Monica Geller aka The One With the Bent Spoon


Spoon bending isn't something I've ever done with much regularity. I have a friend who used to perform spoon bending rather frequently. Unfortunately, I corrupted his mind with some of the philosophy I've espoused here and he transitioned to a different style of performing that spoon bending didn't really fit into. It's very hard to fit spoon bending into the type of magic I write about on this site. What I mean by that is, while it usually gets a strong reaction, it's also the epitome of a useless, show-off-y skill. It's hard to make it about much else beyond the awesome power of your mind, which is a presentation that works okay on strangers, but not so much with your friends and family who know how dull your mind actually is.

The presentation that follows makes use of the idea of using exposure as presentation, meta-routining, Peek Backstage style, and confusing the nature of magic methods.

Monica Geller

At the start you mention that you're working on "that old fake psychic trick" of spoon bending. You ask if they'd mind helping you by giving you an outside perspective and you casually mention you'll teach them the basics of how to do it, if they're interested.

In your lap is a significantly bent spoon (your spectator doesn't know about this) and a normal spoon is on the table. Have your friend examine the spoon then take it back from him with your right hand. Draw attention to your left hand for some reason and extend it out to your friend. (Maybe say something about building up a callus on your hand when you first started to learn spoon bending by doing it from brute force.) As you lean in and show your hand, your right hand pulls back and off the table edge and switches its spoon for the bent one in your lap. (It's unlikely you'll get caught doing this because it shouldn't really feel like you've started yet. But it doesn't matter if you do get caught. This is all just part of the set-up. For now, let's assume you don't get caught.)

Hold the bent spoon (that the spectator thinks is still straight) in your right hand so the bend is hidden. Take the spoon between both hands, wait a moment and concentrate, and then show the spoon is bent.

"It's an old Uri Geller trick," you say. Pull out the normal spoon from your lap. "It's a switch. When you're looking at my left hand, I switch the spoon for one I bent at home with some pliers earlier. It requires strong misdirection or it's easy to get caught." (If you actually did get caught doing the switch, then you would just jump to this point in the presentation.) "That's just version 1 of the switch. The other versions are much harder, but also more deceptive. I'll show you. Here's version 4."

You put the bent spoon back in your lap, but as you do, you secretly unbend it. 

Now you take the normal spoon from the table and do any standard spoon bending sequence with it where it bends visibly.

Then you pull the straight spoon from your lap and set it on the table.

"And that would be the fourth version of the switch," you say.

Is this clear what we're going for here?

Step One: You show them a trick and then explain it for real. In so doing, you lead them to believe that spoon bending is done by switching a normal spoon for a bent spoon using misdirection.

Step Two: Now you show them a more "advanced version." Their mind is looking for a switch, but then you perform something that seemingly is not explained by such a switch. You're now fooling them on multiple levels. 

Step Three: So now they're thinking you did something completely different. They assume maybe they misunderstood, and maybe "version 4" is some other method altogether. And while they're coming to that conclusion, you're going to jerk their mind back the other way. They believe it wasn't a switch, but now you casually provide evidence that it was, by removing the now straight spoon from your lap. 

This is going to bring up some questions. How you handle those questions is up to you. Here is how I would deal with them.

Them: Wait... what? You didn't switch it.

Me: Sure I did. Remember, this spoon was straight?

Them: Yeah, I know. I mean, I saw it bend. 

Me: I don't understand. You saw it transition from the straight spoon to the bent spoon, right?

Them: Yes. That's what I mean. When did you switch it?

Me: Between when it was straight and when it bent.

Them: I didn't see the switch.

Me: Oh, well it's not like version 1, where you switch out the whole spoon on a macro level. It's... well, it's hard to explain. But it's a different sort of thing. 

Them: Show me.

Me: Well... I just did. You can't really slow it down. It doesn't work like that. If you want to learn it, I'll send you a book that explains the basics and once you've read that I'll help you learn it.

