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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Periods & styles of Magic » » The Origins of Pop Haydn's Persona (43 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Pop Haydn
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I am fascinated by the type of magic that has a nine-year old heart. Dime Novels. Stories for Boys and Girls. Adventure!

Such nonsense fiction is a lot of fun for kids and grownups alike. It needs to be multi-layered and fun. The Indiana Jones movies are a good example of what I mean.

In this world, kids and idiots can build working teleportation devices, if you steal a magic wand you can zap things with it, if you look into the witch's crystal you can find out what you need to know (you don't have to meditate in a dark room for years), if you have the right machine you can control gravity, violate the laws of nature, etc. This sort of magic is real, and represents power. This power can be owned, and it can be stolen. It is the magic of fairy tales and adventures. It is magical thinking on a child's level, but with the glow of wonder that reminds us of when we wished wishes could be made to come true by simply willing it.

The audience and the magician enter into play, in which the magic is considered to be real by the magician, who tries to demonstrate and prove it to the audience. When the show is over, the audience is left with the story of what they have witnessed--their memory of it--and that story doesn't make any sense. They couldn't have seen what they thought they saw. The magic leaves a little burr under the saddle of the mind that makes the experience sticky: it is mired halfway between memory of the real and fantasy. The experience of the impossible is couched in the fantasy of the impossible.

Pop comes to the stage with the intent to sell his products and make some money. He is a professional stage magician. Most of the magic is trickery, which he readily admits. The color-changing scarf, the Mongolian Pop Knot--these are intended to be standard stage magic, done well by a pro. Pop will pretend to believe the fake magic he is doing is real, because that is the way magic is performed. Pop is from 1910. He was blown into this century by accident along with his troupe of musicians and variety performers. Pop is a patent medicine maker and pitchman, and his demonstrations of magnetic water are presented as science. The teleportation device being demonstrated is science. The Tesla Girl (Georgia Magnet) is presented as science. The magic is supposed to be fake and the science is supposed to be real.

What my theory of Pop Haydn came from a question.

What would it be like if you met someone who claimed to be from another world, or another time. What if you were to meet a wild and amazing character like Dr. Who or Professor Marvel? If you were suddenly actually relating and talking to this strange and other worldly person. Would you think they were nuts? Would you think it was a prank? What if you met this guy as a member of his audience? What if he was really believable, and he did things that seemed completely inexplicable unless he was who he claimed to be? What if he had a Sonic Screwdriver that worked, and a Tardis that was bigger inside that outside?

I wanted to create a show that embodied all this fun sort of story into a magical experience of the impossible. The idea is not to convince people the story is real, but to get them to remember having been part of a story for a short time. But the story is a remembrance of something real, and the magic that is unsolved creates a strange sort of opening in the imagination.

Pop seems to be a crackpot. But his inventions work. He seems to be oblivious to the practical uses or value of his powerful objects, and he is impatient, impetuous, careless and absent-minded. He seems the last person who should own the Sphere of Destiny, or be playing around with the forces of high-pressure electricity and gravity, or teleporting objects into other objects by guesswork and aiming. On the other hand, perhaps we can trust him never to put any of these things to an improper or selfish use.

He is a retired conman, gambler and adventurer. But he always survives it seems more by luck than anything else. His ideas are ridiculous and his inventions based on idiot theories, but they always seem to work. It is as if he is the Inspector Clousseau of technology. Whatever he slaps together does what it is supposed to do, seemingly just by luck.
misterbill
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The insight here is fascinating. The real thought behind the performance and development of the character is amazing. Watching the character develop has been a wonderful trip for me to witness. Thank you so much for sharing this.
"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high

attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe

of heaven." - Chuang Tse
Pop Haydn
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Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Jan 3, 2015, misterbill wrote:
Whit Vs. Pop from the videos above: Whit came first and I was familiar with him from your first videos and manuscripts. He seems like perhaps an over the top version of yourself (Whitney Hadden). kind of a put upon substitute teacher with an unruly class, making it up as he goes, but magic happens.

Pop is a rascal... but a lovable one. Is he serious or not? Can you believe him? Does he even believe what he is saying? Who cares he is fun to watch! Pop is very entertaining, a more 3 dimensional, rounded character... He seems so real, so genuine.

I do have some questions that I have wondered about... you have effectively created an alter ego here... a separate personality even... I hope this makes sense...

How much does the "masque" slip when you are out and about? What about on stage? Does Whit slip out at times? What about Whitney Hadden (the real you)? Who is pulling the strings on Pop? Whit or Whitney? (Are you Whitney playing Pop or are you Whitney playing Whit playing Pop)... I know Whitney is at the root but is Whit still there between Whitney and Pop? When the "masque" slips on stage is that Whit winking at us or is it Whitney?

