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Topic: From Robert Houdin to Street Magic (era's of magic)
Message: Posted by: Jaxon (Jan 24, 2006 05:29PM)
I know magic is a lot older then the days of Robert Houdin but I think that's pretty much the era that started modern magic.

There are a lot of options about the different era's of magic. I have issues about some of the era's that came before me and those who came after I joined the club. I'm not posting this to show right or wrong. I only hope to explain my views and how the era of magic I joined effects my point of view.

Let me explain some of the era's I've witnessed or participated in. My first memory of seeing a magician was the Mark Wilson Show. The memory is very faint because I was very young but I do remembering seeing it on the TV in my family living room. I had no interest in being a magician at the time though.

My interest in becoming a magician started about the time David Copperfield and Doug Henning where both making TV specials. Doug slowly faded away but Copperfield kept going strong. I admit at one time I started dressing like him but my magic knowledge wasn't very much yet. All I had at the time where a few props and a few books.

The owner of my local magic shop introduced me to the material of many magicians. I was also introduced to the Abbotts magic get together and meet many magicians there too. Because of this I was inspired by members of many era's of magic. The more modern at the time where Paul Harris, Michael Ammar, Dave Williamson, David Roth and so forth. Some of the older magicians at the time. Whom I call the modern legends where those such as Karrol Fox, Jay Marshall, Albert Goshmen, Norm Neilson just to name a few.

I learned so much from these magicians and they where from different era's. So I was fortunate to have access to so many mentors. I didn't know all of them on a person level but I viewed them kind of like mentors because I learned a lot just by meeting them or seeing them perform.

So I got a taste of quite a few era's of magic all at once and I was able to experiment with them. I tried to perform the kind of things that Jay Marshell would perform. I discovered that I like to see him perform his style more then I like to do it myself. I could help loving Karrol Fox but his style doesn't fit me either. The same with all the other magicians I meet. I loved their acts but they didn't fit me. At the same time I could apply lessons learned from each of them and eventually my own performing style evolved.

Because of my background I have a few issues with the modern "street Magic" era. First of all I want to acknowledge that I have nothing against any magician who are a part of this era. I've seen some of them do very good magic. I know it's kind of hard for anyone who is fairly new to magic to think of this as an "Era's" because they didn't see how it was before it started. But like all era's it has some flaws. The good news is I think I understand where some of the big issues came from.

You see, up until quite recently magic wasn't easy to find. We had books, videos and maybe once or twice a year we could attend a magic gathering in our areas. Most of this information wasn't to easy to find unless you where already into magic. Unless you where into magic you probably wouldn't even bother to stop at a magic shop or even know there was a magic conventions. They weren't generally advertised to the general public except perhaps their night shows. Now days all one has to do is go to google and type in "Magic trick."

That's exactly what has happened. After seeing a "street magic" TV special many people went on line and searched for the trick they saw and wanted to learn it. The thing is, what inspired them to search it out was based on a 5 minute performance. The TV special was an hour long but each trick was very short. They where all intended for a few minute spot on the show. So those who found those tricks and purchased them went out and performed them like they saw the guy do on TV. Because of this they only intend to focus on that single effect.

This is why you might hear some of us older magicians say that modern street magic is based more on the trick then the presentation. That kind of bugs us because the presentation is what makes each performer unique. When we, by that I mean magicians from a different era, see so many performed the same tricks the same we it's so different from the ways we learned. We learned that there's a difference between pulling a trick off and being an entertainer. When the trick itself is the only thing that gets reactions then there might as well be no performer.

I honestly believe this is because the style was based on such short performances. They don't show the magician warming the spectators up. They don't show the spectators who only gave mediocre reactions. They don't show how to capture an audience long enough to make them want to see what they do (not everyone will have a camera to help attract attention). They only show the trick. So people who saw this and where inspired by it only desire to show the trick too.

There is much more to say on this. I hope no one thinks I'm attaching because that's not my intention. My intention is to explain what I think and why I think it. I look forward to your opinions.

Ron Jaxon
Message: Posted by: jack_is_dead (Jan 24, 2006 11:07PM)
Your post reminded me of a group of young guys that were doing magic..i met tham in a magic shop and they are very weird to me..we went to have a snack together just to talk about some magic and I was suprised..these kids were like 1.5 years in magic and all they do was flourishes and colour changes..but they were really good at it..when I asked them who are their favourite magician 4 out of 5 of them said david blaine..the other one said some name that I don't know..when they asked me I said Michael Ammar and they told me that ooohhh that's the guy from etmcm..he is boring..his tricks are dull..and they didn't know anybody else other than that..they don't even know a routine other than ambitious card and 2 card monte..they own all kinds of gadgets like raven and m5 but they have no clue about a paddle move or a french drop..i wonder how they started magic and how they continued over a year without learning the basics of magic instead doing some crazy flourishes and colour changes..how come they ask me if dai vernon is alive!?they love cards so much without knowing a single classic routine..not even red hot mama or triumph..all they care about is to get their colour changes perfect and show off to people with their flourishes..nothing about presentation or those stuffs..some of them even have ambition to become a street magician someday..i seriously think they are missing a lot here and doubt it if these young guys will realise it..for me this is an effect of street magic to new learners..all they want to be is to amaze others like blaine..some are more focused on impressing others or show off to others..i wonder whats going to happen when the street magic goes out of fashion!
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Jan 29, 2006 11:55PM)
"To try to be an artist without knowing AND understanding the basics is like trying to dance a ballet without knowing where your feet are or what music is." - Bruce Darrow (my Dad), successful commercial artist and cartoonist.

These guys are not magicians yet, but guys who know some tricks and flourishes. They do NOT know the basics or the history of what they do, which is just as important.

The WHY of something in an art is often as important, or moreso, than the HOW.

To know that, one MUST READ. And read the classics in the field - Tarbell, Rice, Slydini, Stars of Magic, Annemann, Lorayne, Marlo, Corinda, Thomspon, Baker, Abbott, Nelson, Vernon, Gibson, Tarr, Hay and the like.

Without an understanding of what has come before, the theories that form the foundations of what IS now, one cannot grow beyond where we are today as easily.

"I stand where I am today, because I stand on the shoulders of giants." - Sir Isaac Newton.

'Nuff Said.

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: stormchaser (Jan 30, 2006 06:47PM)
I agree. However, sorry, I have to say this: ERAS! ERAS! There is no apostrophe!

Rant over.:)
Message: Posted by: jgravelle (Jan 31, 2006 08:59AM)
...one MUST READ.

I've told this story in another thread... the sad punch line is the quote from the mother of an eleven year-old kid who "just LOVES magic!" when I suggested she get him a Bobo book:

"Well, he DOES love magic, but I don't think he wants to read about it."