The impossible. It’s what we do. Every day we do things that defy logic, nature, and any other law by which things can be bound. When a spectator sees a magician accomplish something impossible, are they immediately convinced? Do they automatically take for truth everything a magician says? Of course not. Everyone is a skeptic to one extent or another. Every set of eyes on your hands holding a deck of cards will be looking for something they can’t see. They will be doing what they can to unravel the mystery their eyes just beheld. They are looking for the guilty party. Whether a gimmick, or a sleight, or anything else, our illusions always involve something “guilty.” It is the guilty object in our illusions that we focus on today. I call to attention a recent performance that I had. I did many illusions for the crowd of interested people watching. After the main performance, I did close-up magic for those who wanted to see more. I approached an older gentleman and asked if I could show him a trick. He laughed and said “Na, you will probably just make my wallet appear in your pocket.” Being quick on my feet, I reached into my pocket. His eyes got big. I smiled, and said I didn’t need his money. From my wallet I pulled out a folded dollar bill. If you don’t know me well enough to know, this was Danny Garcia’s “Greed” gimmick. I told the gentleman that I had all the money I needed right here in my hand. I received the usual confused look before turning a one dollar bill into a five dollar bill. Wide eyes. Five to ten. Wider eyes. Ten to Twenty. Jaw dropped. Just like in Garcia’s routine, I asked if he wanted to see me “do a fifty.” The man said yes, I shook my hand and the twenty dollar bill, folded tight, transformed visually into a fifty-cent piece. I dropped it into the man’s hand and told him not to be greedy. I took my fifty-cent piece back, smiled, and moved on. Later in the evening, I overheard this man speaking to his wife about the previously mentioned illusion. What I heard him say changed my magic forever. “I don’t quite understand it. I know he switched out the twenty for the coin, but he somehow made the bill disappear in his hand without putting it anywhere. It was just gone.” For those not familiar with the routine (and will reveal nothing of the gimmick, only the well known handling Daniel Garcia uses) at the end the gimmick is palmed in the same hand holding the newly conjured coin. When I dropped the coin into the gentleman’s hand, the gimmick is right there, inches over his hand. I then hold my “empty” hand naturally at my side, and I also use the same hand to take the coin back and place it (with the gimmick) into my pocket. The man KNEW that I had magically vanished the bill from existence. Why? Because he knew that he had seen my hand empty. I had created a baffling, confusing illusion by accident. The most amazing thing to this man was something that I would have never guessed. Let us break this down. I will focus only on the finale of the illusion. I shake my hand, and a bill turns into a fifty cent piece. What is the “Guilty” party? My hand, of course. Nobody can see what I am holding in my hand, it could be anything. I could have just switched out the bill for the coin and have it in my hand still. This is the thought process a spectator goes through. It takes the spectator a moment to arrive at this conclusion, and by then, the coin is already in their hand. Here is what I learned. I broke this chain of thought. I ruined the only logical conclusion that they could think of. How? I made my “guilty” hand look innocent. I made it look empty. I subliminally told the spectator that there was nothing hiding in my hand without saying a word. All I did was use my guilty hand to deliver the coin to their hand. I opened my hand over their hand and dropped “everything”. My fingers were open, my hand was open. It was empty. The most convincing illusion that I created was the simplest. I had something small palmed in my hand. I then reached down and picked up the coin with the same empty hand and placed it in my pocket. Before you perform your next illusion, do this with me. Think from the spectator’s position. Imagine another magician performing your trick for you. What is the guilty item? What is the logical conclusion a spectator will come to? How could the magician have possibly done that? Once you figure out what the spectator will think, it is time to move a step ahead. Imagine this. You have a routine which involves six cards, posing as only four cards. Cards change from one number to the next, and at the end, you have four cards spread face up in your hand, with two hiding on the bottom. Before your spectator can piece together their logical conclusion (which will be that you have more than four cards in your hand) you need to convince them subliminally that there are only four cards. Dan and Dave Buck use a nice handling for this dilemma. The cards are all held square in the left hand. The top card is passed from left hand to right hand with a snap. The second is passed the same way. The third is snapped in the left hand before being passed to the right. While this card is dragged to the right, the bottom two cards (still hidden) are dragged along with it to the right hand, leaving merely the fourth card in the left hand which is snapped, pirouetted, and then placed on top. The conclusion that the spectator is quickly coming to is that the extra cards will be hiding at the bottom. The first three cards don’t matter. You just slip the idea into their heads that they are all clean and innocent (when in reality the third card is guilty.) The card that they think is guilty you can show as clean, even though moments before, IT WAS the guilty card. You thought ahead of the spectator and cut off their logical conclusion before they could complete it. You are short-circuiting their brain. You are crossing wires that they were not prepared for you to play with. This is the kind of advantage we can have if we prepare. There is no wonder why suddenly psychologists are starting to seriously study magicians and how they create the illusions that blow people away using ordinary means. All we do is think ahead. We are always one step ahead of any thought the spectator may have. This is crucial to all we do. If we lose this advantage, we lose our illusion. If being one step ahead of a spectator is so critical, why don’t we strive to be even further ahead? Instead of just thinking about what our illusion will look like to a spectator, let’s think about that thought process they will go through. Let’s plan so far ahead that every time someone watches us perform, we are able to cut off every possibility of “cheating” that a spectator could ever come up with. Here is how. Grab a pen. Write it out. The Short Circuit Method 1. What is the illusion? 2. What does a spectator think may have caused the impossible to happen? 3. What in your act is “Guilty?” 4. How can you make said object appear, quickly and subliminally, not guilty? If you can analyze these things, you can blow people’s minds. If you can use this to strip from a spectator’s mind every last strand of possibility of you cheating, you short circuit every last nerve in their mind and take away every possibility other than that you did what you claimed to do. Think to the last time that even though your routine was performed flawless, someone called you out on it. “You have 2 cards there on the bottom.” When that is true, what do you do? It’s too late to convince the spectator otherwise. They caught you. You can’t really show them anymore. You lost your one step. If you could go back in time and change things, what would you change? Change the subliminal ideas you send to your spec. Go back and short-circuit the train of thought that got you caught. Cut them off before they ever get the chance to think that you have extra cards. If you can stop them from thinking it, you both stop them from saying it and stop them from loosing that feeling we all get when we see the impossible.