A True False Memory

For the purposes of this site, I sent an email out to some friends last week asking them what their favorite or most memorable moment was in regards to any trick I've shown them or strange experience we've had together. One of the nice things about performing magic as an amateur is that you get to cycle through a lot of different material. You don't have to perform the same six effects over and over (unless that's your thing). The downside of that is I've forgotten a lot of the tricks I've worked on, and some of my best ideas I only performed a couple of times before moving on. So it was nice to get a few dozen replies to my question because it reminded me of some things I haven't done in a long time and gave me a number of ideas for future posts. Hell, even if you don't write a magic blog I think you should email your friends and ask them what tricks were most memorable or enjoyable. It's educational. And it's entertaining to hear not only what they remember but how they remember things happening.

One of the laziest bits of writing in magic, primarily in the area of mentalism, is when people are explaining their effects and there's a big, glaring weak spot in the method. And rather than justifying that weak spot presentationally, or improving on it methodologically, they gloss over it by telling us that people won't remember it. Or better yet, they'll misremember it as something better. "While the constraints you place on the selection process will limit your spectator's options to just four cards, they will remember the effect as them having had a free choice of any card." Oh, will they?! How fortunate! Fuck this card trick, I want to learn how you can read the mind -- in fact read the future memory -- of a spectator you've never met and their reaction to a performance you haven't seen. That's impressive.

Of course spectator's do misremember effects. It's just naive to think that they always do so in the same way, and that they always do so in a way that covers up the shitty parts of your trick. 

Moving on. One of the responses to my email above contained my favorite misremembering of a trick I've performed. And it turned an effect which I thought was kind of quirky and artistically appealing into something that was either the height of whimsical or nightmarish depending on your perception.

This was my friend, Lexi's response to the email:

My favorite tricks were the ones with the pig and mice [Ed. note: I did a trick with a baby pig and mice for her birthday one year.] and the one with the dress of course. [Ed. note: One night I told her I was going to "Pretty Woman" her and take her out dress shopping in her mind. There was a wrapped present on the table. I had her design a dress in her head and when she was done she opened the present to find that dress. Of course, there was more to it than that, BUT THAT IS WHAT THE AUDIENCE WILL REMEMBER!]

But the one I think of at least once a week, or whenever anyone is chewing gum, is the gumball trick!

I should explain something. Here is one of the corners of my living room.

Yes. I'm a grown man with no kids, but I like candy, okay? Deal with it. When people see this for the first time I tell them it's an art instillation. And that's kind of true, but it just happens to be one that changes over time as my friends and I eat from it and I replenish it with new stuff. Is it immature? Maybe. I like it and other people love it. Look, pedophiles are evil people, but they have the right idea: people like candy. And most everything is chosen with a purpose. I have tricks I do with a lot of it. Bubble gum cigarettes lead to some interesting conversations and cig manipulation. And I haven't met a woman of any age that doesn't enjoy donning a candy necklace and ring pop and they are all too happy to share them with you. And if you can't transition from sucking something on her hand, or biting something off her neck, into other playfully romantic actions then you're out of luck. Take your dick, wrap it in bubble-wrap, and bury that shit 10-feet deep in a time-capsule, because brother, you ain't going to need it.

If you look in the upper left-hand corner, you'll see a bit of red plastic hanging on the wall. It's one of these. 

Everyone assumes it's just a picture of a gumball machine, but it's actually a working gumball machine. You turn the knob at the bottom and gum comes out below it. 

So when my friend said "the gumball trick," I wasn't actually sure what she meant. Because I've done multiple tricks with gumballs. You can set one of these frames up so you know the colors of the first two gumballs to come out, and obviously you can use that bit of knowledge as part of an effect that's built around taste or color.

When I emailed my friend back about which gumball trick she meant, she replied:

The one where your eyes turned into gumballs!

Say what? I thought.

And then I remembered. This was about four years ago.

My friend comes over and hits the gumball machine, like she does every time she comes over. I ask her what color she got and she tells me green. I ask her to grab one for me. She turns the knob and one falls into her hand.

"What color is it?" I ask.

"It's red," she tells me.

"Okay, come to me and put it between my teeth."

She walks over to me and puts the gumball in my mouth and I hold it between my top and bottom front teeth. I point to the gumball and then suck it back into my mouth and start chewing it. "Look at my eyes," I tell her. She does, then after a beat, I close them and swallow the gum with a big gulp. I immediately open my eyes and now they are bright red. She screams, and a moment later my eyes are back to normal.

As many of you have probably gathered, this was my presentation for Biokinesis by Berk Eratay. Done with contact lenses like these:

I had thought that having my eyes change to the color of a "randomly" chosen gumball would be a neat trick. And it was. But the fact she remembers this as my eyeballs changing to gumballs is 100 times better and not something I would have predicted, although it makes sense to me now. (I'm not that great a mentalist, I can only tell you how someone misremembers my trick after they actually misremember it that way.)