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 â 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 â 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 â 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 â the very essence of successful entertaining â 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 â 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.