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Profile of Chrystal
To set up the scenerio: I was very enthusiastic to find out that the parents group had hired a magician to entertain the children at our school assembly.(I'm a special ed teacher). I perform aprox 200 shows yearly myself, so understand the biz. It was someone I was unfamiliar with in my area, which was unusual as I belong to a large ring and have attended many lectures, conventions over the years..but I'm digressing..back to the story.

The magician was supposed to start at 1 pm, we recieved notice that he now wouldn't start until 1:30 pm. School is dismissed at 2:30. Meant parents would be waiting for the kids for a few mins at the end of the day. Not a big deal to some but some parents may have work schedules of their own. I'm not sure why he was 1/2 late.

Seated at the very back with the seventh graders, I was a tad understanding when his first effect was exposed. "Hmm ,I could see it all the way from the back...okay..maybe he's a bit nervous," I think.

Although he had a microphone I could barely make out what he was saying the majority of the time but was familiar with his props. On No! The audience didn't catch on when he said "Ta Da!" and nothing happened, but I knew what was supposed to have happened with that routine. I felt sympathy.

But. (it gets worse)..grrrrr at one point I could have walked to the front of the assembly and thumped him! He performed a tear and restore routine and then proceeded to explain step by step how magicians do it! I was floored...OMG! Was this his idea of "educating kids?" by exposing an effect to an entire assembly of K's to 7? What was he thinking????

I was so upset by what I had just seen that when the principal asked my opinion of him...I tried not to badmouth the performer. I consider myself ethical in that way but I blurted out..what he just did amounts to plagerism to educators. The principal understood that meaning.

I wanted so badly to approach the magician after the children left the school..(10 mins later than usual) as planners had to be written, chairs stacked, backpacks and jackets gathered..ect.

I refrained from doing so as I felt I would blast him. What would you guys have done in my situation?

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Profile of jimhlou
Wow, Chrystal,

How old was he? Was he just a young kid just getting started, or a "working" magician?

There's no way I could NOT visit with him after the show, and ask him nicely if he was a little "off" today. Then as the conversation progressed I would have blasted him big time!

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Profile of Chrystal
Hi Jimhlou,

In our school district to be hired it works this way. The entertainers must present their portfolios to the school district who will either accept or reject them. Those accepted are then placed in a book with promo pic and a bio of their act and the prices.

The books are then sent to the individual schools in the district. Mine is very large..over 110 elementary schools alone.

This entertainer was not a kid and from his props (a few large pricy illusions) it appeared he had been doing it for some time. However, I couldn't help but have all the toys but sheesh!(covers mouth and refrains from saying the rest) He exposed almost every effect (not on purpose) with the exception of the Tear and Restore which he explained in great detail.

I'm now regretting I didn't say something, but thought perhaps he would think it's sour grapes since I work at that school. Although, it's usually my policy never to perform at the same school I work at and besides I was working there in another capacity.

Anyhow thanks for that feedback Jim.

KC Cameron
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Raleigh, North Carolina
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Profile of KC Cameron
Hid my head and never admitted I did magic . . .

People need to learn, and there is room for developing acts, but one needs to have an idea of their ability. Maybe this was his wake-up call. Very few people take criticism well, and he would probably have blown you off and put his head back in the sand. Then again, you never know . . .

Unfortunately, many people see this and think all local entertainers are of this caliber . . .

A lot of kids see magic as a puzzle, and by exposing it, they THINK they look smart . . . . just look on YouTube.
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Profile of Chrystal
OOps I had a spelling error in my post..ha ha! Just goes to show you we all have "off" days.

Thanks too for the feeback, Captain!

I'm now wondering if I should send him a note giving constructive criticism?
KC Cameron
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Profile of KC Cameron
Why ruin your day when he tells you to _____-off? Perhaps some feedback from the principle would be better - especially if it gets into "the book". Isn't there any feedback so other schools be warned?

My policy is not to comment to a performer on a live performance unless asked. (Hard to believe, isn't it?)What are the chances it will do anything but create animosity?
Donald Dunphy
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Profile of Donald Dunphy
Hi Chrystal -

I know what it's like to want to help someone in need (even if they don't see themself as "in need" Smile ).

If it was me who did the show (and I know it wasn't... thank goodness!... by hints you gave in your post), then you would have my permission to approach me.

