david blaine
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millerdog

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Anyone else freaked out by this dude?
I first saw him years ago on Conan. Recently I taped his special on TLC I think, and just saw him on network tv.
This is the guy who was buried alive, chilled in a block of ice and stood on a pole for a couple of days.
I know a little about magic, but this dude freaks me out!
There's only so much you can do with slight of hand.
The segment where the dude on the street bought the lottery ticket was unreal. Blaine also levitates!
Anyone with magic expirience help me out! This dude is freaky!
md
 
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jpelg

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I am more moved/freaked out by his one-on-one, street-style slight of hand stuff than his gradiose displays that have had TV play lately.
 
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flashbak

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I've seen some of his performances on TV (street style about 1 year ago) and have to agree the guy is amazing. Definitely not your run of the mill illusionist!
 
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neil

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Yeah, he's a freaky cat. Jude recorded him on high-speed VHS a couple years ago, and we went frame-by-frame to see some of his slight of hand, and we caught one of his tricks, but generally -- can't explain the rest of them. I love the levitation ones where he floats -- in the middle of some street, not on a stage.
 
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KR...

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The reason why he doesn't do the Street Magic anymore is becuase he and other have already told how it was done, so it's not as cool as it once was, but at least some people are still freaked by it
 
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Russ Arcuri

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David Blaine has a mixed reputation amongst magicians. (Yes, I am a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. No, I don't do it for a living. And no, I won't be giving away any secrets here.
)

Many magicians have a negative opinion of Blaine. This is due in part to the fact that we know exactly how he does the vast majority of his effects, and we are simply not impressed. ANYONE could do most of his tricks if they spent $20 on a book or $15 on a 'packet' trick from a magic shop. I can do several of the tricks he does not because I've been practicing and working my fingers to the bone for years but because they're EASY tricks to do and you (as a layperson) would be very disappointed if you knew how they worked.

However, I do not have a negative opinion of him. I'm pretty much neutral. The reason why is because I recognize that there's a difference between simply doing a trick and doing it well. And there's a big difference between presenting a trick, no matter how skillfully, and SELLING the trick. Blaine is a master of selling the trick. He did a trick on the Tonight Show a couple years ago that anybody with $15 in their pocket and a magic shop in their town could do. You buy the trick, you learn the 'secret,' and you practice for less than an hour. The difference is that most people who have learned this trick have a hard time selling it -- they know the secret is disappointingly simple, and whether consciously or subconsciously, they don't present it well. This effect, for someone who DOESN'T know the secret, is one of the most jaw-droppingly amazing feats in a magician's repertoire. Blaine presented it the way it should be presented: as an amazing feat, not as a $15 magic shop trick.

So, audience members drop their jaws and proclaim him to be one of the most amazing magicians they've ever seen, and magicians think, "Holy cow, I can't believe he's actually getting kudos for THAT trick, which I learned and mastered the first week I ever began practicing magic."

The majority of the "street magic" effects Blaine does could be performed by any magician with a couple years' experience and enough motivation to actually practice them rather than just learn how they work. Even the levitation, though that one would require more practice than most.

The physical tests are another story. Most magicians couldn't survive being chilled in a block of ice for anywhere near as long as Blaine was, for example. But that one's not really a 'trick' or 'illusion,' per se.

Blaine has achieved a great deal of success doing what thousands of others could do but simply don't sell as well as he does.

BTW, if you want to see some of those effects in person, just find a magician in your home town who specializes in "close up" magic. Close up magic is not really appropriate for a stage show (which is why you don't see it on TV specials much), but can be quite amazing nonetheless. Any small city is bound to have dozens of magicians who could do the same effects you've seen Blaine do on TV and a lot more, and would appreciate the work. Larger cities would have hundreds of magicians looking for work.
 
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royboy2k

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Anyone see that recent South Park episode? They TOTALLY ripped on David Blaine, it was hilarious.
 
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millerdog

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Thanks Russ,
Your opinions on Blaine are taken.
I am impressed by him. Is there anything he does that impresses you and other magicians?
Don't ge me wrong. I am looking for an objective analysis of his performance.
Does he just sell? or is he a good magician? I got a feeling you are about to burst my bubble when it comes to David Blaine!
The other question is:
if his magic is "dime store," then why don't others exploit what Blaine has done?
The card that appears on the inside of the window? The steak knife trick? The card that is in the childs pocket? The ring in the empty 1 oz bottle of scotch?
My favorite: the lottery ticket.
You can't prove your point without giving something away.....
so I guess we'll just speculate...
md
 
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Russ Arcuri

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Quote:

Originally posted by millerdog
I am impressed by him. Is there anything he does that impresses you and other magicians?


