Guest Author - Dennis Regling
There is a great concern among magicians about the exposure of how magic tricks are done to the general public.
You may remember the Masked Magician on Fox TV that exposed many large illusions, and the second Masked Magician who exposed David Blaine's street magic. These shows, while making Fox lots of money, cost some working magicians some money.
Those illusionists that were making their living with some expensive box tricks that were exposed on TV felt the need to store them away. They had to buy or develop new tricks at great expense.
I designed and built a Rabbit Spiker Illusion for my family shows. My rabbit has a signed card placed in a purse that is around his neck. He is placed in a small box and the box is closed up. A board full of spikes is thrust into the box top. The kids scream. The door is opened and the box is full of spikes, but the rabbit is gone. No mirrors.
The rabbit is revealed to be in a box on the other side of the stage that was previously shown to be empty. The purse is around his neck. A spectator removes the card and verifies it is the one he signed minutes ago. A hare-raising escape by the Great Hare-dini.
If the Masked Magician were to reveal how this trick is done, I would be upset as many magicians were over the TV shows exposing Grand Illusions.
Realistically though, most part time and small-stage magicians benefited from the Masked Magician shows. It created interest in magic. Only the large stage shows were hurt. Even then I wonder how much. How many of their audience members saw the Masked Magician shows? How many of their illusions were exposed? Surely they still had quite a selection for their shows.
As for the street magician exposure, I was doing most of the tricks David Blaine does even before his first special. I continued to use them after the Masked Street Magician revealed them. They were as effective the day after the TV show exposed them as they were before.
This does not mean I condone the Masked Magicians. What they did, in agreeing to do these shows was selfish and they had to know it would upset most other magicians. Sure, Fox was going to hire someone. Fox was going to buy the illusions somewhere. but sometimes, you still say, "No." I don't believe anything good was accomplished by either Masked Magician.
All that to say, the Masked Magician and TV exposure are not the subject of this article. These days you can buy CDs on Ebay for 99 cents exposing everyone of David Blaine's tricks, Criss Angel's tricks, Copperfield's magic and more. A Google search will get you the same information FREE.
I first learned magic at the public library. I learned tricks and effects that sell in magic stores for dozens of dollars. I learned how the great magicians of the past did a lot of their grand illusions.
Fact is, most of the "secrets of magic," are not that secret. All you have to do is a little research. Now there are still a few secrets that you won't find. Those that were invented by the magician who used them and never revealed the secret. Like my Rabbit Spiker.
So should magicians get upset when another magician or non-magician exposes how a trick is done? Some tricks are even exposed as a "gag" as part of a show. Many magicians who are against exposure give away dollar bills with their picture on the front and magic tricks like the linking paperclips on the back. I use the Linking Paperclips and Jumping Rubberbands all the time. They are great impromptu tricks.
But the same magicians who complain because some one does a TV show exposing magic, give away the secrets to these tricks everyday. Yet, it doesn't matter because most people simply forget over a period of time. I'm still going to use them.
Other magicians complain about TV and internet exposure, but they will sell magic books after their shows. For a few dollars, letting the general public buy the secrets of magic. These books may contain "kid tricks," but many use the same principals of larger illusions.
Then there are the professional magicians that will sell videos for $40 bucks or so, and expose great tricks like the cups and balls and some great rope magic and other tricks. Their routine or presentation may be unique, but often the tricks are not.
Their excuse is they are only selling to the "magic fraternity." But does a professional street magician who makes his living doing these tricks really want hobbyist magicians and pimple-faced teenagers learning the secrets?
My friend, I am against exposing tricks just to show how smart you are. I am against exposing tricks just to make a buck at the expense of other working magicians. I also realize that there will always be books, videos and instructional materials available to magicians that are also available to the general public.
I know there will always be idiots on the internet and in my audiences who expose tricks because it makes them feel smart. They are too stupid to realize magic is not a puzzle to be solved, but a performance to be enjoyed.
I admit I will still post how-to articles for my readers. They read my articles because they have an interest in magic. I will try not to expose anything that will hurt another magician. I'm not going to tell you how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. I also try to stick to tricks that are widely exposed in children's magic books and other beginner tricks.
Exposure for the sake of exposure is bad. But to keep magic alive, we need to encourage beginners and that means sharing a few of our secrets.
For those magicians who constantly worry about who is exposing what, I suggest you worry more about making your presentation more magical. When I watch a professional magician do the Linking Rings, I am always amazed. I know how they work, (the method is very simple), but the presentation makes it appear that what I know is not true and that real magic is happening.
I have a magician friend who has a son that also performs. His son has a set of D'Lites, yet I managed to fool him with my own set of D'Lites. He knew the props. He knew how they worked. The presentation though surprised him.
Remember, magic is not in the how-to, it is in the presentation.