A gang of magicians violated the sanctity of my mind
An encounter with Band of Magicians left reporter CHARLIE GATES thoroughly weirded out.
I knew it was going to be a strange interview from the moment I met one of the Band of Magicians.
The magical supergroup, a sort of boy band but with magic, begin their four night run at the Isaac Theatre Royal on Wednesday night as part of the Christchurch Arts Festival.
The wrist tap reminded me of a book called The Game by Rolling Stone writer Neil Strauss. It describes a group of men that use mind games to seduce women. I recalled the wrist tap as one of their techniques, but couldn’t remember the details.
I hadn’t expected an interview with magicians to remind me of a vaguely misogynistic seduction cult. To be fair, the tricks used by the “seduction community” are commandeered from various disciplines, including magic, Derren Brown-style manipulation and neuro-linguistic programming.
I then met the three other members of the group and we conducted our interview at a bar leaner in the Isaac Theatre Royal.
I wanted to ask them about the art of magic and how they became so good at their beguiling craft. Their answers were polite and adequate, but there was something else going on here.
Every time I focused on one of them, it felt like the other three were exchanging glances and generally conspiring while my attention was diverted. It made me feel a bit clammy and paranoid.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw two of the magicians exchange a pack of cards under the bar leaner and swap rings. They also wrote letters on paper cups and showed them to each other when they thought I wasn’t looking.
One of the magicians had got the paper cups of water were from a nearby cooler. They placed mine in front of me, but I left it untouched.
Halfway through answering a question, Mada paused and asked “are you thirsty?”. The other three laughed.
So, this cup of water was some kind of test? Were they seeing how vulnerable I was to the power of suggestion? Or was it just a cup of water?
I had become lost in a hall of mirrors – a mind game where a cup of water was not just a cup of water. Or had I? Or was it?
For the record, I drank the water, but only because I thought they needed the empty cup for their forthcoming trick. After I finished the water, one of the magicians asked: “Did that taste like normal water?”
“What?” I thought.
I was in this slightly paranoid and off balance mental state when they started their trick.
They asked me to think of a colour, suit and number for my card. I chose the six of diamonds. Then they asked if I wanted to change my card. I changed my card to the king of clubs.
Then they took a deck of cards out of their box and fanned them out face up. One card was facing the wrong way. I removed it from the pack and turned it over. It was the king of clubs.
It was a genuinely astonishing trick. And I had no idea how they pulled it off.
But the trick didn’t inspire the usual sense of wonder. Instead it left me slightly disconcerted and paranoid.
Had I just been played? Had my choice of card been somehow implanted by the power of suggestion? And if so, what did that say about my own sense of free will? Can free will be overthrown by a bunch of snappily dressed magicians? Or was it just a conventional trick dressed up in Derren Brown-style theatrics?
Who knows. One thing I do know – magicians are creepy. Talented, but creepy.