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A lot has happened since last week’s dramatic Receipts story. You deserve a follow-up to conclude it. The goal is always to summarise what happened based on public information. Suppose you can set aside the drama and the spectacle. In that case, well, it’s pretty impressive you can put it all aside — good on you.
As you read this, remember that last week, Craig Petty alleged there is a “magic mafia” of well-known magicians secretly working to manipulate the industry and further their agenda.
Here we go, then.
Part 1. Sudo’s Side Of The Story
You should know what happened five years ago.
Sudo was publishing a periodical on The Magic Cafe titled “Skeletons From the Closet”. His PayPal details were on the final page. One of the people who donated generously was Michael Weber.
Sudo emailed him a thank you and asked how he got his copy. Weber said he’d requested it via his cafe username and asked Sudo to keep his identity secret.
And so he did — for five years.
But then things kicked off between Petty and Weber. Sudo saw New Guy levelling accusations towards Petty and pretending to be a Weber collector. He felt if he said nothing, he would be complicit in the “underhanded tactics”.
And so he dropped the big bombshell.
Sudo shared his evidence that Weber is New Guy.
The backlash ensued.
This brings us to where last week’s story ended.
- New Guy posted that Petty had won.
- Petty released his receipt trick.
- New Guy didn’t confirm if he was Weber.
- Discussion, for the most part, had moved on.
- People started actually to discuss Petty’s trick.
Members certainly appeared to stop trawling through New Guy’s post history.
That was until someone well-known posted a new statement.
Their post changed everything.
Part 2. A Friend In Mead
Eric Mead is a well-respected American magician and long-time friend of Weber. He’s even published an acclaimed magic book titled “Tangled Web.”
Suddenly, Mead joined the thread and posted in part:
A Real Secret
You guys are right. Michael Weber is Newguy. But, so was I. And so were a handful of other magicians whose names many of you would likely recognize (some no longer with us.) The original idea was to allow a few of us to participate in this community anonymously, primarily so the MagicCafe wouldn’t show up in web searches of our names by clients or muggles. We soon realized it had the nice side effect of allowing us to share ideas, information and opinions absent the air of authority (or lack of in my case) that sometimes happens when a recognizable name posts here. We thought that if we appeared to be a “new guy” in magic, we might side step a lot of the petty arguments and flame throwing that happen in all public magic forums, and that people would consider the ideas and opinions without being tainted by the reputation of the source—like Stephen King writing as Richard Bachman. I never knew which posts came from who, but I can tell you that I never posted as Newguy after the first time Michael Weber was unmasked here as “Newguy” way back in 2008. In fact, I rarely look at the Café except to research specific topics, and I had all but forgotten about Newguy until a friend pointed me to this thread. I hope you’ll believe me when I tell you there was no nefarious plan to deceive or con anyone, and no malice intended. Surely it's no surprise that many magicians have shadow accounts here and a desire for anonymity, so we didn't think it was any big deal. Perhaps we were naive.
We are telling you this because the Newguy account is useless now, and we don’t like seeing our friend getting beaten up by a half wise mob. My understanding is that the responses to Mr. Petty here were not made by Michael personally, but with his blessing and on his behalf, and only after Mr. Petty refused to communicate with Michael and Tim Trono about their trick Age Receipts--choosing instead to have Murphy’s Magic act as intermediary, and taking the situation public on YouTube rather than have what should have been a civil and private conversation. I have more to say about that situation, but Michael has politely requested that I stand down.
Newguy is dead. Long live "Newguy."
Your friend in magic,
Wait — what?!
As one forum member swiftly posted:
Well there's a twist I never saw coming....
It’s unclear if Mead had read the 35 pages that came before his comment. It’s also unclear if Mead took time to review the last 20 years of New Guy posts.
It’s hard to imagine Mead’s statement received the reaction he expected.
People were upset.
Many posted replies that read in part:
It’s fantastic that every post that Webber and “friends” made under the newguy account were all written in identical linguistic fashion, always has the same spelling mistake and all smothered in mirror image arrogance. That’s the REAL genius behind New Guy’s account.
The sad part is… there’s still no apology from Weber.
One member referenced a scene from the film “Life of Brian”.
"I'm Brian!" "No, I'm Brian!"
"I'm Brian and so is my wife!"
