How to eliminate exposure and why it will never happen

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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So, I recently had a semi-lengthy discussion about this subject over the Cafe that seems to have fizzled. But it gave me a chance to further develop some ideas that I've been rolling around my head for some time now. I thought I'd pull the pin on this little grenade and see what develops. I probably won't respond again tonight, as I've got the house to myself an Assassin's Creed Syndicate - but I'm curious what you folks might think.

I've got a way to remove all power from the exposure of magic tricks. Also, it will never happen.

All it will take is for everyone performing magic (Or at least the vast majority) to use personalized, unique presentations. And all that takes is for every performer to see another performer, and NOT do what that performer does.

Let me explain my thoughts; the fear that exposure generates is that someone will be trying to do a trick and an audience member will know how that trick is done.

The only time this matters is when that performer is relying on the secret of the trick to give it value. These are the performances where the magician is just telling the tale of the props (Say-do-see patter), or just saying, "look, watch" and all attention is on the trick, and once the trick is done that's that. 100% of the value of that performance style is that the performer knows something the audience doesn't. If the audience finds out that secret, everyone is equal and nothing interesting has happened.

This is further compounded by the fact that many, many magicians will perform the same tricks, the same way, as other performers. They see a good performer do a trick, and they go out and buy the trick and perform it the same way the person they liked did it. Whether that's David Blaine, Daniel Garcia, Gazzo, Kozmo, Wayne Houchin, etc. doesn't matter. I've heard all of these people comment about people copying their DVD presentations word for word, or I've seen people copy them.

So when a large number of magicians are doing the same tricks, and they are all doing that trick in such a way that the secret is the most valuable thing - that's when exposure can hurt them.

So, the easiest way to remove that danger entirely is to perform unique material. There's two ways to do this: Take the tricks people are performing, and give them a unique presentation or perform material that other people are not performing.

If one were to read through Tarbell they'd probably get about a thousand tricks no one is doing currently. Even Mark Wilson's book has a bunch of stuff that no one does. It is not difficult to find material that is not being done by every performer out there. I guarantee every single person reading this probably has at least one resource with a few tricks that no one is really doing. Do that stuff, and no one will expose it because no one knows what it is. The tricks that get exposed are either the tricks that everyone does, or the "hot topic" tricks that are popular at the time.

To create unique presentations is easy, too: Put your own personality and interests into the script. A lot of my performances revolve around abilities that people didn't realize they had. I try to be uplifting and encouraging for people, so I like to show them that they are capable of so much more than they realize. To that end, I can take almost any trick and just turn it around so the focus is on the volunteer, and suddenly it seems like a completely differen trick to anything they've seen before.

Watch what other people do, and don't do that.

The reason I think this approach would eliminate the danger of exposure is because the human mind is really good at recognizing a pattern, but really bad at applying patterns to something that doesn't match up. So if the script is different, or something disproves a method without being obvious, there's nothing to associate a known method with a new presentation. The trick they are seeing has to be pretty much exactly the same as the trick they have seen exposed to trigger the memory.

Why do I think it'll never happen? Because too many magicians are lazy. Too many people are satisfied performing an exact copy of someone else's routine. Now, here's the part that may sound controversial - If you're not willing to put the effort into creating unique, personalized performances, you no longer have any right to complain about exposure, because you are part of why exposure has any value.

I'll just let these thoughts percolate for a bit and see if anything comes up.

Note: I'm not trying to say that I'm right and everyone else is wrong. If you disagree with me, feel free to debate! That's how we advance these sorts of ideas. I probably won't respond today, maybe not tomorrow either, but I will come back and read every response posted.
 
Jan 26, 2017
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First off, I would just like to say this (It is ot disagreeing with you at all, I just want to put it out there). I feel like there is a large gap between exposure and teaching magic. Why shouldn't I be able to teach magic - because someone might expose it? If I'm teaching it right, and to the right audience (magicians, people who are upcoming magicians, people who truly want to learn the art of magic, etc.), I do not feel bad about teaching magic.

And what you say is correct. Here's the deal: The tricks that people get caught on because they recognize it as an exposed trick. Generally, these are the same tricks just repeated over and over on YouTube (A double lift, a simple force, bang). I try and personalize my tricks to the point where no one ever recognizes them anymore. I've literally done a trick 3 times successively to the same spectator with 3 different story lines, and he never caught it. So your idea, is kind of already in play. I'm sure others personalize their tricks as well.

