Perverse Magic

All beginners in magic should address their questions here.

Postby Gerald Deutsch » 05/20/03 08:19 AM

Perverse Discovery (my presentation of Peter Kane's Kabbala Aces)

I've always felt that planning magic and presentation of magic are as important, if not more important as technique. It's important to perform magic that fits the magician's style and, as I've noted, perverse magic is my style.

About 20 years ago, in the first issue of The Almanac Richard Kaufman published Peter Kane's Kabbala Aces. I changed the presentation to fit me (and changed some moves with Peter Marshall's help) to make this into a "Perverse Magic" routine.

Instead of finding the 4 aces I have 4 cards selected and have them returned to the deck and they are controlled to the top (Spectator 1's is on top, followed by Spectator 2's 3 and then 4).


1 I tell spectator 1 I'll find her card and double cut and then double lift and turn over spectator 2's card. Spectator 1 says it's not her card but spectator 2 says it's hers. I look confused. I turn the card(s) face down and put the top card (spectator 1's but they think it's spectator 2's) in my pocket.

2 I say I'll try again.

I run the top card and then the next and put both back on top. This has th effect of reversing the two 2 cards and avoids the need for a triple lift.
I then get a break under the top card, undercut half the deck from the bottom and
turn it face up and put it on top. I take the remaining deck under the break, turn it face up and put it back on the bottom. This sequence was Peter Marshall's idea and has the effect of setting the deck so that:

* Spectator 1's card is in my pocket
* Spectator 2's card is on top
* Spectator 3's card is reversed in the center
* Spectator 4's card is 2nd from the top

Again I double lift and show Spectator 4's card to spectator 1 and again she
denies it's her card. Spectator 4 says it's hers. Again I look confused.

3 I say "you want to see something weird?' and I turn the card(s) face down and put spectator 4's card (really spectator 2's face down on spectator 4?s left palm then move it to spectator 2's palm and turn it face up and it's now spectator 2's card. With that misdirection I palm the top card
(Spectator 4's) and pull spectator 4's card out of my pocket. "Isn't that weird?" I look confused.

4 Back to finding spectator 1's card. I ask what it was and then say I'll make it turn face up. I spread the deck but the face up card is not the
card named. I look at spectator 3 and she's nodding. It's her card. I shake m head in confusion.

5 "Wait a minute," I say to spectator 1, "I don't think your card is in the deck," I spread
the deck and show her it?s not and then take her card from my pocket and shake my head and say "I quit!"
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Postby Necromancer » 05/26/03 04:20 PM

Don't forget Carl Ballantine's entire act.
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Postby Brian Marks » 05/26/03 08:14 PM

Unfortunately it reads alot drier than when you perform it Jerry. People need to see you do some of this stuff to fully appreciate it.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 05/27/03 03:47 AM

---but whenever I do this stuff something goes wrong------

Carl Ballantine was one of my favorite performers but what he did wasn't really "Perverse Magic" because when things went wrong, they just went wrong and it was a riot but magic didn't take place, just comedy. (Like when he found out that the stage hands didn't load what he expected to produce).
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/01/03 03:48 PM

Ballantine's act was not Perverse Magic... Carl explained "what I did was to do things the way layment think they are done.. like the thread to raise the basket lid, with the punch line... 'how else?'"

You want a secret book I have told few about that is incredible for describing perverse magic?

"Comedy Magic" by George Blake. There is material in that book I have used for years and never tipped the source.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 06/12/03 07:12 PM

Roy Benson was one of my favorite magicians and I think he appreciated "Perverse Magic".

The only example I've seen him do was the sudden unexpected production of a red billiard ball while he was producing white balls. Benson looked in a book to see what went wrong.

Bruce Elliot gives another example of Benson's ideas of "Perverse Magic" in his book "Classic Secrets of Magic" (page 90) where he describes Benson's idea for an egg bag routine where the magician attemps to perform the classic version of this effect when something goes wrong and the bag becomes filled with eggs.

Many years ago I attended a lecture given by Senator Crandall and he explained his version of the "Six Card Repeat" (See Tarbell Vol 6 page 78) and as that was many years ago my memory is hazy but I believe he mentioned a Roy Benson routine which I either learned then or reinvented but at any rate I've been doing it for many years.

The effect is that I'm going to pass six cards through a plate and as I explain this I drop several cards without being aware of it but I still have six until once when I count I have only five and I look around at the cards on the floor and say "Oh I must have dropped one," and pick one up. Then when I count I have seven and I keep throwing one away and I still have seven and I get disgusted.

(If anyone is interested let me know and I'll send you the routine.)
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Postby Guest » 06/18/03 09:16 AM


Thank you for your contributions. I'm very interested in Benson's routine.

Is anybody writing a book on Roy Benson? I knew one of his students, but as far as I know, he kept nothing in writing.

How about Bobby Baxter? I've heard some great stories, and read a short biography written by Zolotow (I think). It's about time a book should be written about him.

Postby Pete Biro » 07/03/03 10:39 PM

Roy gave me a set of his lecture notes. Recently, on ebay, his props were all sold. I didn't find out about it until it was too late.

He, along with Jay Marshall and Carl Ballantine were my personal favorites.

Saw Ballantine walking to lunch the other day... he's still lookin' good.

He said, "I had a physical recently and the Doc told me to keep doing what I'm doing and I should live to be 80."

I said, "Doc, I'm already 83."
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 07/12/03 06:46 AM

Perverse Dinner Table Interlude

Much of my magic is done impromptu at a dinner table with new friends or at a business lunch.

(It's always important to know when it's appropriate to do magic in that setting, especially if it's a business lunch where the purpose is to do business. A good time for this effect is at the end when the check has been signed for and either you - or if you're lucky the guest has finished with the pen.)

"This looks like a rubber pen," I say and do the following:

1 Shake the pen loosely, holding it in the right hand showing it seems like rubber.

2 I take the pen in both hands and try to bend it more but it vanishes.

3 "I hate when that happens," I say as I start to look for the pen in my pockets.

4 I find the pen and shrug with confusion as I put the pen away if it's mine or give it back to my guest if it's his and apologize.

