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Topic: Magic Culture
Message: Posted by: blaqmagic (Jul 23, 2005 11:36PM)
Dear Friends in Magic,

I have been in magic for most of my life. Magic has taken me places, given me experiences, and friends (the likes of which I could never have imagined). That said, I came into magic from the outside. I interacted with magicians one-on-one (not in magic shops or at conventions). It's safe to say that I have never been a part of the lager "magic culture". That all changed a couple years ago when I began going to conventions, and meeting more magicians in my area. It makes me very sad to say that I believe the magic world, as a whole, is a divisive place. It is my opinion that women and people of color have yet to be fully embraced within this community. I live in a major city with a few very well known magic shops/clubs, and both my associates and I have had experiences that have made us want to leave the community. There have been instances when it was clear we were unwelcome (to say the very least). I have been asked by so many well meaning magicians why there isn't much diversity in the world of magic. I've been asking myself that question for a very long time. I know the answer now and it stinks.

I am posting my thoughts, in part, out of frustration but also because I LOVE magic. I ask all of you who love magic to be open to any person with a sincere interest. Magic will be better for it and so will you.

Message: Posted by: Frank Tougas (Jul 23, 2005 11:59PM)
I'm not sure exactly how to respond, but the magic community is not as coherent or tight knit as we sometimes are led to believe. The first time I went to a magic club meeting I did not exactly feel I was greeted with open arms. I was just another young upstart among a group of men (mostly) and all of them very much my senior. (Can't say that now ;) ).

I seldom interact with a lot of magicians in my local area, never perform for them unless it is by accident. Am painfully shy at conventions and am seldom considered part of the in-crowd.

Yet I love performing, I love the rich history, and I get as much as I give. So don't despair the Café is a place where you will always be welcomed, as far as diversity, as a local radio host states here in the Twin Cities, "Diversity is simply a fact, nothing else, just a fact." That statement is a lot deeper than it first sounds.

As far as culture, "Dang! I ain't got much a that!" ;)

Frank Tougas
Message: Posted by: lynnef (Jul 24, 2005 12:24AM)
Blaqmagic, thank you for the letter that all should read ... both fellow magicians and promoters. Racism and sexism permeate all professions in America ...not surprising that we find it in magic. Yet magic exists in so many different cultures in the world (I remember a Johnny Tremaine book that featured some Australian Aboriginal magic!!!)
So yes, 'it stinks'; but we do NOT have to accept it. There is plenty of room in the magic world for us all. Instead of giving the cold shoulder, we need to give the 'helping hand' (as in applause).
Message: Posted by: Jaz (Jul 24, 2005 06:19AM)
Welcome blaqmagic.

When I first visited magic clubs and started going to conventions I wasn't "greeted with open arms" either. I got strange looks and only one or two people approach me to chat. After a couple of other encounters and doing a couple of tricks did some more curious people came over to chat. Maybe it's my problem but I never felt totally accepted at these events and haven't attended any in many years.

From my observations there are not many women or people of color involved in magic and when they first walk into a magic gathering they may get odd looks. Whether this is a gender or race problem with some people or just curiosity I can't say.

The entire world is a diverse place. Because of past history, religion, upbringing and personal experiences some discord may never go away for some people.

I may be blind but at local gatherings I attended here in NJ I didn't notice any problems because of race or gender. In fact a couple of the men of color I hung out with seemed to be highly regarded.

Best to ya,
Message: Posted by: BobGreaves (Jul 24, 2005 12:39PM)
I cannot be considered a magician since I don't perform; I only fool around. I have never joined a magic club and don't think that I will (I'm not a clubable person). Since reviving my interest I have often noticed people talking about things like a "magic fraternity", "... brotherhood", "...community", and this has puzzled me.
I understand that in utopian dreams we would like this sort of thing to exist, but, looking at the real world as it is, I think this is somewhat unrealistic. Why should magicians be any different from a cross section of other professions/interests such as teachers (my wife), accountants (me), shop assistants (mother), etc.
I understand your disappointment but developing a skill at sleight of hand with cards, coins, etc. unfortunately doesn't necessarily also generate a commensurate skill of being nice human.
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Jul 24, 2005 03:34PM)
This is an extremely interesting post. As many of you know, I am a Chinese Canadian, living in the middle of redneck Alberta (I say that with a smile). You would think that I might face racism or prejudices on a day-to-day basis. But I don't. I don't know the reason why, but I don't. Maybe I'm just to slow to pick up on racist behaviour - or maybe I'm just fortunate that it doesn't come my way. Being an eternal optimist, prefer to believe the latter.

In any event, it does exist and there really isn't much we can do about it other than regulate our own behaviour and hope others follow our lead.

Magic has always appealed to me on a variety of levels, but the most attractive aspect of magic is that it applies an even hand to everyone. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, black or white - you can succeed in the art through dedication, hard work and perseverence. At the end of the day, it is only your ability to entertain that really matters.

Now, when I say "entertain", I DO NOT mean perform for other magicians. That's just showing off to people who don't really matter all that much. What I mean is the ability to entertain your intended audience (whether they are a paying audience or not). When you can walk up to a little crying child, pull a sponge ball out of his ear and make him laugh and smile, you are a successful entertainer - this holds true regardless of race, sex or cultural backround.

That's also another really nice thing about the Café. We have members from every corner of the world, all coming together to support fellow magicians. We don't judge each other by our skin colour, but by the quality of our posts and how helpful we can be. That may be one of the best contributions of the internet to magic - it has completely opened the doors to everyone.

Message: Posted by: pedrothegreat (Jul 24, 2005 05:48PM)
I agree wholely with magicman845, it is your performance and love of magic that counts. if someone at a convention displays racist or sexist ways then that person is not worth worrying about as they are clearly not worth knowing.
being new to magic I have not attended any magic events or conventions yet. however I do belong to other clubs not related to magic. wherever you go in whatever activity, hobby or interest (that I have found), there will always be an element of having to 'break in' to the group to start with. a lot of them may be shy and only talk to you if you talk to them first. I don't know what your personal experiences were but I suspect there was an element of that at the conventions you attended.

if you want to be part of a magic community where you can be assured of no racist or prejudiced views then this Café is that place. I have found the advice from everyone here invaluble, no matter what their age, sex, race etc is.
Message: Posted by: Jerrine (Jul 24, 2005 06:51PM)
Like Groucho, I too would not belong to a club that would have the likes of me so I steer clear of them. Boys will be boys and Good ol'Boys will be too. That breed is slowly dying out, Godspeed to them.
Message: Posted by: evolve629 (Jul 24, 2005 07:56PM)
I assume that all human beings share a natural disposition toward interconnectedness. We also have an internalized psychological process which serves to hold whatever *ism in place. I love THIS Café as it's truly a paradise where everyone come together for the love of magic. The magic culture is happening right here. The staff at this Internet Café does an excellent job at catching racist, sexist and/or other prejudice remarks aiming at a member or a group.
Message: Posted by: blaqmagic (Jul 25, 2005 12:27AM)
All of your responses give me hope. Thank you.