[dropcap]H[/dropcap]ey Mr Magician, how did you do that?

We’ve all heard it before. “Can you show me how that worked?” or “I wish I knew the secret” or “How did you do that??!”. Why do our spectators have this need to know how our chicanery works? What good is it knowing the secret?

I’ve been thinking about this for some time and it all lands up at the same beginning, namely: Why do I do magic?. Why do I spend hours daily practising, learning scripts, and getting up on a stage in front of a bunch of strangers to perform?

The answer is simple.

We as magicians have such a gift where we can give people this wonderful and safe space to let go.
— Greg Gelb
When a person sees magic being performed, they are transcended to a time when they were like children, carefree; a time when they can laugh and run around all day jumping in puddles and climbing trees. Magic has that ability. After watching the coin disappear, or their freely selected card be found in the most magical and mysterious way, the audience, laugh, gasp, clap, or even cry. At that moment, they are like children. Not a care in the world.

I perform to assist my audience to get to that point of a child-like state-of-being. A place where there is no debt, no stress, no work, no meetings, no internet; a place where real magic exists and expressions of feelings and emotions are encouraged.

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When a spectator wishes to know how the trick works, it’s that inner battle that has begun. They are not used to the feeling of living a care-free life, a life of colour, a life where rainbows are magical and the Tooth Fairy exists. When they enter that state of being, they get scared and it becomes uncomfortable, so their logical brain kicks in and says, “this state is not natural for me, I need out. I need to get back to my reality” so they ask the question that will blow this “fictitious” world out the water… “How did you do that?”. It’s been so long since they felt that feeling of calmness within themselves, because at that moment once the magic is over, they get to float freely in the world where deadlines don’t exist, and traffic is just an opportunity to play more “I spy”, and that’s scary. It’s unknown territory.

Greg Gelb performing in "Monday Night Magic" at Cape Town Magic Club

Greg Gelb performing in “Monday Night Magic” at Cape Town Magic Club

So, my fellow magicians, the next time someone watches you perform a piece of magic and they approach you to ask you how it works, understand where they’re coming from, understand that you are witnessing the greatest battle within the human body (that and the battle of “Cake or Gym”). We as magicians have such a gift where we can give people this wonderful and safe space to let go. We can not and should not burst that bubble by explaining how it works, rather we should nurture them back to their reality, because truth is, the reality we create for our spectators, that of a child-like world is only temporary and they will sadly slip back into their reality.

How do we do that? How do we keep them there a little longer? One way is to politely give them a response that will tell them you understand what they’re doing but you’re not letting them escape this world of magic just yet, “How do I do it? I do it well.” Or “Can you keep a secret? (they say “yes”)… so can I). Remarks like that, in my opinion, keep the audience in this world that little bit longer.

Good luck out there. We not only have the job of entertainment, but we need to nurture and protect the World of Magic, a world of true freedom, we need to protect it from the World of sadness, stress, pain and debt.