Magician vs. Illusionist – What are the Differences?
What are the differences between a Magician and an Illusionist? Well, I get this question all the time. It is a common question when interviewed for TV and/ or Radio teasers and in Studio publicities for events. I will try to break it down to the basics as I, a professional Magician and Illusionist, see it.
First, I will give a little background about myself and my experiences as a professional magic entertainer. I am 42 years old and have been a full-time professional Magician/ Entertainer for about 18 years. During that time, I have performed over 3500 magic performances all over the East Coast of the United States and Canada under the stage name” Speed”. And yes, I am really faced paced and hyper. I own over 20 Large Scale Stage Illusions including classics like: The Human Metamorphosis, Jam, Doll House, Asrah (floating lady) as well as modern illusion like: Windshear, Motorcycle Production, Snowing, and a host of custom illusions with names like: The Experimental, The Reactor, and The Chamber. Yes, I love “The” on the front of my illusions. So, I feel that I am qualified to at least give my opinion on the subject… for what it’s worth?
Ok, here are the basics…
First off, it is really cool to say you are an Illusionist. Saying you are an illusionist is like saying to yourself “I am so awesome”. This is why many young and beginning magicians love to say they are an illusionist as opposed to a magician. Are they really… I would say “Probably Not”. I, personally, think the main criterion for being an Illusionist is performing stage illusions. Not just one, two, or three, but many. So many, in fact, you will require a Van, Box Truck, Trailer, and/ or Commercial Rig to haul the illusions, staging, and sound equipment around. This adds my next criteria… It is real hard to perform illusions by yourself, so you will need an assistant or stage hands to perform and transport these heavy and bulky props. Setups for these stage performances often require a minimum of 1 – 5 hours as opposed to a typical magician, whom can setup in less than an hour. Illusionists typically perform for events like: Community and Large Theaters, Community Centers, Hotel Conference Halls and Centers, Fraternal Organizations, Arenas, Small /Large Stages, Amphitheaters, and Schools.
Now, there is nothing wrong with being just a magician. Being a magician is super cool, as well. It just lacks the Prestige and Ambiance of being or saying you are an Illusionist. Most Entertainers performing magic today are what I would consider … Magicians. These entertainers are performing close-up (strolling magic), parlor/ stand up magic, and/ or small stage venues. Most Magicians are usually most comfortable in smaller venues like: community centers, street magic, senior centers, birthday parties, company events, and personal or professional events.
A more simplified breakdown…
So, there is my basic breakdown of the differences between a magician and an illusionist. I hope this has helped clarify the issue on the matter. However, I think David Copperfield said it best when asked the difference between the two replied only “About 20 %”( referring to the cost). Now, I think that is quite understated but the bottom line is both terms or labels: magician and illusionist refer to an entertainer whom performs magic as a means to entertain an audience. And really, that is all that matters to me.
I would love to hear your comments on this article, as it is my first.
© Copyright 2011 by Alex de Tessieres – High Energy Magic of Speed. All Rights Reserved.
Alex “Speed” de Tessieres is a full time professional Magician & Illusionist and has performed over 3500 magic performances across the East Coast of the United States and Canada. If you would like more information about Speed and his magic show you can check him out at www.magicofspeed.com or www.speedthro.com