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Bizarre magic (or bizarre magick) is a branch of stage magic, like stage illusions, sleight of hand, or children's magic. The major difference is that bizarre magic uses storytelling and word play to a much greater degree, and less emphasis is placed on the manual dexterity of the performer or the complexity of his equipment. The experience is intended to be more akin to small, intimate theater than a conventional magic show.
Bizarre Magicians often use authentic antique or simulated artifacts to enhance their presentations. Storytelling is also employed for a greater sense of theatrical authenticity. Techniques such as these distinguish Bizarre from other types of magic performance. Max Maven has said of Bizarre Magic that it "references a larger magical world beyond the boundaries of the performance."
Bizarre magic often uses horror and supernatural imagery in addition to the standard commercial magic approaches of comedy and wonder. Bizarre magic deliberately utilizes discomfort for theatrical effect. Another methodology employed in performance is the integration of storytelling enhanced by magic. Bizarre Magic is often performed as close-up magic, for a few people at a time, but it can also be performed as a club show or even as a stage act, depending on the routine, the props, and the performer.
The movement of the art of Bizarre Magic began in the late 1960s with Charles Cameron and Tony "Doc" Shiels. Some of the significant artists since that time have been Tony Andruzzi (aka Maskelyn ye Mage), Eugene Burger, Christian Chelman, Robert Neale, and Jeff McBride.
Most of the material on the subject is published privately within the Bizarre Magic community and is not readily available through normal distribution. And many of the important works were either hand-made or published on a very limited basis. So despite being relatively recent publications, many have significant collectible value.
Contemporary British practitioners include Todd Landman, Iain Jay, Michael Murray, Nick Brunger, Stuart Burrell, Ashton Carter, Steve Drury and Dale Shrimpton.
There are a few annual events focused on Bizarre Magic. The first event was the now defunct "Invocational" which started a tradition of annual gatherings in honor of the Bizarre. In Edinburgh, Scotland the annual Charles Cameron Gathering is held in October. Also in October is the Magic and Meaning Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. England's most popular convention for bizarre magicians is "Doomsday" - being held in Dracula's favourite seaside town, Whitby. It moves to a new location in 2019 after being held for the final time there in May 2018.
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- Nigel Gordon, Making It Bizarre Vol 1, 1999, The Amagarion Press, Coalville, UK
- Maven, Max. Quoted in Burger, Eugene (1991). “Strange Ceremonies.” Published by Kaufman and Company, Washington D.C. (p, 38).
- David Parr, Genii Magazine, Oct 2000
- What is Bizarre? Nigel Gordon 1998, The Amagarion Press, Coalville UK
- Society for Unusual Manifestations (SUM) The Odd Gathering presented by The Society for Unusual Manifestations which is held in the Spring.
- Inner Circle of Bizarre Magick (ICBM) Annual Gathering in Connecticut which is held in November.
- Bizarre Magick UK Annual UK Gathering which is held in May.
- PSYCRETS : British Society of Mystery Entertainers 'Tabula Mentis' Bi annual UK event dedicated to mentalism and bizarre.
- Bizarre Magic: The Weird Adventures of Daniel Rumanos Performer Daniel Rumanos interviewed on Other Side podcast