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Jaxon
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A few people have contacted me saying that they think I should put together a book on beginning in magic. I'm not sure I'm knowledgeable enough to write an entire book on the subject and there are plenty of other magicians who are very knowledgeable on the subject and share some great advice. I figured I'd start writing some thoughts and just see how it goes. Below is a small portion of what I've started to write. I have a few other chapters written but this is just a short portion of one chapter.

I'm not a writer so I'm asking for opinion. I'm sure I'll need someone to help with Grammar and I might not be so good at wording all my thoughts but this is just a rough graph of trying it out.

I'd love to read your opinions, suggestions and feel free to discuss the topic this is written about. It's a pretty long read but I hope someone enjoys it and possible finds something to think about.

Thanks!

_____________________________________________

DON’T BECOME A CLONE

One of the hardest things to be is an original. Especially when you are learning or inspired by another performer. In the beginning of your studies in magic it’s impossible to know exactly what performing style you’ll end up with. You’ll be to busy learning how to do the sleights and tricks. But during this process of learning from others it’s very easy to become a clone of the performers you learn from. This doesn’t just happen when learning magic. It happens in any area of life where you are adapting to something new. If you suddenly moved to a new area and made new friends, chances are you’ll end up listening to the style of music your new friends listen to. You might start dressing like them and even start to talk like them. So the point is it’s kind of natural to adjust to your new surroundings. But eventually you’ll have to develop yourself and an individual and set yourself apart from your new surroundings.

This will also happen in magic and the sooner you realize this the better your chances of being original. In the beginning you’re just “learning to crawl” so to speak. Learning all the tricks you see that you don’t know how to do. You’ll learn that trick or move and without realizing it you’ll not only duplicate the moves as it was taught to you. You’ll also duplicate the patter they used. The style they performed and you might even talk and move like that other performer who you learned it from. You won’t realize you are doing this. You’ll feel you are doing it exactly how it’s suppose to be done because the person who taught you did it this way. You might not yet have the experience or knowledge to understand what makes the trick work and what is just part of the performing style. When you’ve gained more experience you’ll have a better understanding of what is right for you and how you can bring a little more of your personal style of performing to whatever you do.

THE DAVID CLONES (Street magic and Copperfield)

I’m not knocking Blaine or Copperfield at all by that comment. In fact I think it’s great that their specials have shown many people a different side of magic. Many people still saw magic as the guy pulling rabbits out of the hat for kids before David Blaine, David Copperfield, Mark Wilson and other publicly known magicians showed a different side on TV. But there are far to many Blaine Clones out there today.
Search the web and you’ll discover that site that use to have sections on “close up” magic now call that section “Street Magic”. You’ll see a guy wearing a black t-shirt squatting down with a deck of cards in his hand posing very similar to Blaine. The truth is modern street magic is not street magic at all. It’s more like a fad. Every trick Blaine did on his TV specials would have been called Close up magic before he did it on TV and titled the show “Street Magic”.

I know this might make a few people mad because they are so proud to call themselves street magicians. First let me say that there’s nothing wrong with being a street magician. In fact it’s one of the hardest arenas to present magic in because you really have to know how to not only attract and audience of people who are probably on their way to get somewhere as they walk down the street. You also have to hold them there long enough to see the show.
Now I ask you. If you call yourself a street magician, are you really working the streets? Or are you just calling yourself that because you are performing the style that Blaine and other similar performers did on those TV specials?

Why do I seem to be putting Blaine and Street magic down? Really, I’m not trying to. I did enjoy his specials on TV so I’m not putting anyone down here. I’m just trying to show just how far this clone epidemic has gone. Blaine has his style of performing and now there are many others out there performing the same style. They aren’t being original. They are being like someone else. Or you could say they are a “clone” of him.

There are far too many David Copperfield clones out there in stage magic too. I can name a few who seem to be carbon copies of him. I’m sure you’ve seen them. When I see these acts I can just picture Copperfield sitting there watching it saying, “He looks, moves, dresses and talks just like me”. It’s easy to want to be like him because he is a great performer. But there’s a huge difference between being inspired by someone and wanting to be like them. It’s okay to want to be like them in a way that’s successful but to be exactly like him is impossible no matter how much some people try. Plus, he’s a known performer. If someone else is acting, moving, talking, dressing and performing like him then their audiences will know who he's copying.

It’s very hard to be original when you don’t know enough to be your “performing” self yet. I know quite a few magicians in my area who are learning from Tony Gerard (The owner of the local magic shop) who are performing exactly like he does because he’s the one who taught them quite a bit. I use to do be the same way. I use to talk like him, act like him and perform like him. But eventually I broke free of that and I now perform my own thing. Luckily Tony understood this and once I was advanced enough to find things that fit me a little better. He encouraged me to do those things. Whenever he saw, thought of or learned of a trick that he felt I might enjoy he’d point it out to me and this was a big help.

