Is Magic Too Accessible?

by Tony Griffith

During recent years I have been able to lecture to magic clubs and conventions around the world. In each and every town I have visited there has been a magic shop, generally on the High Street. Wander inside and you see all the tricks on display in glass cabinets and on shelves. I have been in some of them when members of the public come in, brouse around, and then leave. At other times they have watched demonstrations and in some cases, the explanations. They have picked up books and glanced through them. There are hundreds of such shops around the world. They provide a service for the amateur, semi pro and professional magician. They also act as a window for the curious layman eager to learn some of the secrets.

There have always been magic shops around, but not in the vast numbers there are today. I wonder if the activities of The Masked Magician has led to an increase in the numbers of the 'curious' checking out the magic shops?

Here in England there is a very expansive company by the name of Marvin's Magic. They have their tricks all over the country in shops and stores. The tricks are very good ones, and some of them are in the repertoire of several professional magicians I know. Even the famous Magic Circle in London puts its name to their Deluxe Box of Tricks and a Compendium of Card Tricks.......... and this by an organisation whose motto is INDOCILIS PRIVATA LOQUI.

There is a prolific out pouring of magical knowledge and secrets today. Books are being produced in large numbers (both for magicians and for the public) Tricks are being advertised in magic magazines by their hundreds (the magazine Magic is now nearly 50% advertising).

Videos are plentiful as magician after magician (famous and otherwise) rush to give away their routines. (WHY?) The lecture scene is an ever expanding one. Conventions abound (I have been to conventions where members of the public have attended the lectures. They have paid the entrance fee and were allowed in) Magic courses are being offered by schools and colleges.

Some magicians advertise private lessons in the way a piano teacher offers his services. Just look at the Internet. There is a vast explosion of web sites offering all kinds of services and secrets. They are increasing daily.

In 1996 my wife and I boarded a plane for Reno, Nevada where I was to lecture and perform at the P.C.A.M. Convention. Sitting next to me was a gentleman who started playing around with a trick deck of cards. He also had a mechanical coin trick. He was not a magician. The tricks were retailed by Marvin's Magic Company and he had bought them in a High Street store so he would have something to do on the plane journey.

On our return trip a young lad was sat a few seats away. He had the trick where a dollar bill changes to a ten dollar bill. The method used a thumb tip. He had everyone around him amused as he tried to figure out how to do it. Some of the passengers read out the instructions for him while he had the props in his hands. It was great fun for those watching and it passed a few minutes of the long plane journey. His father said he had bought it at a magic shop in their home town. How many of you use this item in your shows?

Magic is no longer the 'hush, hush' subject it was years ago when secrets were jealousy guarded. The secrets of magic are being offered on an ever widening scale. THEY ARE VERY EASILY ACCESSIBLE to those who seek them out. Is it any wonder that sometimes they are exposed on television.

I suppose that in general we are all to blame for this situation (both YOU AND ME). Whether our motives are egotistical, financial or for other reasons.

I wonder where it will all end? As more and more people become interested in magic, and as our secrets become more and more accessible, I wonder if magic will one day become a commonplace hobby or pastime in a similar way to other interests?.

On my last visit to the U.S.A. I was talking to a group of teenagers, and asked them what they did in their spare time. Some said they were learning to play musical instruments, a couple said basketball, another said football. However, three or four said they "were going into magic this year. You can learn how its all done down at the magic shop in town."


Tony Griffith August 2000