We are firmly entrenched in the era of online magic demos. It's a far cry from the early 90s when I was first seriously getting into magic. Back then the information you had about an effect was limited. You were lucky if you had a vague description in a Hank Lee ad and a fucking illustration of what the effect may look like (based, apparently, on the recollection of one stoned spectator, weeks after the performance).
There are some old fossils out there who will make a convoluted argument that it was somehow better when you didn't know what you were buying. There is no rational argument for this. This is just the blathering of people who conflate "different than what I grew up with" with "bad." This is a mental illness and is essentially a form of narcissism. "This is how thing were when I grew up, so this is how things should be. Cryptic, nebulous magic ads. Real bread, baked in an oven, by my loving mother. Songs you can understand the lyrics to. Basketball players in silky shorts, with a tidy part in their hair, making crisp bounce-passes to their teammates for a proper set-shot. Polio. Institutionalized racism. This was the America of my youth. And it's the proper America."
That's not to say most magic demos are any good. They stink, of course. It's a lot of arty farty bullshit, followed by a couple out-of-context shots of the trick with some weird film effect laid on top, then some reaction shots by people hamming it up for the camera. (If you make any magic purchase based on the reaction of spectators in a demo, you're a total sucker. Even when the reactions are genuine (and they're often not), they're filtered through the role they're playing of "impressed magic spectator.")
But magic marketers are in a tough position. Often a complete uncut demo will—upon multiple viewings—reveal the method to a trick. Or a moment that would otherwise fly by people in reality will draw attention to itself in a demo. Or you might be selling a presentation more-so than a method, so a full demo would almost be giving the trick away for free. And so what we get are chopped up demos that give you no idea of what the trick looks like in performance. Or you get a mostly full demo with one big, honking cut in the middle and you're thinking, "What on earth happens at that point?"
It's a problem for both marketers and consumers, but I have the solution.
The Global League of Magicians & Mentalists is the largest magic organization in the world. And it's a completely unbiased organization (unless you're a sex-criminal or an asshole).
Now, this is one of those things that I'm 100% serious about but people will think is a joke. And by "one of those things," I mean, "everything I write on this site."
I'm completely genuine about The GOOD GLOMKEEPING Seal of Approval.
Here's how it works. Let's say you're a magic production company. Let's say you're SansMinds. You have this effect you want to put out but you know a full, un-cut demo will ultimately be worked over and scrutinized to the point where people will understand the basics of the method and with that, people will think they know all they need to know. You want to put out a demo that won't reveal the method but that people will know is still an accurate representation of the effect.
So you email me and apply for the GOOD GLOMKEEPING Seal of Approval. What that will entail is you performing the effect for me over Skype. I'll ask you to perform it as if you were walking up to me to perform it cold. So if you need to borrow items, you can't already have them in your hand set to go. I'll want to see you get into and out of the effect.
Essentially, the GGSoA is a way to put out a demo that is incomplete in some way, but to have an independent 3rd party verify that whatever was cut out is not something that would be noticeable to a lay audience when presented by a competent performer.
Why am I the person to be that independent 3rd party? Well, because I don't give a shit about any of you, good or bad—at least not as far as your magic releases go. I have no real grudges or loyalties. I have nothing to gain by saying something is good if it isn't. I'm pathologically rabid about being fair in situations like this. And I'm smart enough and have enough performing experience to recognize a legitimate withholding of information (e.g., "we cut the switch of the billet because it's noticeable on video, but wouldn't be when properly executed in person") from an illegitimate withholding of information (e.g., "We cut out the part after he says, 'Name any number,' when he says, 'under 50, with two odd digits, that are different.' People never remember those limitations." (Oh yes they do.))
To be clear, the Seal of Approval doesn't say it's a good trick. That's too subjective. The seal is there to say it's a fair demo. This allows magic companies to produce a demo that doesn't give away a trick. And it allows consumers to know the demo isn't keeping anything from them that would be a dealbreaker if they knew about it. So, while I might think the trick stinks, it's not because of a misleading demo.
If you are a magic producer you have nothing to lose. Apply for the seal by emailing me. We'll set up a time to have you demo it for me. Either I'll award your product the seal, or I won't. If I don't, you're no worse off—there is no anti-seal of approval. And if you get it, you can let people know that you received this seal of approval, from a pretty well-known, independent source, stating your demo is fair. There will also be a post on this site indicating your product has received the GOOD GLOMKEEPING Seal of Approval, with your demo embedded in the post. It's essentially a free ad on the most popular (by a long-shot) magic blog on the internet.
If you're a magic consumer and you see a demo that is obviously incomplete and the person behind it is on the message boards saying, "No. No. You can place your pre-order. I swear, what we cut out isn't important." Feel free to suggest they apply for the GGSoA. If they refuse, you can be pretty sure they've got something to hide.
Will anyone take me up on this? I won't hold my breath, but we'll see.
I think these kids are about to jump this squirrel.