Magic Tricks Revealed
Even if you’ve never performed a magic trick or read a magic book, or don’t know the difference between mentalism and mind reading, you’ve still likely heard of “The Magician’s Code”.
“A magician never reveals their secrets”.
This cliché phrase has become as synonymous with magic as a deck of Bicycle playing cards. Yet, if it were true, how would any magician ever learn magic tricks?
You might be shocked to read that this famous magician’s code is not as straightforward as it seems. Join us as we explore how exposing magic tricks has influenced the history of magic, what makes YouTube channels filled with “Magic Tricks Revealed” videos so popular and why magicians so closely guard their secrets in the first place.
History of Revealing Magic Tricks
In 1584, English Author Reginald Scot published what many consider to be one the first true book of magic tricks—The Discoverie of Witchcraft. Yet, this book was never intended to be an influential text for conjurors. Scot was actually a renowned skeptic that initially wrote this book to show how the supposed “witches” of the 16th century were nothing more than charlatans and magicians performing simple magic tricks.
By explaining the secrets to their magic tricks, Scot demonstrated how the Roman Catholic Church was confusing magic with evil sorcery. As such, he may have even played a big role in putting an end to the burning of supposed witches at the stake.
Since then, exposing magic tricks has been as much a part of magic history as the tricks themselves. The most notorious case of exposure likely belongs to Val Valentino whose infamous TV show Breaking the Magician's Code: Magic's Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed premiered in 1997.
Hiding behind his “Masked Magician” persona, Valentino shared the secrets behind magic’s most famous magic tricks from sawing a woman in half to levitation, the linking rings, Houdini’s water torture escape, teleportation and even pulling a rabbit out of a hat. This show angered many magicians and led Valentino to be ostracized from the magic community.
Why Do People Want to Reveal Magic Tricks?
There are a variety of reasons people want to reveal magic tricks. Reginald Scot wanted to expose witches as fakes, while Val Valentino has often stated that his goal was to force magicians to evolve and stop using the same tired stage illusions they had been performing for decades.
This differers from iconic Las Vegas magicians Penn & Teller who have exposed the basic methods behind magic tricks like the cups and balls on their TV show Penn & Teller: Fool Us. In these scenarios, this unique performing style is used for entertainment purposes as well as clever misdirection for the actual secret methods that are used for the magic trick.
At the end of the day, magic is a very niche art. While some people are fascinated by the skills of a magician dedicated to their craft, others simply look at a magic trick as a riddle that must be figured out. And what does anyone do when they can’t figure out the answer to a challenging puzzle or brain teaser? They cheat and look at the solution.
Nobody has understood this better than YouTube content creators. Numerous channels have built large followings and profited off exposing the secrets of magic tricks. Videos sharing the secrets behind street magic tricks from street magicians like David Blaine or Criss Angel’s “walk on water” illusion have garnered millions of views.
Why Magicians Don’t Reveal Magic Tricks
To understand why magicians don’t reveal magic tricks, let’s look at world-famous magician Shin Lim. Every single performance during his run to win the 13th season of America’s Got Talent was exposed on YouTube less than 24 hours after it aired.
As Shin is not shy about using amazing card magic gimmicks, many viewers were disappointed to learn how simple some of the methods were. Despite enjoying the performances in real time, many of them commented how “magic is stupid”, or something similar, once the secret was dissected.
In reality, magicians don’t guard their secrets. They guard their audience.
There is so much more to magic than simple tricks. A well-performed magic trick takes you on a journey. It allows you to experience a feeling of wonder and astonishment unlike any other form of entertainment. Once you find out how invisible thread or flash paper made a magic trick happen, that moment is ruined forever.
Teaching Magic Tricks vs Exposing Magic Tricks
What is a secret and what is its value? This is an important question that emphasizes the need to understand how teaching magic tricks is different from exposing magic tricks.
Teaching magic tricks gives aspiring magicians the tools needed to entertain audiences and evolve the art. On the other hand, exposure in magic, or the simple act of revealing the methods of magic tricks, does nothing for the art.
The average person does not have the resources that David Copperfield had when he created the illusion in which he flies above the audience. They will never go out and show the world their own take on that amazing effect. So, exposing the mechanism to a mass audience does nothing but devalue the art and rob the audience of a truly special experience.
Best Ways to Learn Magic Tricks
If you’re interested in learning magic trick secrets because you want to become a magician, then you’ll want to check out these resources for adults and kids to learn easy magic tricks for free: