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HexTheDoombunny

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Reply with quote  #1 
Before you continue reading, take five minutes to watch Eric Mead at the eg Conference. It's magical, fun, and ties in to what follows:



Neat, huh?

Now on to the rest. Eric is discussing the image of magicians in the pubic eye, quoting Max Maven about the trivialization of an art form, and so on.

He describes two tropes common in the public regarding the mental images of what a magician is. One is the archaic tuxedo-ed magician of yesteryear, the other the magic "dork" performing at kids parties, frequently visualized as a clown.

I'd like to add another trope to the list. The edgy street magician, approaching strangers with a seventeen dollar deck of cards, mumbling about showing them something amazing, performing a multi-phase, seemingly unending, ambitious card effect, and then asking for tips.

Obviously these are not all of us. But, in a brief asking about, these seem to be the images associated with magicians when asked of the public.

FYI, I make no claims to statistics on this. Just observation and questions, what I see, and what other magicians of my acquaintance have seen.

So clearly we have stated the issue, Eric Mead far more eloquently than I could. And based on articles, videos, forum posts, and just pain asking, this does seem to be an issue on the minds of more than a few fellow magi.

The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. So what's the next step?

Problem: Magicians are often seen in a few specific ways by the audience, and not in a flattering way. 

Solution: Change the image.

Problems within the solution: One, how do we change the public's perception of what a magicians is and looks like and, two, what image is it we want?

That's the moment that made me pause. Truly, what image do we want the public to envision when they think about magic?

Anyway. These are the things that keep me up at night. Cheers!
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Mind Phantom

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Reply with quote  #2 
Great queston!

How would a modern day shaman carry himself?
What would a modern day shaman look like?
Is the shaman able to get info from other worlds?

There is a tarot card of The Magiician in the Driudcrarft Tarot and it shows the magician with the objects in front of him i.e sword, wand, pentacle & a cup. And behind the Magician is the Stonehenge. This tells me the man of mystery is a "blended being" and has knowledge of the secrets of old times. The man who built Coral Castle in Florida claimed to know the secrets of old.

Believe it or not, I am thinking about getting a tatoo on my arm of the Driudcrarft Tarot of The Magician standing in front of Stonehenge, but it's something I am still thinking about.
 
If magicians are really modern day shamans, wouldn't they dress different then society dresses? I believe that a real mystery man really couldn't give a flip on what he dresses like and what other people think of him.

Wouldn't they have a different view of reality then the general population?

A really good book on shamanism is Graham Handcock's Supernatural..

That was a lot more fun than talking tricks lol

Rick-

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #3 
Very good points Hex. I'm thinking.....

Mike
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #4 
There should be many different images of what a magician is like. What's the answer to the question "What does the public think about when they think of a musician?" Rap artist; folkie; heavy metal; tattoos; mod; 

I think the same is true of magic.

Maybe we need to look at it the other way i.e. what do we want the public to NOT be thinking about magicians? 

NOT a wise guy; NOT a person who makes you look like an idiot; NOT a know-it-all etc.

Positive qualities likely include - mysterious, funny, likable, interesting, 

M
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rready

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Reply with quote  #5 
When I first saw Juan Tamariz live it seemed like he was having soo much fun performing it made the audience feel the same way. Here's a guy that probably looks the least like a magician but when the lecture was over I felt I really did witness true magic. If you look at what Mike posted above for positive qualities I would say Juan is everyone of those. 
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #6 
Great topic. I am interested to see where it goes. My .02:

Consider several archetypal magicians: Merlin, Dr. Strange, Gandalf, Harry Potter. All possess some inexplicable, arcane knowledge that provides them with powers far beyond those of mortal men.

We, as mere mortal magicians, pretend. We make use of various forms of trickery to affect the appearance of such powers. As such we sometimes take ourselves far too seriously. Note: We should always take our art seriously, just not ourselves.

Magic, at least as we practice it, should be about entertainment through mystification. How one goes about mystifying is standard fare. There is a foundation of tricks, ploys, sleights, subtleties, and such by which we affect most of our tricks. We exploit flaws in the human brain. We pretend. But some of us forget. We take ourselves too seriously. We can’t help ourselves. We human. Entertaining is another matter.

There are proportionately few magicians among the general population. Most people live their entire lives without encountering a magician beyond those they occasionally see on television. Most people will never attend a magic show. But they might encounter Weird Uncle Louie, the crazy relative who likes to do cards tricks involving lots of dealing and three rows of seven cards and tell me which row your card is in. They may see a birthday party magician, a clown or a guy dressed in colorful clothing who keeps a roomful of birthday boys happy for a while. And that will be their vision of a magician. Hmm…  

When and if they do encounter a real magician. A practiced, confident magician, why it could be one of us. And if it is, we must be prepared to represent our art and our passion; we must be prepared to show them not only our tricks, but also show them what a magician looks like acts like seems like in real life. Are we prepared?

