Here is an essay I wrote for my English class. It's a classification essay so I decided to write about the different types of magic. Please note that because I wrote this for a layman, I was generalized a lot and I don't necessarily agree with what was said. As for the examples, some are true and some aren't. Please don't be offended with what is said. I did it like this to spark interest, and I of course respect every type of magic and magician. I assume the street magic category will attract the most attention, but it is the section I agree with least. With that said, enjoy!
The Real Secrets of a Magician
by Jeff Prace
I’ve spent half of my life sitting in my room – door locked – playing with cardboard. I’ve been devoted to studying playing cards, practicing with playing cards, and creating and publishing new material with playing cards for the last eight years. 52 pieces of cardboard have become my ticket to travel around the country to teach and learn from other playing card lovers. These same pieces of cardboard have allowed me to appear in numerous magazines and DVDs. Being a magician has offered me a plethora of “once in a lifetime opportunities,” and I still laugh knowing that my success has come from something anyone can buy at a local Walgreens for 99-cents.
People are astonished when they learn magic can be more than a hobby – not just something a kid is learning from the magic set he bought at ToysЯUs. Still, people stereotype magicians as old men with top hats and canes; people who can provide nothing more than a few minutes of entertainment while they produce scarves and billiard balls from two seemingly empty hands. I’m thrilled to advise that over the past decade magic has taken some much needed evolutionary steps – steps that take the stage off of the raised platform and bring it elsewhere. This stage can be the streets, your living room, or anywhere you want it to be. Along with that, new breeds of magicians have developed that are trying to run away from the standard image. Sadly, a lot of them are only hurting the image more.
The people that definitely aren’t helping are the Standards, or the ones you think of when you hear the word ‘magician.’ They pose in black and white photographs with a deck of cards neatly spread in one hand, and a fan of coins shining in the other. They wear the classic black suit and top hat, and most likely bought their outfit from a reject costume-supply shop. If you search their person, I’m all but certain that you will find a rabbit or dove tucked away in a hidden pocket and a very colorful, rainbow silk streamer coiled up in their sleeve. The magic they perform are classics, and you’ll encounter many magicians doing the exact some tricks, in the exact same way, with the exact same music, and at the exact same point in their show. People see this image so many times that eventually it becomes branded in that person’s mind.
I’ve attended a myriad of magic conventions over the past few years. Magic conventions are unheard of in the muggle world – a gathering of magicians seems very peculiar. But they happen; trust me on that. There is one instance I clearly remember of a Standard on the esteemed Saturday night show. He was the president of a major magical organization, a fact that I found out after he performed. It came much to my surprise, and I still have trouble believing it. He was a Standard to the worst degree, and I nearly fell asleep after watching twenty minutes of him producing a bird, and then another bird, and then another bird. And then, you guessed it, another bird. His act was only entertaining because it was extremely funny, albeit irritating, and I got a good laugh with my buddies afterwards. But as I look back, he might have actually taught me a few things – a few things that I should avoid at all costs.
Exact opposite to the Standards are the Street Magicians. They’re a new breed of teenagers who were inspired by the ground breaking magic David Blaine performed on his first television special. They attempted to become his clone, but much to their dismay, they are clones concocted by a god-awful scientist. Out of the blue, they got the impression that magic was somehow cool, and they tried to carry that image to everything from their personality to their clothes, as they run to the closest Urban Outfitters to select the newest jacket and jeans. The street is their stage, and they rarely use it correctly. They prey on innocent bystanders who are just out to have a good night, and intrude on their territory as they ask the almost predator-like question, “Wanna see a card trick?” If a kind gentleman feels pity for the young teenager, he might just waste his time watching a card trick that they just learned out of a book aimed at five-year-olds.
A lot of my close friends are Street Magicians, and I’ve even fallen into its trap a few times myself. I traveled to New York in the summer of 2009, and performed street magic near Cornell University and a local fair that happened to be going on. My friends and I stopped random onlookers as they walked near our path, and no doubt, we scared them as we asked a question that nobody has probably ever been asked. As I remember the experience, I slap myself across the face knowing that I was the exact magician I was trying so hard not to be.
When you take a Street Magician, and you add 40 or more years, you get something worse. Like a lot of Street Magicians, they’re not all that knowledgeable, but their age acts as a second disadvantage. These Oldies only know one or two tricks, but any chance they get, they proudly display their so-called talent. Their sleight of hand is shaky at best, and their presentational skills are even shoddier. However, I cut them some slack, as I know they’re not overly dedicated to the art, and they’re learning it to entertain others – a reason that nobody can attack. They might just be learning it to show their friends, children, or grandchildren, and assuredly, those people appreciate the effort.
My uncle is an Oldie, and every time we meet at family barbecue, I look forward to watching the same trick I saw a few months earlier. My cousins and other relatives, as well, look forward to the amusement as their uncle performs something that only Harry Potter can do. We’re always sure to thank him after his feat of prestidigitation, and we smile as he walks away with a bigger one.
The Professional is what I aim to be. A Professional is experienced in every way possible, and their magic is smoothed out to perfection. They can flawlessly perform any feat, and it appears as if the magic is happening to them, as well. Their skill is unparalleled, both in technical and presentational terms. They book a ‘gig’ every weekend and have more fun every time they walk up onto the stage to have countless spectators stare. They eat, drink, and sleep magic, and still, they want more. They bring a new light to the old black and white photo people are so used to seeing.
Ever since I walked into my first magic store, I’ve had a mentor guide me. He’s a Professional to the highest possible degree, and when I get the great opportunity of travelling with him to his next show, I watch in amazement as he owns the stage and crowd. He’s performed in every possible venue, and he knows what works and what doesn’t. I feel honored to have him at my side – to teach me what decades of experience taught him. He’s not only a fantastic entertainer, but he’s become a role model in my life.
I want to note that these classifications come from the strict of eye of another magician, and that a mere layman will not have the same distastes and criticisms. I am also not trying to be arrogant and obtain an ego boost with these, as I myself have at one point fallen victim to each of the categories. (Excluding Oldies, but that will come with time.) Plus, another magician will have different classifications. In the end, no matter what type of magician you meet, whether it be a Standard, Street Magician, Oldie, or Professional, I highly recommend you give them a fair chance. I elaborated on the bad, but I infrequently discussed that walking among the bad ones are undiscovered great ones. You can’t pick them out, but spending a few moments of your time to watch them might become the highlight of your day.