Cannibal Holocaust

"We. suspend our cynicism and believe in the tale as long as find it authentic... authenticity means an internally consistent world, true to itself in de^th* and detail" Robert McKee, Story

In ONE of MY FIRST sessions WITH David Roth, when we were in our early twenties, he mentioned that one ol the things he loved to do in magic was to make an outlandish claim, then prove it. (The Portable Hole is a good example.) This is, indeed, a powerful formula. I think, however, that the more outlandish the claim, the more conclusive Lhe proof needs to be. The notion that playing cards can eat other playing cards is a highly outlandish claim. If they could, however, the following comes pretty close to what it would look like.


Three playing cards are "fed" to the four kings, each card vanishing cleanly and unequivocally. The kings are then made to cough up" the three missing cards,

The Selections

Method & Handling i.

Remove the four kings from the deck. Without drawing attention to the matter, arrange them so that the two red kings are at the face and the two black kings at the back. Take the kings in the right hand in a facedown spread in Riddle grip. The deck should be in the left hand in dealing grip. Turn your right hand palm up to show the kings as in iltiistration 1. Note that the face king is held by only the very rips of your second finger and thumb. Turn your hand palm down again.

You're now going to square the kings against your left thumb and, in the proccss, sccrctly unload the bottom king onto the deck.

Bring the four-card spread over the deck until the left edge of the lowermost king is flush with the left edge o(

the deck as shown in iUustraticn 2. Press this edge down on the deck until the entire spread bends along its width. This tension will cause the lowermost king to spring iree of your second finger and thumb onto the deck. Both hands should be tilted downward to conceal this dropoff. Immediately square the remaining three kings against your left thumb and run the thumbtip along the edge of the packet as shown in illustration 3. Place the facedown packet on the table. As you perform these actions, explain the "cannibal cards" premise to the audience.

You will now have three cards selected. Turn the deck face up, spread the cards between your hands, and ask a spectator to touch the face of any spot (i.e., non-court) card. When he does so, outjog the card. Repeat this with a second and third spectator. (If working for fewer than three people, you can have the three cards selected between two people or all three cards selected by the same person. Since the spectators do not have to memorize the cards, there is no harm in having one spectator select more than one card.) Naturally, during this process you must be careful not to flash the red king on top of the deck. For the purpose of the explanation, Til assume that the three selected cards are an ace, two, and three, in that order from the lace of the deck.

Hand Deck Drawing Deal Cards Drawing

Square up the face-up deck, leaving the three cards out-jogged. You will now perform Derek Dingle s handling of the Vernon add-on. Hold the deck in dealing grip, the outjogged cards angled toward the left. Fan the three cards slighdy with your right fingers as you comment about the cards' identities. The result will be as in illustration 4. By means of a buckle or pinky pull-down, obtain a break under the lowermost card of the deck. (This will be the secredy stolen king.)

Take the deck in the right hand in Biddle grip; the outjogged cards shouldn't get in the way because of the angling. At the same time, your left hand moves forward with the bottom card of the deck and strips out the jogged cards. The king is thus secredy added under the three selections. (See illustration 5 in which the left thumb has been pulled away to reveal the loading action. To the audience the action appears as in illustration 6.)

Missing You Thumb

If you prefer the standard handling of the Vernon add-on, that'll work too.

Flip the deck face down in the right hand. (This is somewhat like doing a stud deal. You 11 find it easier if, in taking the deck in Biddle grip, your thumb goes under the deck somewhat farther than normal.) Slide the facedown deck into the left hand under the face-up packet. Bring the right hand over the cards to square them up. As the deck and packet coalesce, take a fourth-finger break between them. You should end up with the deck face down in dealing grip with four face-up cards on top, separated from the deck by a break.

All this will look quite natural if you do it effortlessly. However, another approach some may prefer is to use the face-up deck to flip the stripped-out cards face down. Then drop the deck on the packet and turn the whole m thing over into left-hand dealing grip. Finally, obtain a break under the face-up packet.

Thumb over the ace and take it in your right hand. Thumb over the deuce, take it in the right hand, under the ace, and spread to the left. Now do a block push-off of the three with the king hidden under it. (This is, of course, facilitated by the break.) Take this double under the deuce and follow through by flipping them face down on the deck, retaining the ace in your right hand. As you do this, explain that youll feed the two and the three to the kings later; the ace you'll use right now. Place the deck aside.

The First Vanish

Place the ace face down in your left hand. Pick up the facedown king packet in right-hand Biddle grip. As you pick it up, allow the packet to spread very slightly toward the right. You will now insert the ace into the packet so that it's angle-jogged toward the left. It must go second from the top. That's the reason for the slight spread. Run the inner right corner of the ace down the outer left corner of the packet until you feel one card click off and then insert the card.

Turn your right hand palm up so the audience can see the face of the ace sticking out of the king packet. Turn your hand palm down and square the cards. Perform a magical gesture.

