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Posted on September 20, 2017 by
When the team at Vanish, photographer Amber Lynn Walker and I decided to take the leap on last month’s controversial cover photo, we knew it might ruffle some feathers. But nothing could have prepared me for what actually happened.
I was sitting in magic central at the Melbourne Magic Festival between shows when it all began. The issue of Vanish had been out a few days already without much fuss and I had begun to let my guard down and really focused on my performances. My phone was sitting quietly on the table minding its own business when I heard that familiar buzz. I ignored it to concentrate on reviewing my script. But shortly after there was another buzz and another and another – twenty more in quick succession until I was afraid to look. I expected the worst, a relative must have died, my house was on fire, there was no more good scotch to be had in all the world. You know, something truly horrible.
When I finally picked up the phone to check, I saw a wall of messages, most containing screen-captured images of comments from magicians all over Facebook.
I was floored. An industry like magic is no stranger to topless dancers, topless Criss Angels and everything-less magicians (by which I mean the Naked Magicians from Australia), so it was shocking to see people so offended by the image. Even Houdini posed provocatively in his underpants for one of his most iconic images in 1903, over a hundred years ago.
Amber Lynn Walker, Anastasia Synn and so many other amazing people had already jumped into the conversation to defend the cover before I even noticed there was a conversation to be had. The support was as overwhelming as the drama so I stayed mostly out of the Facebook discussions. I did get a chance to share my side of the story on Nicholas J. Johnson’s amazing podcast Scamapalooza but I think it’s essential for me to lay it out here as well.
The discussions over the past month, while heated, were overwhelmingly civil and respectful. A true testament to the wonderful community magic is built on and a powerful reminder of why I am so proud to be part of this industry. I have been asked to respond to some of the specific backlashes, so here it is, these are the three most common comments I received and my response.
This cover hurts women in magic! How will anyone ever take us seriously?
I just finished a small tour with my new magic show: Melbourne Magic Festival, which featured 65 different magic shows, and the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, which featured seven different magic shows. At both festivals, I felt respected by my peers at all times, despite everyone having seen the cover. It made absolutely no difference in the way I was treated. If you take what you do seriously, people will take you seriously. Passion and skill are taken seriously. Hard work and determination are taken seriously. Cleverness, originality, and a desire to move the industry forward are taken seriously. Ekaterina’s #FemaleMagician is a beautiful expression of this. The women in that video are powerfully talented and it is impossible to not take them seriously.
It is my firm belief that women of who demonstrate skill and focus always command respect.
There was no reason to do a nude photo. The image is completely unjustified.
The photo’s concept is a reference to the classic American Beauty movie poster, an iconic image that has persisted in pop culture. The image was conceptualized and photographed by my mentor and fellow magician Amber Lynn Walker, a woman who has been an unwavering beacon of cooperation over competition between women in our industry for as long as I can remember. For us, the image was iconic. I have also been a nude model for years, which I mentioned in the article. When I did the layout, I wanted the cover and the graphic elements in the article to appear in a top-down, birds-eye-view style that would be a visual reflection of the bird’s-eye view that the article takes on my career. You don’t have to like the artwork, but it was undeniably relevant to the feature.
Women are already oversexualized, why make it worse?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but everything is oversexualized — car commercials, burger ads, even yoghurt is oversexualized. If you feel you have been objectified or marginalized, I stand by you. It is awful when people expect you to do a sexy show just because you are a woman. I will always stand up for anyone’s choice to do whatever sort of show they feel comfortable doing. I want everyone to feel that they can dress however they want onstage and not be forced to fit into any mould or set of expectations they didn’t sign up for. That being said, my show is a sexy magic show. My character Lucy is a bawdy silver-screen starlet type who uses her flirtations to motivate a lot of the comedy in the show. This show is what I am most passionate about; I have put my heart and soul into this character for a while and it’s what I want to be doing. If you want to leave the tools of sexuality and innuendo behind when you build your show, that’s great! Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to use those tools if you don’t want to. I want to, and I hope the world of magic has room for both styles of magicians to thrive and still leave room for all the amazing things yet to come.
Posted on April 18, 2017 by
Today was all about bubble show decluttering!
For many years I have been doing bubble shows. Often I will pick up a few fun new bubble tools to test out, which all will inevitably come with a bottle of a tiny bottle of bubble solution. All these little bottles just go straight in a box in the storage room, never to be seen again; until today when I took them ALL out, sorted them into the two basic types (traditional and touchable bubbles), consolidated them into larger containers and washed and recycled the remains.
