I hope some of you have been keeping up with the 100 articles in 10 days event. I had fun doing it and there was good info on there other than my mindless drivel.
So apparently my guest week has seeped over into guest month. Some people just have shit to do. Luckily, they can find some free time to interject their thoughts into our lives. So grab some popcorn cuz' this one's long (that's what she said). Oh, if yer offended by naughty words.... what the hell are you doing reading this in the first place? I give to you the Pitbull of Magic - Christopher Lyle.
A Double Standard
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm quite vocal about anything and everything on many of the magic forums...particularly the green monster. From time to time a discussion pops up concerning the appropriateness of certain effects in the realm of Children's Entertainment.
Now granted...I do not consider myself a "Kid Show Magician," but I can certainly perform for younglings. I love children. Not like your creepy Uncle who use to buy you lunch and then follow you into the men's room, but I think you know where I'm coming from.
I do not spend my advertising dollars on the kid show market. I have purposely priced myself out of that market because performing for children is not my target demographic. I'm not saying it's beneath me... it's just that in my life I have performed over 5000 kid shows (approximately give or take a few) and I'm done! Onto bigger and better things. New challenges. However... if a client calls me up and is willing to pay my fee for Little Johnny's 7th Birthday, then I'm there!
But back on point.
Why is that Magicians tend to invent problems that shouldn't even exist. As I said above, from time to time, the Kid Show Magicians will ask for advice on using certain props/routines in their shows. An example of this would be:
Does anyone use a head chopper in a school show. I have a nice one but I feel unsure about putting into my show if there are children present. I wouldn't want for anyone to become offended or for a child to try and imitate what I do in my show and become injured... blah blah, blah.
This post will then spawn 10 pages of complete bullshit from a bunch of fucktards who never actually perform for anyone but the man in the mirror and couldn't entertain a person high on nitrous oxide all saying that you should never perform something dangerous in front of children because what if after your show, they go home and blow their fucking brains out with a shotgun because they saw you do it during your show. (Wow...was that one sentence?)
Just recently over at the green monster, one of these fucktards brought up the fact that he has even stopped using eggs in his show out of fear that a broken egg on the floor may cause a hazard and a child could injure themselves.
Has our society really gone so down hill, that we need to be concerned about performing with an egg out of fear that it could injure someone? That has to be the most ridiculous thing that I have ever heard in my entire life! The same could be said about Silks as well. Hell...why even do a show? You could invite someone on stage, they could trip on the staircase leading up to the stage, splitting their skull open and spilling their brains out onto the floor putting them into a coma. Jesus Christ!
Here's my take...
As long as you provide FULL DISCLOSURE to the client during the booking process as far as what your show is all about, then your off the hook! If someone get's hacked off over the material in your show, then you can direct them to the person who booked you.
To site the above example... you tell your potential client that your show has a Head Chopper in it. The caller thinks it's cool and decides to book you. You go out and perform your act. After your show, some uptight square (usually a women) comes to you yelling and screaming b/c you did a head chopper in front of children.
Your response can now be "I told Mr. or Mrs. So-and-So at the time of booking that I do a Head Chopper in my act and they gave me the green light. Go tell your story walking bitch...if you don't like it, then go yell at them!"
It's ALL about entertainment people. My Stand Up Cabaret Show is called Concentrated Insanity (a name that was provided to me by Bizzaro after he watched my act). I consider my show to be family friendly as I do not use any vulgarity nor any blue humor (at least not for a family audience).
However, the actual magic performed in my act would be exactly the same if I were performing for a child's birthday party, a corporate event, or a nightclub. The only thing that would be altered would be some of the humor used.
Concentrated Insanity has something for everyone. It has classical magic with a modern day spin along with elements of danger with a magical twist. I do not do a head chopper b/c they always scream "prop" to me and have never looked very menacing...which is the only way that I'd ever use one if my show.
