Let me start by saying, I Love David Blaine. Is it because I think he’s the most amazing magician in the world? No. Not even close. Is it because I think he’s got a great performance style? No. Not even close. What about his character or patter? No, and No. So you may be thinking to yourself, “Self, why does Jeff Love David Blaine?”
The answer is simple. His name became a household word, and therefore closeup magic became a household word, and therefore more people know about magic, and more people hire magicians. He was great for my business. However, and this is a BIG “However.” He may have caused, unintentionally, some pretty heavy damage to the craft of magic as a whole.
The good news is that it’s reparable, but it’s going to take a lot of work from us. So what damage did he cause. Because he was so popular and so famous and such a huge hit, people wanted to be like him. A LOT of people wanted to be like him, and suddenly “street magic” videos were available everywhere, and people started doing double lifts, buying Ravens and calling themselves magicians.
These people through no fault of their were “sold” on the idea that only after 20 or 30 minutes of practice, “They too could become street magicians.” This causes a lot of bad magicians doing a lot of bad magic with no confidence, no patter, no emotional connection with the audience, and worst of all: THEY ALL TRIED TO EXACTLY MIMIC DAVID BLAINE!
This phenomenon quickly spread throughout the United States and quickly began causing people just my magic (before they see it) based on Joe Newbie with the invisible deck. The invisible deck is great, but people who bought it 20 minutes ago should not be using it. I have no problem with new people wanting to get into magic and learn the secrets and even be like Blaine. The only problem I have is that a new generation of magician has been created; one where practice is no longer the cardinal rule for magicians, and frankly that’s a world I can’t deal with.
So I’m calling on all students of the art, all true performers. Please commit to practicing several hours per week or even per day. Please for the sake of our art, do not desecrate our craft by being a shoddy performer. Take the time to study the classic works (more about classic works in a later post). Take the time to really learn the moves, and really fine tune your skill and your presentation. I guess what I’m trying to say is, “take the time to be a REAL MAGICIAN.”
Remember the days before Blaine? Remember the days of Blaine . . . suddenly, everyone was asking you, “have you heard of that guy . . . the street magic guy?” He through a card through a window! He levitated! He swallowed a thread and pulled it out of his abs! He bit a quarter in half! He made a card rise out of the deck! He made a card change in that guy’s hand! He read that guy’s mind!
On and on and on it goes. Some magicians hated it/him while others loved it/him. What’s the difference? Many said that the haters were jealous. I don’t buy that. I think the haters were blinded. They were confused. They didn’t see what he was “all about.” the magic was filmed from the audience’s perspective. That’s who matters, not you or me, but the audience. I just watched Blaine’s DVD, Fearless, the other day, and it really sort of re-grounded me. It got me thinking again about what really matters in magic . . . the reaction from the audience . . . not even the reaction per se, but the reason for the reaction. What matters is what they’re thinking that caused the reaction.
As you know, this particular column, No Stone Left Unturned, is dedicated to the business side of magic and the logistics side of magic and the non-magic side of magic, so why am I talking about David Blaine? Simple. In order to be good at selling yourself to your clients, you need that magic flame to be lit, that bug has to bite. You’ve got to remember how you felt when you first got into magic. Those feelings keep you excited and passionate about your craft. It may not come from a Blaine DVD for you, but that’s what did it for me. It got me wanting to perform more regularly for lay people again.
Please, for the sake of magic, get passionate . . . think about the audience, and bring back that lovin’ feeling