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Al Schneider
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Hi!
I just bumped into this thread about character and read about Pop's history. Very impressive.
Since this section is about Food for Thought, I thought I would throw something in here to garner thoughts for those that fancy thinking about such things.

I have oft expressed my ideas of what makes magic, magic. I have recently come up with a phrase that I think clarifies my thoughts. The phrase is, "Do you want to be a sleight-of-hand artist or do magic?"

I have more to say about this but I want to hear from you guys first.
Magic Al. Say it fast and it is magical.
weirdwizardx
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That is a very, very, very, very good phrase.
jim ferguson
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Hi Al.

I've just came across your post, I'm surprised there's not more conversation from others.

It's a good statement/question. I think most would like to say "do magic", but in reality would fall into the sleight of hand artist camp (not that there's anything wrong with being a sleight of hand artist).

I think there has been some sort of shift in perception, especially (but not soley) in the younger/newer guys - especially where coin magic is concerned. Much of what is called coin magic today, is not what I would term "magic".

To me it is like the difference between a stage manipulation act with cards, and proper card magic.
Take the standard card appearances and vanishes. Audiences know fine well the cards arent appearing magically, and are fully aware of the fact that the hands are not empty, and that the cards are being hidden in the hand - the appreciation comes from the obvious skill involved. When the hand is shown front and back it is clear what's happening - but the difficulty and skill involved is also clear.
This can be entertaining, mesmerising, and even beautiful, but it is not magic.

I see much modern coin magic performances in this way. All those funny movements and hand poses make it obvious that something is going on, or that other coins are present and being manipulated. This takes away from the magic and moves it toward obvious sleight of hand.

I have a statement that I've mentioned on other forums -

"Most modern coin magic is not coin magic at all, it is coin manipulation".

As always, I look forward to reading your thoughts.



Jim
weirdwizardx
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Trickster or magician? that's the big question...

Cristóbal
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I don't do close-up, I do stand-up and stage work. I am trying to develop a compelling show where I walk on-stage without any props and create impossible magic for 20 minutes (not just manipulation). It is incredibly difficult to do, or at least to make compelling rather than trivial. A tremendous amount of creativity and construction is required. I'd like to say I've mastered it, but I haven't. It's much, much easier to be a sleight of hand artist. If "do magic" were that easy, everyone would do it. Smile
"Dana Douglas is the greatest magician alive. Plus, I'm drunk." -- Foster Brooks
George Ledo
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Quote:
On Dec 5, 2019, jim ferguson wrote:




To me it is like the difference between a stage manipulation act with cards, and proper card magic.
Take the standard card appearances and vanishes. Audiences know fine well the cards arent appearing magically, and are fully aware of the fact that the hands are not empty, and that the cards are being hidden in the hand - the appreciation comes from the obvious skill involved. When the hand is shown front and back it is clear what's happening - but the difficulty and skill involved is also clear.
This can be entertaining, mesmerising, and even beautiful, but it is not magic.

As always, I look forward to reading your thoughts.

Obviously I don't know how long you've been doing magic (or tricks), but it seems to me that you're making some assumptions based on not much. Most audiences who watch stand-up manipulation don't know what to expect, because this is rarely done nowadays. Take it (or not) from a guy who did it for years (for general audiences) and always got the same responses: the audiences expected to see magic, and they got what they thought was magic, and they told me so afterwards.

Y'see, the trick is in how you present it, either as juggling (lookit how much skill I have), or as magic. If you come across while doing a stage manipulation act like you have a broomstick up your rear end, the audience will respond appropriately. And yes they will think, that jerk was hiding the cards all along. But if you come across like you're doing magic, they will not think that way.

And BTW, who are we to decide what comes across as real magic to them or not? That's up to the audience.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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critter
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I think of the bit in Principles and Deceptions where he talks about difficulty of a trick making it less likely to be copied.

IMO, moves are tools in a tool kit.
Any idiot can pound a nail or turn a screwdriver, not everyone can build a functional house.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
jim ferguson
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Quote:
On Dec 13, 2019, George Ledo wrote:
Obviously I don't know how long you've been doing magic (or tricks), but it seems to me that you're making some assumptions based on not much.




If you don't know me, or how long I've been "doing magic (or tricks)", then how can you possibly know that my "assumptions" are "based on not much" ?
You have no idea what my "assumptions" are based on. It would seem it is your assumptions about my assumptions that are based on not much.

If you think that standard card productions and vanishes, with the way the hand is shown front and back etc, comes across as "magic" and not manipulation, then perhaps you are not understanding what is being discussed in this thread.

