The Magician Persona

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by joshrobarts, Aug 22, 2010.

  1. Okay, its been awhile since i posted any heavy thinking questions on here for me so i thought id share something. As magician's, to a certain degree magic becomes part of our personality and our persona. Just like everyone else we are partially defined as individuals by what we do and our interests and passions. Im sure we have all experienced at one point or another a loss of identity to others only to be replaced with "He's the magic man" or the "card guy". Its as if all else fades to the background in deference to this one hobby or characteristic. Im not saying this is always a bad thing, in performances you wish to be seen as the Magician, the Professional Sleight of hand artist, but what about in the rest of your life. I have had many experiences in meeting new people and i will either be introduced as a a magician or that fact will come out at some point in the night. Inevitably after it comes out i am asked to show some magic, and while i sometimes refrain more often than not i will show a little something. The issue is that often times that immediately typecast's you as "the magician" and by definition you are now a entertainer, a performer, not an acquaintance or future friend. You are in a sense, distanced by your unique persona. It is hard to overcome sometimes, to convince people there is more to you than just the magic you perform. Even if you have other hobbies, the entertainment value of the magic is often what they are interested in most. i have seen this occur also with musician's, who are always asked to play. Now dont be confused, i have dealt with this on and off for a long time and learned several things about overcoming it or using it to my advantage, i merely wanted to present the idea and open it up for conversation, sharing experiences and ideas.

    But the question i truly want to see explored is, how much does being a magician define us as individuals and how much does that shape our relationships and interactions with everyone we meet.

    The fact is i have just moved into a new college dorm after transferring and as usual i have been found out as a magician and it begins to become who i am known as, and as i make new friends, and fans, it makes me wonder, how many of these new relationships would exist without magic and my performances and which individuals would still appreciate my persona, sans the magic.

    Feel free to expand.
  2. I think it depends on how you present yourself. I've never wanted to be seen as a one trick pony... whether it be for music, magic, or... anything... yet, I don't like the term "Entertainer" because that always reminds me of Wayne Newton. I've always wanted to be seen as an artist. Whether it be magic or music. I don't perform for friends and family enough to be known as "the magic dude" or whatever... I'm known for being me. I'm have a strong sense of humor. I love reading and learning. Extremely good looking. And I try to be the nicest guy I can be, helping people as much as I can... Art is a reflection of this. Magic just so happens to be a great medium for this. But it's part of my art, and it's part of me, but it's not me.
  3. I truly hate that sort of thing, that's why I pretty much only perform for strangers now.
  4. Only way to find out is you turn down performing for them for a bit and just hang out with them without any magic props or items.
  5. #5 worldwideme, Aug 22, 2010
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 22, 2010
    i know what your saying i've become the magic guy. but once people know me that way. i try really hard to lay off the magic and just be me. so far its worked with most people. i allow the magic rep to linger then i slowly let it fade, until i'm just 'Web.. hey have you seen him do magic? he's really good!"

    the magic become a sort of world class ice breaker.
  6. interesting...

    I like the points you have brought up. I need to work on this kind of thing. I have been a "professional magician" doing magic at a theme park all summer and getting paid for it, so I am known there by that, but I also need to work on distancing myself form my magic when I'm not actually supposed to be performing so that people know me, not just me doing magic.
  7. Go out and meet strangers apart from people who know you do magic. Don't mention it, don't perform, and just interact. Over time they will find out you do magic, but they'll be a friend first.

    It also doesn't hurt to refuse to perform, be polite about it, but it's not your job to perform for everyone (unless you're being paid to) and tell them maybe some other time, right now you just feel like hanging out.

    Just a few ideas, a lot of people know I do magic, but they also know that if I feel like showing something I will draw the conversation towards a topic I can relate into a trick and then blow their minds 'off the cuff'. Just a few thoughts.
  8. I am more than just an elite Card mechanic...No one has ever dared to call me "the magician"....Maybe because of my elite looks, personality and charisma...Magic does not define me..I define magic...
  9. Same here, to an extent. The reason I don't like performing for people I know as often nowadays is because they spend more time trying to figure out the move and less time enjoying the trick. Regardless of how I act and try to get their attention away from my hands, I can't do anything because they're burning my hands, waiting for that one magic moment where the card changes, or the moment the card comes to the top...

    And elite, you are a sad excuse for a magician if you think that's true.
  10. And I'd suggest that your next trick being the vanishing ego... while having a bit of ego is required for all showmen having an overly inflated ego will ultimately prove detrimental, not to mention that it leads towards sloppiness in one's work.

    As ARTISTS our task is evolutionary and not static; perpetual change! If we are a truely dedicated artist then we will never be happy with "what works" and strive towards perfecting every little detail... chasing the unobtainable pennical... "Perfection" We know we will never find it, but if we aren't at least challenging ourselves towards it, we will never be much more than a schmuck that does tricks.

    I've had several incarnations in the almost 5 decades I've been involved with magic, 40 of which have been either on stage or behind the scenes creating and developing magic. These various incarnations come about based on the circumstances in your life; my first role as a "Genii" existed because I was a kid... I likewise did commercial gigs as a child character and these two images sustained me well into my mid and latter teens but then age and circustances changed; physical maturity demanded me to turn into a young adult and so the "boy next door" image took form along side my seasonal persona as "Puck" (not literally, but mischief was certainly afoot).

