Remote Cubetrol

I swear guys, this is the last Rubik's Cube idea I'll be posting here for the foreseeable futures (well...as far as I know). 

I wanted to introduce the concept of The Artist Distracted in last Wednesday's post because that is the manner in which I've been performing this trick, although you could do it with a more traditional presentation too. 

The idea started because I was getting into some cube magic and I wanted to re-learn how to solve the cube. This is something I learned a few years ago, but it's the sort of thing where if you don't practice the algorithms now and again, you'll forget about 65% of it. (And a 35% solved cube is less than impressive.) This is the method I use to solve the cube. It's pretty basic and not overly quick, but I can usually solve a cube with it in 60-90 seconds, depending on if I get lucky with the layout.

So, when I have something like this that I'm trying to learn/re-learn/keep fresh in my mind, I usually try and tie it to something else I will naturally do regularly in my life, so whenever I do the one thing I'll do the other. In this case, since I go to a cafe most days of the week, I decided to make it a habit of solving the cube before I took my first sip of coffee and cracked open my laptop. 

One thing I wasn't anticipating was that people stare at someone who solves a Rubik's Cube in public. I would consistently see two people in conversation and one of them would be looking over the other person's shoulder and concentrating on me, seeing if I was going to figure this dumb thing out. I'm not someone who crave's attention from strangers. It doesn't make me uncomfortable, it's just not my thing. The only thing that did make me uncomfortable was the idea that maybe they thought I was solving a Rubik's Cube publicly because I wanted their attention.

But while it wasn't something I sought, I did realize the potential value of an activity that drew people's eyes in public. Thats's the perfect sort of thing for an Artist Distracted style of trick.

So here's what I started doing. 

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I would get my food and drink and sit myself down at a somewhat central location in the cafe or lounge seating area. 

I'd pull out the cube and start "solving" it, and as I was doing this I would keep an eye out for whoever's attention was grabbed by this activity. Once I had identified a primary target, I would sort of cheat myself in their direction so they would get the best view of what was about to happen.

After 90 seconds or so of mixing up the cube (and seemingly making no progress) I would sigh loudly, or maybe mutter something under my breath. The next moment is the important moment and I need to make sure I have the target's attention. So, with broad movements, I would take off my hat and put the mixed up cube underneath it (or I'd put it under a napkin, or in a little bag the baked goods come in). And I'd centralize that on the table in front of me.

Then I'd reach into my bag and pull out an all white cube. I'd start mixing up this all white cube as if I'm solving it. At one point I may take a peek under the hat or the napkin. I do a few more twists and turns with the white cube, set it down, then pull the hat away, and now that cube is solved.

Here's a compressed version of the effect...

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What am I implying here? Well, just that moving the white cube has somehow solved the real cube. But beyond that, I don't know. That's what makes it perfect for an Artist Distracted presentation. I don't need to justify anything because I didn't ask them to watch, they're the one spying on me.

So maybe they see it as a trick. Or they may see it as some electronic gizmo that somehow solves the cube by proxy. Or maybe there's some connection between the cubes on some level they can't imagine. I think more often than not they just don't know what to think.

The method is, of course, just a one-handed solve. The one I use is from Takamiz Usui's Penguin Live lecture. 

I've performed this seven times now.

Twice it didn't hit. Either I didn't have their full attention when I placed the mixed up cube under the hat, or their attention was drawn away at some point so they didn't follow it completely, or whatever. This is one of the "drawbacks" of the Distracted Artist/Artist Distracted style. But I honestly don't mind it. I think it's funny when I go through the effort to do something like this and no one notices. 

Of the five time it hit:

Twice the reaction was identical. I heard the target spectator say in a weak voice, "What...the...fuck?" 

Twice the target spectator came over to me almost immediately and asked what they just saw. 

One other person grabbed my arm as I was on my way out and asked me what happened.

Of the three people who confronted me, once I sort of let on that it was a trick, and twice I just kind of played dumb. "What happened? Oh yeah. I don't know how it works. My friend gave this to me. [I give them the white cube to examine and slide the other one over to them too, so they can see they're just normal.] I just kind of imagine I'm solving this cube and it solves the other one. I'm not sure how it's all connected." They were coming to me for some clarity about what happened, and I wanted to make them leave feeling more bewildered.

One time it hit with my target spectator and three others who were watching. In this performance I had my headphones on and was bopping a little like I was listening to something but really I was just paying attention to their reactions. Out of my peripheral vision I could see them looking at each other (they weren't with each other) and pointing and mouthing words. It was almost a comic level of confusion on their part. I wanted them to share the moment so I packed up my stuff and grabbed my iced coffee and went outside. I saw a couple of them huddled together through the window afterwards. I would have loved to have a recording of their theorizing.

Of course you could do this with a straightforward presentation as well, in the context of a normal presentation. "Here is a mixed up Rubik's cube. I place it in this bag. Please examine this all-white cube. [blah, blah, blah] Now when I 'solve' this white cube, it magically solves the other cube." (I hope it goes without saying that's the essence of the presentation, not an actual script.) Then you could end with a dumb joke and say, "It actually works the other way too." Put the white cube under the hat, jumble up the normal cube, remove the white cube and be like, "See?"

