Opinion: I saw a magician perform, and my entire perspective on magic changed

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events I experienced firsthand; used with permission.

My mother and I went to see a famous magician perform years ago. It was a great magic show with a single exception: it ruined magic shows for me forever.

There was one trick in the show where the magician asked an audience member, "Do you know me?"

The woman said she did not know him. "Only from seeing you on television," she replied. "Otherwise, I don't know you at all."

My mother and I believed her. I think the entire audience believed her.

"What's your name?" the magician asked her.

"Barbie," she replied. She tossed her long blonde hair over one shoulder.

"It's nice to meet you, Barbie," he said. "Where's Ken?" He paused for the audience's laughter.

"Would you like to fly with me?" the magician asked.

The woman replied in the affirmative. She climbed on stage with the magician's help and prepared to fly. Before we knew what was happening, the magician and the woman from the audience were flying in the air above the stage. It was incredible.

He had many illusions that my mind couldn't comprehend. I couldn't understand how he could make people and motorcycles disappear and then make a tiger appear out of thin air.

It was very exciting, but then the show ended. The magician had one last thing to say before leaving the stage. He told the audience to catch his upcoming television special.

My mother and I couldn't wait to see him on television. It was like the icing on the cake. Not only did we get to watch him in person, but soon we would relive our memories by watching his television special.

When the day of his television special arrived, my mother and I sat on the sofa and prepared to be amazed, again.

To our surprise, he pulled the same woman out of the audience we'd seen live in person. Then he told the same joke with a slight variation before bringing her onstage to fly around with him.

"What's your name?" he asked her.

"Bambi," she replied, flipping her long blonde hair.

"It's nice to meet you, Bambi," he said. "Where's Thumper?" He paused for the audience's laughter and looked directly into the camera for effect.

My mother and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes. We felt shocked and disappointed. Seeing the same act repeated on television ruined the illusion.

We wondered why he couldn't have performed a unique act or at least chosen a different "volunteer" from the audience. We wished he hadn't told us to watch his special on television.

Seeing that magic show in person decades ago changed my entire perspective on magic. Instead of seeing an illusion as something to enjoy, I see an illusion as something to dissect and analyze. Now, instead of suspending disbelief and enjoying the show, I preoccupy myself with trying to figure out how the magician creates the illusion.

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