Here's the second point that is helping your plan: People develop tricks. I used to do tricks that I had just learned straight off of (and yes, I'll admit to watching YouTube for them, but after a point, I started hating all the exposers, and found the "real teachers" community on YouTube). I then started getting caught - which is when i got serious about my magic. I started perfecting my moves excessively, and am almost to the point where no one catches anything. I learned how to socially engineer a misdirection situation while they grill my hands. Eventually, I had all these moves, but very little use for them That's when I thought I would start creating magic. I started out with a very difficult first few tricks. I then realized that there is no point to using exceptionally hard moves because the spectator wouldn't see them either way (ie. moves that look the same or accomplish the same goal as simpler moves, such as a false over hand shuffle over a false in the hands riffle shuffle, etc.). Then I thought "OK. You are starting your first trick. Don't make it to complicated." I took basic moves, like a double lift, a control, and a pal, and changed my whole routine. I took the first slight-of-hand trick I learned, and turned it into a completely new trick, that was so in-similar from the original, you couldn't recognize it. I have changed soooooo many tricks, that no one recognizes them any more - and I'm sure other magicians do the same.

Finally, here's the biggest fact that is proving your point: People. Don't. Care. I would say only about 5% of the spectators I've performed to cared about the trick, and didn't give to looks at the effect. Of these people, almost all were my close friends and family. Almost 100% of the rest of them are hecklers, which I (and other magicians) have learned to shut up with our own methods. The few that say "I saw blah blah blah doing it" generally follow up with a "You still fooled me and did it so much better" and a "Can you do more". Most spectators who hear someone expose a trick, generally forget about it - even some of my close friends have forgotten tricks I taught them (no joke, I showed some of my class this one trick, taught a couple of my friends who were gonna go show some other kids, and after a 45 minute session, they forgot it in one hour).

From my perspective, your plan is already in work. The Magicians out there who are serious about magic put there own style on their tricks, develop or create their tricks to the max, and only a very small amount of spectators care about exposing magic. I just hope your plan continues :)
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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I was really expecting a larger response to this.

People who are really serious about magic already do what I'm suggesting, yes. But the vast majority of people who do magic are not serious about it. And that's fine, I have no problem with casual performers. But these are also generally the ones who complain the most about how bad exposure is. They are also the ones who generally do the least to personalize their performances, thus adding to the potential harm/frustration that exposure could cause them.
 

Brett Hurley

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Sep 27, 2014
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First of all, it's the Cafe. It seems that whenever something thought provoking comes along, you either get good responses or an arm-chair magician flame war. I just started posting there two weeks ago and I'm already feeling like I have to tip-toe and not respond to as may threads as I'd like to

I did think about your post a lot when you first posted it and I thought of this:

I tried thinking of a scenario in which everyone who performs magic does a 100% unique and original presentation. I came to the conclusion that that wouldn't work either.

It seems like it's electric: path of least resistance. I feel that, even then, there will be folks that will try to find the 'easiest presentation', or a presentation that is closely aligned with their character, only needed to make minimal tweaks. Which loops back to 'lazy magician' argument.

I think part of what would help the issue is if resources of character building and creating a better performance were more...promoted.

Usually when new people come on the forums, they ask 'best books for card tricks/coin tricks/sponge ding-dong tricks'. But you almost NEVER see newcomers asking for how to make a better act. And from what I have read, there doesn't seem to be a lot of resources for character building, set structure, etc. (which I'm sure you and David have posted at some point, I just have to find them). I feel that by suggesting those ALONG with what newcomers are asking for when they are looking for 'best card trick resources', it'll (maybe) help in the long run.

If I am wrong, let me know. I'm sure I screwed up in this post somewhere.
 
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WitchDocIsIn

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Well, you put "electric" instead of "electricity" - but don't be so hard on yourself. :)

You're not wrong. The culture of the magic world as a whole would need to change in order for this to work out.

There's really two types of magic created at this point. There's magic which is created to be performed to laymen, and then there's magic to sell to/fool magicians.

If you look at the material that professionals perform for laymen, you'll often find it's super simple. The workhorse tricks that folks are doing in every show are often built with the most basic of sleights, and gimmicks. That's because these are reliable, and they have been honed over many performances by many performers.

When you look at the stuff that's sold to fool magicians, it's often more convoluted, and is built specifically to eliminate things that only magicians will think about.

If you look at the magic community, there's a lot of emphasis on selling magic to other magicians, and creating tricks that fool other magicians. The community at large is fairly incestuous in that it's gearing itself more and more to itself.

