From The Huffington Post
The recent box office performance of The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, a movie about dueling magicians on the Las Vegas strip, has some speculating that the art of magic has become passé.
As someone who has performed illusions in clubs, on stage, in the streets and is now preparing for a new Spike-TV magic "docuseries" this fall, I can tell you that magic continues to exert a strong pull on people, ever as the art itself morphs to reflect its cultural context. The evidence is in how magicians continue to pack them in on the Strip, where I am fortunate my BeLIEve show continues to draw huge audiences to the Luxor Hotel and Casino's 1,533-seat theater.
Magic speaks to the child in all of us. No matter how sophisticated we become, there's still a part of us that wants to believe in an alternative reality, where we can defy the laws of nature. Indeed, most magicians catch the bug as kids. My first audience was my family in Long Island. My first "assistant" was my mother, whom I levitated on a broom in our living room.
Magic also speaks to the adult in us. We are not just captivated by the illusion, but by how the illusion connects to us in a bigger way. When a demonstration can transport us beyond questions of how it is done, then it becomes the purest form of magic -- the magic of emotion.
Most of all, magic is in our cultural DNA.
I like to say magic is the world's second oldest profession, a mystical and often awe-inspiring spectacle that, throughout the ages, has blended superstition, trickery and religion. Ancient priests held believers spellbound with their "supernatural" powers. Secular magicians amused crowds in the streets and the market. Kings counted magicians among their court entertainers and advisors.
In our modern era, magic has captivated audiences by blurring the lines between reality and fantasy.
One of my inspirations, Harry Houdini, remains an icon of the art because he defied our primal fears. His demonstrations in the early 20th Century -- especially his escape from the Chinese Water Torture Cell -- represented the triumph over suffocation, drowning, disorientation and helplessness. Not only were his demonstrations cutting edge for the pop culture of the day, they gave people hope that anything was possible in their own lives.