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Topic: Where is Bizarre Magick headed?
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Apr 28, 2004 04:48PM)
Has Bizarre Magick has reached a point where it lacks direction? I'm not trying to be negative, I'm just making an observation. The Bizarre community seems to be fragmented. The loss of The Alter Flame and the passing of some of Bizarre's elders seems to have cast us adrift. What are your thoughts on the direction of Bizarre Magick?
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Apr 28, 2004 07:24PM)
Perhaps post modern re-interpretations of baby boomer classics like Mister Rogers Neighborhood? How did the king rule his kingdom? And what really went on in that clock tower? What made the trolley run and were there really hidden messages in those songs?

Bizarre is where you hang you cloak.

The old ones never left!
Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Apr 28, 2004 10:18PM)
I don't think bizarre has lost its direction. Granted, people like Gene Poinc, Charles Cameron, and Punx are no longer with us. But we have others like Bro. Shadow, DeNomolos, Black Hart, Karl Bartoni, and many, many more.

As Jonathan says in the post above, "the old ones never left". Not really.
Message: Posted by: chmara (Apr 29, 2004 12:06AM)

To me that reeks of top down—and real magic—and particularly bizarre magic is from the real UNDERGROUND up. (Note—underground is under the bottom.)

Look what "top down" has done to US prestige in the last three years.

Look what "top down" has done to Disney.

Look what "top down" did to Jane Mansfield and Jimmy Dean. (Darn, wrong top again.)

I think the magic story telling of Peter Marucci, the light and Dark Tales of Brother Shadow are but an inkling of what can be done. While these compeers tend more to the Goetic side (check your Andruzzi boys) a good old fairy tale like Rapunzel for kids— done with proper effects (choose your own) is as "bizarre" as you can get.

Folk lore from every culture, dark and light, fits into the bizarre mode. Political comment, especially lately, firs the bizarre mode.

The really great thing about Goetic magic is you can make yourself part of our superstitious history. Identify with witches, warlocks, the Spanish Inquisition without Monte Python (or with if that is your choice).

Probably one of the most bizarre acts today— commercial—totally bizarre—is Mac King on the light side. Recreating a hayseed for a character with the sharpness of an Indiana Lawyer who went to law school in Philadelphia. And his form of bizarre, beyond the **** suit, is fuh-nny!

In story telling mode, the magic of the late Shari Lewis, like the magic of Fred Rogers, could transport an audience as most of us only dream of doing.

AND Denomolos and Blackhart (OK, and even Marucci) show there is much more to an old trick than moves. Ed paints and decorates for atmosphere, then routines. Blackhart lives the atmosphere and does create "stock bizarre tricks" for those who are either lazy—or like myself—believe themselves to be not quite a top talent in prop creation.

(Ok, so I live near Jim Riser and Nick Rugiero and that is causing me to feel very inexpert in making props, but mine are pretty good, actually.)

Peter Marucci and Brother Shadow, Bill Palmer, Christian Chelman all bring drama and routining to the table. Often with stock stuff that every "straight" magician has in a drawer of on the shelf.

Would you call Penn—and even more so Teller—bizarre?

Now, a challenge. Have you read any greek myths or fables lately? Who is using these for material? Lovecraft abounds in magic, as does Poe. What about Hitchcock, oft quoted by our friend (in the Italian Society sense) Darmoe. There is a lot of solid material in sci-fi and Shakespeare. Lore of India and Native American lore.

Recent discussions on the uses of cockroaches and Urim and Thummin devices have been had in some circles. In Tucson, an antique dealer paled when I asked him for five objects with which to murder someone. I am working with lynchings, and Egyptian fortune telling, yes, from the time of Joseph of the Coat of Many Colors.

Paul Alberstat (did I get it right that time Paul?) works tea rooms and coffee houses—probably a lot quieter than some of the Bars Eugene Burger works.

And, can you believe it, Jeff McBride is a mainstream magician with Kabuki, old theater movement and dance technique, commando crafted street magic and mime all intertwined. He dresses the part full time. And would you consider D. Romeo's Asrah to "Music of the Night" bizarre or just Broadway staging???

Fr. Daniel Roland, one of the Catholic Churches best story telling magicians, fits the story telling/bizarre mode—and he is full of faith. His act lets you laugh, think, cry and be astonished all at the same time. He uses a take on bubbles he developed from the work of Vito Lupo—who is or is not a bizarre performer???

So, my questioning friend, look at the web of bizarre magic. It travels in many directions. Some lead to the spider of depair, others to a full meal for a hungry spider. Choose one carefully, BUT LET IT BE YOUR CHOICE—YOUR DIRECTION. If you travel with the herd, remember the mythos of the lemming, and what our fellow magician in craft says—"I don't care if I AM a lemming—I won't go!

And as you travel the web, make sure some of it is woven over as mirror so you can see your brand of bizarre—in your own reflection.

With Respect.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara -- long of wind tonight.

PS -- I am still waiting for my new skull to come in -- GC
Message: Posted by: montz (Apr 29, 2004 03:13AM)
It is true. With performers such as Christian Chelman, Eugene Burger and Maven,Kenton Knepper, Doc Hilford and new, fresh creators including Luke Jermay and Caleb Strange, the future of Bizarre Magick looks good,

Especially with the solid footing it got from Cameron, Shiels, Raven, and Andruzzi.
Message: Posted by: Tony Razzano (Apr 29, 2004 06:37AM)
Another great source for stories is Joseph Campbell in his "Power of Myth".

Best regards,
Tony Razzano
Message: Posted by: Black Hart (Apr 29, 2004 11:54AM)
The future of Bizarre Magic?

Push the boundaries. Experiment. Dare to be different. Dare to fail. Do not be afraid to make changes.

Do the above and the future is good.

Black Hart
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 29, 2004 12:18PM)
These are all good points.

Two years ago, when I was trying to find a publisher for {i]Sheherazade[/i], I called Stephen Minch and L&L Publishing. I thought that with the "in" I had from [i]Paramiracles[/i], maybe one of these houses would publish the book. I didn't want any royalties. I just wanted to see the book in print.

I got a very polite brush-off from both of them. Minch said "Bizarre magic is dead. Nobody is doing it any more" or words to that effect. Louis Falanga's secretary said "We aren't taking on any new books at this time. The other publishers are afraid we are flooding the market."

What HORSEPUCKEY! Stephen had been in on the ground floor of Bizarre Magic, when Andruzzi had published his scroll. And L & L cranks books out like there is a never-ending money supply out there. I didn't argue with either one of them. Neither had even looked at the manuscript. So, I published it myself. Now it is almost sold out. I don't plan to reprint.

Am I bitter? Not at all. I'm glad they turned me away. Now I am a publisher. And I have other people submitting manuscripts. Some of these are people that L & L would really love to see in their stable of authors.

And I'll be glad to supply the books to them when they are published.

Is Bizarre dying? No. Does it lack direction? No. Bizarre is a category that is as broad as close-up or illusion. It has its own proponents, and the best of them do not worry whether an idea is "bizarre" or not. They simply want to create a good, entertaining presentation that fits their style.

And that is the way it should be in all of magic.
Message: Posted by: chmara (Apr 29, 2004 05:31PM)
Well said, Bill.

While not a major share of the hobby market -- bizarre represents a deeply underserved com,munity with a wide variety of takes and tastes.GC
Message: Posted by: Payne (Apr 29, 2004 06:46PM)
The problem with Bizarre Magic is that it tends to be deeply personal. It is a form of magical expression that is tied to ones own personality and thus it is difficult to package and market to the masses who want instant effects.
Scheherazade is a great book as are Punx's and Poinc's but most see the effects contained in these exceptional tomes as being completely unworkable and for the most part they are correct.
The effects in Scheherazade are tied to the author who created them and are but dim reflections of the original when attempted to be exactly replicated. Bizarre magic books are not your typical instruction manuals but catalysts that inspire deeper thinking into ones own performance psyche.
This makes these manuscripts completely worthless to the common Magus who simply wants another card or coin trick for their arsenal.
However this being said I believe that Bizarre magic is alive and well and is a movement that is finally gaining acceptance among our fellow magi.
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Apr 30, 2004 07:53AM)
Lots of interesting comments! In my mind, Bizarre Magick is the only form of the art that can routinely create an emotional bond between the performer and the audience. It's sad that some think it is dead. I guess that's why I began this thread. While I feel that it lacks direction at this time, I think that it will sort itself out, and emerge stronger.

