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Wayne Kawamoto

Please Stop Performing the "Bra Trick"

By October 3, 2011

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It's long been time that magicians stop performing that obnoxious and tasteless "bra trick." If you perform it, please remove it from your repertoire. If you're not familiar with it, the "bra trick" is an infamous gag where a performer appears to pull the bra from an unsuspecting female volunteer.

The reason for this tirade? The "bra trick" is in the news because of a clueless guy, Russell W. Fitzgerald. The school committee chairman in Abington, Massachusetts, who should know better, thought that it would be funny to perform the gag on a female board member before a public meeting. According to some reports, the trick, which was broadcast on local television, was greeted with "stunned silence."

Fitzgerald not only managed to humiliate his female volunteer, he truly embarrassed himself. It's beyond comprehension how Fitzgerald thought that this trick could be appropriate for a public board meeting, or, for practical purposes, any setting. This one has hit the mainstream press. So we can thank Fitzgerald for making magicians everywhere look bad. It's just the way that the media likes to portray magicians - as geeky, socially-inept individuals.

When asked why he chose this particular trick, Fitzgerald is quoted in one story as saying, "I like it." Here's another insight into the mind of a clueless individual. Mr. Fitzgerald, for your information, real entertainers don't perform effects because they "like" them. They perform effects that allow them to connect with their audiences and entertain them.

Getting back to my point. Can everyone please stop performing the "bra trick?" Retiring this cheap and disrespectful gag will be good for our art of magic.

Agree or disagree? Please comment below. You can read the entire story, one of many, here.

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October 3, 2011 at 4:19 am
(1) Aaron J. says:

Clueless is right. What an idiot. I not only want to bar the trick, let’s bar this guy from magic.

October 3, 2011 at 3:25 pm
(2) dp says:

Yeah, it’s not only an old, old trick but we need to be conscious of how our magic can make a volunteer feel as well as social norms which change over time. I perform a similar trick with the panties using a male volunteer. It always gets a laugh and using a man is much more socially acceptable.
But I am reconsidering even this.

October 3, 2011 at 4:00 pm
(3) Duncan William says:

Would you believe – I once saw a kids’ magician performing this trick on kids’!! The kids’ laughed but boy was it a weird and surreal moment!

October 4, 2011 at 12:39 pm
(4) Mark says:

Oh please. I don’t agree.
To state that this school committe member makes magicians look bad is making yourself appear more important than you really are.
This one act does not make magicians look bad. It does make this person look a bit foolish.
Magicians with limited talent make other magicians look bad. And Magicians with limited talent who profess to be expert magicians make the truly talented ones look bad.
This school committee member was not promoting himself as the Great No Class. He pulled a stunt.
Someone like Criss Angel makes legitimate magicians look bad professing video trickery is magic.

October 5, 2011 at 3:54 pm
(5) Tommy Johns says:

Amen! And let’s ban the 20th century shorts trick and the plunger on the head gag while we are at it. Anything that makes an audience member the subject of ridicule is out of bounds, IMHO. It’s one reason that so many adults refuse to volunteer to help us on stage. Or if they are willing, they ask on the way to the platform, “You’re not going to make me look like a fool are you?”

This guy may not have made magicians look bad, but I see no way that he helped our cause. I DO believe he made politicians look bad. If that’s possible!

October 12, 2011 at 9:53 pm
(6) Randy Snedden says:

I disagree that the “Bra” trick is disrespectful. It is not the trick, but how it is performed.

I regularly do the trick in my adult shows. I always ask my client if their group will find it entertaining or offensive; and I NEVER use a female volunteer.

I perform it in concert with the paper hat tear (into panties) and have my volunteer wear it while we’re doing the bra trick together and never once in over 10 years of performing it have I had anyone offended.

It’s the presentation — not the trick.

October 13, 2011 at 8:26 am
(7) Levantino says:

Well said Wayne.

True artists are always endeavouring to imagine novel combinations and novel applications of familiar devices and would never stoop to crude offensive vulgarity.

The person who invents something original has rewards of no mean order, which are denied to the fools who merely take up the threads woven by another. So far as personal merit is concerned, performing hackneyed or vulgar magic, at best, cannot do more than to show a performer’s ability to repeat a lesson they have learned; and the persons doing it stands confessed as a third-rate, revolting artless ‘performer’ (think chimp) who can do nothing unless dry-nursed by abler people.

So long as an appreciable contingent of magical ‘performers’ remain content merely to buy, beg, borrow or steal from others – to do nothing beyond that which others have done, to aim at nothing higher than a slavish IMITATION of original work, to have no use for anything that does not come to hand complete: lock, stock and barrel – so long will magic remain condemned to unmerited disrepute.

Thank goodness for these guys – every one of them in a class of their OWN:


March 17, 2013 at 12:44 pm
(8) Nottingham Family magician says:

A great post – and as a children’s entertainer I can really appreciate the importance of all the things you mention!!

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