Positive Role Models

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by TylerScottIllusionist, Nov 15, 2017.

  1. I recently have been really bummed by all the news surrounding David Blaine lately. He was my biggest inspiration in magic and seeing him live during his tour boosted my morale to complete my own show when I was too overwhelmed and felt like giving up. I wasn't going to bring attention to the subject but I saw another user mention it in a post and it got me thinking about how Twitter responded to the recent allegations against celebrities such as Kevin Spacey and Louis C. K. Twitter users started a thread where essentially they shared stories of celebrities that left a positive impact so I would like to basically replicate that with this thread.

    There are a lot of "celebrity" magicians that I could talk about being really awesome such as Scott Alexander, Dan Sperry, Joaquin Ayala, and several others. But the one I want to focus on right now is Michael Ammar. He is everything you would imagine him to be like in person. He is very kind and friendly and doesn't come across as a guy who is solely looking to sell you his products. He genuinely seems to care for people and is overall just an easy guy to get along with. He is by far the best lecturer I have ever seen in person. He is very thorough and clear with his teaching.

    One thing I will always remember about Michael Ammar is a story he told about treating female volunteers or just volunteers in general with respect. He mentioned a story about how he took his mother to see a magic show and the magician was about to perform the 20th century comedy bra trick. Michael knew what was coming before the magician did the trick and saw that the magician was about to pick his mother. Michael said he looked at the magician and shook his head no as a warning that his mother was definitely not someone that would be cool with that effect and the magician picked someone else instead. With this story he concluded that every time we pick a volunteer that we need to treat them as if they are our own mother, sister, wife, or relative because our volunteer is valued to someone else. He added that at the end of the routine, your volunteer should be the happiest person in the room. If they are not, then you have failed as a performer. Plus it makes sense logically, if an audience sees that they are going to be humiliated in front of people why would they ever want to volunteer for you?

    That particular lesson has affected how I script any of my performances, street or stage. I try to make who ever volunteers for me to be the happiest person in the area in hopes that I can get future volunteers during my act. Our volunteers are to be treated with respect and dignity and not to be humiliated for the sake of a petty joke. Magicians have a stigma of being awkward guys around females and that stigma changes starting with us the magicians. We need to show more professionalism and class that way all genders can feel included and welcomed whether as a spectator or someone wanting to be a magician of their own.

    Michael Ammar is one of the greats and I highly recommend checking out his lecture tour if you can. You won't regret it.
    DominusDolorum and Maaz Hasan like this.
  2. Yes. Although I have never met Michael, I have seen him numerous times on DVDs I've acquired over the years, and heard many comments about him from people who know him first hand. He strikes me as a really nice guy, classy and a true gentleman - someone who I feel, intuitively, I could be good friends with. And he is an excellent teacher - very clear. His DVD series, "Easy to Master Card Miracles," has fabulous material on it, and has helped me immensely to become a better and more entertaining performer with cards. And yes, it is important that we strive to make our audience volunteers and assistants feel great, not to mention everyone for whom we perform. Each of us is an ambassador of magic and will contribute toward shaping peoples' feelings about magic and magicians.
  3. I met Michael briefly at an event in Fresno. I didn't get to spend a lot of time with him, but he did seem very genuine and nice.

    When it comes to volunteers on stage, I have a slight issue with "Treat women like your sister, mother, wife, daughter, etc" - because it implies that the only reason to treat them with respect is that they are valuable to someone else (usually a man). That's a kind of ... sneaky form of sexism.

    Treat them with respect and care because they are a person. Treat every person with respect and care.

    These past two years have been rough for role models. I saw it summed up well in a meme somewhere: 2016 is the year all our favorite celebrities died. 2017 is the year our favorite celebrities are dead to us.

    It's almost scary to invest energy in admiring someone on the off chance they turn out to be among the scum.

    But that being said - there are some guys that I really admire and look up to still. Alain Nu is a genuinely great person through and through. He loves magic and mentalism, he loves to brainstorm and share ideas, and he's genuinely one of the nicest people I've ever met, and a very clever thinker as far as magic and performance.
    TylerScottIllusionist likes this.
  4. I probably didn't do him justice by the way I described it. I don't think he was intending a sexist comment but was rather just stating something along the lines of "Imagine if someone was disrespecting someone you care about, such as your mother, on stage in front of everyone how would that make you feel?" Plus all the people in the room were men around the ages of 55+ with the exception of me and another guy that was about 16 so I think he was trying to make a statement that would resonate with them.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with Alain Nu. I'll have to start following his work more closely.
    DominusDolorum likes this.
  5. There are a few magicians I love for the grace of there performance instead, Michael Ammar has always been one of them. And now you say he is a great person too?
    Restarts my faith in humanity! :)
    Jokes apart, I loved to hear that he is a great person as well as a great magician too. Although a book shouldn't be judged by its cover, he actually looks like a great person too! Someone who is as cool as they show themselves to be.
    I also think Dynamo is a pretty great role-model (hope that's not too, much of a cliché).
    I mean, he has battled the Crohn's, has battled depression and has never got a big-head.
    And he seems a pretty cool guy too and never hides his vulnerabilities. Something Sankey said,
    The sign of a great performer is that he/she does not hide his vulnerabilities and shows that he is as much of a human as anyone else.
    TylerScottIllusionist likes this.
  6. Oddly enough that is what I respected the most about Blaine. I have a lot of respect for Dynamo too. He seems like a pretty decent person.
  7. I don't go to lectures or conventions that often, but when I do, I meet A LOT of great magicians who have influenced me the same way Michael Ammar has done you.

    I went to the TRICs Convention in North Carolina in 2015 and met one of my childhood idols, Daniel Garcia. He was so polite, well mannered, and such a nice guy. I had a brief talk with him about how Derren Brown bashes card magic in his book "Absolute Magic," in that Derren says card magic is meaningless but Daniel Garcia begged to differ and shed his philosophy on the genre.

    Tom Gagnon, Scott Robinson, Mark Calabrese, Mark Young, Xavier Spade, man, they were all great guys. Asi Wind was there too and was very polite...but I think I accidentally made him mad....but that's a story for another time.
    TylerScottIllusionist likes this.
  8. That's such a great story! Would love to meet Daniel Garcia in person sometime. He seems like such a cool guy.

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