What this creates is a scenario where character development and theatrical skill is not emphasized. Because when you perform for magicians they don't care about your character, they just want to see the trick. Actually, you can develop quite a solid reputation and career in the magic world only doing moves, as a couple people have done. This is a very esoteric approach, though, because it relies on people who already have an idea of what's going on to appreciate it.

There's also a huge disconnect, often, between the guys at the top and the guys at the bottom. The professionals, or more accurately, the people who are super respected in the magic field, have been asked the same questions over and over, sometimes for decades. My day job is basically answering the same 10 questions a hundred times a day.

Another issue is that you have to take into account that casual performers are a thing, and that's valid. There are guys who are never going to do a "show" - they're just going to do tricks for their friends at the bar or whatever. That's fine. The emphasis on character development and theatrics will never be a big thing to these folks.

I will say, though, that the dearth of easily accessible character development information is why I wrote my eBook, Boffo, and I do often encourage people to learn acting and theatrical skills. Knowing how to stand on a stage, how to use your body language to create tension and release, how to best arrange people while performing, etc. - Every time I have taken a lesson in acting or stage craft my performances have improved immediately. That is not an exaggeration at all. I went to a convention and took an all-day intensive on acting for magicians by Prof BC. During it we workshopped routines to see if we could improve them at all. The advice he gave me took my staple, showpiece routine from getting good reactions, to excellent reactions. And all we changed with it was the positioning of the volunteers, my stance while speaking, and one line at the end. These are the subtleties you'll never learn from a $5 download created by a kid who made a tutorial for his instagram trick. Those are the things that take magic and use it to create art.
 
You will never eliminate expose so long as:
1) The first rule of magic remains widely known and purportedly enforced (A Magician Never Tells His Secrets).
2) The Internet remains neutral for anyone and everyone to upload their own thoughts, opinions, etc.

That don't tell how the secrets are done stuff creates a taboo around the subject. Anytime you tell someone "don't do this" what is the first thing the person wants to go and do? What ever this is that they're not suppose to do. Especially with children. (I consider teens to be children. Hell I consider most 20 year olds to be children these days.) With internet sites like youtube that can make you money if you get enough followers and viewers an easy way to do that is to put out content that people deem controversial. Why? Because there's no such thing as bad publicity. Either way it goes they'll get hits, and subscriptions. Money aside the 15 seconds of fame is more than enough for most.

Next lets look at why magicians never told the secrets. We fool ourselves into believing that it takes away from the performance. That's not the original reason. The original reason dates back thousands of years when we were still using sleight of hand to fool kings into thinking that we could commune with gods in exchange for a little wealth and power. Exposure back then would result in our immediate and very painful death.

As for the modern reasons given, that being it takes away from the performance value, that may have been true a 100 years ago but culture has changed. It's shifted its priorities, and evolved its outlook on a lot of communal subjects, entertainment just being one of them. A 100 years ago the circus, or state fair, when it came to town was a huge to-do! You'd take your date, you'd see things you never got a chance to see in person, animals, acts, etc. You got an education! Now days the oldest running circus just shut down because people don't care as much. Why should they? They have google. They have smart phones. Their interest in stimulation has shifted. Yes this sucks, but it's how time works. With time we see the rise and fall of empires. Everything has a season. Keeping the secrets of magic... well, secret maybe one of those.

We live in the information age. It's almost insulting to most young people in their early adulthood years these days to tell them that something they don't understand works on a principle of wiffle dust. There's an immediate disconnection, followed by an immediate google search on their smart phone the second your back is turned. Why lie to them? Why insult their intelligence? Why don't we just swallow our ego and say that it's accomplished through skillfully executed sleight of hand resulting in the appearance of a modern miracle? You're still not saying exactly how it's done but you're not trying to blow smoke up their arse either. You may reduce the chance that they'll try and google it too.

The minute people don't go all googly eyed and say "Ooooooooo" like a child who knowingly stole a cookie from the cookie jar and is displaying it to the kindergarten class to see anytime someone posts a magic exposure video is the minute people will stop caring that something is exposed. It'll lose the taboo, and people will lose interest. But that will never happen because that would mean that magicians would have to stop caring too much and they love them a good witch hunt. At the end of the day we're NOT going to stop exposure. Stopping exposure is a pipe dream arm chair magicians complain about. You'd have better luck trying to stop the sands of time. So instead of stopping exposure what we SHOULD be doing is understanding why it is happening and doing what we can to minimize it.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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I do agree that exposure isn't going anywhere. Hence why the title of this thread includes, "and why it will never happen."