The routine is simple:

1 This is the old trick of holding the pen LOOSELY between the right thumb and first finger and moving the hand up and down and at the same time making a small circle with the tight hand clockwise toward the spectator.

2 Of course the pencil is lapped.

What I do is hold the pencil between my palm down hands which are together so no part of the pen is seen and with my fingers I roll the pen back to the tips of the fingers. I then let my hands come to rest at the edge of the table but since the pen is so far back, the rest of the hand is away from the edge. The pen is lapped.

I then pretend to "bend" the pen and become surprized when it's gone.

3 I believe Slydini taught me much of what I do to retrieve the pen from my lap. I described this to Harry Lorayne and it appears in the July 1988 issue of Apocalypse on page 1521 where I discuss "lapping without a table" under "Thighing".

(If anyone needs details let me know.)

4 Just two notes here:

* By using "Perverse Magic" in this setting the magician is not showing off - the magic just happens.

* By doing the magic when you're ready to leave you insure that (i) it will be remembered and, more important, (ii) it won't distract from the purpose of the meal (especially if it was a business meal).
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 10/02/03 04:19 AM

Perverse magic can be great in an impromptu situation.

My wife and I were vacationing in Salem Mass - witch city and we wandered into a "occult witch shop" that sold mysterious things like rings etc.

Well I always carry one of those squeakers (that you can get at most magic conventions) and, in front of the salesgirl, I touched a few rings and then "squeaked" one of them and I jumped back in fright. "What's that?" I asked her looking alarmed. She looked confused. I touched a few other rings and nothing happened and then touched the sqeaked ring and it squeaked again. Again I jumped back and said to my wife, "Let's get out of here!"

Then, as I left I smiled at the salesgirl to let her know I was not serious.

But the situation was "perverse" - it seemed to be happening out of my control.
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Postby Guest » 10/02/03 04:54 PM

Mr. Deutch:

This has been a nice thread you've supported, with a number of valuable tips and ideas floating around.

I agree with Mark Ennis, however, that the contemporary connotation of perverse lends an unsavory and ultimately confusing meaning to the concept of which you are championing. Popular use renders the word kind of creepy, in spite of your claim of its dictionary propriety.

And by the way, my Merriam Webster Online reveals the following:

1 a : turned away from what is right or good : CORRUPT b : IMPROPER, INCORRECT c : contrary to the evidence or the direction of the judge on a point of law <perverse verdict>
2 a : obstinate in opposing what is right, reasonable, or accepted : WRONGHEADED b : arising from or indicative of stubbornness or obstinacy
3 : marked by peevishness or petulance : CRANKY
synonym see CONTRARY
Although the prevalent humor of self-deprecation allows millions to buy "______ for the Complete Idiot" books , I venture few would frequent a bistro called "Fatso's" or a salon called "Grossly Bazaar." At minimum you're swimming against the name.

I suggest another handle, one without the attendant baggage, which would elegantly sum up the characteristics of your favored performing style.

--Randy Campbell

Postby Guest » 10/02/03 07:53 PM

Don't forget all the negative sexual connotations the word 'perverse' brings to mind in most folks... The Bouton brothers did an act early on called "Straight and Crooked Magic", where Harry would do traditional magic and his brother Pete, as a clown, did the 'perverse' stuff.

Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/04/03 05:41 PM

Originally posted by Asrah:
'perverse' brings to mind in most folks...
What would you call it when you know how to make some things happen, and sometimes what happens is not what you wanted or expected?

Suggesting "when queer things happen to gay people" is probably not going to fly as some folks need to take a sexual interpretation to words, and make such intercourse unsafe. ;)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby sleightly » 10/04/03 07:15 PM

Umm... meant to post this some time ago, but lost the thread...

I believe you guys are searching for the phrase "absurd magic."

Which, really, is what most magic is. Particularly when the "magic" happens of its own accord, in direct contrast (one might say in spite of) the intended actions of the performer...

Now that I've posted, the thread will likely die (they don't call me the "thread killer" for nothing), but I love to perform this type of magic, as it provides the most opportunity for character & conflict!

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/05/03 07:32 AM

Originally posted by Andrew J. Pinard:
...believe you guys are searching for the phrase "absurd magic."
One might interpret 'absurd' as relating to the resulting effects when the magic occurs as intended by the magician.

I suspect Gerry is looking at magic as events which while caused by the magician... do not occur in accordance with the will of the magician.

imagine magic as accomplished by invisible imps. the magician has these creatures doing what he wants, when he wants. Now imagine one or more imps who can't read their to-do lists. Or are dilligently doing their work... just reading the wrong list.

What would you call that?
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Postby sleightly » 10/05/03 09:51 AM

Actually Jonathan, you describe my intent with fair accuracy!

I refer to absurd as in the absurdist theatre of Samuel Beckett, Eugene Ionesco, Jean Genet, Harold Pinter. This notion of absurdity was originally expressed by the French philosopher Albert Camus. In his 'Myth of Sisyphus' (1942), Camus first defined the human situation as basically meaningless and absurd. The playwrights above explored this notion in their theatrical works. Their shared explorations all exibited a view that man is inhabiting a universe that operates without regard for his existence. Its meaning is indecipherable and his place within it is without purpose. He is bewildered, troubled and obscurely threatened. The plays often deal with characters struggling to find meaning through their existence and the rituals that they adopt to retain their "self."

In our world, the magician is the catalyst, the focal point from whence the action stems... The "imps" are those creatures which do the actual work (kind of like box-jumpers) but are occasionally resentful and express their displeasure through small acts of rebellion that, while contrary to the original intent, actually fulfill the dictate in an unexpected way (to the consternation of the performer).

The performer appears to be at the mercy of forces outside of his control, often exacerbated by the mistaken belief that he has supreme control. It is this act of hubris that necessitates the unfortunate situations he finds himself in. The "imps" conjured by the performer to exert his will often ultimately prove to be his downfall, a lesson that one can not operate alone and expect to retain control of his existence. Occasionally, with all the odds stacked against them, the magician succeeds and re-affirms the strength of the human spirit to transcend the impossibility. The question of success should always be in doubt, a major factor often too much dismissed by the contemporary performer.