Gardyloo #70 - Book Two Update

Things are hot and heavy with book number two now. The list of tricks is being finalized, illustrations are coming in, some little props that will accompany the book are being produced. Everything is on schedule. 

As we're a little past the middle of Season 3, I thought I'd give you an update on the progress of the rewards. I always want to keep you in the loop on this stuff because as far as I'm concerned that is part of the deal in any situation where you're paying up front for a product that won't be ready for some time.

Let me start with the stuff I like to think about the least.

The Ugly

If you want to support this site and my work, there is only one way to do so, and that is through this site. No legitimate copies of my work are available elsewhere.

Yes, people are going to bootleg my shit and no there's not much I can do about it. I don't talk about it here because it's fucking depressing. In my utopia, the fact that I put out so much content for free would cause people to say, "Oh, he puts a ton of time into this and gives it away for free, I'm not going to also try and screw him out of his paid work too," although that's probably naive on my part.

But I've decided not to concentrate on that aspect of things, because if I do, I'd just end up shutting the site down.

Instead I'm going to focus on the people who do support the site, because they're good people and not shit-heads and I'd like to share a milkshake with them, and I have long-term plans to keep them in the inner circle even when this site is gone. 

I do no advertising, I don't have an email list, and I don't annoy you on twitter. The existence of this site has (and always will) come down to how people respond to this soft sell:

If you like this site please consider supporting it to keep it going.

The focus of this site is too narrow for it to exist without the support of the people who are into what we're doing here.


The Bad

This is just a reminder, as I wrote in the initial Season 3 description:

You'll notice the Gotta Have It tier is actually less than $5/week (it's $240 instead of $260). That's because it doesn't include shipping. Instead, shipping will be paid by you when the book is ready to be shipped. This will be the best/easiest way for me to make sure I have your most up-to-date address and it will make the actual mailing go faster and smoother on our end. I don't want it to come as a surprise to you when it's ready to be mailed out. You will be paying shipping once the book and deck are ready to be shipped. I don't know exactly how much it will be, but the total will be less than what JV1 cost shipped (which was $260 in the US and $286 outside the US).

I'm reminding you now because I don't want you to have forgotten this point and then be all bummed out when the book is ready to ship.


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The Good

Ooooh... there's so much good!

I'm working on the back design for the Jerx Deck #2. There were a couple of ideas I was going with, inspired by some of my favorite decks from the past. But it looks like Deck #2 will be The Jerx Squishers based on the old Bulldog Squeezers deck, which is my favorite of the old-timey decks.

Diamond Jim Tyler has a good, short explanation for the back of the Bulldog Squeezers which clarifies some of the elements. 

The Jerx Squishers will have some goofy bullshit on the back too.

(I should mention, since I've received a number of requests in recent weeks for the original Jerx deck, that the only way to get the deck is to support the site during the year in which it's released. There are no reprints. There are no bricks or bonus decks to be sold. And any future Jerx Decks will be a completely different design.)


I'm really happy with how the essay that opens the book is coming together. One of the things that I find wildly annoying is when a magician says something like, "You can't just perform tricks for people... you need to create an experience." And then you watch them perform... and they're just fucking doing regular old tricks for people! 

The opening essay collects a lot of ideas from posts on this site, and seeing them all together and reformatted and updated will, I think, make it clear with concrete steps how you can accomplish this somewhat nebulous goal of "creating an experience." 

The final part of this essay involves taking a standard trick (the prediction of a two-digit number using a nail-writer) and breaking it down and adjusting every element of the method/presentation until you have something that is structurally the same but the effect and the experience are completely different. You'll see. It's a good one.


I don't like to get too deep into the details of the descriptions of the effects (because I think with my material that's where the value is) but how does this baby sound?

"A card is selected and a lucky number generated, which is used along with some spelling and dealing to produce the chosen card, plus the four Aces, and finally a royal flush!"

Sound good to you? Huh... really? Well, it's a description of a Harry Lorayne trick that I read on the Cafe.

There is nothing in the book that reads like that trick above. But the good news is, if that's your type of thing, there are mountains of tricks like that in the literature. So you are all set. 

The tricks in the book I've been having the most fun with recently are a full-deck matching effect (the presentation is what excites me), a three phase trick done with an infant child (this is kind of a sequel effect to The Baby Who Knows), a trick where you control someone's dream, and my most-performed effect over the past few months that is done with the movie Jaws (or any movie you like, but you'll be set up to do it with Jaws).

There's also a trick that uses the book itself as a prop that I can't wait to perform. My early versions of the trick with a prototype prop have received crazy reactions.

And in this book you will find what I believe to be the most fooling version of Card-to-Mouth ever. This is my friend Andrew's trick and he's allowing me to publish it in the book after it completely blew me away the first time he showed it to me. I've never been a big card-to-mouth guy. I've done the trick and some variations a few times over the years. It's a fun trick to do and gets surprised reactions, but when breaking it down with people afterwards their reaction was, "Well, I don't know how you did it, but you must have put the card in your mouth when I wasn't looking." Well... yeah. Andrew's version has two convincers that lead people away from this theory. A signed card goes into the deck, your hands never leave the deck and are in full view the whole time, your mouth is obviously empty. Then, in an instant, without your hands moving, the card is no longer in the deck and is now in your mouth. It can be performed 100% impromptu and buck-ass naked. 

