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Brad Burt
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For those not aware of where I live...well, let's just say that this is the first time in the last four fires that the hills around my house have NOT burned up! Whewww! Hopefully the above statement will remain true, but be that as it may life and property at this time seems safe. O.k., that's off my chest..... Let's get ready to rummmmble!

You hear and read it all the time: The best props to use for magic are Normal or Natural looking props. It is usually uttered in a pedantic manner that seems to brook no discussion or debate. In the context of what magicians claim to do and in the context of the classic archetypes for magicians the statement is just plain wrong. Maybe even goofy.

I have argued this in other forms before now, but this is full frontal assault on the idea that magic is made more powerful if the props being used are 'Everyday' things that everyone is used to, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah. Garbage.

Stand behind a magic counter for over 30 years and do magic 3-8 hours a day for folks using all kinds of normal AND goofy looking things and you know what you find? Many times the goofy looking things get a better response than the normal!

Look at it this way: Personally, after performing it thousands of times for all kinds and types of folks I have seldom found a routine more powerful, more entertaining, more downright magical than Peter Rabbit. Fine....tell, me where in nature or the everyday small sponge rabbits can be found??? Onnnnnk! Times up. They don't.

Round 10" Metal Rings? Billiard Balls too small to really be anything BUT a magicians utility? Sticks that look like magic wands with tassel laden strings depending from one end? And, the list goes on and on.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying that natural looking props are bad or even inferior. I'm saying the from that end of continuum to the wildest and most weird looking all MAGIC PROPS ARE EQUALLY ULTIMATE in producing an effect that the lay audience will appreciate AS magical assuming that it does in fact produce a 'magical' effect.

You might argue: Well, it's not the sponge bunnies that PRODUCE the effect, but the skill of the magician and I would agree wholeheartedly, but the same is true of two rubber bands. The argument often SEEMS to be that rubber bands are valid because they 'naturally' occur in nature and sponge bunnies don't. Wink, wink. The argument of course is that rubber bands have a utility outside of that of magic and thus are 'more' natural.

The fact is this: The 'archetype' of the magician and the one that Harry Potter, etc. have more firmly placed in the minds of the public is that of the robe wearing, wand swinging, really, REALLY odd prop using magician. The fact is that the public more than we appreciate as 'modern' conjurers EXPECT magic props to be odd!

The the crux of my argument. If you want to use ONLY things that look totally normal and expected in your magic that's just fine with me. I really couldn't care one way or the other. My argument is this: You need not restrict yourself to such props as if they are somehow superior to odd looking props that were constructed JUST for the purpose of producing a magic effect.

It's like the bizarre concept that sleight-of-hand is a 'purer' form of magic than any other form of magic. I used to hold this view, but now reject it on simple logical grounds. That's another essay that we'll get to at another time.

My point in this is that in on sense the Bizarrist magicians have I think discovered a point of contact with the more atavistic inclinations of the audience. Deep down we expect the props that magicians use to be SPECIAL, to be OTHER than that which they use in their everyday life.

Let me give you an example that recently came to me that will show an application of my thinking on this: Ring Flite. No question it's one of the best magic effects ever put on the market. Many believe that one part of that greatness is that the key case looks like just a key case. That's fine. But, what if when the key case is removed from your pocket and the keys drop out with the ring on the key tabs are not only keys, but small objects that look more mysterious, etc. What if the key case was painted with various colorful sigils and odd looking cabalistic designs. How much more interesting it would be to the onlooker IF and ordinary key case was transformed INTO something that in and of itself WAS magic.

A key case is NOT interesting. A uninteresting key case that suddenly is found with a vanished ring is interesting and even entertaining. BUT, a key case THAT has been imbued with magical powers! Now....THAT is interesting AND magical.

Will it work? Don't know. Just theory at this point, but you get the basic idea. Audiences are NOT turned off by props that LOOK magical in some fashion. Why would they be? It's part and parcel of the milieu in which magic itself exists.

I don't want to come of preachy or inflexible. I think that magic is so broad that it can encompass pretty much everyone who wants to join the fun. I want though to hopefully broaden the way in which we examine what we do as magicians.

Go forth my friends! Go forth and magic weird stuff happen. Sincerest regards,
Brad Burt
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