Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Prestige: a competition of magicians

The ACE of MAGIC - The Prestige: a competition of magicians
The ACE of MAGIC
The Prestige: a competition of magicians
The Prestige is a great movie. It’s one of my favorite movies about magic. It shows the realistic world of the competition of magicians that exists behind the scenes of all stagecraft. 

It is not my intention in this blog post to review a movie. Instead, the movie helps open the door to a larger point: what happens sometimes behind the scenes of magic. 

Ever since I started practicing the art of magic my mind was crazy to find the best way to invent a magic trick and present a magic act. Not much has changed since that day. 


Every human being working toward prestige in their profession needs to pass through steps. They study and practice toward acquiring knowledge of an art or profession. With this knowledge, they work toward not just perfection of the art or profession but a way they can practice it that is different and unique. 


Competition is good. There’s nothing wrong with competing. Actually competition is one of the ways that magic clubs let the magicians show their skills, inventions and talents on stage. But sometimes in the field of competition the evaluation of our expectations needs to be reevaluated. Having a spirit of competition in the right way can encourage self-esteem and creativity at any level for people in any profession. 

But the movie Prestige shows how magicians can enter competition for the sake of prestige, and in the process, they lose the joy of the art. And here is my point today. When we involve our egos in the wrong way looking more for the fame and name recognition, we lose our north. We stop enjoying what we do for the love of it. This is true of people in any profession of any age. 

I am no stranger to this competition. In my 20s, I was focusing all the time to learn and perform magic and the best tricks. Like any other human being, I felt feelings of competition. Sometimes other magicians cut me out of opportunities and the tight circle they created. Like other young magicians, I tried to outdo my peers. 

But more recently I’ve noticed a different side to the profession.

When I moved to Tampa, I heard about the Tampa Bay Magic Club. I figured I didn’t need it. What do I need with a club? 

But I started to attend the monthly meetings. Most of the magicians were much older than me, in their 60s, 70s and 80s. They are from a generation when magicians toured the circuit, traveling the country in RVs and campers, booking shows in cabaret rooms and state fairs when live entertainment shows were a popular thing. They had colorful stories and interesting names – like Windy and Sunny. Even more colorful were their personalities. They performed magic tricks at the club meetings and made mistakes, but would keep right on going. They encouraged each other. What mattered was the magic, not their egos. 

They brought in speakers and organized fundraisers, but more than that, whenever one of the members had a show, they’d get the word out so everyone would go to support them. At more than one of my own shows, I’d see their faces in the audience, whether or not I had been making the monthly club meetings on a regular basis. Recently, the spouses of several members have died. All of the club members spread the news and rallied around their friends, attending the funerals. Sometimes sitting in a group, sometimes spread out in different places in the pews at the funeral service. Always letting their club member and friend know they were there, to bring food, for companionship, to take them to a show. 

They taught me something, a new way of being a magician and the concept for competition. To be humble and to listen in order to learn, instead of being so quick to make myself heard and seen. To be supportive and gracious, because there is enough magic and wonder out there for everyone.

Through their example, I learned that there is much more to the magic world than the prestige we younger magicians tend to seek.

The older magicians have taught me the real meaning of brotherhood in the brotherhood of magicians.


The Prestige: a competition of magicians


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