In one sense the trick is a "magician fooler" because it uses a method I've never seen before in magic, but it's also the strongest version I've seen for laymen because it's made very clear that their card and your hands never leave their field of vision. I think you guys are going to have fun working on this one. The method is totally practical but also a little out there.


There's your book update. Thanks to everyone who has supported this site in Season 3. Your kindness, good taste, and generosity will be rewarded. 

The next book update will be in a few months when the book is sent to the printers.

The Artist Distracted

The Distracted Artist is a performance style for the amateur/social magicians that I first mentioned in the very early days of this site. It's a style of magic that happens outside the context of a performance. The name of the style comes from the idea that a drummer might tap out a beat on his hip while waiting for the subway, and an artist might doodle something on a paper-placemat in a restaurant while waiting for her mozzarella sticks—so wouldn't it be kind of interesting if you, as a magician, would casually and carelessly do magic tricks sometimes.

When a performance in this style really hits, it's incredibly bizarre to people. They assume magic is something that has to be done with intent. So if you borrow a quarter for the jukebox and, while you're talking with your friend, you "accidentally" make it disappear, and then you're like, "Ah, my bad. Sorry. I've been practicing this coin vanish for like a week and it's just, like, second nature now. Can I borrow another quarter?"  And then you take that quarter and pinch it really tightly and walk over and drop it in the jukebox... it's a very strong "what the F" moment for a spectator. You accidentally made a coin vanish and you can't get it back? What kind of magic trick is that? You can definitely do it in a way where they know you're joking. But you can also be so casual and low-key about it that it feels more real. 

The key to the Distracted Artist style is that there can be no moment in the interaction where there are any of the trappings of a performance. Anything you say related to "the moment" has to sound like an explanation, not a presentation. And you can't draw their attention to anything. It has to all be on the periphery. Because of this, there are times when "the moment" will be missed by your intended audience. That's okay. That's part of what makes this style fun.

There are a number of permutations of this style which I broke down in this post.

There's another performance concept that I lump in with the Distracted Artist because they are both non-performances, although this one is kind of the inverse of DA in a way. This is The Artist Distracted. 

The Distracted Artist = My art (magic) is happening on the periphery of my attention, while my main focus is taken up by engaging with you (the spectator).

The Artist Distracted = I am distracted by my art to the point that I'm not paying attention to you or anyone else around me.

With the Artist Distracted style, you're clearly doing something and your attention is focused on that thing to the point where you're not paying any attention to who might be watching you and seeing what you're doing. This makes it, I believe, the ideal way to perform for genuine strangers because there is no weird moment where you're asking someone you don't know to pay attention to you. They're choosing to do so.

The important thing about both is that they are non-performance styles. The idea of a non-performance is very disarming to people. There is a desperation and a neediness associated with magic in some people's eyes. The stereotype in pop-culture is often an incompetent, powerless idiot desperately craving real acclaim for bad demonstrations of a fake skill.

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A non-performance disrupts this idea because you're not asking for applause, acknowledgment or recognition. You're not asking for anything. The effect happens and you move on.

Let's take a look at The Artist Distracted in action.

Watch her reaction. It's very telling. He grabs the bubble and she starts to say, "Coooool" before she fully understands what happened. Then she realizes the bubble has transformed into a solid object and there's a little gasp and she looks at her partner. Then she gets that beautiful smile on her face and she says, "Magic."

Let's pause here. In a more traditional magic context, I think the reaction would be similar, but more muted (or at least more artificial). If he had introduced himself and said, "You know, when I was a kid, I used to think bubbles were the most magical thing in the world. And as an adult... I still do!" Or if he had turned to them after grabbing the bubble and said, "Thank you. My name is Johnny Bubble-O, The Bubble-Magician. Here's my card." If he had done something like that, I don't think you get such a purely joyous reaction. An unexpected "magical moment" is almost always going to get a stronger reaction than something that feels like a planned performance.

But let's go back to that gif. It's the last few frames that are the most interesting to me. This is where her reaction turns from joy to "What just happened?" It's a true look of bewildered surprise. That is the most profound reaction we see from her. And it only comes after the magician leaves. If he sticks around and says, "Thanks, I hope you liked my trick," I don't think we get that moment. The strongest thing he does presentationally is to walk away at the end.

There's a transactional element to a traditional magic performance. "I'll do something amazing and, in turn, you'll give me some recognition." This is certainly a pleasant enough arrangement, but I think it also releases the tension that is built up for a spectator by a good magic trick. It concludes the experience in a way. But if you just see something strange and no one is asking you for applause or acknowledgement, you have to live with that experience a bit longer. It works that way even if it's obviously a trick. But if you don't know the exact nature of what you just saw (maybe it was a trick, maybe it was some quirk of science/nature, maybe it was someone with a genuine "power," or maybe you imagined it) then that feeling you see expressed in the woman's face at the end of that gif can resonate even longer.

Gleaming the Cube

"Child pornographer," "mass shooter," "Winner of Power-Bottom USA's 'World's Most Gaping A-hole' Award".... Of all the labels I could have been given that would have ripped out the heart of my late father, perhaps the most shameful is what someone referred to me as in a recent email: "the best Rubik's cube trick creator." If that ends up being on my tombstone, I swear I will haunt every last fucking one of you. 