Then I'd send them a book on quantum physics.

Gardyloo #50

Some final thoughts, for now, on the subject of exposure.

First, let's talk about two groups of losers.

The first group: When the World's Greatest Magic specials were airing, and Mac King was teaching beginner's tricks on either side of the commercial breaks, there were some losers who would write in to the magic magazines (or maybe on some early magic forums) to express their displeasure that Mac had the temerity to teach Alan Thicke how to float a knife against the palm of his hand.

The second group: If you go on youtube and do a little bit of searching you can find losers artlessly exposing the methods behind most every trick you can think of. 

Question: Which of these groups of losers is bigger?

Answer: It's a trick question. They're the same group. Ideologically, at least. They're both of the opinion that the secret is the most valuable part of magic. One group believes they're so valuable that we can't ever let any secrets into the hands of the "layperson." And the other group believes they're so valuable that merely exposing them should be all that's needed to get people to give them some attention.

The truth is, more magic has been ruined by poor performers than by people exposing tricks. Probably 100 times more. But it's kind of easier to say, "Let's boycott the advertisers of the Masked Magician show!" than it is to say, "I should get a lot better at performing and entertaining people with magic."

If you combine the thoughts in Wednesday's post with this post on how to make your magic un-Google-able, and the ideas I've written up in the past weeks on "meta" presentations (which make the nature of the methods a bit more murky) as well as the concept of shifting the magic away from you and your abilities (which goes a long way towards defusing their inclination to "bust" you) then you will be so far ahead of the game to the point where exposure is not really a factor.

And finally, keep this in mind... If you're an amateur, you choose who you'll perform for. Freeze people out if they're just trying to make everything a puzzle to be solved. Cultivate an audience that is more interested in enjoying the experience than trying to search out how things are done on youtube. Exposure is much less of an issue if the people you invite into your performances are comfortable living with the fantasy. 

Why I'll Be Posting Music on this Site in the Future

New content to this site is posted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Occasionally, on off days (Tuesdays and Thursdays), I will be posting music on this site.

Why? Well, because it's my site and I can do what I like. The music posts won't be replacing the magic posts. They'll be there when there otherwise wouldn't be any post at all. 

Music is a gigantic part of my life. I buy a couple new albums each week (and I sample probably 15-20 more in that time). And I try and see as many live shows as I can. 

I was a consummate mix-tape maker back in the day and I like sharing music. I'm not great at writing about it, so I probably won't say much beyond "I like this." But that's okay. I'm not trying to impress you with my music knowledge, just share some stuff that I'm into. The odds that you will be into it to are... well... probably not great. I don't intentionally seek out obscure stuff, but my taste isn't really in line with what's popular.

I'm a big fan of indie pop, indie rock, garage rock, power pop, jangle pop, bubblegum, psychedelic, punk pop, folk, chamber pop, etc. I'll be posting newer music, mostly, but many of the bands I'm into are heavily influenced by the music of the 60s. I'm a big fan of catchy music with high energy. I like music that is sometimes wild and off the rails. And at the other end of the spectrum, I'm a sucker for intricate, beautiful harmonies and complicated arrangements. Oh, I can't wait to bore you with music talk! (Just skip those posts you whiny bitch.)

And it actually does have something to do with magic because my ideal style of performing is most similar to that of sharing music back in the day. I am perhaps of the last generation where you would invite someone over to listen to a new album. Does that still happen? Do people go over to someone's house and sit around and listen to a new record? Probably not too much. That's too bad because it's such a pleasant type of interaction.


And it's this dynamic that I want to emulate when I perform magic. That is, it's not me "performing" for you with my awesome talent. It's me saying, "Hey, come over. I have this thing I want to share with you," and then us experiencing it together. (Those of you who will be getting MFYL will find a routine that is almost 100% mapped onto the "come over and listen to a record" experience, but with magic instead of music.)

