The Man Behind “F*#k You, It’s Magic!”


FYIMI was walking around Burning Man this year when someone gifted me a sticker. It read, “Fuck You It’s Magic” and, in smaller letters, “Cargo Cult 2013  )'(“, the theme for this year’s event. It wasn’t the first time that I saw FYIM that week, either. I saw it everywhere, on bikes, bumper stickers and even taking up one of the art panels behind Center Camp. But, the most astonishing thing was that I first heard that phrase 30 years ago.

For a large portion of the 1980’s, I was a stand-up comic and spent several years as the main MC at the world famous Improvisation in Los Angeles.300x300 Every night, I would introduce comics like Jerry Seinfeld, Robin Williams, Adam Sandler and many more. One of those very funny people was a guy named Greg Travis. Greg was tall, good-looking dude with a slight Texan twang. His act was filled with a stream-of-conscienousness group of crazies, including one David Sleaze, a foul-mouthed and probably drunken British punk magician. When Sleaze performed his laughable excuse for magic, he would blame the audience for not understanding it.

Of course, the audience wasn’t stupid, the bit was. In fact, it was so stupid that it was kinda brilliant. When I think about Greg’s act, it is his David Sleaze that I remember the most. So, as I walked around Black Rock City and saw FYIM everywhere, I thought to myself, “Does Greg know about this?” When I got back, I took a picture of the sticker and sent it to Greg. He called me back and, in talking to him, he told me that he had no idea that his bit had become so popular. And, like most normal people, he doesn’t know anything about Burning Man.

So, fellow burners, let’s give some love to one of the unsung heroes of Black Rock City. If you have a picture or a story about “Fuck You, It’s Magic”, share them in the comments below. I’ll make sure that Greg reads them. Who knows? Maybe we can convince Greg to go Burning Man in 2014. Something tells me that David Sleaze would kill at Center Camp!

Also, be sure to check out “Midlife” a film written, directed and starring Greg Travis. Here’s the trailer.


Comments (8)

  1. Ash

    I first saw “Fuck You, It’s Magic” on a big sign and on some jewelry at the Lightning in a Bottle festival in 2012. I was going through a bit of a rough time in my personal life, but I was surrounded by loving friends and was getting further and further into a world and a culture where magical things happen all the time, the community of burning man culture. So surrounded by wonderful, loving people and beginning my immersion into a new way of life and living, but still with one foot in painful experiences, “Fuck you, it’s magic” became the perfect phrase to describe the way I dealt with the angry and hurt parts of myself. Thanks to Greg for inspiring others to shout it from the rooftops, and for giving me a rally cry.

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  2. Tony Edwards

    Okay, so it turns out that the FYIM stickers were made by a friend of mine, YayFuzzy (www.yayfuzzy.com). He had 2000 made and handed them out as gifts at Burning Man. He got the idea when he saw it on another friends button.

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  3. ohtony

    Jessica is the person who had the button that inspired YayFuzzy to make his stickers. She wrote me via Facebook:

    “I first came across “Fuck You It’s Magic” at the 2012 Lightning in a Bottle. The Peace Yoga Gallery from downtown LA had hung a giant sign with FUIM written on it, near a gorgeous view by the temple.

    I immediately fell in love with the phrase and purchased one of the necklaces they were selling with the phrase on it. I also began yelling it at everyone I came across.

    Fast forward a month later, to a bar in Sherman Oaks. A guy asked to see my necklace and then promptly stole it. I began searching online for a replacement necklace (which I found on Etsy and I now own 2 FUIM necklaces).
    While searching for the necklace, I came across David Sleaze’s punk rock magician act and fell even more in love with the phrase.

    My love spread to Yayfuzzy who made stickers for this year’s Burn. Which is a good thing because I lost my voice at the 2012 Burn yelling “Fuck You It’s Magic” at everyone.

    A lot of folks attribute the phrase to me, so I try to explain the back story whenever possible but I’m also happy to carry on the grand tradition of FUIM. I love it because it marries two of my favorite things about the Burn: the wonder and magic of it all, with a winking punk rock prank edge

    I attached a photo of me and some Misfits at LIB 2012 when I first discovered the magic of Fuck You It’s Magic.

    FUIM at Lightning in a Bottle 2012

    And here’s a close up Yayfuzzy took of one of the necklaces I found on Etsy:

    FYIM Necklace

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  4. Mike Cote

    Saw him first on a Rodney Dangerfield Young Comedian HBO special, with Tim Allen and Bob Nelson among others. The David Sleaze part was the best.

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  5. C Crenshaw

    I viewed this great act for the first time in the late 80’s on a Rodney Dangerfield special.

    Below is what I remember:

    One of a great group of old friends of mine owned a VHS recording of that special. We’d get together after work on weekdays —now remember, we were in our 20’s so weekends were for clubbing — and watch the special a few times each night.

    But the overwhelming takeaway was Sleaze’s “Fuck you, it’s magic”.

    I mean, I had already memorized Eddie Murphy’s Delirious and Raw. But this was something different.

    I bet if I encountered any of that old group now and bellowed at the top of my lungs “Fuck you,, it’s magic” it would break us both up.

    (Though anyone overhearing would assume they had the misfortune of being in the presence of two maniacs)

    Also, don’t forget the great John Fox (Archibal Barisol) and Tim Allen — also on that special.

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  6. C Crenshaw

    Oh, I guess I should have mentioned the artist’s name. It’s Greg Travis.

    Though he certainly doesn’t need me to shill for him — he’s apparently well known and well-worked in the entertainment industry.

    (Yes, I read Wikipedia after I wrote my first post.

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  7. Cheryl

    I saw a poster that said, “Fuck You. It’s Magic.” at this year’s 2016 Symbiosis Festival hanging at a food vendor booth. My boyfriend and I were immediately struck by the phrase. It summed everything up. Look around. The art and the “scene” is transformative. People show up with amazing and humorous costumes just to see people smile. That’s magic… And fuck you for trying to say whatever.
    Given what just happened in the 2016 American Presidential Election. I’d say we need some fucking magic.

    Reply

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