The experiences of the character and the conflict of will versus situation (and occasional resolution in an unusual way) leads to the amusement, entertainment, and enrichment of the audience.

Presented in unexpected surroudings adds to the absurdity of the experience, and contributes enormously to the sensual pleasure that is derived from an unanticipated magical experience.

What do you think?

I should also thank Gerald for starting this thread and for selflessly contributing examples of his own work.

Your efforts are sincerely appreciated!

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 10/05/03 10:31 PM

Originally posted by Andrew J. Pinard:
...a view that man is inhabiting a universe that operates without regard for his existence.
Here we come to a question of perspective;

From the perspective of the magician the situation would involve a thwarting of expectations.

From the audience perspective they are attending a demonstration of absurd effects.

What Gerry is asking of the audience seems to be a suspension of disbelief that 'magic acts acording to the expectations of the magician' where this belief is replaced by a sense that 'the magician is somehow able to manage some degree of comfort in situations where magic is action out of sync with expectations'. This 'out of sync' seems a good candidate for the label 'perverse'. This seems appropriate to me in that there are clearly stated expectations, even in the context of the magic routines.

I feel that the results of disorganized imps are perverse, while the world where imps get disorganized is absurd.

My semantics. What are your thoughts?
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 10/25/03 06:30 AM

Perverse Bill Tear

I've used Jim Ryan's Bill Tear (see Apocalypse page 175) for many years and found it to be very entertaining for small groups both at meetings and in doing walk around magic. The way I present it is not the way a bill tear is normally presented - "watch me tear your bill and restore it". I tear it in disgust.

I use a half of a stage bill folded in quarters with the black side out (I think it was Richard Kaufman that once told me that Derek Dingle suggested using a half bill which makes it easier to tear). The folded half bill is in my wallet in a compartment and I put it into right finger palm position as I seem to be looking for a $20 bill and then I ask to borrow a $20 bill. (I find $20 the best - it's no big deal with a $1 and not many people have $100). When I get the $20 I lay it over the finger palmed half bill black side down and put my wallet away.

I explain that I just learned a new trick with a $20 bill but I'm not sure about it. I pick up the $20 and the the half bill with my left thumb below and left fingers above and my right thumb then slides the half bill to the lower right corner of the $20.

I fold the bill longways twice and then I pause and try to remember what to do next. I'm thinking, I shake my head, I'm really trying to remember. I then fold the $20 down so that it's now the same size as the folded half stage bill which is behind it. Again I pretend to be thinking about what to do next.

My right thumb then slides the stage bill to the right while my left fingers takes the $20 in finger palm position and the thumb and first fingers of both hands grip the folded half stage bill and it is immediately torn into pieces and thrown away as I say, "I'm sorry. I just don't remember."

Both hands go into my pockets as I apologize and then, after a few minutes I reach into my wallet and give back another $20 that had been folded the same way and then opened.

(I'm not telling them it's the same bill. I say nothing. I'm just giving them a $20 bill in return for what they gave me but you'd be surprized at how many times the fact that there are fold marks in the bill makes them think it's the same bill.)

(I know that above on this thread I said that Ballantine didn't do perverse magic because, while it was great entertainment when things went wrong, there was no magic. Here, there is magic - a bill switch under their noses.)
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Postby Michael Jay » 10/27/03 09:43 AM

I LIKE it!! :D Good stuff, Mr. Deutsch. Problem that exists now, though, is the colored 20 dollar bills. They are becoming more prevalent, at this point. Still, soon enough, they will be the rule rather than the exception. Any ideas of how to deal with it? Also, will the coloration effect this, even when using two colored bills?

As for the debate on "perverse" as a moniker for this kind of presentation, I kinda like the thought of "perverse" magic. I have gleaned a few other words that may work (countervailing, recalcitrant or oppugnant), but perverse fits the bill!

Thank you for taking the time to work through this thread. I've been watching it for a while and wanted to tell you how much I appreciate the work that you are putting in.

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Postby Pete Biro » 10/27/03 10:49 AM

Scan the new bills and print your own piece to do the above routine.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 10/28/03 03:03 AM

Perverse Bill Tear - New $20

In answer to the comments about the new $20 (which I haven't seen yet):

1 As far as the stage bill is concerned - it doesn't matter - it's really never seen. It's behind the borrowed bill until the moment it's torn and at that time it's covered with my fingers. As a matter of fact, I want the stage bill to look unlike the real bill so that, at the end, when pieces are discovered on the floor, they KNOW that a bill switch took place.

(I've even used a piece of newspaper in a pinch.)

2 The only thing that must be considered is the return of the bill.

I mentioned that I give them back my own bill which had been folded and unfolded so they think it's their bill. I could, of course give them back their bill (which is folded in eighths and in my left trouser pocket) but for perverse magic it's important to avoid the attitude "Here's your bill - look how good I am".

My attitude with this trick is to shake my head in failure and just give them a bill (which I let them think is theirs).

Thinking about this now I guess I could have some of my bills folded in half and either in my left trouser pocket or, if I'm wearing a jacket, in the inside breast pocket. At the end of the trick I could look for money in my right trouser pocket, not find any, then reach into my left pocket, unfold their bill from eighths to half and come up with it together with my bills and hand them what appears to be one of mine but is, of course, really theirs (and if my bills are in my inside jacket pocket, it's a simple matter to finger palm their bill, reach into my inside jacket pocket with it, unfold it from eights to half and bring it out with my bills.)
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Postby Michael Jay » 10/28/03 08:44 AM

Personally, I like the idea of taking it out of the wallet, with the folds suggesting that it is their bill, much more. I really believe that adds a psychological twist to this effect that goes beyond simply removing it from a pocket and hitting them with a hammer, so to speak.

After thought, you only need to carry one regular bill and one colored bill in your wallet, with the folds, and use whichever one that they had initially given you (plain or colored). Then, of course, you do have the replacement for the bill in your wallet, as if it was colored, you'll replace the colored for colored. Okay, I'm rambling, but I hope you take the point.

I like the original handling the best.