Here's a song by Pacific Radio that was one of my favorites of 2017. It's from their album Pretty, But Killing Me. The video is pretty clever. What do you do when you're a small band without a ton of money for a video? Well, go shoot it in West Hollywood on Halloween and now you've got a ton of costumed extras for no money at all.

My friend is putting together a seance style show and I was helping him research some different effects. He was looking at this effect by Tim Wisseman called Dead Rap.  It's a remote-controlled device to create rapping sounds. Not the Biz Markie kind, the "at my chamber door" kind.

We were curious what object the device was hidden in and then we came across this post from Paul Gross, the owner of Hocus-Pocus magic on the Magic Cafe.

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 6.12.20 PM.png

There has been some questions as to how the Dead Rap device is hidden. I'll give you a clue. It's hidden in something that you would find in a "library". 

We thought that was great. Hiding the device in a book is ideal camouflage. Books are fairly innocent objects that would not look out of place in almost any performance environment.

So we ordered it and got the package a couple weeks later and were surprised by the size of the box.

We opened it up and that's when we realized...

It's hidden in a goddamn microfiche machine!

Screen Shot 2018-03-15 at 4.20.37 PM.png

(But seriously, though, if you want to let us know something is hidden in a book, just say it's hidden in a book. Saying, "It's hidden in something that you would find in a library," is moronic. You're not being circumspect. It's not like you're concealing what you're saying from any non-magician that might stumble upon that post. "Something you would find in a library? Hmmm...what could that possibly mean?... A librarian?!?! Did they make some poor librarian keister their knocking gimmick?")

I like these combination shadow/illustrations. I think there's probably a magic trick to be found in here as well.

Four Uses of Exposure

Exposure is not good or bad. Exposure is a knife.

"You take a knife, you use it to cut the bread, so you'll have strength to work; you use it to shave, so you'll look nice for your lover; on discovering her with another, you use it to cut out her lying heart." - Huddie Ledbetter

You can expose an effect and ruin the magical moment you've created. Or you can use exposure in an artful way to create a more powerful magic experience for people. 

I'm not defending people who just crudely expose tricks on youtube or in other forums. Nothing is gained by that. Wholesale exposure is not a good thing. But I do think you can let people in on some secrets in a way that makes them appreciate magic more and in way that can lead to stronger magic moments. 

Using Exposure to Capture Their Attention

Secrets are not the most important thing in magic. Yes, they're required (generally) for a successful magic trick, but that's like saying the film projector is the most important part of movie-making because you can't show a movie without it. 

For a layperson though, secrets are the most immediately intriguing aspect of the art. Secrets are to laypeople what boobies are to a 13-year old boy. 

So being willing to talk about secrets is an easy way to get people engaged in something they might otherwise not be. And once you’ve lured them in with some mild “exposure,” you can transition on to more interesting and more rewarding magical experiences.

[It should go without saying that when I talk about exposure, I’m not talking about exposing double lifts or rough and smooth. I’m talking about letting them in on tricks that don’t have a method that has significant broader magical uses.]

Using Exposure to Lower Expectations

This is an idea that you’ll find explored in the magic literature, but I think it’s something that can be used more frequently. It’s the idea of exposing things but doing it poorly so people’s understanding of the concept or technique is diminished in some way. 

The classic example you’ll see is where the magician discusses palming cards and then does a really shitty palm with a stiff hand and part of the card peeking out. The hope here is that by “exposing” a bad palm then if someone sees your hand naturally curled with no part of a card poking out, they’ll assume you’re not palming a card (even if you are). 

You can do this with lots of things. Bad coin vanishes. Bad bottom deals. Bad deck switches. Bad misdirection. Bad anything. 

Now, of course, you don't want to introduce any new concepts to them. You don't want to be like, "Here's something called the gravity half pass," and then do it poorly. 

What we're actually doing here is using exposure to poison the knowledge that they already have. For example, most adults have heard of the concept of marked cards, but most have never seen a marked deck. If you “expose” a marked deck to someone, and it’s the kind of marked deck that you have to really study the back of the card and do a bunch of mental calculations to determine what the card is, then you’ve helped establish in their mind what a marked deck is. So if, at a later time, you use a different marked deck (one that allows you to know the cards identity with just a glimpse, perhaps from a few feet away) and you somehow know what card they picked without studying the back of the card, they’ll assume it wasn’t a marked deck. 

In this way exposure can actually be used to make your magic stronger.

Using Exposure to Misdirect their Speculation

This is similar to the idea above, but here we’re going to expose a worse trick that’s similar in some way in order to get them thinking in a different direction on how a trick works and to emphasize the more impossible elements of the trick you don't expose.

I’ll give you an example.

About 6 years ago, Mickael Chatelain’s trick Ink came out. I bought it and performed it a number of times and always received a nice reaction. The version I performed was the one where you would draw one playing card on the outside of the box and it would visibly change to another playing card (the one the spectator picked). 

Then one day I preceded this trick with by exposing another “moving ink” effect, one I thought wasn’t great. It's also by Chatelain and it's called Numberground.  It’s a trick where the 3 of diamonds drawn on the back of a card changes to the 5 of diamonds.


In the ad for this trick it says: Show him what you drew, and then determine this does not even remotely look like the chosen card. "Not even remotely"? I mean, it looks identical other than a slightly tilted line. When they ask the question, "What would you do if you had real magic powers?" This is literally the last thing on that list.

When I'd perform Numberground alone, it would get a laugh because it seems more like a joke than magic. Obviously you have a special card where one piece moves. This is reinforced when you put it in your pocket and run away after you perform the trick. So this was a case where I thought the gimmick was much more interesting than the trick. And I would expose the gimmick and say it was the first trick I made when I was a kid or something. (It has that sort of look/feel to it.) I’d let them play with it a bit and then tell them I had been refining it for a few years now and I’d show them my newest version and I’d perform Ink for them. 

With the exposure of Numberground, I had conditioned them to expect a very simple animation of something that wasn’t really a drawn line of marker. But what they get is a much more intricate animation of something that can then be wiped off at the end, “proving” that what they saw was just a real time animation of dry erase marker. 

The reactions I got to Ink when prefaced with the exposure of the other trick were significantly stronger because I had set a baseline with that effect. Showing them how the first trick worked magnified the impossibility of the second. 

Using Exposure to Demystify and Remystify

I think needlessly exposing tricks comes across as sort of pathetic, even to the average layperson. 

But when discussing a method in the course of a genuine conversation it can be a very humanizing thing.  And this is helpful when transitioning into other effects, especially in a social magic setting. You're not some weirdo who thinks he's a wizard or a psychic. You're someone who's willing to talk about magic as they know it to be. That is, you're talking about tricks with concrete methods that someone with an interest in magic can learn. You're demystifying it. 

Now, in and of itself, that's not a particularly worthwhile goal. But I've found that by demystifying it you can get people to be less wary and more accepting of the magic. They let their guard down. So later when you remystify what you're showing them, it hits much harder because their defenses aren't up.

For example... If my first introduction to magic with people is me saying, "I have a bell that rings when a ghost is in the area," they're going to write that off as total nonsense and they may write me off as a corny dork. But if I introduce magic to people with an effect or two in the Peek Backstage style, and then maybe teach them a trick. And then I say, "It's a fun hobby. You meet a lot of... interesting people and see a lot of weird things. Especially when you get deep into it. You want to see something crazy I bought at this gathering of magicians I was at a few weeks ago? It's this bell...." And then I show them this bell I got that supposedly rings when this incantation is said and a spirit enters the room. Well, then I've caught them with their guard down. We were just talking about magic in a very sober, down-to-earth way and now the exact nature of this bell is much more questionable and the mystery much deeper. This is a technique I call demystifying and remystifying and it's very strong. Instead of introducing something weird up front, make people comfortable by letting them feel they have a grasp on what’s going on. 

