Sunday, May 15, 2011

Turning Tricks : Philippine Magic Turmoil

.:Turning Tricks:.

Nation, yours truly realizes that he is far from a commentarist on the showbiz industry, and that’s well and good. After all, for the most part, the world of show business is full of backstabbing, ungrateful, rumor-mongering hypocrites, so much unlike the world of politics.

Nonetheless, a few people know that I have some expertise when it comes to the worlds of magic and mentalism, which, thanks to a couple of recent developments on television, are now a hot-button topic in the world of show business, if not for a minority of people who actually keep an eye on developments among mentalists and magicians in mainstream media.

Now, some people might ask why we lump magicians, who are known for doing tricks, with mentalists, who are known for demonstrating skills. Aren’t they supposed to be different? Well, yes, and no. While the methodologies may (or may not) be different, the outcome is the same: something seemingly impossible is made possible. Either way, both magicians and mentalists are entertainers. It becomes pretty embarrassing when they try to be anything else. These performers are here to entertain, not to start a new religion. Yet a few people seem to lose sight of that.

If one may make such an analogy, magic and mentalism work just like pro wrestling. Yes, there will be deception involved on both ends. No, we, as performers, will not go out of our way in the middle of performances to expose the business for your own pleasure. It’s all about entertainment, so why be apologetic for a deception that is inherently understood as part of the equation in the first place? What point will it serve to break the vissimilitude of an excellent performance? Surely, it would take an exceptional kind of person to willingly break this golden rule, right?

In a recent episode on TV 5’s Magic Gimik,Bearwin Meily earned the ire of virtually the entire magic community because he went out and actually exposed some secrets behind the art form. It didn’t take long for the community that used to glorify him to now declare him “persona non grata.” Now, if you ever had to earn a living and the preservation of a harmless secret is what spelled the difference between your ability or lack thereof to feed your family, how do you think it would make you feel to have your meal ticket disappear while Mr.Meily mugs it up for the camera? Surely, you can’t help but feel grateful to him, right? “Thanks! You just killed my livelihood, but you’re my idol! Yeah!”

Being a still cap of the episode, I wasn’t so sure if he was blowing or sucking. The smoke, I mean.

How about the new TV show called “Mind Master” featuring the mentalist known as Nomer Lasala? When he tells you a totally believable story about being banned from a casino at a younger age because he can “read the dealer’s mind and predict what the numbers could be,” don’t you just feel the truthiness of his world? After all, when you were younger, weren’t you banned from casinos too, albeit for a slightly different reason, like you know, being underaged? Surely Mr. Lasala must be telling the truth! Mentalists out there must be nodding their heads in approval because this story is in no way unbelievable whatsoever.

This is the face of a man you could totally trust.

In the magic and mentalism world, they may be misunderstood, but truly, people like Mr.Meily and Mr.Lasala are true heroes of the art form, and they must be respected as such. On the one hand, we have Bearwin, who gives away secrets to magic he doesn’t own because he wants other magicians to step up, since clearly, he believes that magicians need to step up and get more talented because he is already himself absolutely oozing with skill and talent in the art of prestidigitation. Surely, Jeffrey Tam, with his cabinet full of trophies from winning international magic competitions can’t hold a candle to the accolades of Bearwin Meily who has won... absolutely nothing. What a man, indeed, to incite everyone to step up. What a tough act to follow!

On the other hand, we have Nomer, who is the paragon of honesty and sincerity. How could you not believe him when he tells you that he can’t do a telekinesis(sic) anymore while bending a piece of metal for your amusement? Truly, if honesty is such a lonely word, then its sole companion is Nomer Lasala himself. Isn’t it comfortable for Filipino mentalists out there to know that a man like this is going to capably represent them? Surely, because it was published online, that means the journalists who wrote this have done their fact-checking, right? Surely, they’ve checked if Mr. Lasala has ever been to Switzerland, or asked casinos whether or not they’ve banned him, or at least know his name, right? Why would Mr. Lasala, heaven forbid, ever embellish a story just to make himself a bigger deal than he actually is? That’s just unheard of! It must also do the heart good to trust in his predictions like the time he promised this lady that her estranged husband would come back to her within six months – oh, wait, he didn’t. Emotional and psychological trauma for the sake of entertainment! Willie Revillame would be proud. Hope that guy you talked to really wins the next elections, then, or else you’d have led them on with false hopes, huh?

Nation, Philippine magic is a very fickle industry, rife with many flash-in-the-pan acts who will tickle your fancy for maybe a few months then fade away into obscurity until they immortalize themselves by doing something absolutely heroic like stabbing their so-called friends in the back by exposing their secrets wholesale, or stabbing their so-called friends in the back by betraying the very people who gave them a break and then lying through their teeth about it. These people of great strength of character are the exemplars by which future magicians should live by.

Welcome to our crazy world. It’s shrouded in secrecy, it has its share of lunatics, but then, when all of this is for your entertainment, and when it doesn’t really hurt anybody, where’s the harm in letting kayfabe run its course onstage? Surely, unless you are a true-blue exemplar who finds himself exempt from petty things like concepts of propriety and respect for other people’s livelihoods, then one should be willing to share a knowing wink with the performer that hey, let’s just all have fun and not stress over the details too much. A lot of performers seem to be forgetting that we’re here to entertain, not to start a new religion. Trying to pass off your psychological mind games and your sleight of hand as genuine psychic power is just tacky and sets performing arts back by making it a joke when the truth comes out.

Of course, if you choose otherwise, you would turn yourself into a hero. Like Bearwin. Like Nomer. If you wish to be a hero like these two, then by all means, destroy away. Go ahead and give the middle finger to all the people who came before you and worked hard to bring the industry where it is today.


Anonymous said...

Please, emphasize your conclusion.Nomer still claims that he is a real psychic.Could we suggest that he should make a reversal regarding his claims?

Marcelle said...

Yes, that is the desired result: a reversal of sorts. Still, it's a free country. Mr. Lasala has every right to continue lying through his teeth so long as he isn't doing anything illegal. All we can hope for in turn would be enough people willing to debunk him whenever he crosses the line from entertainment to exploitation, which, of course, people are equally free to do.