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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The spooky, the mysterious...the bizarre! » » Newbie looking for advice (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

qurgh
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Independence, KY
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Can someone define what "bizarre" magic is compared to "normal" magic? Is it simply magic that is embellished with the darker side of life or is it a specfic class of magic that is significantly different from other classes?

I looked through this forum to see if I could find the answer, but I just got confused. Any there any specfic "famous" magicians that enbody this class of magic? What about suggestions for books/videos/web sites that give a basic introduction to it?

Thanks and sorry if I'm repeating something that has already been asked.
Leland Stone
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Hiya, Qurgh:

Okay, I'll take a crack at it -- though if you ask fifty Magicians this question, you'll get at least 55 different answers.

Eugene Burger, Gene Poinc, T.A. Waters, and even "non-Magicians" like Uri Geller and Jon Edward are mentors in the Bizarre realm of Magic, in which Magic is more 'holistically' practiced (that is, the story/meaning and effect are integral, with the actual effect being subordinate to the story/meaning).

[Just to clarify, Jon Edward is, in my opinion, a despicable huckster, who is a mentor ONLY in the sense of stagecraft and technique.]

The performance of Bizarre Magic can run a gamut, from embellishment (I've heard of Bizarre bits using a Pea Can or a Finger Chopper, for instance) to immersion (The Lizzie Borden Seance is specifically -- and perhaps solely -- intended as a Bizarre effect).

If I understand Burger's philosophy correctly, it is his contention that ALL Magic once provided meaning and context to its participants, but around the time of Robert Houdin it devolved into meaningless trickery. Bizarre Magic is at least partly an attempt to restore profundity and relevance to our Art.

Sincerely,
Leland Edward Stone
George Ledo
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Thanks for your comments, Leland. I've been following this section of the Café for a while and get confused every now and then too as to what BM is.

If I read you correctly, the main thing in BM is that the story/meaning is more important than the magic effect itself. From this I gather that BM is not necessarily limited to "The spooky, the mysterious..." and "graveside magic" as we read in the header. So, if I were to do an effect/story based on a cartoon character, or a bedtime story, or a Disney-type animal tale, would that be BM?

Okay, all right, I walked right into that one and I know I'm asking for it. Smile It would be pretty bizarre, all right, but would it be BM?
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Leland Stone
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Hiya, George:

I think "Bizarre" Magic could certainly be a sub-category of "Meaningful" Magic -- and that all Magic is more engaging if the performer invests it with meaning for his/her spectators.

Bedtime stories are perfect examples, in my opinion. Look at "Pandora's Box" -- the acquisition of enlightenment in exchange for innocence. Or "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," fidelity in the face of danger and even disregard. Or the quest for true humanity in "Pinocchio," with its underlying theme of a father's sacrificial love.

The list goes on and on. Didn't we love seeing "The Lord Of The Rings" trilogy? None of us REALLY thought that Sean Astin was carrying Elijah Wood up a volcano -- but who didn't choke up a little bit at the line ("I can't carry your burden, Mr. Frodo...")?

Leland
Magickman
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When Penn and Teller's mind reading worms cut the deck to a selected card, I'm not sure about the meaning...but it was truely bizarre!


Magickman
What man knows he calls Science
What he has yet to learn he calls Magick
Both are real!

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Clifford the Red
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If you were to go back to my youth, I think Doug Henning skirted with the Bizarre with his focus on Wonder and stories. There are many that skirt the edges but I think you cross over (John Edwards pun intended! More on him later...) when you create magic that incites varied and strong emotions and a connection with your audience. I also think certain of Copperfield's effects skirt the Bizarre.

Eugene certainly bridged the gap, for me, between the magic I was doing and the magic I wanted to do. And I have picked up many other friends (I originally mispelled this "fiends" - hahahahah - How Apropo!) and mentors and have been thrilled with the stellar level of artistic commitment I've found in the Bizarre community. Gene Poinc, Borodin, Bill Palmer! (He's Here!), Tony Andruzzi, Doc Shiels, Tony Raven, Docc Hilford, Denomolos! (He's Here!), Christian Chelman!(He's Here!), Peter Marucci!(He's Here!), Jim Magus, Jeff McBride, Black Hart!(He's Here!), Necromancer Neil Tobin! (He's Here!), TC Tahoe!(He's Here!), Robert Neale, Kay Tracy! (She's Here!) ...are just a sample of fine Bizarre Magicians - I know I've missed at least 666 of them. You can simply spend weeks looking through the Bizarre forum.