Put it this way - say I showed a coin, and opened my hand and it was gone. I show my hand open with all fingers pressed together, then turn my hand over EXACTLY like you do in card manipulation, to show the back of the hand - then again in reverse.
Do you think a single person will think or believe the coin has vanished and the hand is really empty ?

It would be blatantly obvious that the coin was there and being cleverly manoeuvered. NO-ONE turns their hand like that to show it empty.
And it is the same for card manipulation - no-one believes for a second that the hand is really empty.

There is a world of difference between manipulation and magic. Sadly, many magicians don't seem to understand the difference.


Jim
George Ledo
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IMHO, difficulty has nothing to do with it, except in the case where the copier is just downright lazy and wants to get his or her five minutes of notoriety without having to work for it. That's not doing magic - that's just pleasuring yourself. It's taking a shortcut to avoid work. In my experience over forty years, most of these people don't want to be entertainers, they just want to feel superior.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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jim ferguson
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George, what is being discussed here has nothing to do with the performer being a jerk or not.

I have no doubt you got great reactions from your act. I have no idea what other bits your act contained, so can't comment on them. But when a magician gets good reactions from standard card manipulations, the reactions come from an appreciation of the magicians skill.

When manipulation is obvious, there is no magic, it's that simple.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with performing a manipulation act, and I enjoy watching them myself. I also understand the dedication and lengthy practice and rehearsal that is necessary to polish such an act. But it IS manipulation, plain and simple. The clue is even in the name - Stage MANIPULATION, card MANIPULATION etc.

I'll say it again - manipulation is not magic. The two are not the same.

So let's not kid ourselves eh ?



Jim
George Ledo
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Quote:
On Dec 14, 2019, jim ferguson wrote:
Quote:
On Dec 13, 2019, George Ledo wrote:
Obviously I don't know how long you've been doing magic (or tricks), but it seems to me that you're making some assumptions based on not much.




If you don't know me, or how long I've been "doing magic (or tricks)", then how can you possibly know that my "assumptions" are "based on not much" ?
You have no idea what my "assumptions" are based on. It would seem it is your assumptions about my assumptions that are based on not much.

If you think that standard card productions and vanishes, with the way the hand is shown front and back etc, comes across as "magic" and not manipulation, then perhaps you are not understanding what is being discussed in this thread.

Put it this way - say I showed a coin, and opened my hand and it was gone. I show my hand open with all fingers pressed together, then turn my hand over EXACTLY like you do in card manipulation, to show the back of the hand - then again in reverse.
Do you think a single person will think or believe the coin has vanished and the hand is really empty ?

It would be blatantly obvious that the coin was there and being cleverly manoeuvered. NO-ONE turns their hand like that to show it empty.
And it is the same for card manipulation - no-one believes for a second that the hand is really empty.

There is a world of difference between manipulation and magic. Sadly, many magicians don't seem to understand the difference.


Jim

You're right, I don't know anything about you, so all I can go by is what you said in your post.

So, going strictly by your comments (and especially about "proper card magic," which I guess by your post means close-up) I take it that you don't care for manipulation because you don't consider it magic. I totally respect that: it's your opinion and you're totally entitled to it. However, I can tell you that, over the past fifty-odd years, the vast majority of close-up card workers I've seen, including at magic conventions and the Magic Castle, came across like they thought they were superior to us, sitting at a table, telling jokes, talking at us, and basically doing repeat after repeat of what amounted to the same thing. Their whole gig seemed to be based on "lookit how clever I am." That's my opinion based on my experience.

To me, that's not magic. It's just somebody showing us that they know something we don't.

As I said before, yes I think mainstream audiences would see card manipulation as magic, as long as the performer didn't come across like a jerk with a broomstick up his or her rear end. I did it for years, and the responses were always very positive. And sure, we can argue that maybe my (mainstream) audiences were made up of morons, but that and a couple of bucks (or pounds) will get us a coffee (or tea) at Starbuck's.

And as I also said, who are we to judge what mainstream audiences think or don't think?

And, going back to the OP's question, hey, it's a matter of personal choice and of whether your audiences like it or not.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

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jim ferguson
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George, did you even read my last post ? (Which by the way was in response to your post which was above mine, which you seem to have deleted).

I clearly said that I enjoyed watching manipulation acts, and appreciated the skill, practice, and rehearsal necessary to polish such an act. It is a branch of the craft which is just as valid as any other.
So please don't let this turn into a "close up is superior" argument. No-one has said anything of the sort.

Similarly, someone looking down on you or manipulators in general at the magic castle, has nothing to do with the subject of this thread.



Jim
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Al, I believe to understand what you are talking about,
I have read your thoughts along these lines,
in other forums.

I think where things get confusing,
,..then fought about,
could be avoided, if a little more clarity was provided.

"Do you want to be a sleight-of-hand artist or do magic?"

