Magicians Need to Know About Natural Vanishes

Nathan Wilson teaches the technique.

Illustration of young magician shuffling cards

Hobbyists need to acknowledge that a retention vanish has a significant flaw. Unless you've perfected the move, it isn't all that fooling to the critical audience. It certainly isn't that fooling in the context of a casual performance amongst friends.

Whenever I've made small objects vanish using sleights like this, my friends turn into New York City cops and stop and frisk me. And the times when they exercised self-restraint, they definitely still wanted to check my hands, sleeves and pockets.

In casual performances with friends, colleagues and family members, ending clean (with nothing in your hands) is a significant factor worth considering. The truth is that gigging magicians in gigging settings play by a different rule book filled with a unique set of social cues.

Our friends always hang out with us; they're much better at knowing when we're lying, it's much harder for us to slip into a rehearsed routine, and they can often tell when we're holding our hands slightly differently from normal.

So what are we to do?

Consider performing a natural vanish.

I adore this type of vanish, and it's not just for hobbyists—David Blaine, Dynamo, Justin Willman, and Carbonaro all use natural vanishes in their TV shows, too.

I learned about natural vanishes early on in my career consulting for magicians. The idea is straightforward and has been a mainstay in my work as a professional writer and casual performer.

As magicians, we usually plan to make an object reappear when we vanish it. The impact of these routines hinges heavily on the strength of the vanish. If the vanish isn't clean, people will always be suspicious of the reappearance.

Natural vanishes are so convincing because they feel so, well, natural.

If the goal is to eliminate the object in a way that makes it seem like there's no way to get it back, who says it needs to be magical? In fact, most of the time, making an object reappear is even more impressive if the vanish is not magical.

If you vanish something with a thumb tip, your friends will wonder, "Where did that go?" Choose instead to rely on a natural vanish, and your friends will ask why you made it disappear, not whether you really did. So, when it comes time to make the object reappear, you'll truly fool them.

So, how can we vanish objects without magic?

Well, it's pretty simple, and you might have already performed a natural vanish without realising. Let's look at four examples, including one David Blaine used in a TV special. So the next time you buy a magic trick with a vanish designed for gigging magicians, you'll know these practical solutions to vanish objects for your friends with no sleight-of-hand and no risk of getting caught.

This post is for magicians only

Already have an account? Sign in.