If it were me on the receiving end, I'd prefer to be approached in a phone conversation (as opposed to a note or letter), but maybe not the same day as the show. Sometimes a performer is on a "high" after a show, and can't take commentary fairly. The reason I personally would want a phone conversation, would be so I can ask for clarification on certain statements.

Also, I would wish to be asked for permission, before having opinion unleashed on me. Something like, "I saw your show, and as a fellow performer I have some constructive pointers for you. Are you interested in having some help with your show?" Listen to their answer before continuing.

- Donald
Donald Dunphy is a Victoria Magician, British Columbia, Canada.
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Arlington, Virginia
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Profile of rossmacrae
On 2008-01-16 21:14, Chrystal wrote:
I was so upset by what I had just seen that when the principal asked my opinion of him...I tried not to badmouth the performer.

Uh ... Why? Some situations beg for a bit of honesty, and it has to start somewhere.
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Profile of nucinud
Bad magicians give us a bad reputation. Which means people think twice about hiring magicians for their events. Tactful criticism is called for sometimes.
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Harry Mandel
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Profile of TomBoleware
Like the others have said, I don’t know that it would do any good unless he asked first. Surely you can find one thing he did well, I would approach him with that and try to talk out permission to go into detail with the other.

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Gave him a piece of paper that says... "Magicians helping Magicians"


Posted: Jan 16, 2008 11:27pm

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Profile of Payne
I really wouldn't waste my time telling this guy anything. It has been my experience that performers of this ilk only want validation not constructive criticism. They are living their fantasy life of being a full time pro and anything you say will come off in their tiny little minds as jealousy of their perceived success.
All you can do is give him negative reviews in his book which hopefully will go far in seeing him removed from the roster so he can no longer inflict his rather unpleasant brand of magic on the unsuspecting.
"America's Foremost Satirical Magician" -- Jeff McBride.
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Profile of MagicSanta
Chrystal, I'll do something for you and the region known as Canada. I have made people cry because they didn't do a good job...I've driven them to violence. PM me this guys name, I'll call him....I will destroy him and save the art of magic.
Father Photius
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Profile of Father Photius
Sounds like a guy who learned his magic on You Tube. Wonder how legitimate his material he submitted was? I did school shows for several years and knew a good number of other school show magicians, lots of styles, but never saw anyone like that. I admire you tongue biting ability Chrystal.
"Now here's the man with the 25 cent hands, that two bit magician..."
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Profile of Chrystal
Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

Donald, if it had been you (which would never happen by the way) as I've heard nothing but good things about your show. I'd appreciate I'd have your permission!

Payne, I've seen your show a few times and in the famous words usually quoted by Shawn Farquhar, "You Rock!".

Captain Kidd...Arg (my version of pirate talk) if he had told me to "bleep bleep" I probably would have called Magic Santa to watch my back.

MagicSanta...Your cousin Guido still available for work? We'll send him over with the famous slogan of it's not's business. :O)

Thanks for the feedback and comments from the other posters.

If we are all being honest, we've all had off days and if the situation was reversed, I had to wonder how I would feel if someone approached me. Would I thank them? Would I listen to the comments? Would I be upset?

I think I still can handle constructive criticism if the person giving me the advice is knowlegable in that field. Sure, I'd listen to them! Depending on how the critique is done of course! I may not like it, but if they had good intentions and it would make me better I'd view it as they are trying to help.

The intentional exposure, is what irked me the most..which goes back to my post..what was he thinking? Part of me thinks.. if no one ever points it out to him will he ever know the error of his ways? It would be different if this was a magic class and students had been prepped about not giving effects away but an entire school during a show? (Can you tell I'm still irked?)

At the end of the day, he may continue on with his shows but I can't help but feel for the next magician that performs a Tear and Restore for any of those kids and cries of "I know how you do that" is heard.

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Profile of magicgeorge
On 2008-01-17 00:48, Payne wrote:
It has been my experience that performers of this ilk only want validation not constructive criticism. They are living their fantasy life of being a full time pro and anything you say will come off in their tiny little minds as jealousy of their perceived success.

That's so true. Later on they will tell you the correct way to do things because they have been doing it that way for 20 years. It never occurs to them that they could have been doing it the wrong way for 20 years

Could the explained exposure possible have been the T&R sucker effect (where you explain it then the one that is torn is also restored). Maybe that was what he was mumbling into the mike.

kihei kid
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Profile of kihei kid
Chrystal, I see you have obviously posted to seek advice on what you should have done, which obviously means your unsure if you did the right thing.