Some considered comments followed:
I’d say it’s convenient but it’s not. It’s either a plan to spread the hate expressed here over “Michael’s” behaviour and dampen the blow by allowing several “names” to come forward and each take a portion of the heat or what you’re saying is true, and you’ve all behaved disgustingly, patting each other’s backs and shilling each other to allow all your profiles to grow and benefit from that account.
I think it’s offensive that Michael has not come forward and simply apologised - instead, he “gave his blessing” for others to post on his behalf. He has you come here to face the music - why couldn’t he tell us what you have come forward and said?
Some aimed their frustration at Mead:
Eric, if I'd created a collective anon account so we could share ideas without people having preconceptions about the people involved and it went this way I'd be deeply ashamed.
Eric, thank you for helping me so easily add your name to the list of magicians I will never patronize. Where is your sense of shame?
Adding Eric Mead (a thinker and performer I used to admire) to the list of “newguys” I will be boycotting moving forward after his most ridiculous post!
Another poked fun at Craig’s last name and Weber’s tagline.
What Would Weber Do? Be Petty.
Then some poked holes in the idea of a shared account:
So Eric Mead is saying his friends - some of the most creative men in magic by all accounts - couldn't think of more than one sock puppet name between them?
I'm sorry but this sounds absolutely ridiculous. If it is somehow true, it is bizarre if not downright dopey.
Most concisely, one user quoted Mead’s complete statement, adding:
This just makes it worse and is probably not true anyway.
At the time of writing, Mead has not posted again since his statement.
Part 3. Long Live The King
In the middle of the heated reactions, New Guy reappeared and posted a new comment. No mention of Mead’s statement or the new backlash.
It was a single sentence about Bob King, who first published the trick that Petty got accused of stealing ten years ago.
Tom Gilbert shared the sad news about Bob King in Genii’s forum.
New Guy then posted in the cafe thread for the first time in a while.
The comment reads in its entirety:
Extremely sad to share that the remarkable, innovative and sharing magician Bob King has just passed away.
And that was it. Just like that, thousands of magicians following the EDCeipt forum thread learned the sad news of Bob King’s passing.
At the time of writing, this was the final post made by New Guy.
Part 4. An Expert At The Card Table
Jason England is a well-respected Vegas-based magician and long-time friend of Weber.
Suddenly, he arrived in the cafe, too.
His comment reads in full:
I've known newguy was a collective acc[oun]t since at least 2007 (and have the emails to prove it). Never posted as newguy but have had offers made, ala, "That's a good way of putting that, you should post that. Or if you want, "newguy" can do it." Don't recall if I ever took newguy up on the offer, but it's very possible. So Eric's admission that it was at times a collective voice is confirmed.
The intentional misspelling "Webber" was a persistent inside joke amongst those of us that knew. It came from the many times his name was accidentally misspelled that way here on the Café (and other places). A similar inside joke exists due to people mispronouncing his name as "Weeber" if they've never heard it, only read it.
Regardless- much ado about nothing IMO.
From a friend who truly isn't on the Café (may or may not be a newguy alum - I'll have to check):
In 1917, a work of art was unveiled at an exhibition in NYC. The work was immediately deemed “offensive” and the group that organized the show, The Society of Independent Artists, shut it down.
Marcel Duchamp, a founding member of The Society of Independent Artists, came to the new artist’s defense in a publication called The Blind Man. Duchamp stated:
“Whether Mr. Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view – he created a new thought for the object… as for the plumbing, that is absurd. The only works of art American has given are her plumbing and her bridges.”
(Duchamp was Mutt.)
Oh, you have got to be kidding.
If you’re keeping score:
- New Guy has always been Weber.
- New Guy was also occasionally Eric Mead fifteen years ago.
- New Guy was almost but “never” Jason England, too.
England initially refers to New Guy as a “collective acct”, but in a later comment, he softens this, writing that New Guy had a community “aspect”. England did not share his email evidence.
It’s fair to say that England’s statement was unexpected.
Anyone could pick it apart, and pick it apart, they did.
Only, unlike Mead and New Guy, England replied to their reactions.
Some of the reactions read in part:
If Duchamp had then claimed it was the best fountain he had ever seen and tried to get people to buy tickets to look at the fountain, he'd be.... Michael Fibber.
Lolz. With all due respect, if we're comparing any of the "newguys" here to a true artistic genius like Duchamp then I think we need a little perspective on our own contribution to the cultural landscape.