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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 11/23/03 07:20 PM

The Pen Coin Routine

At the beginning of this thread, in defining "Perverse Magic" I gave five forms. For the fifth form I said:

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")

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.

I call this "Whimsical Perverse Magic" because it's more "whimsical" than "perverse" in that the magic doesn't happen against the performer but seems to appear to be magic to the spectators but something ordinary to the magician.

(I thought of starting a new thread called "Whimsical Magic' but I'm having enough trouble satisfying people with the title "Perverse Magic" so I'll just keep this thread.)

As I noted, much here depends on the acting of the magician to fit the part of an ordinary person - not a person with magical powers as is the usual case for magic performances. Other examples of this type of magic would be The Invisible Deck or my Invisible Card (Apocalypse January 1993). This Pen Coin Routine is another example.

The effect basically is that I approach a receptionist or a cashier in a restaurant and curiously pick up their pen and say with surprise, "There's a quarter in here." And I pull out a quarter. I give back the pen and look at the quarter, take the pen again and push the quarter back into it. Again I take the quarter from the pen and again put it back into the pen and then give back the pen. Finally, I take the pen pull off the cap, shake the cap and out falls the quarter. I give back the pen and say, "I guess I can keep the quarter since I found it."

The routine is as follows:

1 A quarter is classic palmed in the right hand. The pen is taken in the left hand with the cap in the palm and the bottom in the face down fist pointing to the right. The right hand fist runs along the pen and produces the quarter.

2 As the pen is returned with the left hand the right hand classic palms the quarter. There is good misdirection for the palm here.

3 As a sort of "second thought", the quarter seems to be placed into the left hand, but kept in the classic palm in the right hand as that hand takes back the pen pushes the pen into the left hand - (which apparently has the quarter) putting the quarter back into the pen.

4 The pen is now held in the right hand at the end between the thumb and forefinger pointing down - sort of just hanging. (The quarter is classic palmed in that hand).

As the left hand comes up to take the pen at the other end the index finger of the left hand momentarily touches the pinky of the right hand and the coin is released from the right classic palm and falls into the left finger palm. Immediately the left hand closes around the pen, draws it into a horizontal position and moves to the left pulling the quarter from the pen.

5 The quarter is in the left hand, the pen in the right. The left hand closes into a fist, the fingers up. The left hand turns a bit to the right and the quarter is worked into a Han Pin Chen position (so that it can fall from the left fist through the space between the left palm and closed left little finger). The right hand with the pen makes a circle around the left hand going around the fist and when it gets to "6 O'clock" the quarter is allowed to leave the left hand and fall into the right where it is caught in the right fingers as the right hand pushes the pen into the space where the quarter came out of the left fist. The left hand is opened to show the quarter has gone back into the pen.

Again give the pen back as the quarter is taken into classic palm in the right hand.

6 Finally, take back the pen once more, pull off the cap and hold it in the right hand between the thumb and forefinger (opening face down) and shake it, allowing the quarter to fall from the palm to the table below. "I guess I can keep the quarter since I found it." (I don't know whose idea it was to shake to quarter from the pen cap but it's a perfect ending for this routine.)

This routine always leaves the spectators laughing and takes only maybe a minute
(the way I work) or two. It fits my style.

(I began to develop this routine with Slydini in July of 1976 while he was trying to
get me to perform his "One Coin Routine" and I kept insisting that as wonderful as
that routine was it just didn't fit my personality.)
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Postby Guest » 11/25/03 09:16 PM

Wonderful stuff, all of it, Gerald.

I especially like the ambitious card with double-backers. Very, very clever -- and logical, in a perverse sort of way.

And, speaking of perverse, who cares what anyone calls it, just so long as it is entertaining (which all of this is!).

After all, if your cat has kittens in your oven, you don't call them "biscuits"!

Peter Marucci

Postby Guest » 11/26/03 11:52 AM

Marvelous thread, Gerald! Thanks for your hard work and willingness to share your wonderful ideas!

One version of my kid show is built around the "sprite who lives in my wand." He does all of the magic, I assert, and the magician really doesn't know how to do anything. Sometimes the sprite will not do the trick until the kids shout "please" to him. Sometimes he suggests other climax ideas in mid-trick. Sometimes he deliberately messes up the trick until the kids shout loud enough. This theme runs through the entire show.

Just my kid version of your "perverse magic". I have done this type of show on and off for several years. You have given me some more ideas for it here.

Michael Jay and I have similar ideas on this type of work, probably built around our reading of Henning Nelms' book, Magic and Showmanship: A Handbook for Conjurers", in which he advocates, and illustrates with suggested routines, such perverse "imp-driven" magic.

Thanks again for your excellent and detailed routines, and your take on doing perverse magic for adults.



Postby Gerald Deutsch » 12/06/03 02:06 PM


As great Perverse magic, I used to think of doing the Card Sword - having a card selected and telling the audience I would throw the deck into the air and stab their card. Then, when I thrust the sword at the falling cards all the cards are impaled on the sword EXCEPT the selected card. I would pick up the selected card and say "Damn! Missed." Of course this can't be done. (Or the card on the ceiling where all the cards EXCEPT the selected card stick to the ceiling.)

Inversion - by James Lewis which is on page 263 of "The Magic of Michael Ammar" is the next best thing.


The effect is that a card is selected and put into the deck face up but left protruding for half its length. The performer says he will make the card turn face down but instead the card stays as it is and the deck VISABLY turns face up. "Damn - it didn't work!" says the magician.


1 To begin, the bottom card of the deck is reversed and face up without the audience being aware.

2 A the deck is spread and a card is selected.

3 It's now necessary to turn the deck over so that it is face up with the card at the top (the former bottom card) the only card face down.

The way I do this is to have the deck (which is face down with the bottom card face up) in my left hand.

I point to the spectator (saying something like, "Look at the card") with that hand (which turns the hand palm down) and with my hand palm down, the deck is now face up (except for the former bottom card), telling the spectator to remember that card.

4 I take back the selected card and turn it face up and inset it in what appears to be the face down deck but protruding for abut half its length from the left corner of the pack. (That is, it's not inserted directly from the front but halfway between the front and the left side - the left corner).