On John Edwards, he is proof positive that Bizarre has tremendous commerical potential. He is not even a good performer, mainly all he has is hutzpah and video editing to cover up some of his horrific performing skills. And people buy it! Hand over fist! If they'll buy that shlock as reality you can certainly get them to buy Bizarre as entertainment. I definitely side with Penn & Teller on this one.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
qurgh
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So, if I read this right, Bizarre magic tends to be the kind of magic that leans towards making it seem more paranormal or occultish instead of the more common place fun and furry look?

A trick with a Brothers Grimm like story with witches and people being eaten would be Bizarre magic, while a story about 4 guys named Jack who magically move from one hand to the other isn't? The actual magic can be the same, it's the presentation, for the most part, that really makes it "Bizarre".

Oh and I agree with you on the Edwards thing. What he does to people is just appauling.
Clifford the Red
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Yes, I think a lot will generally have a paranormal "edge" to it, but not necessarily all of it. It really is also dependent on the character you play.

I think the title of the forum almost represents the epitomy of "standard" magic's misconception of what Bizarre is.

Bizarre is not producing birds, cards, silks or coins and dropping them into a bag. Although I may eat my words because you could make a Bizarre presentation from that!
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
qurgh
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Can you give me some specific effects that everyone would agree is bizarre magic?

It sounds like there is a lot of Roleplay involved in it, as opposed to regular magic. If this is the case, then it would fit in nicely with me, since I do a lot of roleplay anyway (EG: My friends and I were a pack of zombies for halloween, shambling around the streets of the neighbourhood scarying anyone we could Smile).

Also, are there any books that are currently in print (seen a bunch of references to out of print ones) that give an introduction to bizarre magic, without being an intro to magic in general?

Sorry to be asking so many questions, I'm just really intrested and want to know more. Thanks to everyone who has replied sofar and who will reply Smile
Clifford the Red
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You can take a look at Strange Ceremonies by Eugene Burger. I think Richard Kaufman (Genii) has that in print again. Also the videos Eugene Goes Bizarre and Magical Voyages. Those are good for getting the picture. I'm sure others may have some different suggestions, those are mine.

An example of a specific effect? Actually it's not the effects, it's the presentation. You could do the haunted pack in a commericial way, and a Bizarre way, depending on how you frame it.

Instead of roleplaying, I would prefer the term acting. Regular magicians get into character as well, however their effects are not so dependent on acting for the effect and acting as far as character development. As a bizarrist, you would understand you could perform an effect in the extreme where basically nothing happens as far as magic goes, but you could still create a powerful magical experience with your presentation.

Character development is definitely a process. Some Bizarrists, like Charles Cameron, suggest that be a magician, you must BE A MAGICIAN. And not a trickster, a mage. It must be every bit you.

And I suppose it's a little hard to explain because Bizarrists don't perform much off the shelf "tricks" with standard names. It is a whole lot of original creation and a whole lot of original writing. Its a little like trying to explain how to paint impressionism. You know what it looks like, and can classify someone's art if you see it, but each person comes to it by their own path.
"The universe is full of magical things, waiting for our wits to grow sharper." Eden Philpotts
scolman
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For me, also a newbie for all intents and purposes - when I first became interested in BM, I mistakenly thought that all the effects had to be steeped in horror with frequent mentions of Satan and his Demons in the performance. I realised after investigating and reading up a lot that it was definitely more about the theatrical effect. Some effects have egyptian themes whilst others may be conducted in a seance type environment. One thing I am still struggling with however is that the effects I do are still very reliant on a specific environment or atmosphere. Most of my stuff takes place in an after dinner setting - after breakfast might be difficult because of lighting, noise etc.
A story about a local murder just seems so much spookier at night (if I could make thunder and lightning I would.)Thius is quite different to other magic that can really be performed anywhere anytime.
Simon
qurgh
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Ok, I think I starting to understand now Smile If I pulled out a small coin like thing which looked ancient and I then went on to tell people that it was a totem from a long dead tribe of medician men and, in the right enviroment, it was known to change it's size and then went into a routine where the coin shrinks and grows, then would I be in the realm of bizarre magic (or at least close)? As opposed to simply pulling out a penny and making it grow into a super-sized penny and then putting it away again..