I've been around magic my whole life, a few years ago I decided to perform a transformation effect which was created by Andruzzi and perfected by Kirkandall. I performed it at McBride's "Mysterium" and "The Phoenix Gathering". That one effect had more impact on my audience than anything I had performed in my entire life. So I would strongly disagree with anyone saying that Bizarre is dead. It gave me life.

When I say that I think that Bizarre has lost it's direction, in part, I'm lamenting the loss of the Invocation and the Alter Flame. They helped to create a sense of community. So somebody out there, (maybe it's you) please create a new monthly publication devoted to Bizarre Magick and I'll stop whining.
Message: Posted by: chmara (Apr 30, 2004 01:17PM)

you are very correct in saying that "most are unworkable" to the unskilled or only moderately interested in poutrting in the work in trhe craft.

I have used some from every one of these books to buold shows and their effects in my style. They are idea generators -- not fake books as musicians may use. They are more about composing -- than playing.

If "bizarre" aint tied to the performer's personality -- it aint bizarre -- it's an Abbott and Costello or Disney horror clone.

Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Apr 30, 2004 01:59PM)
While I enjoy reading most Bizarre routine's. I use them as a source of inspiration. They help to spark my creativity. I often wonder how many of these effects have ever been performed for real audiences.

Many of the stories in Bizarre Magick can stand alone without the magick. However I find some effects which consist of a marginally interesting story puncuated by a single effect at the end to be rather tiresome.
Message: Posted by: enriqueenriquez (Apr 30, 2004 02:18PM)
I agree with Dan: a story has to be strong enough by itself, without tricks.

I think somebody called that “The Marucci rule”, wich is a beautiful and well deserved name for a rule, by the way.

Many magicians say that people just want the tricks and doesn’t care about the stories. If that were true, why we don’t have “Magic Theaters” in every mall, instead of Movie Theaters?

I personally prefer to tell my own stories. At least, the stories that I have found myself. But that doesn’t mean that the stories in books like “Once Upon a Time”, “Capricornian Tales” or “Sheherazade” are unworkable.

If 100 storytellers tell “Little Red Riding Hood”, you will have 100 different versions. That’s the way stories work. If you perform your own routines you are probably making more rich the field of bizarre magick. But if you perform someone else’s routine, you are extending a tradition, in the way most storytellers do, in many countries and cultures.
Message: Posted by: Tspall (May 1, 2004 01:39PM)
As a relative newcomer to Bizarre magic I'm finding that the more I explore it, the more it really has to come from within yourself. Your personal style will play a big part in how you perform it. Not just the character you portray but what kinds of stories will you use. If you like mythology, go for it! Some of the Grimm's Fairy Tales could be great for routines. Your routines will benefit greatly from the fact that you are truly interested in the tale you're telling.

Maybe (and I'm not sure of the answer to this) part of the impression of Bizarre lacking direction is that it's not as common to find places, such as here on MC, for Bizarre magicians to come together to discuss ideas?
Message: Posted by: Stuart Hooper (May 3, 2004 09:50AM)
The only problem I see here is the continued desire to seperate bizzare into some sort of Artistic underground in the magical community....ALL magic faces the same problems, ALL magic should come within.

As for the fellow who suggested greek myths and fables, right on, some amazing routines there...maybe I can obtain permission to post some of the work being done...
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (May 4, 2004 02:59PM)
Does all magic face the same problems? I'm not sure I agree with that. The most obvious flaw I find in Bizarre Magick is stories that are too long with too little pay off in the magic department. Eugene Burger wrote a great article on script editing that would be really useful to many Bizarre performers.

As for mainstream magic, it has many problems, but I think a different set of problems for the most part. I think all magic has common problems, but each branch of magic has its own.

Artistic, underground; this is how real change usually comes about.
Message: Posted by: rickmagic1 (May 4, 2004 03:33PM)
Anytime you're within a certain artform and you go against the status quo, you'll get singled out...
remember Andy Warhol, Lenny Bruce, and Frank Zappa?

The defense rests.

Message: Posted by: chmara (May 4, 2004 09:03PM)
Frank who???

You left out Salvatore Dali, VanGogh, Capornicus, Napoleon, Socrates, Dante, Pope John Paul, Luther, Wesley, John Brown, Quentin Tarantino, Mac King -- and a few other good men and women along the way.

It is unfortunate that Andruzzi's use of the term "Goetic" magic did not stick -- and that English is so limited we cannot come up with a better way to mix our Draculas with our TILL EULENSPIEGELS.

Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (May 26, 2004 01:54PM)
I was fortunate to attend the Bizarre Focus Master Class last year with Eugene Burger and Jeff McBride, along with a host of other wonderful magicians.

I think the realm of Bizarre is live and well and perhaps maturing. It is no longer confined to horror, but engaging the entire spectrum of eliciting emotion in performance. The focus of Bizarre is making an emotional connection with your audience and creating a truly magical experience instead of performing tricks. It is a magnet for original creation and certainly was the impetus for the many effects my partner and I have created from scratch.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (May 26, 2004 02:57PM)
I think the problem here is one of definition of terms. Many people confuse the major category of "story magic" with the subcategory of "Bizarre" magic.

Story magic is a very broad term. Bizarre is a much narrower term. Goetic magic is an even smaller subcategory of Bizarre.

I'll put another twist on the question. Why should Bizarre magic have a "direction?" Wouldn't that imply that some cabal of "bizarre directors," such as Burger, McBride and Marucci were pulling all of our strings and telling us where to go?

That would be horrible. We don't need a roomful of Burger clones sitting around the table doing Burger routines any more than we need flocks of Blaine clones rushing up to people on the street telling them to take a card, when they have other things to do.

Go your own direction. Use what is there to provide you with clues.
Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (May 26, 2004 09:32PM)
I agree, you must find your own voice. The last thing Eugene, or anyone else would want to be is a string-puller. If people end up clones, it is by their own lack of commitment to their art.

I would ask why would magic in any form have a direction? A direction implies conformity instead of artistic individual achievement.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (May 27, 2004 11:59AM)
That is my point exactly.

At the Magic Collectors Weekend last week, I dined with Arthur Emerson on a couple of occasions. Arthur Emerson was another of my early influences when I got back into magic after a 12 year hiatus. I ran into him at the first TAOM convention that was hosted in Abilene, Texas. He was pitching an item called "Shattering Coins and Silver Balls" that was written by Eddie Joseph. It was a well-crafted, sleight of hand vanish of a dozen English pennies. It took me totally by surprise. I bought it, and after about an hour's practice, used it to knock the socks off my friends in the local magic club. Before then, I couldn't do sleight of hand (or so all of us thought). That routine pretty much "made my bones" for me.

We discussed that routine and others that helped me find my own direction, as well as the apparent confounding, or, perhaps I should say lumping together of story magic, Bizarre, etc.

It's really a broad expanse. Story magic is, IMHO, the broad category. Bizarre is a category within it. Goetic magic is simply one subcategory of bizarre. They are not all the same thing. It's somewhat analagous to the Trinitarian theory.

I just got off the phone with MarcoM. He found it interesting that Andruzzi did not claim to be of Sicilian descent until his ex-wife married one.

