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Grey Fox Magic

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I checked my horoscope and apparently I am liable to feel dejected if I receive a lackluster response from the world.  Furthermore, my performance has lost some of its ability to captivate an audience. I have been advised to reflect on either acceptance of this or the possibility of polishing my act.

Well, I don't technically have an act. I rarely perform publicly. I was a professional magician in the early 1990s, but came to feel I was not providing a value to those who hired me. It took me a while to accept that not everyone who loves magic needs to be professional. As such, I usually identify as an advanced amateur magician.

I started learning magic after my sixth birthday. My father bought several magic props while on a business trip. With those props and a book from the library, he put together a show that he performed for my kindergarten class. After the show, he gave me the book and let me play with those props.

The book was Henry Hay's The Amateur Magicians Handbook (ISBN: 9780451155023) and most of the props were from Supreme Magic with a few others from E-Z Magic. These have had a profound impact on what interests me in magic.

As a child, interacting with others was always a challenge. Often, rather than even try, I would stay out of the way and avoid social contact with them. I learned in 2014 this social deficit is Autism Spectrum Disorder. Magic didn't cure anything, I struggled with my social deficits for many years, however Magic did give me an avenue of appropriate social interaction.

I performed magic for anyone that would watch. Most of the people were indulgent adults, but it was a shift for me that started me out on a lifelong hobby and interest. After I was diagnosed, I learned that an obsession is a common trait among those with ASD. For some, they are obsessed with cars. Others are obsessed with Trains or maps. Meeting a child whose knowledge about a particular subject is staggering can be an incredible experience by itself. Well, I suppose Magic was my fixation.

Of course, knowing a lot about a subject and being good at performing are not the same. I am a great mimic, but beyond that a rather mediocre performer. My dream had always been to work in a magic shop, but there are not any where I live. I moved to Flordia, once and showed up at Disney World expecting a job... but that whole episode was more the product of Autism than anything that was going to work out. I have grown so much in the past years, it is amazing that I thought that was going to work.

After I received my diagnosis, many things started to make sense to me. I enrolled in a class for Autism Paraprofessionals, which gave me insights into Autism and really helped me understand myself better. The one thing that stood out to me was how often magic seemed to fit a concept of intervention!

So, these days I teach magic to children with Autism. Last year, I held 8 workshops for over 120 children. It was amazing! I have done more shows for children with Autism than typical children. Last year, one of the camps I worked at had a typical group and I had a difficult time because they were reacting the way all the instructions and demonstrations show. It was an amazing show, but I was still thrown off by the difference.

I also perform regularly for day-programs that provide services to cognitively and physically disabled adults who are not able to live independently. This is more of an interactive show and usually, I have one or two tricks they can "perform" in some capacity or another.

In preparing this response, I also looked up a list of interesting words that I planned to include. I could be described as Quixotic in some ways, although I have contrasting anxieties that challenge me to push myself beyond a comfortable secluded environment.

I recently saw a "performance" that referred to failed magicians or magicians who haven't "made it big" as anti-social losers. I think that is narrow minded. Magic is a social activity by itself and anyone who takes time to learn a magic trick has by that act chosen to improve themselves socially. Someone like myself may not have the charisma to rise to the upper echelons of our industry, but I have found an outlet to share my interest. For some, that is going to be making balloon animals at the mini-mall. Rather than critical, hurtful comments... rejoice that one more person has found a way to connect with people.

Does everyone who can do a trick need to be paid? No! But anyone who learns a trick should be appreciated.

I hope this extemporaneously narrated introduction is met with more than lackluster response, but I promise not to be dejected in whatever case. I came across that word this morning in Henning Nelms Magic and Showmanship (ISBN: 9780486410876)


Glad to be a part of this community. Cheers.

 

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #2 
Quite the tale, Fox. Welcome to TMF and rest assured that while our responses may sometimes seem lackluster, it's only because we are temporarily distracted by our own maladies. Worry not, though, as we shall bounce back quickly enough. The Amateur Magician's Handbook was and is a favorite of mine. Wore out the library copy before finally purchasing one of my own. Anti-social losers? Nah, not nearly. Just a bunch of fun-loving, magic-loving folks looking to bring smiles and gasps to a world in need of both.