So make sure you aren’t a clone of someone else. Don’t worry about it too much if you haven’t yet learned enough of the basics. You should learn the basic first because without it there’s no way you’ll know what will work for you or not. But really put some thought into it. If you were performing like someone else then why would anyone want you to perform for him or her when they could just get that other performer instead? Look at some of the most known magicians today. They all have something unique about them. Some of them admit that they aren’t that advanced in magic in the technical aspect but they are still successful because they are unique. They won’t call themselves a “Street magician” or a “Stage Magician”. There shows will be titled “The (Name) show”. And that’s a goal you should have for yourself. Perform things that fit your personality and if you don’t yet have an original performing style then one of your goals will be to obtain one. Don’t worry if nothing strikes you just yet. It took years for me to develop one but it eventually evolved into me.

That’s the key to being original is to just get out there and perform. It doesn’t matter if all the tricks you do are your own creation. How you perform is much more important then what you perform. You’ll never know what works for you until you give things a try and let it evolve. It’ll eventually happen so don’t push it. Just entertain people and learn what works and what doesn’t. Just don’t try to be like anyone else in the process.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
irishguy
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It's pretty good. As you said, it could use some polishing. I would add some suggestions as to assisting in being original. It is of the utmost importance to outline what someone shouldn't do, but at the same time, a list of things that someone should do is important as well.
Shaner316
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Sounds pretty good so far Jaxon.

Keep up the good work!!
R.T.
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Looks great...very helpful, espicially since I am a beginer. All your posts are always must reads for me, the way you (please don't take this as an insult) simplify it is tremendous. It's not simple writing, its a very advanced and difficult style to do, because it is so clear and inticing to read. You speak to both magicians AND Laypeople, steer us in the right direction to become better magicians and this is why I think your book could be a great success! GOOD LUCK!
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Its all great Jaxon (per usual). I would say go for it and publish a book.


Good luck

Zac
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rikbrooks
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Jaxon, I've really come to look forward to these posts that you do. This particular one impresses me. I remember well a Kung Fu student of mine that was testing for his instructor status (we don't use black belts in my style). Another master that was one rank less than me was on the judging panel. He did the 9 dragon form for his exam, a particularly long and athletic form. When I failed the student the other master questioned me. He said that the student had performed the form flawlessly, in fact, he looked just like me.

"That's why he failed." I told the master. "He has just mimicked my movements. He has not put any of HIMSELF in the form."

As you pointed out, we begin with mimicking, but mastery means giving it our own personality. Just as an aside, the highest rank in my style literally translates to 'Owner' in English. It is when the student has taken his style and so internalized it that it no longer seems to be the original style. That's how you get so many 'sub-styles' of Kung Fu like Sun Tai Chi or Yang Tai Chi.
calexa
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He was flawless and you failed him - interesting.

jaxon, I like the way you write. but I would shorten it a little, because you repeat very often that the performer shouldn't be a clone of somebody else.

just my two cents....

magixx
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rikbrooks
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Quote:
On 2005-04-06 09:04, calexa wrote:
He was flawless and you failed him - interesting.


In the interest of brevity I didn't mention that he was TECHNICALLY flawless, but had not integrated the form. In other words, he moved like a man imitating a dragon while he should have moved like a dragon.

With some more instruction he did pass the exam the next month - and several since then.
Jaxon
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Thanks everyone.

Does anyone have any suggestion on improving the layout of a book like this? I know some are just going to say to go back to school and learn some of the skills needed to improve. I'd love to do that someday but right now it's just can't fit into my schedule.

Would there be services I can call to have things edited and worded better? I guess I'd need an editor of some kind huh? Smile

Also thanks for the suggestions of things to add to this. I only posted a short section of one chapter but I kind of wanted to get some feed back on the kind of things I'm writing about. There won't be many tricks in this. I figured there are plenty of sources people can learn tricks and sleights from. I wanted to write about the things I've learned while performing in the real world and hopefully share some of that with others so they won't have to learn all of it the hard way. I make it very clear in the intro I started to write that I could never know it all and that some of the things they'll read about won't necessarily work for them, but I still hope it'll give them something to think about.

Ron Jaxon
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
GeorgeSantos
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Ron Jaxon,

I really liked your words. It's a great lesson to all those who seek to have their original performance style.

I would love to hear more about your book. Smile
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calexa
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Thanks for your answer rikbrooks. I did Karate for some years, so I was really wondering what problem your student had.

Magixx
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bigchuck
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I don't think you need to worry SO MUCH about grammar and such -- it's the material that matters... Cellini has a book out which was basically translated and then went straight to the bookshelf complete with grammatical errors and sometimes the words sound a bit awkward, but the material in the book is like a goldmine -- its one of my favorites.

IMO not many people are checking to see if you should use a colon or a semi colon when there is good information to be found especially when you keep a conversational tone throughout.
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Quote:

jaxon, I like the way you write. but I would shorten it a little, because you repeat very often that the performer shouldn't be a clone of somebody else.



