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Topic: David Blaine Question...
Message: Posted by: Mr. Ed (Dec 16, 2001 09:08AM)
I am pretty much new to the masses of magic. I have had my nose in books and have been playing with cards and coins for a few years now, but am relatively new to interacting with others with the same interests.

So my question is: Why is David Blaine looked on with such contempt? Or am I getting the wrong impression?


A force is a force unless of course......
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Dec 16, 2001 02:59PM)
Blaine is derided because his presentation is simple and successful.

Most people think they can do better than him.

OK where are they?

Got any specials? Not that such is my yard stick for artistic success.

What these people who run him down fail to do is take into account what is working for him (he doesnít hide it) and adapt it to themselves.

The tension between Blaine and the general magic populace has driven him further away. He was more "present" at FISM than at MAGIC Live. His party brat antics are not becoming to him. But he is young so he should be allowed the mistakes we all get to make in our raucus 20s.



Tom Cutts

Publisher, AM/PM

About Magic...Performing Magic
Message: Posted by: Steve Landavazo (Dec 16, 2001 07:56PM)
Hi MagicMrEd!

Itís my opinion that some people may be jealous of his accomplishments! I think some people are just as good and even better at their magic, but the one thing they lack is the nerve to go out and get it like Blaine did! Some people want success, money or whatever in their own lives, but lack the enthusiasm to go out and get it themselves, so the nearest person who is doing well is the one subject to their selfish little antics! I say get over it and grow up! I think Blaine has created a unique venue to sell his magic, and thatís good! Iím happy for him! :xmastree:


Courage is the willingness to be afraid and act anyway!
Message: Posted by: Magicman0323 (Dec 16, 2001 08:33PM)
I have never had a problem with Blaine, I own both his specials and I think that its refreshing to see new magic specials on the air. I would love for more Worlds Greatest specials to re-air or be made. Hint: if anyone has the Worlds Greatest Magic special number No. 1 on video cassette, Iím accepting Christmas presents early, and donít worry about it arriving late, Iíll accept it as an early birthday present.

:bg: :bwink: :gift:

:xmas: :bwink:
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Dec 18, 2001 02:25AM)
Thanks for posting, by the way, do you have a talking horse that once had his own show? ;) Just kidding.

Anyway, Blaine can be looked at in a couple of ways. From my point of view, his presentation is aimed at the [i]Hip hop[/i] crowd to be sure, so the older generation is not going to warm up to him.

I myself do not like his presentation, but do applaud him for his masterful use of the camera, and Iím not talking about the obvious cuts and edits to give the effects more power. I mean the use of the audience reaction sequences which tend to make the magic seem larger than life. I do not recall any other magicians using video in that context. Very clever indeed.

The other way to look at people who are being critical is this; There are arm chair quarterbacks everywhere. Itís easy to criticize from your living room. In school I played football, and was a second string quarterback. Whenever I hear someone criticize a quarterback on televison, my question to them is; Ever been hit by a 250 pound pass rusher? I have...it hurts, believe me.

Also remember, there will always be those who want to rain on someone elseís parade.

Thatís just life. There are those that do, and those that only talk about it.

Leaders and followers. And like the old saying goes; [i]No guts...no glory![/i]

Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Dec 18, 2001 03:04AM)
Ditto to the above responses.

Personalities come into play, along with envy. The above posts are not limited to David Blaine, heck, Iím jealous that Copperfield makes 50 million a year. I can do what he does, not as well, nor do I look that good, have the staff he does, etc.

Seriously, many magicians secretly desire the attention, the stardom, the headlines, the success, the money, and much more, that David Blaine and Copperfield receive.

Enjoy what they have to offer and learn from them, their personalities, their audience, their style of presentation, their command of the audience, their showmanship, their originality, their music, their use of the camera, etc.

Message: Posted by: Jim Morton (Dec 18, 2001 10:18AM)

What these people who run him down fail to do is take into account what is working for him (he doesn't hide it) and adapt it to themselves.


Amen, Tom.

For all the fist-shaking at Blaine, nobody can deny that he tapped into something that caught the public's imagination. Magicans who dismiss him by saying, "Well, the public is stupid. They don't know good magic!" are doomed to spend their lives performing tricks for other magicians at magic clubs. :giggles:

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 18, 2001 12:41PM)
Steve Brooks asks Magic Mr.Ed if he had his own TV show with a talking horse.

That sort of answers Edís question:

If a talking horse can get a TV show,

why not David Blaine?

A lot of performers donít like Blaine for the reasons mentioned here.

But alot more donít like him for other, legitimate reasons:

Total lack of performance skills.

Bad magic.

Fraudulent camera tricks.

Offensive demeanour.

And on and on.

Some might argue that he is a success because he is on television;

Osama Bin Ladenís on television, too.


Others might point out that heís making a lot of money.

Drug lords make a lot of money, too.


I donít begrudge him his "15 minutes of fame"; after all, heíll be gone and forgotten in a few years.

In 50-plus years of magic, I have seen his type arrive on the scene -- and disappear just as quickly.

The basic problem?

All form and no substance.


