I think I was around 16 years old when I first started performing the “Rabbits” close-up magic trick. There are hundreds of ways to perform it, but here’s how one of my routines goes: a cute sponge rabbit appears mysteriously (sometimes from behind a volunteer’s ear), then it splits into two rabbits; the bunnies impossibly jump from closed hand to closed hand… and then there is a HUGE surprise climax.
I must tell you, this has been one of the mainstays of my roaming close-up magic act for almost my entire career. I have learned tons of different tricks, practiced endless hours to make them perfect — some even reaching the level of extremely difficult sleight-of-hand -– but the “magic rabbits” is always mentioned to me as one of the best tricks they ever saw.
So what is the lesson here? Quite a few magicians dismiss this effect, or categorize it as a “beginner magician” trick, something to move on from as you are learning more difficult and advanced conjuring. And I think that attitude even rubbed off on me as I got older. “Well, I’ll just do the really advanced stuff, and put these away, etcetera, etcetera…” But you know what? Even as I got more sophisticated and started doing some pretty complicated stuff, every time I did the Rabbits it always got the same powerful reaction. Always. There’s just something about the props, the routine, the climax. Even when I have performed in China, Japan and other places where I didn’t speak English during the performance – it still knocked it out of the park. It’s just that effective.
Check out these pictures from a gig I did last week. I was working an “Election Party”, held on the evening of election day. People had cocktails and food and were engaged by various entertainment, or they could take a break and watch the election results coming in on a big screen TV. I would say it was a fairly sophisticated crowd, a cross section of urban professionals who were fairly businesslike in their manner as they socialized and networked.
The first picture is me engaging a woman with the rabbits. Notice how she is still being a bit reserved and “professional”.
Now the climax –- picture two! She totally loses it!
Her emotional reaction pushes through any shields she had up…and she has an experience. And pictures three and four –she doesn’t care who was looking or what they thought… she was lost in the moment.
This is what a professional magician strives for… to create a sense of wonder and amazement. Yes, I can definitely say with conviction – she was entertained, and she had an experience she won’t forget for quite awhile.
So that’s the lesson. I can’t let attitude or the latest fad or fashion dictate what I perform in my shows. I have to listen to the audiences… they will let me know by their reactions, their applause, their amazement… what should stay and what should go. It doesn’t matter if it’s a floating woman or some sponge rabbits. It’s the magic that matters.
Photography by Kelli Hayden – www.kellibeephotography.com | @kellibeephotography