I thought the writer of that email was kidding when he said it, but then later in the week I got an email with a similar sentiment from friend of the site, W.B, who said he was a big Rubik's magic fan and I had "created [his] favorite tricks with the cube." How this happened, I'll never know. I'm not really a big fan of Rubik's magic. As an object to do magic with, it's a little arbitrary, in my opinion. Last year I wrote:

"Rubik's Cube magic has become very popular. But just a quick heads-up: Rubik's Cubes themselves aren't very popular. You may want to mention why you're busting out this dated object (as many people view it). Yes, people recognize what it is, but it's not exactly an "everyday" object. So a little justification wouldn't hurt. Or just an acknowledgement that this isn't something you see much these days. Again, we think it's sort of common because it's become common in magic, but to the general public you might as well be doing a trick with an Etch-A-Sketch, a Teddy Ruxpin, or Gay Related Immune Deficiency."

Hmmm... I've also come up with a Teddy Ruxpin trick since that time. I guess GRIDs is next on the table. ("I have as many T-cells as you, plus 1000, and enough left over etc., etc.")

But while I'm not a huge fan of this type of magic, I have put out a number of effects using the cube, and I thought I'd do a round-up of some of those effects (and mention some other ideas) for anyone who is into cube magic.

The Rubik's Cube Trick: This was before I thought I'd be doing other cube tricks, so I didn't come up with a clever name to differentiate it. I often think this is the trick I would do if I was on Penn and Teller's Fool Us (and I wanted to fool them, not necessarily do the most entertaining thing I could do). 

Imagine Penn joins me on stage and there's a table with a dozen different objects Penn can use to blindfold me in any way he chooses (to prove it's not a phony blindfold—and it's not, it's legit). Meanwhile Teller is at his seat in the audience and given a cube to sign and mix up as much as he wants. He passes off the cube to an audience member on either side of him who mixes up the cube some more, it's passed on, mixed up, passed on and mixed up until it reaches the last person in the row. There the cube is tossed up on stage and I solve it using my psychic powers, behind my back, genuinely blindfolded. (Why behind my back and blindfolded? Theater, my dear boy!)

That's how I would do it in that context. You'd need two secret assistants (one at each end of the row that Teller is closest to) with special skills. And also you could put a grain of sand under one sticker on the cube so you could figure out the cube's orientation by feel (rather than the way I had it done in the original which involved someone placing it in my hands in a specific way). Using something tactile would allow anyone to place the cube in your hands.

Pixilated/Pixelated: This is one of the bonus manuscripts that GLOMM elite members receive. This is the trick that originally came to me in a dream when David Blaine performed it for me. When I woke up I created a method for it. And then, a few months later, David actually filmed the trick for the special he was working on. It's a Rubik's cube trick, but it's unlike any other you've seen. You don't solve the cube, you don't match the cube. (In fact, I do it with an all-white cube.)

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And yes, as I say in the write-up linked above, it leaves people with the best souvenir in the history of magic.

SOLOtion: This was my one-on-one version of Michael Murray's Solution effect. I wanted to do something similar to his effect but for just one person (and since his effect relies in part on dual reality, that was off the table).

The interesting thing is this, since I released this, I've heard from a handful of people that this is the version they use now whether they're performing one-on-one or not. 

The original Solution is interesting in that it's an effect that uses dual reality, but unlike most DR effects, the effect for the audience and for the target spectator are both very strong. 

The problem is, in any situation that I'm likely to perform, the spectator and the rest of the audience are likely to talk after the performance and there would be a difference between what they thought was going on. And while the trick doesn't completely unravel, it definitely becomes something less than what they thought it was. 

But what if you could keep all the same mystery without the DR? I think you can.

(In what follows I'm speaking to Solution owners only here, so it's not going to make sense to anyone else.) Normally, when you perform the Solution, you want the spectator do X, but you don't want them to do Y, but you want the audience to think the spectator is doing Y. That's where Michael's clever dual reality comes in. But imagine instead you say this:

"Okay, Laci, in a moment I'm going to hand you the cube and I'd like you to Do X behind your back. [Here you demonstrate X, and you demonstrate it for everyone, not just the spectator.] Whatever you do, don't Do Y, okay?"

You give them the cube and they take it behind their back to Do X. 

"And you just keep on Doing X behind your back while I talk here, but don't let anything I say get you to Do Y. No matter how much you might be tempted to Do Y, just keep doing X."

Here you say some cryptic things that might make sense if the person was Doing Y and not Doing X like you told them to. 

You peek behind their back. "Okay stop," you say.

Now you say. "Laci, you can't solve a Rubik's cube normally, correct?" She confirms. "And you certainly can't solve one behind your back without looking, yes?" She confirms. "And I haven't touched you or the cube since you put it behind your back, right?" She confirms. "And the whole time you had it there, you just Did X, yes?" She confirms. "And as far as you're concerned you didn't Do Y... not even a little bit, correct?" She confirms. 

"Okay then, well can you please show us the cube and explain how that happened."

And, of course, they come out with a solved cube.