Am I getting warmer?

As for Acting vs Roleplaying, to me Roleplaying is more like method acting. You become the character, or in this case, you become the magician. Acting to me is when you are faking something to just entertain while roleplaying is much deeper. If you believe the story you are telling to be the truth, then others around you will be more likely to believe it. I guess it's hard to explain, I'm a long time roleplayer (games and other things) and to me acting is only skin deep while roleplaying is your whole body and mind.

Thanks again guys, I'm definatly going to pick up some of these items when I get paid... woo, more money spent Smile
Bill Palmer
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Bizarre magic is a subcategory of story magic. Some bizarre magic is about weird stories. Other bizarre magic is about ritual.

Although there are a few items that are specifically "bizarre," I wouldn't begin to say that one particular thing or another would necessarily be "bizarre."

Pulling a rabbit out of a hat isn't bizarre. Having a rabid rabbit pull a hat out of a magician just might be, though. It's more about the presentation and the story.

It's an atmosphere thing.

I'm surprised a search hasn't turned up anything for you. You might want to expand your search criteria a bit.

As far as books go, though, I'll plug Sheherazade here. It has some good material. So does Christian Chelman's book Capricornian Tales. and DeNomolos has a bunch of really good tomes available. I'll bet that he will see this post and PM you a list of available titles. Get all of these.

In a way, it's sort of like jazz. If you need to have it defined for you, you won't understand what it is.

But I'm not such an elitist that I believe this for a second. I want you to find out what it is. So do some more searching.

Think Lovecraft. Think Steven King. Think Andruzzi.
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Peter Marucci
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As I say in my bizarre magic lecture notes, bizarre magic can best be defined by saying that it touches the audience at a higher emotional level.

I doesn't have to be ghostly, ghastly, and ghoulish -- although it can.

In fact, at times, it can even be humorous.

For examples, you might check out my Bizarre Bazaar monthly column in the e-zine Visions (www.online-visions.com). No password, and it's free!
the 3 magi
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Bill and Peter

I think you both are perfect in your explinations.

I do not think we should confuse bizarre magic with geek magic.
enriqueenriquez
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"Do not call me just a magician or conjurer;
 storyteller would be just right....
Come, sit at my feet and smile.
Forget there was a yesterday
and that tomorrow will come.
Forget there are laws,
of gravity and impenetrability,
laws that compel.
I will repeal them for you.
Open your heart to wonder,
so you can be more human than you always are.
Believe and smile, for you are godlike for awhile.
Don't ask, let the merciful veil
of secrecy cover the mystery
you have attained, that I would like to give you:
weightlessness and a bit of childhood in our hard lives."

That’s from Punx.

And I can’t recommend his book “Once Upon a Time” enough, as well as “Sheherazade”, by Borodin and “Capricornian Tales”, By Christian Chelman.

All the answer to your questions are there.
robb_randall
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surprise, arizona
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Torn and restored card? Not bizarre magic!
Torn and restored chicken? Definitely bizarre magic!
qurgh
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Independence, KY
51 Posts

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Bill - I understand what you're saying about Bizarre magic and Jazz. Now I just need to see a performance, although I think I get it now Smile

the 3 magi - What do you mean by geek magic? Is that a geek as in a side-show geek or are you talking about Linux related magic tricks? Smile

Peter - Thanks for the link, now I have more stuff to read Smile Let me know if you're ever planning on taking CCs or Paypal for your lecture notes and I'll be sure to grab them, the Bizarre Magic ones and the Ripper Séance one look really interesting.

Robb_randall - I knew that box of rubber chickens would come in useful, now I just need to dig out the electric knife and fill one of the chicken's with blood. Smile
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