Beyond Magic


Beyond Magic Essay, Research Paper

David Copperfield: Beyond Magic

Only David Copperfield, the greatest magician alive and of all time, can put on a show and influence peoples perspective on how things are viewed and seen. Copperfield being named one of 10 outstanding men in American U.S. Jaycees is just one of many achievements Copperfield is proud of. Although people view Copperfield as an illusionist and that is it, Copperfield actually uses his magic in other ways that just in his shows, but most people look at the trick itself and not the entire performance. Although there is more than just the trick to the show, there are certain aspects Copperfield uses in all of his performances.

Lights. The lights dim down. The curtain rolls open with thunder. Music. An open elevator is seen up above the stage while fog and rock n roll fill the auditorium. The empty elevator is closed and shown empty with light shining through a screen. Magic. Suddenly, a shadow appears and the elevator is now opened to reveal the star of the show, David Copperfield! Even though the spectators mouths have dropped and some are already on there feet applauding, the show has just begun. Lights, music, and magic are all parts of a spectacular show: a spectacular show that David Copperfield performs over five hundred times a year!

Copperfield is considered the master of disappearing acts. (Dawes and Seterington 55). There are not too many things Copperfield hasn t made disappear. He has made everything vanish from assistants to motorcycles to a jet airliner, which was the highlight of the 1981 TV special (Gubernick, Newcomb).

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On autumn of 1983, Copperfield took his vanishing act a step higher once again by attempting to vanish the Statue of Liberty. It will be known as the most famous object vanished, known by millions of people and by David Copperfield (Current Biography 92 ed. 135). That evening Copperfield temporarily removed the 450,000-pound symbol off freedom form plain view. Proving that the statue had actually vanished, there were radar monitors and instamatic cameras that were recording that suddenly went completely blank, along with the vision of twenty randomly picked spectators. And to finally prove his spectacular feat, a helicopter swooped down into the empty space were the statue used to be. Moments later the empty space was covered then revealed the statue in its original foundation moments later (Current Biography 92 ed. 135).

David Copperfield is also known for more than just vanishing objects. He is also one of the biggest known escape artist around. In 1987 he escaped from the most secure and protected places around, The Alcatraz prison! In 1987, Copperfield survived a building implosion. He was chained up and put into a steal safe that was then chained up and locked by two security guards. After the building was cleared, the building was blown up by hundreds of pounds of dynamite. Suddenly out pops up David Copperfield. In 1990, Copperfield was shackled up onto a burning raft and sent over the Niagara Falls which moments later Copperfield is seen high above underneath a helicopter holding on by a rope. In one of his death defying acts, Copperfield is hung upside down 13 stories high in a straight jacket by a burning rope. If that was not enough, he then has to free himself before the burning rope snaps and falls down onto the burning spikes beneath. This was the highlight special of his 1993 TV performance.

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This man has done more than the impossible throughout the years. This incredible man just did not pop up out of nowhere. Like any other performer, they have to start out somewhere.

David Kotkin (known as David Copperfield) was born on September 16, 1956 in Metuchen, New Jersey. Copperfield was awfully shy as a child and had trouble making friends. He mostly used magic as a way of making friends and fitting in (Current Biography 92 ed. 135). His interest in magic came from the desire to impress girls (Polanski).

When Copperfield was just twelve years old, he was already in high demands for parents throwing birthday parties, that he was now able to charge five dollars. His young magician name Davino, the boy magician also impressed S.A.M. (Society of American Magicians), which asked him to become a member that same year (Current Biography 92 ed. 135). Copperfield would no be the youngest person ever to be inducted to S.A.M.

It was just two years later that Copperfield would be a professor and teaching a semester course in magic at the New York University (Magic of Copperfield). When Copperfield was still in High School, he would go from New York to New Jersey everyday just so he could sneak into Broadway shows. During intermission, he would sneak into theaters bathroom and wait after intermission when everyone else was seated and then watch the second half (Polanski).

In 1977, ABC-TV asked Copperfield to star in The Magic of ABC. The next year he co hosted with Orson Welles with a different company to have a television special,

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The Magic of David Copperfield. That special would be the first of fourteen to date by CBS. From Copperfields first TV special, it was fame and success from then on.

