If they can bend metal with their minds, why do magicians bend spoons!?
I’ve been using a Strongman nut and bolt at almost every gig for the past year. Starting with the prototypes and moving through each of the versions as different metals and designs were tested. If you are new to Strongman, it’s a device created by Jimmy Strange that allows you to have a nut and bolt inspected, before and after it is slowly bent by the touch of a spectators finger. It’s a powerful moment of magic, and I enjoy performing it very much.
Using Strongman made me think about an aspect of performing metal bending close up: The emotional meaning of why magicians bend spoons..
I started to wonder why I do many of the things I do as a magician. Would someone really do these things with magical powers? Why are all most of the things I do with my magic trivial?
Magic doesn’t HAVE to have meaning. We can change the colour of a playing card, or make a matchstick float in the air just for the fun of it. But.. is it more powerful for the audience if they see magic that has a valid purpose?
- The magician uses magic to escape from his bonds.
- The magician uses magic to heal.
- The magician uses magic to win a lovers heart
- The magician uses magic to win a fortune.
All these presentations have motivation and meaning. They are things someone who has magic powers would spend their time doing.
The favourite objects for magicians to bend using magic or their mental powers are forks, spoons, and coins. I understand why.. They are the items commonly around where magic is performed. The items have context within the environment. However, in the context of meaning, who really cares if magicians bend spoons or forks? Equally, a bent coin still maintains it’s purpose, it is still a coin and can be spent so no real harm is done.
A Nut and Bolt on a Playground Swing
The whole reason for being an nut and bolt is to be strong, supporting and dependable. Our lives often hang on the strength of just a few nuts and bolts. I think about that every time I fly..
I remember being a kid and swinging as high as I possibly could on the park swings.. I’d look up and see that single bolt holding the chains.. Did you ever do that? My life hanging from a single bolt…
This is why I like the Strongman nut and bolt so much. It’s not only a self working examinable metal bending trick, it’s also a way of presenting metal bending with drama and meaning.
It makes me look at the other tricks I perform and ask myself: How can I change the presentation or props for this trick so that the effect created is less trivial?
Adding a ‘story’ to provide meaning doesn’t have to make your presentations serious. A funny or light hearted presentation works just as well. For example, one way to introduce the Strongman nut and bolt is to bring it out, and explain that you helped put up the DJ’s light system (or the awards stand, speakers stage etc) with him earlier. You’ve just found this… Should we be worried…? or something similar..
Hope this helps