As I stated before from a previous experience, I once handed out a few objects at the audience's request which were luckily ungimmicked. Later on I took a big risk, and floored them with a gimmicked effect, and followed by asking them if they wanted to examine that too. They simply said no, and that they 'would not find anything' regardless. It is important not how we amazed the audience, but DID we amaze, and entertain them?
Close-up workers seem to be expected to hand out their items often, whether the expectations are by audiences, or even the performer themselves. But just how far do we need to go in order to prove we are truly doing 'real magic?' What is next, stripping down naked to prove we have no concealed pockets, vests, or pulls? I think constant examination actually throws a hindrance into many acts, and tends to stagnate it, more so than make a routine flow. Are we entertaining, or are we just presenting puzzles to the audience, and asking them to try and solve them?
True, method does 'affect' effect (something Jamy Ian Swiss said to me during an email conversation) and may also even affect the performer's total confidence while performing. Also sometimes there is an added assurance at the end of an effect that was accomplished with sleights, that you are "clean," and there is nothing to find. However I don't think we should be limited to just that type of magic skill, as there are some great gaffs/gimmicks out there that simply just cannot be recreated with sleights. Again, BOTH are an invaluable asset to me as a magician/entertainer.
As I also stated previously, sleight of hand is indeed an 'integral part' of a magician's arsenal. In fact during my teenage years I too thought that sleights were the 'only way to go.' I got so caught up in the self-gratification of being able to astound people with pure sleight of hand that I simply excluded gimmicks from my arsenal for a long time. However later on in my magic journey/career, I felt something was missing. I found that neither sleights, nor gimmicks could fully replace the other, and they should not be expected to.
I matured as an individual, as a performer, and my magic also matured. I realized that to simply disregard what was seemingly a powerful effect solely because it involves some gimmick, or hidden contraption if you will, was actually placing a lot of limitations on my magic's full potential. In fact one could even argue that your hands themselves are gimmicks, being they are being used for covering, misdirecting, and pantomime to just name a few.
I have found in my experiences that the combination of gimmicks, and sleights tend to be the most powerful overall, as opposed to utilizing them separately. Whatever "gets the job done," and is able to bring the magic I am creating in my audience's mind to the most stunning, and astonishing conclusion, is all that really matters, not HOW I was able to do so. To only do sleights because they do not utilize any type of physical gimmick so speak, is doing nothing more than inhibiting your magic's growth.
Basically you are engaging in 'magical masturbation,' and stroking your own misguided ego. If one can obtain the same results with a certain method, gimmick, or gaff without having to execute a difficult sleight, what other reason would they have besides self-admiration? The audience is unknowing regardless, and why run if your not being chased? Also I consider the TT more a universal utility, than a gimmick as it has many more uses than a stand alone gimmick would. However being it is never seen, or known to the audience, I assume it could be characterized as a gimmick.
I been through the whole "sleight geek" stage many years of my life, and although I do find the practice, and performance of sleights to be quite pleasurable from a technical, and emotional perspective, I no longer feel the need to limit myself to just sleights. There is no shame whatsoever in deceiving, entertaining, amusing, or baffling a spectator by "any means necessary" to get the job done.
This is not to question the importance of sleights, but more so the importance of implicating whatever tools that make the magic work the most effectively, not just the most "naturally." If a magician believes that only sleights are the ultimate answer, and completely disregards gimmicks based on the fact that they have some type of concealed mechanism within them, I believe they are doing themselves a true injustice in the long run, as well as all of those they will be performing for in the future.
The only ones being fooled are themselves, by believing in this delusional misconception that great magic cannot be achieved through anything but 'knuckle busting' prestidigitation. I strongly believe, and base my statements from my experience that combining both is almost as close to real magic as one can get. Not to say that each individually cannot hold their own the majority of the time, but this factor is also based on the ability, and overall skill of the performer.
I don't think that sleight of hand is the 'final stage' as many would make it to be, but only the foundation of the magic house, and the beginning of a better, and fuller understanding of magic, and one should continue to build upon that foundation, not stop before the construction has been fully completed. To do so would only leave you with an unstable, unfinished building project, and the same can be said about the type of performer you will be as well...