It seems like every year David Copperfield is rewarded for something. His achievements grow and grow every year and do not stop (see appendix I). In 1980 and in 1987 he was name magician of the year by the Academy of Magical Arts. In 1981 he was Named Entertainer of the year by American Guild Variety Artists. American U.S. Jaycees recognized him as one of 10 outstanding me in 1985. Forbes magazine recognized Copperfield as fastest rising star in 1993. He broke box office attendance records in twelve different cities (Magic of Copperfield). Along in 1993 he was said to be the tenth wealthiest entertainer currently alive (New Assistant). In that year alone he earned twenty six million dollars. All of these awards and nominations are not what make up David Copperfield. David Copperfield is made one of the most influential and most popular performers in the entertainment business because of his combination of magic, illusion, entertainment, and showmanship. This success comes from his quest for perfection for every audience.

Copperfield puts more into his shows than just the trick. He adds humor, danger, and eroticism in his acts just like a movie director would for a movie. If the show was based plainly on the trick, it would be like people seeing a movie and then keep talking about a really good camera angle used in the film. Most of it is about the plot, in Copperfields case, the performance. A great quote from Copperfield in an interview explains his ways of doing magic compared to filmmaking.

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Just because I do things that challenge people s thinking is no reason to ignore all the things that influence art in general the erotic, the funny, the perilous. And you know, I have an advantage [over film] because when I m onstage and I m doing something that looks very dangerous, the audience is actually seeing me in front of them. The suspension of disbelief is that much more profound (Polanski).

As anyone else, Copperfield cares how people view him. He prefers to do live shows since the believability is usually lost when viewed on TV. Another way he gets his audience involved and to be influenced of what their seeing is real , Copperfield spectacles are almost always about something the average person deals with everyday (Polanski).

The thing that distinguishes David Copperfield from any other magician around or from the past is that he always has a desire to take magic to the next level. Not only to amaze people with his illusions and tricks but also to put on the best performance by outdoing himself each time and by telling a story at the same time as well. David Copperfield has said that he is not satisfied with a show unless he has put a lump in everyone s throat by the end of the show. Copperfields quest for perfection all started out when he sneaked into Broadway show.

When Copperfield use to sneak into and watch all of those shows, he was doing more than just watching them, he was also taking mental notes at the same time. Seeing all of those shows helped Copperfield learn what to do and what not to do, and how to improve his shows.

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At the same time he noticed that none of the other magicians would use emotions or characteristics to help influence their performances, so Copperfield used this to his advantage and now is most famous for using those aspects in his show. A quote from Copperfield explains what he was trying to accomplish with his magic. I wanted to make magic move the audience in the same way that I was being moved in Broadway (Polanski).

When Copperfield was growing up, he had more than the people in Broadway that he was fascinated by. Copperfield was also fascinated by magic s history and by the people who were most famous for performing magic. One of them being Harry Houdini. Copperfield loved Houdini, but most of all loved what was left behind from Houdini. Copperfield has a secret warehouse that has hundreds of artifacts from past time magicians, including Houdini. This is also the same place where illusions are built and where illusions, props and tricks are stored. The shrine to secrecy is located somewhere (not specifically known) in the Nevada desert (see appendix II). The warehouse holds more that two hundred and fifty illusions, such as Death Saw , Death Table , the Floating Ferrari , and priceless artifacts from magic history. One being Houdini s Metamorphosis Trunk (New Assistant).

Copperfield takes his care of magic farther than other magicians. He uses his talent of magic than just in his shows. Back in 1982, Copperfield created and founded a new program called Project Magic.

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This program is used in hospitals so doctors and therapists can use sleight of hand magic that they have been taught as a form of therapy to help patients. By teaching sleight-of-hand tricks to patients who may be incapable of doing normal day routines, it gives them a boost in their self-esteem as well as a skill that most everyday people do not have. By taking magic and helping patients with dexterity and coordination, it not only helps them with their trouble that their trying to recover from, but it also makes them feel good about themselves at the same time. David Copperfield says I really enjoy taking magic and finding new applications for it (Polanski). Ever since the foundation started for Project Magic, it has been a big hit at almost all types of therapy and recovery hospitals. Copperfield was surprised too at how much it has grown for the last eighteen years. it s unbelievably successful in therapy and teaching (Polanski).

This goes to show whom David Copperfield really is. He is not another stage performer or another businessman. He cares and extends on the work he does. He does more than just perform magic on stage and entertain people; he takes his magic to the next level like how he has always done. By taking magic and helping people is something no one has done, something no magician has done before, until Copperfield came along. Copperfield is different than the others; he has always been different and always will be. Many people do not know about Project Magic and what David Copperfield has established. Some just assumed that he was another magician, but he is not, he is someone that has taken an art form that he loves and added on to it, so more than just an audience can benefit from it. So this is it. This is what makes the Man of Mystery . This is what makes David Copperfield David Copperfield.

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