    At this point we come into a very serious character influence; the things that happen in your personal life that affect you directly and thus, affect your ability to perform and hold to character. For me, the modicom of success I came to know in the 1970s let to a serious drug problem as well as exacerbated mental issues of which brain damage can be included. At 21 years of age I woke up not knowing who I was let alone how to do magic... including stuff I'd created.

    I point this dark episode out for two reasons; firstly, "success" is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. Few of us are honeslty ready to see the kind of success we dream of; we are not prepared to handle the life-style though we think we are. The majority of us will not look at our blessings as the fleeting thing they will be... even Copperfield had to come to a day of reckoning in which "things changed" and he was no longer top dog and too, no longer the young good looking guy he was still thinking himself to be.

    This IS a BUSINESS and believe it or not, the money you have coming in isn't yours to do with as you please... so to speak. That's something that's a bit off topic but I'd encourage you to simply get some legitimate business training, especially management skills, under your belt so you don't get into any trouble and so you can set things up for your future... in show biz you never know when the cash & gigs are going to stop flowing.

    The Second Reason I'm ringing in this dark chapter centers on the fact that many of us do have both, emotional/mental as well as physical limitations. If you don't have them right now I promise that you will as you age, some of us facing greater problems than others. You must be prepared for this and too, you need to be understanding of it... something I've been dealing with the past ten years or so.

    My earliest attempts at Mentalism started as part of my recovery era and my need to simplify things in my world. Unfortunately I was not yet emotionally mature enough to deal with the public response... the many that would want me to be their guru. So that young and blessed maker of mental mischief vanished into the background for a while, peeking his head out every now and again during my traditional illusion shows... though these programs had me doing a lot of my own material I was mimicking Harry Blackstone in almost every bit of the program; I was a generic big stage act that booked for cheap... I wasn't defined as anything other than a "Magician"... and yes, I kept plugging away at different styled acts in the hope of "finding myself" and nothing was working... sort of.

    Like I said, circumstances in life are major contributors to the who & what we are seen as, for me events during the early and mid 1980s wouldn't just elevate me as an illusion technician and effects developer it would lay much of the groundwork around an image I'd be taking on as the decade came to an end and a new era in both, magic and my life came into the fore.

    Milt Larsen of the Magic Castle... well, he made an excuse to have me do work for him in the Castle's Library which is how I managed to reclaim my understanding of magic and then some. Add to this my being adopted by historian/colletor Kirk Kikrham and my direct access to some of the most famous props in magic history... the actually inventory of the Thurston, Dante & Blackstone shows and more! On the other side of this coin we find my spiritual journey and 12 step influences; it was the literally the "Hay" day of all things New Age in that I was working along side then popular guru Louise L. Hay and most all of the L.A. area clan including the Pacific Circle/Pagan community (Wicca & Hopi Shamanism). I was a regular speaker at events and writing contributor to various publications and too, I had started doing Readings again along with Reiki... so you could say that I was in rather deep.

    ALL of these things had immediate as well as future affect and that's the key to understanding your personal evolution as a persona; seeing how your side interests, concerns, areas of focus all imprint themeselves into what the public sees in your performance.

    By the early 90s and well prior to the launch of the big Bizarre & Mentalism trends sparked by Blaine & Angel. Most important to note is the fact that it was something that "fit" me and allowed room to be "me" rather than a facade... an entity or character. But again, life is not static. I was still finding my footing within this "new" world while doing some traditional shows on the side... until the summer of 1997 and a car accident in which I broke my neck... the accident that would result in my selling off or giving away the balance of my big stage collection and a near over-night decision to do nothing but Mentalism from that point forward. Not only was it something that "fit" me it was now the path that was most logical for someone physically limited... I'm still plagued from that particular injury directly but indirectly as well... you see, a "whiplash" type injury releases chemical into your systems that act as catalyst which wake up otherwise dormant "diseases" or "conditions" within your body... for me it was the accelleration of MS, a condition that had been a "Mystery Illness" for years but never defined (very typical to the disease) so in this we find one more "dark' factor forcing me to move in ways not planned or foreseen. But let me point out something here...
    While the MS has made me more dependent on a Wheelchair there are other performers in our world with "handicapps" who've become living legends as well as inspiration to thousands. Part of my reasoning in sharing this information is so others lurking about and facing a disability of any kind, can find hope within themselves to let that condition serve as part of what they do and who they are.

    Admittedly, I'm still have difficulty performing from out of the chair. After 40 years on stage it's quite hard to no visualize how you would do a bit while standing. Too, you start discovering the need to change how you handle routines that you once did in you sleep (so to speak), because you can't be moving through the audience "swiftly" without the risk of having a 300 lbs machine with a 260 lb man sitting in it, runnign over people's toes... not a good thing.

    I've become "content" with the direction things are now moving for me, but it is the result of all the things that happened or that I was involved with in life, and that's the point here. Look at how each little thing lead to a new incarnation in my life and then look at your own life and how the same things have and are happening.

    In one of my books dealing with Bizarre type characters I emphasize this point of personal history as well as one's geneology and how to incorporate the various personalties and their quirks into your own character. For me and the more esoteric & macabre side of my character the application was simple... c'mon, Edgar Allen Poe is a cousin as was Tod Browning, what more could you ask for?

    Hope I'm made some sense with all of this and it helps.

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