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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Food for thought » » Slight Sleight Snobbery (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

RandyWakeman
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Magicians can be a cliquish bunch, sometimes rightly so. On countless occasions, magicians, who have not given a notably tremendous effort to their Magic (diplomatically put), plop down in front of well-known performers and blather out, “So, what have you got? Show me!” Veterans of this type of exchange will smile softly, and mention “Nothing much new, nothing worth talking about. A pleasure meeting you, though.”

Bar performers and bartending magicians often retain a bit of disdain for those with no similar experiences. Instant respect is gained for those who have persevered through years of the same performing circumstances. The experience of starting out your gig at seven in the evening, finishing at five in the morning, a breakfast session with the gang until eight or so, and a crumpled drive home reflecting on the experiences of the last twelve hours cannot be easily shared with those who have no similar background to reference. The next day, the cycle repeats.

In a similar vein, performers working the street have a common respect for each other, knowing full well that a few years working the street for tips, perhaps coupled with the Renaissance Fair circuit gives you a unique perspective of people, as well as a new and heightened (perhaps unexpected) awareness of local ordinances.

There has been a traditional rift between sleight of hand performers, and “box mechanics.” While hardly a black and white area, the “non-sleight-of-hand” performer unnecessarily limits his working repertoire. “But I can’t do that,” the gaffed only worker explains. “If you say so,” the old Master of unseen moves replies. Sleight of hand methodology is not nearly as difficult as many perceive it to be. Instead of instant rejection of a piece of magic because it contains an approach or sequence we are not comfortable with, aren’t we better off calmly contemplating why we so quickly dismiss some dodges or procedures without further thought? In magical performance art, the end ALWAYS justifies the means.

The Magic you choose to perform should be selected by only one criterion: “EFFECT.” By Effect, I don’t mean what the catalogues say it is or is not, nor do I mean what the literature states it might be. I am defining “effect” as what your audiences tell their friends they experienced the next day, week, or month after they witnessed your performance. It has to be the effect that you want.

It is difficult for me to speak this seriously for this long, yet I am delaying the weekly trimming of my Chia Pet collection, my Sea Monkey training, and neglecting my worm farm ranching responsibilities just to finish this little essay. So, it must be important, if only to me. By the way, what is the best way to explain to your neighbors that your valuable livestock has crawled beneath their house? They’ve crawlin’, and they can’t get up?

There is no right way to do wrong (with apologies to the guy who looks like Tony Curtis). I’ve seen Ed Marlo shock a roomful of magicians with effects that required little more than good thinking. I’ve seen Frank Garcia light up a room into a blazing close-up party, with effects that contradict his “Million Dollar” moniker. I’ve seen Don Alan performing (for Mazda at the Chicago Auto Show) intrigue his audiences so profoundly they forgot what city they were in, much less that they were at an auto show! Don did it all with items that reside in your dresser drawers.

Many would agree that comedy-club crowds tend to be uneven. My goodness . . . people from varying stations in life gather haphazardly, consume unusual beverages, and seldom contain their reactions, favorable or otherwise. They act like humans as, in large measure, they are. Magic, much less mentalism should not readily prevail in this atmosphere. But, headlining the Funny Bone outside Chicago was Max Maven, with one of the finest performances I’ve ever seen. The power-drinkers were mesmerized into silence, and it was obvious by listening to the comments after the performance that everyone had a great time, and that everyone felt they had experienced something wonderful. And Magical. Yes, one of the best comedy-club acts I’ve seen is Max Maven, whether Mr. Maven likes it or not!

The purpose of all this is best pointed up by what Emo Philips remarked to his old high school buddy who used to “put the make on anything that moved.” Emo replied, “Why limit yourself like that?” In Magic, why should we?
christopher carter
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On 2002-08-05 21:58, RandyWakeman wrote:
There has been a traditional rift between sleight of hand performers, and “box mechanics.” While hardly a black and white area, the “non-sleight-of-hand” performer unnecessarily limits his working repertoire. “But I can’t do that,” the gaffed only worker explains. “If you say so,” the old Master of unseen moves replies.



In my experience this bias works equally in the other directions. Many's the sleight-of-hand performer who expresses open disdain for gaffs. Virtually all such that I have met are amateurs. Pros know the neccessity of emphasizing effect.

--Christopher Carter
RandyWakeman
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"Pros know the necessity of emphasizing effect."

Agreed, a lot a lot of thinking semi-pros / hobbyists have learned where the focus needs to be as well.

The point of the posting was not to place any limitations on yourself, regardless of any pre-existing notions.
kaznzak
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I thoroughly agree with what you say - it is the effect that is the thing, but sometimes there are limitations placed on magicians which determine which road they go down. I read here a lot of magicians who started magic when they were just a twinkle in someone's eye, who were lucky enough to to be mentored by a great magi before they were out of long pants and good luck to all of them! Unfortunatley for me I didn't discover a love of magic until really recently, and I am living prove of the well known saying "you can't teach a 43 year old grandmother new tricks"! That isn't quite true and I do quite a bit of magic in my children's clowning, but my hands and brain will never be quick enough to master any but the most basic of sleights (coin or card)so I have to satisfy myself with what I can do.It is not a choice I make becuase I beleive one is intrinsically better than the other - there are many card and coin tricks I would love to do, but simply a matter of practicalities!
For my part any way, it would never be a matter of "choosing" to consider one type of magic superior to another - I love it all too much!
KAZ Smile
christopher carter
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On 2002-08-15 03:55, kaznzak wrote:
Unfortunatley for me I didn't discover a love of magic until really recently, and I am living prove of the well known saying "you can't teach a 43 year old grandmother new tricks"! That isn't quite true and I do quite a bit of magic in my children's clowning, but my hands and brain will never be quick enough to master any but the most basic of sleights (coin or card)so I have to satisfy myself with what I can do.



Never say never. Mabye sleight of hand work is not what you're interested in, but you really can do it. Lots of folks have started later in life than you by far and become proficient at the technical work. But it's great that you're enjoying magic in whatever form you wish, and the most important thing is to follow what appeals to you. Enjoy!

--Christopher Carter
Scott Cram
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Quote:
On 2002-08-05 21:58, RandyWakeman wrote:
There has been a traditional rift between sleight of hand performers, and ?box mechanics.? While hardly a black and white area, the ?non-sleight-of-hand? performer unnecessarily limits his working repertoire. ?But I can?t do that,? the gaffed only worker explains. ?If you say so,? the old Master of unseen moves replies.


This is the reason I first got into memorized deck work. It was deemed "too hard" by many. After my radical grade improvement in college, which was due to learning memory technique, I knew it was just a matter of time and effort, before the memorized deck was a tool in my arsenal. I still like the fact that a great majority of magicians consider it "too hard." Good! That's all the more effects that I do that are more unique!

You know, Dr. Zola was right! Smile
RandyWakeman
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In my experience this bias works equally in the other directions. Many's the sleight-of-hand performer who expresses open disdain for gaffs. Virtually all such that I have met are amateurs. Pros know the neccessity of emphasizing effect.
--Christopher Carter


Sure it does, Chris. If your method is unknown and unsuspected by your intended audiece, it hardly matters what it actually is.
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