Turn the packet face up and perform an Elmsley count to show four kings. (Thanks to the earlier color arrangement of the kings, two red kings and two black kings will show during the count.) Turn the packet face down and spread to cleanly show only four cards. Take the top two cards in your right hand. Rub each pair together between thumb and fingers to convey that there are no extra cards. Place the right-hand cards under the left-hand cards. Now deal the top card onto the table and rub it back and forth to stress that it's only one card. Deal the next card onto it, repeating the rubbing action. Do the same with the third card. Finally, use the last card to scoop up the other three. (The selected card should now be on top.) Spread the four cards and drop them on the table.

The cards end up in the same order they were in right after the Elmsley count. Therefore, you can» if you wish, leave out the subsequent proving actions and just table the cards after the count. These actions, however, serve to drive home the fact that there truly are only four cards, something that is quite amazing to the audience. At the same time, by keeping the audience focused on the number of cards, you keep them from questioning the identities of the cards. (This is an example of Ascanio's concept of thematic misdirection.)

The Second Vanish

Pick up the deck and perform a double turnover to reveal the third selection (in our example, the Turn the double face down and push over the top card.

Pick up the king spread from above in your right hand. Feed the top card of the deck into the right-hand spread so it goes third from the top. Place the deck aside.

Readjust your grip so that you're holding the spread at the inner end, thumb above and fingers beneath. Readjust the supposed selection so that it is jogged out of the center of the spread as in iUustration 7. (Be sure to keep the cards tilted down so you don't accidentally flash any face3.) Stress that the "three" is in the exact center of the spread with precisely two kings on either side.

Square up the packet and perform your magical gesture. Turn the packet face up and take it into left-hand dealing position. Take the face card into the right hand and the next card onto it in a spread condition. Spread over the face card of those in the left hand to show the four kings. The point is to cleanly show that there is no card where the selected card should be, betujeeri the two pairs of kings.

You can conclude the second vanish at this point by just replacing the right-hand cards and squaring up. I go further to make it even more convincing. I take the face king of the left-hand cards onto the two in the right hand. 1 then place the left hand double onto the right-hand cards and square up. Taking the packet into my left hand, I perform Ken Krenzel's pressure hideout move. (This move is taught in Ultimate Oil & Water.)

This leaves me with a face-up fan of four kings in my left hand. The face card of the fan is actually a double. I finish by reverse-counting the "four" cards into my right hand. (Just start the count by pinching the outer right corner of the double in your right thumb crotch.) Flip the packet face down into left-hand dealing grip. The first spectator's selection will be on top. If you skipped the pressure hideout sequence, simply turn the packet face down and you'll be in the same position.

The Third Vanish

Take the packet in right-hand Biddle grip. Casually peel the "four" cards one-by-one into left-hand dealing position. (The last card will be a double.) As you do so, take a fourth-finger break above the bottom two cards. Retake the packet in Biddle grip, the right thumb taking over the break.

Pick up the deck in dealing position. You will now apparently deal the top card of the deck onto the table face up. In reality you perform a one-hand stud second deal. The card you deal will be the remaining selection, the deuce. The second deal is necessary because the top card of the deck is actually the three, which the kings

Deal Cards Drawing

have supposedly just finished eating. The one-handed execution is necessary because it would be awkward and unnatural to put the packet down just to deal off the top card. (I'm describing this exacdy the way I do it. If you don't do a one-handed second deal, check the Pcrformimce Tifs for an alternative handling.)

Scoop the face-up two onto the facedown deck. You will now perform the James-Ellis loading move. Use the right-hand packet to flip the two-spot face down. Now place your


right second and third fingertips on the back of the facedown two about an inch-and-a-half from the outer end as in illustration <3. Push the card forward until your right thumb hits the inner end of the deck. This leaves the selected card outjogged for almost half its length as in illustration 9. Your left fourth finger now takes over the break held by the right thumb. At the same instant, your left hand turns palm down to show the selected card; thus two cards have been stolen onto the deuce. The three cards above the break remain in your right hand. (Remember, the left hand swings away from the right hand; the right hand remains stationary. This ensures that the stolen cards won't flash.) Follow through by pointing to the two with your right forefinger as you remind the audience that this is the second spectator's card. (Ilhistration 10.)

Use your left forefinger to pull the outjogged card square with the deck as you turn your left hand palm up. Thumb over the top card of the deck. If you properly time the combined actions of squaring the outjogged card, turning over the hand, and thumbing over the top card, you'll get a good visual retention illusion of thumbing over the deuce. The card is, in fact, a king.

You will now insert this card into the left side of the kings packet so that it remains angle-jogged to the left for about half its length. The card must go in third from the top of the packet. To ensure this, the right-hand packet should be in a very slightly spread condition. I find that if I pull to the right with my right middle finger, the right edge of the packet presses against my right third finger, causing it to spread slighdy. By sliding the inner right corner of the card down the outer left side oi the packet you can feel two cards click off, ensuring that the card goes third from the top.