Posted on April 4, 2017 by
When some people think of a magician, the image that immediately comes to mind is that of a lanky teenage kid in an ill-fitting top hat doing tricks for kids. Although I myself have seen a number of these performers, I have also seen rooms of adults gasping in wonder at the spectacular magical talents of quality corporate magicians who create a tone that is ideally targeted to adult audiences.
Are Magic Shows a Good fit for Adults?
Well, yes and no. The distinction is that Adult magic shows are a good fit for an adult event. However, it can be difficult to know whether you are booking the correct style of performance. Magic shows can be a wonderful mix of comedy, audience participation, and amazing magical acts, if the performer is well suited to their audience. A good magician who caters to adults will create a show specifically designed to thrill your crowd with impossible feats and strong visual moments of magic. For corporate events, these types of magicians are often a better fit than other forms of entertainment because they play big even on a small stage, and they tend to be incredibly flexible even in the changing circumstances of a live event.
Tips for Booking a Good Magician
Ideally, you want to start with recommendations from friends or family members who have hired a magician they liked in the past. If no one has a recommendation, an entertainment agency will be able to offer you a list of qualified performers who will best fit your needs. As a last resort you can use google, but be warned. It’s easy to put together a professional looking website with stock images these days, so make sure your entertainer has good videos and nice photos of their show being performed in front of crowds of happy adult crowds.
Hopefully, this information will help you decide if you should consider a corporate or comedy magician for your next event, I think you’ll be happy you did.
Contact Our Event Management Team
We can help answer a variety of questions to provide you with all the information you need to make the right choice for your event.
Posted on April 4, 2017 by
If you are looking to make a big splash at your next event, you want something high energy, dramatic and fun. Depending on your theme a fire show might be the perfect answer – but where do you start? I am a fire performer with fifteen years of experience in the industry, and I’m here to offer a little help in planning your big Fire Show with all the necessary safety measures.
6 Tips on hiring fire performers
1. Get a recommendation
If you are lucky, one of your friends or family will have hired a fire performer in the past or know someone who has. It’s worth asking around to find out if someone might have a lead on a good entertainer in your area; recommendations are most likely to lead you straight to the best talent.
2. Permits & liability
Who is responsible for making sure the venue and the performers have their permits and insurance in order? You are! If your fire dancers are any good, they will likely offer to do the legwork for the permitting and talk to the local fire prevention authorities on your behalf. They have the experience and the knowledge in this area so let them take care of the red tape, but make sure you get a copy of all the documents. Many states and provinces have fines for performing with fire and without an open flame permit and you could be on the line for big money if you get caught. Better safe than sorry.
3. Minimise Distractions and Maximise Focus
No matter how good the performers might be, if your guests are distracted they might blink and miss the show. Fire shows are stunt and trick based so if you look away for a moment, you are likely to miss something amazing. Do your best to make the experience a good one for everyone by making sure there are no visible distractions around the performance area and that the performers are given a proper announcement to help direct the attention of your guests to the spectacle about to begin.
4. Check Out Your Performer
It is reasonable and recommended that you ask your fire performers for proof of insurance, a safety plan and references. Not only does this give you added peace of mind, if they have these documents on hand it is an indicator of an experienced, professional, full-time performer who is likelier to give you a quality show.
5. Googling for Performers
Anyone can put together a nice looking site in minutes these days. Don’t be fooled by stock photos and website templates. Look for lots of pictures and videos of your performers doing their show in front of many different audiences. Look for awards and quotes on the website, and make sure this is not their first rodeo. You don’t want to accidentally book a newbie for the price of an experienced professional.
6. Read the Safety Plan
Your fire performer should provide you with their safety requirements. This will include information like fueling systems, the distance the performer must be from the audience and whether you will be asked to provide a fire extinguisher on site. If you have agreed to these safety requirements and don’t follow through, the performer may refuse to perform. That’s no fun for everyone, so please read the safety plan and the performers requirements.
That’s it! Fire shows are beautiful and impressive, making them a great choice for many galas, festivals, and corporate events. However, they can be dangerous if performed by inexperienced amateurs. These steps will help protect you from liability and harm and make sure you get the most out of your artists.
Posted on March 26, 2017 by
I just love performing walk around magic at events. Magic is a universal language that brings everyone together with laughter and astonishment. People are so intrigued and willing to be amazed. I feel so lucky that this is my job.
Posted on March 25, 2017 by
When it comes to notes, instruction manuals, business cards and really anything else with a potentially useful bit of information, I had the worst sorting habits for years. I refused to get rid of any scrap of potentially useful information for fear I would be at a loss without it. However, since I did such a terrible job of organizing any of it when the time came to find something I would end up digging through boxes, not finding the stupid thing and making a giant mess.
