HROUGHOUT the literature of magic one reads this advice: Be original Its certainly a recommendation with which 1 would side. Indeed it is fine to be original. Still, I fed we .should clarify this advice to discover what it really means and how you might achieve it. hor, though it may sound simple, originality for many remains a difficult goal. We may have to accept the hard fact tliat many will never achieve a high degree of originality. There can be many reasons for this. I^ck of talent, imagination, willingness to work But I also think that many may fail to achieve originality, not because of a lack of imagination or talent, but because of a mistaken approach to the subjcct.
One can try to achieve originality in many ways, ways diaL may seem promising. Nevertheless, many of these approaches, promising as they might seem, are simply wrong and will lead nowhere. It is good to be aware of the roads that can never lead to true originality, but only to false art and nonsense. Lets look at a few possible approaches to originality:
• Til du a certain trick with an object that has never been used before."
• Til try to be different from every performer 1 know."
• Til adopt a theme or character never used before and frame all my tricks widiin this construct/'
You can sec here that diese approaches all strive for originality by trying to be different from what has been done before or is being done. Although this attitude is commendable, I'm suspicious of the approach. You see, if I desire to be different from existing acts and performers, what then is the factor that determines my originality? What elements resolve what I shall do? Aren 11 letting those acts and performers decide my course for me? Aren't I, in an indirect way. allowing someone or something else to decidc the nature of my personality and act? Is it good to let that which exists control my direction? If my only goal is to be different from the existing, then that body of work and its practitioners become the criteria by which my work is judged as original.
Such limitations obviously narrow your possibilities. But there is a greater problem. It is worse still that factors from outside you dictate what you should do, rather than you being the arbiter of your own direction and progress. Shouldn't it be you, and you alone, who decides what you do? Isn't ii an enormous and insupportable sacrifice to your imagination
the inspiration for your work, or influence its progress, I fear the worst. They arc things that must come after, never before!
So let originality spring from within, never from outside you!
HIS secret reverse resembles Larry Jennings's Larreverse, but with the LePaul bottom deal grafted to it. The curious feature of this sleight is that it allows a previously reversed card to be reversed again in the very action of seemingly righting it. Since the roots of the sleight are in the Larreverse, I'll modesdy call it the Wondereverse, thus assuring me my niche in magical history.
The sleight requires a small preparation: Turn the bottom card of the face-down deck face up, and a second card face up near the center of the pack.
Hold the deck face down in left-hand dealing grip. Then sway or bevel it somewhat to the right, causing the rop of the deck to overhang the bottom on the right side. With your left fingertips, secretly rightjog the bottom (reversed) card about half an inch and gendy curl its right side up against the beveled edge of the pack (Figure 1). This positioning is easily accomplished as the deck is placed into the left hand. Stretch your left forefinger (which is lowered in the illustration to expose the position of the bottom card) along the front of the pack, protecting the jogged card from view. This is the LePaul bottom-dealing grip.
With your left thumb, push the top cards straight to the right, spreading them into your palm-up right hand. Continue to spread the cards from left to right until the reversed card near center comes into view. When you see the card, push it a bit to the right, along with the face-down card directly beneath it; then stop spreading. Your intention with this maneuver is to push the exposed face-up card and its downstairs neighbor to the right in reasonably close register. They do not have to be in perfect alignment; just closc.
The moment the left thumb has pushed these two cards over, break the spread above the face-up card and separate the hands. The right hand supports the spread top half of the pack that rested above the reversed card (Figure 2).
As the spread is split, curl the left second finger secretly in under the left-hand spread and use it to push the rightjogged bottom card about half an inch farther to the right, bringing it into alignment with the rightjogged double on top of the spread. Again, alignment need
the bottom card is not pushed so far to the right that its position is exposed. Rather, it should reside just slighdy to the left of the overhanging double (Figure 3).
During the presentation there is a brief pause while the reversed center card is commented on and displayed. It is then apparently righted in the deck where it rests. In reality though, the reversed bottom card is righted in its stead, leaving the displayed card reversed and in place. To do this bring your right hand back to the left and seemingly clip the face-up top card beneath the right hands spread. However, it is a triple card that you clip. The tip of your right forefinger contacts the underside of the top pair, while the second fingertip presses up against the right jugged bottom card. Now move your right hand to the right, the right fingers pulling die bottom card and die top double as a unit against die lace of the right hands spread and away from the left hands portion. At rhe same time, rotate the right hand palm down (Figure 4). Then, with your left thumb, draw the face-down card at the face of the right hand s spread onto the left hand s packet.
