Let's flash back to June 11th, 2015.

What was going on then?

Jurassic World opened in theaters. Live to Tell by Madonna topped the Billboard charts. The Bridges of Madison County was the #1 NY Times Bestseller. Joseph Stalin executed eight army leaders as part of The Great Purge. And I took that pill that made me unable to recognize the annual passing of time, causing all of recorded history to collapse into one busy calendar year in my mind. 

Those were some good times. 

I also put a post on this site called "Spectator Cuts the Aces Three Ways," an early and foundational post in regards to some presentational ideas I would expand upon over the next few years.

The Creepy Child version (as well as Spectator Cuts their Future, from JV1) are still my most used variations on the Spectator Cuts the Aces plot. If you're not familiar with that variation, check the linked post above, of this won't make any sense.

Last week, reader Ari Isenberg sent me this image from his Instagram.

A post shared by Ari Isenberg (@arimagician) on

This is a great idea (Thanks, Ari). As much as I love the "Creepy Child Version," it has one big downside to it in that it only makes sense when you're near your own refrigerator. (An inconvenient prop for the strolling performer.) Of course, the drawing doesn't have to be on you refrigerator, but it adds a lot to the performance when it's found in some sort of organic location.

You could, of course, just carry around the drawing with you, pull it out of your pocket and unfold it and be like, "Look what my niece did!" But then you're taking away the strength of this routine, which is the idea that this wasn't something you planned all along. You want it to feel like a card trick that goes to this weirder place. Not like something you planned on going to some weird place. That narrows the scope of the trick rather than broadening it. 

So, Ari's idea to have this on your instagram is really quite good. It allows you to do this trick anywhere at any time. You can even borrow a deck and (with a little set-up) get into it. You don't need your own phone or computer. It's one of those things that, as they say, you could do "naked on the beach." (Even if you had a raging hard-on. (They never mention that condition, which seems pretty important if I'm going to be naked on the beach.))

You'd take the deck and get into the trick, and you're building up to the idea that the spectator has cut to the four aces. When it becomes clear that hasn't happened, you're left scratching your head and looking over the cards and then it dawns on you, "Wait, wait, wait. This is... Do you have your phone? Can you go on my instagram? I have to check something." And then it spirals out from there.

As Ari wrote in his email to me about his performance, "It was a ton of fun and got amazing reactions." I have no doubt. I guess I need to start an instagram now. 

Here are some touches in regards to how I'll set this up when I do it to make it perfect for my tastes.

1. Rather than just a picture of the drawing, I will have a picture of a kid in my life actually making the drawing with a caption like. "Chelsea knows how much Uncle Andy likes cards, so she's drawing me a picture of some." Aww, how adorable. This will help disguise that I'm setting them up for a trick because it seems to be a picture of my niece (or whatever) rather than just the drawing.

2. Then I'll wait a couple weeks and have another 10-20 pictures added to my instagram. At that point I'll put another picture up. In this picture I'll have the front page of that day's paper along with another child's drawing that's very similar to the image on the front page. (Not too similar. Maybe 65% similar.) And the caption will say something like. "Chelsea drew this last weekend. And now this is the front page of the paper? #coincidence or #creepykid?" Then I'd go on with my instagram, letting some more pictures push that one down the page.

Now I'm set to go into this at any time I have a deck of cards. Go into the ace cutting sequence, turn over the cards, notice something odd, ask them to go to my instagram. Have them scroll down and stop them at the most recent drawing pic, the one with the drawing and the newspaper page. "Okay... see this? I thought there was something weird about this girl but I had written it off as just a coincidence. But now I'm not sure what to think. Scroll down more." They scroll down more to the picture of this little girl doing the drawing of cards. You zoom in and see that the cards are a perfect match.

3. My ideal spectator would be someone who had—weeks or months earlier—"liked" the photo of my niece drawing weeks or months earlier. That would be cool. Imagine you like a photo of your friend's kid drawing something. Time passes and you forget about it. Then weeks later it turns out that the picture you liked was actually of the girl somehow drawing this moment you're now in.

What I particularly like about this is that it's a "big" trick, but it's also one that is always ready to go. There is no burden to be set up for this trick. Borrow a deck, cull some cards while taking out the jokers or just playing around with the deck, and you're good to go. Usually the tricks that you can get into "anytime, anywhere" tend to be "smaller" tricks conceptually (a broken and restored rubber band, a coin vanishes, etc.). They are cool moments but not the sort of thing where the spectator is taken on a journey. I'm perfectly happy with a trick that is just a "cool moment" and I'm not against tricks with big set-ups that have to be performed at a particular place in time to produce profound effects. But I'm definitely always on the lookout to find or create immersive, expansive effects with no onerous set-up, and this is definitely one of them. (Check out There In Spirit in the Spring 2018 X-Comm for another example.)