In this instance, exposure is a helpful tool in creating a feeling of normality before ramping up to something truly weird.

But why can't we just keep the old rules? Never expose tricks.

It's important to recognize that this isn't 100 years ago, or even 20 years ago. If someone wants to know how a trick is done, they can figure it out in 2 minutes on a device that's in their pocket. It takes almost no effort. One of the ways to combat that is just to have more engrossing presentations that take the emphasis off of you and off of how the trick was done. You can defuse probably 70-80% of the "how'd you do that" response from people. But no matter how hard you try, you’re always going to have people who want to know more about the methods in magic. 

What I’ve found is that if I play the role of someone they can come to with this curiosity, then I can sort of guide their exposure to... well, exposure. And then I can use it to my own end—to make magic potentially even more powerful. I’m like the “cool parent.” “If you’re going to drink, I want you to do it in my house where I can keep watch.” “If you’re going to try to find out magic secrets, do it with me where I can keep an eye on you.” 

If you avoid the issue entirely, people will just search out methods online (if they’re inclined to). Whereas if you position yourself as someone willing to “expose” on some level, you can actually reshape their understanding of magic secrets, and present something much richer than what they can find on youtube. “Oh sure, you can learn some tricks online. But that’s just the sort of thing you would find in library books and on cereal boxes. The real stuff is only taught person to person after you’ve paid your dues. Fortunately, I’ve paid my dues, and I’m willing to show you some of the stranger stuff….” And you weave a tale from there, mixing fact and fiction, exposing and astounding along the way.

Coming In MFYL - In Search of the Castaways

Throughout the year I will be giving some small peeks into some of the effects that will be in the 2018 Jerx supporter bonus book, Magic For Young Lovers. 

In my trick, In Search of the Castaways, the Aces turn to Jacks and then find three selections.

No. I'm just shitting you. 

Here's the thing, it's hard for me to "tease" effects, because I want to create material where the most exciting part is the effect (not the method), so I want to save what the full effect is so you can enjoy the way it unfolds when your read it in full. I don't want to spoil the surprise. 

So I'll just be hinting at what the effects are in these preview posts.

In Search of the Castaways is one of my favorite new tricks. It's just a few months old. It's very much in line with a lot of the stuff I've been writing about recently about social magic and meta-effects. 

You tell your friend you want to show her this new trick you've been working on with a borrowed ring. You take her ring and vanish it. "Have I gone anywhere near that matchbox?" you ask. Smiling, you reach across the table and pick it up and shake it... but it makes no noise. "Aw, dammit," you say.

That's how the journey begins. What follows are two strong magical moments and a little mini-expedition as you demonstrate to your friend how you handle the situation when something vanishes but doesn't return.

Make This: Beam Me Up, Scotchy

[Make This is a series I introduced last week where I offer up ideas that anyone is free to run with if they have inclination to actually build the necessary props.]

Here is what it would look like. 

You ask your friend if he'd like to see something totally bonkers. "You can't tell anyone about this. I'm not supposed to have this and I'm certainly not supposed to show it to anyone."

You pull out two glasses from a box and ask your friend to take a look at them. The glasses are slightly different in some way. Maybe one is a little taller or a little wider than the other. 

"It doesn't look like much, I know, but I need you to be really careful with these glasses. They cost like $6,000 a piece or something crazy. I have a friend who is a physicist working at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York and he's letting me borrow these for a few days because he knows I'm fascinated with stuff like this."

You pull out two half dollars and put them on the table. You ask your friend to take a look at them and drop one into each glass. He does. 

