One of the most pervasive and most annoying lies in magic is that if you're a good magician, spectators won't want to look at your props. Or that if they do, you can somehow remove that inclination with proper "audience management." I'm not sure where this idea originated. It probably came from one of those crusty old magic theory books which are great as historical documents, but, sadly, less and less relevant about performing for actual people in the modern world. 

People selling magic tricks have long proposed this idea as well. "No, the restored card can't be examined, but your audience won't want to examine it." This is their way of getting around selling half of a trick. If a restored object, for example, can't be handled by the spectator then the trick you have isn't, "I can tear a card and restore it." The trick you have is, "I can tear a card and make it look restored." Audiences know the difference. 

Now, because you had a lot of magic marketers repeating this claim, it got picked up by the rejects on the Magic Cafe and other message boards as well and it just rattled around that retard echo-chamber until it became not just an opinion, but almost an accepted rule of magic: If people want to examine your props, you're not a good magician. 

I will concede that an audience shouldn't want to examine the objects that are tangential to the effect. They shouldn't want to examine your pen in a drawing duplication. And they shouldn't want to examine the card case if it's not used in an overt manner during an effect. If they do, that may suggest a flaw in your performance. (But it's also possible they just might be hyper-analytical and there is no amount of skill you could possess or presentation you could put together that they wouldn't dismiss and immediately just want to scrutinize everything that's in play. Some people are like that.)

But if you change one object to another, or tear and restore something, or harmlessly penetrate something, or change the color of something -- and if you do these things in a close-up situation -- then I would argue that the trick is not complete until the audience has examined the object of the effect at the end. 

"But they should believe the magic is coming from you, not the props, so why would they want to examine them?"

For the sake of argument, let's pretend a modern audience is really going to be convinced that you have some sort of supernatural powers. Does that mean they don't want to look at an object that you affected with your magic? Why would that be? I would think it would be just the opposite.

We need to stop seeing spectator examination as some sort of challenge. We only see it as a challenge because we're not prepared for it in many cases so it is a challenge to us. But for the spectator, wanting to look at the object is often just a natural reaction to being shown something amazing with that object. It's not about "figuring it out" or debunking you, it's about taking interest in what you just showed them.

If you're having a hard time understanding this, imagine you are Jesus. You're Jesus and you're showing a miracle to one of your believers. "I changed this water into wine," you say. 

What would be the reasonable response you would expect here?

  • The disciple says, "Amazing," turns around and walks away.
  • The disciple says, "Amazing. Can I have a sip?" And Jesus says, "Uhm, no, maybe later. First let me show you how I multiply these loaves and fishes."
  • The disciple says, "Amazing!" And Jesus holds out the glass for him to drink from.

The first option is the bizarre way magicians want their spectators to react. They want them to be impressed but simultaneously take zero interest in what they've shown them after the trick is done from the magician's point of view.

The second option is how magicians suggest you handle a "difficult" spectator. Move on to something else. 

The third option is the normal and natural response of both the miracle worker and the audience. 

Notice that we've removed the notion of believability and skepticism. This is someone performing real miracles for a believer. 

So when you consider a new trick, put yourself in the role of Jesus showing it to one of his disciples. The deck changes color. Does Jesus immediately put it in his robe? No. Does Jesus move on to another effect? No. He would hand them deck so they can look at this miraculous object. He is not giving them the deck to convince them. He's giving them the deck because that would be part of the natural action when demonstrating something like this.