I myself am unsure if there is a correct one size fits all answer. I can see merit in some of the replies here.

Here’s my take… doing nothing yields nothing, which in his case, MAY have been the order of the day! You can talk to some people until you are blue in the face and it goes in one ear and out the other.

I myself would have told him what I’m telling you here!

I would have explained to him that you are a performer yourself that does 200 shows a year and that what you are about to TELL him (not interested in whether or not he wants to hear it) you hope doesn’t go in one ear and out the other and it is coming from an audience perspective.

I would have told him being late and forcing some parents who are on a time frame is no good. I then would have told him he flashed his opener (which, OBTW, I told Mac King he flashed in one of his shows and he asked me exactly where and then thanked me for letting him know), he needed a better sound system and last but not least it was “NOT cool” and to PLEASE stop openly exposing the T&R newspaper as myself and others in OUR area perform it.

And on a performers note, by exposing it, that makes the effect anti-climatic and turns it into an explained puzzle instead of a mysterious illusion.

As always and as you are aware of, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.

Hard to do here in the written form.
In loving memory of Hughie Thomasson 1952-2007.

You brought something beautiful to this world, you touched my heart, my soul and my life. You will be greatly missed.

Until we meet again “my old friend”.
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Profile of mghia
I think you need to be honest. As one said, he could be upset with you and will think you are out of line. Might even Bleep Bleep you.
Maybe those type are the ones that NEED to hear it. They are just not used to finding out they need some work. They longer in the biz for some they think they do not need to evaluate their show every so often.

I would not ask his PERMISSION to let him know what you think. That is silly. He probably would say NO.
Even if you do ask, and he GRANTS it, the truth will hurt his ego and his first instict is to dismiss your comments. He might even say "no one as complained before." Maybe that is because most do not take the time.
I see it even on the Café how some react when their advice is not accepted as the be all and end all. They get upset and look for a fight. Sad really but the "reaction" is natural.

So despite some of the recommendations to call the person, I say it is gentler to send the letter and as Tom said, stroke his ego with the one thing you did like about his show, if any. It will give him time to filter your comments. As long as you do it in the spirit of wanting to help he can not complain.

The funny thing about people is that even ONE comment can get under their skin. David Copperfield once revealed this. He said he could do a great show for 2500 people but if he catches one person who is not having a good time he is bothered by this and wants to correct his show.

I might approach it from a TEACHER standpoint. You might just start out that you were a teacher at the show and that will make the late start and how it disrupts the schedule have more weight. I have been part of large shows and sometimes there are unavodable issues that cause delays. It might have been a one time thing so first see if you can find out why there was the delay. However I have worked with some people that do not care about time and say "they'll not care if we start late."

Some magicians will appreciate, if not be embarrassed or resistant, that a magician pointed these things out. They would rather have someone on the inside tell them what they exposed.

However I think we worry MORE to hear it from the client or guests since it means that the word of the poor show might get around.

Even as a teacher,you can talk about the exposure. Say something like that you love magic and do not want to know so were very disappointed you exposed a magic trick you loved. Then say "I thought magicians were not supposed to reveal their secrets?"
If you tell him you are a magician you can still mention that but maybe can ask him why he choose that one to be the one exposed.
I think someone else already posted to suggest a LESSER version of exposure.

I think the letter is the best way since it will give him time to read over your words and really THINK about it. He can not yell at the letter and leave in a huff. He will go back over that letter a few times and it will play in his head even if he thinks you are out of line.
I bet he will actually thank you.

Let us know how it goes.

It is interesting that most people of the same trade will not say anything bad about the competition by giving a name even if some should be warned of the quality.

This does not make much sense since if you were not a magician, you would be mentioning his name to all your colleges so they do not get a bad show as well. I think we are more afraid of then getting a backlash from the person we mentioned by name and fear that they would start making up stuff about us.

So this is another reason bad magicians get hired over and over. People are getting way to PC. (I agree his name was not needed for your post but you should have let your principal know all your thoughts without "code".
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Profile of NJJ
Was he performing the sucker torn and restored napking routine? That has 'exposure' as part of the plot.
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Profile of gadfly3d
When I see bad magic I tend to slink out the door after the 3rd trick. I share the desire to "help" the performer but tend no to. I recently went to a local mall to see a magician, who also started 20 minutes late and didn't make 5 minutes before I left.

Gil Scott
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