Perverse Magic

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.
Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » November 1st, 2016, 7:52 am

Perverse Coin When Not Prepared To Perform

Sometimes someone will come up to you and want you to “do a trick” and it’s not a good time for you.

I would perform a very quick Perverse Magic effect.

I would ask if that person had a coin and I would take it.

I would appear to place the coin from my right hand into my left (of course retaining it in my right by whatever method) and then say that I’m going to make the coin float. I would snap the fingers of my right hand (making it appear that the hand is empty) and then open my left hand and then be surprised when the hand is empty.

(In Perverse Magic what you say will happen – here that the coin will float – can’t be as strong as what does happen – here the vanish.)

I am confused and I start to look for the coin by first putting my left hand in my left pocket and then my right hand in my right pocket. I find the coin there and, with a confused look still on my face, I return the coin.

Williamson Three Card Trick

David Williamson’s Three Card Trick is a wonderful example of Perverse Magic.
The effect is similar to the Eleven Card Trick (above – see February 2, 2003) but, where I use the Eleven Card Trick as a major effect (sometimes the only effect that I may perform on a particular occasion), I use an abbreviated version of the Williamson trick as an entertaining interlude in a routine.

I do it as follows:

1 I palm 3 cards from the top of the deck and then give the deck to a spectator.

2 I ask the spectator to give me the top card which I take in my left hand and
then I ask for the bottom card which the spectator puts on top of the one in my left hand.

3 I square the two cards adding the three palmed cards as I ask the spectator for a card from the middle of the deck she is holding.

4 I then say I will do the famous “3 Card Trick”.

5 I have 6 – they think 3.

6 I then “buckle count” the 6 as 4 and look confused. I give one back (I now have 5.) “No – I need 3.”

7 I repeat the buckle count showing the 5 as 4 and again give one back -, looking confused. (I now have 4).

8 I now buckle count the 4 as 3 and look satisfied.

9 “Anyway—I take 2 in my right hand and I—” – but there are still 4!

10 “Oh forget it!!”

Classifications Of Perverse Magic

I think it might be helpful to review my classifications of Perverse Magic.

I previously gave 6 classifications of Perverse Magic as follows:

1 Something happens without the performers knowledge or without the performer wanting it to happen.

As for example Cardini’s act where fans of cards or whatever keep appearing to the amazement and then annoyance of Cardini. Or when Roy Benson is catching large white billiard balls and all of a sudden a red ball appears and Benson looks in a book to see what happened.

2 The performer says he's going to do a trick but something else happens.

An example might be coming out with a bird in a birdcage and announcing that you're going to make the cage and the bird float when, to your surprise the cage and the bird vanishes.

(It's VERY important in this situation that what happens is stronger than what you say will happen.)

3 The magician says he's going to do something; that something happens by itself.

An example might be the untying handkerchief

4 The magician does something and is caught and when he confesses it's not what the audience thought - nor what the magician thought either.

An example might be the egg bag where the magician pretends to put the egg under his arm and when caught he goes for the egg and when it's not there the magician is confused (and the audience fooled).

(This of course is a "sucker effect" but instead of the audience being the sucker the magician is the victim.)

5 The magician and the audience are on different planes as to what each sees.

An example might be the invisible deck routine or David Roth's "Legendary Four Coin Trick"

(This is "Whimsical Perverse Magic")

6 The performer explains something that will happen but he doesn’t understand why it happens. Or perhaps something goes wrong and the performer may look in a book and then do something meaningless and what he wanted to happen happens though he doesn’t understand why.

With Perverse Magic the magician does not appear to be "better than everyone" (as is the case with so many performers) but plays the part of an ordinary guy who gets caught up in what happens. It does take acting but the style is appropriate for many effects including the classics - both close up and platform.

Also with Perverse Magic one can do just one effect – which is often the most
effective way for an amateur magician to impress an audience.

Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » December 1st, 2016, 7:32 am

Perverse Larry Jennings Prefiguration

This effect was brought to my attention by old friends who are no longer with us, Peter Marshall and Harvey Cohen. This effect appears on page 156 of The Classic Magic of Larry Jennings but I changed the effect a bit so that it can be
presented as the second classification of Perverse Magic. The performer says he’s
going to do a trick but something else happens.


A borrowed shuffled deck is used and the performer asks a spectator to touch a card, not to look at it and place it face down on the table. The spectator does. The performer says he is going to run through the deck and by studying the cards he will determine the selected card.

The performer looks at the faces of the deck and then says, “Okay, I know your card is a 4 – but I’m not sure which 4. Look.”

The performer turns the deck face up and deals cards to the table until a spectator tells him to stop.

“I really don’t understand how this happens but look, you stopped me here and here’s a 4.” But it’s not a 4 – it’s a 9! The performer is confused.

“Look, if I count down 4 in this half there’s a 4 ---” But it’s not – it’s another 9!—“A-and - and if I count down 4 in this half ---” another 9!

He turns over the face down card that the spectator selected and – the last 9. The performer scratches his head in confusion.


1 It’s best to do this with a borrowed deck. Note the top card and get another
card of the same value to the top.

This is Classic Forced but not looked at and left face down on the table.

2 Run through the deck “looking for a clue of the selected card” and while doing so:

A Downjog the face up card in a position (in this case) 3rd from the bottom (one less than the 4).

B When you come to the next – in this case 9, put in behind the downjogged card (so that it will be fourth from the bottom).

C Downjog the first four cards from the top.

F The last 9 goes here.

So now there is a 9 on top, a 9 fifth from top, a 9 fourth from the bottom
and a 9 face down on the table.

3 Then:

A Begin to deal face up from the bottom of the deck and after passing the 9 tell the spectator to “say stop” wherever he wants.

When he says “stop” turn the cards in your left-hand face down and say, “I know that your card is a 4.”

B Turn over top card of what was left hand packet and show a 9 You missed..

C Confused, you count 4 cards from top onto the table and show another 9. More confusion.

D Pick up the face up packet, turn it face down and count 4 showing the third 9.

E Finally turn over the selected card and show a 9.

Shrug and say, “I really don’t understand how this happened!”


1 If this is NOT done with a borrowed deck but with your own then step 2 can
be eliminated and the set up done beforehand.

2 In Step 1, if you miss the Classic Force do another effect. One such effect
might be a “4 Ace Trick” but instead of using aces, use the card selected and the three mates of the card selected.

(It’s a good way to do a “4 Ace Trick” because the spectator selected the cards to be used.)

Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » January 1st, 2017, 8:50 am

Perverse Confusing Cards


1 I walked into the party with my wife Linda and immediately my friend Frank handed me a deck of cards and told me to do a trick for Carol and Bob, a couple standing there that I hadn’t met before. Linda looked up at the ceiling.

“Well, okay. I just learned a mind reading trick and I haven’t had a chance to try it yet. Here, take a card,” I said as I spread the deck for Carol as she took a card and looked at it. She put it back into the deck and I shuffled the deck.

I concentrated and then said, “Your card was – I hope I remember this – the 5H—”

“Wrong,” laughed Carol, not really expecting that I would get it.

“I guess I did something wrong. Let me try something I know how to do.

2 “Look, here’s the AS,” I say as I turn over the top card. “I’ll put it in my pocket.

“And here’s the 4D. Let me put it on your hand.” I say as I turn over the next card and put it face down on Joan’s palm.

“Now if I just snap my fingers---“ I do—“ The 4D is in my pocket and the AS is in your hand.”

“How did you do that?” laughs Joan. “He’s good,” says Bob talking to Frank.

3 “Frank, would you take a card. Let me try that mind reading again. Put it back. Let’s see. Was it the 9C?”

“Wow! Yeah! How did you---?”

4 “But I don’t know why I couldn’t get Carol’s thought of card. Was it the JC?”

Carol smiles and shakes her head.

“What was it?”

“The 7H.”

I make a confused look. “I don’t understand this.” I look through the deck. “I don’t think there’s a 7H here.”