You pick up one of the glasses. "This is the sending glass. You'll notice it's shorter than that one. I'm going to try and explain this but I understand maybe 5% of how this works. These glasses are specially constructed down to the nanometer, which is one billionth of a meter. And they're constructed in two similar but opposite ways. My glass is made so that the sound wave that comes off the glass when a half-dollar is rattled around inside, is exactly opposite in frequency to the sound wave that comes off the half-dollar itself. Your glass is constructed so the sound waves are identical and in sync. So my frequencies will cancel each other out, and yours will double."

"I know that just sounds like... 'huh? what?' but I'll show you what happens in practical terms."

"Take your glass and hold it like this. In a second I'm going to have you shake the coin in your glass, but I'll go first. Watch."

You pick up your glass and start shaking the coin in the glass. You can see it and hear it rattling around. One moment it's there, and then "poof," it's gone. You hold the glass upside down. There's no more coin. 

You tell him to pick up his glass and start shaking the coin inside. He does and after a couple moments another coin pops into existence in his glass and two coins can be seen and heard rattling in the glass.

You indicate he should stop shaking the coins and dump them in your hands. You set the coins on the table. Your hands are empty. Everything can be examined.

Project Name: Beam Me Up, Scotchy
Required Skills: The ability to construct gimmicked coins

I'll rush though the basic handling because it doesn't make a ton of sense to write a full handling for a trick that doesn't exist.

The coin that vanishes is a magnetic half dollar. During the shaking it gets attracted to a PK Ring, PK Blista, Enigma gimmick or something else in your hand that's holding the glass. You turn your hands over showing nothing in the glass and slide the glass up and away from the coin now secretly in your hand.

The other coin is the special coin that would need to be made. Essentially it's a scotch and soda type of gimmick. This trick is based on the technique of dislodging the insert from the shell of a scotch and soda gimmick by shaking it in a glass. 

But you need a gimmick that doesn't exist yet (I don't believe). It would need to look like a normal half dollar when nested and two half dollars when the insert was out. The "two coins would only be seen in motion or at the bottom of a glass, so you don't need perfection in that part of the illusion.

So you'd need something like this: The shell part of the gimmick would have the head of a coin on top and the tails side of a coin printed on the inside of the shell in some way (it could probably just be a sticker with the tails-side of a coin on it, unless there's some better way). The insert of the gimmick would be the tails side of a half dollar on both sides.

When assembled, the coin would be completely examinable. When dropped in a glass and rattled around, it would split into its component parts. It would be a spontaneous appearance of a coin that could be seen, heard, and felt by the spectator as he shakes the glass.

Obviously the spectator can't examine the coins immediately. But you could have him dump the coins in your cupped hands (with the other half dollar in your right fingers, blocked by your left hand on top). Then, as you examine the coins yourself ("hmmm.... I can't even tell which is the original") you could quickly re-shell the gimmick (the double-tailed insert makes this quick so you don't have to reorient the coins as much). Then just turn both hands palm down and place a coin on the table and you're clean.

Now bust out your CNC machines, bitches, and make this for me.

[Thanks to Joe Mckay for reminding me of the idea of rattling a nested coin gimmick in a glass to get it out of the shell and pointing me to a usage of it that was done in an overt way.]

Gardyloo #49

Ugghhhhh... Sorry guys. I'm just not feeling up for this today. As magic's last best hope, I just put so much work into trying to elevate the art of magic and then I get some news like I got today. 

I guess I need to set the stage a little. You all remember Dan Harlan's trick Card-Toon. A brilliant gimmicked deck where a stickman magician drawn on the back of the cards is riffled like a flip book and he pulls a freely named card out of his hat. A fun trick. And more importantly a trick for nice, good boys like me to perform for my grandma or my pastor, no problemo.

Then, a few years later, Fart-Toon comes out. Fart-Toon, a collaboration between Harlan and Scott Alexander, had the magician on the back of the card eat something and then fart out the name of the selected card.

See the video below (NSFW)

So we had this perfectly good card trick that was ruined because this new version makes us contemplate the nature of the stick figure's beautiful butthole and the feces laden air he shoots out of it to form the name of the card instead of concentrating on the trick itself. And the whole point of stick figures in the first place was to have representational images of people without the naughty parts so we wouldn't be distracted by our boners when looking at art. (This is art history 101) And now this guy has a butt we have to concern ourselves with?

