Magicians as victims


Remember those salad days when we thought we could all be Houdini or, well, Dorothy Dietrich? (there just aren't that many noted female magicians from which to choose; even the ones on display in Vegas seem pressured to veer burlesque). Kid magicians are a dime a dozen. I know I certainly thought I was one--always filching hardboiled eggs and begging my mother to buy me dramatic kerchiefs. The easiest tricks to learn were always thanks to some bullet-pointed recipe, and usually came out with variegated results.

If any of us ever advanced beyond the parlor (and please, please out yourselves if so!), we'd jealously guard our secrets, and anyone who blabbed would be blacklisted. As a recent Slate article revealed, it's not quite the chummy, collaborative world of haute cuisine...

Magic journals are not available at newsstands, and even Prince Charles had to perform an examination before being accepted as a member of the Magic Circle. A magician who steals from another, or reveals secrets not widely known by nonmagicians, will not be entrusted with new ideas or recommended by other magicians.

Further spurring the IP-rights-for-magicians movement:

In one notorious episode, a series of 1990s television shows with the self-explanatory title Breaking the Magician's Code won big audiences by revealing the secrets behind classic illusions. One magician complained that the shows were "peeing in everybody's cornflakes"; another compared them to destroying Santa Claus. But the magicians' social sanctions were powerless to prevent television executives from exposing their secrets, and legal challenges to the program did not succeed.

I'd never tell a magician's secret; it'd be like refusing to call someone by her stage name. It's just cruel. Have any of you ever culled enough legerdemain to be thusly ripped off? Or, more likely, if you were a kid magician, what was your signature act?