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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Believe it or not... » » Does sideshow contain deception? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

NJJ
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On the top of Todd Robbins' website, there is a little sign that says "NO DECEPTION".

This is a reference to the fact that sideshow acts are real. The nail really goes into your face. The broken glass is really walked on. The cinderblock is really broken on your chest. A magician isn't really restoring the torn up card. The mentalist is really bending the spoon by brain power (In fact, as a magician, I have a hard time sometime convincing people that I really am doing the new sideshow acts I have learnt. This is probably why Todd promotes the NO DECEPTION.)

But does this mean that there is no deception in sideshow?

For example, you don't need to hammer to get the nail into your nose. Once you've read Slim's notes you can learn the safe way to slide it in. But we add the hammer and deceive the audience into believing the nail is being hammered in.

The glass is prepared in a particular way but the sideshow artist will deceive the audience into believe it is a fresh, super sharp glass. They may grimace and flinch as they slowly walk around.

The cinderblock, on the other hand, does require special knowledge and skill, but there is not any deception in it.

Obviously, these things are added for showmanship and it is not dishonest or unethical to do them. Sliding a nail into your nose is far less exciting then hammering it. And walking around blunt glass is far less exciting then sharp!

Do you feel that these things count as deception?
drwilson
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Nicholas,

There's a great saying, "There's only one show business."

That means whether you a running a duck pond at a carnival or a seance in an old Victorian house, it's a show. Selling the show is important. You are magician, which is another way of saying liar. I think it really sells a sideshow to say "No Deception" or the way that Ses Carny sells his show, "Feel the Pain." This gets the audience into a state of mind where they are really going to feel the full impact of the show.

The little exaggerations and shortcuts are part of the art.

Debating whether a sideshow act is 100% real or just a really good show reminds me of the discussions on escapes. Do you have to pick locks with a paper clip on stage to be an escape artist, or can you just leave audiences with the impression that you have that ability? I think it's fair to say that the consensus among escape artists (what a concept!) is that "the play's the thing."

If it's a good show, and the audience got what they came for, all is well.

Yours,

Paul
Cholly, by golly!
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Sideshows have always utilized "artistic license" to "sell" the show.

This applies to working acts,human oddities, and especially grind shows.
Harley Newman
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Escape artists argue all the time, about whether a thing should be completely real or not. So do SS performers. I know quite a few folks who brag about how everything in their show is real, and then do something like the Brahmo Thread Mystery, and try to convince the audience that the thread went through their intestinal and abdominal walls.

But the point of the discussion is simple. It IS a show.

One could also argue that walking down the aisle of a supermarket involves the same kinds of lies. The picture on the soup can, is not really THAT soup. The logo on the box of potato flakes, is more designed to entice our attention, than anything else. It's a show, eh? And just try to convince me that I NEED a Lexus.

Audiences don't care (that I've ever noticed) whether our house burned down, our kids are dieing in the hospital, our wives left us, and our dogs just got run over. They don't care if everything is real. They're there to be entertained. It's not complicated.

It just ends up, being a performer-ego thing. What a waste of time! But very good advertising!
“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus” -Mark Twain

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Caveat Lector
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Barnum was one of the greatest showmen that ever lived, and the reason why? Because he made the audience believe....he was able to have them suspend there disbelief if only for a short time. We must not forget that we are showmen first and foremost. He gave them somethings that were 100% real, then he would through in a few that might not have been so legitimate, but who cared it was fun and they got to take home a great memory. That's what we do, create great memories for the public so that they can talk about it to there friends the next day. Just have fun and who cares if you have to stretch the truth from time to time, hell the Government does..LOL.
Corrupting the art of magic, one show at a time
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thegreatnippulini
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In a late show of mine, the Philadeplhia Sideshow Revue we exhibited the six foot tall man eating chicken bit. Did we lie to the audience? The man was six feet tall and he was in the process of eating chicken. Of course, that is what is the fun part! Now, in my particular specialty I seriously have a problem with anyone arguing the validity of my act or calling what I do in any way deceptive. For those in the audience who say this stuff... well, come up on the stage and you pick up this 30 pound anvil and tell me I'm faking it.
The Great Nippulini: body piercer, Guinness World Record holder, blacksmith and man with The World's Strongest Nipples! Does the WORLD care? We shall see...
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Utah Showmen
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Tom Norman was a 19th century showman he said.,

“It was not the show, it was the tale that you told”

I know that the folks that do the acts put a lot of time and talent
into learning to do them safely and they can be very harmful or fatal if not
done properly.

I also know that throughout the history of the show many showman exhibited such things as bouncers, feejee mermaids, as TGN said 6 foot man eating chickens, the 600lb. bat and many other "gaffed and real" exhibits.

That's Sideshow!
John Robinson
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Step Right Up It's always Alive on the Inside of Sideshow World

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Kondini
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Ah! But Norman had the Elephant Man and there was no BS there.
A good read is The Penny Showman,,, it opens up the door to the reality of unreality.

Ken
Utah Showmen
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There's a story by Dr. Vanessa Toulmin it's title;
The Life and Legend of Tom Norman, the Silver King
“It was not the show it was the tale that you told”

It's posted in the Good Old Days Section on Sideshow World.

Norman only exhibit John Merrick, The Elephant Man for a very
short period.
John Robinson
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Preserving the Past....Promoting the Future of the Sideshow

Step Right Up It's always Alive on the Inside of Sideshow World

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Kondini
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Yes that`s right,Norman did three provinces with Joseph Meyrick (The Frederick Treves book spelt his name wrong)Then displayed him for the rest of his three year period in the Whitechaple Road (Too close to the Mile End Road Hospital!)I believe the premises were owned by an Irishman of the name Geary formaly a Waxworks owned by Cotton.

According to George Norman (Toms son) Meyrick was displayed by four showmen over his pro period and during this time, never stayed in a caravan as per myth would have it but prefered digs instead.

His only option out was to return to the workhouse (Providing they had a placement).

Regarding the deception thread,,,,,a waxwork of Meyrick was out on tour and considered too tame for audience enjoyment, so alterations were made to improve it`s presentation by painting out the heading Elephant Man and replaceing it with The Creature From Mars!!!
This scored quite well as a onecer and is still doing the rounds today.

Ken.
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