Indecent Proposal

Here we are on the eve before the launch of yet another well-hyped trick, yet somehow this one seems to have come full circle even before the official release date.

For those that aren’t aware yet (you mean you haven’t been listening to the Podcasts?) Wayne Houchin of Sinful and Stigmata fame is releasing his Indecent trick tomorrow via DVD and Download over at Ellusionist. The trick is basically card into Ziplock bag.

The hype has been running for around the past month, with two Podcasts and news of a huge competition.

Fine you say, whats my point? Well besides all the hype, the podcasts, the competition, the long running MagicCafe threads etc. you get a supposed teaser video of the trick, but once again just like the Stigmata demo, Ellusionist have chosen to only show you the ending to the trick, merged in with lots of reaction shots, and more hype. The crucial bits of the trick are not there.

Now I can see why they did this from the sense of a sales point-of-view but once again as a potential purchaser it doesn’t help me to see the full effect and get a sense of what my spectators will see. A point I have made several times on this blog is why should we as magicians have to be fooled and tricked by the marketing, we are trying trick our spectators and hide the method from them, we who part with our hard earned cash to do so shouldn’t have to go through the same experience.

I believe these kind of internet demo videos are the new-age kind of dealer ads, instead of helping by giving us the full effect and a sense of what the trick looks like, they only serve to fool us into buying Snake Oil.

Why I mentioned at the start about it coming full circle is interesting. The exact audience that the Ellusionist market is aimed at, with the podcasts, competition, hyped up demo video/dealer ad etc. are now the same audience that are using the same modern day tools to fight back! Weeks before the official release you could go onto YouTube and do a search for ‘Houchin Indecent’ and you can see an unedited clip of Wayne himself running through the whole trick, along with several teenagers giving us their versions. And remember this is before the effect has even gone on sale!

Wayne mentions that he had this clip on his site but it was taken down because of the number of hits it got after the release of Sinful and Stigmata. I’d like to believe that, but could it possibly have been removed because the video shows the exact effect, and we have ended up with reverse engineered badly performed demos that potentially expose the method. Why didn’t Ellusionist run with the existing video, they instead chose to shoot a video dealer-ad and call it a teaser video.

So whats the answer I don’t say I agree with other peoples videos of the trick appearing before or even after the release, but with today’s technology and the huge surge in social video sites, it means anyone with a web/phone cam can now host a video for free for millions of people to see. So dealers that choose not to release certain information about what the trick looks like, or what exactly the trick consists of, or indulge in marketing wordplay, will become powerless to stop people releasing their own no-holds-barred demo’s of tricks.

The point is of course this doesn’t mean that the average lay-person could work out how the trick is done (could be an interesting experiment to show the uncut Indecent video to some lay-people?) no its to stop unscrupulous magicians from looking at the demo and working out how the trick is done and then not bothering to buy the trick. I don’t agree with that either, but there has to be some balance that makes us want to part with our cash, but that means we are not fooled into buying something that will just line the dealers pockets and land up at the back of the sock drawer.

Its interesting that Scott Kahn on the MagicCafe was touting his version of Card to Ziplock bag that was going to appear in his updated lecture notes, but then after discussions with Wayne Houchin he decided not to release it. Why was this done? Possibly because Ellusionist thought they could market it better and sell a lot more one-trick DVDs to the newbie crowd of DVD watchers, than people who would buy the lecture notes. Why can’t both versions exist out there, even if they do both use identical (and the most obvious) method.

If the method is that obvious to a magical brain that it takes just one viewing of the trick to work out, then is it worth releasing an entire DVD for? I bought Banachek’s notes at FISM that had a page of text in on the Stigmata trick, this gave me all I needed to know to do the trick should I wish, plus a lot more Banachek goodness all for half of what it would be to purchase the Houchin DVD.

And just in case you think this is a post putting down Ellusionist, its not, they have all the marketing gimmicks in place for their target audience and they are doing everything right to capture them and you could argue they have even moved on magic production to a new level.

I just find it interesting that here we are on the eve of what could mark a shift in magic marketing, a stand-off between dealer hype in the form of carefully edited adverts, podcasts and videos, that tell you how wonderful the trick is, what it doesn’t use, but neglecting to tell you any of the useful information on the restrictions, necessary sleights, angles and even something as simple as what the trick actually looks like etc. And the consumer who can in one click of a mouse destroy all that with a post on a forum, or a video demo. So where do we go from here, whats the answer, I don’t know but I’m going to enjoy the ride!