Best. Card Trick. Ever. - YouTube.jpg

What makes someone a magician? Let me clarify this even further, what is the lowest possible requirement that has to be met for you to feel good about someone being entrusted with ANY magic secret?

We are talking children here. Do they need to be fascinated by a trick and then ask how it’s done? Do they need to save up enough money to buy a trick from an online shop or Amazon? Do they need to borrow a book or video from a friend? Or a library?

The goal here is to gather input on what the line is between teaching and exposure. With the recent magic kerfuffle over Brian Brushwood’s Invisible Deck episode of Scam School this is something that I am curious to hear your opinions on.

I am not saying that Brian’s video was any magic secret, but we can work up from there once we understand the baseline.

I’ll start: I believe that any inclination to find out how a magic trick works makes you a worthy of magic knowledge. Any interest in method, at all, full stop. It’s the cardinal difference between my friends inside and outside of the industry. Magicians care about methods, outsiders might be fascinated by tricks, but they really don’t care beyond a perfunctory “how did you do that?” wonder squeak.

If you care. You are special. You have an interest. And my hypothesis is that interest will make you more inclined to take care of that secret and build relationships from it than degrade it.

In that sense, I am not a magician. In the six years I’ve written on this site I’ve had far more secrets told to me by magicians than I’ve ever sought out. The performance fascinates me, the social dynamics fascinate me and the state of the industry fascinates me. That’s what draws me to this subject.

Explanations of methods are wasted on me. I don’t care enough to remember the specifics half the time and even if I do, I assume there are a many ways to skin a cat and would very, very rarely have enough confidence to declare how something is being done while it was performed. In fact, performances that overly go out of their way to disprove a method tend to bore me.

But this is about you, what is a magician?

  • http://twitter.com/Naked_Christian M. Earl Avery

    I agree with you, JuRY.

    That said, I have been burned by someone that faked true interest only to instantly broadcast my method. Luckily I had another way to ‘skin that cat’ and was able to save my reputation and have public opinion turn on the would-be snitch.

  • HAL

    I’ve ALWAYS wanted to know how tricks are done. When I was 13, I saw the original ‘King Kong’. While the audience was screaming, I was sitting there wondering how they did it. It took a long time to find out, back then the effects were secrets.

    IMO, a magician is someone who can fool you. If you can figure it out, it ain’t that good. Not being a magician, I see no reason not to reveal what I know to someone. If I can figure it out, I’m not stealing any secret, just passing it on.
    I do have difficulty in your approach Justin, so involved in magic, yet not interested in methods. I’m sure they trust you not to reveal secrets.

    I wish someone would reveal EVERY card trick, so we wouldn’t have to suffer through so many of them.

  • SNOW

    I find that when someone can’t figure out how you did the trick, the next thing they want to do is examine the deck. As soon as you won’t allow them to examine the deck, that spoils the magic because they now know for sure that the deck is rigged and people don’t find that magic. This is more of a scam than magic. Which brings you to define what is a magic trick? I think I agree with Hal. It should be examinable and your audience shouldn’t be able to figure it out.

  • Luca

    Love Brian… but I think everyone know this was not a good thing. is this professional magician school or scam school? Scam school is for someone that wants to learn a few betchas or puzzles to look cool.

    The invisible deck is a marketed item. It’s a professional prop… We all know inherently why it’s wrong.

    All due respect, before exposing something that OTHER magi do, why doesn’t Brian expose HIS magic… example… we don’t see him exposing his hand puppet penetration… also don’t see him exposing his isolation chamber routine, or how he makes a ghost appear on cell phones… The reason is because it renders the trick less valuable. If Brian invented the invisible deck, then I’d say it’s fine… but he didn’t, and this goes FAR beyond your uncle’s card trick or a bar betcha.

    The majority of people who watch Scam School are not interested in performing magic for a living. They’ve invested NOTHING monetarily, and that’s certainly ok, but there is a definite line that should be respected. Again, if not, why hasn’t Brian exposed HIS current tricks? I thought the straight jacket exposure they did was a bit too much… Who’s coming to a bar with a straight jacket anyway? ya know?

    When you expose a trick on youtube for thousands, you literally hurt a marketed item. I would’ve had more respect if Brian offered to sell the invisible deck, because if someone is willing to pay for it, then they’re serious about using it. Exposing a VERY current and professional magic trick that you didn’t create, that is in the working sets of magicians world wide, giving it away for free, while you yourself profits from it, just isn’t right.

    And I think any magician would agree. The scam school audience isn’t a group of magicians… if they were, they wouldn’t be watching scam school to learn the invisible deck… plain and simple.

  • http://iTricks.com/news JustinRYoung

    Well, Brian does do a straight jacket escape in his show and used it as a finale at his Halloween Horror Nights gig two years ago.

    My question is, why isn’t Scam School a legit place to learn? Magic has always been a young mans art, most adolescent boys think of YouTube the way previous generations thought about television. Doesn’t it make sense that many would seek out and find value in a magic tutorial show?

    Also, I think it’s a fine line to say that the person who spends $10 on a deck is more serious about magic than the person who has spent hours watching a tutorial magic series.

  • HAL

    Hey Snow: I think you raise a good point about what is magic. Is the Strait Jacket escape magic? It’s been done by so many, it’s just a method of getting loose. You know what’s going to happen, it’s just who can do it in the least time. Same with card tricks, not really magic as I understand the meaning, just a way of manipulating cards. Same applies, you always know what will happen. It is a skill, but no real suspense like watching a tight rope walker.

