Guys, it's Friday the 13th and the full harvest moon. That's definitely an ideal way to shift into autumn, my favorite season. And, as science has well established, when these two things happen on the same day, there is a greater likelihood of certain strange phenomena (or so you should tell people later tonight).
If you've been around for a while, you know that the harvest moon (the full moon closest to the Autumnal equinox) is a time I take to assess this site and its future and that sort of thing. It's a time for a "state of the site" sort of post, primarily aimed at the supporters who keep this site going.
Next year will bring some changes to the site and I want to talk about the factors that have affected my thinking on the direction things will go.
The first thing to understand is my motivation for writing this site. Obviously it's not to be well known, or I wouldn't write it anonymously. And while I do want to be compensated for the time I invest into the site, I wouldn't say my primary motivation is money. I could make much more devoting this time to other types of work. And if money was my objective, I wouldn't have put a cap on the supporter slots. I would advertise. I would ask people to mention the site on message boards and facebook. I don’t do any of that. The next book sold out 11 months in advance of its release without me advertising it or a single tweet about it. I barely mentioned it on this site. If I prioritized money, I would be doing things much differently.
So people think, "Ah, he's not in it for fame. And not for money. I know! He must be in it... for the love of the art!"
Yeahhhhh… not really.
The reason this site exists is:
A) I like performing magic for my friends and family.
B) I like sharing the ideas with likeminded people. And if their appetite for these ideas is enough to buy my time to work on the ideas, then I'm happy to do so. Creative work and writing work is what I do in a non-magic capacity as well. So it's all the same sort of thing to me.
The key word there is "likeminded" people. I'm not trying to win people over to my perspective or style of performance. I'm just trying to present those ideas for people who might be on a similar wavelength.
Why don’t I want to win people over to this style of magic?
Imagine it's the early 2000s. You're a decent looking guy and, more importantly, you have a good rapport with women. You're easy to talk to. Your posture demonstrates confidence. When you meet a woman in a bar, you have no problem going up to her and introducing yourself. You have a very playful interaction with her. You're able to tease her in a way that feels fun. And communicate with her in a way that is flirty but not creepy. You're doing really well on the dating scene. You're a natural with women.
Flash forward just a few years later. You suddenly find women are turned off by some of the same attitudes and actions that have worked for you for years. And have, in fact, worked for guys for decades or centuries.
What happened was the emergence and mainstream-ization of the Pick Up Artist movement.
Guys who were terrible with women looked at what guys who were good with women did, and then they started co-opting those traits. And for a little while it worked for some of them. But eventually it stopped working. Women realized guys where pretending to be confident and comfortable. These verbal or physical traits that many women had been attracted to on an instinctual level were now being done by guys who didn't come to these behaviors naturally. So the behavior was incongruous with their "real" personality. Something was off. And one thing humans (and I would guess especially women) are sensitive to is incongruity.
"Playful teasing" had originally come across as a demonstration of friendliness and non-neediness in the guy to whom it came natural. But for the guy who was using it as a "technique," he would often botch it and it would come across as obviously pre-planned or even cruel.
Naturally confident people tend to sit and stand in a way that takes up a little more space. Noting this, people who aren't naturally confident would try and mimic it and end up with their legs at a 140 degree angle and their arms sprawled across the bar.
So these traits that were once perhaps subconsciously positive symbols began to be associated with weirdos. And those weirdos didn't just spoil it for themselves, they spoiled it for the normal guy who acted that way naturally.
This is why I never want to push this style of magic on other performers. I know how powerful it can be when amateur magic is presented in a more casual and less performative way, but if it doesn’t feel natural to you, I would never suggest you adopt that style. You’ll just fuck it up for yourself and, potentially, others. If you’re more comfortable with a traditional magician/spectator dynamic, that’s what you should stick with.
