Busy Busy Busy

We are abuzz here at Four Suits, and are going to be announcing some fun stuff soon, but before we do we wanted to give a shout out to four other awesome magicians who are friends, co-conspirators, and all around spiffing chaps:

First we have Blaise Serra and Carlos Suárez, who are putting on an incredible show this Saturday, May 25, which we highly recommend you check out. We’ve seen some sneak peaks and these bad boys lay down some jaw-dropping magic.

Next we have the culmination of an epic project from the Coin Magic Underground and the one and only Tyler Rabbit. We were thrilled to get to to be even a small part of this, and of course a big thank you to Corey Munson for his help. We can’t say too much beyond that, but there is more to this YouTube channel than meets the eye. Can you find it?

And finally, the week of June 3rd-9th the underground card sensation and boy wonder that is Daniel Roy will be at the Magic Castle in the Gallery. Without exaggeration one of the best technicians we have ever met. Check him out.

Four Suits
Grow Your D*** Size 10 Times with this Easy Card Trick! Learn NOW!

Did the clickbait work? Be honest with us.

Either way, this video we made a while ago just went randomly viral and logged in about a half a mil views a few days ago. The power has gone to our heads. We’ll be selling ourselves out for cheap product placements soon. It’s going to be a mess. And whenever I have a mess at home, I always prefer to use Brawny brand paper towels.

— J.R.

P.S. — I’m really trying to make a video with that title soon. Wish me luck, lest I not be able to wear shorts this summer.

GØNE

We are officially sold out of tickets for the Spec-toke-ular this Saturday! For those of you with tickets, we look forward to seeing you; if you haven’t received the address and details then reach out to us. For those who weren’t able to make it, keep your eyes peeled next year, tickets go fast. If you’re still keen on seeing some magic you can check out one of our other performers, explore shaman magic from around the world, and ask what it means to believe - next Friday the 26th.

spectokular poster Sold out.png
Four Suits
This is a Puzzle Fit for a R****

Ok, so a few days ago we here at Four Suits were hit with great news about an upcoming event this summer.

We’ll be hosting a series of workshops and presentations alongside a very well-known magician/performance artist team, at a world-renowned (seriously) event. Can you figure out who we’re working with and where we’ll be this summer?

— J.R.

dear readerJax Ridddc27
Magic and Search for Meaning

I’ll be honest, folks. I’ve been staying pretty occupied setting up for Spectokular amongst all the weekly/daily magic shenanigans that by the time Thursday rolled around, I was unprepared with a blog post… However, J.R. of years gone by had no shortage of meta-magic-blog-posts, so today I present you with a meditation (and challenge) on Magic, written from a Magic Convention, years ago. It’s left with a big blank at the end, all up for you to decide how to resolve it.

— J.R.

August 2014

E N T E R T A I N M E

E N T E R T A I N M E

As I sat in the audience at a magic convention, I heard the lecturer state that magic should come second, and the entertainment is always first. I looked at my tag, and it did indeed say I was at a magic convention, not an entertainment convention.

I've become so internally conflicted lately, in regards to magic. What should it be? What do people expect? Do I care what people expect? Is the best always going to follow what preceded in a nice line of one thing leading to another? What is "success"?

Is magic supposed to be a display of sleight of hand? Is it supposed to be heavy handed? Light hearted? Is it supposed to leave with something more than just a good time? What is the most important part of magic, the show or the show after the show? Is a successful performer one who is decorated amongst their peers, or their audience, or their critics, or their pocketbooks? What is success in magic? How is success determined in entertainment in general? Where does magic fall in the scope of entertainment?

Here's a new act for you then. Here's an act that pleases everyone. It is entertaining for those who think of magic lightly. It is easy to understand for those who prefer simplicity. It is complex enough to wow the knucklebusters in the audience. And it leaves you with that magical moment, something special and different…

Mistakes Were Made

There is a classic trope in mentalism, a type of story that is passed around constantly: that having one or two high-profile misses can actually enhance the rest of the performance, because it seemingly proves their authenticity. Why would they miss if it was just a trick they could do on command? I have read versions of this story in pamphlets from famous mentalists and mediums, in books on methods, and in descriptions of performances, but it never really got through to me…until it happened to me.

