Removing the Evidence

1„ Conjurers' Psychological Secrets, S. H. Sharpc explains a valu-bleconcept that he calls "removing the evidence." Sharpe's example is the W illusion- A woman lies on a couch, '[he magician covers her with a sheet. He then causes her draped form to float up into the air. Higher and higher she rises. Suddenly the performer whips the sheet away, 'llic woman is ¡one, vanished in midair.

Hie secret is that, as soon as the sheet covers the woman, she drops inl0 a hidden compartment in the couch. A wire form supports the sheet. (You'll recall that forms are one of the primary types of time displacement devices.) invisible wires pull the form into the air as rhe assistants wheel the couch offstage with the woman inside. When the performer whips the sheet away, the wire form is invisible against the black backdrop and the miracle is complete,

Sharpe makes the point that, as clever as this effect is, if the couch were left on stage, the moment the woman vanished, rhe audience would suspiciously turn its attention toward it. The couch in this effect is like the "other hand" in a coin vanish. It's the last place the vanished object/ person was seen, so it's the first place they'll suspect. At least it would be were it not for one important point. When the vanish occurs, the couch is nowhere to be seen. The couch is never suspected because you remove the evidence after the method happens but long before the effect happens. It's a case of "out of sight, out of mind."

This is the principle of "removing the evidence": ensure that, by the time the magic happens, the device necessary to make it happen is no longer in sight. flns, of course, applies onlv in cases where a device is used to achieve the effect. When it is, however, removing the evidence is thc ultimate application ^separating method and effect in space. There is so much space between ' e two when the latter occurs, the former is out of view.

Stage illusionists use this idea all the time. Their assist quietly wheeling away objects in the background that are se^ ^ f°rtvt sible for the effect that will soon occur. By thc time the niagi^^ r<sK the set of stairs he sneaked into is no longer on stage. Even'th" ^'Hs" Radio benefits from having an assistant wheel away the tabl audience still believes that the radio is under the cloth rh,* .i* VV'lilc 4.

audience is holding.

Bur you don't need an army of assistants to employ this concc applies just as much to close-up magic. Numerous close-up mental cif''' involve using some kind of impression device or peek wallet to secrejL^ tain information. All of them benefit from removing the evidence, h «¡n be that much more amazing if you stick your Thought Transmitter backi„ your pockct before reading the spectator's mind.

I first came to appreciate the value of removing thc evidence manv years ago when I began performing Darwin's Wild Card, later published in Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table. I've always followed the practice of carrying the Wild Card set in a mini-Himber wallet. Thc other compartment contains a matching ungaffed packet. At the end of the effect, I replace the cards in the wallet. As an afterthought, I then remove the cards and give them to a spectator as a souvenir. (Of course, they really get the ungaffed set.) Having just seen these cards undergo a truly amazing transformation, the spectator will sometimes look them over for a few moments.

One of the first times 1 performed the routine, the spectator scrutinized thc cards carefully. She then pointed to the Himbcr wallet lying on the table and asked if she could examine it. After that 1 always placed the wallet in my pocket as soon as I removed the switched-in packet of cards and before I handed them to thc spectator. In thousands of subsequent performances the problem never arose again.

Many years later 1 devised an effect that uses a mini-Himber wallet to make a card vanish from a sealed envelope {Appointment in Samarrn■ Scams & Fantasies with Cards). Having learned my lesson, I always cover my tracks by putting the wallet in my pocket before I tear apart the envelope to reveal thc vanish. When thc magic happens, the wallet is out of sight and out of mind. All of the heat is on rhe envelope, which is ordinary, rather than on the wallet, which is not.

In Darwin Ortiz at the Card Table, 1 also published an effect called Do as I Did. "Ihe spectator secretly reverses a card in the deck. Ibis proves to match a card that I had previously reversed in another deck. The sp«' tator's deck is ordinary. Mine is an Ultra-Mental Deck. When I reveal a I 84 1 Chapter 5: Spatial Distance

, ,cCdown in my deck I remove « and place ,t. still face down, on the Trhcn put the gaffed deck back m my pocket. Only then do I spread Ltator's deck and remove the card she reversed. The audience „lk ,k rhe magic a few moments later when the two matching cards are ^ed over- By then, the gaffed deck responsible for that magic is nowhere

10 I discussed the Kaps/Hennig Card in Ring Box as a beautiful cx-I of backward time displacement. A while back someone marketed a ton with a box gaffed in such a way that it could be shown empty at the "Tlhis is an example of something often seen in magic, a clever solution e" non-existent problem. In the many years, and literally thousands of 10 « that I've performed this effect, I've never had anyone express a desire ""look inside the box after I removed the folded card. Of course, I always '°cket the box with one hand as I hand the folded card to a spectator to ^Id with my other hand. If 1 didn't take the precaution of removing the Zidence, I'd bc needlessly tempting fate.

You'll find more opportunities to apply this concept if you define device broadly and creatively. In Scams & Fantasies with Cards, I have a two-card transposition called Ace in the Pocket. It uses the classic approach of a duplicate card and two double lifts. The duplicate card can be considered the device that makes the effect possible. More broadly, however, the deck itself is the device since it permits both the double lifts and thc introduction of a duplicate.

Here is how I apply the "removing the evidence" principle to it. After the two cards have been shown and placed in their assigned locations, I casually drop the deck in my pocket. (This looks like a matter of convenience since 1 usually perform this effect away from any tables. Its real motivation, however, is strategic.) I now dramatically cause thc two cards to change places. At the magical climax, the only props in sight are the two transposed cards. This subtly conveys the notion that the trick involved two cards and nothing else. As long as the audience perceives it that way they have no hope of penetrating the mystery.

Removing the evidence is a simple concept that is easy to overlook or underestimate. But there are many situations where you can further protect an effect's secret just by casually dropping a prop in your pocket at the right moment.

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