5 I tell the spectators to watch as I will make the card turn face down and then, as they are watching, I perform the one hand top card palm, palming off the top face down card.

It's a startling revelation - a visible change of a face down deck to a face up deck.

"Damn! The whole deck turned face up!!!"

6 To "clean up", I turn my right hand with the palmed card face up while at the same time I spread the cards so that the spread cards immediately cover the palmed card which is deposited under the deck.

Great perverse magic.
Gerald Deutsch
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 12/23/03 06:05 PM

The Gizinta Coins

This is another quick routine that falls into the category of "Whimsical Perverse Magic.

I recently was in a hospital waiting room with a bunch of children and I did some coin tricks to keep them busy. One routine was what I call "The Gizinta Coins".

The routine goes like this:

* A borrow or use my quarter and I pretend to see a dime inside.

* I pull the dime out of the quarter - as if that's the most natural thing in the world.

* I put the dime back into the quarter - and them pull it out again.

* I explain that it's even possible but a little harder to put a quarter into the dime and I do.

* Then I try to get the quarter out of the dime but the dime disappears. I look confused but shrug my shoulders and if I borrowed the quarter I reach into my pocket, pull out a handful of change, select a quarter and give it back.

It's simple and just requires a classic palm of a dime in the right hand. Take the
quarter in the right hand between the thumb and index finger so the dime isn't seen
(Kaps subtlety) . The left hand takes the quarter in the same way (thumb and index
finger) and then the right hand lets the dime fall to its fingers.

The hands come together and the dime goes in front of the quarter and the hands
separate as if you were tearing the quarter and you show the dime.

The dime is again classic palmed in the right hand as the extended index finger of
that hand points to a position on the quarter where the dime came out. Then bring
the fingers of the right hand together as if it is holding the dime there and the left
hand puts the quarter at the right finger tips. The left palm then slaps the quarter
and the right hand shows the quarter at the fingertips, the dime in classic palm
being concealed by the Kaps subtlety.

Again take the dime from the quarter.

Toss both coins into the right palm and take the dime in the left hand and show it
while the right hand palms the quarter. Explain you can even put the quarter into
the dime and repeat the moves above to show you did.

Take the dime into the right hand and put that hand into your right trouser pocket
getting rid of the palmed quarter but as an afterthought remove your right hand
with the dime on its palm but as the hand starts to come out of the pocket the dime
is let to drop back in.

Say you have to get the quarter out of the dime and try and then act surprised when
the dime vanishes.
Gerald Deutsch
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 01/07/04 01:35 PM

The All Backs Routine


This is a routine is a great example of " Perverse Magic".

It is credited to Dai Vernon and was published in "Hugard's Magic Monthly" in June 1949 and it appears on page 459 of "Expert Card Technique". I use Jerry Mentzer's opening that appears in "Card Cavalcade Four" and finally, it was Jonathan Townsend that gave me the suggestion of using the one hand top palm to end the routine as a visible change of a back to a face. (Jonathan suggested this to me in June of 1985. It is used in "Inversion" which I found in Mike Ammar's book published, I believe in 1991.) (Also see my thoughts on Inversion above.)

Effect and Patter

I do the routine when someone hands me a deck of cards and in front of a group of people, asks me to do a trick. The reason is that this way they know it's not my own double back deck.

I riffle the deck and ask a spectator to say "stop" and when she does I lift the right hand portion to show the face of the bottom card of the top half to the spectator. Her bewildered look puzzles me and I curiously turn the packet to face me and I'm surprised to see a back instead of the face. I look through the deck and see only backs.

I say that this must be one of those trick decks you by in a magic store as I keep showing backs. Then I remark that I read that by squeezing the deck you can get the faces and I do squeeze the deck and I'm surprised when the top back card visibly changes to a face card.

The Routine

1 When handed a deck I play with it and while talking to the group I set up the deck as follows:

* I palm the top card in my right

* I push the next card to the right with my left thumb and with my right thumb beneath it I turn it face up but before the face can be seen I cover it with my right hand releasing the palmed card and square the two as one.

* I openly transfer the card(s) to the bottom

* I repeat the steps above with the next 2 cards but instead of transferring them to the bottom, I riffle the pack and insert the card(s) into the center and as I push it in with my right fingers, I lift up and hold a break under those cards which is transferred to my left little finger.

So at this point there is a face up card on the bottom and another as the
bottom card of the top packet separated from the bottom by a break.

2 I ask a spectator to say "Stop" as I riffle the cards with my left thumb and when she does I lift the top packet for her to see the card. She sees a back and when I notice the peculiar look on her face I look confused and turn the top packet to myself to see what she was seeing. I see a back.

Then I put my left thumb under the lower packet and it turns over showing a back on the bottom.

I turn my left hand palm down showing the back that was the top of the lower packet. And then palm up again showing the back of the bottom card.

I put both packets together holding a break between them.

The position is the top packet is face down with a face up card on the bottom and the bottom packet is face up with a face down card on the bottom.

3 Now I spread the cards of the top packet showing backs being careful not to go to the break or a face will show.

I close the spread keeping the break which I pick up with my right thumb in the rear.

I then outjog the entire top packet. I can now release the break.

I bring my right fingers to the front of the deck, thumb on top and fingers below and turn my hand face down turning the deck over. There is still an outjog of the top portion and an injog of the bottom. I get a break between the two by pressing down on the top injogged card.

Again I spread, showing now the backs of the bottom half but the audience thinks that I've showed backs on both sides of the deck.

4 It's important to remember that I'm not trying to prove anything. I know and I assume the audience knows that the deck has only backs so I start talking about how magic shops sell these and while I'm saying this I'm just casually showing the cards, again, not to prove anything.

5 Again I repeat what I did in step 2. I break at the break and show backs at the bottom of the top packet and then my left thumb goes under the lower packet and turns it (now face down with a face up card on the bottom) then palm down to show another back then palm up again.

Both packets are now face down with a face up card on the bottom.

