Under the Influence

There's this guy named Jason Ladanye. He's a very skilled magician and he put out a book and dvd set recently. He is a disciple of Darwin Ortiz and this manifests itself in his style of performance, choice of material, presentations, manner of speaking, style of dress, enunciation and vocal timbre, way of holding the cards, etc. It actually seems like he's doing an impression of Darwin. Or like he ate his liver and now he possesses his soul or something.

And when I first saw Jason's videos I was surprised because -- and this might be embarrassing to admit -- I didn't know that Darwin Ortiz was considered a performer people wanted to emulate. Like I knew he was incredibly skilled, and he was well respected for creating very strong routines (in the traditional sense) and had written a lot about theory. But as a performer he always struck me as somewhat affected, a little stiff and unnatural, and very rehearsed. Now, to be fair, I'm sure to most everyone else his style comes across as "professional," and it probably is. In that sense, "very rehearsed" is obviously a good thing. Don't look to me for advice on professional performance standards. I usually perform sprawled out on a couch with someone's feet in my lap. But it was still a surprise for me to see someone mimic his style so closely.

So when I first came across Jason's videos I was a little dismissive and thought, "What a tool. He doesn't even have his own style?" But I'm beginning to realize that a lot of what I saw as "imitation" is just someone who was inspired by an artist he really loves. And my smug superiority was really just a result of me not having a performer who I admired as much as he did Darwin.

And what led me to this realization is that I did find a performer who has completely bowled me over and who is now infecting everything I do.

Her name is Victricks (on Youtube) and she's a young magician from Russia. Now, because you are all so bad at telling when I'm being sincere (which I guess means I'm bad at expressing sincerity), I want to make it clear that I genuinely have great affection for this girl, as do all my friends who I show her videos to. She's my favorite magician on youtube. For a young magician I think she shows a ton of promise and I have no doubt that if she sticks with it she could be a really great close-up magician in the future, and she's developing the presence and charisma of a stage performer too if she decides to go that route. She has become a more dynamic performer in just the few short months she's been posting to youtube. I really hope she finds a great mentor to take her to the next level. Oh, and she has actually fooled me (at least on first viewing) with a couple of her tricks.

I wasn't kidding when I said I was adopting some of her performing quirks. When I perform for friends who I have shown her videos to, I like to do so in a style inspired by her. 

This first video is her at her surliest (at least at the beginning) and it always makes me laugh. From this video I have taken:

  • Her opening line: "Hello everybody now I show you trick."
  • The little finger dipsy-doodle she does to display the bottle.

This is an unusual one for Victricks because it involves a little camera trickery, but I have totally adopted the "lean back and wait" pose in some of my tricks. It's not quite a trance. It's almost like a mini nap-break. I also use the slight mistranslation of "usually/usual" for "normal" which appears in a few of her videos.

Want to feel inadequate? Here she is in a fancy little outfit (which for all I know could be traditional Russian pajamas or something) performing an effect most of us have tried at one time or another, but probably not this well.

And here's her latest trick. It fooled me the first time around.

If you like her stuff, subscribe to her channel and give her positive comments. Or find another young magician and do so for him/her. We spend a lot of time getting riled up by the losers who are exposing tricks and it's completely understandable to be bothered by it. But I'm not sure freaking out about that helps the art of magic at all. Instead let's maybe become benefactors of encouragement for those starting out in magic who seem to be coming at things from the "right" direction.