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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Where is Bizarre Magick headed? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bill Palmer
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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.
"The Swatter"

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Clifford the Red
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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.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Bill Palmer
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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.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
Clifford the Red
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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.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Bill Palmer
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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 Our Magic 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!
"The Swatter"

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Clifford the Red
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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.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
Dan Mindo
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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.
Bill Palmer
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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 Sheherazade, 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.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Dr_Stephen_Midnight
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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.

Steve
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Mike: "No."
Dr. Lao: "Wise answer."
Osiris
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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.
Dan Mindo
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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.
ptbeast
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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.

Dave
rtgreen
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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.

Thanks
tctahoe
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If clowns ain't bizarre...I don't know what is!
rtgreen
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You said a big red mouthful there TC! Smile

:ventriloquist:
Dan Mindo
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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.
rtgreen
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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.
bloodyjack
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How about doing bizarre magic with John wayne gasy clown make up!
"sir i sent you half the kidne i took from one woman prasarved it for you tother piece i fried and ate it was very nise i may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer"
rtgreen
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If you could get an audience to stay for the show, it would be pretty creepy. Smile
ptbeast
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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.

Dave
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