Figure that out, sometime.
Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (May 27, 2004 02:50PM)
I think the confounding of terms of presentation goes back to the modern day history of magic where presentation took a back seat to effect and presentation was merely "patter". It is quite apparent, to most magicians, how to categorize an effect (levitation, suspension, vanish, etc). "Presentation" has never been comprehensively defined in print as "effect" has been. Perhaps an interesting project to undertake. It is like in books, the category of Fiction is a broad category where Mysteries or Horror are deeper categories and Sherlockian Mysteries is defined deeper still. Or in Art, Impressionism is a broad category and Pointilism is much more defined, describing technique.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (May 27, 2004 03:52PM)
Take a look at Hocus Pocus Junior sometime. There you will find the roots of "modern" patter. The oldest magic routine in print, complete with patter, is the cups and balls routine in that book. The patter is almost exactly as you describe -- basically it delineates what is going on.

But if you look at [i]Our Magic[/i] or even some of the descriptions of Robert-Houdin's act, you will see definite "presentations." These also show up as well-defined scripts in Henning Nelms and other sources.

The fault generally lies with the people who wrote most of the books. They assumed that the magician would have enough sense to create a story or a presentation to go along with the routines. They were probably wrong!
Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (May 27, 2004 04:18PM)
You got that right. I think it was treated more like a mechanical memorization, like learning how to change the oil in your car, than as an art.

You don't paint by numbers and then think you are an artist.

Certainly, a lot of the magicians that were famous were innately artists. The creme rises to the top and the audience is not as foolish as they think. They can distinguish the quality of their experience. They patronize quality. I am both saddened and excited at the opportunity when I encounter so many people who have never even seen a magic show, or poo-poo it as childish because of past poor experiences.
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jun 1, 2004 12:41PM)
Recently I watched a DVD of a seance performance that was absolutely dreadful! It was a complete piece of crap. Yet the people who put this seance together were proud of it!

Most of the bizarre routines I read are disjointed, lengthy and impractical. I wish that performers would step back and take a hard look at their work or better yet have someone else do it. An honest appraisal of your work can spark your creativity, not stifle it.

I would never perform or publish an effect without having someone I trust, give me an honest opinion of it first. I once described an effect I wanted to perform to my friend David Parr, when I finished he said " your not really going to perform that, are you?" He then explained what he felt were problems with the routine. At first I was offended, but after thinking about it I realised that he was right.

One of the problems with magic is that most of us write, direct, and perform our own effects. Maybe your strength is as a performer and not a writer. Maybe you don't have a feel for pacing. Maybe a little direction wouldn't be such a bad thing. That's not conforming, that's what most performing arts do.

Does direction imply conformity? I think not.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jun 1, 2004 06:09PM)
I know exactly what you mean. I think I even know the DVD you are talking about. If it is one that featured a couple of the "grand old names" and one of the newcomers, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

With very few exceptions, the story routines (I won't call them "bizarre," because they are of a broader category than that) are far shorter than most of the ones I have seen in books. They have been tested on audiences and pared down to a point that each line has a definite reason.

Part of crafting a story or a script is the same thing that you have to do when you are carving an elephant out of stone. You take a block of stone and chip away everything that does not look like an elephant. With a story, you chip away everything that does not contribute to the story.

Borodin, himself, realizes that modern audiences are different than the ones he worked for when he was actively performing. We watched a video of one of his murder mysteries when I was there last year. He told me that he realized it was too slow for modern television. He didn't need a director to tell him that.

You have to find a pace that works for you, and you have to make your stories the right length.

When you take a routine you find in a book, you have to tailor it to fit your own performing situation, including your audience. You may actually have two or three versions that you do, depending on how old the audience is. With a younger audience, you MUST have excitement happening.

Some of the routines in [i]Sheherazade[/i], for example, would be more effective if they had suitable background music. "Heritage of Horror" would be much more effective with a sound track. So would "The Ring of Sheherazade." A few years ago, a German composer wrote a set of pieces to go with the book. I would love to get hold of a recording of them.

But I have said time and time again on this forum and on others that if you ever have a chance to work with a good director, take it, because you will learn things about your show that you did not even realize were wrong with it. And you need to know these things.
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Jun 21, 2004 09:10AM)
I see bizarrism taking a less Lovecraftian, and in some cases a kinder, gentler track. Eugene Burger has done much to aid this transition.

The one major "split" I see (which can also be found in mentalism) is between those who wish simply to entertain and 'admit their feet of clay' when necessary, and those who want to be thought of as real-life necromancers and who wish to be paid handsomely to place or lift curses, etc.

I am with the former catagory. I entertain.

Message: Posted by: Osiris (Jun 21, 2004 11:11AM)
Wow... all this talk about Bizarre Magick and not one mention of Craig Browning or Rick Maue???

Now That's Bizarre!

No! Bizarre Magick ain't on its way out...it's more in a transitional phase -- morphing from the realm of the clone-kings and onto the plane of genuine theater. Not just storytellers with tricks, but rather experiential demonstrations in which the effects serve only as accents -- a means by which to send that small chill up and down the spine of the beholder or, as Rick Maue pointed out long ago in the BOHM... to create Cerebral Magick -- that Hitchockian effect that plagues the subconscious mind long after the experience has ended. Leaving our victims pondering if or not what they just encountered was real??? [insert Twilight Zone music here...]

Check out Docc's "From the Mountains of Madness" and you will be able to take a glimpse as to where we can all move with our Magick. Our Power, as it were, being to remain in the shadows and not the bright lights of commercialize punery, as so many seem to provoke. Those true to this darkened path, realizing that their own strength comes from working within a very small circle, catering to audiences of 12 to perhaps 50 guests, somewhere in an appropriate parlor where the spirits are easy to invoke and the gates of hell, just as easy to open.

I've rambled sufficiently... leave it to say, Bizarre is not dead, it's merely discovering its own.
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jun 24, 2004 02:51PM)
A friend of mine pointed out that instead of direction I should have used the word cohesiveness when I titled this thread. After looking through these post I realize that he is right.
Message: Posted by: ptbeast (Jun 24, 2004 05:33PM)
I thought I would post a little about a performance that I saw the other day. The actress/magician was in full Mother Goose regalia and had a very interactive program with the children. She played the role of Mother Goose and had the children attempt to do things like bake a cake in a hat. Of course strange things happened, like a rabbit popping out.
Very cliché, but at the same time in many ways she meets the definitions of a bizarrist. She performs the magic as if it were real. She plays a character other than a magician. The magic is ancillary to the rest of the performance.

If you asked her if she was a bizarre magician I would guess that she would say she was not (if she was even familiar with the term). But what say ye?

Just a little food for thought.

Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Jun 24, 2004 06:10PM)
The woman you are talking about is a friend of mine and she is very concious of the storytelling aspects of her act. She is a very good children's performer, but I would guess she approaches her magic from the point of view of a clown. All clowns that do magic try to focus more on the character they are playing than the trick they are doing. (Some better than others, of course) I think, like a lot of performers, she would associate the them Bizarre with Gothic and scary.

I think if there is an overall goal for bizarre magic right now, it should be to expand how it is perceived outside of our group. Bizarre started as an experiment pushing the boundries of performance art, but it is starting to mature - not dieing away.

This brings me to my second point, Bizarre magic may seem to be fading because it is actually becoming more mainstream. I didn't see the TV show last night, but I understand it had a lot of bizarre elements. Mac King was mentioned earlier as a potential bizzarist. Even David Copperfield has shifted from theatrical vignettes to personal storytelling in his shows. His lottery story is a perfect example of mainstream bizzare.

It may be fun to take a poll about the personas all of us take on when performing.

Message: Posted by: tctahoe (Jun 25, 2004 03:08AM)
If clowns ain't bizarre...I don't know what is!
Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Jun 25, 2004 04:17AM)
You said a big red mouthful there TC! :)

Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jun 25, 2004 01:38PM)
Maybe a better question to ask would be; what is Bizarre Magick. If Mother Goose or clowns are Bizarre Magick then we need a new Magick.

