Sunday, March 17, 2013

Finding the Right Fit for My Magic

In the entertainment world, (magic world specifically) there is a big push for folks to find out who they are, who their character is and so forth. The reason given for this is that it becomes much easier to put together an act if you know who you are. The selection of material and the way you would present it becomes much easier.

Let's start with Houdini for example. He popularized escapes and the challenge format. He knew who he was and it made his selection of material that much stronger. In his later years he went to presenting a 3 In 1 Show, in which the first part of the show was magic, the second was escapes and the third was the exposure of Spirit Mediums. I have read that the weakest part of the show was the straight magic, but that the rest of the show was great. Now it could have been that the escapes and spirit stuff was so strong it overshadowed the straight magic. Or it could have been that Houdini was presenting the magic 'as a magician' and not as Houdini.

David Copperfield has a distinct style and way of presenting things. He now probably holds the honor of being the most copied act in the history of magic. Magicians and illusionists stole his patter, his way of dress, his delivery, his routines, everything. The only thing they couldn't steal was his success. But because he had such a distinctive style and character it was easy to turn any routine into a Copperfield routine.

Aldo Richiardi was one of the great illusionists of the 20th Century. He too inspired many other performers and was also copied by countless magicians. His style was so unique to him, that it was easy to tell a Richiardi routine from that of another magician. And when another magician copied his style, it was clear where it originated.

Doug Henning was a magician who came around in the 1970s. He changed the face of magic at the time by going against type. Rather than wear a tuxedo, he wore jeans and a tshirt. Later he changed to jeans and brightly colored shirts. He had a style all his own and his props and scenery all matched his style. If you saw a prop with rainbows or blue skies and clouds painted on it, it was a Doug Henning prop! His actual character was very contemporary. He was enthusiastic and gave the impression that he really believed in his own magic. It was easy for Doug to know what tricks were Henning tricks and those that were not.

I have been trying to create an act that was ME. My interests include art, history, sci-fi, magic and magic history. But try as I might I was never quite able to put together a program that perfectly defined me. Then two years ago I had an idea, but because I discovered another act doing the same thing I passed on it. Well, that act has since vanished into the night, so I gave some thought to trying it out. I gave it a lot of thought and talked to some other people about it. Those I talked too agreed the concept fit me like a glove. Then without any effort, routines and trick ideas just started forming in my brain. The idea was to create a Steampunk Magic Show.

Now I am aware of a few others who have used this same approach. In fact, more than just a few others. But though there are a number of magicians using the concept it's such broad subject matter that it's actually easy for me to carve out my own niche. So the character is an exaggeration of my real personality wrapped in the world of Victorian age Sci-Fi. Think H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Allan Poe, Vincent Van Gogh and Harry Houdini all wrapped into one. And I have one big thing to add that will make my new act very different from anyone else doing steampunk magic, it's the one thing that made me realize this was the perfect direction for me. What is that one thing? You'll have to wait and see.

No comments: