Regarding White Monte, I was asked if that trick doesn’t violate something I’ve written about in the past: the idea that the best presentations to accompany a trick are “present tense” ones. On the surface level, I would say that yes, it doesn’t meet that standard. But I think, ultimately, it gets to a similar place. You see, the purpose of “present tense” presentations are to include the spectator and to make the magic about this moment, rather than something that happened in the past. It’s a way to infuse vitality into the presentations because the story is unfolding now. I think White Monte achieves similar goals by constructing the props in the moment and—in my favorite variation—suggesting this story from the past concluded with a picture of the person you’re with right now. That ending makes the timeline a little funky, it’s not strictly a “story about the past,” although that’s a big part of it.
I don’t usually talk about things people send me. And that’s probably why people don’t send me that much stuff.
But I wanted to make an exception for a book I was sent earlier this year, Gerald Deutsch’s Perverse Magic.
“Perverse Magic” is probably not what you’re initially thinking (unfortunately). The definition in the book for Perverse Magic is, “Magic that happens by itself, against what the magician wants to happen.”
The book collects a series of posts done on the Genii Forum by Gerald Deutsch since 2003.
I’m mentioning the book here for a couple reasons.
The first is because all the proceeds go to Open Heart Magic, a company that “provides therapeutic Bedside Magic to kids in children's hospitals.”
The second reason is because I think the concept of “Perverse Magic” is a worthy one. The idea is to take the ego out of presentations. He does this by giving presentations for a couple hundred tricks, including many classic effects, where the magician’s will is undermined over the course of the trick. The magician often ends up confused or frustrated. This is more of a “theatrical” confusion or frustration—it’s kind of impossible to play genuine confusion/frustration over the course of a 4-phase card routine, for example—but it doesn’t really matter when it comes to eliminating the ego element. Whether I think you’re actually confused or I think you’re pretending to be, you’re clearly not using the magic to boost your ego, which is something that so often is the unappealing element of magical performances.
While our final output isn’t all that similar, we definitely have some overlap in our philosophies and you may be interested in someone else’s approach to shifting the focus off the magician’s “power.”
The book is huge. It’s 470 pages. It’s a collection of message board posts, so there’s no illustrations and no real formatting, but that doesn’t prevent anything from being easily understood. The book is $50 and, as I said, the proceeds go to charity, so consider picking it up. It’s available here from Lulu.com.
Hey, speaking of giving away things for free, here’s a brief history of the times I’ve given away a book for free.
A Brief History of the Times I’ve Given Away A Book For Free
I’ve frequently had a situation in the past where I’m interacting with a well known magician over email/text and they’ll say, “Oh, so your book is coming out, right? I’d really like to get a copy.” And I’m like, “Ok. Buy one.” And then I realize they thought I should send them one for free because they’re famous or something.
When David Blaine intimated he’d like a copy of my first book, I was like, “Hey, I’m no starfucker. He can buy it just like everyone else.”
My feeling is, the only reason someone would want one of my books is if they like the site, and if they like the site, then they are already the recipient of 100s of hours of work a year on my part for free. And if I was in their situation, I would want a way to reimburse the person responsible for that thing I liked. I wouldn’t be trying to finagle more free content from them. So I just don’t buy it when someone suggests they like me, like the site, like the content, but want a free copy of the book.
That being said, there are three times in the past where I’ve sent someone a free copy. Here they are.
Recipient: Angelo Carbone - Theoretically this one wasn’t for free. Angelo is a brilliant magic creator and wrote me expressing interest in buying my book. I knew he was working on his own book so I said, “Hey, why don’t I send you a copy of my book. Then you can just send me yours when it’s ready.” However “when it’s ready” may be years from now. He originally wrote me in February of 2016 to tell me he was expecting his book to be ready, “Later this year.” Hmmm… not quite. But that’s okay, I don’t doubt he’ll eventually come through.
Recipient: Neil Patrick Harris - A year or so ago, Neil put his PO Box address on Twitter and said, “My birthday is in a week, send me presents!” (or words to that effect). And he listed a bunch of things he liked. I think he soon realized how ridiculous it was for a multi-millionaire to be soliciting gifts from his fans, as a couple days later he tweeted that he was just joking. Now, I’m not sure how, “Send me gifts. Here’s my real mailing address and some things I want,” could be intended as a joke, but I kind of admired the tone-deaf audacity of it all so I sent him one my few remaining copies of The Jerx, Volume One. He’s a magician/fan of magic. It had won the magic book of the year. I thought he’d appreciate it, but his response was… no response. So I guess I thought wrong!
Recipient: Steve Brooks - I sent Steve (founder of the Magic Cafe) a copy of my first book a couple years ago. I noted in my inscription that this site wouldn’t exist without him. Then Steve wrote me asking if I’d send him some free decks too. Hey, sure. I’m an amiable guy and I intended to always let Steve have free copies of everything I released. I thought it was funny that he would be the only person to get things for free. But then I started receiving emails from people who had their posts removed from the Cafe for mentioning my site. And not only were their posts removed, but they were also getting PMs from the Cafe staff which made completely bullshit claims about me. (Exactly how fucking dumb are they? Did they think people posting a link to my site would not then also send me screenshots of their PMs?) Anyway, I figured these orders were coming from the top, so clearly my attempts to befriend Steve Brooks had failed. And while I still print an extra copy of everything for Steve, I don’t actually send them to him. I just keep them piled up like presents for a kidnapped child.
So, I guess the lesson of this write-up is: Don’t give people free stuff.
I want to make a public apology. A few weeks ago I had a contest where people would take a picture of themselves posing in the same manner as a photograph of Joshua Jay. It was all intended to be good fun, but even our best intentions can leave people hurt by our actions. So I want to say, “I’m sorry.” I’m sorry to everyone for holding that contest before Josh posted this picture of himself on Instagram.