By Kyle Petersen

Fushigi: something fishy...

By now, the contact juggling community has been set aflame by the “Fushigi Magic Gravity Ball”, a contact juggling ball that has been rebranded and mass marketed.  The product is featured on nationally televised advertisements which show video of  professional contact jugglers intertwined with beginners demonstrating extremely basic maneuvers. In between these demonstrations are testimonials from everyday people, including one teenybopper who exclaims, “Fushigi! Like, I don’t even know what it is, but it’s like, the coolest thing ever, and I can do it!”

But does the Fushigi mean the death of contact juggling as we know it? Past history suggests the answer is no. Just as the Sham-Wow did not replace the everyday dishrag and the Showtime Rotisserie (“Set it, and forget it!”) did not replace the oven, the Fushigi Ball will most likely go the way of countless other As-Seen-On-TV products and simply fade away. That doesn’t mean there isn’t cause for alarm.

What is so outrageous and upsetting to many in the contact juggling community is that the Fushigi has cheapened the entire art form. It has now made it into a “trick” that anyone can do. While I do not consider myself a contact juggler, I do use a little bit of contact juggling in my act. At a recent performance, I was appalled when a chorus of children began yelling out “He’s cheating! He’s using a Fushigi!” after I pulled out a 3.5 inch red stage ball and demonstrated some basic body rolls. I was upset, but some people are devastated. Jonathan of Street Juggling even went so far as to say that he’d never use acrylic contact juggling balls again.

While we love that the Fushigi has brought contact juggling to a wider audience, we feel their business practices are unethical and that their advertisement completely misrepresents the product. They have taken an existing product, renamed it, claimed it was brand new, and then warned consumers to beware of imitators. They have labeled the ball as a “Magic Gravity Ball”, even though it isn’t magic, and doesn’t defy gravity (technically, it is a ball, so partial credit is due). They have intertwined professionals and people off the street in their commercial to create the misleading illusion that any Tom, Dick or Harry can instantly master even the most advanced tricks.

The bottom line is this: we commend the makers of Fushigi for their business acumen, if not for their business ethics. While the Fushigi represents a major challenge to the contact juggling community, it is the responsibility of the contact juggling community to rise above. We worry that the community will respond either with defeatism or by lashing out in anger. Neither response is constructive or appropriate. The public’s sudden and new-found interest in the Fushigi is a golden opportunity for those in the contact juggling community to reach a broader audience, educate the public, and redefine the art of contact juggling as they see it.

  • Ryan Mellors

    And how would you suggest that the contact juggling community should ‘rise above’ this problem?

  • jasonks

    But how do we reach out? We don’t have a budget for TV advertising like John Cammarano does. Fushigi may get a broader audience doing CJ (only they’ll be calling it Fushigi-ing). Some of them will find out that CJ is a 30-year old art. Others will never try a Fushigi but they will REDUCE our audience because they’ll now KNOW that CJ is just done with a gimmick ball.

  • Cannonball James

    As are Ryan and Jason, I too am a member of, and have seen devastating effects from the misrepresentation of CJ by Fushigi. I’m all for rising above, educating people, etc. But with Fushigi able to spread their bogus information to tens of thousands daily via tv, do you have an idea how we could honestly do that? If you, or anyone else with the power or influence to combat their deceptive campaign could use our talents in a positive way, I know I for one would be all for helping any way I can, and I’m certain a lot of others feel the same way.

  • Kyle Dixon

    I have a Fushigi, and I am new to contact juggling. I have done research and I already knew what it was before I got a Fushigi. The fact is that the availability of the Fushigi allowed me to get right into it. I also have 3 years of yoyoing behind me, so I have a major lead in hand-eye-coordination, over a 12 year kid. I agree now that this ball is slowly destroying an art that I now love very dearly. I will never buy another Fushigi, and I follow your cause.

  • Kyle Petersen

    Ryan, Jason and James,

    I hear your complaints and I understand your frustrations. My point is that the Fushigi ball will almost certainly go the way of countless other as-seen-on-tv products and fade into oblivion and out of public memory. This is not the death of contact juggling, and contact jugglers should continue to practice their art and bring it to a wider audience. The public’s newfound (though misplaced) interest in contact juggling is an excellent opportunity to reach people who wouldn’t otherwise have any exposure to contact juggling. I really like what Dawn Dreams has been doing; she has been blogging and making YouTube videos explaining the Fushigi ball in an enlightening but non-confrontational manner. You can take a look here:

  • Bob

    The fushigi will destroy contact juggling just like “fat-blast yoga” classes destroyed the careers of countless dedicated, talented yogis. Oh wait… it didn’t.

    The same thing’s happening in the hoop community now. The only thing popularity does is create more awareness, so the bar is raised. Shitty CJ artists will drop off and the cream will rise to the top.

  • Ryan Mellors

    @Kyle thanks; agreed Dawn’s videos Rock. I helped shoot and edit them. Dawn is my girlfriend (5 years!) and she is awesome.

  • Tegus

    The Fushigi product is responsible for getting me into CJ’ing in the first place. I did not have much exposure to contact before, as I was primarily a toss juggler for years. My first thoughts on the Fushigi were disappointing (poor quality plastics, tellmarks, poor instructions), however I was determined to improve at the art and move on to purchase stage balls and a 4″ acrylic. This was the only infomercial that has influenced me to get their product. Thank you, Fushigi, for getting me into an awesome, addictive hobby, now please go away.

  • Pirate Rob

    i contact juggle at the MN ren fest and that was all i heard all run, that it was a fushigi and i was cheating… so i let them try and fail, cruel yet effective

  • Nate

    Perhaps a website could be made (If it hasn’t already) that will collect donations from the contact juggling community, maybe by a contact juggler that many know and respect in the community so that we could raise the money for TV advertisement and to inform more people about the ART of contact juggling and tell about the difference from that to the TRICK of Fushigi. I could never put into words why I hated Fushigi, and this article puts my feelings in exact words. This describes exactly why I hate Fushigi. You are right, the contact juggling community should rise up and assert their talent in this beautiful art form.

  • Nate

    An edit to my last comment: I currently posses a Fushigi (It’s my girlfriend’s) I only borrowed it as a quick means to learn the isolations with a somewhat durable kind of acrylic feeling ball. I hope if I can get good with this then it won’t take much adjustment to a real acrylic ball so I can get into some really nice looking contact juggling.

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