When I had a meeting at the bank last month and could not find a single file they requested, I realized that something had to be done and with the help of Evernote I managed to digitize absolutly everything into a searchable database of secure files I can access anywhere in just 3 days.
Evernote is a program that uses image capturing, audio recording, tags, and notebooks to digitize, store and organize your information in a way that makes it searchable as hell.
Business Card Capturing
One of Evernote’s best features is business card capturing, which is perfect for helping you remember the people you meet at events of conventions. The business card camera capturing feature takes the clearest possible image of the card, reads the data and adds it in the appropriate fields then finds that person’s Linked in profile and saves everything into a contact note.
This feature alone is worth the price of admission, which can be as little as free depending on which features you need.
Notes & Document Capture
No scanner? No problem. Scannable is a sister app created by Evernote’s that captures paper documents quickly and sharply and creates high-quality scans you can sort, save and share with the touch of a button. Alternativly you can also scan documents into the Evernote app directly, but there are a few extra features with Scannable that are worth considering, including a crop feature.
Once in a while a product actually comes with an electronic copy of the manual, yay! You can file any of these immediately in your Evernote storage. I created a Notebook just for the manuals, then tagged each with a “type” (#tools, #appliances, etc.) to make them easier to find when I need them.
If you don’t have a digital copy of the manual, it’s time to go on the hunt. We can start by visiting the manufacturer’s website since most companies have a cache of docs going back years; as long as you have a model number for the product—usually printed right on it—it is typically easy to find. If that fails you can search manual collections online. ManualsLib is my preferred hub for product manuals, I am always surprised how few people have heard of them since they are likely the largest online database of product manuals.
When you’ve got all your documents digitized and sorted you can go ahead and recycle the original paper copies saving space in your office and your mind.
Posted on March 23, 2017 by
After tossing all my membership and loyalty cards, the next thing to downsize was the pile of business receipts and bills that had been accumulating for years. Every little write-off since I started the company years ago, I was overwhelmed.
In just 3 days, I use 3 killer tools to climb out of the pile of paper and into a clutter free office. (Note: please recycle the paper you declutter)
Automated Book Keeping
Gone are the days of paper bookkeeping, although I loved my paper accounting ledgers I am now a complete Mint convert. Mint is a free online bookkeeping system that automatically pulls transactions from all your accounts in real time. The super clean and easy to use interface allows you to sort and categorize purchases, build budgets, search past transactions and even creates little charts that help you to visualize your spending habits. You can add cash spending transactions manually and the program even starts to learn how to automatically sort your purchases over time.
Easy Receipt Management
Of course with all your bookkeeping migrating online, what do you do with those pesky receipts? Expensify is by far the best app for keeping track of your recipes! Their “SmartScan” system reads your receipt and uses OCR technology to automatically scan for details that allow it to sort and categorize them in an instant.
Paying Bills Online – Go Paperless
The last major change was to make sure all my bills were available online and were no longer being mailed to the house. Phone, internet, power and gas, they can all be paid online which would avoid the extra filing and the extra paper waste. Some companies want you to switch to paperless billing so badly they even charge a small fee, so check your statement to make sure you’re not getting dinged for paper bills you didn’t want in the first place.
Staying on Top of Paper Clutter
The best part of this deliberate purge and move towards digital solutions is that with Mint tracking my bookkeeping, Expensify sorting my receipts and no new paper bills coming in, keeping on top of the office paper clutter is remarkably easy.
If you want more tips and tricks about minimalisum, travel, life hacks and more, join the “Tips & Tricks” mailing list. No spam, no ads and I’ll never sell your info, just good clean fun.
Posted on March 22, 2017 by
I’ve spent a lot of time today getting on top of my paper clutter by creating clear management systems for everything from mail to loyalty cards. This has been a huge relief and I want you to experience the same freedom I am now enjoying. All you need to get started is a smartphone and a couple of minutes.
Loyalty & Membership Cards
Stocard, Key Ring & UGO Wallet are the top three apps for lightening your wallet, they allow your to quickly and easily digitizing all your Loyalty and Membership cards. All three are avilable for android or IOS, all three are totally free and all three are currently sitting on my phone. Yes, that’s right, I downloaded all three apps and uploaded each and every one of my cards to get an idea of the quality of these three apps and to determine if there was one outlier in the bunch.
The answer is yes, after playing with all three and using them in stores I can definitively say that Stocard is the superior app. You can upload your cards at twice the speed of the other two with the impressive barcode reader, the interface is clean and simple and is has the largest database of shops.
