Kennedy Center Deal in "Dai Vernon, Spirit of Magic"

Discuss the tricks and sleights which appear in Genii.

Postby Bob Gerdes » 02/04/02 01:42 PM

I finally got around to buying a copy of this documentary (which is great, by the way!). After watching it several times and re-reading the December issue of Genii, I've got a question for all you card guys: is David Ben (the "magic hands" seen throughout the video) REALLY doing the center deal on this video when he apparently deals the four aces after they are cut to the middle of the deck? I've never seen how one looks in action, but it sure looks like the aces are coming from the top. Has anyone else noticed this? Not that it matters much.... just wondering if I was watching the "real thing" or not.
Bob
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Postby Guest » 02/07/02 06:27 PM

My very first post on The Second Deal was asking about this. Only two people responded, one said he didn't know for sure but he had the same opinion as I (not real). The Other said it was a psuedo center deal. If the deal done on that video was a center then OHHHHHHHHH MAAAAAAN.

Noah Levine
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Postby Bob Gerdes » 02/08/02 07:42 AM

Hi Noah,
I realized something after I posted this subject, but didn't bother re-posting since nobody responded: on the video he cuts the aces to the center so that they are the top 4 cards of the "lower" half, instead of starting with the aces on the bottom of the deck and cutting so that they are the bottom 4 cards of the "upper" half (above the break). It seems like they're in the wrong place for a real center deal. I'm pretty sure its not real too, but like you said, if it IS....

Bob
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/08/02 09:16 AM

Yes, the hands doing the tricks in the video are David Ben's. I thought this was somewhat disingenuous of the film makers because the STRONG impression was given that these were Vernon's hands, when in fact they are most definitely not.
As for the center deal, my recollection (very foggy even on a clear day) is that the center deal was NOT the real thing.
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 10:32 AM

There was a magic special a couple years ago where Steve Forte was demoing a center deal. But it looked to me like he stuck the cards in the middle, then lapped everything below them, and dealt off the bottom.

Cheater.

Bill Mullins
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Postby pduffie » 02/08/02 01:09 PM

Hi Bill

While you're right in saying Forte didn't do a Centre Deal on that occasion, he didn't lap any cards.

Best Wishes

Peter
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 02:13 PM

Well, as they are my hands in the film, I suppose I am the one to comment on the center deal in Dai Vernon: The Spirit of Magic and provide some background to the "disingenuous " use of the hand footage.

When we made the film - start to finish including editing - in about six weeks, we shot all the interviews in New York and Los Angeles over the course of about 5 days.

During the interviews we asked virtually ever guest if they would perform a Vernon effect - the idea being that we would be able to include much of Vernon's magic in the film. (There is virtually no film footage in existence that reflects the charm, grace and skill of a young Vernon. Existing footage is of Vernon well past his prime, which for me was circa 1930s and maybe into the 1940s.)

We asked those who I thought might be capable whether or not they could perform the Kennedy deal. The answer was always the same. No.

It became apparent in editing that there was not enough magic in a film about a great magician. We used stock footage where possible. Fred Kaps performing the LePaul spread pass and John Scarne handling cards - slowed down at my suggestion to try and make it appear a little more graceful or measured. Still, not enough magic.

The director asked me if I would fill some gaps. He brought a crew to my house and I extemporzied some pieces then and there to see if they would fit the bill. The trick that fooled Houdini, the center deal, the torn and restored cigarette paper among others.

We thought that most viewers - this was for an audience of intelligent history loving Canadians who are familiar with a great deal of documentary films would realize intuitatively that the magic hand sequences were stylized representations - not Vernon's actual hands. The footage was shot in the same manner and coloured different than the rest of the film to separate the sequences from the others.

Now, for the center deal. I do not believe there is one person currently at work who can perform a center deal in fast company. That includes all the superb card handlers - including Mr. Forte, with whom I have not met but have only heard the most fabulous things, both about his skill and his personality. I have met many of the great cardhandlers who can do an adequate demonstration, and a couple of hustlers who have purported used it in a game. Their deals would not fly, however, if I was at the table. We seek perfection in deception, not something that will just pass unsophisticated company. Anybody can do that.

So, the deal was faked but structured in such a way that I left lots of clues for those who are interested in deciphering such things. Mr. Gerdes picked up one of them - the placement of the aces.

