Harvest Time Part Two: Going Underground


Fall has officially begun and we are in the final third of the The Jerx, Season Three.

Tonight is the harvest moon and, like last year, I’m using this time to take stock of where things are with the site and where things may go next.

(By the way, did you know that the autumnal equinox and the harvest moon falling in the same week makes this a very powerful time on a psychic/soul-level? You didn’t? Really? Crack a science textbook much? It doesn’t sound like you do.

Okay, I’m being a naughty little rascal. Yes, this is nonsense. But it’s the type of nonsense that makes for a fun backdrop to a magic trick. Take a long, procedural card trick and do it around your coffee table and you’ll get a response that is like, “Hey… that was neat.” Do the same trick on a blanket in the backyard under the harvest moon because your “mentor said this was one of the few nights during the year it’s likely to work.” Now you have the same “neat trick,” but you’ve imbued it with a greater mythology. And you’ve made a mini-adventure out of it. And you’ve tied the experience of this little trick to the experience of something else in the world that you’ve made them pause and recognize. Something they probably wouldn’t have taken the time to appreciate otherwise. People enjoy this sort of thing.

And, it’s great for the amateur magician whose audience may see a number of card tricks over the course of a year. But they don’t necessarily appreciate the nuances of every trick. For them it’s a trick where some cards changed or some cards matched and it’s sort of similar to that other trick where the cards changed or the cards matched. But a presentation like this allows them to form distinct memories. “Ah, yes, the harvest moon trick.” The details of the trick may fade, but the experience that surrounds the trick will remain, because that experience is something other than “sitting around a table.” )

That was a long parenthetical. If you’re interested in that sort of thing, see the Sky Imps post.


Oh yeah, the future of this site…

The first question is, will there be another year after this one? Well, I’ll tell you, it’s not easy for me to make those kinds of decisions. In real life I’m very good at coming up with a compelling argument about pretty much anything. And when faced with a decision like that, I find it very easy to argue both options in my head. So instead, I’ve automated the decision.

Here is what I do. I leave it up to the people who support this site. Every year a certain number of people decide to support the existence of this site, and receive some rewards in return for that. When the next year rolls around I ask, “Who wants another year?” If 90% of the people who supported the previous year don’t sign on for the upcoming year, that’s when I shut it down. I realize that’s a wildly high retention rate to shoot for, but it’s the standard I’ve decided on. That way the decision is in the hands of the people who’ve invested in this site. Their judgment will determine if it keeps going.

So that’s how Season 4 will happen, if it does.

And if it does, here is how it will be different…

First big change: What I consider to be the most valuable magic theory, ideas, discoveries, concepts, and tricks I come up with will now be solely available to supporters. That is to say, they will appear in whatever that year’s rewards package is, and not on this site. I’ve already done this with the tricks, for the most part (my favorite tricks from the past 12 months are in the upcoming book, not on this site). But in any future seasons, I’ll be doing the same with some of the concepts and presentation ideas I’ve brought up here. Why? A few reasons.

  • Exclusivity for the people who support the site.

  • If you are someone who values the more obscure performance styles and concepts I write about here, then you’re probably already supporting the site. And if you don’t like that sort of thing, then they’re kind of wasted posts. So by shifting those sorts of ideas into the publications for supporters only, everyone who wants to see that sort of thing will get to, and it won’t clutter up this site for the casuals.

  • I think these concepts are more understandable when seen in the context in a book, rather than on blog posts. I say this because everyday I have people writing me an email to debate or question something I wrote, when their issue has already been addressed in a previous post. It’s dumb, but I write this site as if everyone reading has read every post I’ve written on it. A lot haven’t, but the hardcore fans have, and I’m writing those posts with that audience in mind. So it makes sense to limit that content to that audience.

  • Even more-so than the tricks, there are some concepts that I’d rather not have publicly available via a google search.

Second Big Change: I’m going to put a cap on the number of supporters I allow for the site. Does that seem dumb? I know. The thing is, if I were to look at this site as a means for getting as many supporters/subscribers as I could, then that becomes my goal. But my goal is not to make as much money as possible here. As someone who solely works freelance, my goal is to “buy” enough of my time that I can devote a chunk of every day to writing, creating, testing, and performing ideas geared towards the amateur/social performer. And once I’ve reached that goal, I want to put the focus on those things, not bringing in more money.

What is the cap going to be? Well, the option to support Season 4 will be open to those who supported Season 3. If a person doesn’t sign on, then their “spot” will open up for someone else, but there won’t be any more spots created after that point in time.

Another reason I want to change the types of ideas I make publicly available and limit the number of people I eventually release them to is because I don’t want this style of performing to become too common. That may sound narcissistic, like, “Oh, Andy, certainly everybody is going to be falling all over themselves to start performing like you.” I don’t mean it like that. I just don’t want to put too much of these ideas into the zeitgeist. I feel like I’m already seeing bad echoes of these ideas in some magic performances I’ve seen, both amateur and professional. Part of the charm of the style of performance I write about is that it’s uncommon. Every professional magician can do bill in lemon and no one cares. But if there’s another magician in your city performing around socially with a similar style (and you’re not working together) it can undermine the experiences you want to create.

So that’s the plan for a potential Season 4. I’m going to cull the ardent supporters and we’re going underground. The group won’t be called “Jerx supporters” but will have a separate name and identity. I’m already conceptualizing something with a more “secret society” feel behind it. (That seems like half the fun of having a clandestine magic group.) This site will still go on, but the content is going to be more along the lines of commentary and comedy, timely stuff, sillier stuff, shorter stuff, half-formed ideas. Things the casual fans tend to enjoy more anyway.