But I bit my tongue at the time that effect came out. If Dan Harlan wants to sully his own creation by turning it into a paean to the old grundle rumble, have at it.

What's got me so flustered is that I just received a very unsettling fax yesterday. First I was unsettled because I forgot I had a fax machine. Then I was doubly-unsettled by the contents of said fax.

Apparently Fart-Toon was such a successful reworking of Card-Toon that Hermetic Press is putting out a 3-Volume Set by Dan Harlan and Scott Alexander where they will be attempting to redo all the classics of card magic with an anal audio theme. According to the fax, The Royal Road to Fart Magic will contain the following routines.

  • 21 Fart Trick
  • Three Fart Monte
  • Six Fart Repeat
  • Soldier's Prayer Book (of farts)
  • Think of a Fart
  • Princess Fart Trick
  • Piano Fart Trick
  • Ambitious Fart
  • Cannibal Farts
  • Fart on the Ceiling (or Wall)
  • Fart Stab
  • Fart Warp
  • Farts Across
  • Fart to Pocket
  • Rising Fart
  • Color Changing Fart
  • Diminishing Farts
  • Homing Fart
  • Fart thru Window
  • Torn and Restored Fart
  • Floating Match on Fart
  • Fart in Wine Glass
  • Fart thru Table
  • Fart on Forehead
  • Anniversary Sharts
  • Fart thru Handkerchief
  • Fart to Mouth

And then a section on tricks with "business farts," whatever that means. 

And that's just volume one. 

Well, Dan, Scott, Hermetic Press... I hope it's worth it. I hope your love of the almighty dollar is worth the stain you're leaving on the art of magic. The stinky brown stain.

I'm in NYC at the moment, finishing up some of the focus-group testing I mentioned in January, although the weather here has thrown off some of our plans. 

When I mentioned we were going to try and look at different discrepancies in card effects to see how often they were noticed or not noticed, a few different people wrote me suggesting we test out the Flushtration count. Actually, the sentiment behind each email that mentioned it was, "You should test the Flushtration Count because it sucks shit and there's no way it fools anyone." 

Well, we aren't testing the Flushtration Count during this session of tests, but that's primarily because we tested it many years ago. I don't have the specifics of the testing (how many people, etc.) and the actual statistical breakdown—if it still exists—is packed away somewhere, but I do remember the general results. The count wasn't tested on its own, but as part of a larger effect where people were asked to indicate any time they thought something questionable occurred during the course of an effect.

I can't remember precisely how we were asking people to note their suspicions at this point in the history of our testing. Over the course of the years we've had people ding a bell, press a button that turned on a light, use an app, make a mark on a piece of paper, and a couple other ways that I'm forgetting. One thing you quickly learn when you ask people to register their suspicion in some way is that some people are absolutely useless because they indicate suspicion about every damn thing that happens. The magician takes the cards out of the box. Ding! Suspicious. The magician spreads the cards on the table. Ding! Suspicious. We've looked for ways to weed out these people in later years, but I remember that being a big issue when we first started. 

Here's the part some of you might find interesting. From what I remember, outside of the people that flagged everything as being suspicious, the Flushtration Count flew by almost everyone. This was surprising to me. And is still somewhat surprising to me. 

To be clear, it was used as a casual, secondary proving of the nature of the cards. By that I mean, we didn't say, "These cards are red. And now they're blue [Flushtration Count]." The count was used after another sequence of moves had been used to show the packet of cards as consisting of something it didn't really consist of. No one suggests using the Flushtration Count in any other way.

But still, why did the move—which I agree is not overly deceptive—slip past people?

I can't say for sure, but here is what I suspect. 

