Mike Rogers – Bugs

Columnist:
Mike Rogers
by Mike Rogers

Winter has passed and the bugs have arrived. I’m writing this on the first day of spring 1999, or for the Y2K freaks, what can be said as the first day of the last spring of the century. As for me, I fully expect that on January 1, 2000 nothing in my life will have changed, other than I’ll be one day older than I was on the last day of 1999. I simply can not get excited about this Y2K hoopla. I don’t even care if my computer melts down for I have nothing stored that would matter if the year is 1900 or 2000.

I do, though, care about the first day of spring. It’s the time to enjoy the annual coming of the daffodils, those silly yellow flowers that look like children singing. It’s also time for annual spring cleaning, or in my case, time to clean out the bugs. I’m not talking about those small creepy crawlers, for some of them I rather like. My seven year old granddaughter and I have great fun tying several feet of thread to large black beetles and walking them around on the patio as if they were on a leash. Better yet, it’s more fun to go to the garden supply store and buy a box of lady bugs and then allow them crawl all over your arm. A thousand lady bugs on your arm creates a sensation that is beyond description. So, I can live with the six legged creatures. The bugs to which I’m alluding are the things that “bug” me in magic. I have promised my family that being in my 60th year of my journey from the cradle to the grave I will be kinder and more gentle with my fellow magicians. I still won’t belong to a magic club, but I promise to be nicer to those who do ….if I can, and I think I can. Likewise, I agree to not let so many things in magic bug me….if I can, though I’m not sure I can. First, though, I need to clear the air and vent about some of those “bugging” things now. Let’s begin.

This really bugs me. Any magic that happens in the mouth. Cards, coins, paper coils, silks, you name it. If it happens in the mouth if bugs me. It’s even worse when these things from the mouth are tossed into the audience, such as a selected card, covered with spittle, being sailed out into the crowd.

In-Your-Face magic. Do I have to explain this one? I’m not talking about challenge magic, for challenge magic can be delightful if done with kindness and friendship. However, I can see nothing kind or friendly about getting in someone’s face. Sadly, this approach to presentation seems to be catching on more and more, especially in the venues where I work.

Playing to other magicians when performing. We see this quite often. A performing magician will spot a fellow magician in the crowd and his entire personality immediately changes. Folks, inside jokes and innuendo have no meaning to the laymen viewers. To make it worse, those same viewers recognize them as inside jokes, and they are being left out. It has the effect of talking down to them. As a result it really bugs me when the performer plays to other magicians. Years ago when Senator Clark Crandall was a night manager at the Magic Castle he told me he avoided going to the shows because the performers would often play to him.

Magicians who laugh at their own jokes rather than allowing the viewers to decide if the joke is funny. I think many magicians start this trait as a nervous habit until it finally weaves its way into a presentation style. Some magicians even laugh at everything they say whether it’s intended as a joke or not. Anyway, it bugs me.

Magicians who are always “on.” There are times when enough is enough. I could write pages on this, but little more needs saying. It bugs me.

Throwing items out into the audience such as a deck of cards, a ball, a coin, or anything else. I’ve written of this before and few have taken me seriously. Consider this. You never know when someone might have a nervous disorder limiting reflex actions. Something even as light as a coin or a spinning playing card can cause serious injury to the eye.

Loud PA systems when they are not required. Nothing is more uncomfortable than someone speaking to you through a sound system that dominates. It bugs me.

Involving a spectator in a routine, asking a question, and then not allowing the spectator to answer the question.

Tacky props, unpolished metal items, ratty dog-eared decks of cards, and filthy sponge balls. I may as well include bizarre attire. I’ll never understand why so many magicians wear such goofy clothing, especially when the costume in no way relates to the act, nor will I understand why they will use shoddy props. It bugs me.

Tricks where the magician messes or tinkers with a spectator’s clothing. I’m not talking about Knife Through Jacket, for in this effect the jacket has openly been loaned to the performer. Though the owner may become a bit squeamish, he does go in with his eyes open by agreeing to doff his jacket and turn it over the soothsayer. I’m talking about effects where the magician gets in the viewer’s private space and then starts to monkey around with his tie, buttons, and so on. I really can’t imagine getting in someone’s private space, bending over, and apparently biting off a jacket button. I don’t care that Malini did it. It still reeks of bad manners from start to finish.

Tripod tables having fringe around the top and mounted on chrome drum stands. They look like exactly what they are, a fringe top on a drum stand. They bug me.

Magicians who think that laymen viewers care what brand of playing cards are being used. That bugs me. Laymen don’t know one brand from another, and they don’t care. I once said if you were to stand in Times Square and place 100 different decks of cards on the sidewalk, then ask everyone passing by which deck they would like you to use for card tricks, the reply would be, “I don’t care.”

Magicians who have never read the books, The Art of Magic, Greater Magic, Expert Card Technique, Our Magic, Sachs Sleight of Hand, Magic Without Apparatus, Fine Art of Magic, and Hofzinser’s Card Conjuring. Yes, that bugs me. Moreover, it bugs me even more when those same magicians view the Tarbell Course, the Fitzkee Trilogy, and the Buckley books as having much value. (All flames gladly accepted on this one.)

Finally, this one bugs me most. Magicians who constantly rant, rave, complain, and then feel a need to write about it. OOPS…………..I’m outta here!