I'm not saying that magic clowns or mother goose are not valid characters for the performance of magic. I just don't beleive they fit the traditional mold of Bizarre Magick.

Story magic and Bizarre magic sometimes are one in the same but not always.

This idea of an all encompassing magic community is not one that will benefit magic in my opinion. I think that ultimately it will further the view that all magic is silly and generic.

I realize that not everyone here will agree with me but that's okay. This is my opinion and I would not want to live in a world where everyone share's the same view.
Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Jun 25, 2004 03:29PM)
I don't necessarily think of clowns as true bizarre magicians, but they do share a lot of elements. In fact, I would say the major difference is the perception of the fictional character.

Clowns, of course, are obvious characterizations. There is no doubt in anyone's mind when a clown performs that this is a person in a costume doing tricks.

Bizarrists, however, play believable characters. One of the appeals of bizzare for most of us is the "where is the line drawn?" feeling we can create between trickery and reality.

So, though we both play characters and use our magic to emphasize those characters, our theatrical purpose is different. The theater of the clown in one of parody The theater of the bizarrist is one that questions what is fact and what is fantasy.

Imagine if we change the pupose of the two characters. Imagine a bizarre magician who plays a Van Helsing style character, but change his intention to parody the whole monster hunter genre. Even with the same tricks, his presentations must change so the audience understands he does not really believe what he is doing is real. Suddenly, he has become a clown.

Now, imagine a clown who convinces us he can really make kids disappear, who really does cough up eggs or rubber balls, who really can cause pictures and colors to appear and disappear in a book. Imagine a clown who can make REAL animals out of ballons.

This would be a great bizarrist.
Message: Posted by: bloodyjack (Jun 25, 2004 04:13PM)
How about doing bizarre magic with John wayne gasy clown make up!
Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Jun 25, 2004 06:03PM)
If you could get an audience to stay for the show, it would be pretty creepy. :evilgrin:
Message: Posted by: ptbeast (Jun 27, 2004 03:49PM)
The responses to my posting on "Mother Goose" have been interesting. My reason for making that post was than many have said that Bizarre does not need to be dark and/or gothic. I was curious to see where people would draw the line. I do note that there were no posts saying that Mother Goose was performing bizarre magick.

The comparison between the clown and the bizarrist are enlightening, but perhaps not quite defining.

Mother Goose did not, in my opinion, perform a parody of magic, she performed it very much as if it were real --only from the perspecive of the children.

Perhaps the difference is more in the range of emotions that the performer attempts to affect?

I am very iterested to see what y'all think.

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Jun 27, 2004 06:18PM)
Dave writes: "Perhaps the difference is more in the range of emotions that the performer attempts to affect?"


In my first set of bizarre magic lecture notes, I attempt to definte bizarre magic by pointing out that it doesn't have to be ghoulish, ghostly, or ghastly. In fact, I have done a number of routines on the e-zine Visions (www.online-visions.com) in my monthly column Bizarre Bazaar, that are comedy-based.
In those first set of notes, I say that bizarre can probably best be defined as "touching the audience on a higher emotional plane" than standard magic.
That's not a perfect definition but I haven't seen anything better yet.
Peter Marucci
Message: Posted by: Osiris (Jun 28, 2004 10:27AM)
On 2004-06-25 14:38, Dan Mindo wrote:
Maybe a better question to ask would be; what is Bizarre Magick. If Mother Goose or clowns are Bizarre Magick then we need a new Magick.

I'm not saying that magic clowns or mother goose are not valid characters for the performance of magic. I just don't beleive they fit the traditional mold of Bizarre Magick.

Story magic and Bizarre magic sometimes are one in the same but not always.

This idea of an all encompassing magic community is not one that will benefit magic in my opinion. I think that ultimately it will further the view that all magic is silly and generic.

I realize that not everyone here will agree with me but that's okay. This is my opinion and I would not want to live in a world where everyone share's the same view.


Firstly (and unbeknownst to them) most of those that think themselves "Bizarre" aren't! They really are clowns complete with hooky costumes, poorly written scripts, and the inability to effectively play a character (namely due to the fact that they try to do it all on their own and not get outside assistance.)Sorry, I've seen some of "the best" this side of the business has to offer at ICBM and heard of a few, who simply drew things out far too long and bored their audiences to death... kind of like yesteryear mentalism.

I love the storyteller personna and in saying that I will admit to using a great deal of Gene Poinc and Ed Solomon's material. Gene's contributions are excellent for dark comedy; Ed is great for creating intrigue... the kind of stuff that triggers the imagination of the audience and sucks them right into the mind set needed for reaching them at the Cerebral level. Good Bizarre Magick like good Mentalism, taps the subconscious mind and "haunts" the participant long after the experience, leaving them uncertain if or not what they experienced was "real."

Personally I believe there are two modes of Bizarre Magick. The intentionally (or not so intentionally)clown like characters who take on that Vampire or Otherworldly image, delivering strong tongue-n-cheek humor as part of their practice. Then there are the guys & gals that step deeper into the thresholds of darkness. Who intentionally weave a massive web of things esoteric around themselves and what they do. Even without performing people see this latter type as being "different" and "Magickle" so to speak. This side of the bizarre realm is rarely captured and requires a tremendous amount of conscious discipline, on-going education and the willingness to listen to honest critique that will help mold and round out that personna.

Bizarre Magick is most certainly going through a major transition at present. A 3rd leg, if you would, has recently surfaced e.g. the wannabe clone acts who insist on mimicking the likes of David Blaine, Kriss Angle or THEM... Though I am an avid fan of solid street magic, I loathe those who feed on the lattest fashion concepts of the trade and in so doing, belittle magic as well as themselves.

I'll not go into deeper detail in that my outspoken tones tend to upset some of the folks in these parts. Hopefully I've given you sufficient food for thought however and we'll be able to expand on this thread in a more focused way...

Message: Posted by: Moonlit Knight (Jun 28, 2004 02:31PM)
Dan Mindo asked “...what is Bizarre Magick.”

Well, I am not particularly fond of the term “Bizarre” or the intentional misspelling of the word “magic” - then again, I really don't care for labels but they seem to be a necessary evil, so I find myself using them from time to time . With that said, I believe Bizarre Magic(k) has gotten somewhat of a “bad rap” - mainly because some people within the magic community have decided to take one aspect that performers of “Bizarre” have incorporated into the art and decided that that is what “Bizarre Magic(k) is. Magic(k), ritual, superstition, ghosts, corny plots, masquerade costumes, so on and so forth has been the way of separating “Bizarrist” from the rest of the magic community (not entirely unlike the way mentalists have been treated). In a way, the bizarrists did this to themselves because it wasn't made clear what they wished to accomplish except to those who ventured past the doors of perception. There are several reasons members of the magic community have seen to place the performers of “bizarre” into some dark corner - which I won’t speculate on here. Unfortunately, bizarre magic has been reduced to a parody of itself - filled with stories of wolf men, aliens, vampires complete with plastic skulls and Halloween decorations found at the local store. Today, there are people playing dress-up, talking about how red pips on playing cards represent human blood and calling themselves bizarre, all the while attempting to only gain gasps of shock and/or applause from the audience. In this way I am in agreement with Osiris’ post.

The purpose of Bizarre Magic(k) was not to be a novelty or something done on Halloween but to get people back in touch with a belief in magic, the suspension of disbelief. This can be accomplished in a number of ways. Make-up, costume, tricks, clever stories and props won’t make you a bizarrist, bizarre perhaps but not a bizarrist - it’s more than those things alone. It’s the heart of the performer, the sincerity of the performance that is true, not forced, not contrived that shows through.

