Types of Magicians

Magicians are a broad category of performers able to produce effects unexplainable by the audience. They come in a wide variety of styles and types, and understanding those types can give you a far greater appreciation for the art of magic. Often overlapping, the basic varieties are stage magicians, parlor magicians, close-up magicians, escapology, mentalism and bizarre or shock magic.

Stage magicians are generally the most famous. These magicians perform in large venues with large and impressive props. This is the type most likely seen on TV with performers such as David Copperfield and Siegfried & Roy. Stage magicians are often the impressive, and the creation of their tricks is often more difficult than the performances.

Parlor magic is in many ways similar to stage magic, but on a much smaller scale. These are magic tricks performed in a much smaller venue, such as a parlor, and include the classic tricks of pulling a rabbit out of a hat, the interlocking rings and use of other small props.

Close-up magic is magic shown to small groups or even one-on-one using very simple props and often uses balls, cards and other everyday items. This is often street magic, and because the magician is closer to the audience, this can be one of the more difficult types of magic to perform; performing close-up magic for other magicians is often used as a demonstration of a magician's skill.

Escapology is, as it sounds, the art of escape, whether from chains, ropes, a straight jacket or any other restraint or confinement. These are sometimes tricks with hidden keys or trick objects, but just as often they really are escaping. The most famous practitioner of escapology was Harry Houdini, but many magicians have at least some element of this in their performances.

Mentalism is a form of magic that generally uses few or no props and instead focuses on controlling or reading the mind of the audience. This includes things like cold readings, in which a magician claims to speak to the dead or read minds. This is the type of magic most likely to be used by scam artists.

Bizarre and shock magic covers most of the remaining magicians. These can include eating fire, chewing glass, sticking needles through their arm and more. These are sometimes tricks and other times the performer simply knows how to do it safely.

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