I was performing a mentalism/spirit theater show and, through my own carelessness, one of my newer effects simply failed to hit. Learning how to recover from a mistake or failed effect is important and a skill all performers should think about and practice (and a good scripting lesson is to always build your risky or untested effects into a place where it will be easy to recover, or where the flow of effects naturally leads the audience back in line with you), but the recovery is not precisely the question here. The question is, after recovering, how does it affect the rest of the performance, the credibility, and the energy of the audience? I could tell that they were dubious (it was essentially the first effect in my set, so it did not inspire confidence), but I knew the second effect was extremely strong, and built well into the rest of the show, giving me something of an “escape ramp”. Plowing forward, then, I got back on track, and the show proceeded comfortably.  By the end of the second effect there was an audible “Oh my god” and I knew everything was fine, but the more interesting reactions were at the end when I had more than one person tell me something along the lines of “I wasn’t sure about you at the beginning, but wow!” and I think that process of change, of bringing them around, is worth thinking about.

These anecdotes traditionally end with something along the lines of “I don’t know if I would intentionally add such a large mistake to my shows, but it definitely makes you reconsider how you use misses to prove authenticity.” While I agree with that, I think my advice is different, and is this: take the long shots. The effect that failed for me was nothing wild, and was the result of my own inattention, but now that I truly know how far I can miss by and still bring the audience back, it makes me think about what much larger and more interesting, risky effects I can attempt knowing that failure truly is an option.

(Obviously this doesn’t apply quite as well to non-mentalism/séance style performance, but I think it’s worth considering.)

— Z.Y.

Four Suits
This Month in Magic - March

It’s a good time to be apart of the Four Suits world…

Those near and dear to us are doing things out in LA this March:

March 9 - Zac Young, “The Fool’s Journey”, 8pm at Diehl Marcus, 4707 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles CA 90029, TICKETS

March 12 - Ariel Shrum, “Notes on Magic”, 8pm at Black Rabbit Rose, 1719 N. Hudson Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90028, NO COVER.

February held the exciting release (and a move that is actually coming across much easier than it would seem) of The One Armed Bandit by Blaise Serra

April will hold the most kick-ass, wild experience of Magic you’ve ever experienced. INFO HERE. Reader of the site and want to attend? Email us for a discount.

Cheers, we hope to see you around,

J.R.

The Fool's Journey

We are proud to announce a performance of The Fool’s Journey, a parlor seance, featuring Four Suits member Zac Young, taking place March, Saturday 9, at 8 p.m.

You can find tickets and details here.

Fools Journey
Four Suits
Journal of Performance Magic -- The End of Mind Reading, Eddie Dean

Dear Reader,

Today I thought I’d give a shoutout to another publication with some pretty enlightening thoughts on modern magic performance, lots of idea gold here…

There’s a publication called the Journal of Performance Magic, which Z.Y. hipped me up to. It’s all free as part of University publications.

Z.Y. hit me up with this particular article: The End of Mind Reading which is pretty informative and, while I don’t necessarily agree with everything in it, Eddie makes some pretty unique discoveries and shares a unique perspective. Nice work, man.

Best,

J.R.

Steward of Magic + Collusion

I must admit, I’ve been colluding with a group of individuals over the past year, with the intention of making better magic, and by that virtue, better magicians. Couple days ago, I met up with a founder of the organization, B.M., who emphasizes the importance of being able to teach and direct the movement of the art (of magic) when engaging other individuals outside of the organization, essentially activating every single one of us as a steward of good magic.

This is honestly a new frame of mind for me. You’d have to ask my therapist (when I get one) why I’ve had such a laissez-faire attitude towards those who don’t lead the art forward. There’s a part of me that agrees with Jerry Seinfeld and believes that the magic ecosystem, just like the comedy ecosystem, cleanses itself. If you’re not a good magician, you don’t get as much work as the better ones.

However, can’t you already imagine this? Think about the way a random person you know thinks about magic. Chances are, there’s almost a 100% chance they think of one of the following: a hacky kids show, a gaudily-dressed man, their elderly relative, or wannabe-edgy TV magic. Now, if the system cleanses itself in a market like that, it’d probably cleanse itself all the way down to one of these cliches where only that succeeds and legitimate performances aren’t part of the culture. These more interesting forms of magic of course would still exist, but might go more underground in terms of performance. Which, honestly, the really good stuff has always been underground like that. It’s always been out there, but you’re not always looking at it front and center.

In lieu of the above-mentioned magical paradigm-shift, and in some sort of hope to improve the culture of magic we’ve all grown to know and love, not to mention my own personal growth in this process, I’m learning to be more of a steward of good magic. While the strongest thing I can do is to be like a “...lighthouse in the foggy, conventional, and outdated world of magic.” as Jay Sankey says about Paul Harris (Art of Astonishment Vol. 3) by showing and sharing my own direction through self-action, I can also afford to speak up when I see something right, as well as something wrong, when someone else shares their action. This is a community I care about, and if I truly care about it, I have to show people what they don’t see.