If you want more tips and tricks about minimalisum, travel, life hacks and more, join the “Tips & Tricks” mailing list. No spam, no ads and I’ll never sell your info, just good clean fun.
Posted on February 4, 2017 by
There is no denying that the history of entertainment includes some really messed up stuff. Sure, we’ve had our Shakespeares and Mozarts; but at various times, we were also gaga over gladiator battles, cockfights, bear baiting, and the cringe-worthy tradition of blackface and minstrel shows.
With all the progress we’ve made moving toward nobler forms of theatre, with almost no forms of animal torture at all, we tend to think of ours as an era of modern entertainment. Look how progressive the theater has become! we think, while buying Hamilton tickets on our smartphones and basking in the air-conditioning and free wifi at our local Starbucks. Truly this is a golden age and we pat ourselves on the back for all the ways we are far superior to generations past. Yay!
Although we have certainly come a long way, it seems to me that there are still some aspects of theatrical entertainment that are stuck in the dark ages. Let me tell you the story of an act I saw recently:
The performer walked onstage and introduced a little pill. He told the crowd that anyone who took this pill would be compelled to do anything he asked. To add even more intrigue to his plot, he stated that volunteers would likely be unable to remember what happened to them while under the influence of the drug. “But trust me,” he said, “it’ll be fun.”
A young woman from the audience was brought to the stage and given the pill. In an instant, she became visibly drowsy and disoriented. The performer guided her through a series of increasingly embarrassing stunts, including the revelation of personal information, private fantasies and even the performance of simulated sex acts. The audience was encouraged to laugh and cheer. “This is fun,” the performer kept saying, but I couldn’t help feeling deeply uncomfortable.
The show concluded with the volunteer sobering up, confirming that the pill had indeed made her unaware of anything she had done during the act, and she was unable to recall her actions. With that, she was sent back to her seat to a round of applause. The performer then pointed out that the entire show had been video recorded and everyone should buy a copy, joking that “It would make great blackmail material.”
I think most of us would agree that this act is morally dubious, to say the least. A volunteer under the influence of a powerful drug that removes their ability to consent should not be made to discuss private information, do embarrassing stunts, or perform pseudosexual acts. This show, which encourages friends, coworkers, and strangers to point and laugh at someone made vulnerable and then taken advantage of for the amusement of the crowd, should not be sold as entertainment.
Now take a minute to reread the description of the act, but replace that little pill with hypnosis. If it’s not okay to remove someone’s consent with a drug, then why should it be okay to do it through hypnosis in the context of a magic show?
The first hypnosis performance (or hypno show) I ever saw gave me an icky feeling I couldn’t explain, a sort of unsettling anxiousness in the pit of my stomach. Maybe it was just that particular performer or the burrito I’d had for lunch, but it made me question what I was being asked to see as entertainment. After speaking with many theatre people, magicians, and even a few psychologists who’ve had similar experiences, I realized that this sort of act falls into a moral grey area that we have avoided talking about in the worlds of magic and variety arts.
The narrative a hypno show is selling to the audience implies by its nature that it is acceptable to “make” someone perform embarrassing or sexual acts for the enjoyment of a crowd when that person is in a state of suggestibility similar to that created by drugs or alcohol — which, of course, it is not. The idea that these shows are usually marketed to colleges and universities is even more unsettling, considering the recent focus on educating students about the importance of consent in an effort to address the very real threat of date rape. I vividly remember as the entertainment director for ACAD (Alberta College of Art & Design) being inundated with promotional material from hypnotists with quotes like “I’ll have your students humping the walls.”
Whatever the moral implications, hypnosis is a fascinating phenomenon that reveals some amazing things about the human mind, and it’s certain to wow crowds. I can see why people would be drawn to it, and I would even call myself an advocate for science and research in this field, but is it appropriate to sell as a comedy show?
I should clarify that I am talking only about the NARRATIVE of a hyno show, whether the effect it has on people is real for the people under it’s influence or not is not the issue we are discussing here. Is the narrative hypno shows sell to crowds about consent appropriate or even socially responsible? Is it okay to imply that toying with the minds and lives of audience members as a form of amusement us acceptable?
Perhaps I’m missing something or maybe all the hypno shows I’ve ever seen have been outliers, but it seems to me that this form of magic is inappropriate, both in its implications and in its practices. I would argue that we should be having more conversations like this, discussions about the moral implications of what we do as performers. Let’s begin to ask ourselves about the true impact of the fantasies we create onstage, the messages we send to our audience, and how those ideas affect people in the long-term. And maybe, just maybe, we can agree that it’s time for hypnosis to go the way of the minstrel show.