Peter Marucci

Message: Posted by: Bernard Sim (Dec 22, 2001 02:53PM)
I agree with Peter on this one, especially "Fraudulent camera tricks". Can a person really levitate with both feet off the ground in the open without camera tricks? Hmmm...
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Dec 22, 2001 05:21PM)
Yes, but he didn't. :goof:
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Dec 23, 2001 02:55AM)
Wow, Peter!

You set me straight!
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 23, 2001 07:14AM)
No, Den, I wasnít trying to "set you straight" and I apologize if I inadvertently gave that impression.

After all, your post makes some very good points: We can all learn something from anyone -- good, bad or indifferent.

And I, too, am jealous of Copperfield -- mainly because I want to be that age again!



Peter Marucci

Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Dec 23, 2001 08:24AM)
It was a joke Peter... Iíve read many of your posts and I think I have a feel for your sense of humor. I got what you were saying, it was a little zing because it is the first time I read a post like that from you.
Message: Posted by: Eric Grossman (Dec 23, 2001 09:24AM)
The whole Blaine issue is pretty interesting. I donít really care for Davidís "personality". Iíve seen him interviewed, and he was kind of a jerk.

There are, however, many jerks, whose works I admire. Anyway, to the point. With some exceptions, David performs the most basic tricks he can.

For example; he does the most basic Invisible deck, and the most basic Raven effect. To some, this type of thing shows a little lack of imagination. He also takes some classic routines, and does very stripped down, and basic versions of them.

His Ambitious card, for example. He is the opposite of a classic. I could go on.

Here, however, is why he is good, and why I like him. He comes across as the real thing, to real people. He has no stage, no assistant, no top hat and cape, but he does things on the street to unsuspecting people, that knocks them out.

I have mentioned, that I make my living as a musician, in other posts. I have been studying and playing for more than twenty years. I have pretty formidable chops, and a vast knowledge of theory, reading, etc... The reason I have a gig though, is because I approach songs in a basic and understated way, that is easily digestible, unconfusing, and commercial.

Songwriters, "get" what Iím doing, and I "get" them. Is this a clear analogy?

I hope so.

I donít know if Blaine can be a magicianís magician, but are we doing this for other magicianís, or for real people. Donít get me wrong, I love it when I perform an effect for a comrade, and knock him out. Nothing takes the place of a laymanís reaction, to a simple vanish or animation, or revelation, etc...

I think that Blaine has a real world appeal.

Thatís my story, and Iím sticking to it.

Eric Grossman
Message: Posted by: Mr. Ed (Dec 23, 2001 10:00PM)
Thank you all for your responses.

The reason I ask this, is that everytime someone finds that I am studying magic they have 1 of 2 questions.

The first:

"Have you ever been to that Castle in Hollywood?"

and the second and probably most common is,

"What do you think of that guy on the streets, whatís his name David something?"

I find this "David something question" upsetting, because I am asked about him almost exclusively, never about that Lance guy in Vegas.

So I wonder why do "lay persons" ask about him? It appears to me that he has much appeal for laymen, however they sense that the magic community doesnít care for him.

My response is always that I think heís great (Iíve never actually seen his specials), because for me to bad mouth him would make both of us look less professional

At any rate I am just trying to feel out those people who typically respond in this forum for your opinions.

It is obvious that there is a vast amount of experience represented here.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 24, 2001 04:51AM)

Lay people will ask you about Blaine, rather than Lance Burton, because they have seen Blaine on TV more often.

At least, thatís my guess.

It has nothing to do with who is better (like, thereís any doubt!).

In any case, give them a non-committal answer because you donít want to put down ANY other performer.

You donít have to say anything good; you just have to say nothing bad.


Peter Marucci

Message: Posted by: Stephen Long (Dec 24, 2001 11:16AM)
Blaine must be doing something right.

I quite like what he was trying to do - make magic more accessable.

In order to make magic more accessable you have to keep it basic - keep it as something everyone can relate to.

I have to disagree with Peter's "bad magic" statement a few posts ago.

Bad magic according to whom?


It is fine for a magician to judge another's work, but magic is in the eye of the spectator.

If laymen thought it was bad magic he would not be as sucessful as he is.

Blaine must be doing something right.

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 24, 2001 07:01PM)
First of all, Gonz, you would have to define "success".

Is it successful to be on TV?

Then Osama Bin Laden would be defined as successful.

Is it successful to make a lot of money?

Then Colombian drug lords would be defined as successful.

Is it successful to be well-known?

Then just about any serial killer would be defined as successful.

I still say Blaine is doing bad magic.

Bad, you ask, according to whom? And then answer your own question.

Well, it's bad magic according to many, many more people than just me. It's bad theatre, it's inept performing, it's just downright not good, according to ANY set of generally accepted standards over the past 4,000 years.

You say, Blaine must be doing something right.

Well, he is; he is conning a lot of people into thinking he's not bad.


Peter Marucci

Message: Posted by: saglaser (Dec 24, 2001 07:25PM)
First of all, let me say that I have some serious reservations about Blaine as a magician. Technically, I can often catch him doing moves that I wonít see when a better magician does them. I may know the trick, I may know just what theyíre doing, but I donít *see* it, even though it sticks out on Blaine like an elephant in a flea circus.

