Yes, You Can Learn Magic on YouTube
My last blog focused on what is essential reading for magicians, or if that is becoming increasingly moot.
There is no simple answer. I lean towards yes, but let’s look at our “student” of magic in the 21st century, compared to my day in the latter part of the 20th century.
Where do our next generation of magicians go to learn the secrets of magic…the library? I suppose this is a rhetorical question. YouTube is the obvious answer. (Don’t get ahead of me, I will not bash the YouTube lovers, I am one as well.)
Videos on the internet began in 2005. The pioneers sharing magic secrets were often amateurs with little or no talent. (Amateur magicians have often contributed excellent material as well as invention of every style of magic.) Alex Elmsley was a computer programmer by day but was also major contributor to card magic.
So, the first contributors to the field of magic on YouTube were hit or miss. I always advised the younger magicians to consider the classics books and video learning as well. The first videos were on VHS Tapes, and DVDs were not far behind. Today, downloadable videos are readily available from online magic dealers, the DVDs are fading in the sunset.
Technology Turns Learning Onto its Head.
Today, you can learn a lot on YouTube from extremely talented magicians, and much of it is free. What’s not to like? Here’s a few resources.
Alex Pandrea, Ekaterina, and Jay Sankey, * just to mention a few. All are knowledgeable and provide excellent insights and tutorials in magic. They also have products for sale as well. YouTube has come a long way since its inception. That is the upside.
Where I see a shortcoming is we lose the history of techniques and often proper credits to the original inventors. I know there are some who simply don’t care, as they just want to learn a few tricks.
Magic on TV
David Blaine’s “Street Magic” aired in April 1997. It was a new presentation style which captivated a new audience of young magicians. Soon after,they started “naming” the tricks he performed as David Blaine’s blah, blah, blah. (No judgment here, just the way things work.) One of the most popular became known as the Two Card Monte.
David certainly deserved credit for his personalization of the trick. In fact, his influence brought immediate copycats to his style. It surprised some magicians as they had the trick in their libraries and had passed it buy. It was hiding in an Eddie Fechter book from the 70s. You can see Pop Haydn performing it, not as the Two Card Monte but as ‘Be Honest What is It?”
David also performed a levitation effect. There was a little controversy amongst magicians, which is of no importance now. Suffice to say, the trick had been around for a long time, known as The Balducci Levitation. Kudos to David for recognizing the power of a simple parlor stunt/trick.
No Intent to Deceive
There was no deceit from David. He just found a new audience who appreciated his style and stunned them with some of the old classics of magic. Here he performs “The Invisible Deck.”
The internet and TV have popularized Magic in a way I have never seen before. Watch Penn and Teller Fool Us. If you are a well-informed magician, their use of “code” will reveal most of the secrets to you. I hope that after this new generation learns their tricks, curiosity brings them an interest in Magic history, and they discover the “Shoulders of the Giants” we all stand on. It is always good to know how we got to where we are today. History is available to the curious, and you will be better magician for knowing it.