“A guide for those who have lost their way” (Shantideva) This has always been one of the hardest parts of the Shantideva Prayer for me, because I always thought, who am I to say where someone else is going? Who is to say that I’m going to the “right” place? And I know a lot of this is both embracing and battling my own personal history and thought processes, but I think there’s certainly a way, while still respecting the path of others, to share my own way, at least so others may see it.

So, on this Valentine’s day, be thoughtful, be kind, and show your love to your own community.

— J.R.

May I become at all times, both now and forever
A protector of those without protection
A guide for those who have lost their way
A ship for those with oceans to cross
A bridge for those with rivers to cross
A sanctuary for those in danger
A lamp for those without light
A place of refuge for those who lack shelter
And a servant to all in need
For as long as space endures,
And for as long as living beings remain,
Until then may I, too, abide
To dispel the misery of the world.

— Shantideva

“Yes, Paul has been and still is, at least for me, a kind of lighthouse in the foggy, conventional, and out-dates world of magic. Sometimes a huge amount of responsibility and pressure is heaped upon the light houses to guide others home, and that’s just fine; it’s the task Paul has taken, but we mustn’t forget that Paul, like a lighthouse, only guides or points the way toward the shore, he is not the shore himself. Thank you for the priceless guidance, Paul.”

— Jay Sankey

Classic Magic Movie

Last week I watched a classic magic movie that perfectly encapsulates an element of magic theory. No, I’m not talking about The Prestige or The Illusionist, not The Great Buck Howard nor The Sting. No, I was watching that Dreamworks masterpiece The Prince of Egypt.

Setting aside the religious aspect of the movie, there is one scene in particular that gets me. It is when Moses first confronts the pharaoh and asks him to let the Hebrews go. To prove he was sent by God he performs a miracle, and the pharaoh has his priests respond in kind. (Apologies for it being in two pieces, I couldn’t find a single video of the whole segment.)

Now there are a lot of questions about magic’s role in religion and it’s relationship with faith and belief, but I want to look at something a lot simpler: two magicians (Moses and the Priests) perform basically the same effect (turning staffs into a snakes) in two very different ways (Moses’ is a literal miracle, while the movie implies the Priests use sleight of hand) but with two very different presentations (Moses simply does it, while the Priests dress theirs up with theatrics).

I won’t try and beat this over the head, but I think it’s at once a lesson in how a stronger method does not always lead to a more entertaining effect, but also the importance of clarity in creating effects (I almost missed the Priests even changing the staffs the first time I saw it). Just some food for thought.

(Also seriously some of the music in this movie is great, so go listen to it.)

 

—Z.Y.

Four Suits
Get Outside / Magic for Young Lovers, The Jerx, Andy

Magic for Young Lovers by Andy “The Jerx” just arrived at my house last week.

I’ve been sick for the past few days, so I read it completely through in just two days.

Absolute work of art. The way they think about creating experiences for people, the amount of detailed attention Andy puts into his presentations. It’s mindblowing. All of those cliche “Uncles” who showed you magic at family gatherings should’ve been doing this style of performance all along because so much of the performance is meant for the casual social realm. I digress, get the book, or get on that site if you haven’t already.

Related:

There’s been a lot disturbing my life lately. I’ve been working with an external team on a very ambitious theatrical production of magic, been working w/ Four Suits members on creating a live experience/tour show, and always trying to continue the momentum forward amongst the other standard magic noise. I’ve gotten myself stressed out about it. That is the lifestyle that I chose, I thought. However, even doing the same things in my lifestyle, I realize I don’t have to stress myself out so much.

You ever know that feeling when you’re disgustingly sick, and then you just start to get better? That happened to me today. I took a walk outside. Just put on some shoes and walked outside. No phone. No connection to anything. Just walked outside about an hour before sunset. It made me feel like a kid again.

It had just rained here in LA. Everything was gorgeous, and everything was so much bigger than me. I grabbed a tangerine off a tree. I picked one of those little, damn, I don’t even know the name... One of those little thin stalks of plant, with tiny yellow tube shaped flowers, ones that I used to chew for their tart taste when I was a kid, I did that again probably for the first time since I’ve been a kid.