If we blow our opportunities to represent the rest of us, shame on us. And I am not talking about having a bad day, that’s different. I am talking about studying and practicing and rehearsing and being prepared for the chance to magish for a real live person or two. It could well be that the impression we leave will become their vision of the archetypal magician. Seriously. You could be an archetype. The mind boggles, right?!

So, be prepared. Be ready to stand in for the rest of us and show the world what we are and what we do. Make it count. Make it right. And make the impression a good one. If you are not yet prepared, then wait, but not for long. Start small, end big. Be you. You are the magic.

 

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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #7 
The Spanish school of magicians have struck a chord with me. When I began with cards I had no desire to dress as anything other than myself. After all, it was only me doing card tricks and enjoying the interaction with others whilst sharing a moment of magic.

My approach has always been one of expressing myself and my unique perspective on the world. It doesn't really matter what people think of magicians as far as I am concerned. Yes there are the stereotypes and they exist for a reason. A lot of people in this world dress to impress, and follow the existing rules in any particular field.

The appeal of David Blaine, for non-magicians, was how he came across as a regular kind of guy, he was not flashy, there were no smoke and mirrors, no show-girls or patter, and definitely no top-hat. In the 90s it was different, but now it has become another approach to emulate.

In my eyes a being a magician has little to do with what your wearing, or even what you perform... as far as I am concerned being a magician is a state of mind, the magician is the one who allows others to see the world anew!
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Magic Harry

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Reply with quote  #8 
I have to say that I take exception to children's entertainers to being included in a group that is described as  disparaging. Ask what Silly Billy would think of this description. 
Yes I started out being paid as a birthday party magician and family entertainer, though I will never classify myself as a professional. Those shows fill a need in the entertainment field too.
Thanks for listening.
Magic Harry

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #9 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
The Spanish school of magicians have struck a chord with me. When I began with cards I had no desire to dress as anything other than myself. After all, it was only me doing card tricks and enjoying the interaction with others whilst sharing a moment of magic.

My approach has always been one of expressing myself and my unique perspective on the world. It doesn't really matter what people think of magicians as far as I am concerned. Yes there are the stereotypes and they exist for a reason. A lot of people in this world dress to impress, and follow the existing rules in any particular field.

The appeal of David Blaine, for non-magicians, was how he came across as a regular kind of guy, he was not flashy, there were no smoke and mirrors, no show-girls or patter, and definitely no top-hat. In the 90s it was different, but now it has become another approach to emulate.

In my eyes a being a magician has little to do with what your wear, or even what you perform... as far as I am concerned being a magician is a state of mind, the magician is the one who allows others to see the world anew!


Thanks Socrates for bringing new life to an old thread.  An oldie but a goodie.

So far as a magician respects the art, it doesn't matter to me what they look like or how they dress.  Within reason.  Everything has its limits.  If one truly respects magic then they'll stay within the lanes.

I do see value in individuals developing their own persona.  You mentioned Blaine, and he is a good example.  Chris Angel also had a persona.  I didn't care much for it, but hey, it worked for him.

Let's remember that when asked to name a famous magician, most probably still will respond "Houdini", so stereotypes and anachronisms die hard.

That shouldn't dissuade modern-day magicians from trying to carve out their own niches.

When I performed on stage I wore a black tuxedo mosly.  The only thing I'd change is the style of shirt and the color of my bow ties and my vest.  Sometimes I wore a white vest, sometimes black.  Sometimes I wore a white tie, sometimes black.  I suppose I resembled what a lot of people think a magician used to look like "back in the day".  

However, I have also performed in a white tux and in a regular suit coat and slacks.  I don't remember there being much of a difference in the audiences reactions.  

Nowadays I'd only put on a jacket to perform if appropriate for the venue.  Or if I had stuff hidden in my jacket such as ball droppers, clips, etc.  

I was taught that I should always dress at least equal to the spectators if not one level higher.  Show up in a coat and you can always go hang it up if you feel overdressed.

In other words, you can always come down, but you can't go up.  That is unless perhaps you store a jacket in your car, etc.

Interesting thread.  It will be interesting to see if there are other thoughts.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #10 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Magic Harry
I have to say that I take exception to children's entertainers to being included in a group that is described as  disparaging. Ask what Silly Billy would think of this description. 
Yes I started out being paid as a birthday party magician and family entertainer, though I will never classify myself as a professional. Those shows fill a need in the entertainment field too.
Thanks for listening.
Magic Harry


Harry, I get where you're coming from.  Some do tend to look at children's performers as "low rent" magicians.  

I disagree.  To be good at it, you have to be really good at it.