Now, everyone in the audience gets at least the same effect as the target spectator in the original Solution. But everyone (including the target spectator) also kind of gets the other effect too. Because the implication is that by telling the person to "make sure you don't Do Y" and "there's no way I could make you Do Y," that perhaps you influenced them to actually Do Y in some manner to bring the trick to a successful conclusion. 

The effect for the audience is a little less straightforward than in Michael's original. But as M.B. wrote in his email to me (and as I've heard from others), "The effect on the audience seems to get reactions that are at least as strong. And I love not having to worry about the DR being exposed."

If this is wildly confusing, read the pdf for the SOLOtion which is in the post linked above. Take out the switch that's used in that trick (it's not necessarily needed), and picture the person doing it behind their back rather than under the table. It should make sense.

(In Recognition of) The Best Rubik's Card Trick: I love this trick. Here's a variation on it I did just this weekend for my friend Karen.

So, the trick ends, the two cubes match, and she sees the trophy says: "In Recognition of the World's Greatest Coincidence."

"Let's try one more thing," I say. I take the mixed up cube, put it in a bag, and give it to her and ask her to shake the bag for a few seconds. "That probably moved some things around a little bit," I say. Then I reach and remove the completely solved cube from the bag. (As I learned in Takamiz Usui's Penguin Live.)

"Holy shit!" I say. "That's the most impressive Rubik's cube solve I've ever seen!" The implication being that she somehow solved it in the course of shaking the bag.

"You deserve this," I say and hand her the trophy. 

Now the inscription on the trophy says,

Karen O.
First Place
Most Impressive
Rubik's Cube Solve

The method is you get the trophy place to make you the personalized trophy, then you get them to make an additional inscription plate that say "In Recognition of the World's Greatest Coincidence." Then you stick that plate over the one on the trophy with a repositionable glue or something with a bond that's not too permanent.

Once you reveal the first inscription you set the trophy aside and steal off the covering inscription plate as you do. (Easy to do, because they think the trick is over.) Then do the bag solve and give them the trophy to keep. (Trophies are pretty cheap $15-$20.)

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I have another little Rubik's effect I've been having a lot of fun with recently that I will write up next week, probably. It's a very simple idea but it's related to a performance style concept I want to write about on Wednesday. See you then.

Gardyloo #69

heh-heh-heh. sixty-nine.

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Since the beginning of this site, I've talked about shifting the focus of the effect off yourself as the performer.  I want to talk about some of the benefits of that when dealing with different types of spectators.

Let's use a simple example with a floating bill trick:

Magician takes credit: "I can float this bill with my magic powers."

vs.

Magician deflects credit: "I have an invisible leprechaun on my coffee table who loves picking up dollar bills."

I'm purposely not using a good presentation here, because the point still holds true even with a shitty one.

Here's how a presentation that deflects credit plays with different types of spectators:

People who want to give you credit for the trick will still do so.

People who want to indulge themselves in the fantasy get to play along with an idea that's something other than, "Let's all pretend I have supernatural powers."

People who want to deny you credit, or who want to undermine your presentation are in an awkward position, because you're already not taking credit for it. So it's like playing handball against the drapes for them. There's no resistance. What are they going to do? Argue that there isn't an invisible leprechaun? That just makes them look like an idiot that they're denying something that is obviously fiction.

But what if your presentation isn't obviously fiction— what if it's a more ambiguous sort of thing? Well, here's what I do when I have a presentation that blurs the lines and I have someone trying to undermine it. This is something that happens very rarely for me, but I have a very standard technique for dealing with it: I turn their critique into a compliment.

So if they say, for example, "She didn't really separate those cards into red and black based on some subliminal message. You did something."

 "I did something?" I'll say. "How do you mean? Like I can somehow control where she deals cards with my mind power or something? That's kind of you to say. I wish I had that power. Thank you. That means a lot that you think I'd be capable of something like that." I don't say it facetiously, I say it as genuinely as I can, as if that's truly the way I interpreted their remark.  If someone is trying to bash you, the last thing they want is for you to take that as compliment, so this shuts them down very quickly. "Seriously though," I say to them under my breath, "that's very flattering." This drives them crazy.


One of my favorite characters in magic is Harry Lorayne. That's not to say he's one of my favorite magicians. I like some of his material, but much of it is a standard sort of card magic that isn't really my style (although his magazine, Apocalypse, is a great read). 

What I like about him is that he's 93 years old and he spends his time on the Magic Cafe telling everyone what a bunch of shit-heads they are for deigning to learn card magic from someone other than him or perform a version of a trick that he's worked on that is not his version. 

You can go on the Cafe and search his name to see his posts, but you have to be quick because what often happens is he'll get into a back and forth with someone there and soon he's calling them a homosexual and then things get even nastier and the thread gets shut-down by the Cafe. (The Cafe staff then goes in and edits out all his comments and re-posts the threads without them.)

This happened just a few days ago with a thread on Sixten Beme's card linking effect. Harry came in and openly questioned the taste and heterosexuality of anyone who would do that version rather than his linking card routine. Not long after, half the posts in that thread are gone, including all of the ones by Harry.