My motivation is to get people to look at their material and think creatively about it. We could easily eliminate any significant power of exposure simply by being unique.

But in my experience it's just as easy to eliminate any potential harm by being a good performer. Engage the audience, entertain them, make them more satisfied with watching the show than figuring out a method or secret and they will never even think to figure it out. Hence the exposers don't get the attention they obviously crave, and exposure loses value to them. If what they have to offer doesn't get them any reward, they won't bother offering it. Just like how you should sometimes ignore a child who's throwing a fit, or risk rewarding the behavior.

Personally, I think that outright labelling it as a trick is a big part of why magic is seen as trivial and meaningless by most adults. Saying, "It's just a trick" is basically the same as saying, "You shouldn't care about this." I do not agree with disclaimers and don't use them in my performances.

Now, I understand that I may be in a bit of an echo chamber due to the people I tend to hang out with and perform for. That being said, I really feel like people in general are getting bored with the brain candy style of magic show. I think flashy, super visual magic is getting old hat and people my age and younger want more substance. When I perform I treat my audience like they are smarter than me, and I end up teaching them a lot of really cool stuff. There's a lot of weird history and mythology in my shows. People give me feedback like, "It's like a magic show but for intelligent people" or "It's a magic show for adults".

When the show is engaging, interesting, and gets people really involved, they have no real interest in any methods. Thus, with a good show, any potential harm from exposure is basically eliminated.
 
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Justin.Morris

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I agree Christopher. I think there are some additional pieces like mentioned above for example, but in term of the two aspects of different presentation and different material, I have definitely seen this at work. One example is when I do an appearing and disappearing silk with a thumb tip. I started to do it as a nod to anyone who has had a kids magic set, but now I get people who say "My kid's does that but he has to use a fake finger." The presentation is different enough that people don't connect methods, even when they already know the method. It may not be a perfect example of what you are saying, but for me I think it emphasizes your point.

I would say that (as you allude to) the skill of developing unique presentation is a learned skill that we grow in, which is another reason why you could never "eliminate" exposure. New and amateur magicians have not learned that skill yet. The same goes with developing new material. And even the professional magicians are set apart by their ability to tell stories with their magic. David Copperfield was the most incredible at this in early career, that it launched him forward. He performed magic like it was a movie plot. That used to be unique. Now there is value in social change, so a magician telling a story or presenting a challenge in that area might excell if they present well. I actually indirectly learned from you the value and need to present my magic in a more meaningful way - beyond just a "doesn't this look impossible /amazing" type of way.

So I would agree but say that we shouldn't worry too much about even the need to prevent exposure because it will be part of the process of every budding magician and dabbler. Instead we need to think about what magic will look like in spite of this growing access to the exposure (as touched on by William.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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It may not be a perfect example of what you are saying, but for me I think it emphasizes your point.

It is a perfect example, actually. It's a trick that's one of the most exposed out there - but any good performer will get the response you received, "Wow that looks like this silly trick I've seen before but you obviously have a better method for it".

So I would agree but say that we shouldn't worry too much about even the need to prevent exposure because it will be part of the process of every budding magician and dabbler. Instead we need to think about what magic will look like in spite of this growing access to the exposure (as touched on by William.

The reason I'm putting it out there is because the sooner those new magicians realize that they don't have to do what everyone else is doing, the better. There's nothing wrong with imitating when you're learning. That's just effective learning.

But there really is, as previously mentioned in this thread, a lack of emphasis on ... well, anything but tricks. I have easily three hundred magic books and maybe 20 of those are more theory than methods. Videos almost always leave out the theory.

I think the sooner we encourage creativity, and the sooner we encourage theatrical skills, the better. That's why I put out my eBook Boffo (Which, Draven, I want to thank you for your review over on E, very kind words) - I didn't really see much in the way of beginner-friendly information on character development out there. There's advanced stuff, sure, but a lot of beginners aren't ready for that. My booklet helps anyone build character and use that to their advantage.

I'm not actually worried about eliminating exposure, personally. I don't worry about it at all (Other than the parts that pertain to me doing my job). I focus on creating an engaging show that people enjoy enough that they don't look for methods at all. Really, I just want to help others get to that same mental space.
 