This statement tends to make folks who use Slieght-of Hand,
a bit un-easy,..
because we're left feeling,...it's one or the other. 😕

I don't think you mean it like that.
I don't think you have anything against 'some good old sleight-of-hand'.
But,..

I believe what you are trying to hit apond is:
"How are you trying to be perceived?"
or, "Juggling ain't Magic,..and don't fool anybody."

True.
As said earlier: How our Audiences perceive us,..
or,
How we BELIEVE our Audiences perceive us,..
is something we must come to terms with,...ourselves.

On a side note: T. Nelson Downs was one of my favourite Magicians.
He definately DID a lot of 'juggling',..
but reportedly 'aww-ed' the Audiences,..magically(!), as well.

I think IT IS possible, to 'mix the cards',
and still win at Soltare! 🙃
....just not in Las Vegas. 😋

I'm curious of your thoughts Al.
gallagher
George Ledo
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Quote:
On Dec 14, 2019, jim ferguson wrote:
George, did you even read my last post ? (Which by the way was in response to your post which was above mine, which you seem to have deleted).

I clearly said that I enjoyed watching manipulation acts, and appreciated the skill, practice, and rehearsal necessary to polish such an act. It is a branch of the craft which is just as valid as any other.
So please don't let this turn into a "close up is superior" argument. No-one has said anything of the sort.

Similarly, someone looking down on you or manipulators in general at the magic castle, has nothing to do with the subject of this thread.
Jim

Jim - I think we may have been posting at the same time, thus the out-of-sequence responses.

Regardless, in response to the OP's question, and in my own experience, general audiences don't know the difference. They will take either a manipulation act or anything else presented as "magic" as magic. Good bad horrible or indifferent, that's how they will perceive it. When I was doing my act, I worked very hard to make sleight of hand look like magic, not like skill, and, given the responses, they perceived it as a magic act, not as (for lack of a better word) juggling.

The OP's question is no longer relevant to me since I don't perform any more, but, if I had answered it forty-odd years ago, I would have said I wanted to do magic (i.e., come across like I was doing magic) by using sleight of hand techniques. Probably no different than many close-up performers who use sleight of hand to create their effects. But like I said, you can come across as either a sleight of hand artist or as a magician depending on how you present it, and YouTube has a ton of examples of both. I've said many times here that some "apparatus" performers come across like they're demonstrating kitchen gadgets while others come across like they're doing something impossible with exactly the same prop.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
www.georgefledo.net

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Kanawati
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I remember Tommy Wonder explaining his ambitious card routine in his DVD set and stating something along the lines of “if you treat it as nothing (the card rising to the top) your audience will treat it as nothing.” I thought I understood what he was saying but it took filming myself and getting feedback here on the Café to make me realize that I wasn’t marking the magical moments. For me personally I’m trying to slow down what I do and then give the audience a chance to register the magic moments. I’m also trying to show some type of reaction to those moments. One thing I’m also trying to do which I heard Al state somewhere else is to look at the magical moment myself rather than at the audience. I also think the whole presentation needs to be entertaining and engaging. I found myself agreeing with both Jim and George. One performer can use a particular sleight and perhaps come across as skilled or clever while someone else could be using the exact same sleight to make the magical moments look more magical or astonishing. I’ve seen plenty of manipulation acts that looked like demonstrations of skill to my magician’s eye ( I don’t know what a lay audience would have thought) and then I see a manipulation act by someone like Cardini and I find it very magical. To the OP, the difference between the two, at this point in my journey, comes down to how well motivated by the script the moves are, is the audience being engaged and entertained, does the presentation logically lead to a magical moment and is that magical moment being acknowledged and reacted to by the magician. John
George Ledo
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John, I'm a bit unclear as to a couple of your comments about the performer acknowledging the magical moment. Does this mean he/she is supposed to be surprised by it, or just "point" to it happening so the audience knows to respond to it?
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Kanawati
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George, I meant two things by acknowledging the magical moment. I’m trying to be aware of my tendency to rush through certain routines and not giving the audience enough time to grasp what just happened. The other thing and it could be partly related to the first is for the performer to react in some way to the magic. It could be surprise, it could be annoyance, it could be joy or some other emotion or look or statement that is in line with the type of magic being performed.
George Ledo
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Got it. Thanks.
That's our departed buddy Burt, aka The Great Burtini, doing his famous Cups and Mice routine
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Jonathan Townsend
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If entertaining, doing magic.

Reaching behind ones jacket to remove a broom Smile tough trick to follow with cards or coins but it could be funny Smile
...to all the coins I've dropped here
critter
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I hope that idea doesn't get swept under the rug.
"The fool is one who doesn't know what you have just found out."
~Will Rogers
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