I’ve often said Bizarrists are everywhere, so now it can or should be asked what is a Bizarrist? Well, for those interested - my definition is as follows:

“Bizarrist” - I liken more to an “artist” or “craftsmen”, as it’s a person who has an innate sense of what they do and the reasons for doing it. They take pride in their work, going the extra bit just to make their work stand out, giving it something special and putting their unique signature on what they do. They don’t really care what others think about their process they use in completing the task at hand, as they are more concerned that they are completely happy with the end result. They may ignore the shortcuts and use better quality materials. Their goal isn't to simply “get by” but in knowing they gave their all in their work. Bizarrists aren't relegated to the field of performance but can be found within every profession imaginable. You and I may never know these people. They may not reach the height of popularity, but they are there. Plumbers, electricians, carpenters, doctors, lawyers, photographers, journalists and the list goes on and on. Yes, anyone can learn the skills it takes to do a trick, take a picture, install a sink, etc. - but, not everyone can put themselves into their work, not everyone wants to, not everyone should but that precisely is what a bizarrist / artist / craftsmen does.

Now back to the Magic or shall I say Bizarre Magic(k)...
I agree with Peter Marucci’s response to ptbeast query that “the difference is more in the range of emotions that the performer attempts to affect.”

And Dan, you wrote “If Mother Goose or clowns are Bizarre Magick then we need a new Magick.” and you may be correct. But then again, in my opinion, labels mean very little. After all, how many people call themselves a magician after learning a “card trick” or buying a “pen through anything”? How many people call themselves “The Great” or “The Amazing” and actually believe their own hype thinking they are? I know that I’ve seen too many that have. So, alright, some people call themselves “bizarrist” who maybe shouldn't. Create another catchy label and many will flock to it, saying “yep, that's me”. Simply because catchy labels generally don’t demand or require thought beyond the superficial.

I’ll relate a bit of advice you may find useful - A long time ago, a friend of mine was asked “how she manages to continue in a business where there is a high turnover rate” her response “keep your head down, do your work the best you can and ignore all the b.s.”. With that - to you Dan, I’ll say that labels, either embraced or rejected by some, might be part of the b.s. that's best left ignored. So, keep your head down, do your work the best you can and you may be better off.
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jun 28, 2004 03:34PM)
Well I have to say that one of the things that has really damaged mainstream magic is the idea that we should add more comedy to magic. Adding comedy to bizarre magic is a sure way to weaken it's emotional impact.

I've seen bizarre magick which had some element of humor, however it did not reduce itself to a punchline at the end which would be the kiss of death in my opinion.

Are we miracle workers or fools?

Moonlit Knight -- no offense but this isn't a forum for bizarre plumbers. This is a forum for bizarre magicians. And while labels may not be the most important issue, if you post on this forum you should at least take an objective look at the material your posting.
Message: Posted by: Moonlit Knight (Jun 28, 2004 05:23PM)
“Moonlit Knight -- no offense but this isn't a forum for bizarre plumbers. This is a forum for bizarre magicians.”

No offense taken. Each field that I mentioned within my post has its own description of what “artistry” is. Since the terms “artists” and “craftsmen” are generally not used within the performance of magic, the closest thing we seem to have is the label of bizarrist (and I did touch upon this within my post). I believed it was permissible to draw parallels. Now I stand corrected. Thank you for your astute observation in your post reminding all of us how some can narrow a focus of anything outside a particular realm or view as being unworthy of contemplation. I trust a few who read my opinions will be slightly more open to them then your (hopefully farcical) comment seemed to represent.

Thanks for the heads up. :)
Message: Posted by: ptbeast (Jun 28, 2004 11:36PM)
Moonlit Knight,

I agree that putting a name on something does not make it so. I myself have said that perhaps the label Bizarre magic(k) itself is part of the problem. On the other hand, if such labels serve any purpose it is to bring like minded people together -- for discussion (such as in this forum) or social interation. They can also help in marketing, either to other performers or to the public.

For this reason, I think that the term must necessarily create certian expectations. While we should all strive to be artists or craftsmen, being at the top of ones craft does not serve the above stated purpose. Most magicians, no matter how competent and how much they put into their shows would not find what they were looking for in this forum. Nor would the worlds best plumber. The answer, I fear, must be related to performing style. So the question remains, how do we define ourselves in such a way that we are not so exclusive that we limit our art, yet not so inclusive that the term looses all meaning and purpose? I don't have an answer, but I enjoy the discussion.

I still feel that the definition put forth by Peter and others, that bizarre magic is that that attempts to reach higher emotions is close to the mark. Eugene Burger has said that it is magic that seeks a response other than applause. This too is on the right track.
But neither attempts to describe the performance style at all. Are these definitions narrow enough to serve their purpose in this evolving art? I wonder...

Message: Posted by: Osiris (Jun 29, 2004 09:20AM)

Being a "Bizarrist" is like being Goth... it's a state of mind. The attitude and mode of performance and, more importantly, your "being."

Yes, one side of the Bizarre TREND does come from the impetus laid down 20/30 years ago by guys like McBride, J.S. Berry, even Lance Burton (when he was doing the Vampire look). Technically speaking we could trace this mode of "aura" as it were, even further back in time. I needn't do that here in that Karl has done a great job archiving our ways at the DragonSkull site in the UK.

Dan is correct in the whole CLOWN thing... far too much of it exists! Sadly, it was one of the earlier modes of Bizarre work. Unsung stars of yesteryear bizarre include the likes of Ohio's Berry Hobart (Dr. Creep -- Dayton, OH.) and even Casandra Peterson (better known as Elvira of Coors Beer fame.)Characters of intentional parody akin to my hero Gomez Adams...

The master of bizarre however, never touched upon such fascade. I refer of course to south American legend Richiardi. He was a master when it came to startling the public and his handling of the Socar styled Buzz Saw Illusion placed him at the fore, when it came to delivering the gross and disgusting -- interactive magic unlike anything the westernized world had seen, let alone experienced!

As to our young friend's "gripe" about the "mispelling" of the word "Magic"... me thinks he needs to do some research as to where the MAGICK variant came from and what it stands for. Most any student of the esoteric knows that Alester Crowley intentionally added the "K" so as to seperate the metaphysical and ritualistic from the world of clowns, jugglers and fools a.k.a. trickery. For similar reasons some of the early authors (myself included) that sought to bring reprise onto the old ways... the more Shamanic and mysterious mode of performance, the Crowleian spelling was adopted as a kind of subliminal code for those "in the know." After all, in the world of stage magic one could quite literally become an instant outcast and even "black balled" if word got out that you were a true believer in the surreal. The irony behind biarre magick, is the fact that the greater majority of those that practice the more esoteric style of it, are very much acquainted with the more "Occult" side of life and spirituality. Like the Bards of old, they use trickery as a way to educate the public as to the truth of such things, while likewise invoking the imagination of all participating.

Long ago (when I was still doing stage illusions) I refered to myself as a "Macabist"... it was before the trendy buzz term of "Bizarre Magick" came into being. Too, I saw what I delivered as being more akin to the macabre vs. things esoteric and surreal. Sorry, but a blood gushing Impalement or intestinally oozing Buzz Saw just seems far more macabre than Bizarre in my mind. Even my Murder Mystery shows fall into this side of the bizarre realm.

I bring this out because so many people have the misconception of believing a dab of stage blood on a playing card makes it bizarre. In truth, it is only macabre. Bizarre, at least as I understand it, appeals more to the inner-workings of the mind. Much like mentalism, it solicits an investment from the patron vs. suspension of belief. As Rick Maue pointed out in his Book of Haunted Magick, we create a Cerebral effect that's very much akin to how Alfred Hitchcock left his audiences or the creators of "The Blair Witch Project" did with theirs. As I said previously, it's leaving folks uncertain and that my friends, is the point... the bizarrist exists so as to help the layperson "believe in magick" at least to a certian "safe" level.