I give Carol the deck and put my left hand in my left pocket looking very confused. Nothing. I shake my head. I then put my right hand in my right pocket and – and to my surprise and everyone else’s I come out with the 7H.

“I really don’t understand . I have to look up that trick.”


I had contributed “Flaunt It” to Harry Lorayne’s Apocalypse and it appears in the
September 1987 issue on page 1397. As noted there, the idea came to me from
something a magic friend Bob Hyans showed me – a way to do the regular 2 card
transposition (i) without having to do the third double lift (or top change), not
having to use a duplicate card and (iii) not having to “clean up” the extra card.

In the setting above, it’s at a friend’s house but if this was done professionally as
walk around magic, I wouldn’t start with this because if you go over to ‘strangers”
and the first thing you do is “miss” you may quickly lose your audience. In such a
case, therefore, some other quick trick should precede this routine, perhaps with
something other than cards.

And, as I’ve said before, Perverse Magic can be just one feature in a magic


The numbers below correspond with the numbers under Effect above.

1 Simple. A card is selected and brought to the top.

But, while it’s not necessary, I prefer to do two things here:

A I like to set the deck so that the cards that will change places in step 2 are contrasting cards. It’s not too effective to have the 9S change places with the 9C.

Therefore, as I’m given the deck I set the 2nd and 3rd card to be contrasting (here AS and 4D)

B I like to know the card selected so I’m sure NOT to name it. (If you do anything after can’t be as strong.) So I usually do a Classic Force.

2 A Double lift – top card (selected card in 1 above) goes to pocket

B Another double lift and card seen in A goes on woman’s hand

C Take deck in right hand in position to do the one hand card palm.

The left hand turns over the card on woman’s hand as right hand one hand-palms the top card and then goes into the pocket to produce it showing the cards changed places.

3 Another Classic Force after glimpsing the top card. This time have the card put back and have the spectator hold the deck.

4 Here you act confused as you look through the deck but do it quickly so as not to lose your audience. Then give the spectator the deck.

By going to my left pocket first I’m showing both hands empty without saying anything.

Then, when my empty right hand goes to my right pocket they see clearly that it’s empty.

Acting confused makes this a good example of Perverse Magic.

Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » February 1st, 2017, 8:25 am

Coin To Rock


I’ve previously explained in this thread how I think rocks that can be found in a garden make excellent props for Perverse Magic (see above on this thread February 1, 2004 Rocks In Shoe and February 1, 2006 Perverse Rock using a woman’s diamond ring, and December 1, 2009 Unusual Objects – Unusual Places – Rocks – which includes the reverse – having a rock change to a coin. Also see the Close Up thread of November 18, 2002. )


At a dinner table the magician says he just learned a new trick and asks to borrow a quarter. Someone gives one to him.

He announces he’s going to make the quarter into a half dollar.

He puts the quarter in his left hand and snaps his right hand fingers and when he opens his left hand, the quarter is gone but instead of a half dollar there is - a rock.

I must have done something wrong!!!


1 The rock is “Classic Palmed” in the left hand.

2 The quarter is taken in the right hand and shown as it lies at the base of the 2nd and third fingers (middle and ring finger).

The right hand closes as it turns palm down and the coin falls to the fingertips.

It is Classic Palmed in the right hand.

The right hand, still palm down, has the thumb touching the fingertips as if it is holding the coin which his now Classic Palmed.

3 The right hand pretends to place the coin into the left hand which closes ads it would if it held a coin (it holds the rock Classic Palmed).

4 The left hand raises as the right hand drops for a moment to the table top lapping the quarter and IMMEDIATELT comes up and snaps its fingers over the left hand.

5 The rock is shown instead to the expected half dollar. The magician is confused.

Good Perverse Magic!!

Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » March 1st, 2017, 7:47 am

Perverse Magic And Routining

I said before on this thread (February 1, 2012 above) that “the whole act need not be Perverse Magic – an incident (or maybe two) may be enough. I recall Roy Benson doing his beautiful billiard ball routine using 2 inch white balls when suddenly a red ball appears and Benson looks confused and looks in a book.”

