Monday, November 19, 2007

valentino magician

I don't believe in magic anymore
[16 Comment(s)]

By Stephen Phillips

When a masked Val Valentino broke the magician's code on Fox in 1997, my childhood ended. I was 12 years old, and up until that point I wanted to be a famous magician and had attempted every low-budget magic trick in the books. But after I saw the Masked Magician show millions of people how it was done, I just wasn't that impressed anymore.
This was when stage magic died altogether, leaving only a few unique acts in Vegas and a couple of "mind over matter" displays on TV. But even the mystery of those could be destroyed with a few keystrokes on Google. We live in a time when nothing is without an answer or at least a few strong theories. Nothing on TV really wows me anymore.

A few years ago, I was at a company picnic at Blue Bayou Water Park. To relive my childhood, I decided to stay and watch a magic show behind that blue slide I was afraid to go on until I was 13.

The magician started off with a few semi-impressive yo-yo tricks before getting to the real magic. During his act, children kept getting up and trying to sabotage his tricks. They would open boxes, look behind him and try to grab whatever he's holding. The man repeatedly asked the parents to properly restrain their kids.

Before I go into another rant about bad parenting, I'll get back on subject by pointing out that children no longer possess the ability to suspend belief. They've been jaded by people like me, who aspire to suck the mystery out of everything in life. Some say kids are just more curious these days, and that might be true. But we could be raising a generation of uncreative skeptics. Our realist ideals could be influencing kids to become cynics who insensitively rape all of life's mystery, fun and emotion.

We could be raising a generation of journalists for God's sake.

Magic was a big part of my childhood, and I was a nicer person when I believed in it. Magic made me want to question the unknown, but not refute it. And I wanted to believe that I could one day grow up to amaze people as much as Copperfield and others amazed me.

Seeing the secrets of stage magic revealed on national TV didn't disillusion me; it simply forced me to move on to other interests. The tricks weren't amazing, and none of them really required much talent. Overall, it ruined any hope of magic ever being impressive again. Stage magic was over, and the popularity of TV magic skyrocketed � which is why I'm writing this disorganized column.

Criss Angel. Uri Geller. "Phenomenon."

I can't watch this show anymore. I can't see another person guess what was written on a big index card. I refuse to watch a man pretend to die or be possessed by a ghost while Raven-Symone gives the best performance of her career.

I don't pretend to be an authority on the subject of performance magic, but I do know Criss Angel can't levitate. I don't think he can even make a live, unpaid audience believe he is levitating. I don't believe one of the performers on "Phenomenon" can really stop his heart. I doubt that a single "magician" who has appeared on that show (and I emphasize the word "show") can perform his act without the help of plants � paid actors who contribute to the disgusting fakery and pretend to be amazed by the rigged trick. I don't believe any of it is a real performance, and I challenge someone to prove me wrong.
My mind has never been freaked by Criss Angel's heavily edited TV show. The only thing about it that baffled me was the seemingly high ratings, and the fact that he received this horrible America's-next-top-magician-idol debacle called "Phenomenon."
A couple of weeks ago on "Phenomenon," one of the contestants performed a "trick" where he pretended to be possessed by a ghost who knew the contents of a locked chest on the stage. After this horrible performance, Criss Angel chastised him, and rightfully so. The guy was obviously a fake.

Criss challenged the performer (and Uri Geller, too) to guess what was in the envelope he was holding. He offered them a large sum of his own money if they guessed correctly, and then a staged "fight" ensued. The host happily reiterated that we were watching a live show and none of this was planned. I'm sure.

But we all know what was in the envelope: none other than Criss Angel's fat check from NBC.

Stop faking it. Stop pretending magic is not dead
In the late ninties a show called Breaking the Magicians' Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed was a big network hit. In a later show, the Masked Magician revealed himself to be Val Valentino. I know he used to work Vegas but is he still there? What has he been doing lately? If you know, post comments here. Also, if you have any good clips from the Masked Magician show, post them here or a message that you are posting them in the file sharing forum.
When we reach the end of what is scientifically proven, we venture into the realms of magic.
S. Monk (17, SH)

Always Unique Totally Interesting Sometimes Mysterious : You're my hero, AlexNot only is this highly inaccurate information it is rude and very much uncalled for.

Val has been working steadily since the "ordeal" but primarily well south of the U.S. Borders where he's been received quite well and in a rather positive light... in fact, most of the world isn't nearly as bent over what happened in those shows as we find here in the U.S. and some portions of Europe. Especially when you consider the fact that a huge percentage of what was "exposed" on those shows came nowhere near close to the truth or else employed methods that were so out of date and impractical no one was using them... there were a few very limited exceptions but in all truth no real harm was done with what Val did compared to the original Masked Magician (Hal Marquat) who has likewise maintained a working career as a magician working doing cruise ships out of Asia.

I have known both gents and still talk with Val upon occasion. Too, for your info, he didn't make all that much money doing those shows and what he did make went directly to the IRS to cover back taxes for the most part.

Please, if you want to state something about someone, try to get as many of the facts as you can straight.
Mystery & Mayhem Gathering * May 9-11, 2008 Northampton, MA. -- USA eMail Me for Details!arrives late, 'cause that's what happens when you rely on Google to inform you of Val-related posts on message boards*

Also, don't take the comments on his MySpace page as gospel proof of what he does for a living. Yes, there are thank yous in the comment area for appearing at dinners, open houses, etc., but I would think that he's just there as a guest and not as entertainment.

And yes, he does occasionally perform for children (I base this on a comment his best friend made a few months ago), but I believe he still does it on an educational basis like he did many years ago. (And if you didn't know about that, it's in all of the biographies I've written about him and I believe it's in the biography on his website as well, so now is the time to get educated!) I hate to tell you all but far from being washed up I have heard a rumour as yet unconfirmed that there is going to be ANOTHER "Masked Magician" by Fox TV featuring Val! And it is suppposed to be coming up fairly soon.

If Craig knows him perhaps he might ask.

I am no fan of exposure but if Fox TV called and offered half the money I would of course do it and so would everyone else despite hypocritical bleating. I would also do it without the mask but I am afraid I might frighten the children at home.

I don't know how much Val was getting but if it were a hundred grand or so I would certainly do it and so would virtually everyone else here unless they were independently wealthy. Money talks and everyone has their price.

The fun of irritating magicians the world over would be worth it alone. Come to think of it I might pay to do it!He was working on a special late last year/beginning of this and a buried alive event (I assume those were supposed to be two separate events--I never asked), but those were shoved to the proverbial back burner when Virgin and Nash came up with the graphic novel. (Anyone have any idea when that's coming out, by the way?)

To be honest, I've never asked why he sticks with the Masked Magician persona...guess I've never cared. But to put it in comic book terms, I can see where it would be more fun to be Batman than Bruce Wayne.

(Would've said "more fun to be Spider-Man than Peter Parker", but I was trying to pick a superhero closer to Val's actual age. )


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