the influx of magicians attempting to tap that market has caused the magician to lay-people ratio to approximate the male to female ratio in that city.

So my point is that there are pockets of popularity, but overall, I don't see an increase except for about 4-6 weeks after a David Copperfield special.

Steven
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Ross W
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It seemed for a while, maybe a couple of years ago, that magic was shaking off its geeky, uncool, image in the UK. Perhaps it was the Blaine stuff, the Paul Zenon shows?

That seems to have disappeared here and magic, once again, labours under the presumption that it is corny, old-fashioned, cheesy etc. which makes our job much harder.

Magic requires the willing adoption of wonder, innocence and guilessness: attributes in short supply in today's more cynical world, where nothing can be funny unless it's "ironic". This, I think, is especially true in the UK.

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Gary
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Interesting question! There is a quote in Derren Brown's Absolute Magic spoken by a waiter to one of Britains best close-up magicians: "You're one step up from a rose seller".

The issue might be more about the current perceptions of magicians than 'magic' as such. The US seems to be experiencing a wave of intest, but perhaps not so in the UK where there has been a dumbing-down over the years. In France magic tends to be viewed as something for children (in my experience).

It's simple in Dubai where I currently live and work. Magic is banned. There are always cases in the paper about hexes, spells and they tend to be linked with confidence frauds. For me, receiving new material from a dealer by post is always a heart-stopping experience - especially if I have to explain the contents to Customs. Magic not permitted, but tricks are okay! Phew. What a relief!
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Uli Weigel
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Gary and Alex say, in France magic tends to be viewed as something for children. It is similar in Germany.

If TV Air Time is an indicator, then magic is not at all popular. If you count the magic dealers, magic seems to be incredibly popular. This is a meaningful contradiction, don't you think? Well, maybe not.

-Uli
p.b.jones
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"Interesting question! There is a quote in Derren Brown's Absolute Magic spoken by a waiter to one of Britains best close-up magicians: "You're one step up from a rose seller".

Sounds to me like a jealous or anoyed Waiter
than any thing Meaningful about magic!


"It seemed for a while, maybe a couple of years ago, that magic was shaking off its geeky, uncool, image in the UK. Perhaps it was the Blaine stuff, the Paul Zenon shows?
That seems to have disappeared here and magic, once again, labours under the presumption that it is corny, old-fashioned, cheesy etc. which makes our job much harder."

I think that this is more the attitude of young Magicians/ magicians who came into magic to seem cool. They go off down the pub or whatever and show their friends (likely also quite young) who think that the only cool things are the bands of the moment, Fashion and the in comedien . Performing for the lay public I always find that I am Treated well by my Clients and they certianly do not seem to have the negative perceptions of magicians viewed here.

Might I suggest that it might be a case of getting back what you give out and that if we all developed a more positive View of magic, ourselves and our Abilities then we might find we are treated better.
Phillip
Huw Collingbourne
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Quote:
On 2002-08-07 15:27, p.b.jones wrote:
Performing for the lay public I always find that I am Treated well by my Clients and they certianly do not seem to have the negative perceptions of magicians viewed here.

I'm quite sure you are right. When people are entertained by magic, well they're entertained! So they are obviously left with a good, positive impression.

All the same, I still think that most people in the UK would not put Magic very high up on their list of 'Good Nights Out' (or 'Good Nights In', for that matter - I suspect the words "magic show" would be quite a big turnoff for most people if they saw them in in the TV Times).

I certainly don't think that the British population cannot be thoroughly entertained by good magic. But I do think that most people here don't realise that magic can be so entertaining.

In this respect, I think Derren Brown has been quite clever. He is stretching the boundaries of magic (playing down the 'magic' angle, actually) and, I'm sure, he is, as a consequence, gaining an audience that would not normally even think of watching a magic show.

best wishes
Huw
sweetcarl
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[quote]On 2002-08-07 15:48, Huw Collingbourne wrote:
Quote:
In this respect, I think Derren Brown has been quite clever. He is stretching the boundaries of magic (playing down the 'magic' angle, actually) and, I'm sure, he is, as a consequence, gaining an audience that would not normally even think of watching a magic show.


Excellent point Huw.

I agree with many people that magicians are often perceived as being 'cheesy' or 'corny'. But whose fault is that? The sad fact is that many magicians - especially the ones we see on television in those glitzy Las Vegas spectaculars - ARE cheesy and corny. And since they are the most visible magicians in the public eye, then it is hardly surprising that the general public should base their opinions on magicians as a whole on their image of the few magicians they see on TV.

For the layman, performers like David Blaine and Derren Brown must have seemed like a breath of much-needed fresh air - I know they were for me.

It seems to me that there is a great deal of talk on these boards about the importance of 'effect' over 'method'. I couldn't agree more - after all, I'm just a beginner so I need the simplest methods I can find to achieve any effect whatsoever! But surely part of creating a memorable 'effect' lies in the impression you create on your audience.

While it's a shame that magicians are perceived as cheesy and corny, this situation can nevertheless be viewed as a blessing in disguise, for it makes performers with a perceived 'fresh' approach - such as David Blaine and Derren Brown - really stand out. And that is the kind of 'effect' that all magicians would be well advised to emulate.

End of rant!
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p.b.jones
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"especially the ones we see on television in those glitzy Las Vegas spectaculars - ARE cheesy and corny."

Hi,
Cheesy and corny enough to work in top Las Vegas venues though!