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Sep 2, 2007
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I realized something fairly recently and it was only by closely observing a few rappers that I came upon this realization - you don't have to create a character but you DO have to be you.

Take everything that you've ever learned in magic and use it as a tool to express your own life and truths. For instance, I just realized there is a such thing as sponge bread. Alan Wong makes them and it comes with 4 pieces of sliced sponge bread. Here's a little thing about me - I ******* LOVE sliced bread and I LOVE offbeat, unexpected magic. I cannot wait to produce endless slices of bread. I'm going to throw a real slice in there too so I can eat it. Ya know what? I have cards, why not create a sandwich effect with them? I'm also working on a transposition that's based on Super Mario World with a kicker ending.

I only recently started looking at magic this way and it's so fun. Just take things that you like and smash them together. Make jokes that reference your favorite movies, maybe.

Magicians need to be more like musicians - sure it's ok to perform other peoples stuff. But you gotta be you and make your own stuff. If you aren't, you're just playing covers and you aren't going to stand out that way.

Edit: I should note that when I say 'make your own stuff' I don't mean create all your methods and everything from scratch. I mean use the knowledge you have of current methods and ideas to create your own twists and presentations. Nobody has performed a Super Mario themed transposition with the ending I want and it'll be unique to me - but it'll use moves we all already know and love.

[edited for language]
 
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RealityOne

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Nov 1, 2009
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@ChristopherT, the more important take away is that ANY magician can eliminate the effects of exposure for THEM by merely having their own presentation.
There's really two types of magic created at this point. There's magic which is created to be performed to laymen, and then there's magic to sell to/fool magicians.

If you look at the material that professionals perform for laymen, you'll often find it's super simple. The workhorse tricks that folks are doing in every show are often built with the most basic of sleights, and gimmicks. That's because these are reliable, and they have been honed over many performances by many performers.

Very true. I like the word "honed" -- that is so accurate. It is never about the method (well, except that it works) but about the effect.

Personally, I think that outright labelling it as a trick is a big part of why magic is seen as trivial and meaningless by most adults. Saying, "It's just a trick" is basically the same as saying, "You shouldn't care about this." I do not agree with disclaimers and don't use them in my performances.

Performers need to answer the question that our mutual friend Alex used to always ask, "why should the audience care about what you are doing?"

When I perform I treat my audience like they are smarter than me, and I end up teaching them a lot of really cool stuff. There's a lot of weird history and mythology in my shows. People give me feedback like, "It's like a magic show but for intelligent people" or "It's a magic show for adults".

I've mentioned it a couple of times before... after one performance, one of the members of the audience came up to me and said, "your show is a different kind of magic that I've ever seen before."

I think part of what would help the issue is if resources of character building and creating a better performance were more...promoted.

Usually when new people come on the forums, they ask 'best books for card tricks/coin tricks/sponge ding-dong tricks'. But you almost NEVER see newcomers asking for how to make a better act. And from what I have read, there doesn't seem to be a lot of resources for character building, set structure, etc. (which I'm sure you and David have posted at some point, I just have to find them). I feel that by suggesting those ALONG with what newcomers are asking for when they are looking for 'best card trick resources', it'll (maybe) help in the long run.

The problem is that most newcomers are not ready to learn how to be a better magician. Just look at the responses to this post -- most of the magicians on this forum stopped reading after Christopher said that you have to develop your own presentation because that isn't nearly as much fun as learning a new (read old method with new use) effect off a download and performing it the same afternoon. The few that have posted are older and more experienced.

As for resources, Christopher mentioned his book. Let me mention a couple of others:

Larry Haas - Transformations: Creating Magic Out of Tricks
Larry Haas - Inspirations: Performing Magic With Excellence (I haven't read this yet)

Larry is great and really is in line with what Christopher and I preach. He talks the theory and then applies it to effects you probably already know.​

Darwin Ortiz - Strong Magic
Darwin Ortiz - Designing Miracles

Strong Magic should be read when you have a good amount of performing experience so that you have a context to evaluate the ideas. If you read it as a beginner, you will be lost.Designing Miracles is really good and focuses on how to structure your effects.​

Peter McCabe - Scripting Magic
Walt Anthony's Tales of Enchantment
Anything by Eugene Burger
Anything by Robert Neale

These books have great scripts for effects. McCabe's has a bunch of magicians share their scripts. Walt's book is steeped with mysticism (@ChristopherT you would love this one). Burger and Neale's presentations are philosophical and folklore based. Some of Burger's work is purely theory, other works have theory intermixed with effects.​

