Over at iTricks Magic Phil has raised his head again with a typically ill-informed comment:
"Typical Tim Ellis. Despite many magicians in Melbourne being approached, the only one to go on TV in a segment supporting the MM Show was Tim Ellis. Anything to get his face on TV. Now tries to cover his tracks on his blog by suggesting it was to support his magic show - which was not even mentioned on the segment. Typical duplicitous Ellis behaviour. When are you guys overseas going to stop believing the crap he spouts?"
# 1 - I went on TV filling in for Nicholas Johnson. Adam Mada, Simon Coronel and Tim You also made appearances.
#2 - Neither I, nor any of the other magicians, were supporting the Masked Magician. Nor were we going on TV to kick up a fuss about his show (though 'Today Tonight' did a hatchet job on Adam Mada to make it look like he was).
#3 - We all appeared on TV to promote The Melbourne Magic Festival (not my "magic show"). The Festival was plugged on the 'Today Tonight' website, and the 'Weekend Sunrise' story accidentally plugged the Trick or Treat Magic Shop by mistake. They are trying to schedule a Magic Festival story to make up for it.
#4 - I tried to call you to discuss your comment but you seem to be more elusive than the Masked Magician himself. What is your real identity Magic Phil? I see you are still advertising.
To set the record straight, The Masked Magician TV specials originally came about because the Fox Network wanted to create some kind of a program to counter the success of magic specials on other networks, but they didn't want to spend as much. They came up with the idea of exposing the very secrets the other shows were presenting. The idea was that the viewers of the magic special would be eager to find out how the tricks were done so they would tune in to see them revealed.
Various magicians were contacted and all but one would have no part in it. Valentino was interested. One of the reasons he gave for signing up was that he was going to guide the network to only expose the "old methods". One of the reasons others cited was that he wanted the money.
The first special did expose old methods, many of which were still in use, but as more and more specials were made there was a demand to expose the popular tricks of the day. Effects viewers had seen Criss Angel and David Blaine do on TV. Someone at Fox must have figured that, if viewers knew these guys were just doing simple tricks, they'd stop watching and (hopefully) tune in to Fox instead.
The Masked Magician became famous all over the world, with spin off series in Asia and South America, and live shows in arenas.
Valentino somehow managed to run low on cash again a few years ago and, as he owns the image of the Masked Magician, approached another TV network about doing a brand new series and exposing a whole new batch of illusions and close up effects. (This is the series currently running on Channel 7 here in Australia).
Valentino's tired old argument that he is inspiring magicians to be more creative and invent new tricks instead of relying on the old ones is even more inane than ever, as some of the effects he's exposed were created for TV specials by Criss Angel less than 6 months before MM exposed them.
I'm certainly no fan of The Masked Magician.
Yes, he is getting people talking about magic, which is a good thing - but he's also reducing magic to a mere puzzle to be solved, which is a bad thing.
Yes, his specials are well produced, which is a good thing - but they are so cheap for networks to buy that no actual magic specials can compete with them, which is a bad thing.
Yes, a lot of the methods he exposes are wrong, which is a good thing - but most people don't care exactly how a trick works, all they remember is that there is a secret and they know it, which makes it extremely difficult to suspend their disbelief once the secret has been revealed. Which is a bad thing.
Unfortunately, the Masked Magician will always be with us in some form or another. Whether some failed Vegas entertainer in a black mask, or simply a noisy kid in the audience who's spent way too long on YouTube, there's always someone who misses the point of magic. Imagine if they went to the theatre to see Hamlet and leapt up from their seat yelling "He's not really the Prince of Denmark! He's just an actor!!!"
Yes, some will argue that magicians have brought it upon themselves by presenting magic with an air of superiority - virtually challenging the audience to figure out how the tricks are done - but when it comes to the Masked Magician he's purely in it for the fame and fortune that he couldn't get any other way.
It's sad that some people seek notoriety by criticising more established artists from behind a mask - or a false name.