But my act does involve Fire Eating/Manipulation, Tetanus (Randi Rain's Spike Roulette), Razor Blades, Knife thru Arm, the Balloon Swallow, a Straight Jacket Escape, etc. just to name a few.
I have performed all of those routines in schools before 100s of kids ranging in age from 6 to 12+ to great applause and I DO get called back to perform at those schools over and over again. Why? Because my show is DIFFERENT! It's not the same old Change Bags and Stratosphere bullshit that has been hacked over now for 100s of years.
Now don't get me wrong...my show is NOT danger after danger after danger. I do strike a balance. For me, a full hour show (depending on my mood) may consist of:
Coke Bottle Vanish
Needle Thru Balloon
There is something in that show for EVERYONE! Mystery, Magic, and Mayhem. It's all about ENTERTAINMENT!
The natural argument usually goes something like this:
Fucktard: Children will try to duplicate what they see a magician do on stage. It's irresponsible to perform anything dangerous or even something that gives the illusion of danger in front of children.
I don't care how often you say "Don't try this at home", they will try it at home. I hope you never have to live with the knowledge that something you did caused a child harm when they tried it themselves.
I've been listening to that same tired argument for years now from other Magicians. I dismiss it and I'll tell you why.
First of all, I have found that no matter what you do, you will never be able to please 100% of your audience 100% of the time. It's just not going to happen! I would estimate that out of 100 shows, I may get one person (again...usually a women) that will come up to me complaining about some of my selections in the show. It's so very rare, but it does happen from time to time.
Truthfully, it seems to me that the majority of folks who take issue with this are overly sensitive magicians who are so concerned with being Politically Correct that they condemn themselves to Change Bags and Run Rabbit Run.
My answer to the above argument is quite simple. How can a child duplicate what they see me do during my show?
Let's chat first about RAZORS. Truth be told, double edged Razor Blades are not even that relevant anymore. Much like wearing a monocle in ones eye would seem out of place, so are double edged razors. But people can still identify with them as something sharp and potentially life threatening, especially when placed in ones cake hole! But that's another story for another time...
Back on topic. Where is a child going to get a double edged razor blade? That's not usually something that is kept in the home. A child would need to go out and buy them. What idiot would sell a child a packet of razor blades???
Also, (since I brought up how this item isn't very current in today's society) it's becoming harder and harder to find Double Edged Razor Blades in stores. The Wal-Mart out by me no longer sells them. The last time I was there, I was talking to the stock person who told me they no longer sell them, but he had about 4 packages in the back (which I bought up). Walgreens no longer sells them either (at least in my neck of the woods).
So these aren't' even easily obtainable by an adult let alone a child. So how would a child emulate me performing my razor blade routine? Hmmm...I think not!
Now let's chat about FIRE! Where is a child going to get the material to perform fire eating/manipulation? To do a basic fire eating act you need the following:
- A Lighter
- A Container to Hold the Fuel
- A Torch or Torches
- A Fire Extinguisher
Where is a child going to get all of this from? They would have to go out and buy it. Again...what idiot in their right mind would SELL THIS STUFF to a minor? Let's just say for the sake of saying it, that some idiot did sell a torch, lighter, and fuel to a child (which would NEVER happen). So now little Johnny is out in the back yard and he lights up a torch. Little Johnny assumes the fire eating stance and starts to bring the torch close to their face. They feel the heat and how hot it is...so they pull back!
NO KID IS EVER GOING TO PUT FIRE IN THEIR MOUTH!
Now let's talk about the BALLOON SWALLOW. Where is a child going to get a 260 balloon to swallow? Hmmmm... True... they could go to a store and buy 260s if they know what to look for. However, a 260 fully inflated is too wide to fit into a child's mouth. It won't fit! It's a physical impossibility. IT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN!
To use my previous example, the same could be said of a HEAD CHOPPER. Just insert HEAD CHOPPER above where I have said RAZOR BLADES or FIRE or BALLOONS.