I also greatly dislike his creative editing which amounts to doing camera tricks to augment the conjuring.

That said, I still tend to be more Pro than Anti Blaine when it comes to his style and presentations. Yes, they are minimalist in the extreme. But I find that appropriate, and believe thereís a place for that approach in the magic spectrum. Especially on the street when the primary intent is to give a moment of wonder.

I disagree with Peter in that I think Blaineís minimalist approach is precisely why more people have seen and noticed him on T.V. than have noticed Lance Burton. Or at least why heís created more stir in layfolks imaginations than Burton and Coppefield.

Blaine walks that edge where peopleís desire to believe in magic butts right up against their skepticism. Where any Burton or Copperfield show virtually screams out "this is just a trick," Blaineís stripped-down style avoids the "entertainer" look. He comes across as somebody who can just simply do amazing stuff. That gets under peopleís skin and makes them wonder.

Laypeople donít NEED to ask us about Burton or Copperfield. They can see these guys are great, and that theyíre just doing illusions -- even if they have no idea how the illusions work. Thatís relatively comfortable. With Blaine, theyíre on uncomfortable ground. When they ask a magician "What do you think of that David guy," theyíre often asking for something to scratch that itch he gives them. Theyíre hoping for something that will indicate whether heís doing tricks we all know or doing something truly amazing. I donít think theyíre really wondering just how good a magician he is. (And some, of course, are merely making polite conversation).

I donít think you really need to come out either for him or against him when laypeople ask, a relatively benign reply such as, "Heís really captured lots of folks imaginations with his deadpan approach, though I myself prefer the more traditional (or comical or dramatic or whatever) approaches to those tricks" Tells the ask'ers just what they really want to know, yes, those are tricks and lots of other people do them.

At least thatís what my instincts tell me.

Message: Posted by: Stephen Long (Dec 24, 2001 10:34PM)
First of all, Steve, that was a great post.

Peter, success is defined by achieving goals set by oneself. So, in order to define if Blaine is successful we would have to ask him, "have you achieved what you set out to do?" The answer would undoubtedly be yes.

Similarly if you asked Bin Laden, drugs lords, or serial killers, if they had been successful in what they were trying to achieve, they too would answer yes.

In the previous post, Steve made an excellent point - Blaine has stripped magic down to itís bare essentals, he has made it less of an act and more of a spectacle.

People are more willing to believe that what Blaine does is real due to the way he presents his material.

If it is such bad theatre, if it is such inept performing, if it is such "bad magic", why donít you get yourself a T.V. special?

You could show everyone how it should be done and earn yourself a few million a year to boot.

Iím not saying Blaine is a great magician.

Peter, you said it yourself, he has conned a lot of people into thinking heís not bad, Maybe that is what heís doing right.

But whatever it is heís doing, it has appealed to the masses and THAT can only be a good thing for magic.


There is no truth.

Only human opinion.
Message: Posted by: Dennis Michael (Dec 25, 2001 01:30AM)
This whole discussion on Blaine is amazing. Heís a good "pitch" man doing what he likes to do. His costume, manner, and approach fits the times and his age and personality.

Like Rap Music, either you like David or not. Itís not everyoneís cup of tea, as the expression goes.

The question was once asked to me many years ago, which Magician is better, Copperfield or Henning? To that question I could go on for hours. Each had a different style, stage presence, orginality, and approach to entertaining the audience.

David is making money, he is well known, and we honor him by this discussion furthering his career. Accept it and move on.

Be yourself!



Dennis Dowhy (800) 927-6671


Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 25, 2001 02:37AM)
Gonz writes: "But whatever it is (Blaineís) doing, it has appealed to the masses and THAT can only be a good thing for magic."

Well, not really.

After all, Hitler appealed to the masses, too.

For awhile.

The argument is flawed, just as the suggestion that I should get my own TV special!

If that was what I did, then that would be the right answer. But itís not and it isnít.

I might reply that, if Blaine were really all that good, then he would get himself a column in the Linking Ring and share his knowledge.

But that hasnít happened either!

Go figure.


Peter Marucci

Message: Posted by: Scott F. Guinn (Dec 25, 2001 06:57PM)
I will say this: the Blaine specials have brought up the topic of magic amongst the public--at least near the times of their showings--which MAY have helped to garner me an extra show or two, due to the increased awareness. However, at least here in the "backward" state of Idaho, people who bring up the subject of Blaine with me have been overwhelmingly negative:

"It's like the guy expects me to believe he has real powers! If he did, he wouldn't be begging people on the street to watch him do a trick!"

"I think the tricks were gross!"

"If some guy approached ME on the street like that, he'd be introduced to my buddies, Smith and Wesson!"

Please note that these are not MY remarks, but quotes from people who've broached the subject with me. When asked at my restaurant gig, for example, if I can resurrect a fly or swallow a string and pull it out of my navel, I respond, "Well, yeah, but that's typically not the sort of thing people want to see in a restaurant!"

