Performing fabulous monsters: Re-inventing the gothic personae in bizarre magic

Nicholas Taylor, Stuart Nolan

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Bizarre magick is a form of performance magic that favours theatrical character, storytelling, overt allegory, symbolism and metaphor, and themes of the supernatural, fantastic, amazing and weird. While the form has its roots in Victorian stage magic, it realised itself as a movement in the 1970s through a counter-cultural reaction against the big boxes and card flourishes of a disenchanted, contemporary, mainstream stage magic. Bizarre magicians sought to re-enchant performance magic with the mysterious and the spiritual, (re)discovering meaning through storytelling and theatrical character.

This chapter examines the adoption of popular Gothic representations in the stage persona of a number of key figures in bizarre magick. In performance, bizarre magick presents a complex series of meta-narratives within the form, often supplanting the literary in favour of popular Gothic (re)imaginings. These, often twice-removed, transformations/translations of classic and contemporary Gothic form and fiction are considered in the context of the bizarre performer's engagement, through both performance and theoretical writing, with the fabulously monstrous.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMonstrous media/spectral subjects
Subtitle of host publicationImaging Gothic from the nineteenth century to the present
EditorsFred Botting, Catherine Spooner
Place of PublicationManchester
PublisherManchester University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780719098123
ISBN (Print)9780719089770, 9781526123039
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015


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