In response to this criticism of the Duchamp story, England replied in part:
Reminder that I didn't write the Duchamp story, only posted for a reader that can't create a login (for some reason).
The story was posted because some here (perhaps not you) seem to be reacting purely to the notion that a well-known member of a community would comment favorably on his own creations anonymously. My friend's point is that this is nothing new, nor is it some sort of moral or ethical issue. It wasn't meant to be a perfect analogy, only commentary on that single point.
A cafe member was quick to shoot this down, posting in part:
First, you are assuming that because somebody else did this before that it is okay. I am not ready to concede the point that favorably promoting your work under a fake name is completely ethical.
That being said, however, I don[‘t] think many people would have a big issue with newguy's posts if he was just promoting his work. I think the problem lies in the fact that he was often 1. Responding to customer criticism as though he were a customer himself; and 2. Attacking other magicians under this pseudonym while promoting himself.
His first post on this thread is indefensible.
England responded well to another member who questioned why England decided not to share this new statement from the New Guy account.
Then England was asked, "Do you believe what Michael Weber has done (when he used the Newguy account) to be okay?" And while England replied to other questions, he waited to reply to this one.
It was asked several times before the asker wrote, "We're asking a simple question, which you continue to avoid answering."
I know it doesn't seem like it, but I'm not avoiding answering. There are at least 2 people in this discussion that have been involved in the past few pages, that I do not know, but that I've answered and given essentially a full explanation (of my apparent avoidance of this question) to. If I ask them to, they can back that up.
Just because I'm not answering you, immediately upon your demand of said answer, doesn't mean I'm silent.
The same user then suggested that “the longer any public acknowledgment of wrongdoing takes, the less credible it will sound.”
Then at 4 AM in Vegas, England responded in part:
That doesn't concern me in the least. My reply will be, after all, an opinion. Not sure how an opinion can be credible or not unless it contains outright lies (it won't).
England then explained he felt the answer was getting demanded of him. He then committed to answer the question publicly eventually, writing:
And by "eventually" I mean a day or so. Seeing as I've done nothing wrong, I see no reason to jump to your schedule just because you say to.
England would later send a private DM to the forum member with a thorough answer regarding whether he believed what Weber did was morally wrong.
A day or so passed.
England did not answer publicly.
The user shared the private response in the forum thread. Then the forum moderators rightly removed England’s private answer from the thread.
And that was that.
At the time of writing, England has not posted again.
Part 5. Sleeping Patterns
Let’s take a side step — one that highlights how dedicated some magicians are to this story.
After reading Mead and England said New Guy was a joint account, one user decided to investigate.
This user downloaded the timestamps of all 411 New Guy posts and plotted them on a chart based on weekday and time.
The time stamps are set to the local time of the user, not New Guy.
They shared the chart and wrote, in part:
Now check the plot of the "newguy" acc. You can clearly see that he sleeps between 06:00 and 14:00 with the small exception of 4 posts in a night of a tuesday (in a timespan of 20 years). If other people would also use the account which live in another timezone, then there would be no gap for the sleeping time. If other people in the same timezone would also use the account, then there would likely be a smaller gap because different people usually don't go at exactly the same time to bed.
This data isn’t exactly hard evidence of anything. But this example does highlight the extreme dedication forum users are taking from all sides.
And while users dig through New Guys post history for clues, anonymous names have been posting on Petty’s YouTube channel with threats to come to his home (publicly sharing his address to prove they know it).
A new anonymous user even appeared in One Ahead’s comments:
I'm on Craig's side in this but I just heard word from someone on the Cafe staff that a lot of Craigs supporter's share an IP address.
The way many have acted through this drama should be a wake-up call to the fact that our industry, fueled by secrecy, is filled with anonymous trolls, sock-puppets, and internet sleuths, aided hugely by the ability to post anonymously.
Oh, a gentle reminder that when you comment on One Ahead, the team can see your email address and the date you joined.
Part 6. That Guy from Facebook
Have you seen Spiderman: No Way Home? There’s a scene when Dr Strange accidentally breaks the multiverse. Then heroes and villains from different timelines start to appear.
Enter Rick Lax.
Rick goddam Lax.
Rick Lax is a successful social media content creator. He’s also published several best-selling tricks via Penguin and theory11.
Rick’s pursuit of the algorithms led him in a direction many magicians disliked. He exposed the secrets of some published tricks to millions of viewers.