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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #3 
Welcome GF

I think your workshops for kids with Autism sound fantastic - what a great gift you give them!

Robin
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luigimar

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Reply with quote  #4 
Welcome to TMF Grey Fox Magic! This is a welcoming community and we will be glad to hear from your experience and help if we can. 
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #5 
The first definition of an amateur is: 1. a person who engages in some art, science, sport, etc. for the pleasure of it rather than for money.

I work with a bunch of guys that play in a fast pitch softball league. They're not professionals. They're not antisocial outcasts either. There are tons of artists who sell their art at local craft shows rather than big city art galleries. People play in various local bands. People who cook chef quality meals at home.

I'm not a pro. I'm a part time pro. I haven't figured out how to make that leap to fame and fortune but that's okay. I have a lot of company. I also think, breathe and live magic 24 hours a day. I'm always thinking about magic or working on a routine.

Magic is my life. I love it. I perform and people seem to love what I do. Just enjoy it and maybe your magic will come across better.

Want to be a better performer? Go out and busk. Get out and perform magic; get people to stop, stay, and pay. If you fail, and you will, then you get a chance to tweak your performance and make it better with the next few people who will stop to see your show.

By the way, welcome aboard.
EvilDan.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #6 
Welcome Grey Fox! Glad you joined us! I liked learning about your working with children and adults with disabilities. I have a daughter that is a social worker. It can test the most patient and forgiving among us. So bless you for what you do. Have fun here and join in the discussions.
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Grey Fox Magic

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Reply with quote  #7 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
{. . .}

working with children and adults with disabilities. {. . .} It can test the most patient and forgiving among us.

It hasn't been that difficult for me. With the children, being on the spectrum has helped me understand others from a perspective a typically developed person might not have. With the adults, it is only a matter of seeing what they can do, what works and adapting to their needs.

What is considered "success" isn't static. Each person's success is unique to themselves. I just try to accommodate their ability.

There is a concept called "Task Analysis" where a task is broken into each element required to complete it. These can be very complex depending on necessity. Once you have a task analysis of a trick, look at the individual and decide how far along they will be able to make it.

As an example, you might be surprised to learn that "Aberrant reaction to Chic-Fil-A" is something that comes up frequently! I have seen neuro-typical children in full on panic when the cow costume comes out.

One child I knew, spent weeks driving by Chic-Fil-A... one day his mother posted a picture of him touching the door. Some of you might not understand how amazing that was, but from meltdown every time he got in the car, because he thought he might be going to Chic-Fil-A to touching the door was a huge step that took him several months. After touching the door, his mother shuffled him back into the car and they went home. For that day, for that visit... his success was touching the door. The next child it might be eating a meal without the toy they want, or a child paying for their parents meal. 

Magic is the same. I can show one child a trick and they get it right away. They start generalizing and finding creative ways to make not just a coin vanish, but rolled up bills, paper clips, rocks or whatever. The next child might struggle to display the coin in the first place. It is just a matter of observations and accommodations.

Tangent!

I once show a child (typical development) a few tricks. He asked me to make him disappear. I told him I needed a yard stick and a cloth. If he brought them the next week, I would show him how to disappear. I figured he would forget, but the next week he was the first child to approach me and he had the stuff.

I showed him how to use the yard stick to hold the cloth up, while he stood in a doorway and how to disappear and drop the cloth. Fine and fun, hey? But the magical part was that for the rest of the day, he made him disappear from just about any place he could. Eventually, from the middle of a field. Was it "great" or did it "fool" anyone, well probably not... but for him he was doing "real" magic. In his imagination, he was disappearing. He took something simple and worked it out for a lot of unlikely places the trick might work.

Tangent End...

I suppose the hardest thing someone might have to do, is shut up and be able to see the magic where it is. I have never minded being quiet.