1. The pace and flow of the move is completely authentic. That's almost how you would display the fronts and backs of cards one at a time if you were to do it for real. When we replaced the Flushtration count with the Rumba Count (which is an FC count alternative) many more people found it questionable. Why? I'm going to guess it comes down to the "unnecessary expenditure of energy" concept I mentioned in this post.

2. While the move is discrepant, I don't think it's the type of discrepancy people are great at picking up on if they don't handle cards a lot. It's not like seeing the Ace of Hearts twice in a packet of 4 cards where—if you notice it at all—then it's 100% obvious. In this case you have two hands, holding two packets of cards, turning face-up and face-down simultaneously. The discrepancy is more about orientation and the relationship between all the objects which I think is harder to notice, although it seems obvious to magicians (similar to the cross cut force).

3. I think there probably are some people who notice they're seeing the same back over and over and just assume, due to the casual nature of the count, that it's just a mistake on your part. Like you're just talking and casually displaying the cards and it's not meant to "prove" anything, so maybe if they do notice it they just assume it wasn't something you were doing that was meant to fool them. It's possible the move is so dumb that when it is noticed people just think, "Well, he certainly couldn't have intended that to fool me."

So, I don't really have any grand insight to offer here. Just to say that if this is a move you have avoided because you thought you'd get busted on it, that wasn't our experience (and we were encouraging people to bust us). I think as long as you use the move as people suggest you do, you're relatively safe.

I'm behind on emails. I try to respond to everyone who writes, even if only briefly, but I have a backlog. My expert analysis suggests this is due to the fact that there are many of you, but only one of me. (I also have a convoluted process for replying to emails that involves drafting a response, leaving my response in the draft folder, and then, a few times a day, a friend of the site logs in and sends out all the emails. The cloak and dagger jive goes back to the MCJ days.)

I plan on catching up over the next few days, so if you're waiting to hear from me, you should soon.

If we could do real magic we wouldn't make a card rise to the top of the deck, would we? No. We'd do real, strong, purposeful magic. 

Like "converting" homosexuals to heterosexuals.

I was inspired by this formerly gay individual who is most assuredly not gay no more. He 100% don't like mens no more. He definitely wouldn't date a man. There's no way he'd carry a purse. You best believe he won't put on make-up. Because he likes women. Women, women, women, women, WOMEN!!! hu-di-di-di-di-di.

Could I replicate this miracle with a magic trick?

Well, as it turns out, you kind-of can.

Imagine you're out with your friends, one of whom happens to be gay. We'll assume his name is Bruce or Tad or Spence or something. 

And you say, "Hey Bruce, would it be okay with you if I performed a hetero-conversion ritual to make you straight?" 

"Sure, why not," Bruce says.

You ask him what his biggest turn on is. Let's keep it PG and say he says Terry Crews.

You have him repeat a hetero-mantra a few times while you cleanse his aura of gayness.

"I think it's worked," you say, and go to your phone to bring up an image such as...


You let everyone but Bruce see the picture. "This would certainly get those old gay juices flowing," you say to those gathered around you.

But when you show the picture to Bruce, he turns away saying, "Ew gross. That's disgusting."

And no, he's not acting, or being an instant stooge. He's genuinely repulsed by what he sees.

How? Well, if you have the Jerx app, you probably have a pretty good idea. 

[The Jerx App is an iphone app that was a bonus for anyone who bought The Jerx, Volume One. Promo codes for the app are also available to anyone who has paid in full for the forthcoming Magic For Young Lovers book (but not if you already have one from JV1, due to the fact that we don't just have an endless supply of promo code).]

Emails from Magicians

From C.P.

"I love the Teddy Ruxpin trick you put on your site today. I'd like to add it to a show I'm working on. Would you mind taking that post down?"

No—I asked—he wasn't suggesting he would buy the rights to the idea and have me take it down, and no he's not even someone who supports this site. He just wanted me to take it down so he could have it for himself.

Oh, magicians... don't ever change.