I thought the same,...but it's great! Nothing that just tad of editing couldn't fix. I'd love to read more.
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Benji Bruce
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A lot of magicians probably dissagree with me but I don't believe you should scacrafice entertainment for originality. magicians who have been performing for a long time cant think like a laymen. when someone sees a magic trick they don't know if you copied it from david blaine or somebody else. what the audience is looking at is YOU doing the trick and THEY are experiencing it. if the audience doesn't know you then the experience to them is A LOT more important than you doing the trick. to become a professional I would say you have to be original but as a beginner you shouldnt sacrafice originality for entertainment. if you go up to somebody and do a trick EXACTLY like david blaine (and give them the stare) that person will not say "oh...wow...you did that just like that blaine guy." the person would be more impressed with the miracle you just showed them. I would say you shouldnt sacrafice originality for entertainment unless you want to be a professional.
Jaxon
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Thanks for joining this discussion and I sort of agree with you in that when someone is fairly new to magic they don't yet have the experience to develop their own performing style. Then it's very hard to be original. But it should still be a goal obtain that original performing style.

It doesn't matter if you're a professional or not. What makes one a professional magician is an entirely different topic but one doesn't have to do magic for a living to be a good and original performer. There are plenty of hobbyist magicians out there who are excellent performers who have their own unique style.

Being an original performer really has very little to do with weather they perform original tricks or not. It also doesn't matter how advanced they are at sleight of hand. Being an original performer has to do with putting some of yourself into the act. After all we are all original people. If someone is not putting themselves into the act then they are just playing the part of another magician. Even a professional actor would have a hard time making that believable without having some experience in magic as well. Then to go a step further no two actors would play that part the same either. So if someone is copying another performer it really does show. Especially in close up or parlor performances. If they are performing like someone else and following the "script" of the original. Then they loose the ability to be spontaneous because they have to stick with that script. If the mood of the audience doesn't fit then they performer is stuck.

So while I agree that an amateur with little experience more in likely hasn't developed an original performing persona yet. I disagree that it won't effect the performance. If someone gets a good reaction when they present it like someone else then they'd get an even better reaction if they presented it in their own unique style.

So it's not a matter of sacrificing entertainment for originality. It's a matter of having both at the same time.

In closing. Think of any of your favorite magicians. Do any of them perform like someone else?
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After regaining my ability to hear after 20 years of deafness. I learned that there is magic all around you. The simplest sounds that amazed me you probably ignore. Look and listen around you right now. You'll find something you didn't notice before.
Benji Bruce
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"So while I agree that an amateur with little experience more in likely hasn't developed an original performing persona yet. I disagree that it won't effect the performance. If someone gets a good reaction when they present it like someone else then they'd get an even better reaction if they presented it in their own unique style."

I disagree with your disagreeing statement:) (if that makes any sense)....what I'm trying to say is that laymen do not know if you are copying another magician or not....only fellow magicians know that and fellow magicians are not the target audience unless your at a convention...i have seen many people copy blaine and get the same reaction... the magicians who are "clones" either don't want to spend time to figure out who they are and how to encorperate it into their show or they are using someone elses sytle because it has been proven effective...laymen do not know whose trick you are performing and whose style it is...they are seeing whatever is presented to them whether its your style or not

In closing ( I need one because mr jaxon had one:) ) Think of any of your favorite magicians....do you know if they are copying someones style when you see a trick?
irishguy
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Quote:
On 2005-04-10 19:02, BBMagic wrote:

I disagree with your disagreeing statement:) (if that makes any sense)....what I'm trying to say is that laymen do not know if you are copying another magician or not....only fellow magicians know that and fellow magicians are not the target audience unless your at a convention...i have seen many people copy blaine and get the same reaction... the magicians who are "clones" either don't want to spend time to figure out who they are and how to encorperate it into their show or they are using someone elses sytle because it has been proven effective...laymen do not know whose trick you are performing and whose style it is...they are seeing whatever is presented to them whether its your style or not


I would disagree. Most new magicians are cloning someone they saw on television. There is a really good chance your audience saw the same guy.

Beyond that, you are cloning presentation and mannerisms that aren't yours...which will become abundently obvious the second you need to actually converse with the audience. Suddenly, your whole demeanor will change because that other guy just isn't you.
Benji Bruce
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You guys seriously do not understand what I'm saying....why don't you experiment...look at one of david blaines tricks and perform it exactly the way he does to a stranger...im sure that stranger will not care if you do it just like david blaine...the important part to him is that HE EXPERIENCED THE IMPOSSIBLE...not that you showed him the impossible
Peter Marucci
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Jaxon writes: "Then (when you are starting out) it's very hard to be original. But it should still be a goal obtain that original performing style."

Absolutely.

It may be hard but, if it were easy, then everyone would be doing it! <G> (BTW, the grin shouldn't take anything away from the validity of the comment.)

If you do something exactly the way Blaine or Copperfield to it, and show it to a lay person, and that person has seen the original on TV by Blaine or Copperfield, then he or she is going to say (or, at least, think), "Hey, that's the same as David (B or C) only not as good!"
rikbrooks
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If you do something enough times in character then that something will be cemented. For me, before I even began to consider what type of magic I was going to do I decided on my character. Of course my character is nothing but an amplification of my real character. I think that made everything easier for me.
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