Deep down, people love magic. I’m not talking about kids. Adults love magic. Grown men and women, love magic. They do. Unfortunately, most of them don’t know it because they’ve not experienced the real deal.

There is a confusion of terms that is primarily the fault of “magicians” today. You see, simply being able to have a card selected, shuffled back into a deck and subsequently found in some seemingly impossible way DOES NOT equate to magic. (Nor does the linking of a couple of big silver rings or the classic sawing of a woman in half) In and of themselves, these are not magic. They can be magic, but all too frequently, they are not elevated to that level.

Magic is beautiful. Magic is impossible, truly, completely impossible. Magic is emotional. Surprise is momentary, but a deep, lingering astonishment can stick with a person for a life-time. Magic is connective and resonant.

Magic should touch on the emotions of the audience. If you were a real magician, what would you do? What would you be able to do? Would you cause a few coins to travel from one hand to the other? Would you cut a rope and put it back together? Would you predict the lottery numbers? Well, maybe. Again, by themselves, there is nothing wrong with these tricks. Making real magic with them is a different story.

Let me be clear, magic is not created through deft maneuvers or a cleverly designed utility gimmick. Magic is made in the minds and hearts of the audience. It doesn’t matter if you’re vanishing an elephant or coin. It makes no difference if you use a diagonal palm shift or a svengali deck. If the trick isn’t relevant to the audience, there is no magic.

If the trick is full of unrelated plot twists and convoluted storylines NO ONE will care. Honestly, it’s boring. If the trick is just a robust session of sleight-of-hand masterbation, it is not magic. It’s not even being done for the audience. You’re the only one getting a kick out it. If the trick is loaded with cheesy jokes, bad puns and complete stupidity, well...I shouldn’t even need to mention this. If you don’t take enough pride in your work to think very critically about it, then you shouldn’t be performing.

For several years I table hopped restaurants. During that period in my career, I performed for thousands of guests at different types of restaurants. I received the same comments that anyone else who has worked these gigs has heard. “If I give you $1, can you make it $100?” or “Can you make our check disappear?” or “Can you make my wife disappear?” or “Can I take you to Vegas with me?” or “Can you read my wife’s mind? Because that would be real magic.”

Look carefully at those. If you’ve spent any time performing in the real world, you’ve surely heard these comments. How hard have you thought about them? Like most workers, I came up with funny, sarcastic replies. I got laughs and people enjoyed the tricks very much, but did I succeed in making magic?

The comments above represent what normal people think about. They are concerned about money, relationships and … money. Never once was I ask, “Can you separate black and red cards like oil and water?” or “Can you tear up this newspaper and put it back together again?”

The truth is that magic can be made with cards or rubber bands or a fork or sponge-bunnies or big boxes or linking rings or cups and balls or nothing at all. Magic has very, very little to do with the props employed. The props are simply there to facilitate the magic. Magic is made when our interactions and effects resonate with our audiences.

Real magic is meaningful, not trivial. Real magic is inspiring, not condescending. Real magic is beautiful, not confusing. Real magic sticks with people for the rest of their lives. It gets talked about. It becomes the story that they tell at the office. They tell the next magician that they meet about it. They remember and retell the story of their encounter with the magician over and over again. Real magic turns into legends. They, grown men and women, love it. They love magic, but they may not know it yet. That’s our job, to create real, intriguing, resonant, beautiful magic for our audiences.