Jim Steinmeyer's Conjuring Anthology

This is a great set of examples of using classic magic effects with unique performances. Conjuring is my favorite magic book. In part, because it is mostly parlor or stage and in part, because the presentations fit my character. I have to restrain myself from putting more pieces from this book in my show.
Tommy Wonder's Books of Wonder

A great set of essays included in books with great effects​

Juan Tamariz - Five Points of Magic, The Magic Way and Sonata

Both Theoretical and practical -- pure GOLD

The Fitzke Trilogy (which I disagree with many points)
Henning Nelms' Magic and Showmanship

All of those books should be in there somewhere.​

Ken Weber's Maximum Entertainment

This is the most practical book about performing stage or parlor magic and mentalism. If you perform on a stage or in a parlor setting this is a MUST READ​

The problem (or opportunity) is that there is no one book that covers everything.

Now, I understand that I may be in a bit of an echo chamber due to the people I tend to hang out with and perform for.

I'm with you. Maybe we should write a book -- "The Mentalist and the Magician: A Guide to the Performance of the Impossible"
 
Jul 26, 2016
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It would seem that the most practical and direct way around the ever-increasing exposure problem is to do tricks that haven't been exposed. As Christopher mentioned, Tarbell, as one example is filled with such effects. There are many fine effects buried in endless books that laymen will never know the secret to. But there is a deeper problem that confronts performers of magic that was around long before YouTube, or Penn and Teller, or even Television itself. And that is how to present magic in a manner that makes it enjoyable to the spectator. There are many elements that go into that, but at the root of it all, is an understanding of human psychology. Then, in a sense, reverse engineering our presentations with that understanding in mind. Easier said than done, of course. But it can be effectively accomplished, through thought and contemplation, reading insightful books (some which are mentioned on this thread), having this type of exchange of ideas on the Forum, and through experience in the trenches performing for people.

Even if there was not a single layman on the planet who knew the secret to a single trick, the challenge of presenting magic in an entertaining fashion would remain. There are many
people who don't like to be fooled and don't want to be fooled or outwitted. Their egos won't permit it. We've all come across them and often. They will challenge and confront, heckle, try to trip you up, and/or boast that they know how it's done (even if they don't). Thinking, then, about how to present our magic in a manner that takes away the premise of "I am about to fool you" becomes a good starting point...Something I think about quite a bit in constructing my presentations is what is it about a good movie, play or television show that draws people in. They know it's fiction, that these are merely actors who are pretending; people know it's not real, yet they are interested, intrigued, fascinated, and willingly give their undivided attention and emotional energy (often to the point of tears). In a sense, it's a trick because it's not real and there is manipulation involved, but they seek it out and love it...
 
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First off the cafe is toxic and cancer. Second, exposure isn't a concern as it's a very small percentage of people who care enough to find out how the trick is done. That and as mentioned above they forget about it after a while.

I've realized those who constantly expose have an inferiority complex in the sense that they think others will think they are smart or special for knowing how it is done.
 
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I've realized those who constantly expose have an inferiority complex in the sense that they think others will think they are smart or special for knowing how it is done.

Perhaps. But I think it is more likely that they expose mainstream tricks because it benefits them. Oh 'French Kiss' is becoming an ever popular magic effect, let me expose and teach the method on youtube and rake in hundreds of thousands of views and make some money. That is why the point of the thread is that we don't use these mainstream effects in our routines. The demand for them will go down and 'exposers' won't have anything to gain. Of course this will never happen because the Original Poster believes people are too lazy to create original work and will just copy paste routines they see or purchase. This is 100 percent true. The core of the idea is that if we focus more on our own acts we can get people to forget about figuring out a method and just enjoy our performance for what it is.

However I do disagree with somethings said on here.

That being said, I really feel like people in general are getting bored with the brain candy style of magic show. I think flashy, super visual magic is getting old hat and people my age and younger want more substance.

I've been pretty away form the forums lately because I felt I was at odds with a lot of more experienced magicians around here, so I have been busking heavily and performing at some gigs here and there to try and get to some truths. I have learned, at least for me, that super flashy, visual magic transcends all cultural, language and intellectual barriers. If you want to hit the largest audience possible, this is the best kind of magic. It's a brain dead type of style, but it's like a lot of mainstream rappers. If you have ever heard their original stuff when they were underground or before they got signed, they were producing some really good, lyrical masterpieces; however, as soon as they went mainstream all of that went away. Why? Because you have to dumb things down for the masses or you won't be as profitable. It's not exactly the same, but my point is that you hit a larger audience when you perform more visual magic.

