Street ad takeover manual (now go have fun)
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In the interest of creative, poetic, and artistic hacking, (the essence of our relationship with DEFCON this August), we present to you a guide to hacking/replacing bus stop billboards and public ad spaces, spotted by Z.Y.: http://brandalism.ch/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Brandalism-Guide2.pdf

Now, go on and have some fun. But the first person to use this as a card reveal will be sent to Magician jail.

— J.R.

Loop of Impossibility

Recently the Four Suits team was discussing why certain magic shows don’t have more strong magic, both intentionally and unintentionally, and I thought I’d share the results of one branch of that conversation.

Strong magic doesn’t need to make you feel uncomfortable, but it does almost always separate you from yourself for a moment. This can mean you’re speechless, stammering, unsure of what you saw, or simply unable to remove your brain from a loop of impossibility. Seeing strong magic creates a certain tension in the audience. It presents them with a challenge: how are you going to live with this contradiction? For that strong magic to be truly experienced or felt, it needs to pass from simple impossibility and resolve into an emotion. This releases the tension and helps them relate to that moment, helps them place it in their mental system, even without explaining it. Now this emotion can be more somber if it is a dramatic or serious show, it can be awe at human skill if the magic is of a feat (sword swallowing, fire eating, even some gambling demos and mentalist memorization feats), but most commonly it’s laughter.

Make them gasp, but then make them laugh.

For a long time I wanted to let people sit in this place of impossibility, to give them no way out. There are other magicians who have theorized similarly, but as the magic you perform gets larger, the experiences of it get more intense, and the distance between performer and audience grows, the more I think that’s untenable. Leaving the audience with that much tension, with that much unsureness becomes uncomfortable, and even more than that, it prevents them from knowing how to relate to you as a performer. If you want your show to be not only devastatingly unexplainable but also memorably enjoyable then you need to give them that emotional release, that catharsis, that helps them resolve that tension.

—Z.Y.


PS: Happy birthday, you ;)

Four Suits
Give it Its Time

Two recent events have forced me to change the way I’m approaching my magic. One was that, as J.R. mentioned, we had the opportunity to teach magic to a passel of kids. Teaching kids is obviously a mixed bag of interest levels, skill sets, and attention spans, but it reminded me just how much weird old magic crap I really knew, both effects but also techniques, subtleties, and theories. This isn’t meant to toot my own horn, because what I realized is we all have that, but rarely have the opportunity to go back and take stock of it, or really examine and use it, because we understand them on such a subconscious level. Having to explain to a kid why it matters so much that he move his fingers juuuuuust so when he does a move forced me to reconsider why I do it that way, and to confront the accumulated knowledge I take for granted (as well as the inevitable bad habits that have crept in with it). The other event was that I had the opportunity to work with an outstanding magician, and seeing his work reminded me just how much of a difference there is between knowing an effect and knowing an effect. His methods were all clever, but what made his show exceptional was the level of polish, thought, and practice that had obviously gone into it. This triggered a much-needed, self-inflicted, admonishment as I realized just how much I had been half-assing.

Basically I realized I needed to slow the f*ck down and polish the ever-loving sh*t out of, well, everything. I had fallen into the classic magic trap of constantly trying to learn/create the next awesome effect. I wasn’t really applying that body of knowledge to taking the effects that I have from passable crowd pleasers to polished stunners. I think almost every magician falls into this trap at some point, and inevitably it will happen to me again, but for now I’m sticking with the mantra “do it one thousands times, each time better than the last.” This also doesn’t mean I’m going to stop creating, but hopefully that I can take this same, more careful, approach to my new material as well.

 

--Z.Y.

 

PS: I feel like this was a kind of stuffy post, so here’s a note I found in an old Ideas doc I just uncovered for us all to contemplate: “Damnit not again - multiple nails from multiple orifices.”

Four Suits
On Subtlety
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For a while there, while I was in University, I’d do a lot of writing. As it stands currently, I’m writing probably about 25% as much as I was back then. Which is kind of a bummer when we have a self-imposed weekly deadline for blog posts. I searched back in my archive for relevant material and found this entry from 2016. I still distinctly remember the moment this happened, it was on Broadway and 125th in West Harlem.

— J.R.

On Subtlety subtlety is life’s big changing agent [a/n: I have no clue what that means]. the only consistent thing that will remain true until you die, is subtlety. i once saw a man attempt to casually lift (steal) someone’s duffel bag. just, casually snatch it. put his hand on it with a loose grip. tugged a little while maintaining his walking speed. didn’t work, but the bag owner was confused after the seemingly would-be thief strolled away at a leisurely pace: did that man just try to steal my bag? he said. even though the thief-to-be wasn’t exactly hiding his actions, he wasn’t exactly making them conform to the standards of thievery. and that’s what made it subtle, to me. it was steeped in this strange netherworld where thieves sauntered into a store, perhaps with a monocle and a hoody, just faintly lifted up a tv, and kind of meandered to the exit, setting it down gently along the way. did that man just try to steal a tv? people stand around in confusion. the man walks slowly away and life goes on.

Getting Fried by a $5 Prop

Speaking of Teaching Magic (last weeks post), friend of the site Omar Renfro was screwing around with a cheap ass effect and it absolutely F R I E D us. Just goes to show it doesn’t quite matter WHAT you’re doing, the effect is ALL that matters. Should I abandon all my sleight of hand and just do cheap (literally) magic tricks? Should you? We probably all should try it out. Take the #cheaptrickchallenge. I’m going to make it trend. Watch out. 

 — J.R.

Jax Ridd
Importance of Teaching Magic?

Many of these thoughts can find their genesis in my previous post, being a steward for good magic.

Recently I was coaxed into the snafu of teaching a magic class for a couple weeks this summer. Or at least, that was the opinion of a previous magic teacher from the class. This teacher chose not to continue with the class this summer, as there were too many roadblocks and pitfalls along the way, mostly dealing with classroom management or dealing with children with disruptive behaviors. On the flip side, they also told me about how they ended up inspiring and guiding a number of students throughout their years teaching the class by having some really caring students. Seems like an easy equation to me.

Teaching a classic palm like.

Teaching a classic palm like.

If it were you, and you spent a significant time practicing/performing magic yourself, knowing the potential downfalls and upticks in teaching a class in magic to some young teens/kids, would you teach it?

Regardless of any sort of payment or monetary compensation, I find that sharing the way that I approach magic is just one of the ways to have direct impact upon the future of something that I really care about. If there was a way to formalize the class process (to establish regular sessions) with zero compensation to myself, I’d do it. Teaching is the purest way of directly democratizing magic culture that I can see. Honestly, I think that benefit is worth any sort of minor inconvenience to my day, or series of days throughout a single season. Check back in with me after a kid pees in their seat or cuts themselves on an expanding cane. JK, I won’t be teaching an expanding cane.

— J.R.

Versus
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This is a gentle reminder by way of John Wilson to think about how you present your magic and to not make it a challenge to your audiences (unless that’s specifically what you are going for).

Four Suits
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.