Like money in the pocket of an old jacket. That’s what Tricks is all about.
For many, I am often the first magician that they have met in person. Even though magicians have been around for hundreds of years, and can be seen—thanks to YouTube and reality television—more frequently and by more people than at anytime in the history of the craft, few people have actually met or seen a magician up close and in person.
After discovering that performing magic is what I do, the usual follow up question is: “What kind of tricks do you perform?” And then, before I can respond with “the usual fare - sawing people in half and making them float”, they say, “Oh, should I have said illusions rather than tricks?" as if the word “tricks” was somehow pejorative.
I always assure them that the word “tricks” is just fine.
So why do we need tricks and why do I perform them?
The answer, at least to the first question, came to me in a piece Luc Sante wrote for the New York Times Sunday Magazine in 2001 in an issue devoted to “secrets”. (For me, “secrets” is part and parcel of “tricks”.) There, Sante wrote,
“People need secrets because they need the assurance that there is something left to discover, that they have not exhausted the limits of the environment, that a prize might lie in wait like money in the pocket of an old jacket, that the existence of things beyond their ken might propose a corollary that their own minds contain unsuspected corridors. People need uncertainty and security. It’s not that secrets make them feel small but that they make the world seem bigger—a major necessity these days, when sensations need to be extreme to register at all.”
As for the second question, it is as simple as the first; for the love of it.