3 Stages of Magic

I reckon that there are three stages of magic.

The first stage is the kind of thing I do. It’s the kind of thing Dynamo does. And Penn. And Teller. And David Blaine (well back in the day anyway, before he started living in boxes and standing still on top of towers). It involves honest to goodness astonishment. Done well, stage 1 magic can make people go “ooh!”, it can make them disbelieve their eyes, and at it’s finest, can make people feel childlike awe. However, deep down, most people realise it’s all a trick. A very good trick nonetheless, but a trick all the same. They may not be able to get to sleep at night wondering how it was done, but they still know they have been tricked. I’ve no problem with this, and I suspect that Penn, Teller, Blaine and Namo don’t either. Stage 1 magic can be very satisfying.

Stage 2, However, is a different kettle with different fish in it. People are still astonished, people feel childlike awe, and most certainly may not be able to sleep at night. The big difference here is they don’t think it’s a trick. Stage 2 magic makes people believe they have seen something real. Derren Brown does this better than most people in the world. Derren has mastered suggestion, psychology and people reading that allows him to perform real miracles (not mere tricks!). I’ve dabbled with stage 2 magic. Looking for the tiny clues that give away what people are thinking can be very rewarding (but my goodness, it takes some practice!). However, I do still love trickery, and I can’t quite bring myself to abandon stage 1 for good.

So stage 1 – astonished, but know it’s a trick. Stage 2 – astonished, with something real. What the flip is stage 3!?

Stage 3 is a step further. Fooled. Didn’t even realise it was a trick. Didn’t even know anything had happened. Stage three is delving into Hustle territory. Danny Ocean would have been a belting magician. Pulling off a Casino Heist would be the ultimate example of stage 3 magic. Fooling people into handing over whopping amounts of cash without even noticing. Stage 3 magic, however, doesn’t make great wedding or party entertainment. “Did you see the magician tonight?”, “No but my bank account looks to have been emptied and I seem to be one kidney down” is never going to get any repeat bookings.

So, I’m going to stick to stage 1 for parties and weddings for now. I’ll keep the stage 3 plans of a Casino Heist as a sideline project.

If any one out there would care to join me in my Casino Heist plans, please get in touch.

With your bank account details.

And mother’s maiden name please.