Annie Montone
Jul 1
min read

Women in Magic

Why are there so few female magicians?

This video was originally published on July 1, 2019 back when we were the Baltimore Academy of Magic.


Hi, I'm Annie. I am one half of the magic duo called The Encounter. This is our very first magic chat with Brian and Annie. Really, it's going to be Brian or Annie? Probably. Each month, we're going to take on a question about magic, and we're going to chat with you about it and hopefully it's interesting and fun.

And if you have any suggestions for Magic, chat with Brian and Annie, please let us know because we'd love to hear from you and we'd love to talk about things that you are interested in. So this is our first one. So the topic today is going to be why are there so few female magicians? And this is a question that is obviously very close to my heart as a female magician.

And I think it's a pretty interesting question and one that we that's honestly a little bit controversial. And we'll talk a little bit about why in just a second to talk about female magicians, we have to first talk about are there fewer female magicians? Is that a real thing or is that just a perception or what? The Magic Castle, which is a venue in L.A., it's one of the biggest, if not the biggest venue for magic in the world.

For stage magic. This week, there are nine magicians performing at the Magic Castle, and one of them is a woman. These things point to this being a real thing, that there are much less women in magic. So some people say 3%. Some people say as much as 8%. I tend to go in the middle and say, well, about 4% of women are magicians.

Stage magic are women. First of all, there are not no female magicians. And sometimes when I answer this question online, I immediately get a response that's like, Well, what about this? What about this? Yes, there are female magicians. Some of my favorite magicians in the world right now are women. Laura London is doing some amazing stuff with cards.

Tina Lenert If you don't know who that is, go look at that person right now because she's one of the best performers, magic or not that I've ever seen and has, of course performed at the Magic Castle. Billy Kidd is killing it right now, mostly in the UK. The Sentimentalists are amazing and doing some of our favorite stuff because they're vintage magic.

Dorothy Dietrich is an escape artist. I mean, we can go on and on. So yes, these women exist and I just named maybe what, seven or eight women magicians. The thing is, I could name probably 50 male magicians working right now. And I don't know who said it. I can't remember where I read it. I wish I could, but there's never going to be a line for the women's bathroom at a magic convention.

Let's go back in time for a little bit and talk about magic and women. Even though women were said to have more predilection for magic powers, they were also much more often burned or pressed or hung for having these powers. So, you know, when we're talking about the golden age of magic, which is, you know, the late 1800s, maybe through like 1930 or something like that, a lot of magicians were existed in magic clubs, and the magic clubs were largely male because, again, women were not going to be performing magic or having anything to do with magic in the seventh place.

So at the 1700s, or even early 1800s, that was not good for for ladies, right? Nobody wants to be burned for a witch. We have this brotherhood, which is literally called the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and it's really hard to get accepted. I read that in the UK, the Magic Society in the UK only started accepting women in 1991.

To talk about magic is to talk about power, which is amazing. The magician is the all powerful being. Girls and women are not encouraged to pursue things that are very powerful. If you think about things that are traditionally coded for boys, dancers, space rockets, things that are inherently very powerful and not passive, and magic is powerful. So right away you're going to have something that's coded more for boys than for girls.

I think a lot of magicians get into the business, male magicians, as sort of a social coping mechanism, right? Maybe they don't feel very powerful. They don't feel like strong. And then there's our old friend representation. It's a cycle, right? Because there aren't very many female magicians. We don't see them represented. So young girls don't see them as much.

That is starting to change with the advent of magic shows on television, the knowledge that, Oh hey, we need to highlight women magicians. Let's talk about what you were more likely to see. The assistant exists to assist the magician. She also exists to distract the audience, her costume, sparkly, feathery, her body slender, probably voluptuous. She is a distraction for the audience and a cover for the male magician.

One of the most famous recent assistants is Debbie McGee, the legendary assistant to the famous Paul Daniels. She worked with him for decades, and she did just as much magic as he did, but she was not in that position of power. There's sort of these scantily clad women who are attached to the male magician. You might not see yourself in that role.

A girl is not as likely to pick up magic if she doesn't see herself represented. There. But I don't want to end this on a total bummer, right? We run the Baltimore Academy of Magic (now School of Magic Arts), and what we have found is that with very little prompting, you can get girls interested in magic. It's not a boy thing. It's an everybody thing.

At our school, we have roughly 50/50 boys and girls, but there is some hope for girls in magic. And I was just talking to another amazing female magician. Her name is Tonya Solomon. We were really happy to hear and to see that women and girls are interested. They just have to be encouraged. So with the encounter, my team encouraging gender equality with, again teams like the Sentimentalists doing the same with amazing female magicians continuing to be highlighted, Hopefully we're going to see way more female magicians in the future.

Thank you so much and hopefully you tune in for more of these. Bye.

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