I want Mr. Lorayne to know that if he wants to get his message out unedited, I will be happy to post it here (where it will get many more views than buried in a Cafe thread.) I don't care. I think it's funny. He can call out all you "homos" who don't appreciate him enough.

Fortunately, one of Harry's greatest blow-ups is saved for history on the Internet Archive. It started when magician Euan Bingham wrote this review of a classic Harry Lorayne book.

Harry was... displeased.

Which lead to this delightful exchange. (Scroll down to the post: Harry Lorayne? Blog entry by E. Bingham on 2004-10-17) Harry didn't agree with Euan's assessment of the book, and, unsurprisingly, he figured Euan must have been a total mincing queer to even have an issue with the book in the first place.  (To be fair, he only calls him a "cocksucker" six times.) 

It's totally fucking bonkers and builds to one of the most classic lines in the history of magic where Harry declares:

"YOUR MIDDLE FINGER IS BETWEEN YOUR FIRST AND THIRD FINGERS, AND YOU CAN STICK IT UP YOUR ASS. I’M SURE YOU’LL ENJOY THAT, YOU FUCKING FAGGOT."

All this over a review of a 50 year old magic book. 

My hope is that Harry—now in his 90s—is a happy person. If he's not, I have a book recommendation for him.

It's called Harry Lorayne's Secrets Of Mind Power. 

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According to the inside flap, some of the subjects covered in the book are, "How to handle your emotions," "How to think without emotional bias about people you hate," "How to speak to people so they invariably like you," and "How to overcome the suspicion that people are out to get you." It's never too late to brush up on these skills, Harry.


How awesome was MAGIC Live? So great. 

The new ad for next year's convention really captures the electricity of this kind of event. I'm already signed up.

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Dirty App Magic

From time to time, I like to do magic with... adult themes. And no, I don't mean sophisticated, mature subject matter, like... I don't know...referring to Forgetful Freddy as Forgetful Frederick and using him to tell a sober tale about early onset dementia. (Although that is the subject of my submission for the Sundance Film Festival.)

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I'm talking about sex, baby!

Now, statistics would tell us that if you're reading this, you're probably a magician, and if you're a magician, you're likely a creep. You're probably one of those weird dudes who is so timid and shy around women that you can't put your arm around them in a friendly manner...

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But this doesn't come across as someone who is being respectful of boundaries. It comes across as someone who is so uncomfortable and awkward around other people that they can't differentiate between a casual, friendly gesture and an act of deep intimacy. And this is why women avoid you because they know if they are affable towards you in any way you'll interpret that as a declaration of undying love and then you'll bury a fucking hatchet in their skull for "leading you on" when they don't return your affection. "She wished me a happy birthday on facebook and then two days later she goes on a date with Troy? That manipulative bitch!" No. You're a creepy spazz.

The good news is that while that describes a lot of the dudes I've met in the magic world, I've weeded most of them out of the reader pool for this site by championing a style of performing where you shun credit. "This guy's an idiot," they think, "I got into magic for credit and validation, why would I give that up?" So they're likely long gone from this site.

I'm mentioning this because the two ideas that follow involve a "sexual" presentation. I can get away with them because of my confidence and boyish charms. But if you're not 100% sure you can pull off such a presentation without weirding people out, I would avoid these ideas.

Also, if you're someone who flips out because I use dirty words sometimes, beat it. 

Both of the ideas use magic apps that have found a permanent spot on my phone. The methods are obvious if you own the apps.

Call Me By Your Name (for the Xeno app)

"That reminds me," I say, "I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, but back in junior high, I was practicing auto-erotic asphyxiation and the shower rod I was hanging from broke and I smashed my head against the tile wall. Ever since then I've had an unusual type of sexual ESP. I'll show you."

On Monday I said that I don't like presentations of "skill" whether real (card flourishes) or just presentational ("I can memorize the deck in 10 seconds."). But if the skill itself is wholly fantastical, then I have no issue with that, because it doesn't give the audience any potential answers.

Also, when I say, "that reminds me," I will do that after they say anything. The less related to the subject, the better.

I have them go to a site with the 100 most popular boy or girl names, depending on what they're into. They scroll through the site and think of any name there. 

I tell them I'm going to have them imagine a romantic encounter with a person with this name, and I will be able to intuit what the name is.

I have them create an image of this person in their mind (for the sake of this description, they're thinking of a guy) and I ask them a couple questions. "About how tall would you say he is?" "What kind of job do you think he'd have?" "What's his most attractive physical feature?" 

"Hmmm... okay, okay, okay," I say, as if my mind is processing this information. "I'm beginning to get the picture."

"Okay, so imagine you've had a few dates with this person, and at the end of one of those dates he takes you home and you invite him in. You have a couple of drinks and things are getting pretty romantic. You head off to your bedroom."

I then paint a portrait with words of their sexual rendezvous that—depending on the person I'm doing this for—will be somewhere between a "PG-13 romantic encounter" and a "XXX Justice Potter Stewart 'I know it when I see it' hardcore pornography fuck-fest."

As I wrap it up my description of this encounter I'll say, "I can see it," and stare off into the distance, and reach out with my hands like a psychic in a bad movie. "Yes, yes. There you are. He's on top of you. Pounding away like a jackhammer. And you're saying...  you're saying...I can just barely hear it over the sound of slapping skin... you're saying... 'Harder... faster... Charles!'"