6 I put the packets together but the top packet is sidejogged about half the width of the deck.

With the fingers of my left hand I push the bottom card (face up card) to the right. I then take all the cards of the bottom packet EXCEPT the sidejogged card in my left thumb and fingers and cut it to the top.

There is now a face down deck with 2 face up cards on the bottom.

7 The Hindu Shuffle is now used to show backs (again, not to prove backs but as a casual way of showing the cards as you explain how magic shops sell trick cards).

A few packets are pulled off the top in the classic Hindu Shuffle and periodically the right hand packet is lifted to show a back on the bottom (there are 2).

Then the left thumb pulls the top card of the right hand packet onto the left packet. The right hand turns palm up showing a back on the bottom of it's packet and the left hand pulls that card to the top of the left hand packet. The right hand again turns palm down and the right hand again pull the top card to the top of the left hand packet.

8 `Put the packets together and hold a break. Undercut half of the bottom portion and bring it to the top.

Cut to the break and turn the right hand face up showing a back and put this portion on the bottom.

As I square up I get a break over the 2nd card from the bottom.

9 Now I spread the cards from left hand to right showing all backs but I take care not to let the bottom two cards (held together with a break) spread.

When I get to the last tow cards (held as one) it is alone in my left hand, the rest of the deck having been spread to my right. I put my index finger on the bottom and press which causes the card to buckle and I hold the card between my left thumb on the left and my left fingers on the right. I release my thumb and the card(s) "flips" over showing what appears to be a double back card.

Immediately I put the right hand cards on top (just in case the 2 cards start to spread).

10 I then lift the pack so it is perpendicular to the floor (vertical) and spread the cards. To me I see the bottom face down card but the spectators see the backs. (Be careful that they don't see the top card or they will see the face.

11 I now hold the deck (face up with a face down card on top) in my right hand for the one hand card palm.

I explain that I read that by squeezing the deck you can get the faces. I then perform the one hand top palm and it's a VISABLE change of a back to a face.

To end and clean up I grab the deck in my left hand as my right hand with the palmed card turns palm up as it goes under the deck and adds the palmed card to the back of the spread deck.

This might be considered "Whimsical Perverse Magic" because the magician and the spectators are on a different plane as to what happens. The magician assumes he has been given a trick deck but the audience (or at least the host) knows better.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 02/01/04 11:18 AM

Rocks in Shoe

This is a quick stunt that falls into the category of "Whimsical Perverse Magic". It's done outdoors, walking in a field or the woods and is very amusing. And like most "Perverse Magic", takes some acting.

The effect is that you give out a cry of pain and look at your right foot as if that's the cause of your pain. You pull your shoe off with your left and dump out a rock the size of a strawberry. The right hand then reaches into the shoe and pulls out another rock, this one the length of a playing card.

The basic effect is described in Martin Gardner's "Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic" and by Paul Harris in "Supermagic". Bob McAlister suggested the production of the second large rock to me.

It's done as follows.

1 Wear loafers - or a shoe that can be easily removed with the opposite hand (that is - here, the left hand will remove the right shoe) by pulling it off from the bottom.

2 Beforehand have the smaller rock in the shoe.

3 Palm the large rock in your right hand.

4 Pull off the shoe and let the rock fall

5 Reach into the shoe with the right hand (and the palmed rock) and produce the large rock.

6 Throw the rock to the ground, replace the shoe and shake your head as you limp along.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 02/23/04 09:12 AM

Originally posted by Gerald Deutsch:
...Perverse Magic is magic that happens by itself against what the magician wants to happen. ...
Would the Fred Kaps Chinese Coin trick, and perhaps the 11 bill trick fit into this catagory?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 03/07/04 11:20 AM

The Card on the Ceiling

My routine for the Card on the Ceiling is another example of Perverse Magic.

It's a very dramatic effect and if the ceiling is high enough the card will remain there for a long time. I don't like to put a rubber band around the deck as I like the deck to scatter when the cards are thrown to the ceiling. Also, instead of using wax, I like to use scotch tape as suggested by Bruce Elliott in "Classic Secrets of Magic".

For the Perverse aspects of my routine, I combine this with a four card discovery and this is the climax. Now a discovery of multiple selected cards can, I feel, be tedious and boring and I think this routine solves that problem.

The effect is that the magician has a card selected and tries to find it (say the four of diamonds) but finds another card of the same value (the four of clubs). He tries again and finds another card of that value but a different suit (the four of hearts) and then another (the four of spades) and then, finally in disgust he throws the deck at the ceiling and to everyone's amazement including the magician the selected card sticks.


For the routine I won't go into details of the card revelations as I'm sure you all have your own favorite ones but what I use would be (i) a fancy cut, (ii) and impromptu rising card and (iii) letting the spectator spell the selected card.

Some additional points:

1 Again, as with all Perverse Magic, it's happening against me and I'm not saying how great I am.

2 When finding the first wrong card (here the four of clubs) it should be of a different color from the selected card. If the audience sees a four of hearts they may think that the selected card was the four of hearts and not the four of diamonds. By using a different color there is no doubt.

3 When I "miss" the first time I say "Oh well, at least it's a four . Let me try again--"

4 On the last of the errors, whole the spectator has the deck and is spelling the card, I have time to secure the loop of scotch tape around my middle finger.

5 Of course the deck is set up with the four of a kind on top and I do force the card to go on the ceiling but there's one other thing I must say. It's possible that the toss may fail and the card may not stick and an out is needed so I have a duplicate of the selected card in my shoe.

If I do miss (and that's rare) I walk over to make sure the real selection is not visible and if it is I pick it up as I gather the cards. Then I "feel something funny" in my shoe, I shake my foot and with my hands clearly empty I remove my shoe to show the "selected" card and scratch my head, puzzled as to how it gat there.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 04/02/04 02:53 PM

The Sponge Ball - Cup Routine

The sponge ball trick is a classic and has many opportunities for perverse magic.

I have always felt that a major weakness in the usual routine is that the climax comes at the beginning of the effect. The spectator is startled when a second ball pops out of her (it's usually a woman) hand. But later, when three balls instead of two appears she's again surprised but less so and so on as the effect progresses. And towards the end of the routine the spectator is apt to be conscious of the number of sponges put into her hand.