Do you ever find yourself lost in the Character at times? How often do you get to be Whitney if at all or ever any more? How does your family react to Pop? How does your wife react to Pop? How does she feel about him being around all the time? Do you ever have conflict with your characters? I could go on but I will stop here... This is fascinating. Thanks for being so open with us, Pop.


I dropped my accent and developed a more "urban" persona in the early seventies. I spoke and performed in a midwest accent until 2005 when I started doing Pop. So really, I haven't been Whitney for forty years.

I am Pop all the time now, but I feel authentic. I don't feel I am playing a role when I am not performing. The accent is familiar and comfortable, even if different from the one I grew up with. My feelings and beliefs and attitudes toward things haven't changed. Pop has the same political, social, and philosophical positions and outlooks as I have. That was intentional. His history and experiences and skills mirror my own.

I never have conflict with my characters because I only have the one. I tinker with it, and enlarge the possibilities, but it is the persona I will probably maintain the rest of my life. I actually like it.

It is like playing Santa Claus all the time.

I think the young people today have much more experience with role-playing games and fantasy. They are much more adept at going in and out of character and playing on several layers. People know that Pop isn't real in some sense, but they like to play with him and talk to him. Much like the ventriloquist and his dummy. They know the ventriloquist is there and is the one they are really talking to, but they can't resist the illusion of the dummy. The dummy has a stronger and more attractive and interesting personality. It eclipses the personality of the ventriloquist.

People interact with Pop all the time, both in person in social situations or on Facebook.

They "hook" into the character, and can go in and out of relating to the character or to the "real" Whit effortlessly. They might joke and play with me about being a con man, or a politician or liar and pitchman, and I answer back in character and in story. The next comment might be about my wife or dog or where I will be performing next, and I answer as the "real" me.

Like Jack Benny's "tightwad" image, the good hearted but amoral Pop gives people handles with which they always know how to get a funny response from him. It makes him seem approachable and familiar.

In the same way, I have little trouble slipping in and out of the character, from my onstage to my offstage version of the same persona.

I think my wife likes Pop better, although Whit and Pop both snore and make messes around the house about the same...
misterbill
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Quote:
On Jan 13, 2015, Pop Haydn wrote:
...

I think my wife likes Pop better, although Whit and Pop both snore and make messes around the house about the same...


LOL! Thanks for answering my questions. This has been a real insight.
"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high

attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe

of heaven." - Chuang Tse
Perkins
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Quote:
On Jan 11, 2015, Pop Haydn wrote:
I am fascinated by the type of magic that has a nine-year old heart.


This resonates with me, sir. Thank you. And thank you for taking the time to share the arc of your character development.

I've found that some of the most engaging live characters to play are good-hearted and a tad cantankerous. This gives the performer the opportunity to be endearingly comic and yet have complete audience control. You wield that with the skill of surgeon here in these videos.
Pop Haydn
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Quote:
On Jan 13, 2015, Perkins wrote:
Quote:
On Jan 11, 2015, Pop Haydn wrote:
I am fascinated by the type of magic that has a nine-year old heart.


This resonates with me, sir. Thank you. And thank you for taking the time to share the arc of your character development.

I've found that some of the most engaging live characters to play are good-hearted and a tad cantankerous. This gives the performer the opportunity to be endearingly comic and yet have complete audience control. You wield that with the skill of surgeon here in these videos.


Thanks. It is great for the magical character to have as wide an emotional range as possible. The performer who can enthuse and excite an audience, as well as engender sympathy and provoke, has a lot of advantages when it comes to managing and directing an audience to the place he wants them.

My older persona "Whit" has a similar emotional range as myself, which is not great. He is very stiff and cerebral, without much beyond nervousness, treading water, irritation, and smarmy manipulation. When I created Pop, I wanted him to be much more interesting and stretchable. Pop can pitch a product, laugh out loud, get angry, demand applause, manipulate, scheme and show both fear and resolution--he is much bigger in his range and power of expression than Whit.

Early on, as I became comfortable with the mannerisms and voice of Pop, I began experiencing a strange thing. Ghosts from the past would come out of nowhere and sort of take over my character's face and body. It was amazing, really. These were the old men I knew growing up in the South, the big-eyed story tellers both black and white who would sit around the harness racing stable and spit into cups as they tried to top each other's jokes and stories. I found Pop sort of channeling their expressiveness and wild expressions and mannerisms. This is what gave a lot of authenticity and realism to the the otherwise over the top characterization.