It's much more than doing tricks or telling stories! It's a way of life!
Message: Posted by: Moonlit Knight (Jun 29, 2004 12:09PM)
Dave, we seem to be in the same quagmire in defining the art, as to make it clear as to what it actually is - but I fear it’s like trying to nail jelly to a wall. Discussions of this sort are a good thing if they are used to assist another in drawing their own conclusions as to what the thing will mean for them. The term “Goeticist” is/was pretty narrow and not many want to take on that label - perhaps it’s not commercial enough.

Yes, bizarre magic is a performing style and as Osiris wrote “it's a state of mind. The attitude and mode of performance and, more importantly, your ‘being.’” So, it must be asked who is to say what is right or wrong within their description, their state of mind or performance style of bizarre magic(k)? Is a person who lives their character more of a bizarrist than one who plays a character only when performing? Does a person whose performance revolves around “occult” topics more of a bizarrist than one whose performances are based upon news headlines? Is a person who uses the spoken word more of a bizarrist than the one whose performance is set to music and other imagery? Does a bizarrist who uses humor or a mix of humor to pull on the emotions less qualified of the title than the person who performs in grave seriousness? Should we even attempt to narrow the focus of bizarre that much by drawing these lines?

Perhaps the only way a name or label can mean something is if it was / is bestowed onto a person by a group of others perceived “knowledgeable” enough to make that call. Perhaps there should be a society (such as the Masons) set up where each person who pays their dues must gain a certain level of knowledge and display a certain talent in order for degrees to be achieved until the top honor of “High Muckety Muck” is reached. Then, in due time, another group (not unlike the OTO) will come along and say we recognize the “High Muckety Muck” title as “2nd level initiate” and if you want some worthy title, then you'll have to pay our dues and go through these next 10 degrees in order to reach the level of the “Great Powerful Oz“. :)

Now, let’s look at labels and the ones we choose and what's bestowed - what they do and allow...
Labels make it easier to find a group and be with like-minded individuals.
Labels make it easier to market a product, idea or service to a particular group.
Labels may make it easy on others to believe that they understand your interests, where you are coming from and what you believe.
Labels give an excuse for one taking on an “us against them” superior mentality.
Labels hold a person to a specific idea or group, even though the person may change and the group rejects them or they reject the new direction of what that group is doing.

We live in a world when walking up to a person and saying “I’m a magician” may lead them to ask “do you do children’s parties“. The majority of the public doesn't know what names and inner-titles we may give to ourselves and frankly, they probably just don’t care. Just like most people don’t know what an “ATM-S/AL” is in Toastmasters or what a “VIII° Epopt of the Illuminati” is within the OTO. It’s all a feel good thing - a pin to wear on a lapel or a certificate to hang on the wall. It may look impressive on a résumé and give something to talk about and impress others with, in a selected field of interest. The levels accomplished will assist in achieving personal goals and in gaining knowledge but the main thing it offers is a sense of accomplishment for the doer, knowing they did something that few will.

Now to Osiris, I am acutely aware where the final “K” in magic came from, how it originated and who in recent history added it to the word magic. I doubt many ceremonial magicians exist within the performance of magic. “The Crowleian spelling” was not “adopted as a kind of subliminal code for those ‘in the know.’” or simply to be used as separation between real magic and stage magic, as some would have us believe. The “K” has appeared in diaries of John Dee and later removed from the word, possibly not unlike dropping the final “pe” from the word shop, as in a store that sells things. Later, Crowley replaced the “K”. There are several reasons for this but as I see it, the main reason generally not often discussed is that it stands for *kteis* (vagina), the complement to the wand (or phallus) which is used by the Magician in certain aspects of the Great Work. There is also a theory that says the “K” was used because it is the eleventh letter of several alphabets. Those in the know may understand that eleven is the principal number of magick attributed to the Qliphoth - the underworld of demonic and chaotic forces that have to be conquered before magick can be performed. The “K”, it’s been claimed, represents the ancient Egyptian “khu“, as in meaning “the” magical power. Finally, the “K” was the use as a separation between trickery and the real work, when, in fact, this division was not originally thought to separate the real work from stage performers but to aid Crowley in distancing himself from the Golden Dawn and other occultist and groups that did not follow him.

Perhaps some of the early authors should have investigated what its meaning is/was and treat it with respect, instead of using it obfuscate the performance of, as you wrote, “clowns, jugglers and fools a.k.a. trickery”. I do not discount your view of bizarre magic(k) and description that I now quote “Like the Bards of old, they use trickery as a way to educate the public as to the truth of such things, while likewise invoking the imagination of all participating.” but the key word is “trickery”, and again it was something the word “magick” was claimed to be used as a separation from.

You'll walk your path and I’ll walk mine. As far as the use of the word “magick” with the “K” - we may differ as to how or why it should be used. I prefer to leave it to ceremonial work and not in describing a form of trickery - but that's just me.

It just goes to show that whether it’s the label of “bizarrist” or the use of the word “magick”, people tend to think and believe that they understand something when a name or word is given for it. When the true concept of a thing is lost or forgotten, the public can be easily led to believe that its purpose was to describe something that it doesn't necessarily represent. When this occurs, the word or label may become meaningless and fodder for all who wish to twist it.

The above 6th paragraph must be amended from...

“The Crowleian spelling” was not “adopted as a kind of subliminal code for those ‘in the know.’” or simply to be used as separation between real magic and stage magic, as some would have us believe.

to ...

“The Crowleian spelling” may have been “adopted as a kind of subliminal code for those ‘in the know.’” but the word “magick” in an occult sense was not simply to be used as a separation between real magic and stage magic, as some would have us believe.

Sometimes my thoughts get ahead of my typing, I apologize for any confusion that may have arisen from this missed explanation. The remainder of the post stands.

Alas, perfection, understanding and clarity are sometimes just illusions. :)
Message: Posted by: Osiris (Jun 30, 2004 10:43AM)
On 2004-06-29 15:09, Moonlit Knight wrote:
The above 6th paragraph must be amended from...

“The Crowleian spelling” was not “adopted as a kind of subliminal code for those ‘in the know.’” or simply to be used as separation between real magic and stage magic, as some would have us believe.

to ...

“The Crowleian spelling” may have been “adopted as a kind of subliminal code for those ‘in the know.’” but the word “magick” in an occult sense was not simply to be used as a separation between real magic and stage magic, as some would have us believe.

Sometimes my thoughts get ahead of my typing, I apologize for any confusion that may have arisen from this missed explanation. The remainder of the post stands.

Alas, perfection, understanding and clarity are sometimes just illusions. :)


Well, seems you've studied a bit more than the standard Insta-Witch tomes... that's a good thing!

Trust me... I wear purple linnings in my robes and my walk upon many a battle field, have resulted in peace... we'll leave it at that.

To debate something a trivial as the "K" is not practical (though I did enjoy your essay... hope it opens a few eyes in these parts as well.)I've known of other spellings such as Majick, Magique, etc. In the "real world" most people equate it all to mean the same exact thing. Truth is, I respect your reasons for seperation... it's food for thought many of us that walk either side of the path need to weigh.
Message: Posted by: StrangeMagick (Jul 1, 2004 07:16AM)
Moonlit Knight - I too have enjoyed your essay.

What we call our "magic" sometimes depends on with whom you discuss it. I live in the town just next to Salem, Massachusetts. Here, when I talk about "magic(k)", I ususally have to differentiate between performance magic(k) and "real" magic(k). I use the 'K' in written description of my performance magick to pay homage to real magick, which is the inspiration of what I call Strange Magick, or Bizarre Magick.

Although I am not a practitioner of Ceremonial Magick, I do walk the Pagan path. There aren't too many of us who walk the path of both magics.

Oh, by the way, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart refers to Bizarre Magick as "Bizarre Magik" in the chapter on Conjury, or "Orange" Wizardry in his book "Grimoire for the Apprentice Wizard". (Yes, there is a mention of Bizarre Magic[k] in this book).