Of course there I say the name they're merely thinking of.

I look at them as if the power of this vision has overwhelmed me. "You're insatiable!" I say.

The Fuck-It List (for the DFB App)

I'm out with some friends and I turn to one of them, Amanda, and I say, "I've been making a list of things I'd like to do with you."

"Huh?" she says.

"I made a list of 100 things we should do together. Pick a number between 1 and 100."

"Uh, okay. Twelve." 

I turn on my phone and give it to my friend Justin and ask him to open up the notes app for me. "There's a list on there called Activities for Me and Amanda, can you tell me what number 12 is?"

He goes to the list and scrolls down to number 12.

"A friendly hug," he says.

"Oh," I say, obviously disappointed. "Oh... well that's... fun. Sure." I get up and give Amanda a hug. "Maybe we can do that again sometime," I say. "I mean, you can pick a different number. Not another hug." Meanwhile, Justin has started cracking up.

"What is it?" Amanda asks and grabs the phone. She looks at the list. Yes, at #12 it says, "A friendly hug," but the other 99 items on the list are all sexual acts ranging from the mildly filthy to the downright deviant (if not criminal).

I shyly mumble, "Or we could do it again now if you want... pick another number or whatever." 

She laughs looking over the list, "Ooh... number #42 definitely," she says, eyeing me seductively. 

I jump across the table, knocking shit over, in order to get a peek at what she's suggesting.

"Oral sex while shitting!? You filthy slut!"

This is, as many of you will recognize, a variation on Andy Nyman's Dice Man trick, but without the need for dice and cards. And it's a billion times dirtier and not appropriate for some audiences.

If you have to ask, "I wonder if [Person X] would be okay with this trick?" The answer is probably "no." 

I'm fortunate enough that the people I hang out with don't get all bothered by something that's obviously done in fun, no matter how dirty it is. But your audiences may differ.

I've never done it one-on-one with someone. Only in a small group so the other people's reaction to the list builds up and then my target spectator gets to see the list. 

Here's the list of 100 activities I came up with for this. Some of them aren't fully described because then you have the fun of explaining what it means when someone says, "What's an 'Angry Dragon'?" or whatever.

Titty-Fuck
Sixty-Nine
Cowgirl
Reverse Cowgirl
Bestiality (general)
Necrophilia (general)
Gang-bang
Bukkake party
Genitals in Boiling Oil
Ass Paddling
Cuckolding
Dry Anal
Fist-fuck (to the wrist)
Fist-fuck (to the elbow)
Fist-fuck (to the shoulder)
Double fist-fuck
Sandpaper Condom
Threesome
Foursome
Threesome with Dog
Toothy Oral
HIV Roulette
Donkey Punch
Genital Chomping
Genital Stomping
Clothespins on Nipples
Jumper Cables on Nipples
Curb-Stomp at Orgasm
The Double Cosby
Poke in Eye with Dick
Golden Shower (give)
Golden Shower (receive)
Shit in Mouth
Paddling
Staple Ass-cheeks Together
Nipple Removal
Strap-on Play
Baseball Bat to the Groin
Female Genital Mutilation
Genital Binding
Roleplay (Teacher and Student)
Roleplay (Grandma and Grandson)
Roleplay (Mick Jagger and David Bowie)
Trumpet Mouthpiece in Anus
Face Slapping
Oral Sex While Shitting
Cum Swapping
Make a Baby and Raise it to Age 18
Teabagging
Oral Teabagging
Anal Teabagging
Fart in Face
Ass to Ass
Felching
Dirty Sanchez
Set Pubes on Fire
Cunnilingus
Analingus
Hot Karl
Dual Autofellatio
Pearl Necklace
Foot Job
Deepthroat
Face Fucking
Fecal Freaking
Stump Play
Naked Jello Wrestling
Naked Mud Wrestling
Double Penetration
All Holes
Anal Bead Ripcord
Creampie
Total Body Hair Removal
Ass to Mouth
Ass Fingering
Tease and Denial
Bondage
Rimjob
Domination
Submission
Caning
Nude Lapdance
Mutual Masturbation
Enema Play
Face Sitting
Facial
Sex Swing
Fucking Machine
Spanking
Visit Swinger's Club
Make Amateur Porno
Make Snuff Film
Duo Erotic Asphyxation
Titty Twister
An Erotic Hug
Full Body Nude Massage
Snort Coke Off Tits
Scat Play
Angry Dragon

Inexpert Card Technique

Every time I write a post I think, "I'm going to be so clear and precise with my wording no one is going to possibly misinterpret what I'm trying to say with this post." And then, after every post, I get emails that are like, "I think this is wrong!" and they go on to argue with me about something I never said. There seems to be no getting around this. You might say, "You need to be a better writer." Maybe, but 99% of the people who read it seem to get what I'm saying.

So if you're new to this site, let me reiterate something I've mentioned before: This blog is not about giving advice. It is, in part, about my journey with magic and developing a more audience-centric/experience-centric style of performing magic (as opposed to the traditional magician-centric style). But I'm not trying to convince anyone else to adopt this style. 

