A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to watch Fielding West’s instructional video.
On it, he teaches his signature tricks and shares some of his insights on performing comedy magic. Surprisingly, he also teaches the “secrets” of psychic surgery, which he taunted as “bad close-up magic.”
The way Fielding West demonstrates his method of psychic surgery (he excises a tumor from somebody’s stomach), I have to agree that psychic surgery is “bad close-up magic”. That is, when Fielding West does it.
West may be an excellent comedy magician, but he is a clumsy psychic surgeon. If he is to perform the surgery on real patients, he could get killed or hauled off to prison.
I have written a similar post expressing my reservations about magicians’ conjectures on the methods used by faith healers in their so-called psychic surgeries (The Amazing Hand and Mind Skills of Psychic Surgeons). I maintained then, and I still maintain now, that psychic surgeons are topnotch sleight-of-hand artists. They would put to shame some of the top magic manipulators in the country.
Psychic surgeons have to be good at what they do, otherwise they’ll lose business or get caught and end up in prison.
They are tops not only in manual dexterity but also in employing psychology. When I was a child, I watched my relatives being operated on by a faith healer using his bare hands. It took hours before he performed the actual operation. He spent half of the day praying with his patients and going through esoteric rituals. By the time the operation was done, the patients and the witnesses were all believers of his miracles.
How he sold his operation as genuine can be summed up in two words: skills and presentation. These are two things that many magicians gloss over. As a result, their magic lacks the conviction that psychic surgeries have.
Bad close-up magic? I beg to disagree. If the magic were bad, then those psychic surgeons would not be able to attract patients from all over the world. In fact, in the Philippines, some people have made a small industry of bringing into the country the sick and their relatives from Europe, Britain, USA, Canada, heck, from all over the world. To say psychic surgery has helped increase the influx of tourists in the country is claiming it mildly.
Visit this site (Extracts from our film on Psychic Surgery in the Philippines) to see what I mean by saying some people or organizations are making money out of the psychic surgeons’ magic. They could not do it on a consistent basis and for lucrative returns if the magic were bad. If the sleight-of-hand were inelegant or suspicious. If the psychology were not strong.
See the videos yourself on that site, and tell me if the skills (mostly hidden, but magicians can glean them) won’t put to shame some of your magician friends’ most practiced false shuffle or classic pass.