Which I can only assume is a Very difficult place to get a top spot?

A place where they can likely have thier pick of entertainers?

A place that seems to recognise magic as a good entertainment?

A place where these Cheesy performers are working night after night for real audiences without camera tricks and cut offs.
for audiences paying a good ticket price?

I wonder how Mr Blaine or indeed Mr Brown might fare?

Phillip
Huw Collingbourne
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Quote:
On 2002-08-09 13:17, p.b.jones wrote:
Cheesy and corny enough to work in top Las Vegas venues though!

To be fair, I think the huge, spectacular Las Vegas shows suit that town very well. Everything in Las Vegas is over the top. The Mirage Hotel for example is practically a shrine to Sigfried and Roy. There is a huge, heroic bust of the pair out front, inside there are videos of them all over the place, they have Siefried and Roy's white tigers on display, Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden, lots of Siegfried and Roy memorabilia in the shop etc. etc.

But can you imagine transplanting that to Blackpool? What would you have? - an hotel fronted by a vast statue of Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee, Paul's Secret Pub, Debbie McGee's white pigeons.... no! no! stop! stop! it doesn't bear thinking about...

In short, Las Vegas is like a world unto itself. Everything is bigger, brasher and more glittery than anywhere else in the known universe. That includes the magicians and their shows. If you're actually *in* Las Vegas that seems kind of normal. But to the rest of the world looking in (via the TV) it can seem (at best) a bit camp and (at worst) plain daft.

I think that's why Derren Brown or David Blaine might seem a bit out of their natural element in Vegas. But also why, to the rest of the world, they present a more human face of magic...

best wishes
Huw
sweetcarl
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Phillip, I don't deny the commercial success, the skills or the pulling power of any of the top Las Vegas magicians - those are established facts. But to my mind those facts have nothing to do with certain acts being cheesy or - as Huw puts it - a bit camp. Indeed, I think Huw hits the nail on the head when he points out that the Vegas shows seem normal within their context, but perhaps look a bit daft when viewed from the outside. That's certainly the way they look to me.

I suppose we're on slightly dangerous ground here, since words like 'cheesy' and 'corny' are subjective and emotive: one man's 'cheese' is another's 'filet mignon', after all. It's all a question of taste... and everyone has their likes and dislikes. I suppose the same is true of any art: some people like Liberace, some like Eminem, and some would rather stick needles in their eyes rather than listen to either one or anyone else for that matter.
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p.b.jones
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I think that's why Derren Brown or David Blaine might seem a bit out of their natural element in Vegas. But also why, to the rest of the world, they present a more human face of magic...


Hi,

Well first lets clear up the fact that Derren Brown is a mentalist rather than a magician and one would expect and indeed hedoes not go in for the glitz. Really he should not be in this discussion as he is not a magician and therefore it is not really a fair comparison.

Now David Blaine may be popular on Tv, But (and I could be wrong) He is not a performer in the live sense, He does not go out and do live shows like Copperfield or Siegfried and Roy and if he did I think he would probably flop in a very short time as he is a Tv performer and lacks the projection of personality required.

Sweetcarl

I agree with you about

"one man's 'cheese' is another's 'filet mignon',"

I do not like Liberace or Eminem, But I do Like Primus, Phish, Ben Harper and Dave Mathews some of which would leave most of you cold!

Phillip
sweetcarl
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Quote:
On 2002-08-09 17:38, p.b.jones wrote:
Sweetcarl

I agree with you about

"one man's 'cheese' is another's 'filet mignon',"

I do not like Liberace or Eminem, But I do Like Primus, Phish, Ben Harper and Dave Mathews some of which would leave most of you cold!

Phillip


Just one question (out of curiosity): Who are Primus, Phish, Ben Harper and Dave Mathews?
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p.b.jones
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Phillip
christopher carter
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I'm a bit surprised to hear you folks from the UK lamenting the state of magic in your land. I just returned from a delightful visit to your soggy shores and in the three cities I visited, London, York, and Harrogate, I found magicians were either performing in theaters or coming soon. Well, I suppose in London that's not much of a surprise, but as for the other two towns--It was kind of nice to see that there were venues for performances, let alone performers to fit them. Plus the UK seems to be packed to the rafters with some of the most talented mentalists I'm aware of. Maybe it was just my timing, but from my tiny little glimpse the state of magic looked fairly healthy. Or you may be getting an exaggerated notion of magic's popularity in the US.

--Christopher Carter
kaznzak
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I don't think magic is hugely popular in Australia, although the number of magicians would seem to contradict that - a lot of it seems to be magicians doing magic for other magicians though! It does remain popular for children though which I am very glad about. I wonder whether a decline in the popularity of magic might not be connected with the increase in "special effects" on television and in movies. People know that there are tricks involved and just assume that that is the case for magic also. Perhaps we magicians are fostering that with bigger and more technical illusions?
Just a thought.
KAZ Smile
p.b.jones
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Christopher,
I live here in the Uk and I agree with you.
to me the main critism of magic comes from Magicians themselves. Particularly young ones in my opinion. I think this is because they tend to perform for there mates. who being young too, Find it rather hip to put things down. It's a bit like working for 13 and 14 year olds. they kind of think that there really adult and if they like it they will be percieved as children or imiture.

I have always found magic to be looked on very well. Ok it can go in and out of fashion a bit at times. Just like any other form of entertainment.
Phillip
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