From risqué cabaret performances to engrossing after-hours shop talk, Trade of the Tricks offers an unprecedented look inside the secretive subculture of modern magicians. Entering the flourishing Paris magic scene as an apprentice, Graham M. Jones gives a firsthand account of how magicians learn to perform their astonishing deceptions. He follows the day-to-day lives of some of France’s most renowned performers, revealing not only how secrets are created and shared, but also how they are stolen and destroyed. In a book brimming with humor and surprise, Jones shows how today’s magicians marshal creativity and passion in striving to elevate their amazing skill into high art. The book’s lively cast of characters includes female and queer performers whose work is changing the face of a historically masculine genre.
Graham M. Jones is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
“Anthropology has always traded on a cachet of romance and exoticism in attracting students, but even I—grizzled veteran that I am—found myself thinking ‘how very cool to be hanging out with magicians in Paris!’. There is certainly nothing like this book in the anthropological literature. It is fascinating and thoroughly enjoyable.” —Richard Bauman, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Indiana University, Bloomington
“A witty, learned, engaging trip through the world of French magic, Trade of the Tricks builds intriguing ideas on the deep knowledge that comes from prolonged, intensive observation.” —Howard Becker, author of Art Worlds and Outsiders
A documentary by magician-filmmaker Frédéric Tabet about the versatile French magician Mimosa, “Mi-Mosart” conveys the careful thinking behind performances that seem zany and spontaneous, as described in the Introduction.
“The Real Secrets of Magic,” a short film by magician-director Jean-Luc Bertrand starring David Stone, offers a hilarious take on the trials and tribulations of professional close-up magic described in Chapter 4.
A film of the author performing during a showcase of novice magicians at a community center in Paris in May 2005. As described in Chapter 1, apprenticeship was a crucial part of developing an insider’s understanding of magic.
Extract of the film “Les Escamoteurs” by magician-filmmaker Frédéric Tabet based on the stage show of the same name starring Abdul Alafrez, Carmelo Cacciato, and Bertrand Crimet. This clip exemplifies experimental directions in French magic described in Chapter 5.
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