Press Publicity Public Relations

This is the First of a Series of Four Articles by R. E. LONGSTAFF

On Editor's page for September, 1952, Max wrote: "Nothing has done so much to keep magic a subsidiary entertainment as lack of enterprise".

In August, 1953, George Blake said how often he had read about the "demise of our art". Well, how much have we progressed in 1954?

Mr. Magician—you're practically at a standstill! Within the past few months, with the co-operation of friends in London, I have questioned a cross section of public opinion and asked them to name for me one outstanding magician of today.

The majority did not know of one. The common names mentioned were Maskelyne, Devant and Houdini.

ONLY 2% COULD NAME ONE FOR ME, DO YOU REALISE WHAT THIS MEANS? ONLY ONE MILLION PEOPLE OVER THE COUNTRY ARE YOUR REAL FANS.

Just why this is so and why magicians are no longer public names has intrigued me, so I set out to find the answers. There is no doubt that a^contributory factor is the newsprint shortage, which has caused many national and bigger provincial newspapers to be 'choosy'. The modern age with it's atomic miracles about which most young people are well read; the possibility of space flying; flying saucers, and so forth, all tend to minimise magical marvels.

Next we find very few things in magic today which are really new. I think the magician has forgotten that his primary aim is to mystify, and has leaned too far to the side of pure entertainment.

Lastly, few of the fraternity have any idea on approaching the press and putting their ideas over. In past issues of Magic Magazine some excellent advice has been given on this one subject—about which a book could be written—but that advice has been mixed with a little wishful thinking.

I have smiled once or twice at remarks like—'the press will lap it up'—they won't you know. We are just as particular about what we put in the paper as you are when you go to Max for your apparatus. Only the best is good enough and the remainder is thrown out.

Taking the facts in order, the newsprint shortage means a story has to have local interest first and foremost, and especially when you are trying to sell your art rather than yourself. That's where so many of you go wrong.

The modern youth who perhaps takes science and chemistry at school can work out for himself your ordinary changing effects INSTEAD OF SITTING BACK TO ENTERTAINMENT AND MYSTERY THEY ARE TRYING TO WORK OUT FOR THEMSELVES HOW IT IS DONE.

This brings us to lack of originality in presentation and the sad fact that many youngsters today buy their effects ready-made and without troubling to rehearse them, rush off to include it in their act.

Misdirection is to them a closed book. From my point of view as a newspaper man, they are 'spiv' magicians trying to earn a few £'s quickly without working for the money.

They put over an act which entertains the very young but which the average youngster or grown up can see through in a minute.

Let's face it. Mr. Magician you are lazy. I have been to many shows for my paper prepared to enjoy and to write it up, perhaps even to go back stage afterwards and see the performer, onfy to have my hopes dashed time and time again. I have come away disappointed and all you get is a 'mention' among the also rans.

Oh, those fumbling, slip-shod moves when trying to steal a load of silks from the sleeve, yes—even from the armpit. Though how the devil a magician expects to reach under his armpit naturally when drawing up his sleeves is beyond me.

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