Quote:
Originally Posted by EVILDAN

I'm not a pro. I'm a part time pro. I haven't figured out how to make that leap to fame and fortune but that's okay. 


I don't want to be famous. It seems like it would be a lot of stress. I actually work very well in supportive roles. I feel good about myself when someone else gets the recognition for my work. Being a part of the success is rewarding enough for me.

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Dave Campbell

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Reply with quote  #8 
Welcome aboard Grey Fox ...

Was great reading your posts.

I'm positive you will enjoy your time here...


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MagicTK

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Reply with quote  #9 
Welcome to TMF!

Tom
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #10 

"The way to get things done is not to mind who gets the credit."

Benjamin Jowett, 1817-1893



Wise words.
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Wayne T

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Reply with quote  #11 
Welcome Grey Fox Magic. Fantastic intro, I sure all of us look forward to hearing from you.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Grey Fox Magic

 

It hasn't been that difficult for me. With the children, being on the spectrum has helped me understand others from a perspective a typically developed person might not have. With the adults, it is only a matter of seeing what they can do, what works and adapting to their needs.

What is considered "success" isn't static. Each person's success is unique to themselves. I just try to accommodate their ability.

There is a concept called "Task Analysis" where a task is broken into each element required to complete it. These can be very complex depending on necessity. Once you have a task analysis of a trick, look at the individual and decide how far along they will be able to make it.

As an example, you might be surprised to learn that "Aberrant reaction to Chic-Fil-A" is something that comes up frequently! I have seen neuro-typical children in full on panic when the cow costume comes out.

One child I knew, spent weeks driving by Chic-Fil-A... one day his mother posted a picture of him touching the door. Some of you might not understand how amazing that was, but from meltdown every time he got in the car, because he thought he might be going to Chic-Fil-A to touching the door was a huge step that took him several months. After touching the door, his mother shuffled him back into the car and they went home. For that day, for that visit... his success was touching the door. The next child it might be eating a meal without the toy they want, or a child paying for their parents meal. 

Magic is the same. I can show one child a trick and they get it right away. They start generalizing and finding creative ways to make not just a coin vanish, but rolled up bills, paper clips, rocks or whatever. The next child might struggle to display the coin in the first place. It is just a matter of observations and accommodations.

Tangent!

I once show a child (typical development) a few tricks. He asked me to make him disappear. I told him I needed a yard stick and a cloth. If he brought them the next week, I would show him how to disappear. I figured he would forget, but the next week he was the first child to approach me and he had the stuff.

I showed him how to use the yard stick to hold the cloth up, while he stood in a doorway and how to disappear and drop the cloth. Fine and fun, hey? But the magical part was that for the rest of the day, he made him disappear from just about any place he could. Eventually, from the middle of a field. Was it "great" or did it "fool" anyone, well probably not... but for him he was doing "real" magic. In his imagination, he was disappearing. He took something simple and worked it out for a lot of unlikely places the trick might work.

Tangent End...

I suppose the hardest thing someone might have to do, is shut up and be able to see the magic where it is. I have never minded being quiet.




I don't want to be famous. It seems like it would be a lot of stress. I actually work very well in supportive roles. I feel good about myself when someone else gets the recognition for my work. Being a part of the success is rewarding enough for me.



Grey Fox, that is awesome.  Success truly is measured differently by different people.  I know folks that suffer from depression and success to them looks like being able to get out of bed in the morning and get dressed.

What you are doing with people is magical in and of itself.  You are spending time with them.  You are interacting with them and showing them compassion.  

The magic is not the thing, it is just the medium.  The magic is in the impact you make on lives.  

I wish more people would volunteer.  If they did they would find that in many instances THEY are getting as much out of it or even more than those they intend to help.

Good on you!

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Ferry Gerats

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Reply with quote  #13 
Welcome aboard Grey Fox Magic!
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Frank Zak

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Reply with quote  #14 
Welcome to TMF. It is a great bunch of magi.
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Lucas Maillard

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Reply with quote  #15 
Hey,

Welcome to TMF. Your intro is really inspiring. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Cheers,

Lucas.
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