Explanations of rules:

I truly think that magicians themselves are the reason the word ‘magic’ has so little respect in the real world and why so many lay people are surprised when they see magic they are actually impressed with.  Part of this is based upon how we treat each other and how we ourselves treat our art.  It goes without saying that we should not steal from fellow magicians, but even that rule is not held to by many of our clubs.  Exposing our secrets is indeed a firm rule all clubs mention, yet many do not even hold members accountable for that basic rule and to be honest even that rule does not hurt us as much as rule number one on this list does.  Here are the explanations from my own life that go along with these rules. Match them up and see how many apply to you. You might be surprised. I have been pleasantly surprised by how many magicians have sent me a private note thanking me for brining my rules to their attention as they realized they had been guilty themselves of these rude actions and planned to change. Feel free to put these pledges on your wall at your club and I would even suggest that each new member get a copy and that each meeting one of these rules is discussed and personal incidents mentioned.

A.    A very basic simple rule for magic and life. Treat others as you would want to be treated.

B.  I can always tell when a magician is in my audience, they are the ones who are whispering or talking to each other during a show. It is very distracting to the performer as we do not know what they are saying.  They obviously are not talking about how great something is, but rather about the methodology behind a trick. This will lead us to C.

C. Usually when a magician is whispering in the audience it is him explaining how he thinks a tricks is working.  In reality he is showing what an idiot his is and how he can contribute to damaging our art.  A perfect example was when David Blaine came out and was all the rage after his first TV performance. I heard lay people ask many times how did David Blaine levitate and I was shocked by the fact these people who swore to keep out secrets at each club meeting began to explain the Balducci levitation.  Why, to show how smart they aren’t?  This is hypocrisy and idiocy all rolled into one.   By explaining the trick they were not showing what a simple bad magician David Blaine was (Exactly the words some of them used), but in reality they were relating magic to simple bad secrets.  When I was asked I simply said, “I have not idea, he is fantastic and that is his secret.”  They would then see my show and say, “Wow, you should have your own show.” What I did was build David Blaine up, not tear down magic that they thought was fantastic and not try to outshine David with his own effects.  To do so is lunacy and cheapens our art which cheapens you.

D.  This one should be easy to understand and if you do not then you are not a performer.  Think about it, would you really want someone to bother you right before a show.  Just because a performer is standing around does not mean that he is not doing something. He might be scouting people to use in his act, he may be going over some lines in his head.  He may be actually working and doing secret stuff. Move on, there is usually plenty of time to talk to the magician after the show, even if he is your friend and bothering does not just mean trying to strike up a conversation, it can mean watching what he is doing prior to a show.  There is nothing worse than trying to pre show or set an effect up and having a magician with his eyes on you from across the room the whole time. We are trained to keep things secret and if you are watching you are making his job more difficult especially if he does not know who you are.  I will be honest, magicians make my job much more difficult when in reality they should be making it easier and helping me by not disturbing me prior to a show or trying to figure out what it is I am or I am not doing.

E. This is very rude.  If you are writing an article, fine. Send a note back stage mentioning that you are doing so.  If is someone you know and you want to take some notes for them, tell them in advance.  To look out on the people in the theater and see someone taking notes is very, very distracting and more times than not it is a fellow magician stealing your lines.  I had a fellow performer working close up at the Magic Castle and a magician in the front row, less than two feet away was talking notes about his act without permission.  My friend simply said, let me show you something. Tore off the top page, tore it in half, in half again and kept doing it till there were little pieces left and then said, “Tada, confetti.” He should never had been reduced to having to react in that way. But he was.

F. I am amazed at how many magicians think it is okay to tape your act. And even worse, to put it up on YouTube. Really….?  Most professionals do not want their act taped by others because sure enough the one time they mess up, that is what ends up on YouTube. Often they are working on an unfinished piece. And usually once it is up online, others feel free to steal it.  By taping another magicians act without permission is akin to stealing. Putting a show online that the magician does not want online due to the fact it is not his perfect show is a way to hurt our art as a whole. We should want the best, most amazing, perfect performances for lay people to see so they are amazed by what we do. So they do not associate the word magic with the millions of bad performances they come across online. Promote our art with good magic and do not steal a performers right to control the flow of his work.  Again this all goes back to pledge A.

G. Often at magic clubs there is one person who has something to say about every performer and every effect that is shown. They always have a “Better way” to do it and often this “Better way” makes no sense. It is this person that we realize just simply criticizes to do so.  A magic club is a place for us to learn, to get real honest critiques without it being personal. And if you are going to be a club member, you need to take that criticism for what it is. People trying to help you.  However this is hard to do if that one person is always trying to change every little thing everyone does without even taking time to understand the skills or character of the person they are criticizing. Do not be that person.  The best way to give a person advice is to ask them if they want some honest advice. Then tell them that they can take it for what it is and you will not be offended if they do not like the advice or even use it, you are just trying to help and your way is not the only way.  This way, the advice is heartfelt and taken for what it is, not just someone saying something for the sake of trying to show how smart they are.