The whole point of all this is If a child is able to gain access to any of the stuff I have mentioned above then seeing my show is the LEAST of their problems!
WHERE ARE THEIR PARENTS???? It's up to the parents to teach their children that they are not to do what they see the Magician do. If a child sees me or anyone performing something dangerous and doesn't have the common sense to talk to their child and exhibit a little bit of parenting, then if their child injures themselves while playing the Angry Magician game, as unfortunate as that would be, it's the parents fault, not mine!
There is MUCH MORE DANGER represented on your local news, on TV Shows, in the Movies, etc. Hell...you can go to YouTube and watch people setting themselves on fire and swallowing a sword and then shitting into a cup. It's crazy!
People should give the kids of today a tad more credit then they do. Kids are smart (far smarter than most adults I find). Most kids wouldn't be dumb enough to try this stuff. If they are that stupid, then their parents are to blame for not doing their job as parents.
Let me throw a different slant on this for a minute. I have been to Ringling Brothers Circus every year for the last 10 years. The circus (geared towards families and children) is LOADED WITH DANGEROUS STUFF. I have seen people juggle fire while on a 10 foot unicycle, perform fire eating and blowing, putting their heads in the mouths of lions and tigers, swinging from a trapeze, being shot a 1/2 mile out of a cannon, etc.
After the circus, if a child were to go home and try and stick his head in the family dogs mouth and gets injured or ties a rope between to houses and falls while attempting a High Wire Act, who should be held responsible? The circus? FUCK NO! The parents would be held responsible!
There seems to be a double standard. Why is ok for kids to watch danger in a Circus or on TV or on YouTube or in the Movies, but it's taboo outside of those arenas? It's pure rubbish!
It's this kind of mindless nonsense that gives magic such a bad rap. People don't really know how good magic can be. Why? Because their only experience with Magic is some guy doing 20th Century Silks at a Birthday Party and pulling a rabbit out of a hat. As a community of Magicians, I fear that many of us do more harm than good. We have gotten so PC when it comes to performing for kids that many of the shows lack ANY ENTERTAINMENT VALUE WHATSOEVER!
As of late, I have been doing quite a bit of soul searching about my magic and what it means to me. Tho' my show is riddled with humor, insanity, and zanyness, I do consider myself a serious performance artist. I enjoy performing for people who enjoy magic...however, it seems to me as the years go on, that finding "adults" who enjoy watching the fine art of magic are becoming fewer and fewer.
Why is this?
I believe that there is a negative perception that has been around for 1000s of years that magic is nothing more than entertainment for children. I think that most people, when they think of what magic is, will always remember a time when they attended a birthday party (either as a child or an adult) where they saw Grandpa Earl dressed up in his Lodge Jacket wearing his Benevolent Order of Antelope Fez hacking thru his exciting rendition of Hippy Hop Rabbits and Stratosphere with 50 yards of multicolored silks tied together coming out of his sleeve.
Sadly, there are MANY ACTS out there in the trenches today that are EXACTLY as I described above. So long as Magicians continue to perform this lame ass crap with stock presentations, the perception will never go away.
It's that reason that I feel I need my show to be different from the normal "kids show" that people are accustomed to watching. It's my hope that YOU feel the same way about YOUR SHOW!
The society that we live in today is far different from that of say 20+ years ago. The world is changing and if we as entertainers do not change with it, then I fear Magicians will become nothing more than a bad punch line... which technically, we already are.
To close, I will leave you with this final thought. Follow these three rules:
1. Do your act
2. Do it well
3. Be entertaining
If you follow those 3 simple steps, then your well on your way to success. Now go out there an ma-jish!
I'll be watching!
Christopher Lyle is one of hardest working table hoppers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Area. We think he's had all of his shots. Want to praise or bitch? Go to his website and email him. www.lylemagic.com
Don't say I didn't warn you...