This routine is a combination from the routines of Slydini, Roy Benson, and Dr. Jaks and I think solves the above problem - and also has elements of perverse magic.

(Note that the Dr Jaks ending is startling, is perverse magic and removes any idea the spectator may have about loading sponges in her hand.


The routine is done seated with the audience facing the performer.

1 A cup (or bowl) is shown empty and placed on the table.

2 A bagless purse frame is shown and a sponge ball is produced from it.

3 The ball vanishes and is shown under the cup.

4 That ball is covered by the cup and another ball is produced from the purse frame.

5 That ball is vanished and 2 balls are shown under the cup.

6 The magician puts one ball in his left hand and puts a pen in his left hand and a second ball is taken in his right hand which takes the other end of the pen.

The magician shows that the ball is no longer in the left hand and there are now 2 balls in the right hand - one ball having gone through the pen.

7 This is repeated but although there is no ball in the left hand, there is only one in the right hand. The magician looks puzzled and then looks under the cup and finds the missing ball. He scratches his head in confusion.

8 The magician tells the spectator that her hand will be the cup. On ball is given to the spectator and the magician takes the other. The magician's ball vanishes and the spectator has 2.

9 The spectator is given both balls and the magician looks in the purse for another. He finds only a tissue. He looks in his pocket but still can't find another. Finally, he asks the spectator to open her hand and she finds she has 3.

10 The spectator is asked to pick up 2 and the magician takes 1. The magician vanishes his ball and tells the spectator to open her hand and when she does a dozen or so balls fall out much to the surprise of the spectator and the magician.


On the table

Pen - (used as a wand)

On lap

2 sponges
a tissue

Right jacket pocket

12 sponges

Rear right pocket

Purse frame

Right palm



The numbers below correspond to the numbers above under "Effect"

1 As the cup is turned mouth down the palmed sponge is loaded underneath.

2 The technique of producing sponges from a purse frame is described in detail in The Best of Slydini and More in the chapter "The Purse Frame".

3 Use a standard natural pass vanish. Use the pen as a wand by holding it in the right hand (which helps cover what might be an unnatural looking right hand with the palmed sponge).

What I like to do is pretend to put the sponge in the left hand but retain it in the right and then, as my right hand reaches for the pen, the right hand moves in an arc passing over the lap and the sponge is lapped.

(See "Slydini Kills Time" on page 25 of Apocalypse.)

8,9,10 It is important to condition the spectator to open her hand at just the right second because at the end the magician will be releasing sponges that he has palmed in his hand at the exact second that the spectator opens hers so as to give the illusion that the sponges really coming from the magician's hand are coming from the spectator's.

Tell the spectator that she must open her hand whenever the pen touches her hand at the count of 3. Practice with her a few times.

9 The 12 sponges that are in the right jacket pocket are palmed as the magician pretends to look for the missing sponge.

10 This uses Dr. Jaks' "Multiball". It is performed as follows:

Pick up one ball with the left hand.

Tell spectator to pick up 2 (She KNOWS she has 2)

Perform Slydini's Revolve Vanish (The Best of Slydini and More page 41)

Tap left hand with pen showing the sponge in left hand has vanished.

Tap spectator's hand with pen and count to 3. At 3 the spectator will open her hand and so does magician and 12 sponges pour all over the table.

The magician looks confused and upset as he cleans up the mess.
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Postby Pete Biro » 04/09/04 05:35 PM

You are doing too much and the finish is in the middle.

Try to find Johnny Thompson's routine. It is pretty much the Benson Bowl routine, but when the spectator opens hand and find TWO and does the standard "SCREAM" -- you have incredible misdirection (in Johnny's routine) to LOAD the bowl.

One scream is enough, then the surprise final load is perfect to finish.

At the beginning I like to place one ball on the table and use the "toss vanish" from the Rezvani Tomato Trick (the ball is stolen out as you toss the bowl over it -- similar to vanish of a paper ball under hat from Charlie Miller).

Then vanish the first ball ala Benson and find it under bowl. Bring out or produce second ball and vanish and find under bowl. You then do the "which ball do you want?" with spekie giving her one (2) and put your one ball in pocket (stealing load) and load bowl as she opens hand and discovers two... this is Johnny's and is in his lecture.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 04/10/04 06:47 PM

Sorry Pete - I disagree.

When a woman opens her hand and 12 sponges jump out when she thinks she has 2 (that she picked up herself) that is a CLIMAX (and it's stronger than any load under the cup).

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 04/12/04 04:52 PM

It seems reasonable that a response from a volunteer is a better cue than a display on the table.

Also suggests something about "a bird by the hand being worth more than a load under the bowl". :D
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 05/01/04 04:03 AM

Cutting The Aces

Cutting the Aces is a show of skill. How can this be presented as "Perverse Magic"?

What I do is remove the aces from the deck and then insert them in different parts and shuffle the deck and say I will cut to the four aces.

The first cut reveals a five of clubs. I say I will try again and the second cut reveals the five of hearts. Frustrated, I try again and cut the five of spades and finally a fancy cut reveals the five of diamonds and with disgust I say "I quit!"


This plot of finding the wrong card and then finding the mates of that card is one I use often. (See Card on Ceiling above.) I keep acting as if I missed but the audience sees some magic happening and I'm apparently not aware of it. Perverse Magic.


The handling is simple.

I want to use a spot card as the "wrong card".

As I pick up the deck to find the 4 aces, I note the top card. If it's a spot card good - if not I cut a spot card to the top.

I then go thru the deck face up looking for the four aces and as I come to the other spot cards matching the one on top I cut them to the top as well.

(Note that you don't want to hold up getting the aces looking for the spot cards but the fact that the first is already on top helps. Also, I pass over the first ace just in case I have to come back to look for one of the spot card.)

So the four aces are on the table and 4 spot cards of the same value are on top.


* I insert the four aces in different parts of the face down deck. Really! (And this will fool magicians!)

* I jog shuffle the deck, adding one card to the top.

* I show no ace on top (an indifferent card shuffled there) and no ace on the bottom. (Note: Check to be sure no ace is on top or bottom.) and then I double cut the indifferent card to the bottom and show I cut to one of the spot cards. I apologized and ask to try again.