This card is die original reversed bottom card. The face-down card initially seen reversed at center is hidden beneath the uppermost face-up card of the right hand s spread. The turning of the right hand hides any small sins of misalignment, and the action of turning over the reversed center card is perfecdy simulated.
packet. The right hand remains palm down while this is done. Odierwise, the still reversed center card might be seen on the backside of the spread. With the right hands cards reasonably squared, you can safely turn them backs up and deposit them on the left hands portion. If you now check, you will find the original reversed center card is still reversed exacdy where it began. Neverdieless, the illusion of your having righted it is perfect.
It is a fairly easy sleight to master, despite first appearances. Wirh its mechanics under stood, I will now teach a trick that puts it to good use.
WO cards are selected, remembered and returned to the pack. The performer makes a magical gesture and spreads the face-down dcck. Facc up in the ccntcr is one of the selections!
It is turned face down and the pack is squared. The special gesture is repeated with the intention of causing the reversal of the second selection. I lowever, when the dcck is spread the first selection is once more face up! It is turned face down. And again the first card persists in turning up in place of the second card. It is turned down a third time—but defiandy turns up a fourth! Finally losing all patience, the performer removes the card from the pack, tears it to pieces and tosses it aside.
Assured of succcss this time, or at least of being spared another appearance of the first selection, a final magical gesture is made over the deck and the cards are spread. Incredibly, the first card is once more discovered face up—and restored—in the center; and when the tabled pieces are turned over they are found to be the sought-after second selection!
In July of 1938 Clayton Rawson contributed a trick titled "The Cockeyed Car ds" to Genii magazine (Vol. 2, No. 11, p. 391). To the best of my knowledge this was rhe original appearance of the plot just described. However, it wasn't until Bob Stcnccl started showing around his fine version of it, featuring an excellent method, that the plot began to attract attention among magicians. Bill Nagler reported it in his April-May 1977 column in The Magic Circular and that description stimulated the publication of several reconstructions and solutions. All that was really known to most about the Stencel method was that a double-faced card was invoked. Archie Mclntyrc (sec Pabular., Vol. 4, No. 8, April 1978, p. 562) developed a method rrsing a duplicate card and a canny application of Larry Jennings's Larreverse. This was my introduction to the plot. Other methods were published, all but one using a double faced card or a duplicate. That exception strove for a straight-deck approach, but its creator found this restriction forced changes in the plot structure that made it into something quite different.
Bob Stencel delayed the release of his method until early 1986. When it was published in Richards AImanac(VoL 3, Autumn 1985 [sic], p. 328) it proved itself superior to the various solutions posed by others. The use of the double-faced card was far belter considered, and the handling included a restoration of the torn card after it had changcd into the sccond selection. This second restoration has been cited by some as anticlimactic, a criticism with which I don't necessarily agree. If the ancillary restoration is tossed off, with the performer placing no importance on it, as if he is merely tidying up, it can have quite an impact. However, the restoration must be treated as if it were as normal as slipping the deck back into its case after a trick. Such "throw-aways" can make a stronger impression on audiences than the "main'1 effects from which they spring. In addition, the restoration of the second card has the benefit of neatly eradicating the evidence of the double-faced gimmick.
I developed my handling before the Stencel method reached print. It does not include the second restoration, but it does attain the goal of a "pure" solution no special or extra cards while retaining the original plot. In addition the physical handling conforms with the acting called for in the presentation, where other handlings than Mr. Stencel's fail.
Besides a normal dcck of cards you will need a salt shaker. Mine is an elegant-looking glass shaker in which I have installed a small novelty dcvicc that beeps whenever it is shaken. This beeping shaker serves as a running gag throughout the trick, but a silent salt shaker can be used if you cant find the little beeper device. (Please don't use one of those plastic shakers that novelty manufacturers sometimes supply with the beepers. They look cheap and ugly, and barely resemble a salt shaker. Remove the beeper and install it in a nice-looking genuine shaker.) Carry the shaker in your right-side jacket pocket.
