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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Feminine Mystique » » Women in Boxes (1 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Saint-Pol
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Saw this documentary (Women In Boxes) recently and found parts of it enlightening while others a bit more expected.Overall, very interesting. Curious as to what anyone else thought of the film?
danaruns
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I haven't seen it, but the feminist in me recoils.

For 150 years, a woman in a magic show was eye candy; misdirection, not magician. She was the lovely assistant, clad archetypally in skin-tight bathing suit and heels. She didn't speak or perform the magic, but sported an unwavering smile as she gleefully allowed herself to be sawed in half, stabbed with swords, imprisoned in a box, or bound with chains by the heroic male magician, who ultimately revealed her body unharmed, to deafening applause.

His applause.

Ugh. That so rubs me the wrong way. As Angela M. Sanchez wrote in her tour de force on women in magic, "Conjuring the Modern Woman: Women and Their Representation in the Golden Era of Magic":

Quote:
At a time when male scientists declared that "the woman's rights movement is an attempt to rear, by a process of unnatural selection, a race of monstrosities," the magic stage offered women a space to strive for an empowered identity as a performer who achieves seemingly impossible feats, or at least until 1921. After the creation and popularization of Sawing through a Lady, magic became increasingly gendered, the illusion itself serving as a metaphor for the desire to confine and destroy the modern woman. The illusion is never named the Sawn and Restored Woman like the Torn and Restored Newspaper; rather it is distinctly the act of sawing and variations of the title -- Sawing through a Woman, Sawing a Woman in Half, or simply, The Sawing -- affirm this violent attachment.


Before I got into magic, I was a professional musician. At the time, Harry Blackstone, Jr. had a big show, with a live orchestra. When he came to L.A., I got the gig. From the orchestra pit, I could see a lot of things that the audience couldn't. And I remember Gay Blackstone. Aside from watching her climb into sword boxes and such, I could see her moving props, climbing on apparatus and handling the secrets for some of Harry’s most famous illusions. And the thing is, here was Gay doing all the work, and Harry was the one standing on stage getting all the applause. I knew right then that I didn't want to be Gay Blackstone, I wanted to be Harry.

I do respect the skills and dedication of the female magician's assistant, and understand that they had/have limited opportunities to define their role as an actual human being, rather than being merely an object of sex and violence. And I'm interested in seeing the film. But I hope that the archetype dies a swift death. The whole gendering of magic has seriously limited women's opportunities, as reflected by the fact that in magic organizations around the globe, women magicians' membership hovers at about 5%. In large part, I blame the phenomenon of the magician's assistant for that. So, I'm not a fan.
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
Russo
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Women magicians are good- in the 50-60's we had so many Birthday gigs , I had to teach my wife an act- She then developed 4 different characters and effects for herself, as we were so busy with repeats- SHE/THEY - CAN do it. p.s. Ann(my wondeful wife of 60 years=-yes 60 )- she also assisted Blackstone SR., Ray Muse, Joe Kemp & Ken Griffin- Ralph(russo)Rousseau
Saint-Pol
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I watched it again and liked it even more. There were a couple of points to the documentary. One was, the women, the assistants, actually do the "magic", execute the trick. The other was, (at least to me) is imagine if male magicians had to perform perform in a skimpy, revealing outfits. I think that might be hilarious.
Dougini
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Quote:
On Apr 29, 2017, Saint-Pol wrote:
...imagine if male magicians had to perform perform in a skimpy, revealing outfits. I think that might be hilarious.


Me??? OM...G! Scar the kids for life! I'd be arrested. Females (some) are MADE for skimpy clothes. A magician as attractive as Katalin or Jinger SHOULD be allowed to dress that way! My opinion, of course.

Doug
Station10
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My 11 year old daughter just recently got into magic and I have been working with her. She is learning routines and has begun to do small performances for family and friends.
John Gilmore

"I am a great admirer of mystery and magic. Look at this life - all mystery and magic." ~ Harry Houdini

"To Strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!"
~ Alfred Tennyson
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