There was something magical about today. And it was incredibly freeing, and definitely widened my perspective, relaxed me. This is magic. Not in the way that Magic with a capital “M” frames it, but something truly magical, and I think that’s a bit where Andy comes from. And where I hope to come from too.

— J.R.

Magic Trick EXPOSED!

I know a lot has already been written about people who reveal magic methods online (and I mean with the purpose of exposing them to non-magicians, not sharing for other magicians to use), but I feel compelled to offer my two cents. Besides the obvious issues of revealing methods that are not theirs to begin with, I think they have a very shortsighted relationship with magic.

One beauty of magic is that, with just one or two good methods you have the core of dozens, if not hundreds, of great effects that just needs a few tweaks and as many different presentations as you can imagine. That means the magical mileage you can get out of a single move or method is incredible. Revealing a move, though, obviously happens only once.

Even if you are looking at this issue through the lens of a rabid, content-creating, buzz word-using, #hashtag wielding social media influencer, it makes no sense. From a very small number of methods you can create dozens of mystifying and entertaining videos that people will come back and watch over and over again, show to their friends, and possibly think about for days sparking conversations that get your name out. But when you reveal a method that’s it. That’s all you get. One use. One video that people will watch one time. No one needs to watch a video that explains a method more than once because the value they get isn’t entertainment, like in a magic trick, but information. Once they watch it they know, and they never need to come back.

I don’t really have a point to this besides the obvious: revealing magic tricks online is not only rude to those who worked hard to create or master that method, but also short-sighted when viewed from a entertainment and ‘content creator’ stand point. Basically, the only reason I can see it do it is if you are actually just too lazy to use that method to make an entertaining piece of magic. And if you can’t make an entertaining piece of magic, well then, are you really a magician?

 —Z.Y.

 

 

(The only exception to this is to go in a direction like Penn and Teller did with their revelations, where they turned them into pieces of entertainment and drama in and of themselves, regardless of the revealed ‘methods,’ which were essentially always outdated and rarely used anyway.)

Four Suits
Magic that Touches the Real

There are so, so many different kinds of magic. Card magic, coin magic, magic with weird gimmicks and devices that look like no normal object, stage illusions, mind reading, and on and on. More magic than any one normal person could possibly perform (or at least, perform well). People always talk about finding your own style, and finding the material that fits you. Clearly that’s good advice, but I always found it hard to follow. Instead, I always ended up asking myself “what magic compels me?” Not just magic I like, but effects that stick in my head and nudge some little part of my psyche. Effects not just that I wish I could see performed well, but effects that, if I saw them performed well, would change me somehow, and would speak to something deeper. And beyond the effects themselves, thinking about the kinds of dramatic settings these effects would inhabit, or the feelings of the places this magic would be performed. Now go perform that magic. Obviously that’s a tall order, but you have to start at the top, with the ideal, because along the way life will inject more than enough reality to temper your dreams.

So that’s what I strive for.

impossible.png

A lot of people, when going down that road, get tied up in the idea of just performing the most impossible magic they can think of. This is certainly not a bad thing. I will never be against more utterly impossible magic. But for me, I found that impossibility was not my highest goal. Instead, I wanted magic that was meaningful. Meaningful? What does that even mean? It means there must be no veneer of trickery or ‘fooling,’ but instead an authentic willingness to have an experience. It’s not that the participants need to think the magic is real, but experiencing it must really change how they experience or understand something, or even better someone, else in their life. The magic doesn’t have to be real, it has to touch the real. So that when they go on with their lives afterwards and experience that bit of real again it carries with it a faint hint of magic, a little reminder of the impossibility of the word we live in. So maybe I do care about performing impossible magic after all…

—Z.Y.

Four Suits
The Deception Artist at Work, Spyscape Museum, New York City

The Deception Artist at Work, Spyscape Museum, New York City

This coming Monday, January 14, 2019, J.R. will perform a unique installation at Spyscape NYC. Coinciding with a special event, J.R. will demonstrate skills utilized across occupations, from the world of espionage, to the magician, to the street hustler.

If you’re in NYC and tickets are still available for this one of a kind experience, we look forward to seeing you there...

Excerpt from the experience:

… [The Deception Artist] begins to explore some of the psychology and language behind this game, breaking down some of the tells that we humans innately display when we’re trying to hide a secret. The interaction is equal parts deception and secrecy, which are both revealed and concealed sequentially all in front of your very eyes and in your very hands. The interaction concludes with a simple “trick/cheat” that you can learn and perform as well when you leave, activating yourself as a deception artist…

-- J.R.