Don't misunderstand me. I'm not saying he doesn't do some impressive things. It's just that a lot of the stuff that most impresses people is actually not all that amazing once you know the secret. Most magicians know most, if not all, of the secrets to the illusions he does. Note, however, that I am incredibly impressed with some of the 'stunt' work he's done, such as the block of ice thing. Quote:

Does he just sell? or is he a good magician?


There's no doubt that he's a good magician. There are magicians who can do more difficult effects than Blaine, but don't sell them as well. Even the easy "magic shop" effects he does are done better by him than by most. It probably has to do with the fact that magicians who know the secret are no longer entranced or impressed with the effect. It's like the end of The Wizard of Oz; Dorothy and her friends are absolutely amazed and awed by the great head of Oz. Then Toto pulls back the curtain, and the secret is revealed. Dorothy and her friends are no longer awed or amazed. But the man behind the curtain understood that the effect would be amazing and sold it well, until Toto ruined it all. Quote:

The other question is: if his magic is "dime store," then why don't others exploit what Blaine has done?


Not "dime store;" you can buy cheap magic tricks intended for kids to perform in a dime store. I'm referring to "magic shop" tricks; intended for magicians, but open to anyone with enough interest to actually spend money on a book or effect. Anyhow, back to your question: You have to understand a little bit about the psychology and ego of a typical magician. There are magicians who simply want to entertain and amaze the audience. To them, it makes no difference how easy or difficult the trick is to do; they know and understand how it looks to a spectator, and they do the trick. Even if it's a $10 magic shop trick. However, there is a large percentage of magicians who won't do a magic shop trick because they aren't impressed by them, and other magicians wouldn't be impressed. They're forgetting who their audience is. Or they're letting their egos get in the way; if they can't impress other magicians with a trick, they feel like the trick isn't worth doing. Blaine knows he can't impress another magician with most of his effects, and doesn't really care. Other magicians aren't his audience. Quote:

You can't prove your point without giving something away...


Not over the internet, I can't. But you can prove it to yourself by contacting a magic club in your hometown and finding out when and where its members will be performing in the near future. Look for an IBM (International Brotherhood of Magicians) ring. Many of the participants can do some pretty amazing effects -- even more amazing, in some ways, than the effects you've seen Blaine do on TV -- primarily because they'll be doing them right in front of you. Any lingering doubt you may hold about "camera tricks" in TV specials will be erased if you're seeing an effect live.

Blaine is a very successful performer who understands the audience well. He does his effects with great skill, and sells them well, no matter how easy or difficult they are to do. He doesn't get anywhere near the kind of respect from other magicians that someone like Lance Burton or David Copperfield gets,* primarily because even other magicians are amazed by some of the stuff Burton and Copperfield do. There are two reasons why we're amazed by their stuff. 1. We know how they do a given effect, and we realize how incredibly hard it is to do, and how much time they must have spent practicing to perfect it.** 2. We can't figure out how they do a given effect -- putting us in the same position as most people -- amazed audience.

* I don't mean to leave out other "magicians' magicians;" there are literally dozens I can think of off the top of my head that get more respect within the community than Blaine does. But Copperfield and Burton are well-known enough that most laypeople have heard of them, and that's why I used them in this example.

** Ironically, it's some of these kinds of effects that backfire on magicians most often. Sometimes they're incredibly difficult do actually do, but the effect (to an audience that doesn't know the secret) is no more impressive than another effect that's really easy to do. They impress other magicians but a typical audience doesn't appreciate the effect any more than they do a magic-shop packet trick.
 
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squirt

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i know an "amateur magician and had a chance to ask him about David's tricks. he stated pretty much the same thing as Russ...i asked him in particular about the levitation David does and he both told me and showed me exactly how its done but he added that the levitation illusion your seeing on TV has been "enhanced" in post production to show him rise higher than he actually does...i won't say how the levitaion is done other than to say anyone could do it well with practice like his other tricks...theres a reason he needs to keep his back to the viewer when "levitating"...
 
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KR...

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His tricks are easy to do, but his performance is second to none.

Fox had one of those magic tricks releaved shows that delt with street magic and they told how all the trick were done, including the Ice one.
 
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millerdog

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thanks Russ and all...
I guess Blaine is a "performer"
As an observer, I guess I feel a bit let down.....
But hey, it's magic, right?
md
 
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