Then again perhaps the magician’s style is such that the entire act can be Perverse Magic.

Rule (22) of “Our Magic” (page 66) reads “No magician should ever present – any magical feat –which –has not been adapted to his own personal characteristics—”

I also strongly believe in “Routining” - that is, as said on page 247 of “The Royal Road to Card Magic” “so that the fullest effect can be drawn from each feat and so that they will follow one another smoothly--.”

I find few magicians that follow this rule and, as a consequence the audience won’t remember what was done.

I have described several Ambitious card routines on this thread and at the beginning (December 21, 2002) I describe a routine that I use:

“I have a card selected and say it will come to the top and it’s not there – another card (say 4C) is there. I bury the 4C and try again but again the 4C is there. I spell the selected card but at the end it’s the 4C. finally I say I’ll do the trick with the 4Cand say it will go to my pocket but when I reach into my pocket it’s the selected card. I’m surprised and frustrated.”

(This is explained on this thread - see above January 1, 2015.)

What follows is another Ambitious Card that has the Perverse Magic only at the end.

Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » March 1st, 2017, 7:50 am

The Ambitious Stranger


1 The magician has a card selected and then goes into an Ambitious card routine with the selected card.

2 After a few “to the top” sequences the magician has a spectator shuffle the deck. Once again the selected card comes to the top.

3 The magician has the spectator sign the face of the selected card.

4 It is again buried into the deck and the deck is cut and this time the card is on the bottom.

5 “What I really don’t understand is that the card you selected is – well – it’s from another deck.”

The magician turns over the card and to his and everyone’s surprise, while the deck is blue backed the selected card has a red back.

The magician gives the spectator the card to keep.


Two decks are used, a red and a blue. The red is kept in a left pocket and the blue is

In the right trouser pocket place one card from the blue deck and under that one
card from the red deck.

The blue backed duplicate of the red card is on top of the deck being used.


The numbers below correspond with the numbers under Effect above.

1 The top card – the blue back duplicate of the red back card in magicians’s pocket is forced.

It is suggested that the Classic Force be used as if you miss you can do another effect first.

2 There are a number of Perverse Ambitious Card effects on this thread. In this case I would suggest it not be too long but in this phase only a few “to the top” sequences should be done.

The deck is given to the spectator to shuffle. As he does his hands are empty. His hands go to his trouser pockets, the right on top of the two cards in the right pocket and the left in the left trouser pocket. It is a casual pose and should not arouse suspicion.

The magician takes back the deck, adds the two cards that were in his pocket, riffles the deck, does a double lift and shows the “Ambitious Card”.

3 The spectator signs the face of the red back card.

4 The two cards are turned face down as one and then pushed into the center of the deck, a break is held below the signed card and it is cut to the bottom.

5 If this is done as walk around magic all that must be done is take another card from the red back deck, put its duplicate from the blue back deck on top of the deck being used and take any card from the blue back deck and put it on the red back card in your pocket.


I think I got the idea for this from Phil Goldstein’s “Remembrance Of Cards Past”
from page 128 of Apocalypse (November 1978).

Good Perverse Magic!!

Gerald Deutsch
Posts: 381
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Glen Head New York

Re: Perverse Magic

Postby Gerald Deutsch » April 1st, 2017, 9:20 am

Spelling Tricks


Spelling to a selected card – that is – dealing one card for each letter – as for example “f-o-u-r—o-f—c-l-u-b-s’ and finding the 4C at that spot is a popular effect of card magic and can be presented as Perverse Magic in the 6th category of Perverse Magic – the performer explains something that will happen but he doesn’t understand why it happens (see above November 1, 2011 under “Cigarettes”).

(I posted some effects using spelling on this thread above. Note for example “First Perverse Ambitious Card Above” January 1, 2015.)