Personally, I'm not that impressed with the guy. But then again, I'm sure he's not that impressed with me!
Message: Posted by: Stephen Long (Dec 25, 2001 08:15PM)
Nuff said.

I donít think Blaine is a great magician by any means. But I respect what he is trying to do. And to some extent has done.

Peter - we disagree.

Although, far be it from me to abstain from taking the final word, may I just say that your argument of comparing a man who wanted world domination and a super race of human beings to a street magician performing a few card tricks, is also slightly flawed.

I respect your opinion, though, and see where you are coming from.



There is no truth.

Only human opinion.
Message: Posted by: clunk_71 (Dec 26, 2001 02:23AM)
So it`s now apparent that it's not just us folks over here in England that look upon "Stairy Blain" with a little contempt.

I think all the views posted are relevant and I don`t want anybody to think I'm against him or what he does. But, quite frankly, I think his mannerism and approach are awful. I`ve seen lollipops with more personality than he's got.

And if he's so self assured and confident of his abilities, why would he get his production team to hire the services of a top hollywood actor to lie on his program about how well he spontaneously levitates in the street? Surely this is an act to make the layman think he has more credibility than he actually has. :wow: WOW, talk about low self esteem or what?

But also it obviously works well for him or he wouldn't still be at it would he?!

The problem is, he is now starting to show his face over here in England on a more frequent occasion.


Is there something somebody is not telling us or is he planning another magical miracle

(just like standing on a telegraph pole or shut in an ice cube)?

Please divulge...

leepalmer@orange.net :hrmph:
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Dec 27, 2001 07:00AM)
Aw, shucks, Gonz, take the final word! :goof:

And, yes, my comparison with Hitler was, indeed, over the top; I realized that as soon as I posted it.

We may (and do, on this) disagree but that's what makes the Cafe such a great spot: We can do this without going absolutely nuts about it!

As you point out, this is, after all, a "raging debate" about -- card tricks!

Hardly on the scale of ending world hunger!


Peter Marucci

Message: Posted by: Stephen Long (Dec 27, 2001 11:24AM)

Message: Posted by: vovin (Jan 11, 2002 02:54AM)
David Blane is nothing exceptional, I just saw his T.V. special and itís not very impressive at all, his uncle is an executive of a major network and in truth I have seen street magicians with better tricks than him. :lol:


On 2001-12-22 15:53, Bernard Sim wrote:

I agree with Peter on this one, especially "Fraudulent camera tricks". Can a person really levitate with both feet off the ground in the open without camera tricks? Hmmm...


Yes, you can, Several engineers and I, created a way of doing this, that is both simple and amazing, and there are no wires, in fact the audience can strip you naked and not find a thing, I donít know if this was how David did it but it can be done, and after you have seen the way it is done, itís like aww man why didnít I think of that.

I can levitate at about 7 inches for 10-15 seconds with this trick.

David is all about Hollywood you donít have to be the best to be on T.V.
Message: Posted by: DoctorAmazo (Jan 17, 2002 09:31AM)
My best is 1.3 seconds, but I have to jump really high.... :rotf:
Message: Posted by: magicpirate82 (Jan 19, 2002 05:14PM)
Iíve got to tell you, this debate is always fascinating to me. It always seems to generate such "heated discussions."

Iíd take issue with Peterís definition of success in this context. And even though I have read your column Peter, for the same reasons you outline, Iím not sure thatís the best measure either. The bottom line for me, and perhaps ONLY for me - is that Blaine is an entertainer, and by commercial standards apparently a successful one (at least he was!). Now we all go to movies and watch actors perform that those in the acting community would say are the WORST actors, no skills, no polish, no etc. but many of us are still entertained by that actor or at least the perfomance. In fact, I usually find the movies most hated by the film critics to be the ones I prefer. Weíre not always looking for deep intellectual meaning and satisfaction in our movie viewing, sometimes we just like a little "bubble gum for the brain," to quote a friend.

Blaine does entertain, regardless of how proficient a magician you think he is. And he did introduce a certain "hipness," which I found refreshing after seeing the countless gyrations, bad music, leggy showgirls, and corny jokes that seems to be the norm.

Now, for the record, I think Blaine is a pretty average magician but he is a "showman" in his own context. And the fact that he can generate such angst in the magic community I think is akin to the feelings we in the corporate world get when Joe Blow got that promotion or raise that we really know we should have gotten, being much more qualified and all! ;)

Message: Posted by: P T Flea (Jan 23, 2002 04:36PM)
I am fairly new to magic and apart from agreeing about the camera 'cutting and shutting' sequences (which I was fairly disappointed to see as it undermines his skill) I think that Blaine is getting a bit of a slating that he doesn't really deserve.

On 2001-12-18 13:41, Peter Marucci wrote:

But alot more donít like him for other, legitimate reasons:

Total lack of performance skills.

Bad magic.

Fraudulent camera tricks.

Offensive demeanor.[/quote]

And on and on.

I think (having watched his material) describing Blaine as having 'a total lack of performance skills' is a bit extremist. I probably wouldn't go that far about me and I'm fairly shocking.