What actually happend, to the best of my recollection, was that I started the sequence with a duplicate set of aces on the table and four aces on top of the deck. I gave the deck two tabled faros thereby loading the aces into every fourth hand. (Bruae Poker Deal, E.C.T. remarkably similar to the Royal Flush Deal credited as a new variation on another Genii Forum posting). I then picked up the four tabled aces, placed them on top, gave the deck an Erdnase false cut preserving the deck's order (another clue), and then performed some table faros with strip outs so that the deck remained in the exact same order. I regarded the table faro stip outs as another clue. (Why would someone do that just to control four aces for a center deal.) I was then able to deal four aces from the top demonstrating card control. I then put aces back on top, cut to the crimp for the Braue poker deal, and created the effect of the center deal. (Inaccurate placement of aces for the deal being another clue. Good work Mr. Gerdes.) We shot the entire sequence as one take. The director decided in editing, however, to cross cut the sequence with Ricky telling the story about the deal to enhance the drama.

So, I did try to lay out a few high end moves that would tip the more knowledgeable that it was not a legitmate center deal.

A few more comments if you will.

The timing, pacing and grip for the deal are totaly accurate. It is the timing and pacing that was taught to me by Ross Bertram who did perform the deal, albeit not in games. His ethics did not change to fit the situation.

Derek Verner asked me about the deal as soon as he saw the film. I told him what I have just told you. (He was amazed any magician would tell the truth, but that is another story.) He did say, however, that he recalled his father practicing the deal religiously and that it matched the timing, tempo and grace of what it looked like in the hands of his father. I believe then that this is the mark one must shoot for if one is to say that he or she can really do the Kennedy deal. Anything else is pretending.

The information about the center deal I contributed to Genii I believe is the most complete, up-to-date explanation of how to do that particular deal. It has every nuance and tip that I could muster. As this posting will hopefully illustrate, when I do tip information, which for a variey of reasons is not very often, I believe that I am obligated to tip the real work. It's there if anyone wants to work on it.

Hope this helps.

David Ben
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 02:38 PM

thank you Mr. Ben I have been wondering about this for a while you obviously have the last word. I think as you said not everyone made the connection on the false shuffles because they were seperate segments, it was generous of you to throw in all those tips though. Also all of the segments on the spirit of magic video were awsome thanks.

Noah Levine
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 03:44 PM

I don't think David Ben needs to explain himself. It's not a sin to fake a centre deal - we fake everything else, after all.

Besides the centre deal is the easiest deal to fake and, if you're trying to show what it purportedly looks like, well why not take advantage of every trick you know to make it look as good as possible? Nobody brings Ricky Jay to task for using the Kennedy story as a lead-in to a pseudo deal so why should Ben have to stand trial?

Cheers
Andrew
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 08:55 PM

If my post implyed that it was bad he used a psuedo then I am sorry I didn't not mean to imply that.

Noah Levine
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 10:19 PM

You don't need to apologise for anything Noah! If I sounded like I was having a go at you then let ME say sorry - me and the internet are like that old Disney cartoon with mild mannered Goofy getting behind the wheel of a car and turning into a monster...

I've seen lots of discussion on the Vernon documentary/fake centre issue on other boards so I wasn't having a go at you. Actually for a while there it was looking like it might have had a shot at the title ("Most asked about TV spot") but I believe that is still held by Bill Malone's dramatization of the Scarne ace cutting...

Best,
Andrew
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Postby Guest » 02/08/02 10:43 PM

I have always wondered about the scarne aces that malone did, was that real. That has torched me since the first time I saw Hidden secrets of magic as a little one. Seeing Malone and Forte really got me into card magic. I read about scarne frying these gamblers with the aces when he was young, very cool. and on the center deal Mr. Wimhurst I really like your technique for the thing, I have been working hard on that, I also like using the Wimhurst poker deal because it is a good insentive to get good with the move. And at last the ramblings are complete

Noah Levine
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Postby Bob Gerdes » 02/11/02 01:46 PM

Mr. Ben: Thanks for your post! VERY interesting. I hope you didn't feel like you were "standing trial"...that was not my intention when I started this thread. I was simply curious about the deal. As I said, I loved the film and your work was a pleasure to watch.

Bob
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Postby Guest » 03/06/02 11:53 AM

Dear David,

Thanks for posting on the Forum. I hope you will try to make at least an occasional appearance here as your contributions will certainly keep the level of discussion high. :)
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