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Justin Flom’s Magic Exposures Stir Controversy in Community

“I love magic exposure. I think it’s good, right, moral and the future of magic.”

If those aren’t exactly fighting words among magicians, they’re certainly enough to ruffle plenty of capes.

Justin Flom recently appeared on “The Magic Word” podcast, hosted by Scott Wells, a seasoned professional magician honored with a special fellowship from the Academy of Magical Arts for his contributions to the field.

The episode, titled “Justified?”, delves into the controversial topic of magicians revealing trade secrets.

How heated is this issue? Wells admitted that he lost some magician friends simply by having Flom on his podcast to discuss his point of view.

“They felt that I’m giving a platform to people who are against their belief system,” Wells says.

Flom is not alone in stirring the pot within the magic community: Fellow Vegas-based magician Murray Sawchuck recently resigned from the Magic Castle and the International Brotherhood of Magicians after facing backlash for creating content that exposed magic tricks.

This isn’t a new phenomenon. Magic icons such as Harry Houdini, Val Valentino (also known as “The Masked Magician”), and Penn & Teller have all shown how certain tricks are done.

While Wells maintains an objective stance while speaking with Flom, he makes it clear in a separate interview that he opposes the practice of exposing trade secrets.

“What I don’t like is that some of the tricks are not theirs,” Wells explains. “If you created a trick and reveal how it’s done, that’s fine. But exposing someone else’s trick is different.

“Even if you’re performing in a restaurant, doing magic table to table, and someone says, ‘Oh, I saw that on TikTok,’ or, ‘I saw that on Insta,’ that’s part of the problem. We believe it’s bad that these secrets are being exposed.”

Flom, however, argues he’s simply helping the art form adapt to ever-changing viewer demands in the digital era.

“The secrets of magic are unique — and revealing them can stop someone from scrolling and make them pay attention,” Flom says. “If the secret is interesting, the method entertaining, and the audience would have figured it out anyway, give it to them. It benefits everyone.

“I have yet to see evidence that my videos, which get 100 million views exposing secrets, harm other magicians,” he continues. “Because ‘The Masked Magician’ exposed many secrets to millions, and we still perform those tricks just fine.”

Penn Jillette echoes a similar sentiment.

“Exposing magic is no more dangerous than saying, ‘These are the chords Bob Dylan uses on ‘Blood on the Tracks,’” Jillette says. “It’s an insult to the art to claim that the whole thing is the secret. ‘Here are the chords to ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’; that doesn’t mean Bob Dylan did nothing.

“Yes, explaining a trick right after performing it changes what you’re doing profoundly,” he continues. “And when you’re learning magic, it’s probably wise not to give away secrets. But for a vibrant, living art form, how you assemble things together is part of the art.

“If you want to keep magic as a lesser art form, then keep secrets. But if you want magic to stand proudly alongside playwriting, poetry, music, and dance, then you can’t be cloistered. Being cloistered never produces great art.”

Source: Academy of Magical Arts, The Magic Word Podcast