One of my mentors, Ernie Heldman, a pioneer of magic on television, was also a great "kids show" performer.

I accompanied him to a show in New Orleans and it was amazing to see the man I knew turn into the consummate entertainer for children.

It also reminded me of how lucrative it can be.  In addition to his generous fee, he was given a large tip when he left.  It can be a good way to make extra money if not a full-time gig.
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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #11 
- Are you impressed? - said the magician.
- Not really - said the child.
- Why? - asked the magician.
- Because you are a magician; so you can do magic.

To impress children we have to make them understand that magic are not supposed to be able to do!

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Paco Nagata

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Reply with quote  #12 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Socrates
The Spanish school of magicians have struck a chord with me. When I began with cards I had no desire to dress as anything other than myself. After all, it was only me doing card tricks and enjoying the interaction with others whilst sharing a moment of magic.

In my opinion the shortest way to define "The Spanish School of Magic" is:

Telling magic instead of doing magic.

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Andrew

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Reply with quote  #13 
Hi, guys.

Interestingly a friend of mine sent me a quote yesterday from The Jerx that he felt was a good approach to his style of magic and that resonated with him. It read:

"...I want them to think, 'Oh, he does these really cool visual tricks, and he knows some strange games, and he has some great card tricks, and he's got a collection of really weird objects, and then...this one time...he showed me the craziest thing I've ever seen.'"

My friend and I are going to be discussing this and other similar thoughts from the Jerx next time we meet up, but I thought that this is another image that amateurs clearly would like to create. Unlike the images I have always had of magicians growing up, this approach almost takes the emphasis off of being specifically a magician and blurs the lines a little to create an image of a friend or acquaintance who is interesting, fun and does some amazing magic from time. The magic is sort of weaved into the person you are and your social interactions rather than being placed on top. This image, of course, can only work for the hobbyist/amateur, but it is an image that at least some would like to create. I find it interesting.

Thanks

Andrew

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Magic Harry

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Reply with quote  #14 
Thank you RayJ for your comment. Like I said I would never classify myself as a professional. I did it because I enjoyed it and the money was just an extra perk.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #15 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew
Hi, guys.

Interestingly a friend of mine sent me a quote yesterday from The Jerx that he felt was a good approach to his style of magic and that resonated with him. It read:

"...I want them to think, 'Oh, he does these really cool visual tricks, and he knows some strange games, and he has some great card tricks, and he's got a collection of really weird objects, and then...this one time...he showed me the craziest thing I've ever seen.'"

My friend and I are going to be discussing this and other similar thoughts from the Jerx next time we meet up, but I thought that this is another image that amateurs clearly would like to create. Unlike the images I have always had of magicians growing up, this approach almost takes the emphasis off of being specifically a magician and blurs the lines a little to create an image of a friend or acquaintance who is interesting, fun and does some amazing magic from time. The magic is sort of weaved into the person you are and your social interactions rather than being placed on top. This image, of course, can only work for the hobbyist/amateur, but it is an image that at least some would like to create. I find it interesting.

Thanks

Andrew



One of the advantages magicians have is their opportunity to share magic with their friends.  Think about it, what other hobby can you display at a social gathering?

Are you going to bring a canvas and paint?  Into bowling?  Doesn't help you much in someone's living room.  You'd look weird showing up with your latest fly rod, right?  And on and on.  But a magician can create miracles with a borrowed glass and a few bits of napkin.  

Another great thing about magic.
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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #16 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ


Think about it, what other hobby can you display at a social gathering?


Cat juggling? I might be overthinking this one.  The distinct advantage of magic is that you are less likely to get tetanus, toxoplasmosis or public ridicule. 
Seriously, I’ve enjoyed reading everyone’s perspectives on this thread: it’s reinforced that there are an infinite variety (sub-genres) of ‘styles of magic’ that permits each of us to find and develop our unique presentation. I’ve really had to think about this as I meld kids and gospel magic in a way that fits my personality. 

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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #17 
That scene in 'The Jerk' was hilarious! I am a cat lover but have to admit it was funny.

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John Cowne

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Reply with quote  #18 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RayJ
That scene in 'The Jerk' was hilarious! I am a cat lover but have to admit it was funny.


That scene kills me too! I also love cats ... can’t eat a whole one, though. 
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #19 
Steve Martin inspires me to mess with the perception of magic... his comedy inspires me to think outside of the card-box... in another thread I mentioned Garrett Thomas and mime... I like the idea of performing a card, or coin trick with nothing other than words... nothing physical happens but it challenges the concept of the magician... working with the imagination, playing with words... not very appealing to the average card-carrying magician but alters perceptions just the same.

Tommy Cooper subverted things in many respects. I remember watching his performance on the TV when he died, it was live television and people thought it was part of the act.
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