Other Dangers

There are odier dangers, loo; dangers that dont apply ro every type of feilurcffcct. I-or there is more than one type, and what may be true for one may be completely untrue for another, lo get a clear picture of the presiding dangers it is ncccssary to define four categories of failureffccts.

Different TYpes of Failureffects

First TYpe: The Secret Method is Exposed—In this type of feilureffect something goes wrong whereby the audience sees the (assumed) secret merhod employed by the magician. The magician realizes this and corrects the situation in a way that makes it obvious that the exposed method was not the true one. In this first type of cffcct the magician is fully aware of the suspicions of the audience.

Second TYpe: The Spectators TkiNKTkEY Know the Secret—Here the spectators believe they know the hidden method, but in the end it becomes obvious that die method suspected could never have been the one employed. The magician appears unaware of die suspicions of the audience. However, die audience never actually sees a secret method.

THIRD TYPE: SOMETHING IN TI IE PROCEDURE GOES WRONG—Here the secret method plays no role. Nor does the effect go wrong. Instead, something seemingly unforeseen happens, causing trouble for the performer. This third type is possibly not a true failureffect.

Fourth TYpe: The Secret of thf. Effect pi ays No Role—Here something goes wrong, but again no fictitious method is exposed. The wrong outcome of the magic is corrected in a magical way. The audicncc is never aware of secret methods.

Dangers of the First TYpe

A negative aspect to this type of failurcffcct Ls that attention is focused on the secret methods of magic. Any suspension of disbelief will almost certainly be ruined by this type of effect. You do, after all, show to the audience that secrets are in play, and everyone is reminded that you practice trickery. Magic becomes no more than a joke, at best, with diis type of presentation. It is all trickery radier dian a fantasy world where magic is possible.' I hat should be reason enough to stay away from this type of failurcffcct. It will be clear that I am not fond of this sort of presentation.

Dangers of the Second TVpe

The second type of failureffect is, in a way, a transition form between the first and diird Types. Effects that contain feints are examples of the second type. For example, you vanish a coin, but die audience suspects that it might be in your other hand. A few moments later you make a casual gesture that shows the hand in question empty.

Feints allow for many possibilities useful in leading spectators around die true method. Such stratagems open roads to die accomplishment of all sorts of secret actions. However, die utility of feints depends on how powerfully rhey arc played. When heavily stressed they can produce a strong negative effect, akin to failureffects of the first type. But played softly and gently they can work for you without arousing a negative, smart-aleck feeling. To avoid the pitfalls it is usually best to put light stress on such feints.


In this type, in rhe eyes of the spectator something in the procedure goes wrong; however, the magician isn't aware of the problem. At the end of the trick he is still oblivious and everything turns out fine. A good example is Charlie Millers 'Dunbury Delusion' (Hugard and Braues Expert Card Technique\ p. 319). In this trick you continue widi die procedure as if everything is progressing as it should. The spectators, however, at one point notice that you are obviously heading for disaster—but in the end this perception turns out to be spurious. I lere the spectators believe that you arc failing when you are not. The result is that the spectators might later feel that something was wrong with their own observations. It is all a puckish beguilement! But never is there any hint of trickery being exercised. It is all just magic.

THe Fourth TYpe

This is not an uncommon variety of failureffect, and properly handled it becomes a dramatic predicament in which the performer gets entangled in a conflict of some sort. In such presentations, no stress is placed on trickery. In other words, it isn't the method that goes wrong. Therefore, the feeling of magic can often be preserved. Excellent examples of diis kind of work were prominent in the performances of Cardini and Fred Kaps. Things constantly happen that are not planned by die magician. Nevertheless, he copes with these problems as best he can.

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