Spread the deck face down between your hands and have two cards selected, the first by someone on your left, the second by someone on your right. The benefits of this method are compounded here: Since no gimmicked or duplicate cards are necessary, both selections are perfecdy free.
When the second selection has been drawn from the deck, close the spread, catching a left fourth-finger break beneath the top three cards. You must now somehow reverse the deck beneath these three cards. One could use a half pass or some other sleight, but I prefer a simple ruse here.
The moment you have closed the spread, bring your right hand over the cards to square their ends, and in diis action classic palm the three cards above the break. Immediately extend your right hand out toward the second spectator, saying, "One card only, please." Simultaneously, reach up behind his ear and produce the three cards. Yes, to magicians this is a terribly hackncycd stunt. However, in the eyes of the public, the production of coins or cards from a spectator's person is still one of the most magical things possible. It is even more so these days, as it is so seldom performed: Its very commonness has made it uncommon.
During this quick and humorous interlude no one will be observing your left hand, which you drop naturally to your side. There you flip the deck face up. As you then continue to joke and talk with the spectators, reminding them to remember their cards, casually return the right hands three cards face down onto the face-up pack. Attention on the spectator is so intense here, this bold move is never noticed.
Please appreciate how nicely two goals, entertainment and method, have been interwoven with this single ploy. The selecting and noting of cards is a fairly colorless procedure. It is a prerequisite to many card effects, but in and of itself it is uninteresting. It is therefore wise, in my opinion, to use a few jokes and lines to liven diings up during the setup time. In this trick, one joke serves double duty, as it also covers the first secret maneuver!
As you place the three cards back on the deck, set them in tilt position. Then reach out with your right hand and claim the chosen card from th# spectator on your right. Apparendv insert it face down into the center of the pack, really placing it into the tilt break, flat against the deck, and push it flush. The selection appears to go into the center of the pack, but is actually fourth from the top. (See p. 129 for some tips on handling the tilt insertion that are valuable here.)
Turn to the person on your left to retrieve his selection, and at the same time raise the inner end of the deck beneath the tilted cards to close the break. Then take the spectators card and insert it fairly into the center of the pack, employing exactly the same motions used for die first replacement. Let die spectators see the card going unquestionably into the center as your neatly square it into the deck.
The cards are now arranged as follows: The top four are face down, the fourth being the right-hand spectators selection; below these is the face-up deck with the left-hand spectators card face down near center.
It is now necessary to reverse the entire pack. This is accomplished once more through the agency of presentation. State that you need some ' magic salt". Transfer the pack from left-hand to right-hand dealing position and, with the freed left hand, pat your left-side jacket pocket as if feeling for something. Using gesture and facial expression, silently indicate that whatever you are searching for is not there.
Pass the deck back to your left hand, permitting the right hand to go looking. It is at this moment that the deck is turned over. As your right hand moves to meet the left, it rotates
left hand casually grasps rhc pack, fingers on the lower edge and thumb on the upper (Figure 1), freeing the right hand. The deck then settles into left-hand dealing position as that hand turns palm up.
This reversing oi the deck goes unnoticed because of the following factors:
1) You make a slight leftward body turn as you transfer the pack from hand to hand;
2) the bade of the right hand effectively shidds the deck from view during the critical moment of the turnover, $
3) you treat the action as enrirdy incidental—you pay no attention at all to it, giving it no importance; and...
4) you turn your head and your full attention to your right-side jacket pockct as the turnover is done, directing all eyes to that area, and not to the hands and cards.
Immediarely placc your right hand into the right-side pocket and bring out the magic salt shaker. With your left hand, hold out the deck and shake some imaginary salt onto it. The weird beeps coming from the shaker should cause some laughter. Put the shaker back into your pocket as you ask the first spectator the name of his card. As he replies, set the deck in position for the Wondereverse (beveled rightward with the bottom card right jogged beneath the bevel).Then spread through die cards until die firsL selection is seen, face up in the center.
As you praise the powers of your magic salt, apparendy turn the card face down, actually executing the Wondereverse (p. 164). As the deck is squared, sidejog the new bottom card, immediately setting up for another reverse. Bring the salt shaker again from your pocket and shake it over the pack. Put it away as you ask the spectator on your right ior die name of her card. When she names it spread the deck, exposing rhe first selection again face up in the middle.
