Zach King

Zach King is a guy who posts videos on Vine. I also think he's one of the most successful magicians of our time. You can argue that it's not magic because of the techniques involved (a mixture of video edits (mostly just straight cuts) and practical effects) but that argument is a non-starter with me. In fact, knowing that's the method often makes it more amazing to me. You can also argue that it's not magic because everyone knows it's not real. Hey... I hate to break this to you, but everyone knows you're not real too. Yes, people know he's not real. The question you have to ask yourself is: Why does he have so many more fans/followers than the people doing similar videos in a more traditional "magic" style?

Zach has said his goal is to "inspire awe and wonder in people," and he does so through the means of deception. That, for me, is pretty much the definition of magic and why I consider him one of the most successful magicians of our time.

Here's a still-shot of Zach showing one of his videos to Rachel Smith of ABC news (don't go clicking on it, dum-dum, I said it was a still-shot).

That look on her face -- the combination of complete captivation and delight -- is, for me, the greatest reaction you can get with magic. And magic is one of the only art forms that can elicit such reactions regularly. But the problem with some magic, specifically all of mentalism, is that during the performance the magician is trying to garner credit or respect for this skill that most everyone knows he doesn't really have. And that pulls the rug out from under the "captivation and delight" moments because then the whole thing becomes a transaction rather than a gift (think of how joyless a Uri Geller performance is because it's supposed to be about him, not about the experience). The moment of magic in so many effects also becomes the moment of validation seeking, --"Look at my awesome power!" -- and the two just don't mix. It would be like going down on a woman, and in the midst of her orgasm putting your dick in her hand and being like, "Okay, now do me." You understand how that might undermine the moment? Ugh... why am I using sexual metaphors with you nerds. I wish I knew some Dungeons and Dragons or Legends of Zelda bullshit so I could reach you.

I think the reason for Zach's popularity (beyond that of traditional magicians doing similar things in the same medium) is, in part, because he doesn't ask for your belief. He's not asking for anything. He's just trying to give you a compelling, magical, moment. I think magicians could learn a lot from that.

I also think there is a powerful feedback loop to be exploited here. Zach has been inspired by a lot of traditional magic effects. I think we could, in turn, be inspired to replicate some of his videos in real life.