In regards to last Monday's post, I wasn't suggesting anyone else needs to, or should want to, do a double turnover as a non-card-handler would. I was just wondering how such a person would—and after getting a sampling of that—I decided to use that technique in certain situations. 

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In general, I like to keep my overt card handling at the same level as that of the person for whom I'm performing. Why? Well, because in close-up magic that involves cards, the easiest "non-explanation" for a person to use to deflect the impact of the effect is to say, "Ah, it was just sleight-of-hand." Sometimes you'll even get people who say, "I know how you did that... sleight-of-hand," as if that's a full explanation. 

However, if nothing in your handling strikes them consciously or subconsciously as something they couldn't (or wouldn't) do, then that undercuts the idea that the explanation behind what just happened was you manually handling the deck in a way they can't. 

To give you another example, if I'm with someone who can't do a riffle shuffle, then I generally won't do a riffle shuffle around them during a trick. On some level (and again, this might not be consciously) I believe they think, "Well, he can do that thing with a deck of cards that I can't do, so he can probably do other things with a deck of cards I can't do either." 

Perceived skill undermines that intangible "magic" quality. I'll prove it to you. If you went to a magic convention and a famous close-up magician showed you a really hard-hitting trick and you didn't know how it was done, you might be impressed, but you wouldn't be, like, "enchanted" by the experience. However, if your wife or your 8-year-old nephew (or someone else who you know has no skill with a deck of cards) showed you the same trick, it would create genuine awe.

I'm not saying anything controversial here. We all know that if you're going to handle cards like the Buck Twins, then people are going to very easily attribute most anything you do with cards to manual dexterity. Recognizing this, a lot of magicians choose to not do anything too flourishy with a deck of cards. All I'm saying is that I personally choose to dial it back even further and (ideally) I don't do anything outside of their own abilities.

Obviously, if the people you regularly perform for already know you're proficient with a deck of cards, you can't really use this technique unless you pretend you had a coconut dropped on your head and forgot how to handle cards. However, if you end up meeting and performing for new people regularly, this can be very powerful.

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Here's one of the most disarming ways I use this technique. I meet someone new and we get to talking. It comes out that one of my interests is reading up on these bizarre old card games and rituals. Later I offer to "show them something interesting" and take out a deck and give it a real basic overhand shuffle. "Can you shuffle?" I ask. They take the deck and give it a good riffle-shuffle with a bridge. And I'm all like, "Damn... look at you!" With suitable admiration of their technique. Or maybe I'll playfully act with mock annoyance towards them for showing me up and I'll be like:

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I don't make a big deal about it, it's just a brief moment where I'm acknowledging their skill. Now, during the course of whatever transpires next, in the back of their mind, their understanding of the situation is that while I have an interest in cards games/tricks/experiments, they are actually the one who is more adept at handling a deck of cards. So they are unlikely to think that anything that happens is due to my skill with cards. And the idea that maybe I pretended to not be good with cards to implant that idea in their mind so what happened after would be more impressive... that's just not a conclusion they're going to jump to. It's too many steps removed from the types of solutions people gravitate towards. So they see this amazing thing and I've given them no easy answers.

So yes, sometimes I'll even act less skillful than my audience. 

But Andy, aren't you afraid that's going to reflect poorly on you? Like you have this interest in cards and these little games you can do with them... but you can't even do a riffle shuffle?

No. I could not possibly give less of a fuck about that. In fact, if they truly believe that, then I have them exactly where I want them.

So going back to last Monday's post... handling a double turnover like a non-card-handler, is a very small—potentially imperceptible—gesture, but it's part of an overall approach of mine to keep my handling within the boundaries of their abilities (whenever possible). I've never isolated this "dumbing down" of handing in any testing to determine how much of an effect it may have on people's reactions to the tricks I show them. However, it's definitely been one of the techniques I've employed in recent years that I think has helped transform the response to the things I do from "that's impressive" to "that's impossible."

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Let me be clear: This is just my personal preference in regards to the approach I take to performing magic. I'm not saying it's the "right" approach. In fact, it's probably the wrong approach given that it's the opposite of the approach taken by 99% of magicians. I want to remove "skill" as being a potential explanation for the weird thing that's going to take place. (Not just skill with cards, but skill in general.) When skill is demonstrated implicitly (being very smooth with a deck of cards, rolling coins down your knuckles) or proclaimed explicitly ("I can memorize this deck in under 10 seconds," "I can read your micro-expressions to know what word you're thinking of," "I can deal from the center of the deck") it provides at least a partial explanation for what occurred. And whatever weight the audience gives to skill gets pulled away from "the mystery." It's a zero sum game.

The tricks I find the most fun to perform, and the ones that I get the most intense reactions from, are the ones that are unrelentingly mysterious. I don't want to hear, "You're good!" or, "That's very clever." I want to hear, "Wait... hold on...what in the fuck is going on?"

Do I really think they have no idea I'm behind what's happening? It all depends on the person I'm performing for, the time and place, the trick I'm performing, and a bunch of other variables. My goal is to have it feel that way in the moment. To do that, I want to emphasize the weirdness, the unknown, and the mystery. And I want to de-emphasize skill and technique and my role in the process. I don't want the story of what happens to be about me.

More mystery, less "me story."

Fuck, I have a way with words!