One of the tricks that I do is my version of the Invisible Deck. It’s really just a card prediction and not really an Invisible Deck, but that was my starting point, so I call it that. I’m always looking for new methods that work better and came across the trick Portent.
Here’s the blurb for the trick:
One of the hits of Canadian Alain Choquette’s popular stage act!
The magician predicts ahead of time the exact identity of a card freely chosen by a spectator not a stooge.
The prediction is sealed in an envelope, which was hanging above the heads of the audience! No sleight-of-hand, no magicians’ choices, no forces, no manipulation, no switches, no electronics. The magician touches neither the deck, nor the envelope. This is recommended only to stage & cabaret performer.
This trick hasn’t been made for a long time, but you can still find them for about $75. I found the instruction booklet for $5 and bought that.
I’m glad I just bought the booklet, as there’s a HUGE condition missing from the trick. You need a second person to do it, which 100% makes it a trick that won’t work for me. I’m glad I just have $5 into this trick and not $75. If you’ve got a second person, and working in a more formal venue, it not a bad method.
This trick is one of the reasons I’m weary of any trick that’s advertised basically as a list of what it’s not. When I see that, frequently there’s a play on words with the things on the list or it’s a very impractical method.
If you read this blog, you’ve noticed I reference Gary Oulette every now and then. His Fulminations column in Genii Magazine when I was a teenager had many things that stuck with me, like always producing the card a second time from your wallet.
He put out a manuscript called In a Puff of Smoke which had his system for creating smoke from the hands. This was supposedly used by David Copperfield in the 1990’s in this torn and restored baseball card.
I finally came across the one of the manuscripts at a reasonable price. It’s not a trick I’ll ever do, especially in the over 30 years since he put it out the technology for making smoke has greatly improved.
What I do find interesting is his thought process for putting the gimmick together and making it work. Especially using 1991 (or earlier) technology. I sometimes wonder what crazy stuff Gary Oulette would be putting out now if he was still alive? He was definitely someone who figured out how to make an idea happen!
The picture below is from back in 2017, I had an idea to use a foam hand for a trick.
The idea was inspired by a math based trick in a Jim Steinmeyer book. The problem I faced in the trick was giving clear instructions. I tabled the trick shortly after I started doing it in 2017. Then shortly before the pandemic hit in 2020, I reread in Gary Oulette‘s book of his columns in Genii magazine called Fulminations about the challenges David Copperfield had to get through when giving instructions for his “touch the TV screen” tricks. The instructions had to be clear, even for the biggest idiot.
Then the pandemic hit and I started playing with some tricks that used counting on a hand, and went out and remade my foam hand. I never used the foam hand in a show, because in a virtual show my hand plays big.
Right now I’m cleaning up and downsizing the props I have, and I came across the giant foam hand. It’s sort of gimmicked, or at least altered so that I can bend the fingers down and they stay down. In a couple of days I head to Arizona for a month long gig and I think I’m going to take the hand with me and try to figure out the routine.
One thing I think it lacked was an ending. It needs a good way to reveal that they are all touching the same finger. When I made the last foam hand, I also bought a foam hand that just has the pointer finger up. The challenge was how to reveal this. I was playing with it and essentially found a pull the giant hand off my hand to reveal my hand is holding a giant foam hand with just the index finger up!
Now I have a moment to punctuate the reveal of everyone on the same finger.
It’s still got a challenge. Am I going to do the trick looking at the audience or not? Traditionally in this type of trick you don’t look at the audience, however I’m not sure I want to do that. You lose a lot of control by not looking AND you can’t keep an eye on people doing the procedure.
I think I can solve this by having my instructions fixed. By “fixed” I mean something that I can’t change. It could be a recording, like in the Banana Bandana style of trick. I really don’t like performing to a recorded track, it takes away a lot of what makes a live show fun. I think I may make a flap card, that has a five on one side. You turn it over and it has a three on the back side. Then when you turn it over again, the five has changed to a one. That gives the audience something interesting during the boring counting procedure. I also think going from five to three to one, makes the counting easier as it’s getting simpler each time.
I’ll have some playing to do, but luckily I’ll have a monthlong venue to try them out!
One thing in magic is that people get hung up on is who created what and that if they thought of it without outside influence, then no one else could have possibly had the same thought.
My Russian Shell Game routine was inspired by a magazine column that Gary Oulette wrote. His ending used stacks of cups as the final loads to a cups and balls routine. In the article he “reserved all manufacturing rights“, I’m assuming he did this thinking no one had thought of the idea before.
Recently I was looking for something else and came across Cups and Cups and Cups and balls by Geoffrey Robinson
It’s the exact same idea as Gary’s, but it Gary never had a set made. Geoffrey did and it appears he had to do some problem solving. If you notice the small holes in the top, they are there (I’m assuming) to keep them from sticking together from the suction created if they are too tightly nested.
At the end of the day, you can’t assume you are the first person to have an idea!
Years ago when I was a teenager, I attended the Desert Magic Seminar in Las Vegas. One of the lecturers was Gary Oulette and he was talking about magic for TV and how they did The World’s Greatest Magic series. A few things about that lecture have stuck with me, the main one being why to use shiny mylar strips as a backdrop!
He talked about using stingers and adding little twinkles when the magic effect happens. I’ve also noticed that on Master’s of Illusion they do that as well. I think it really does add to the experience.
I’ve been messing with adding little twinkles to my videos when the magic happens. I’ve found a few that I’m using, but I think I need to keep searching as I’m not 100% happy with them. I do feel that they add to the video and are worth the time to search them out and add them in.