Hooked on Magic and a Phone

So if you had to give up your iphone or magic what would it be? This does not come out of the blue. A young man maybe 17 or 18 came into the shop talking on his phone. He asked if he could look around. I said “Of course.” and he kept on talking, only interrupting the conversation to ask if I had a certain trick. I said yes. He kept on talking on his phone. He asked it I could demo it. I said yes. I got the trick, opened the box, took out the cards and he is still talking on the phone.

“Put down your phone!” I said, not in a sweet way.

“I’m putting you on hold.” he said to whoever, and he put down the phone.

I showed him the trick and blew him away. He got back on the phone. When he was ready to make his purchase he got off the phone.

I said, ” I don’t know how we survived. Believe it or not, until I was 7, and we were a family of 6 people, we didn’t have a phone, not even a wall phone. When there was an emergency we would ring our neigbour’s bell and ask is we could use her phone, which was a wall phone. When we moved to N.D.G. we got a phone, but it had a party line, so we couldn’t use it whenever we wanted. And you, young man, can’t take a breath without it.”

“I know. I love my phone.”





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2 responses to “Hooked on Magic and a Phone

  1. One of the reasons I do far, far less restaurant magic these days.

    In the 90s’, whomever was ‘on the phone’ at a table, was usually paying.
    Then everyone had one – they would ring in the middle of a 3 minute transposition card trick with full audience involvement. “I’ll get it” – and they were gone. ‘Placeholder’ participants break continuity of the effect.

    Then everyone had a camera in their phone.
    (That and the prevalence of large screen tvs in every corner of the restaurant). I was reduced to ‘eye candy’, card flourishes and visually quick ‘stunners’ that had no concept or audience involvement. Basically, a human neon sign.

    Then came video. From every angle. Playback while I was still within arm’s reach. And, you could ‘Google it’.

    This has had a cultural effect – sociologically we have become a flock of birds, a swarm of minnows. Very little depth or perception. Immediate gratification. (Lately, I have noticed a balance of ‘rush to grab’ social inappropriateness, or ‘shock and awe’ that close-up magic is occurring in their presence. I am leaning more towards the ‘shock and awe’, as most folks in the last decade have NOT encountered magic at close range.

    Thankfully, there are eddies and liminal spaces where cellphones are ‘off limits’ – or audiences who eschew ‘social media’ and ‘technology’, where OFFLINE is a new luxury. This is where my magic lives, nowadays, mostly.

    Sad, but true. Technology free zones, by invitation only.
    (“Please turn OFF your cellphone”)

    I am reminded of ‘David Copperfield’ syndrome – or ‘going viral’.
    Where 20 million people saw what you did overnight, and now you have to come up with an entirely new show … I prefer to be the busiest magician in show business that you have never heard of – but won’t easily forget!

    Live, and in person, beats technology every time.
    Some of the best masters (past and present) still have killer chops when it comes to defeating focus, technology, and audience direction.
    (I am reminded of Al Goshman, Johnny Paul, and Slydini)

    Thanks for sharing this perspective.
    Martin DominO Magic – http://www.amazingmagic.info
    (Celebrating 30+ years, and miles of smiles)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your input. You’ve covered a lot of ground and have given a lot of insight to what is going on in the magic world. It might be a plan for restaurant magicians to ask people politely to turn off their phones is they would like you to perform for them. It may be too much to ask of some people. They might be wondering throughout the show whose calls they are missing.


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