Guest Essay: 99 Percent in Magic Unite!

Inside Magic Image of Couple Learning Magic's True SecretsMark Panner is not exactly a friend of Inside Magic but he did lend us money to pay the server bill two months ago. In return for his kindness, we said he could write an opinion piece for the web site. This is that piece. He tries to find parallels between the 99 percent movement and magic secrets. We do not agree with his logic, argument or conclusions but a deal is a deal.  We note that while we do not edit Mark's writing, we had to change the title from its original, "99 Percent in Magic Untie."

As I was watching the occupy movement do their thing, I thought about inequity and how unfair it is. One of the questions that kept crossing my mind was, how come the Vegas Headliners get the best secrets and technology and we are all stuck with the turn of the century – Last Century! –boxes and mirrors. It's not fair at all.

There is no other word for it other than inequity and unfairness (okay so maybe two words) but it expresses the vas deference between the 99% of magicians who need to use boxes screens or assistants (if you can afford them or are able to even go to where they congregate to ask if they would like to work for you). The elite one percent get to make things vanish, float, change, appear, grow or shrink without anything at all.

I have been looking into this question for a long time. It's been six months so far and I think I have some answers but they are not good ones.

When magic began, there was relative parity among all magicians. Magicians could make things vanish, float, appear, disappear, change or multiply with equal ability. They all used the same skills and tools. In the Iron Age, everyone used Irons and in the Bronze Age they did the same and no one had better tools than their neighbor. One caveman's Iron thing was the same size and shape and substance as the caveman next door and that did not change until the end of the "Ages" part of history ("Iron," "Bronze," "Dinosaur," "Bird," and "Trains") and the start of the Jet Age (around the time of the Wright Brothers).

Until the Jet Age, people entertained people in their villages and huts with essentially the same tricks either bought from a central store or made from common instructions. All magic plans used to be printed in blue ink and sold in rolls to magicians who wanted to build their own tricks from supplies they had around their cave or hut.

It took a while for this to die out. As late as the 1940s, for instance, Harry Blackstone used the same equipment as all magicians to make the standard "magic rabbit" appear or disappear. Magic rabbits were raised to be genetically identical so that all magicians could interchangeably use their props to do the rabbit tricks regardless of their location. A Boston rabbit would fit a Chicago rabbit gimmick and vice-a-versa. But there was a war on and many of the rabbits were actually made in the equivalent of factory farms where they were grown by strict military specifications to fit standard government issue magic props as used by the professionals (such as Blackstone) or the amateur at home or the magicians who entertained the troops during the battles around the world.

With the advent of the space race, the "elite" magicians began to insist on using "different" methods to accomplish the effects performed by so many. "Good enough for government work" was an expression first used to denigrate the magicians who were forced to use surplus magic tricks left over from the war effort. The elite used bigger bunnies (or with different colored ears or faces) and insisted on different methods to make tricks happen.


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King Copperfield Joins Roster of Magic Royalty

Inside Magic congratulates David Copperfield on his deserved ascension to the awesome position of King of Magic and awarded the “Magician of the Century” designation.

The Society of American Magicians (“SAM”) bestowed both accolades upon the peripatetic and prolific prestidigitator.

Mr. Copperfield has earned many titles and laudatory commendations throughout his incredible career but unlike us, is not willing to rest on his laurels. The SAM’s press release notes the ever-young performer still puts in an honest day’s work by presenting his full show more than 500 times a year.

The Society previously picked him as “Magician of the Century” for the 20th Century – quite a feat considering the incredible lot of magicians that performed from 1900 through 2000.

This is the first time the Society has named a “King of Magic.”

Our U.S. Constitutional research shows Mr. Copperfield’s acceptance of this title does not run afoul of Article 1, Section 9:

No title of nobility shall be granted by the United States: and no person holding any office of profit or trust under them, shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.

See, Cornell’s fantastic resource, the Legal Information Institute here..

Note,  it is a popular misconception that a more strict prohibition against titles was added to the Constitution by Amendment.  While there was a Titiles of Nobility Amendment passed by the Senate, House of Representatives, it was not ratified by the requisite number of states and is not law.

We would like to go on record as saying that even if the Titles of Nobility Amendment had been ratified and Mr. Copperfield’s acceptance of the title “King” violated that law, we would not turn him in.

The Society gave the title in recognition his efforts “to advance, elevate, and preserve magic as a performing art, to promote harmonious fellowship throughout the world of magic, and to maintain and improve ethical standards in the field of magic.”

However, as Inside Magic reported recently, Mr. Copperfield earned the more significant and lasting title of Father with the recent birth of his daughter, Sky. The magician and his beautiful French model girlfriend, Chloe Gosselin kept Sky’s arrival under wraps for about 16 months before the lay and magic press discovered the happy news.

Under traditional rules and customs pertaining to royalty, Sky would properly be considered a Princess of Magic but Chloe Gosselin could not attain the title of Queen of Magic unless she married the then-existing King.

Additionally, we are informed by a scholar on royalty that kingship is rarely attained by talent or popular acclaim. In fact, 77.41 percent of all kings or queens attained their position simultaneously with the murder, execution, coup d’état, or suspicious disappearance of the previous monarch.

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IBM 2011 Closes on High Note

Inside Magic Image of IBM Convention LogoAnd now the 2011 IBM Convention is complete.

It ended with a wonderful show entitled “Legends of Magic & Comedy.” The show began with Jeff McBride. He was in top form and served as the perfect entreaty to the special night. His energy unique ability to take advantage of any unplanned surprise ensured a wonderful start.

The lovely Frances Willard introduced son-in-law Michael Ammar and his beautiful wife, Hannah as they performed their rendition of The Spirit Cabinet. Hannah has learned well from her mother — the effect was perfect.

Max Maven introduced the concept of “suspension” by correctly reading the minds of the sell-out house and segued into clips of Walter “Zaney” Blaney performing his Ladder Suspension over the years and in many venues. But this evening Walter did not perform his world-famous illusion. That honor was bestowed on Becky Blaney and Walter’s granddaughter. They did an outstanding job and Walter’s pride clearly showed.

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