Here you must act surprised and slightly disconcerted. How can this first card be reversed again when the second card was commanded to appear? Ponder this for a moment, then dismiss the event as some small error on your part. Turn the reversed selection face down a second time, again doing the Wondereverse.
Square the deck, setting up for a third reverse. Shake the shaker over the deck and spread the cards to find the first selection face up a third time. With this your surprise grows into genuine puzzlement. You are completely perplexed by this undesired reversal. You now go through a half-silent, half-muttering acting process: "How can this be happening? I must be doing something wrong. Okay, let's take things slowly and think them through. 1 turn the card face down. Then I sprinkle the magic salt—and your card [the second spectators] should turn face up." As you go through this in your head, you seemingly turn the first selection down once more, executing the Wondereverse. Shalve the shaker over the deck, then spread the cards to find the first sdection face up again.
At this point your bafflement turns into frustration and mild anger. You obviously don't know what is happening or why "All right! If that doesn't work, we can always do this..
Do the Wondereverse a fourth and last time. However, rather than simply turning the first selection over, you seemingly remove it from the pack. This is done by briefly interrupting the procedure: As your right hand turns palm down with its spread and the first selection, the substituted face-down card is not drawn onto the left hands packet but is taken between your lips by one corner. Of course, its back is kept toward the audience, as this card is actually the second selection.
Finish the action of the Wondereverse by squaring the right hands cards and depositing them on those in your left hand. Then, with your right hand, remove the ^rd from between your lips and tear it into quarters, again being careful not to flash its face. This is done with an air of satisfied finality and perhaps just a touch of petulance. Slap the pieces onto the table with an attitude of that-takes-care-of-that.
Use some caution as you lift your hand from the pieces, making sure that none of them sticks to your fingers and flips over. You can prevent such accidents by placing the nail of your forefinger on the pile of pieces, and raising your hand first, while the nail holds the pieces in place, only leaving them when it is safe. This must not, of course, be a studied action, and there is no reason it need be.
Spread the deck between your hands, pushing over a small bunch of cards at the point where the face-up selection lies (you should know its position well enough by now). Thus vou conceal the reversed card and the deck is seen to be face down. Brandish the shaker
over the cards one last time. Then respread the deck, exposing the first selection imperturb-ably face up. Your reaction to this is utter astonishment. This simply cant be! And, if diis is your card here, what is this? Gingerly reach for die torn pieces on die table and turn thrm up one by one to reveal the tardy second selection.
Thar is the climax of the trick. However, I would like to make a few more important points about its presentation and structure. First, note how the acting and method complement each other. Without the progression of emotions, from success to surprise to puzzlement to frustration, the effect would be repetitious at best, meaningless at worst. It is the performers acting out of a strange and amusing situation that makes the trick interesting.
()n first rehearsing this there is a natural temptation to eliminate one of the reversals. This tendency probably arises from the well established—and generally wrise—tradition of springing the surprise or punch line on the third "beat". However, in this routine such editing would be an error. Each reappearance of the first selection provides an important phase in the development of your attitude and emotions. Discarding any of die emotional steps in the progression weakens the believability of your motivation, and consequcndy diminishes die audiences conviction in your presentation. Hxpcricncc has proven this. Four repetitions of the reverse are simply more entertaining than three—or five.
Acting motivates the necessary actions and their hidden sleights; and die sleights fit the motivations provided by the acting. In previous solutions to diis effect this could nor be said. When it came time to tear up the card angrily, the actions necessary to the method fail torn
FTER public school I attended drama school for three years. This was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I learned so much about theater there, and it has influenced my thinking enormously.
One class I had to take during those three years was singing. I was never very successful in this, and today you definitely wouldn't enjoy my "vocal stylizarions". Yet, I learned something from this class rhar has been extremely valuable. It was something that greatly improved my magic almost overnight.
When you sing a song with several couplets, the moment a couplet is finished you have usually spent all the air reserved in your lungs. Normally you have a few bars of music just before you must resume singing, during which you take a good deep breath and continue. This is what most people without formal training do, and I was no different. My singing instructor saw me doing this and immediately told me to stop. "Instead," she said, "take the new breath of air immediately after finishing the first couplet, and hold it in until the next couplet comes. If you do this, you will already have the air you need when you start singing again."