More information on this book can be found here:


and it can also purchased from Amazon.com and other larger book sellers.

Dave Birtwell
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jul 1, 2004 07:48AM)
The notions of "bizarre" and "magic" are in question. Let us consider the matter at hand.

When the magician makes something unexpected happen... that is what we might call [b]normal magic.[/b]

However, when the magician proposes [b]a hidden or reframed aspect of reality as the stated or implied mechanics behind a demonstrated phenomenon[/b]... that might be the basic premise of bizarre magic.

Simply: When nature gets an addition... that is bizarre. When the magician imposes his will or uses CONTAINED ur-technology... that is normal magic.

The wand itself is normal magic. The tree from which the wand was cut, and the forest from which wands are delived... untouched by human hands... is bizarre.

What are your thoughts?

PS bizarre plumbing... brings images to mind that would sit well in a museum of modern art.
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jul 1, 2004 09:31AM)
Most of the mainstream magic I see is dreadful. I would rather not be identified with it. If I tell someone that I'm a magician they identify me with the creep who performed at the local D&B. This is not the image I want people to have of me when they think of me as a magician.

Now to be fair, I'm not saying that Bizarre Magick is better than mainstream magic. I just think that it's just a guilt by association issue and most people have been exposed to the same dreadful mainstream magic I have seen.

In my mind Bizarre Magick is a piece of theatre which uses magic to add impact. It embraces darker themes. It can and should bring an emotional response well beyond simple applause.
Message: Posted by: rtgreen (Jul 1, 2004 12:38PM)
In my mind Bizarre Magick is a piece of theatre which uses magic to add impact. It embraces darker themes. It can and should bring an emotional response well beyond simple applause.

I think you hit the nail on the head with this statement. However, it doesn't just apply to bizzare, but to all magic.

If more magicians treated their magic as theater as opposed to showing off their moves, magic would be perceived as a much higher artform. The theme itself is really immaterial to the argument. Whether a magician chooses to present himself as a master of dark arts, a wonderworker, a sleight of hand expert, jokester or whatever, the magic should be treated as theater.

Unfortunately, we often associate the word entertainment with comedy. And there is nothing wrong with well done comic magic. But a magician can be much more than a prop comic in his entertainment. This requires work in character development, theming, and dramatic structure -- all theater arts.

I don't think this is a new way of approaching magic, but I do think it is a vastly underused way.
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jul 1, 2004 01:31PM)
Moonlit Knight- I was trying to point out that this forum is already fragmented enough without bringing in other artists or trades for discussion.

This is the only forum I'm aware of for the discussion of Bizarre Magick. I feel it's important not to compromise that.

As far as labels go; I think it is inevitable that we are labled, at least I can try to influence what that label will be.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jul 1, 2004 01:32PM)
Let's beat out that dusty old carpet so we can move ahead....

ANYTHING performed for people needs to be treated as theater.

That said... let's get back to work distinguishing our work from that of the performance plumber, blue man group or perhaps the truly bizarre folks who wear sequined tuxedos and produce doves in public.

How many here script out their work and get feedback from at least one director?
Message: Posted by: Dan Mindo (Jul 1, 2004 01:48PM)
I usually have several friends review my scripts one of whom is a magician, actor and a director. He is also brutally honest which is probably the most important criteria when looking for feedback.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jul 1, 2004 02:34PM)
Brutally honest? Is that like kicking you in the shins while telling you what he likes... and punching you in the stomach while telling you what could do with some improvement?

Good to know at least one performer treats their work as theatrical. :)
Message: Posted by: ptbeast (Jul 1, 2004 07:07PM)
I can't overestimate the importance of having someone review your script. What's more, it is also critical to have direction in your blocking and pacing. I know that the shows of each of the performers at Theatre Macabre were significantly better after this process.

It can be a hard and painful process. We, as performers, have a tendency to fall in love with a routine or show as we wrote it. I know that the critisism was very hard for me to take in my major show last year, but it made the show better (Thanks Kevin).

Just my two cents worth.

Message: Posted by: Wiley (Jul 2, 2004 03:31PM)
No, Dave, Thank YOU!

I definitely agree on the importance of peer review for blocking and pacing....it also helped me to further define my character.

I started out trying to make my Theatre Macabre seance show very serious and dark-ish--something that I'm not sure I'm even capable of pulling off. After several brutal blocking and editing sessions with the rest of the Theatre Macbre gang, my show, and my character, were a bit less heavy and definitely more entertaining. In fact, my show turned out to be a hit with kids... go figure...

Message: Posted by: Moonlit Knight (Jul 2, 2004 03:34PM)
I appreciate that my thoughts and knowledge about the word magick were found enjoyable. As my goal was not to “come down” on anyone who wishes to use it for themselves but to explain my reasons as to why I have chosen not to use that spelling for myself in the field of performance. It was also my desire to give some food for thought to those who may not have been aware of the meanings I related.

I agree that “most mainstream magic” seen is “dreadful”, likewise "Bizarre Magick" performed by some may not be any better. I understand why one may wish to distance oneself from it. Unfortunately, I believe, using a title or spelling known little outside the “magic” community will not help aid the perception of the people who are not “in the know”. What can assist is giving a sample of your performance. Granted, there my not always be time for that, so another method one may imply is creating a “new title” to describe ones performance - let it be for your use and your use alone. Don’t seek to impart it into the magic community - base the title / description on a word that is not generally used but can be found in the dictionary, that way if people want a definition, they can look it up if they chose to. People who see or have seen the performance will make the call as to how they perceive it.

Again, I agree, “Bizarre Magick is a piece of theatre which uses magic to add impact” and that “it can and should bring an emotional response well beyond simple applause”. Yet, not unlike Jonathan’s observation, we may differ as to the degree that “dark themes” are present or should be embraced. For me, it’s just a personal thing.

I also like Jonathan’s take on the matter “when the magician proposes a hidden or reframed aspect of reality as the stated or implied mechanics behind a demonstrated phenomenon... that might be the basic premise of bizarre magic.” But, I would add that it is not just proposing a hidden or reframed aspect of reality, it’s the attitude, presentation of the performer and, occasionally, the props used to pull it off convincingly. (i.e. your wand scenario may play well when performed seriously but would lack the authenticity if performed with the use of a cheap plastic wand. Or if a nice wooden one was used and the performer lacked the mental abilities to allow him to believe his words and presentation, then it would play less than spectacularly.)

As I wrote in a previous post, I am not particularly fond of the term “Bizarre”. However, my style, presentations, performance are what would be considered bizarre and I have been influenced by the writings of other bizarrists. In fact, reading them assisted me in realizing that the performance of magic can take on deeper meanings beyond the cleverness that the normal magical entertainer generally displays. With this knowledge, I became more comfortable with my performances in front of an audience of magicians - as my performances for the non-magic community already incorporated some of these ideas. So, as the saying goes, “if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, then...” I do not deny the use of the terms / labels of bizarre, bizarrist, magic (no matter the spelling) or magician for those who wish to attach those to me or the ones who wish to use them for themselves. I simply do not chose to apply the use of all of those terms to myself. It’s a personal choice, nothing more.

Perhaps, instead of asking what is bizarre magic(k) - it would be better to ask the following...
What do you consider magic or the performance of magic as being?
How do you separate your style and performance of magic from others in the field?
Do you consider yourself a bizarre magician / performer ?

When this can be responded to openly and honestly, then we may get a better idea of “where bizarre magic is headed” because we will understand not only what one thinks but what one does, or attempts in doing, within their performance of magic. And possibly for Dan’s benefit, as well as others, this form of questioning will assist in getting things back on track.

To start things off, I’ll offer my own thoughts (b.t.w. the last question I posed, I answered previously in this post).

Warning - metaphors will be in use ...