BTW, the name "Pop" was chosen because the old-time conmen loved to use avuncular names. "Dad" Ryan, "Uncle" Willie, "Brother" Bowers were all dangerous conmen. With a name like "Pop," half the battle for a scam artist was won by the time the introductions were over:

"Hello! I'm Whitney Wesley Haydn, but most everybody around here calls me "Pop!"

"Hi, Pop! Pleasure to meet you."

"My pleasure, son. Now what can I do for you?"

If everyone calls him "Pop" then the man must be likeable and responsible and respected, right? As soon as the sucker calls him Pop, he is one step down socially and power-wise. "Howdy, son."

The other reason "Pop" was chosen was that it resonates with "Papa Haydn" as Joseph Haydn was famously called. Pop Haydn (pronounced Hayden) is similar enough to Papa Haydn to make it sound "familiar" without being immediately connected.

Also, Pop was not a popular name--not many people want to play a grandfather role anymore--so Pop Haydn comes up on Google pretty much alone.
Anand Khalsa
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Wow! Thank you SO MUCH Pop! I need a little time to process and reread everything Smile
Pop Haydn
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The internet offers a wonderful and inexpensive way to connect our on stage characters with our backstories, and to make connections with our fans. I have set up several fake websites that give credence to the backstory of Pop and of his routines. If people look up "Cleopatra's Eye" or "Sphere of Destiny" they will find websites that I created that tell stories that support my performances on stage. The same with magnetized water. If you search "magnetized water" on youtube, you will find some of my videos that support and extend the performance piece.
misterbill
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Quote:
On Jan 16, 2015, Pop Haydn wrote:
The internet offers a wonderful and inexpensive way to connect our on stage characters with our backstories, and to make connections with our fans. I have set up several fake websites that give credence to the backstory of Pop and of his routines. If people look up "Cleopatra's Eye" or "Sphere of Destiny" they will find websites that I created that tell stories that support my performances on stage. The same with magnetized water. If you search "magnetized water" on youtube, you will find some of my videos that support and extend the performance piece.


Have you ever thought of planting more false clues on the internet... perhaps fake scans of newspapers with articles about the disappearance of a town or leading to records of Pop's existance in 1910?
"To let understanding stop at what cannot be understood is a high

attainment. Those who cannot do it will be destroyed on the lathe

of heaven." - Chuang Tse
Pop Haydn
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Pop Haydn
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Pop Haydn images available in a number of places online:

Image


Image


Image


Image


More here:

http://www.pinterest.com/pophaydn/pop-haydn/

and here:

https://www.google.com/search?q=pop+hayd......cQ_AUoAg

So, yes, I am working to plant as much fake supporting evidence as possible. Smile

I like to think of it as peeing in the pool of knowledge...
ZachDavenport
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Certain spots of google have been feeling kind of warm lately. Smile
Reality is a real killjoy.
Pop Haydn
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It is only virtual warmth, Zach.
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Hey Pop,

Thank you for the great insight into your character and it's development. It has been fascinating reading. I appreciate you taking time out of your day to answer our questions. Have you considered compiling your various internet articles into an "autobiography" of your Pop character and pitching that after your shows, alongside your magnetic water and elixirs? I can already see it, a collection of short stories detailing the Many Adventures of Pop Haydn, with each chapter being a new and exciting adventure.
Pop Haydn
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Yes. We are working on a series of Dime Novels that we will sell online and at the shows. We have the Hard Rock Candy, Amazing Miracle Oil, and the Dime Novels. You can see some of the photos we took for the dime novels on my website.
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I like the one of you riding the lion.
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I'd like to add my thanks to Pop for sharing his thought process in developing his character.

As someone in a competitive market like NYC, I'm finding it hard to differentiate myself so inssight into the mind of a true master is incredible.

On a side note I checked out his website and what he has to say about magnetic fields, and magnetized water, is fascinating.
I spent most of yesterday following the links on his site. Truly amazing stuff.

And here I thought it was just snake water. Smile

Truly sincere thanks for that Mr. Haydn.
"Patriotism is supporting your country all of the time, and your government when it deserves it." Mark Twain
Pop Haydn
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My pleasure. If anyone has questions about character and development of character I will be happy to talk about it.

As I said, this is a very unique approach, and one that would not suit most performers. I don't recommend it. But character study is always important, even when you are just playing yourself. It helps you to be at ease when performing or just talking with people afterwards because you know how to answer questions and deal with people because you know your backstory and who you are and what you are about.
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You said in this thread that you are now pop all the time. Are you acting all the time, or Has your original self ceased to exist? Can you turn Pop off, an be Whit sometimes? I just can't imagine completely changing myself into a different person.
Reality is a real killjoy.
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