Table the deck and take the packet into the left hand. In the process, the angle-jogged card will shift into a straight outjog. Explain that the kings haven't had much time to do their work yet; therefore, at this point, you still have five cards. You now perform a simple false count to prove your point. Pinch the packet at the right side between the right thumb above and the first and second fingertips below. The left thumb peels off the top card of the packet into dealing position, (Illustration 11 shows this action in progress.) Continue by peeling the next card onto it. In the process, however, steal the first card back onto the bottom of the packet. Continue by peeling ' 11.

the remaining cards into the left hand. The outjogged card remains outjogged throughout the count. The audience will apparendy see five cards, the center one of which is outjogged.

Spread Hand Png

Square the packet and perform your magical gesture. Turn the packet face up and spread to show that the two has vanished. Since this time the packet is completely clean, make the most of it. I deal the kings onto die table one at a time, rubbing each one back and forth on the table surface before dealing the next one. You'll find that, thanks in part to the false count and also because of the cumulative impact, this vanish plays very strongly, often resulting in spontaneous applause.

The Reproduction

Hand two of the kings to one of the assisting spectators and hand the other two to another spectator. (If working for only one person, simply hand all four kings to him or her.) Ask them to make sure that there are no cards hidden between or behind them.

When the spectators are satisfied, take the kings back and place them in a face-up spread on the table in front of you.

Pick up the deck and spread it between your hands as you comment that it's now useless because there are three cards missing from it. (My friend Bill Taylor turns to a spectator at this point and says, 'T was going to giue you the deck as a souvenir at the end of the show, but now it's mined.") As you square up, get a break under the top three cards. (These will be the three selections.)

You're now going to pick up the four kings and, in the process, add the three selected cards by means of my variation of John Carney's Versa Switch.

As you patter, your left hand gets into position to do the switch. Hold the deck palm downward, your arm hanging at your side. Allow the fourth-finger break to widen and insert your third finger into it all the way up to the second knuckle. The second and fourth fingers come over the separated cards and press them down against the deck. The first finger extends casually beyond the outer end. Illustration 12 shows the resulting position. (Those who do the Curry turnover change will recognize that this is the same

starting position as for chat move.) Getting the hang of this repositioning will take some practice. Eventually, however, you should be able to do it quickly. Keep in mind that you can gesture with your other hand to misdirect from the get-ready action.

Rest your left hand against the table, forefinger extended and the backs of the curled fingers against the

14. I \ table. Your thumb almost touches the side of the tabled spread. Illustration 13 shows this position. The outer right corner of the face-up deck presses firmly against the table as the rest of the deck arches upward.

You're going to scoop up the four-king spread between your hands and square them against the table. In the process, you'll load the three selections behind them. As your hands converge on the spread, straighten the third finger ¿use enough to create a very slight gap between the deck and the broken-off packet at the outer right corner. The corner of the broken-off cards should press against the table and the back of the left second finger should slide along the table. Allow the outer right corner of the broken-off cards to slide under the spread. Ulitstration 14 shows an exposed view of this action; ilkistrfltion 15 shows the audience view.

Continue to bring the hands together on either side of the packet, your left thumb barely gliding above the spread.

Straighten the left fingers so that the three broken-off cards are levered away from the deck. At the same time, turn your left hand so that the deck is more or less at right angles to the table. (See illustration 16.) This will complete the action of loading the selections under the king, the left edge of the combined packet squaring against the back of the left third finger.

Tilt the seven-card packet toward you until it is on end against the table, back toward the audience. Your right first 16. and second fingers square the right edge of the packet and

your left second finger squares the left side of the packet as your left forefinger squares the top of the packet, (See illustration. 17.) Don't rush this move; the more slowly you do It, the more deceptive it is.

Place the deck aside. Take the packet into facedown dealing position and explain that, if you catch the cannibal kings soon enough, you can still get them to disgorge their meals. As you say this, spread the packet between your hands as in illustration 18, keeping the last four cards together as one. As you can see from the illustration, although this spread looks very open, the thick edges of the four-card block are well covered. Square up the packet and turn it face down.


You will now climax the effect by dealing the cards face up on the table so the audience sees the three selected cards interlaced between the kings. Since the selections are not interlaced when you start dealing, you have to deal three stud bottoms to achieve the alternation, By stud bottoms I mean that the facedown card is taken by the palm-down right hand and revolved face up onto the table. Naturally, the tops are dealt in the same style.

(I use the Jennings stud bottom deal taught in God of Gamblers.) YouTl find that dealing bottoms from a small packet is infinitely easier than dealing them from a full deck.

The dealing sequence is as follows: bottom, top, bottom, top, bottom, top, top. I step the selections inward as I deal to produce the layout shown in illustration 19. If you did the Versa Switch add-on correctly, the appearance of the three selected cards will have a strong impact on the audience.

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