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The lay public holds a stereotypical view of magicians as entertainers who always perform wearing outlandish outfits. If they are not dressed up like Merlin, magicians wear tuxedos, tails, mysterious robes or fancy suit jackets.
Maybe the exceptions are Doug Henning who performed in colorful hippie outfits back in the ’70s, David Copperfield who works his wonders on stage wearing blue polo shirt over white t-shirt, and David Blaine who cast his spell on the streets wearing slovenly, foreboding, dark-colored shirt.
Well, you may be thinking, “Yeah, Leodini, tell us why most magicians wear costumes when they perform. Why don’t they come to the party in casual clothes just like everybody else?”
Here are three simple answers:
1. The booker requires the magician to wear a costume. The event planner is organizing an event, say, a medieval carnival. She will naturally ask the magician to come in the event wearing something appropriate, like a Merlin get-up, or a wizard’s robe, so that his appearance harmonizes with the overall atmosphere of the event.
If the birthday mom is throwing a party themed around Harry Potter’s adventures, she, of course, will require the magician to wear a character get-up from one of the movies.
If the organizer wants the magician to perform at an event themed around street magic, she will ask him to wear casual street clothes.
As service provider, the magician will have to comply with the organizer’s requirements, lest he losses the gig to other performers.
2. To Dress Up One Step Above the Audience. There’s an old rule in magicians’ fashion that says magicians should dress up one step above the guests. This means that if they are performing for casually dressed audience, they will wear business casual. If the audience is in business casual, the magicians will dress in a suit. If the audience is wearing suits, the magicians will wear tuxedos, and so on.
The reason for this tact is that it helps the performer stand out from the crowd. It cuts himself above the rest. People will not mistake him for the waiter, because his outfit helps him exude a sense of authority, power and awe.
3. To Use Costumes as Performance Tools. For most magicians, the clothes they wear are not mere fashion statements, though these may be excellent goals for wearing something presentable.
In most instances, costumes are secret tools. Magicians wear them to help them accomplish many impossible feats—say, to produce, vanish and switch objects.
Yes, David Copperfield wears casual clothes, but when he produces or vanishes objects—especially large objects—he stands near a table, holds a large cloth, positions himself beside a large prop or passes by a stage scenery. The props and tables and cloths and scenery become extensions of his clothes. These, in effect, become parts of his costumes that he uses as powerful tools to accomplish baffling magical effects.
Nifty and nice, huh?
Yes, but since most ordinary magicians don’t have the wherewithal of David Copperfield, they have to settle on wearing suit jackets with topits and secret pockets to produce their brand of miracles.
Nifty and nice too, on a lower scale.