As you probably know a bad trick can have a doubly good effect with a good performance. Blaine is pulling off relatively uncomplicated magic but get's an amazing reaction due to his 'spooky' presentation style. I think he does well to pull off this style. Most people would not have the guts to go for this approach.

As for 'Bad Magic' and 'Offensive Demeanor' I think that is an opinion shared by very few. I can't remember watching any of his shows thinking 'hmmm, that was a particularly bad piece of magic and I think the way he approached and delt with that spectator was very offensive'.
If anything Blaine has a very open and friendly demeanor. He tries to get the lay person as interested as possible in what he is showing them and invites them to watch closely and tries to involve everyone when working in front of large groups of people.

In conclusion, his magic is accessible to all. Sufficiently impressive and well practiced tricks to impress the magic veterans but also understandable enough to allow beginners to associate and learn what he is doing.

Message: Posted by: Mark Ennis (Feb 5, 2002 11:14AM)
I really haven't been able to sit thorough either special for more than 5 minutes. Personally I think there are far better close up guys that should get their own specials over David Blaine. Then again, they could have done much worse.

One of the best compliments I got from a layperson was that I was "way better than David Blaine". to a magician, they would probably be like "Well of course" but to a layperson, being better than someone they admire is an incredible compliment.

I also think that David Blaine made it cool to do close up magic.

I don't hate him but he is not my favorite magician.
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 5, 2002 01:59PM)
P T Flea writes: "Blaine is pulling off relatively uncomplicated magic but gets an amazing reaction due to his 'spooky' presentation style."

And how many dozens of reactions end up on the film editor's floor because they are far from amazing?

Sorry, but Blaine lacks presentation skill, any sense of theatre, dramatic ability, and on and on.

His appeal is mainly with wannabe magicians who, I fear, think that duplicating his lack of style will pave their road to success.

It ain't gonna happen!

Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Brian Proctor (Feb 6, 2002 02:12PM)
Everyone has their own opinions. That's why we have this board. God bless and take care everyone. :banana: :carrot:
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Feb 7, 2002 02:52PM)
I accept Peter's description from one standpoint. Blaine is not entertaining without his stunts and tricks. This he has proven.

But to say he lacks any sense of theatre or dramatic ability is overlooking that his drama is derived from the aridness of his presentation. The pure quality of another person reacting to the effect of magic entering their life. It engages those who want to believe. Judging from the size of the psychic market that group is rather large.

No dancing girls. No yuks for the sake of "entertainment". No tuxes. No stories. No kiddie gag tricks. No sucker tricks. No slapstick. No bad puns. No put downs of his audience. None of the stereotypical magician fare.

Blaine has distanced himself from the glitzy magic boys by veritably eradicating all standard presentation. The focus is all on the magical event.

Face it. People yawned when Copperfield floated across the Grand Canyon. They admiringly applauded when he so artfully flew on that far removed stage.

Blaine rose four inches and became a god for a year. His style is very engaging to a large number of people.

It would appear, however, that it is not terribly meaningful to these people. Hence, the easing of his popularity.

His arid presentation is turning things around him a bit stale. Once you've seen it, there is nothing much more that he lets out. That, if anything, is his shortcoming.

Blaine's audience took the dramatic framing that he provided and gave it their own meaning at first. When they turned to him to see what it meant to him, he had little to offer.

Blaine's magic is very dramatically engaging at the moment of its happening. People so engaged will ask to know more...of you...of magic...of the world. If you have nothing to offer after "was this your card" then your audience will eventually tire of you.

:bunny: :magicrabbit: :bunny:

PS I can understand Peter expecting more from an entertainer!
Message: Posted by: Steve Brooks (Feb 7, 2002 03:41PM)
Exactly. :bwink:
Message: Posted by: Damion Corbett (Feb 19, 2002 08:55AM)
I have been interested in magic since a very early age but only got seriously into wanting to perform it after watching David Blaine perform on the Graham Norton show about 5 years ago.

That being said, when watching the show I was unaware of the concept of a double lift or a folding coin etc.

When I watched the show I was viewing it as a spectator and was completely blown away.
Since then I have gained a great knowledge of close up and card magic through books and from watching other magicians.

It took David's performance to get me interested in magic again and for that reason I can't speak negatively about him.

Ok, I have seen him interviewed and he comes across as a bit of a jerk. Also the magic that he performs is incredibly simple, utilizing gimmicks and basic sleights; but I think we are losing sight of what magic is all about. ... entertainment!

Magic is in the eye of the beholder, if the spectators are blown away by the magic then the magician has certainly accomplished his job and accomplished it well.

We are in the business of entertaining.
Watching the Street Magic special and not knowing much about magic at the time gave me an insight into what people want to see and what people are fooled by.

I was certainly gob smacked by some of the stuff that he did, and back then, I probably would have preferred to watch his magic (however simple) than somebody in a tuxedo performing tricks with complicated plots and cracking cheesy jokes.

David's magic is not meant for magicians, it is meant for the general public and if it entertains them then who are we to criticize.

He does what he does and lots of people enjoy it, let him get on with it.

Whoa, I'm going off on one againÖÖ I've got to go and take my medication.

