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PhotobucketI’m sure you have heard of well-meaning magicians, many of them armchair experts, who counsel against the use of magic props.

They insist magic is stronger and more amazing if a magic performer uses ordinary objects, or equipment that, if gaffed, look ordinary, instead of nondescript apparatuses.

They profess loathing against garishly painted boxes and bizarre objects that can’t be found at home or at the work place.

Thus the Square Circle is an abomination. The Linking Rings are anathema. The Zig Zag illusion is atrocious.

Here’s my take on this issue…

PhotobucketEvery field of interest has its own specialized equipment. The doctor has his stethoscope.  The welder, his welding machine. The suicide bomber, his body-strapped bomb.

Many outsiders may not appreciate the usefulness of these implements, but these are their tools of the trade. The lay people may find them weird, an abomination, and out-of-place in their ordinary, workaday lives, but for the practitioners they belong to their world of practice.

Lay people may not be familiar with specialized equipment. They may regard them as strange and odd. But they have to accept that this oddness reflects the peculiarity of a particular group. When they see specialized equipment in the performing environment of the practitioners, they accept them as part of that world and therefore regard them as ordinary in the context of that environment.

For this reason, when it comes to a group’s special equipment, even the most monstrous monstrosity will look natural when used in its natural environment.

Thus a scuba diver who wears his underwater gear…

scuba-3.jpg..looks natural under the sea, in the company of fish. He won’t attract attention, not even from the fish, unless he strolls into an environment (say, a mall) where he is not usually expected to be found.

In like manner, astronauts wearing space suits, atrocious-looking though these may be…

astronaut.png…will look perfectly normal in space but not when they go to church. Or when they walk into Mc Donald’s to order a Big Mac.

A magician who uses a weird box on stage…

magicprop.jpg…during a magic performance can explain away the prop (no matter how garishly decorated), its design (no matter how hideous), its purpose (no matter how suspicious and implausible)— and most people will accept the explanation.

They will accept theatrical explanations just as readily as they will accept that this strange-looking doll…

voodoo-doll.jpg…is a witch’s legitimate tool-of-the-trade, even though most male victims of witchcraft would rather want this doll …

fashion-model.jpgUsing magic props, no matter how elegantly constructed, in circumstances outside of theater/magic performances will not be so easily forgiven by the audience.

However, when used during a magic show, even the most inelegant boxes will pass close scrutiny and drop jaws, if the magician has done his job well.

You need not be props phobic. Use magic props fearlessly in the correct environment. That is, in the context of a magic performance—on stage, and in your shows. Use them as an audience aid to suspend their disbelief and to entertain them.

If you do that, you should be all right being a “proppy” magician.

Stay magical,