magic cool ... or cruel, by Sally Pook - 7th October
The Sydney Morning Herald)
There was a time when magic was all about Paul Daniels
pretending to saw Debbie McGee in half. How we gasped
at the innocent trickery.
carving up assistants is outrageously low grade, passe,
boring. Nothing less than starving oneself in a Perspex
box, making wild animals vanish or potentially shooting
oneself in the head will do.
in a widely condemned, much-hyped and some might say
tasteless stunt, Derren Brown was due to play Russian
roulette "live" on British television.
member of the public has been picked to load the gun
with a single bullet - Brown trusted his mental powers
to alert him to the live chamber and the act was due
to be shown on Channel 4 with a short time delay so
the screen could be blanked if it went horribly wrong.
David Blaine, the American illusionist, is on his
31st day of self-imposed starvation in a box suspended
near the Thames, risking his health and, possibly,
is enough to make you yearn for a good old-fashioned
maybe not. The Magic Circle, guardian of all things
enchanted, appears undisturbed by the ever more dangerous
stunts dreamed up to entertain an increasingly dubious
it credited the new, generation of illusionists with
making magic hip once more.
is bringing a new look to the way magic is presented,"
said Andrew Eborn, a member of the the Magic Circle
council. "The old image of magicians as old men
with funny beards has gone out of the window. Paul
Daniels was a brilliant entertainer but this is a
different approach. It is making magic and magicians
look cool again. Magic is the new rock and roll."
is not a word any of the anti-gun groups would use
to describe Brown's stunt, which they condemned as
irresponsible, glamourising the gun culture.
British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
even said it could encourage vulnerable people to
subliminal message that will be carried to young men
is that guns are glamorous, risk-taking is masculine,
depression is cool and suicide is sexy," a spokesman
knives in the circus is one thing. Mimicking a public
execution on live television is potentially a freedom
Above the Below stunt has earnt him hoots of derision
from the British public and a fair share of abuse,
including burgers being flown past his box in toy
Blaine is still risking much by his endurance test.
The terrible and long-lasting damage he could do to
his health has been widely documented.
an example of the terrible dangers inherent in certain
"magic", Roy Horn, one half of the duo Siegfried
and Roy, was in a critical condition yesterday after
being mauled by a tiger during a Las Vegas stage show.
German-born entertainer was bitten in the throat by
a white Bengal tiger.
course, we would not encourage anyone to do anything
like this at all," said Mr Eborn. "But what
you have to remember is that Blaine and Brown are
not performing magic, they are doing stunts.
is doing an endurance test for publicity. The British
have ridiculed him, which is a shame, but there is
some good in it.
of this is increasing interest in magic and helping
to revitalise it."
Eborn said that such was appetite for magic that he
and his business partner, the magician Ali Bongo,
were setting up a production company to bring more
magic to television.
is it really David Blaine and Derren Brown we have
to thank, or a slightly more innocent Harry Potter?
Sydney Morning Herald