There are good people with no skill, bad people with great skills, mediocre people with mediocre skills and vice-a-versa, respectively.
Given the broad spectrum of personality types and skill level, we welcome any encounter with anyone professing to enjoy magic. We make no assumptions about their ability or inherent goodness and cannot formulate an opinion about either quality from a single encounter.
Tim Ellis’ first impression is wholly positive. But of course, that could be just first impressions. Maybe he has a deep, dark side we have yet to see. If he does, it must be very, very deep and in a very, very dark place because we have yet to sense even a whiff of its existence.
Additionally, his wife and full-partner Sue-Anne Webster makes a very good first impression without a hint of evil intentions brewing in a dark caldron of her black soul, heated by the unquenchable fires of hell fanned by Lucifer himself. But, then again, it may take more than one meeting to crack the veneer separating the unwholesome, bubbling goo of sin and inhumanity from her public appearance.
But we have met Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster on several occasions and, as of yet, caught even the slightest aroma of brimstone-fueled depravity or seen the glint of evil in their clear, smiling eyes. In fact, our contemporaneously written records of those meetings indicate they smelled “pleasant” or “nice” 95 percent of the time.
While we agree with the philosophical axiom “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence,” odds are we should have perceived some indicia of evil, badness, or even not-goodness after a while.
Mr. Ellis is both incredibly talented and a down-right decent person who deeply cares about our craft and has world-class skills and creativity. He is a past winner of national awards in Australia for close-up and stage work and a two-time winner at FISM.
Ms. Webster one of the very few female invitees to the F.F.F.F. Convention, is an Australian National Convention of Magicians Silver and Gold Medalist, and performs with style, grace, and charm.
Our recent periodic check of the INTERPOL database reveals no outstanding wants or warrants for either Mr. Ellis or Ms. Webster for any offense involving firearms or explosives.
So we have established that Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster are skilled, kind, helpful, zealous advocates of magic, and are not currently under indictment or suspicion for weapons violations in 24 countries and territories around the world.
(True, as it is often noted, we have yet to win at any FISM and we do have deep, dark personality defects sufficient to block our visa application to five countries, include our name on most neighborhood watch lists, and restrict our ownership of kittens or puppies. Our deficiencies in skill and morality only demonstrate the lack of correlation between skill and personality type as posited above.)
Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster have been so kind to Inside Magic over the years and have never written, said, or had written or said about them, anything untoward or denigrating of magic. Additionally, neither Mr. Ellis or Ms. Webster have ever struck us in a way that left a mark or bruise that could be seen from a distance.
They have taken up the cause of inventors through their tireless efforts to stop exposure and knock-offs often without the support of the mainstream magic community or magic dealers.
Their work in this area is not popular among some in the business of magic and certainly not with the self-serving performers who expose our secrets or steal and sell magic effects. Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster have endured the slings and arrows of those seeking outrageous fortune on the backs of real magicians and done so with a positive attitude.
Therefore, we are willing to publicly dismiss even the possibility that Mr. Ellis and Ms. Webster are secretly evil, living behind an attractive façade of kindness and dedication to our magical arts. We even think their accents are real.
Imagine our surprise to read on Tim Ellis’ blog that he has been essentially banned from the Australian Society of Magicians (“ASM”).
Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster are, at least to North American magicians, Australian Magic personified.
We suggest that should a crossword puzzle give the clue: “Australian Magic Act – 23 Letters,” our answer would be TimEllisSueAnneWebster and we would write it in permanent ink. (We assume the puzzle would not require the inclusion of the hyphen between “Sue” and “Anne”).
It was surprising, therefore, to read that the ASM sent the following to Mr. Ellis:
You are therefore banned from attending any event run by the club, at the club premises or otherwise, sponsored by the club, or affiliated with the club in any way. This decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into regarding it. Should you attempt to enter any such event the relevant authorities will be called to remove you.
Apparently the ASM did not believe their comment was sufficiently clear and provided the following explanation to Tim Ellis:
Given your previous dealings with the club, your previous history with individual members and your unsuccessful attempts to join the ASM, the committee does not feel it would be meeting it’s (sic) primary duties of care as mentioned above by allowing you access to the club.
What can Mr. Ellis take away from the communication — other than that the writer is unfamiliar with English grammar and does not know the difference between its – the possessive form of the third-person singular pronoun – and it’s – the contraction for the third-person singular pronoun and the form of the verb to be?
Mr. Ellis was banned from the ASM according to their membership process.
Interestingly, the ASM follows the process preferred by most college sororities in the United States, blackball. If one or more anonymous members vote to deny the application, the application is denied by the entire organization.
This process makes perfect sense the context of college women who live together. Accepting a new member into the sorority house means you also accept them as a roommate for the next four years.
Sorority sisters have a right to blackball someone with whom they feel discomfort or concern. It is also fair that they should not need to voice the basis for their concern.
We would have assumed – always giving the benefit of the doubt to those we encounter – the ASM was different in kind than a group of college girls looking to select their own peer group, striving to ensure complete compatibility and similar, if not identical, physical appearance and personalities.
Check out Tim Ellis and Sue-Anne Webster’s always fantastic blog for the full details. It is an incredible read. Mr. Ellis relates the ASM tale as a small part of the larger series of articles about the Blackpool / FISM banning scandal. You can visit their constantly updated web site here.