Women and Magic

 

 

Sue-Anne Webster

The impact of the film industry has had a powerful effect on the world. It has not necessarily been used as a reflection of society, but rather a trend setting devise for large-scale gain and profit. It has identified women in roles other than “home makers”, having them seen in trousers and taking on mannish characteristics, exploiting sex and playing roles previously dominated by men.

 

Women were still brazenly encouraged as the “home maker” as late as the 1950’s but, the invention of the world changing contraceptive pill allowed women to fulfill the “fashionable” trend of being financially independent. They began taking advantage of their newfound “freedom” to make choices never before possible in history. Women were finally able to choose career and family, whenever and however they liked.

 

Entertainment is generally viewed as an integral part of most cultures, but has never been more glorified in western society as it is today. It is an industry that now sees millions (even billions) of dollars line the pockets of top money earners. Actors and singers are the usual beneficiaries, but even magicians can enjoy benefits and opportunities brought about by corporate events and public appearances.

 

Women make up an extremely small percentage of the magic industry, even though they are just as interested in magic as men. Apart from the fact that only 45 years has passed since a woman was free to make a solid career choice, magic does seem to have the same attraction, nor the same financial benefits as other fields of entertainment.

 

Thanks to cyberspace, it’s no longer difficult to lay hands on just about any magic secret or tool of the trade and it’s just as easy to find potential mentors, colleagues and supporters. The magic community had a reputation for being a closed brotherhood but of late, many men in magic seem to be quite happy to share their knowledge and experience in magic with a colleague who is genuinely interested and passionate, regardless of gender. So, through changing times and attitude, women are being accepted more by their colleagues as magicians. But, the answer as to why there are so few women today performing magic is an…

 

 

Sue-Anne Webster

The impact of the film industry has had a powerful effect on the world. It has not necessarily been used as a reflection of society, but rather a trend setting devise for large-scale gain and profit. It has identified women in roles other than “home makers”, having them seen in trousers and taking on mannish characteristics, exploiting sex and playing roles previously dominated by men.

 

Women were still brazenly encouraged as the “home maker” as late as the 1950’s but, the invention of the world changing contraceptive pill allowed women to fulfill the “fashionable” trend of being financially independent. They began taking advantage of their newfound “freedom” to make choices never before possible in history. Women were finally able to choose career and family, whenever and however they liked.

 

Entertainment is generally viewed as an integral part of most cultures, but has never been more glorified in western society as it is today. It is an industry that now sees millions (even billions) of dollars line the pockets of top money earners. Actors and singers are the usual beneficiaries, but even magicians can enjoy benefits and opportunities brought about by corporate events and public appearances.

 

Women make up an extremely small percentage of the magic industry, even though they are just as interested in magic as men. Apart from the fact that only 45 years has passed since a woman was free to make a solid career choice, magic does seem to have the same attraction, nor the same financial benefits as other fields of entertainment.

 

Thanks to cyberspace, it’s no longer difficult to lay hands on just about any magic secret or tool of the trade and it’s just as easy to find potential mentors, colleagues and supporters. The magic community had a reputation for being a closed brotherhood but of late, many men in magic seem to be quite happy to share their knowledge and experience in magic with a colleague who is genuinely interested and passionate, regardless of gender. So, through changing times and attitude, women are being accepted more by their colleagues as magicians. But, the answer as to why there are so few women today performing magic is an interesting area of study.

 

Many thoughts have been expressed on this topic, and to some extend may be true. In my own experience I can only express my own views and they by no means represent women in general.

 

Personally, I love magic and I believe I understand its’ principles. I particularly love inventing new tricks and creating new presentations for old ones to suit my own style. I have a need for the trick to make sense and be relevant to the audience and preferably involve them emotionally and sometimes physically. So all the same passions and likes are there for me as they are for a male, but I find it hard to focus long, hard hours on non relevant areas of magic that I probably will never use when the housework has to be done.

 

Fortunately, I have a husband who is equally keen as I not to have children. It would be difficult for me to stop work for a while with no paid time off work for child rearing and no royalties (which are more prevalent in other fields of entertainment) to keep food on the table. Some women have a husband who works a more stable career. Even so, when magicians take time off work, clients can and will forget them. Finally, I am thankful in having a husband who is a magician, or it would be terribly difficult for me to session with mainly male magicians long into the night without probing personal questions.

 

Females in magic entertainment are naturally thought of by the public as assistants, only because of the way they were formally involved in the act by male magicians. The public is quite willing to accept a female who performs magic in her own right. Women make up more than half of those involved in the mystical arts of pagan practices, and fantasy tales abound with women possessing supernatural powers. So, it is not such a big step for the public to accept a woman as a magician. But, for a woman to look and be comfortable in her role as ‘magician’ is another story.

 

Originality is imperative to any magician, but common sense dictates that a woman needs to tailor magic to herself for the performance to be totally successful. The general public will react differently to a woman in the role of a magician than to a man so, since people are generally summed up in the first few seconds of meeting, time spent in understanding power roles between women and men is important. A female magician’s appearance is different to a man as is her approach, delivery and presentation of a trick.

 

Personally, apart from getting the magic right, I focus on my appearance. I study my character and exactly what I want to portray to the audience. For me, I find that excessive sparkly accessories and revealing outfits distract from the magic if not used in context to the act. Few men concentrate on tricks when they see a cleavage and women just get upset that their partners look at the flesh flashing before them. It gives the wrong impression of who I am and what I do. I found that drama lessons helped enormously with stage and close-up presentations.

 

Many women love to study drama, movement, voice and other related skills such as mime, puppetry, scripting, themes, story lines and comedy. Drama studies can be encouraged to enhance stage presence and increase the effectiveness of a trick. A good performance will also increase the chances of an audience remembering your name.

 

Women have many more choices than ever before in history. They are beginning to surface in magic for a number of reasons. As time goes by and social attitudes change, women will find it easier to carve a career in magic. Better wages for entertainers, greater communication, transport facilities, conveniences and support from male and female peers all make it easier for a woman to indulge in this form of entertainment.

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