The Study of Magic as a Social Advantage

The Study of Magic as a Social Advantage, by  Hermann Pallme.

(originally published in The Crest Magician, November, 1907)

While magic is a splendid profession, both as to being a dignified calling and a remunerative one, yet it is my purpose in this chapter to consider it in its broader field, that of the amateur — and when I say amateur, I mean the correct definition of the word, “a person who practices an art, especially a fine art.not as a means of livelihood or professionally, but for the love of it.”

There are many advantages for the amateur in magic, its educational value, as a means and incentive of research into chemistry, mechanics, history and languages, its development of natural grace and poise, and its general improvement and broadening influence on the mind. But the main point to the amateur is the social advantages, and these are so manifold that I shall endeavor to here take them up in detail.

Magic, as we have seen, compels a broader mental horizon through its tendency towards erudition. Its careful study cannot but help you to have a command of language, and what is better still the proper expression of your thought — an absolute necessity for one who desires social prominence.

The practice of magic gives a gracious manner, a poise, and self-confidence that is acquired through the practice of no other art. It gives polish, makes one quick-witted, develops the gift of bright repartee, and adds a finish to one’s manner and speech.

I knew a chap who had all the advantages wealth could give him, education, position, etc., but he was of such a quiet and retiring disposition that he got the reputation of being morose. Naturally he received but few invitations to social functions, and at those he did attend he was neglected. He lacked nothing as regards education, he was a deep thinker and conversant with almost every subject; but he lacked self-confidence.

For his own amusement he took up the study of magic and developed rare ability in the art. One day he was persuaded to give an exhibition of his talent before some of his father’s friends.

Thoroughly wrapped up in his subject he gave really a marvelous performance and had the deportment and speech accompanying each trick down to a fine point.

The result of that exhibition was his awakening — the report of his skill spread and he is today one of the brightest and most sought after members of his social set.

He has developed into a brilliant and witty conversationalist, has lost all diffidence of manner, in fact, I do not know a more gracious, better poised fellow than he is, and he gives all the credit to his study and development of that fascinating art, magic.

The man or woman who masters a few tricks in legerdemain and can properly present them for the edification of their friends, has an entree into society and is sure of an invitation to social functions from which they might otherwise be barred.

How often have you been at entertainments, both public and private, where the program consisted only of vocal and instrumental music, and recitations or readings, and how many times have you declared you would never attend another.

Mark the difference if some of the entertainers varied the monotony by performing a few tricks in magic; it added variety — the very essence of successful entertaining — to the evening, and gave a better flavor to the music and recitations.

The study of magic is not confined to the sterner sex, in fact it is remarkably well adapted to the ladies. It is a graceful art, and truly the sex are the real exponents of all things appertaining to grace. Nor is it a new thing with the gentler sex; Madame Herrmann has achieved a professional prominence in  the art that is at once the admiration  and the envy of the world of magic, and  many ladies in private life are also expert in the practice of this art.

I have often wondered why more  young girls do not turn their attention  to the study and practice of magic, as  it develops every one of the attributes  necessary to social success or prominence,  grace, physical culture, dexterity, agility  and ease of movements, ease of manner  and speech, and confidence in oneself and  one’s powers.

It gives a girl confidence in herself  without making her bold, and it .opens  up the way toward social prominence even more so than in the case of  her brother aspirant.

To be a successful entertainer is to be  a social success — to be an adept in the  practice of magic is to be a successful

Even though you should be a brilliant  performer on the piano or some other  instrument, or are an accomplished and  gifted singer, yet the mastery of a few  tricks will add to your power as an entertainer and intensify your versatility.

It would not be fitting to close without  giving some attention to the proper way  to work in a parlor or drawing room, and  I will give a few of the most important  points.

You should first curtain off sufficient  space at the end of the room to be large  enough to accommodate your table and  other paraphernalia.

There should be as wide a space as  possible between your table and the audience to enable you, in going from your  spectators to the tables, to make the exchanges and substitutions necessary for  the successful accomplishment of certain  tricks.

In working in a parlor or drawing-room a screen may be a necessity, and  at times two may be required. Place  them on either side of your stage room,  well back.

These screens should be at least six  feet high and four to five feet wide when  opened. As you cannot go “off the  stage,” it may be necessary to retire behind the screen to consult your program,  to relieve yourself of certain articles, or  to secure accessories for subsequent  tricks, it would be well to have a small  table back of the screen to deposit articles on. But never retire behind or use  screens unless absolutely necessary, as it  breaks up the continuity or sequence of  your act.

To properly dress your scene you  should have two small tables, one either  side well down, and a larger table in the  centre, farther back. Many substitutions can be made passing from one of  these tables to the other.

Have dark cloths on your tables, and  on the larger table this should hang  down a little way in front, to better conceal your servante or drawer, or whatever you may have at back of table to  place things in.

Be sure that there are no bright lights  behind your table and that there are no  mirrors in your part of the room. The  reason for this last injunction is obvious.

Never repeat the same trick for an  encore, unless you have some completely  different method of doing it. You will  lose the interest of your audience if you  do otherwise.

Collect the magic articles that appear  from time to time in the magazines and  papers, and in time you will have a very  valuable reference book.