* I cut the deck, hold a break and double cut the original top back to the top and turn over the second of the spot cards.

I don't notice the coincidence (they will) and say I will try again, this time I will cut an ace to the bottom.

* I double cut the 3rd spot card to the bottom turn over the deck and again, oblivious to the coincidence appear to be frustrated.

* For the final cut, I do a fancy cut.

I hold the deck in my right hand between my thumb and second finger and with my left thumb I lift up about half of the deck and swivel it to the left, the upper packet pivoting on my right second finger. I let that upper packet fall into my left hand and drop the right hand lower packet on top of it but as it does my left thumb goes between. Immediately the left thumb moves to the left taking the bottom card of that upper portion and then pressing on its face so it falls face up on top of the face down deck.

* "I quit!"

Great Perverse Magic. I've cut four of a kind and instead of being cocky about it
I'm upset.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 06/01/04 02:27 AM

The Thumb Tie

This is a classic effect where the magician has his thumbs tied and repeatedly shows he can use his hands - that even though the thumbs are tied he constantly gets free.

To me, (like with the sponge balls) after the first revelation the surprise is gone and the effect becomes boring and tiresome. (So many magicians don't know when to stop.)

I recently saw Alan (Ace) Greenberg do his routine and I loved it. It was short and a good example of "Perverse Magic". He didn't do it to show how good it was - he just nonchalantly entered another world where his hands were free.

Alan asked a spectator to tie his thumbs together TIGHT and he would do a good effect. The spectator did, Then Alan made a look of pain. "You tied it too tight!" he said as he reached for a scissor with what everyone thought was his tied hands, gave the scissor to the spectator and told him to cut the string from his now bound again hands.

A good laugh - good Perverse Magic!

(By the way, Alan came up with a great revolutionary way to do this. I hope he publishes this someday.)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 06/01/04 09:20 AM

Originally posted by Gerald Deutsch:
... he just nonchalantly entered another world where his hands were free.
Does perverse magic border on cartoon logic?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time
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Postby Michael Baker » 06/21/04 10:39 AM

Wonderful concepts undiluted by semantics are apparently hard to find. Bravo, Gerald Deutsch for your contributions! This is a brilliant thread exemplifying the fact that magic is bigger than any of us. Those who are leaving all their rubber on the pavement trying to get to the point are probably threatened by this.
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Postby Gerald Deutsch » 07/01/04 02:16 AM

Perverse Three Card Monte


1 For one thing I've always felt that the "Three Card Monte" routine (and many routines done today) need a strong finish.

I think this routine has that finish.

2 One of the charms about "Perverse Magic" is that the magician is not saying
"Look how good I am." But what happens just happens. And sometimes what happens has happened to the magician before. David Copperfield has used "Perverse Magic" and I recall his saying several times, "I hate when that happens."

3 Often a spectator will ask about "Three Card Monte" and when she does the magician should be prepared to do something to demonstrate what it is. This short routine should do that - and entertain as well.

4 There has been much written about "Three Card Monte". One can look up Erdnase, Vernon in FURTHER INNER SECRETS OF CARD MAGIC, Lewis Ganson in THE THREE CARD MONTE AS ENTERTAINMENT, Ken Krenzel and Sol Stone in APOCALYPSE etc.

5 When I do this routine I explain that it's important to do this slowly and one of my problems is that I'm too fast. I say that I try but I always forget and do things too fast. This makes my ending Perverse - I did it but I didn't mean to.

(It's true - I do work fast - sometimes too fast. When I spent time with Slydini he kept telling me to slow down!)

The Climax

The climax of the routine is finding the signed "winning card" in my pocket.

I don't do this as a show of skill but, instead, when I show the "winning card" is not
on the table where I expect it to be I realize that I again "forgot myself" and
worked too fast and I did the "switch out" move.


1 I use two red tens and the Ace of Spades for the routine and the Ace of Spades is the "winning card" because there can only be one card that looks like the Ace of Spades. The two red tens are contrasting cards.

I run through the deck and pull out these cards and bring them to the top of the deck. I also secretly bring a black ten to the top. I arrange it so that the black ten is next to the last of this packet - that is, third card from the top.

2 I turn each of the first two of these cards face up and then deal it face up to the table. Then I double lift showing either a red ten or the ace - depending on the order that I found the cards (with the ten of spades face up below this).

I tilt the deck towards myself and deal the showing card to the table and put the deck face up in the table.

The face up black ten is face up on the top of the face up deck (against the table) .

3 I do a very brief Monte routine emphasizing that it's necessary to do all moves very slowly and I say that I tend to do moves fast and I say I'll try to go slow here.

I do the regular "Monte move" twice and then I straighten out the bent cards and do the Trevor Lewis "Monte move" (see Apocalypse June 1978 page 67 and Krenzel "Monte Plus Plus" Apocalypse July 1978 page 81) only once.

4 Finally I tell them that sometimes the "winning card" can be marked and I pick up the deck and put the Ace of Spades face up on top (over the face up Ten of Spades) and have a spectator initial the Ace of Spades. This is a logical reason for putting the Ace on top of the deck.

I then double lift the two cards (Ace and black ten) turning them face down and I deal the top (black ten) to the table.

5 I tell the spectator to turn the red tens face down and push them forward.

While they are doing that I:

* palm off the Ace of Spades

* put the deck to the table

* put BOTH HANDS in the trouser pockets leaving the Ace of Spades

(I think I previously mentioned that Fred Braue suggested putting both hands in trouser pockets to disarm spectators.)

6 Very slowly I move the three cards on the table around and ask the spectator to put her finger on the Ace of Spades. She will probably put her finger on the face down black ten.

7 I look disappointed saying, "Darn - I did a fast move again! I didn't mean to - I did the 'switch out'. Look," I say shaking my head like I didn't mean to do it, "A ten," turning over a red ten, "a ten", the other red ten "and a ten" showing the black ten under the spectator's hand and then very slowly pulling the signed Ace of Spades from my pocket as I shake my head in disgust.
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