Just last month, a highly rated TV program rang me up and asked me if I was interested to wear a mask and expose magic secrets (see A TV Program Wants Me to Wear a Mask and Expose Tricks).
When I declined, they reportedly went around the magic community offering sums of money to magicians willing to do a Judas act.
The show did not air, so probably no magician in the Philippines took the bait.
A TV network (not the same one that called me but a rival) called him, offering to feature him in an upcoming program. They wanted him to play the role of the Masked Magician and expose magic tricks.
Kent was not only distressed. He also felt insulted.
He was angry. He was dismayed.
These are all the correct emotional responses if you are a magician who loves his art and is asked to betray it.
Alas, not many magicians love the art that much. I dread the day when an out-of-work magician will take the offer. For a measly sum, he will agree to expose magic on national TV for people to jeer at and heap their disdain on.
Well, as I said earlier, I’m tired of these offers from TV networks. Why would they expose magic tricks? Is their a viewership for magic exposures? The concept of exposing magic secrets has been done already—to death, by the Masked Magician himself. The reruns still continue to this date. Not contented with the reruns, the producers even came out with sequels to the first exposures.
Aren’t these exposures enough?
Well, it doesn’t have to come to this. If the tricks rather than their presentations as magical effects have become important to the viewing public, then maybe we magicians are partly to blame for this sorry state of the art. We have whetted people’s curiosity. Instead of entertaining them, we challenge them with puzzles and impossibilities.
Our magic has become like luxury watches. People don’t look at their faces to know the time. They want to open them and see the gears inside to understand why the watches tick.
Well, if we present our magic as puzzles and challenges instead of entertainment, we can’t blame people (and TV networks) to want to peep behind the curtain and see what’s going on backstage.
Now they want to hire a Masked Magician to open the curtain for them…
If the exposure program eventually airs because some out-of-luck performer gets blinded by the money, just remember this: it is not the fault of the TV network that one of us betrays our art. The network has no sacred duty to protect magic secrets. That duty rests upon us—on our shoulder and in our heart, mind and conscience.
Having said that, I must stump my foot and declare enough already to the fixation on magic tricks. To the giant networks, I will agree to wear a mask and do the exposures you want on national television. Provided, however, you meet the following conditions:
One, the amount you will pay me is huge enough to give me a comfortable retirement. That way I can hie off to a beautiful island and loll on some white beaches all day without worrying where my next meal will come from. By asking me to be part of your exposure program, you are asking me to end my career. I will do that only if you take care of my retirement.
Two, give me security protection tighter than the one they are giving at the Witness Protection Program. Filipinos are an unpredictable lot. While many are amiable performers, they don’t look kindly at snitches. I surely can’t stand the dagger looks and profanity. Not to mention their saliva when they spit at me.
There. Take it or leave it.