Ben Williams suggests ways to reduce feelings of guilt when performing close-up magic tricks and sleight of hand.
Guilt is something every person has to deal with at some point when studying sleight of hand and magic tricks. Simply because you have to lie to your spectators faces about what you are doing sometimes. Simple statements like, ‘we’ll lose your card in the deck’ or, ‘if I place the coin in my hand’ sound easy to say. However, these statements can be tougher to say convincingly whilst performing your sleight of hand.
Another common issue with guilt can be the guilt of performing sleight of hand in general. Some moves (especially ones that you worry about performing) may become apparent to a spectator simply because you are telegraphing the fact that you are performing a sleight. You must learn to feel at ease with all the sleights you perform. If you feel guilty when performing a move like a shuttle pass or false transfer it will only give the spectators more chance to catch you out. The more you worry about the move, the more you transmit through non verbal communication that you are doing something fishy.
When you have to perform a move you are worried about, the body tenses up and you may stutter or hesitate. You may even become slightly more withdrawn, and look at the cards, or your hands instead of the spectator. All these subconscious clues tell the spectator that something dodgy is about to happen. Relax and believe you are doing what they think you are doing, and it will all become easier and more enjoyable!
The solution to magicians guilt.
If you have guilt about doing something secretly in your pocket, like load a box, or switch an item, and you really don’t want to draw attention to it, then there really is only one answer for this: practice! Practice the load or switch over and over again, and also make sure you practice in the clothing you will be performing in. If you practice in baggy clothing, and are wearing tighter clothing when you perform it can really make a difference with the handling. Use pocket managment. Try to look at where things are in your pockets, or if there is another pocket you have that it would work equally well with but be less fiddly. If you are fidgeting and people pay attention to it, simply joke and say, 'sorry I am not being rude, I just have so many things in my pockets, like fairy dust, and whatchamacallits. I cannot find my little box!' A simple comment like that, and they will be thinking you have all manner of things in your pockets, so the fidgeting is now justified. People don't really know what a magician has in their pockets! You can help to draw attention away from your pockets by asking the spectators to do something at the same time. Ask the spectator a question, or hand them something like the deck of playing cards to shuffle. Any action will buy you a few more critical seconds.
Once you are practiced, and up to speed with all of your sleight of hand and routines then all you need to do is perform, the guilt will disappear. You can always justify it by telling yourself that you cannot give someone the wonderful experience of magic without a little white lie here and there!