The way I see it, people dwell in what I call the cave of life. The cave is filled with many gemstones. When one first enters the cave, they may be allowed to touch, look and examine any of the stones present. The person may be attracted to a particular stone by the way it gleams or may be compelled by other forces to pick up a certain one for examination and to get lost inside of. Each stone represents its own group of people, cultures, professions, beliefs, ideas and the list goes on. Each facet on a particular stone represents sub-categories. As the person grows, they may still chose to examine or even reside within one facet of the first stone picked up or the person may migrate to another facet or another stone, after all there is a degree of mixing between the stones but the stone itself remains unchanged. “Magic” is just one of those stones in that cave of thousands. Each facet on that stone of “magic” represents methods, techniques, styles, interests, etc. - it could be as specific as those who work with only one item or prop or as broad as a particular field allows. For better or worse, it is all contained on the same gem - because of this, that gem cannot be easily denied.

Most “magicians” are content with examining or dwelling within a single facet of the stone, others may chose to travel between and examine several facets. But for me, in my mind, a bizarre magician recognizes the stone of “magic” for what it is. Instead of confining him/herself into a single facet of the stone or within the stone itself, they understand that there are thousands of more stones available to examine, learn from and assist in improving or accentuate the performance of magic. The bizarre magician may keep the knowledge gained, from their study, for themselves or impart the knowledge gained in an attempt to help others who dwell within the stone that is magic in general or chose only to spread it among the facets that they feel might find the information useful. A new facet may be cut into the surface but this process should be used sparingly as, in my opinion, the more sub-categories there are, the more of a chance of people getting lost in the understanding of what stone it is in which they dwell.

For fear of going “off topic” but to assist in clarification, I’ll state that other people (clowns, teachers, storytellers, Christians, pagans etc.) may pick up the stone of magic and examine various facets - discovering things for them to use. Their willingness or desire to call themselves a magician, bizarrist or whatever will be their choice. It is my choice as a viewer, audience member, client, friend, etc. to decide if the title holds in the light of speculation and in my view of what that title might suggest. Again, labels, self-attached, tend to mean very little or become watered down when people use such things to describe themselves willy-nilly.

So, for me, bizarre magic(k) is the incorporation of a myriad of ideas, beliefs, performance styles, interests, etc. in which the main goal is to accentuate the performance of magic. The sub-goal is to make the presentation real enough so that the audience may question themselves as to what they saw or experienced. The performance of bizarre magic seeks to take the stage in the mind of the person(s) seeing / experiencing the presentation, rather than within the hands of the performer. A bizarre magician will look at the whole of the presentation and use whatever works to achieve the desired sub-goal (to do this successfully, they must be comfortable with themselves and their presentation). When the sub-goal is reached, it will, in turn, give due respect to the goal of accentuating the performance of magic and in a small way, better the view of the art of magic itself. Whereas conversely the goal of a clown is to be a clown, a teacher - to be a teacher a storyteller to tell stories, etc.

This, it must be noted, is simply my opinion. Take it for what it’s worth. Everything must be contained within something else, that's fine, I do not deny that. Perhaps, I’m different in that I am content in dwelling in larger categories needing not to focus on an extremely narrow yet clearly defined label, understandable by all, to let me know what I do, who I am or the reason I have for doing what I do. I do not wish to control or be controlled by such methods as I find them suffocating although I do not deny that some will attempt to hold me to a particular box, that is their problem and not mine unless it infringes on my goals or the way I have decided to live, then I will attempt to correct the assumption. I mean no offense towards anyone who finds this sort of thing necessary, after all, everyone has a right to be comfortable in their own thoughts. I will also, at times, give my input in the description of certain labels for consideration they need not be agreed upon by all but they are there for those to think about, if one should decide to. I may also read the writings of others and decide if a re-examination of myself or thoughts are in order. Life, after all, is a growing process.

If you are intent on constructing such a box, you must ask yourself a few things...
What do you wish to achieve in its creation (i.e. is it to keep others out or others in)?
What are the parameters (i.e. who should be granted access and for what reasons, what reasons should one be denied)? What do you intend to do when members of this group decide to change its intent? How will you go about changing the purpose of this construct if, in time, you believe you should? How do you intend to keep others from claiming they are “members” in this “select” group, when they aren't - if the construct is set up in this way? How do you intend to keep others either inside or outside of the group from destroying what you have erected?

Let’s face it, it’s easy to say or claim something about yourself. It’s a lot harder to live up to that idea. Unfortunately, most who can’t live up to a certain notion or gain access to a group will attempt to bring it down to a level where access is easily granted if they wish to do so. History has proven this time and again.

As an aside, Dan - if you intended to assist in keeping a subject on topic, then it might help if you do not take a portion of someone's post out of context and comment on it, as this only fuels the fire of fragmentation. Within most of my posts, I attempt to give much “food for thought” - so it might have served you better to comment on the statements in a way that would spur subsequent posts to move in a desired direction.

An example of how this may be handled - “Jonathan, to answer your question. Personally, after writing it out, I do a few run-throughs on video tape. Then I try to bang out some of the rough spots myself. After that, I run it by a few people I trust to give me honest feedback. They are from a variety of professions - some have a knowledge of magic, others do not. It usually takes me between 7 to 9 months from conception to performance. I believe others may want to take this approach because I have found that doing so has bettered my performance, allowing me to know what works for me and what doesn't in the realm of magical presentations and bizarre performances. I would be interested in discovering what works for others within the performance of bizarre magic or, more to the point, why do you see yourself as a bizarrist?

Or, perhaps an approach like this could be taken ... “Even though I like and appreciate Jonathan’s question of ‘How many here script out their work and get feedback from at least one director?’ I fear it does little to assist in the goal of this topic. Perhaps a new thread should be started for such a discussion.”

On the other hand, if there is nothing within a post that you feel worthy of moving said discussion forward and no one has responded, then simply ignore the post. Just a thought.

A note to Jonathan - I apologize for using your question as an example. I wanted to respond but found no other way to coherently include it into this post. I hope there will not be any hard feelings as a result from this action. :)
Message: Posted by: hendoo (Aug 17, 2004 02:39PM)
All magic(k)is BIZARRE...now get back to work!
Message: Posted by: The Curator (Nov 16, 2004 02:47AM)
Well, at my opinion the right question is: How is the word "Magic" actually perceived by the audience ?
If you ask most of the people who represent a magician, you'll receive "Harry Potter" as an answer.
The contamporary interpretations of the magical world by artists like Alan Moore (League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Promethea...), Neil Gaiman (Sandman, Books of Magic, 1602...), the late Jim Henson (the Storyteller, Dark Crystal, Labyrinth), J.K.Rowling should lead you to some conclusion...
Can you make people "believe" that you're emanating from that kind of parallel universe ?
Can you mix the charachters of the X-Men and Harry Potter's world to create a particular personnality ?
Bizarre Magic is far from being dead, believe me.
It's a winning proposition but needs a lot of *** work...
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Nov 16, 2004 04:13AM)
"You know you're a conventional magician when:"
You publish a book in your lifetime and many wish to purchase it to learn your latest tricks.

"You know you're a bizarrist when:"
You leave behind a lone volume after your death, and few want to touch it, for fear of what might be inside.

Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (Nov 16, 2004 12:42PM)
Hahahaha Steve, I love it!

You know you're a conventional magician when...
Your show ends in applause.

You know you're a bizarrist when...
Your show ends with large fire in the town square.
Message: Posted by: Osiris (Nov 17, 2004 10:45AM)
Wait a minute!

I knew I was a real Bizarrist when the picket line of fundamentalist outside the theater was suddenly ten times larger than the number of actors I'd paid to picket the show in order to get some press...

(What can I say? I learned from the "Last Temptation" that you can get tons of free media coverage if you can stir up the fundamentalist and get them to picket you... and that's really bizarre!)
Message: Posted by: enriqueenriquez (Nov 17, 2004 11:43AM)
“Fundamentalist are the best markenting tool”. -Lee Iacocca