I like that when I perform for people it's different than the type of magic they're accustomed to seeing. I have no desire for this style of magic to be the norm. I'm sure you're thinking, "Don't worry, Andy. You're not that influential." This is what I tell myself too, but I still feel uncomfortable when I see a demo video or something like that from someone who has clearly been influenced by the stuff I write, but the casual/social style doesn’t mesh with their natural personality. I don’t want the social/casual style to get overexposed by bad magicians. I don't want them Pick-Up-Artist'ing this shit.
That’s why, as the primary voice on this style of magic, I will be pulling back on the public availability of some of my ideas in this realm of performing.
This should sound familiar because it’s something I said would happen a while ago. Going into this year, I said that I would take anything of value and save it for the publications for supporters. But I didn't really end up doing that as I intended. I did save the best tricks for them, but I still published a lot of theory stuff that I know to be extremely valuable.
So here is my plan for next year.
As I intended to do this year, the site will be the home for content which is either stupid or short.
The newsletter is going to be expanded either in page count or in the frequency of release. And much of the type of material that would appear on the site this year will be in the newsletter next year. (The newsletter will be included in the reward package for full supporters, but will also be available separately for people who couldn't get a full supporter slot for a nominal cost.)
Why do I think this is a good idea?
Because I think putting a few barriers to entry to the information will increase its value for supporters.
And I mean this in a couple ways.
First, the information is slightly more exclusive, hence more valuable.
Second, while it shouldn’t matter, I think seeing the material in different contexts affects how we view it and assess it.
When you know the site is intended for small or stupid ideas, then you’ll approach the material in that mindset. That’s the sort of stuff you can absorb every day.
When you know the newsletter contains stuff I thought was particularly worthwhile, then you can set aside some time when you're in the mood to sit with that type of material and give it whatever consideration you feel it warrants.
Then, the stuff that gets published in the books is the stuff that has proven to be incredibly strong for me over and over in actual practice. So it's not just a potentially strong concept, but whatever the amateur version of a "worker" is.
One of the weirder things that happened repeatedly after the two big books were released is that people would write me praising some routine from the book that had been on the blog for months or years. And I’d hear something like, “The trick didn’t really resonate with me until I saw it in the context of the book.” I kind of wondered how someone could like a trick so much in a book that they’d write the author about it, but when it was posted for free they kind of glossed over it.
Part of it is probably “perceived value.” I know if I see a trick for free on a blog then I'm probably not going to consider it the same way I would if It was a limited edition manuscript for $50 or a video download. It's just not the way we're wired.
But another part of it is probably this… I did a survey a month or so ago asking people how frequently they stop by the site. 80% of the responses were either “every day” or “a few times a week (the days the site is updated).” And if your routine is to come here when the site is updated then there are times you’re coming here and getting an in depth discussion about presentation or theory when that’s just not what you’re in the frame of mind for. And you might overlook something that, on another day, you might have really connected with. Maybe you remember to come back to it at some point, or maybe it gets lost in the shuffle.
But with the newsletter or the book, you’re only going to crack that open when you’re in the mood for that sort of thing. So by channeling different types of material into different outputs, I’m better able to match the content to your state-of-mind—giving you a better experience of the same material.
Some will say I’m “overthinking” this. I’m not. Trust me. I consulted the world’s best and most successful magic blogger and he agrees with me completely, 100%. On everything. (He’s me.)
The previous “Harvest Time” posts have been about prioritizing the experience and exclusivity for supporters. Which only makes sense, because those are the people prioritizing me by supporting the site. And this post is just confirming that’s going to continue to be the direction in which things move. The site will continue on, just becoming a bit more frivolous. And hopefully supporters will find the content that comes in newsletters and books to be as worthwhile as ever, if not more so.
I will keep along this path until one day I just have one “master supporter” who will have sole exclusivity to any tricks/presentation/theory I generate, which I will gently whisper into his ear every night as he drifts off to sleep. And thejerx.com will just consist of a serially released 600-chapter erotic fan-fiction novel about the L&L audience.