I use three different presentations of spelling effects, two of which originated with effects in “The Royal Road To Card Magic”, the first, “Double Speller” on page 163 and the second “Gray’s Spelling Trick” on page 63. I’ll describe my handling of all:

(Also – as with most effects – I don’t perform them as suggested but use my own style and handling. So, for example, I don’t believe it’s necessary to use The Pass to control the card in Double Speller and I don’t trust the spectator to correctly mentally spell the card in Gray’s Spelling trick.

Effect – Double Speller

A card is selected, say the AD, and put back in the deck and the deck is shuffled.

“I don’t understand why this works but let me try it. Here, hold the deck,” says the magician as he gives the spectator the deck to hold.

“Your card was the 5S now watch,” say the magician as he pulls one card for each letter of the 5S from the deck the spectator is holding and when he’s done shows that the last card remaining on the spectator’s hand is the 5S. “I really don’t understand how that works,” he says.

“But that wasn’t my card,” says the spectator. The magician is confused. “What was your card?” “It was the AD.” The magician scratches his head. “Let me try that again,” and again he pulls one card from the packet the spectator is holding for each letter of AD and this time when he’s done the AS is face up on top of the pile in the spectator’s hand. “I really don’t know how that works,” says the magician looking confused.

Effect – Gray Spelling Trick

I prefer the Double Speller BUT – sometimes the audience will sort of feel sorry for you when you name the wrong card and successfully spell it and NOT say it’s the wrong card.

If I feel the spectator may do that I will use this version.

Here the card is selected and shuffled back and the deck is given to the spectator to shuffle. When the magician gets the deck back he runs spreads the deck face up telling the spectator to make sure the card is still there. Then he gives the deck to the spectator and asks the spectator for the name of the card and again, as in the Double Speller version above, pulls off one card for each letter and at the end shows the selected card, confused as to how it works.

Effect – Where the Heck Is That Card

Here again the card is selected and shuffled back and the deck is given to the spectator to shuffle. When the magician gets the deck back he asks for the name of the card and pulls off one card for each letter and at the end shows – an indifferent card!

He is confused and looks through the deck but can’t find the card and gives the deck to a spectator while the magician reaches into his pockets with empty hands and then finds the selected card and he is puzzled as to how the selected card left the deck and wound up in his pocket.

Method – Double Speller

1 The card is forced using the Classic Force and controlled to the top when returned.

2 I perform the Braue Reverse – I get a break under the top (selected) card and take about half of the cards from the bottom, turn them face up and put them on top. I take all the cards below the break, turn them face up and put them on top. The deck is face up and the selected card is face down on the bottom.

3 Holding the deck face up I perform an Overhand Shuffle and run one card for each letter of the selected card from the bottom to my left hand and then drop the deck on those cards in my left hand. The selected card is face up in “spell” position.

4 I glimpse the top card and repeat what I did in 3 for the value (not the suit) of the glimpsed card and drop the deck on that. I turn the deck face down and do a jog shuffle for the suit of the glimpsed card,

Method – Gray’s Spelling Trick

1 The card is forced using the Classic Force and lost in the deck. The deck is give to the spectator to shuffle

2 When you spread the deck face up for the spectator to “make sure the card is still there” you “spell the card” silently – one card for each letter and break when you’re done (if you run out of cards start again at the bottom).

The selected card will be in “spell position.

Method - Where the Heck Is That Card

A card is freely selected and controlled to the top and palmed and the deck given to a spectator to shuffle. Both hands are put into your pants pockets and you act very as the deck is shuffled. Then remove both hands and ask the spectator for the deck and you spell the selected card.

The reason here is to avoid a “timing problem” that is – having the audience lose interest when the selected card isn’t found at the “spell location”. By you dealing:

(i) you spell and the selected card is, of course, not at the spell location,

(ii) you quickly run through the deck looking for the card and

(iii) drop the deck back on the table.

You look puzzled and start looking for the selected card, first in your left pocket and then, in your right pocket (where the card is).

Pull out something else from your right pocket (keys, a handkerchief, etc) and then, still puzzled, the selected card and when you do you look at it confused.

Good Perverse Magic – you don’t understand !!

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