Do I think people want more substance in a magic act? Yes, but in general my experiences say no.

Personally, I think that outright labeling it as a trick is a big part of why magic is seen as trivial and meaningless by most adults. Saying, "It's just a trick" is basically the same as saying, "You shouldn't care about this." I do not agree with disclaimers and don't use them in my performances.

I want to premise what I am about to say by first off saying that I agree with you, but I have had a discussion with another magician about this topic and now I don't know. I see both sides. Labeling effects as tricks adds a different kind of layer that is separate from those magicians that try to convince others that the impossible thing they performed was real magic or something super natural. Having the audience understand that the effects are mere tricks implies that there is a method. A method the audience or spectator can work out and discuss with friends or themselves. Sometimes people film his shows. What if they go home and rewatch to try and catch something he did that might reveal the method? They're being entertained even when the performance is long over. If they do catch something, or do feel like they have figured out the method (whether they did or not) it gives them a sense of satisfaction.

An audience member wanting to know the method is a double-edged sword. It can be bad, but it can also be very good.
 

WitchDocIsIn

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Sep 13, 2008
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Do I think people want more substance in a magic act? Yes, but in general my experiences say no.

If you want to appeal to the masses then, yes, you'll probably have to have a fairly watered down, generic show. And that is a totally valid way to book lots of gigs. However, just because a show doesn't appeal to everyone, doesn't mean it can't make good money. Specialized entertainment just has to find its audience to secure bookings regularly. Derren Brown definitely does not pander to the masses and he's a millionaire. Not many specialized performers are super famous, but there's plenty of guys (often mentalists or new age style performers) who are quietly making quite a lot of money.

I do acknowledge that I may be in a specific group and therefore seeing limited data. The people I perform for, generally, often remark that they've never realized a magic show could look like what I do. I have often been told that it is refreshing to see magic that respects their intelligence and has meaning. I think this is a result of decades of "comedy magic" being the only thing out there. So many people have basically only ever seen magic as comedy, that they don't even realize another style exists. When they find that style that really appeals to them (whatever it may be) they suddenly realize that previous shows weren't doing it for them.

Busking is also a very specialized environment. You have to be boisterous and loud and often nearly obnoxious to draw attention, get a crowd, and make money. So if that's where you've been honing your chops, then you're definitely going to see demand for flashy visual stuff.

I want to premise what I am about to say by first off saying that I agree with you, but I have had a discussion with another magician about this topic and now I don't know. I see both sides. Labeling effects as tricks adds a different kind of layer that is separate from those magicians that try to convince others that the impossible thing they performed was real magic or something super natural.

It doesn't have to be one or the other. I don't label things at all, and generally I get a mix of responses where people say they liked my tricks, or they ask if I was really using energy work, etc. I don't correct either of them. I let the audience decide what it is they are seeing, and I respect their intelligence enough not to have to give them the label they should take from it.

Out right labeling what you do as a trick will pretty much limit you to presenting puzzles to be worked out. That's not much of an emotional hook. Yes, they may think about it after they go home, but they're just trying to solve a puzzle, they're not thinking about how good you made them feel or the things you made them think about. Once they solve the puzzle they're done with you, and they don't even need to get the correct solution. Basically, it creates a power scenario that's not favorable. The performer places themselves above the audience by putting out this puzzle, and the audience's unspoken goal is to bring the performer down below them by solving the puzzle.

However, if you present an engaging story that they enjoy and that evokes emotions they'll continue thinking about how good you made them feel for years. "People will forget what you say and do, but they will never forget how you made them feel." (paraphrased)
 
Sep 2, 2007
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I've been pretty away form the forums lately because I felt I was at odds with a lot of more experienced magicians around here, so I have been busking heavily and performing at some gigs here and there to try and get to some truths. I have learned, at least for me, that super flashy, visual magic transcends all cultural, language and intellectual barriers. If you want to hit the largest audience possible, this is the best kind of magic. It's a brain dead type of style, but it's like a lot of mainstream rappers. If you have ever heard their original stuff when they were underground or before they got signed, they were producing some really good, lyrical masterpieces; however, as soon as they went mainstream all of that went away. Why? Because you have to dumb things down for the masses or you won't be as profitable. It's not exactly the same, but my point is that you hit a larger audience when you perform more visual magic.