  • Luca

    If Scam School is a legitimate place to learn all magic, then my challenge is to have Brian expose/teach his own bread and butter tricks.

    My point is that he exposed something in actual magicians shows. LOTS btw…
    Second, the invisible deck isn’t Brian’s to give away. He doesn’t own that marketed item.

    Thirdly, its a MUCH bigger deal for someone to pay for the information. Much different than simply watching something on youtube.

    Lastly, Brian profits from exposing something that isn’t his and it does indeed hurt magicians and the trick.

    There really is no way to make it ok… Even Valentino didn’t expose the invisible deck.

    Scam School is a bar betcha/wanna be clever with friends kinda series… a true magic series shouldn’t be public domain on youtube…there SHOULD be some common sense.

    Again, I like the series, and I like Brian… But a line has been crossed here…and if you ask any magician, I have no doubt they’ll agree.

    I guess I’d define “the line” as if it HURTS current performers, then it’s over the line… if it devalues an item people have PAID to both learn and use, it’s over the line…

    I know deep down you have to understand what I’m saying…

  • Luca

    If Scam School is a legitimate place to learn all magic, then my challenge is to have Brian expose/teach his own bread and butter tricks.

    My point is that he exposed something in actual magicians shows. LOTS btw…
    Second, the invisible deck isn’t Brian’s to give away. He doesn’t own that marketed item.

    Thirdly, its a MUCH bigger deal for someone to pay for the information. Much different than simply watching something on youtube.

    Lastly, Brian profits from exposing something that isn’t his and it does indeed hurt magicians and the trick.

    There really is no way to make it ok… Even Valentino didn’t expose the invisible deck.

    Scam School is a bar betcha/wanna be clever with friends kinda series… a true magic series shouldn’t be public domain on youtube…there SHOULD be some common sense.

    Again, I like the series, and I like Brian… But a line has been crossed here…and if you ask any magician, I have no doubt they’ll agree.

    I guess I’d define “the line” as if it HURTS current performers, then it’s over the line… if it devalues an item people have PAID to both learn and use, it’s over the line…

    I know deep down you have to understand what I’m saying…

  • http://iTricks.com/news JustinRYoung

    I think we have a fundamental different view of YouTube. I do not believe, for series like Scam School, it’s not a passive medium. It’s long and demanding as far as content goes.

    You make a great point about Valentino, he didn’t reveal this trick. Because his exposure was designed for laypeople who had seen Copperfield, Lance Burton and Henning on TV. He revealed those illusions that no one in that audience would ever appreciate beyond a puzzle or perform.

    Humbly, I don’t believe Brian is teaching to the same audience or with the same intent. I’m biased because I see them more often (I co-host a show with Brian) but there are a lot of great people who love learning magic that also love YouTube. They put in the effort, share their experiences and get better. They just aren’t part of the clubs or convention scene.

  • Graemazing

    I remember when I was a kid I could learn tricks on TV but nothing of this calibre. I think it is fine to teach tricks on youtube but maybe not the bigger secrets..especially something that you would buy at the local magic shop. We are all magicians we are a small community and we should be supporting one another. Teaching tricks like this hurts our local magic shops. The biggest part of magic is being able to keep the best secrets..not to keep us amazing but to keep the audience amazed.

  • HAL

    @JustinRYoung:disqus I think what you say about ‘Scam School’ (long and demanding because of the content) also applied to ‘The Masked Magician’. If I recall, there were 13 hour shows. He said there were 130 tricks revealed. So, many of these were lame tricks you’d see at a kids birthday party, saving a big illusion till last. There were so many ‘big’ illusions that I would like to have seen not included. I was hoping he’d come back with more shows, but it never happened. Can you hook me up with FOX? I could do a few hour shows.

  • Luca

    Need for content is no excuse for exposure. If you say that…then I’m assuming in 5 years Brian will be exposing multipying bottles and a twister… NIM & Invisible Deck are in two FAR separate categories… You run a magic based website…I’m floored if you don’t see the difference…

    Scam School was supposed to be aimed at layman who wanted a betcha to win a free drink. So based off of what you’re saying, then I’m assuming Brian would have no problem with one or several of his routines being exposed on youtube? Why not do that first before exposing a marketed item he didn’t create?

    Scam School doesn’t require a password or anything of the sort. It’s geared for layman…So basically Justin, you just think that there IS no line. Brian has become the “Napster” of magic then? LOL

    I guess you’ll have to agree to disagree with thousands of magicians… But to each his own opinion.

  • Luca

    Fun side bar… I posted the vid on the magic cafe to see what other magicians thought… Magic cafe removed it citing the video was an exposure video… So then, respecting their wishes, I just said, since I can’t post the video, you’ll have to search youtube for best card trick ever… They deleted the post and my account for more than 9 years… LOL. So either they felt they were protecting Brian, OR they thought I was trying to “expose.” LOL No big, but just wanted to give you credit for even opening the discussion about it. While we may not agree, you are secure enough to put it out there and have the discussion. Kudos to you for that as web master.

    I closing, I DO want to say I still think Brian is great, and I think you are as well… Just think this was an error on his part…personally thinking…

    Just didn”t want this to come off as angry by any means.