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Feb 20, 2002 11:47AM)
As Samuel Johnson said, 300 years ago, about the dancing dog:
"He doesn't have to dance well. It's amazing that he can dance at all!"

(BTW, a guy in a tuxedo doing complicated plots and cracking cheesy jokes is equally bad!)

Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Tom Cutts (Feb 22, 2002 10:15AM)
:lol: :rotf: :lol: :rotf: :hamburger: :babyface: :hamburger: :rotf: :lol: :rotf: :lol:

Nice one Centurian.

So, it sounds like there is a welling of agreement to some extent. Blaine's specials were entertaining (at first). The verdict is still out on David himself.
Message: Posted by: the_amazing_al (Mar 6, 2002 01:17PM)
I think we sometimes forget we are all somewhere on that invisible scale of horrible/ok/great as magicians.

Everyone here was a lousy magician at some point, and got better. I refuse to be an elitist magician and knock someone else's work. I have seen much worse than Blaine, and some much better.

I know that most "real" magicians have spent years reading books, honing skills, and doing it the hard way. Blaine did the same. I actually believe he's about as good as he's going to get. Some guys can't bluff a complex personna, and I think Blaine is one of them.

You get what you see, and on balance he does mystify folks. The bad vibes I have gotten from magicians seems mis-placed; Blaine is good for close-up magic, although I know that statement may stick in the craw of some magicians.

The previous statements are meant for mere entertainment; dance if there's room.
Message: Posted by: francis farrell (Mar 9, 2002 02:29AM)
Many magicians seem to disapprove of him because of the simplicity of his tricks. This is a strange position to take given that many of the same magicians would almost certainly advise newcomers that it is not necessary to do technically difficult things to create a great response.

Personality and presentation are crucial. Blain demonstrates the truth of this point. Everybody reading this could do the invisible card deck trick that he does. Could we achieve the same response from the audience.

I enjoyed the first special. I thought he was becoming a little pretentious in the second and it was something of an insult to our intelligence to claim he was working with a remote tribe who knew nothing of Western civilization, when there were a pair of goal-posts in the background.

Then I saw him NOT goiving an interview on TV here. He said practically nothing to the interviewer until he held up his hand to him, with a design on the palm. He claimed this warded off evil. At this point I thought he was an embarrassment.
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Mar 9, 2002 05:13AM)
I'll admit, I really can't stand the guy, but it's just his pretentiousness and the fact that he cheated at the end of his first special (I still haven't seen the second), that I hate him for. As far as his performance goes, he does what he sets out to do. He runs around on the street and does little tricks for people. Great! It works. I think most magicians are REALLY upset with him for similar reasons, they just bash him for other things to have something to talk about. I think you're right, I don't think his performance is that bad.

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: francis farrell (Mar 9, 2002 12:32PM)
One thing I enjoy about many (but not all) of Blaine's tricks is the way that often everybody, including Blaine, ends up in laughter. I find that when I do magic at my best, when it all goes well and the audience has enjoyed it, we end up laughing TOGETHER. When that happens I find it one of the most pleasurable things about my hobby.
Message: Posted by: francis farrell (Mar 9, 2002 12:42PM)
Some of the criticisms seem to be: offensive demeanour. Most of the time he seems to me to be quite polite and respectful of his audience. He never mocks them or makes them appear foolish. He dresses casually but as has been pointed out above, that is in keeping with the times. I think the important word is casually. He isn't scruffy or dirty (OK, my father would argue that any man out without a tie is scruffy, but he's 72).

The camera tricks I agree are a flaw and I feel the same way about them as I do about the use of stooges: it's just not magic. Having said that, many respectable and esteemed magicians use stooges, so why pick on Blaine. Bad magic? Well, how do you define that? To me, bad magic is when the layperson spots the trick and so it is ruined for future performers or the use of stooges.

On the levitation question, I read somewhere that the reaction you see is a genuine reaction to the Bad. levitation, but that when they show the levitation it is from a different time and some sort of hoist is used. A pity he needed to do that.
Message: Posted by: Alewishus (Mar 9, 2002 01:03PM)
I think his best trick was getting away with grabbing that girl's b****t in his one special. Repulsively facinating!
Message: Posted by: Allan-F (Mar 10, 2002 06:33PM)
On 2002-03-09 13:42, Francis Farrell wrote:
The camera tricks I agree are a flaw and I feel the same way about them as I do about the use of stooges: it's just not magic. Having said that, many respectable and esteemed magicians use stooges, so why pick on Blaine.

Because-and I think this is an important point-there is little or no ethical gray area in what Blaine does (in the use of camera tricks, that is). He's cheating, and it is very damaging to magic that someone who cheats is gaining his level of popularity. If his behaviour were to become generally accepted, all of magic would suffer.

Why? Because it would eventually filter down into the public awareness that TV magicians use camera tricks. You can do ANYTHING with camera tricks (very nearly). Where are you going to draw the line?

In my opinion, magicians have an unwritten understanding with the general public that camera tricks don't get used. This is a necessary state of affairs, since camera tricks are;

(1) capable of achieving almost anything and
(2) completely obviously so to everybody.