Do I think people want more substance in a magic act? Yes, but in general my experiences say no.

IMO, a really good magician should be adaptable. I do agree that visual magic transcends barriers in a way that magic with deeper meaning cannot but at the same time I feel that you are selling yourself way short if you stick to that kinda material for that reason. You should be able to express yourself and show depth when you're able. Draw them in with a story or something that makes them like you as a person. They already like the magic. Then, when you get into a situation where you can't speak to someone a foot away from you because it's so loud or they just don't speak your language, you STILL have solid material to perform because you can jump to your visual stuff.
 
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Jun 18, 2017
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You will never eliminate expose so long as:
1) The first rule of magic remains widely known and purportedly enforced (A Magician Never Tells His Secrets).
2) The Internet remains neutral for anyone and everyone to upload their own thoughts, opinions, etc.

That don't tell how the secrets are done stuff creates a taboo around the subject. Anytime you tell someone "don't do this" what is the first thing the person wants to go and do? What ever this is that they're not suppose to do. Especially with children. (I consider teens to be children. Hell I consider most 20 year olds to be children these days.) With internet sites like youtube that can make you money if you get enough followers and viewers an easy way to do that is to put out content that people deem controversial. Why? Because there's no such thing as bad publicity. Either way it goes they'll get hits, and subscriptions. Money aside the 15 seconds of fame is more than enough for most.

Next lets look at why magicians never told the secrets. We fool ourselves into believing that it takes away from the performance. That's not the original reason. The original reason dates back thousands of years when we were still using sleight of hand to fool kings into thinking that we could commune with gods in exchange for a little wealth and power. Exposure back then would result in our immediate and very painful death.

As for the modern reasons given, that being it takes away from the performance value, that may have been true a 100 years ago but culture has changed. It's shifted its priorities, and evolved its outlook on a lot of communal subjects, entertainment just being one of them. A 100 years ago the circus, or state fair, when it came to town was a huge to-do! You'd take your date, you'd see things you never got a chance to see in person, animals, acts, etc. You got an education! Now days the oldest running circus just shut down because people don't care as much. Why should they? They have google. They have smart phones. Their interest in stimulation has shifted. Yes this sucks, but it's how time works. With time we see the rise and fall of empires. Everything has a season. Keeping the secrets of magic... well, secret maybe one of those.

We live in the information age. It's almost insulting to most young people in their early adulthood years these days to tell them that something they don't understand works on a principle of wiffle dust. There's an immediate disconnection, followed by an immediate google search on their smart phone the second your back is turned. Why lie to them? Why insult their intelligence? Why don't we just swallow our ego and say that it's accomplished through skillfully executed sleight of hand resulting in the appearance of a modern miracle? You're still not saying exactly how it's done but you're not trying to blow smoke up their arse either. You may reduce the chance that they'll try and google it too.

The minute people don't go all googly eyed and say "Ooooooooo" like a child who knowingly stole a cookie from the cookie jar and is displaying it to the kindergarten class to see anytime someone posts a magic exposure video is the minute people will stop caring that something is exposed. It'll lose the taboo, and people will lose interest. But that will never happen because that would mean that magicians would have to stop caring too much and they love them a good witch hunt. At the end of the day we're NOT going to stop exposure. Stopping exposure is a pipe dream arm chair magicians complain about. You'd have better luck trying to stop the sands of time. So instead of stopping exposure what we SHOULD be doing is understanding why it is happening and doing what we can to minimize it.

I think this summarises my thoughts on the subject. My break from magic of around 12 years basically started just before the youtube explosion and finished a few months back.

The main thing I've noticed? Magicians have adapted to do things now that often move away from complex 'classic' sleights to simple, quick and very skilful slight of hand that's impossible to catch even if you think you know what you're looking for. It's evolved fantastically over the past decade.

In a world where, as you say, information is at your fingertips and seemingly nothing is new, magic has a renewed place to impress people. Layman with a passing interest in magic have seen double lifts, they know that false shuffles exist and they are aware that people can control cards. However stringing these all together into a mind blowing routine is where the real entertainment comes in. It's almost like a double bluff. Good magicians today are taking advantage of what their audience think they know, then blowing them out of the water with something completely different.

For someone who's been away a while, it's a great time to be back. With or without the supposed drawbacks of a generation of googlers. It's no longer about outwardly pretending you have magic powers, it's about lulling them into a false sense of security and then doing something so unexpected that they have no other explanation.
 
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