So, I’m probably like most of you in that, I’m addicted to buying magic. Fewww! Saying that out loud felt good! But it also means, now I can take steps to move forward and get over this habit once and for all… Truth be told, I realised this about myself around 5 or so years ago and decided that enough was enough. I wanted to really work out why I was so addicted to buying magic that I knew I probably didn’t need or was going to use.
It took a lot of self reflection and trying to understand myself better. I realised, I was buying magic for one of 3 reasons:
1) The pursuit of method
2) Being ‘in’ with the ‘crowd’ / being relevant
3) Admiration for the effect
No doubt, you may fall into one or all of these categories too and maybe, my self reflection will help you understand things about your habits and also, maybe it’ll help you become more self aware.
To briefly break these down, I realised most of the time, I just wanted to learn the method and then I’d put it into a drawer and forget about it. This does have some merit however. I think that as magicians and performers, the most important part of our job is collating knowledge. The more methods we know, the more we can work with. I forgive myself for that part because, even though I didn’t use the props, I DID have the method safely stored in my mind. The bad side is, it was costing me a lot of money and was really a waste.
The remedy for this was to find a way to spend less or the same amount but learn more. So, in 2019, I really began collecting more books. I already had a small library but I’ve always found the consumption of magic from books quite boring and laborious. It would take me months to read a book and two tricks in, I’d start nodding off. But, I knew I could spend that same £35 that I would have spent on 1 method but get many more. I realised quickly that reading magic books takes practice. The more you do it, the easier and more enjoyable it becomes. As a result, I buy very little magic tricks now and focus more on collecting magic books. My collection has expanded ten-fold and now I have a collection of thousands of methods and presentations that I can reference back to at any time. It’s more cost effective, more economical with the time spent on my magical education and it makes me look smarter when people come to the house!
I purchased my MD Mini from Promystic about 5 year ago and use it at every table at every gig. But I wanted to find a way to use it in a show. This is a clip taken from The Magic Circle and you'll see, by adding an auditory reveal by using a Spirit Bell, it means even though the audience can't see the cube, they can still take part in the magic. The reactions speaks for itself!
To my second point, magic is very much a ‘trend’. Certainly, magic collecting is a trend. The shelf life of a magic trick is typically a few weeks now because of the sheer number of tricks that come out. Then, we buy it, learn it and by the time we’ve performed it the first few times, something shiny and new comes onto the market that we must buy. What I don’t think magic dealers have realised they have done is, they have created the same ‘MUST HAVE’ mentality that the likes of Apple manage to whip up with fancy advertising, but magic companies have managed to do it at a much faster rate and without the clever advertising. By pumping out so much magic, we know that to be ‘in on the trend’ we have to buy it NOW or we will not be ‘in the moment’. So we jump on it and now I’m guessing, you, me and the next person to read this blog will have lots of tricks they rarely if ever use. The funny thing is, we um and ahh over whether we could buy a £1000 phone that we will use everyday for enjoyment, work and communication but we don’t give buying a £50 magic trick a second thought. Seriously, add up every trick you buy in a year, you’ll surprise yourself! But unlike the phone, you might use it once a year. Only buy magic as an investment and only if it is going to give you a return on your money.
My solution with this is, I now only purchase an effect if it fits my persona and if I can get duel use out of it. For example, there are many tricks that come out that I LOVE the looks of. But I know, based on the magic I currently perform and what my audience expect of me, the transition into one of these shiny new tricks wouldn’t work in the real world. It would be like listening to a rock album whilst having quaint afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace. It would be far to juxtaposed and therefore would ‘jar’ with the audience. So only effects that fit my persona. Also, effects that I know I could use close up and on stage or parlour. This just means, I’m getting my monies worth from the routine but it also helps when I need to write a bespoke show for an event or client, I know I can just scale up what I have close up and it’ll work in an entirely new environment.
To my last point, admiration of an effect is possibly the hardest one to tackle for me. Amongst all of the drive that comes onto the magic market everyday, there are some absolute GEMS! But, not all of them are suitable for me, pertaining to the points above. My character might not fit the effect and it might not realistically achieve what I need it to achieve for me and my show or act. I guess it’s much like how when we start out, we tend to copy someone we idolise. The admiration for that person takes a hold of us because we want what they have. We want to be who they are. But, whilst I use comedy in my acts to help relieve tension and make myself more approachable, I’m no Mac King. The magic he does just wouldn’t suit me and I know I would never be able to do it justice. Sometimes the realisation that whilst you might LOVE the trick, you might not give it the justice it deserves, is a really evolved way of thinking. Hard, but considered.
All of these points will make you a better performer but will also help you save lots of money needly spent on things you wont use. Being more self aware about why we do things will ultimately help us evolve as performers and create stronger more meaningful experience for our audience.
JAMIE’S CHECK LIST TO NOT BEING A MAGIC ADDICT
Books are more economical with time and money but will require practice to read.
Make sure the trick fits your persona.
Make sure you can get duel use out of the effect.
Become more self aware for your reasons for buying the trick.