TV Magic would cease to have any effect if Blaine's approach held sway. So I repeat: what he is doing is hurting magic; it is hurting all of us.

As for the comparison with stooges, I don't think it entirely a fair comparison. There is a huge gray area between the ethical and unethical use of stooges.

Most would agree, I hope, that straight out having a supposed representative of the audience pretend to be amazed that you read her/his mind, when she/he is just a stooge, would be cheating, because like the use of camera tricks, it also violates an unwritten understanding with the audience.

However, there is, I think, acceptable and unacceptable stooging, and a large gray area in between. In short, when the entire power of an effect depends on the violation of an audience's trust in what they understand as an implicit agreement, there is an element of fraud in the performance. Whether a stooge constitutes this type of fraud can be a complicated and subtle issue, and much debated.

But with camera tricks, it is NOT debatable. It is ALWAYS obvious to EVERYONE that camera tricks could accomplish any of the TV feats they are watching, and the magic can take place only because of the trust between magicians and the public that camera tricks will not be employed.

I suppose there is still SOME gray area here, though. If Blaine does 52 think-a-card tricks on 52 random spectators, and only puts in the one he happened to get right, along with the accompanying incredible audience reaction, then I would guess we might have some debate as to whether that was a "camera trick".

Most of us wouldn't be impressed either way though (unless he had an out in the other 51 cases, of course).

As for Blaine's performance style, I think it can be summed up as "young kid approaching other young people on the street, speaking at their level, speaking their language, yet paradoxically being in a way very mysterious and a bit spooky."

I think this persona could have much potential, given the audience reactions we see on Blaine's specials, but I find it hard to judge the extent to which he is really pulling it off without knowing what percentage of the reactions he really gets are actually like those that we see.
Message: Posted by: Dream&Magic (Apr 12, 2002 04:18AM)
One of the good things about David Blaine is that since nearly all magicians can do "better" magic - in terms of technique, presentation and communication with the audience - it makes you look great.


Well, when people ask you "Can you do magic like that guy on TV? HE's amazing!!" and next thing you do blows them away, for them you're the best magician on the planet! :D
Message: Posted by: Alan Wheeler (Apr 20, 2002 04:20AM)
There may be a "comedian's comedian," but all I know is who makes me laugh. There may be an "actor's actor," but I can't always tell the difference between good and bad acting. There are great literary writers and good writers, but I have to admit that I've read a few poorly written books that held my interest.

Does David Blaine do any harm to the magical world by revealing secrets or discrediting the art or industry? It could be...

I have never seen David Blaine, but reading these posts gives me the impression that he's not the greatest magician in the world. Still, he's generated a lot of response here and I hope I get a chance to see a performance and know what you all are talking about.

I would love to read a thread treating the subject of popular magicians more generally--including the work of Penn and Teller. This thread, though, has certainly been food for thought.

Message: Posted by: DaveB (Apr 20, 2002 01:08PM)
I like David Blaine for a few reasons:

1. We share the same first name.
2. He goes out to the people to perform instead having them come to him.

Although I have only seen his first special and have it on tape, it was a refreshing change to see magic on the street instead of in some rigged studio with controlled camera angles. Sure many of his tricks were simple, and may even seem elementary to some of us here, but to the average Joe not exposed to magic on a daily basis he acomplished what he set out to do. He dazzled, amazed, and made the people believe they had just seen real magic.

Yes they used creative editing, but I thought it was a nice effect. Without it I believe the whole thing would have looked like some type of Blair Witch Project.

I'm not knocking stage magic, but when that is what most are exposed to and then have it right in your face, which do you think people would prefer? Which do you think looks more realistic and believable?
This is why I think David has gained popularity so quickly. He looks like a real person, in front of real people, getting real reactions.
Message: Posted by: Jason Fleming (Apr 20, 2002 02:30PM)
I sense a noticable increase in the public's interest in close-up magic since the Blaine specials. The fact that I can replicate some of the tricks he showed on his special (but not his personality.... that's his!) right in front of the audience's eyes only makes them enjoy the magical moment more.

Just for fun, I often ask if they've seen David Blaine on TV and then ask what they remember... their answers are intriguing... I think the most common response I've heard is the "Bitten Quarter".


Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Apr 20, 2002 09:11PM)
Boy, this has been a great thread to read. I agree with several points and disagree with several others... but the interesting thing is that all this talk, even mine, will not change the public's interest in the man.

A few mention a comparison between the acting world and magic. How true because I live in both worlds. Many of you who dislike Blaine probably go to and love certain movies that "true" actors loathe. Many actors I know can't stand the Oscars because they are like Blaine specials.... putting emphasis on popularity rather than talent or skill. What does this all mean? Nothing.

Things will never change. You can fool a large section of the public with the right presentation... you sell the sizzle not the steak. My own opinion: I completely understand why David is popular. He proved my point of decades ago that most people just want you to do the trick right. Get from Point A to Point B... I know many of us want to throw in a picturesque story that encapsulates the history of the world as we perform Open Travelers and that's nice... but believe me the next magician that does Cardtoon after you and does it straight out of the box without any added "touches" will get just as strong of a reaction as you did. Why? Because most of the public does not know any better. They see the end point, not all the years you took to practice a coin roll and an invisible pass.