H. A performer has spent money to get where he is.  He is the star at any venue he is performing at.  You will never see a singer stand up at another performers show and start singing prior to the show starting, you will not see an actor act out a scene while sitting in the theater and waiting for the show to start, or a juggler juggling while waiting for the juggler to do his show.  Hypnotists do not hypnotize a person while waiting for a fellow performer to go on. It would be rude. So why do amateurs feel it fine to whip out a deck of cards and show people that are seated a few tricks while waiting for the magician to go on stage? What you should be doing is not trying to build yourself up but build up the performer who is about to go on, leave your sponge rabbits and cards in the car.  Promote him in his venue, he is the star, keep the focus on the performer you came to see… this moves us on to I…

I. Never, ever put another performer down no matter what you think of him or his act. If you do, you hurt our art for reasons mentioned earlier, but an even more valid point is even if he is bad, you hurt yourself by doing so.  Let say the magician is a 50 percent magician in technique, style and presentation and let us say you are a 80 percent magician.  That means you are 30 percent better, and for the sake of this argument, let us say you really are that much better.  If you knock him down say another 20 percent to a 30 percent, what have you done to yourself when they see you perform?  You are no longer that 80 percent, you have knocked the art of magic down 20 percent so you have also knocked yourself down, you are now a 60 percent magician in their eyes.  You have hurt magic and you have hurt yourself. Would it not be better to find at least one thing in that persons act that they did well and put the focus there so you have moved him up to a 70 percent magician so when they see you perform you are at 100 percent in their eyes.

J. When spectators ask you what you think of the person, turn the question back on them and with no negative tones in your voice you might be surprised that they thought the magician you saw as  a 50 percent magician is very highly rated in their eyes.  Why correct that. Stop seeing other performers as a magician, but see them through the eyes of someone who has no idea what proper technique is. And if they do not think that performer is that great, you might just change their mind if you bring attention to the positives the act they saw. You might be able to erase the memory of a bad performer but you will never do it by putting the other magician down.

K. I have seen magicians try to out do other performers. Sometimes this is the reason for the bad behavior prior to a show of performing at another performers venue. Sometimes it is a magician performing the same effect while working a venue with other performers. This is no way to treat your fellow brethren. What you should be doing is promoting each other in the name of magic. Build up your fellow magi and I can assure you they will do the same for you. We all start at different levels and we all progress at different speeds. Some day that person you are trying to out do may far surpass your skill and fame. And they may just remember how you treated them.  Years ago when I first moved to Houston I was looking for a job.  I had less than ten dollars in my pocket.  I went in for an interview at the number one club in Houston. I was hired as the Dynamics Manager.  To celebrate I went to the bar to have a beer.  After the beer I had three dollars and 75 cents.  Three I needed for the valet, the other 75cents I left as a tip.  The bar tender said rather sarcastically, “big tipper”. Now usually I did tip big, more than I was supposed to, but in this instance I was broke. That was the last of my money. What he did not know is that the next day I was his boss.  I have never forgot the humiliation I felt at that moment and used it in many training seminars as an example of how one should treat people. You never know a persons circumstances and you never know who will be your boss tomorrow. again, this goes back to A.

L. It amazes me how many people see a magician who lectures perform his stage/close-up/parlor show and assume that because the magician lectures it must be in his lecture notes and therefore it is okay to steal it.  First, if you have not bought the lecture notes or paid for the lecture where the item is, you do not have permission or the right to perform it anyway. But second, performers do not put all their ideas and creations in their lectures, quite often they keep things for their own shows.

M. I am stunned by the attitude of so many magicians, amateur and professional who think that just because they are a magician they have the right to any and all secrets. They sometimes ask for the secret because they do not know it and when the magician tells them that he would rather keep it to themselves, this person who asked for the knowledge that he has no right to but feels he has a right to, is offended.  Going as far as to call the magician who created his baby and wants to keep it close to his chest all sorts of names.

Rather than being offended you should have more respect for the person who can keep the foundations of our art, the secrets of our craft, so close to their heart.

I still find it very awkward to ask anyone for a secret that is theirs. It is against my nature. I figured if they wanted me to know, they would tell me. Yet I see others that ask anybody and everybody for the secret.  Just because  you are a magician does not mean you are entitled.  Create your own magic, get ripped off a few times and see how you then feel about the entitlement. It is not a pretty feeling and is a dark spot on our art.

N. This one is dumfounding to me. I have had magicians who come up to me prior to a show, then step on stage prior to a show, pick up my props and look at them. Forget that they are breaking a host of my other rules here and demonstrating bad magic etiquette, what are they thinking?

They are not, they are feeling entitled when they are not.  In this instance I will usually wait and then a minute or so after they have stopped fiddling with one of my props I act as if I noticed it has been moved and say something like, “Oh my God, you moved that didn’t you… Oh my God it took me 25 minutes to set that up.  I will not be able to do that part of the effect in my show now.” At that point they apologize and I state, “No problem, but you will not get to see that part of the act tonight, I just do not have enough time to reset it… never touch things on a magicians stage.. I hope you understand but I will have to ask you to step off the stage. Happy to talk to you after the show.” It really puts a light on them if other people are there at the time, a light they would rather not have shined upon them. After the show they always come up and ask me what they missed in the show. Not that they are so sorry they touched something and should have known better, but what they missed. It is about them, just as it was when they stepped on stage, when they had to introduce themselves, when they felt they had a right to touch my props.  I never tell them that there was nothing moved or hurt, just a lesson for them to learn.  Because that would defeat the lesson.

To sum it all up, magicians are the worse at destroying our art. They are the ones that cause more editing than would be needed for magic specials when they put x’s and checkmarks on video pointing out shadows and hidden people then putting it up online just to show how smart they really aren’t.   Make a pledge now to better our art and to better it in the eyes of laypeople. Build up the art of magic, do not contribute to the tearing of it down.  By adopting these pledges in to your magic clubs, by giving a penalty to those who break these rules we teach the new generations to take our business serious and we teach them something that has been lacking in our art for a long time, the understanding of what their actions do to hurt of help our art in the long run.

In thoughts and friendship


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