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Plainfield, ILLINOIS
1617 Posts

Profile of RandyWakeman
Why Everything You Have Ever Read Is Wrong

Yes, it is true. Everything that you have ever read about Magic is wrong. You might be startled at this nonsensical notion that the treasured tomes in your library, the videotapes of veracity in your collection, the innumerable instruction sheets in your archives are all wrong, but they are! Let me assure you that this observation is not being made under intellectual impairment, or after having something that “I didn’t inhale.”

The vital missing element from most all writings is YOU. It is not possible for authors to comment for all contingencies. Your specific style, your chosen comportment, your way of speaking is the huge variable in what you should learn about Magic, and the way you should learn about Magic. The specific working conditions that you perform under, the exact venue for your next engagement, the type and size of audiences you have are all unknown to the folks who produced the nuggets of knowledge we study so carefully.

Individuality is to be rejoiced in, not lamented about. But, let me cite a specific effect where my “wrong” comments start to seem right: “Card To Wallet.” One of the great strengths of this classic “card to impossible location” routine is that your wallet is not a prop. It is vital to the strength of the routine that the wallet you use blends seamlessly with your style of dress. The wallet has to be a normal accessory for you; otherwise a large portion of the magic is lost. “Card To Porcupine” is by nature a far more dangerous effect, and the ***ly little beast seems impossible to load. Yet, for most of us it would seem a bit unusual to have a stuffed porcupine swinging merrily from the waist. If not, perhaps you are in luck! But, I’m writing about Magic, so of course I am wrong. The most appropriate accessory for the most significant part of the population is not a wallet at all. It is a purse!

Perhaps you are wondering when I’ll get to the point. Or, if I really have a point? Naturally, I am wrong again . . . some of you are already getting it. As it is with wallets and porcupines, so it is with technique published in the literature. I don’t know if you are tall or short, gaunt or “prosperous”, nor do I know your shirt or suit size. Your hands may be slender, or perhaps compact and fleshy. You might be right-handed or left-handed, or like me- a bit of both.

It will immensely speed your magical progress to proficiency if you bear in mind that even the most lucid technical explanations can serve only as a guide at best. Sure, it is good to work through new moves and effects the “author’s way” at first to understand the reasoning, and it is wise to consider a presentational style of patter that has been proven effective by the originator. It is an even better approach, however, to rapidly personalize everything that you do so that it becomes a part of you.

The results can be spectacularly wonderful. Slydini springs to mind, as a performer whose personality, mannerisms, and technique morphed beautifully into one. Watching another performer trying to emulate the Slydini style is a horrifically gruesome reminder that “one size fits all” does not apply in performance art. Cardini’s stage act is another completely different, yet no less marvelous example of complete integration of stage persona and magical technique.

Hopefully, you won’t take the literature so literally. Making notes like “that’s not me” or asking yourself “if this really feels right” as you work through new routines, or revitalize the old wine in new bottles, will only help all of us become better magicians, and that’s what it’s all about!

Remember, I could be wrong . . .

Randy Wakeman
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Regular user
New Zealand
111 Posts

Profile of MiNiM
Continuing this line of thought, years ago I bought a couple of books by Chris Carey called "Do the stuff that's you 1 & 2". The idea of the titles was bang on, unfortunately the books gave me lots of stuff that's Chris Carey - nothing like me at all!

The hardest part (and the most satisfying part) of doing magic as a performance art is taking all the sleights and moves and tricks that you learn and creating a setting for them that is consistent with and logical to the character that you are playing for the rest of the act.


He asked me if I liked card tricks. I said "No." He did three. (W. Somerset Maugham)
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Plainfield, ILLINOIS
1617 Posts

Profile of RandyWakeman
Hi Bill,

How goes it in Kiwi-land? Speaking of characters, the "Wizard of Christchurch" certainly was one!

Don Alan, Heba Haba Al, Eddie Fechter, Del Ray, so many other performers became well known for being themselves. It was never the tricks, it was the person.
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