Once again I go back to acting... there are certain actors who are Oscar award winners, multimillion dollar paychecks, covered in every magazine, but couldn't impress me if they were on fire and had to act hot.... but the public thinks they are stars. Stars! That's an interesting word and has become more interesting over the years. A star seems to be one that doesn't have to be as technically proficient as the others in his or her field... they just have that certain something that fascinates a large population of the people.

Blaine seems to have that because of his specials. Yes, his presentational skills are as deep as a spoonful of water. Yes, his magic skills are moderate at best. But he is a star now so that no longer matters. His best attribute, I feel, is realizing he isn't that smart in magic so he hired smart guys around him. For all that has been said and done, look at how much we talk about him... good and bad.

There is no such thing as bad publicity in show business... h***, O.J. still gets booked on certain talk shows. Have I answered anything? Probably not. The debate will continue. Blaine will keep cashing checks. And we will have to deal with laypeople asking us if we can float in the middle of the street. Deal with it. Or, at least, second deal with it.

Just random thoughts.
Message: Posted by: Steve Friedberg (Apr 21, 2002 01:39PM)
Hey Greg...
You just reminded me of what Liberace said after his act was panned in reviews: "I cried," he said, "all the way to the bank."

Folks...Greg's comments are right on point. Yes, many of us here can do the effects better. Yes, many of us know far more than he ever will. Yes, he uses craft camera angles.

Get over it.

If you can do the bitten quarter in front of a lay person who's seen Blaine...you've just gone up a notch in their eyes. Sorry. That's how it is.

The ability to work wonders at FFFF may not translate as well as for a lay audience. I've never truly appreciated Bob Longe's effects, for instance. Too simple, I thought. Yet, I did one yesterday based on the slop shuffle (a Balducci force). Hey, it worked...and the woman I did it for had to pick her jaw up off the floor. Thanks, Bob!

Blaine works and in doing so, has made it possible for us all to gain more recognition. My .02: use that knowledge and recognition and leverage it to your benefit.
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Apr 21, 2002 08:29PM)
Thanks for the support, Steve. And you also made a good point about taking advantage of the situation by doing Blaine-like effects to spectators. I was a doorman at the time of Blaine's first special and everyone in the building knew me as this magic guy... police and firemen in the neighborhood would stop by so I could do some tricks to them. Anyway, as soon as the special was on the question that popped up was "can I float"? Well, I can and I did... right in the middle of the lobby. I floored them and now I was a god in the building. So all I can say is, "Thanks, Blaine, for allowing me to look better in someone's eyes than you did on TV."
Message: Posted by: brownbomber (Apr 22, 2002 11:31AM)
I think Steve Brooks has summed up David Blaine and his street magic absolutely perfectly. I personally like him a lot - if he's a bit anti-establishment, so much the better. The only person that really bugs the h*** out of me is whoever the 'Masked Magician' is on those Street Magic Secrets Revealed TV specials. Now that's what I call 'bad magic'.

BB :bunny:
Message: Posted by: James Harrison (Apr 23, 2002 06:11PM)
"His best attribute, I feel, is realizing he isn't that smart in magic so he hired smart guys around him."-Greg Acre

Exactly, he may not be smart enough to come up with new tricks, but he's smart enough to get the right guys around him.

Just like Penn & Teller, they have Jamy Ian Swiss working for them, just as Lance Burton goes to his teachers and mentors for 'Jam sessions'.

Nobody gets where they are without help, no matter how small the help is.

Message: Posted by: ibm_usa (Feb 15, 2007 07:24PM)
The reason why, in my opinion, why Blaine is such as success is, One, he can communicate effectivly with the 'common' man (A relic of Houdini), and second, when he is doing street magic, his items or props are so ordinary looking, the spectators can't see anyway how the items could be gimmicked ( Ex: bite-out coin and restored can)
Message: Posted by: Josh Riel (Feb 15, 2007 07:55PM)
Now [b]this[/b] is a old dug up thread.
Message: Posted by: mark1991 (Feb 17, 2007 10:30AM)
Hi there,

This thread seems to be a bit old, but I'll give my views now that we are a few years down the line.

As a magician, I thought David Blaine was simple but effective. His street magic was received very well and I applaud him on that.

I think the thing most people dislike about David Blaine is the crazy stunts hes doing at the minute. I have read his book and his reasons for doing them are a bit, well, crazy!

that's just my opinion. If he had stuck to magic, I think he would be one of the leading magicians of our time. But, that's just my thoughts. Others may disagree.

Many thanks

Magical Mark Watson
Message: Posted by: Intuition (Feb 17, 2007 06:24PM)
I agree, there are magicians out there who feel David Blaine is a bad performer. I am new to magic so I saw David Blaine peform before I ever touched a magic book. I must say I was completely astounded and didn't want to miss a second of his performance. He has managed to succesfully blow away the general public and popularize street magic over the years. Is he a good performer? You decide.