NYT: Not Enough Magic Negresses
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From the New York Times news section:

Being a Woman in Magic May be the Hardest Trick of All

Only about 8 percent of stage magicians are women. A new generation of performers wants to change that.

By Lauren McCarthy
Published Dec. 2, 2023

Though it was nearly five decades ago, Gay Blackstone can still vividly recall the first time she was sawed in half onstage. Her screams were an intended element of the illusion, but nerves and fear made them genuine that time.

For Ms. Blackstone, that gig assisting the master illusionist Harry Blackstone Jr. turned into a love affair and, later, marriage. After her husband died in 1997, Ms. Blackstone moved center stage and went on to a successful career as an illusionist, coach, producer and director.

Let me guess. A large fraction of female magicians are either the wives or daughters of male magicians?

In general, the weirder the profession, the higher the percentage of women pros who are the wives or daughters of men pros. One of the dirty little secrets of feminism is that high achievement among women in male-dominated field tends to be dependent upon old-fashioned family values. For example, women military officers tend to be both the daughters of male military officers and have a good relationship with their family man dads.

But she is an exception. Only around 8 percent of professional magicians are women, according to a spokeswoman for the Magic Castle, a private clubhouse in Los Angeles for members of the Academy of Magical Arts. Ms. Blackstone and others say a number of factors are to blame for the stubborn disparity, including sexism, wardrobe limitations and the enduring stereotype that women best serve as the audience’s distraction.

“I think for many years, no one really thought of the need for women to be the magician,” Ms. Blackstone said. “But now, as we’re coming up with different roles and different things we want to be doing, then there’s no reason why women can’t be just as great as men.”

Ms. Blackstone predicted that there would be “an explosion” of women pursuing magic in the next five to 10 years, as a younger generation of illusionists learns to take old tricks and make them their own.

For now, though, being a woman in magic can be a lonely pursuit. Take Nicole Cardoza, who often says she is the “only Black female magician I know.”

Ms. Cardoza, 34, who specializes in coin magic, or coin production, has been touring the country for more than two years, performing at universities, churches and conferences. Onstage, she is equal parts storyteller, teacher and magician in shows that reference and evoke Ellen Armstrong, who is believed to be the first Black woman to have a touring magic show in the 1900s.

To understand the lack of diversity in magic, Ms. Cardoza said in an interview, “we have to get into the role of who is allowed, historically, to be magical, supernatural.”


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