Years ago, Rick stepped away from the magic community, partly due to backlash received for exposing tricks. He has not really posted on the cafe or magic groups for years. But why would he want to return now, after all these years?
His full comment reads in part:
Have you ever paid $100 for a magic trick, and then it turns out to be a piece of garbage? Or maybe you’ve paid $200 for a booklet, or $300 for special access to a special session to a magic convention…and all the ideas are unusable? Or maybe you’ve bought ideas like this hoping to perform them on social media or local TV, and then, after purchase, you see that there’s some fine print restricting you from these performances? Have you ever wondered how and why this happens so much?
In the past I got kicked out magic groups for talking about the “Secret Magic Police.” That’s what I always called it. Others say “Magic Mafia.” It’s a group of magicians who make their money selling tricks to other magicians; they don’t make their money entertaining people. In fact, they COULDN’T CARE LESS about entertaining people.
Here’s how their crediting system works:
1) If you bow down to them, then they like you. If you don’t, then they don’t like you.
2) When you come up with a new idea, inevitably, it will have elements of old ideas mixed in with new ideas. If the Magic Police like you, they’ll focus on the new elements of your release and talk about how original it is and how people should buy it. If they don’t like you, they’ll only focus on the parts that have been done before and they’ll call you a thief and try to destroy your professional reputation and ability to make money in the marketplace.
That is the current magic crediting system.
When the Magic Elites/Secret Magic Police bully enough people out of the marketplace, they create a vacuum that can be filled with their ****ty tricks that entertain nobody. (That's where your thousands of dollars have gone.)
“newguy” has discouraged people on this thread from buying my tricks multiple times in the past. And I was fooled! I thought it was just some ‘random guy’ who didn’t like me; never did I imagine it was the sock puppet account of the Secret Magic Police.
In my case…the Secret Magic Police won. I stepped away from releasing magic because it was just too hard on me, emotionally. (When my fiancee’s cancer returned, I started being more open about the depression and anxiety. And while I still suffer, I’ve found relief from stepping back from this community.)
I do know what most people on this forum think about me. Because you’ve heard the Magic Elite’s opinion on me for a decade now, and that’s fine. I just wanted to chime in and say….this discussion could be the most encouraging thing in the magic marketplace in a decade. It’s great to hear all these brave magicians stepping up, drawing lines, and refusing to stand for market manipulation. Also it’s great to hear the people doing the manipulating admitting to it! (And I LOVED reading Eric’s hilarious bit about how this decades-long sock-puppet bullying was for our own good...lol...this did give me the smile I needed today.)
The multiverse is colliding!
Members were surprisingly welcoming to Rick. Many appeared thankful for his contribution, with some noting that they’d either enjoyed his Penguin releases or that they’d actually discovered magic by seeing his videos.
One user even apologised to Rick for the anger they personally levelled towards Rick in the past. It was all oddly and unexpectedly cathartic.
Rick Lax’s initial post ends:
It’s like the Secret Magic Police decided that what they do is so important…it justifies ruining lives. I do believe Petty when he says he was in a dark place with depression and thoughts of doing dark thing, and I do believe the mafia hears that and thinks, “We’ve got the perfect threat!” And--to the Magic Police’s credit, I DO believe that they (Weber, Eric, Jason, whoever else) genuinely believe they’re doing a good thing. That they’re vigilantes for crediting justice. And they feel like it’s so important, ANYTHING is on the table to stop it. Sock-puppet accounts, deception, ruining lives.
Anyway, congrats to all the brave people standing up here.
Rick would go on to act as some kind of peacekeeper, calling for calm. He shared that he’d reached out privately to everyone involved and that he felt this could be a learning moment. He stressed that the community should forgive New Guy if they apologised and that things should be kept civil.
And that’s where this story ends.
- Petty added a credit to his trick for Trono and Weber.
- Weber and Trono are both yet to comment publicly.
- Petty continues to reply to questions about his trick.
- Weber, last night, resportedly published a bunch of receipt tricks to his subscribers.
Oh, and one more comment from Rick Lax:
Whoever posts next has the 1000th post...who's is going to be?
Only, he’d done the math wrong. Rick was off by one.
His post was the 1,000th post.
50 pages, 140,000 views, and 1,000 posts.
Imagine if the entire thread is actually just the same three guys posting from lots of sock-puppet accounts.