Tonight's Razorblade Show
Day three - Comedy

More Indecent Exposure

Tim Trono had some interesting thoughts on the increasing level of exposure in the magic world.

He said, regarding this post:

"I absolutely agree with what you said. 

Just exposing magic secrets for exposure cheapens our art. I think in light of my thoughts this is important to point out.  I also think such cheap exposure hurts our art in that it STEALS from the creators.  I don't think it all about the secret but I also don't think it is fair to take someone else's creation and to openly post it. 

This is base, unprofessional, uncaring, and low class. The fact is is that magic is NOT a huge money making venture as it is really a niche market in the scheme of things. When some dirt bag takes an item and openly posts another person's creation they have to understand they are stealing and they are making creators and producers think twice about releasing items in the future... if you put out a DVD or a trick or a book and it is on line illegally and unethically within a day it invariably impacts sales and thus the desire to take the time, effort, and expense to release an item."

I think the rest of his thoughts should be compulsory reading. He's hit it right on the head. Take a look.

"I find this post interesting… interesting because it is not based on reality.  In one post the writer states “Ideally, I guess, they don't want magicians selling tricks to just anyone. Tricks could be passed on from one master to their apprentice, or perhaps sold one-on-one to people considered worthy, or people who'll sign some sort of legally binding secrecy agreement.”.   In fantasy land I’d agree.  But that is not where we are in society today.  Today is the information age… you can learn everything from David Copperfield’s Flying to how to build a bomb to the latest news that happened just moments ago from around the world on line, on TV, etc.   So the fact is that we have to contend with this reality.  EVERY TIME there is any magic seen on TV or other large venues there is an almost immediate surge of posts or discussion of how it was done – some by magicians, some by laymen, and some by those in between.  I have SEEN a magician do an effect at the Magic Castle, as an example, and other magicians immediately begin reworking it – either for their own internal feeling of well being “that they know how it is done” or to unfortunately take and use the idea without permission.    So the idea that there are secrets is a farce.   But that is not a bad thing.  Let me make a comparison to other arts … painting and acting.  Anyone can buy an art book and start painting.  However, there are many many more people like myself that prefer to buy art pieces or to see them in museums, or to enjoy them in galleries -  pieces created by “true” artists that have mastered their craft, artists that know how to touch us emotionally. We lose ourselves in these works of the masters.  Likewise, anyone can stand in front of a camera and TRY to act.  There are, however, actors who have studied and practiced and when we see them in movies, plays, etc. we totally buy in to the reality and we cry, laugh, we experience fear, or we experience the many other emotions they wish to impart.  I think magic is very similar.  The secrets are almost irrelevant.    There simply are no more secrets.  So it’s more about the experience.  It’s about making them enjoy, suspend disbelief, and to question whether what they saw was actually real. 

And who chooses who is “worthy”?  I have seen some well established magicians who should not perform.  I have also seen some young upcoming magicians who would blow your socks off. 

I’d also bring up a few other points of why I think the current trend is not completely harmful to magic.  I recently spoke to a person I greatly admire for his ethics, thinking, etc. – Paul Richards of Elmwood Magic.  At Magic Live last year Paul and I were talking and Paul stated that although he hears there is so much junk on the market he’s never seen more good magic as well.  I’d agree.  I have been actively involved in magic for 32+ years and I have never seen such a flow of great ideas and material.  Certainly there IS the junk, but I guess the old saying “is the glass half empty or half full” applies.  Paul (and I) prefer to look at it as half full. I am just amazed at some of the unbelievable thinking I see now a days.  There seems to be no limit in people pushing the envelope to create absolute miracles.

I conducted a interview with Paul Harris for Reel Magic Quarterly #1 and unfortunately only a small part of it aired due to time constraints. One thing Paul discussed that really stands out in my mind is how the “technology” has so significantly improved.  As an example, it used to be that a magician had to use a Pass, a Zarrow Shuffle, a Palm, etc. but with some of the new techniques that have been created over the last several years the difficult techniques have been replaced by easier and possibly better techniques.  This scares many magicians to acknowledge this as it makes the line between magician and laymen that much thinner.  Certainly one can USE more difficult techniques if one wishes to feel they are having mastery of the art.  But the truth is that one can often achieve the same result with simpler techniques that have come to fruition.  These techniques would almost inevitably not been discovered if we did not share, if we did not encourage new independent thinking, etc. 

In 2006, I worked remotely with David Blaine and his very creative crew of people in preparation for his special.   During this time, several magicians very close to David were concerned that his involvement in commercial releases after his special was blasphemy.  David is probably one of the deepest thinkers in magic, and I have an incredible amount of respect for him.  When he talks I listen very closely.  Many people do not see or are not aware of this side of David.  Anyway, David advised that the second he did something on TV there would be a plethora of people that were either openly speculating and discussing his effects/methods or capitalizing off of his work (and the artists he works with and pays).  So isn’t it better that the ORIGINAL routine come out instead of some cheap knock off “similar to what David did on TV”?  Isn’t it better that the various artists such as Paul Harris, Andrew Mayne, Jay Noblezada, Doug McKenzie, Juan Pablo, etc. that worked with David get acknowledge for their creations and make money instead of some other person riding on their coat tails?  Also, to watch a master like David is a true lesson in magic.  As an example, last year I went out to dinner with David, Cyril, and a few other friends.  Later the manager of the restaurant asked David to do a few pieces of magic.  David did Ambitious Card.  I have seen many many magicians do Ambitious Card and it was nothing more than a cool card trick.  When David did this, it was an experience, it was TRUE magic.  There were no secret techniques you or I don’t already know.  But instead it was how David did it, it was his own belief in the magic, it was his own understanding of who HE is and what he can pull off.  When people see David do magic, they think they have seen the REAL thing.  If you or I use the biting coin, the Raven, the Rising Card, etc. we are just doing tricks.  With David and other select people they are doing REAL magic.  So it clearly goes well beyond the simple trick. The trick is not what makes one special or different or cool… it is how it is presented, it is knowing who you are and what works, it is not having to hide behind patter that no one believes or jokes that cloud the magic moments, it is about so much more.  But THAT stuff is hard to learn, hard to master… so we try to falsely believe that the mere knowledge of the trick, the secret is what makes us special… it is not.

Change is scary.  Change from what we are comfortable with can make us feel inadequate.  However, we must come to realize that we cannot plug the dam and live in a world of denial.  We have to face the fact that the line between the magician and the layman is very thin… the way to make yourself a true master is not through the secret of a few tricks or methods but through personal understanding, through making the experience something more than tricks, through being real to who you are and thus obviously understanding that, and so so much more."