Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Suzanne On Magic Clubs

Over a year ago I told my friend Suzanne I was interested in doing a blog and asked if she’d be willing to contribute. She immediately sent me a couple of things she’d written because that’s the kind of person she is. I ended up having some health issues which effectively kept me off the Internet lo these many months. Once those issues were resolved and I finally got this long envisioned project up and running, the first thing I did was ask Suzanne if I could still use the pieces she’d sent.

At which point she told me to go to hell.

I’m just kidding. Actually she said go ahead, so here’s the first thing she sent me way back when, a brief observational piece on the magic club scene.

Before we get to that, let me tell you that Suzanne is a magician well worth listening to. Mentored by Al Schneider, he of Matrix fame, she’s been working as a professional magician almost from the time she first became interested in magic, and appears regularly at the Magic Castle.

And yet…

And yet you hear very little about her. There was a piece about her in Genii a few years ago, but the amount of notice she garners doesn’t seem to match the caliber of talent she possesses. Why? Could it be because she’s a female magician? Could it be that in many regards magic is still rooted firmly in the nineteenth century?

I don’t wish to detract from what she has to say, however, so for now I’ll limit myself to telling you she’s someone I listen to unhesitatingly and so should you. Here’s Suzanne on magic clubs. Enjoy.

Take a look at this scenario. I wonder if you see anything wrong?

A young woman is interested in magic and doesn’t have much experience so she joins a magic club. Oh, is she ever welcomed in. A girl, who does magic, isn’t she cute. The guys are so nice and they want to help her so much. They all want to give her advice and sit next to her at the meetings. She learns, she practices; she’s actually pretty good.

She thinks, why do magic if you’re not out there doing if for regular people? That’s what the guys in the club are always talking about all the time anyway. She starts calling around and gets a couple gigs at family restaurants doing table magic on the weekends! Wow!! It’s a dream come true. But wait… the guys… they aren’t as chummy anymore. Weren’t they happy for her? Wasn’t she’s out there doing what they said they wanted to do? Oh well… It’s probably her imagination.

She works at the family restaurants and really learns her stuff. She finally gets a job at another restaurant, a really good one this time. Not just a family place where you’re working with mostly kids. This place is where people go on dates, where businessmen take their clients from out of town, where all the beautiful people in the town go for dinner. Wow… this is the big time of restaurant magic!! This is cool! The guys at the club are going to be so happy for her!

Well, they don’t seem that happy… in fact… hey some of them seem sort of jealous. Wait a sec… why didn’t she see this before? They support the other guys when they get gigs, they go see the other guys when they’re working at a restaurant… but come to think of it they never once came to see her! Hmmm how could she have missed it? Maybe she was so excited that she was doing what they said we as magicians were supposed to do, which is performing magic for the public, that she didn’t even notice that they weren’t rallying behind her saying go-go-go. Some were encouraging, she has to not forget them… but for the most part the club itself wasn’t behind her, or at least they didn’t show it.

They would act funny when she came to the meetings; they wouldn’t talk with her like they did before. They treated her differently somehow. Then she remembered how they talked about one of the magic masters who happened to live in her area.

He didn’t always come to the meetings, only once a great while. When she was first going to the meetings, before she started working she would hear them say, “Oh the king himself may grace us with his presence tonight.” She thought they were just joking around.When the master got there they were nice to him… but there was sort of this weirdness in the air. She didn’t know what it was until they started treating her in a similar way. It didn’t feel good to her. She figured out it was envy. Oh, they didn’t think she was a master, far from it, that’s not what I’m saying. But they did envy her and that came through loud and clear.

Later she heard through the grapevine that some of the guys were saying things about her. Like she didn’t deserve to have the gigs she had, that she didn’t know how to do moves, she didn’t even know that many tricks. Then she heard the one thing that hurt more than anything else. She heard they were saying she slept with the management to get the gig at the really nice restaurant. That hurt her to her core. Why would she go to club meetings and hang out with people who would say things like that. Not everyone said it; in fact only a few did. But did the other guys come to her defense? Not that she could see. Did she feel supported? No. So the club lost her. She still did fine without them, and they did fine without her. But what they, she and the club, could have learned if she had not left? We’ll never know will we?

This is just one scenario of the magic club culture. There are so many more. I’ve heard many stories of young magicians not feeling welcome for whatever reason, or they are abused in one way or another. Don’t even get me started on some of the stuff that goes on in SYM because I’m a mom and that shit ain’t right! For some reason, outsiders and the young are prey in the magic community.

Is that how we want our magic clubs to work? Is this type of behavior good for magic? I know some of you will say, “Well that’s life. There are jerks everywhere and you need to have a tough skin.” I hear that too often! “Boys will be boys so let them beat each other up on the playground. Jerks will be jerks; you just have to not let it bother you.”

I don’t know, a magic club doesn’t seem like an environment where you would want to let playground rules rule the playground. This is supposed to be a safe place to work on a common interest. This is where we’re supposed to support each other and all move toward a common goal.

The advancement of the great art of magic, isn’t that what we hear? But what is it a lot of times? I’ve seen it be a dick waving ego fest! You walk in and everyone is showing everyone else how good they are. No one is watching anyone else, they are waiting as patiently as they can (which in most cases isn’t very) for you to finish your stupid little trick so they can show you their great move they just perfected.

You know the guy! You’ve seen him! The guy who will show all the other guys the “great moves he perfected” and not one guy will tell the Movemaster that he’s flashing up a storm. Not one! So Movemaster shows me his great move and I tell him he’s flashing (cuz I don’t play that “oh you’re so clever to come up with that move” game. If you flashed I’m gonna tell ya and if I flash PLEASE tell me cuz that’s the only way I’m gonna know!) and he walks away like I’m some evil person who just killed his puppy. Don’t these guys know what we get together for? Do they just want strokes and for people to ooh and aah over them?

Why are we not honest with each other? Why do we let other magicians beat up on young members? Why don’t we treat each other with respect? Why do we take it personally when someone tells us we flashed? I don’t get the magic community. How are we supposed to be able to entertain and be in front of other people and help them have fun when we can’t even treat our own kind with respect?

I’m so upset now I think I’ll go sit in a dark room and practice my pass. Oh hey did I show you my pass? It’s this new one that’s really invisible and I just perfected it!! You can’t see me do it even if you know when I’m doing it. Don’t look away or you’ll miss it. The lay audience misses it every time. If they only knew how great I am.

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