Now why is holding tliis breath so much better than taking it when you actually need it? She told me, "When your lungs are filled with air you are far more interesting to the audience." And when I practiced this technique while performing my magic I found what she liad said was true!
If you find this idea difficult to understand, try the following: When you enter a roomful of people, enter with no air in your lungs; that is, breath out before entering the room. When you make your entrance, you will find that your appearance does not command much attention. Its as if no one had come in.
Now try entering another room, but take a deep breadi of air before walking in, and you will find diat you command more attention. The more air, the more oxygen you have stored in your body, the more attention you will receive. This translates easily into walking on stage when you do a show. Go out there with oxygen filling your lungs. Don't be like an empty balloon, with no energy, flaccid and lifeless. When your lungs are filled with air, you have stored energy in you. This energy commands attention.
What I do before coming on stage is to take several deep breaths. This gets more oxygen into my body more stored energy. Another technique is to bend and stretch your legs several rimes, as you would while exercising. If you wear a number of body loads, try just raising yourself onto the tips of your toes several times. The idea is to pump air in and out deeply and quickly. This breathing exercise makes you much more energetic, much more lively. Even if you wish to enter with extreme calm, breadi storage is still very important. With your lungs full of air, when you come on stage, Somebody enters!
I also suspect that breathing deeply in this fashion causes your blood to circulate a little faster; you become a little more excited—and so will the audience when they see you. You are pumping adrenaline.
This is a fairly direct application of breath control, but there are other uses. Remember that my instructor told me to breathe in immediately after I had finished a couplet. Try this with magic as well. For instance, direedy after an effect, take a deep breath to recapture die audiences attention. Then try to hold this air in until you begin the next trick.
Of course this technique should not be practiced as if you were holding your breath under water. There is no need to become purple faced as you perform. Breathe in a relaxed way, but keep the level of air in your lungs high. Just before an effect occurs, take in a litde more, really filling your lungs when something is about to happen.Then when it does, breadie out a bit, letting yourself relax a litde. Following this momentary relaxation, immediately breathe in, increasing the air level again. You will find that this technique will allow you to hold the audiences attention much more easily as you move from event to event.
As an example, when I perform "Déjà ReVurse", as I begin to spread the cards to reveal the face-up selection I inhale deeply and hold this breath. Just before the reversed card comes into view, I take in a little more air, really filling my lungs. Then at the moment of its appearance, I relax a bit and release a litde of the air. Following this I breathe in again straightway; and so forth.
Another wonderful benefit of this type of breath control is that it makes proper riming much easier. Your timing will be based on your body, and to a much lesser degree on your thinking. Thinking is a poor instrument for governing timing.Timing should be based on feeling, and when you are aware of your breathing rhythms, your timing has something physical on which to float. Timing based on your breathing is more likely to be in harmony with your physical actions.This harmony is most desirable.Timing is very difficult to judge by conscious thinking. The subtle feeling that timing depends on is much easier to control correctly when it based on your bodvs actions.
Please try this idea. In normal life die average level ot air in your lungs, the plateau, is probably rather low. When you perform try to raise the amount of air in your lungs to a level above normal; then, on top of this, increase the depth of your breathing still more as you reach the moment of climax for each effect. You will find that your success increases with your breathing, because you are more interesting to your audience.
I Jse breathing as a dramatic technique, to accent the high points of your presentations, to create waves of interest and suspense, and let the method fall into the troughs between them. Please don't misunderstand me here. I don't see breathing technique as a tool to be plastered over presentation as a form of attention management. (I've addressed this point in "Getting the Mis Out of Misdirection" p. 9.) Rather, it is an enhancement to presentation that can accommodate direction technique.
I believe that the reserved energy provided from this breathing technique is far more interesting than expended energy. One sometimes sees performers who use all the energy they have. They hold nothing back. They give and give until nothing is left. I believe it is more interesting to hold back just a hir. Let the audience feel there is more. It's like a statue being uncovered. Interest is higher at the moment a tip of the cloth is raised than when the cloth falls completely away. A performers stored energy works in the same way. Give, but do not give it all. Many good performers take more from the audience than they give in return! This statement may seem a little shocking to some readers. Let me explain...
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