To burst or not to burst the bubble with a disclaimer is a topic that can be argued from both sides of the fence. The older books of magic even counsel against the use of the word “trick” in one’s performance, as they say it breaks the illusion of magic.
Audiences today, though, have become so sophisticated I don’t think a disclaimer is necessary. Most people know magic is brought about by trickery and psychological dodges.
Once in a while a magician will run into persons blinded by their religion and will call our art as the work of the devil. Do you think I will tell them I am merely doing tricks, so I can save them from their ignorance? No way. I’ll let them think what they like to think. By being ignorant, they deserve to be in the dark.
I agree with T. Nelson Downs on the matter of not disclaiming the exaggerated impressions people have about the magician. When people say,”Your hands are fast”, don’t say, “No, it’s not true.” T. Nelson Downs advised, “Don’t ever let people know you are slow,” even if it’s true.
I followed the advice religiously over the years. I think not issuing disclaimers is the stuff that make legends. Has David Blaine ever owned up to performing tricks? Or Lance Burton? Some people seriously believe they’re doing “real, of the devil” magic, but has any one of them disclaimed these exaggerated public misconceptions of them?
I once melted in my seat while watching a local professional magician who opened his act by saying, “What you are about to see are just tricks for entertainment only. I don’t have power from the devil or from an angel,” or words to that effect.
Please don’t do something like that! A magician is there to entertain his audience by suspending disbelief. How can he do that if he himself bursts the illusion even before he has built it?
I once performed the card on the ceiling to a group of grown-ups. And what do you know? One member of the audience told his friends back home that I stuck his card on the branch of the tree. Of course, this was not true, but do you think I go to this guy and tell him, “Stop telling people that I stuck your card on the branch of a tree. I stuck it on the ceiling not on the branch of a tree.”
Do you think I will say that? Not in a million years! Those are the stuff that make legends. I have no intention of stopping people from painting a legendary picture of me.
Now as to the matter of mentalism, the line is far thinner. Will you make disclaimers that your telepathic abilities are real or not? If you will disclaim any power, you will burst the illusion. If you will not disavow it, you might lead people astray. Many might feel used and manipulated, especially those who are emotionally vulnerable.
I won’t worry about the “evil power” notions. Only the most ignorant or gullible believe in it, and their number is negligible.
If there are “false” notions we magicians must fight against, it is the misconceptions that magic is—
ONE, suitable for carnivals only.
TWO, good for children audiences only,
THREE, in the hierarchy of entertainers, the clown is in the bottom rung, and the magician is SECOND TO THE BOTTOM.
These are the real-world notions, far more “false”, far more demeaning, far more insulting to us.
These are the wrong impressions we need to build a united front against in order that we can erase them in the public mind.
Stay magical everyone.