Thanksgivings Past: Grandfather Hardy and Tasha

Astounded.jpgLong-time readers of Inside Magic are already familiar with this story.  Almost all of it nearly true.

It was Thanksgiving dinner years ago.  The family was gathered around the table.  We have a large family both in girth and number.  Our now departed grandfather and the magician scion of the Hardy clan (our family’s stage name) was seated at the head of the elongated table created by pushing three wooden tables and one card table into a long row.

Grandfather Hardy (his real last name from which we took our stage name) clutched the family bible in his liver-spotted hands and gazed over his progeny with pride.  Assembled were five magicians and their families as well as non-magicians and their families.  He was waiting for all to cease their conversations, the passing of plates and the taking of places.

Once all were quiet, Grandfather Hardy turned to his favorite passage from the holy book on Thanksgiving day, John 10:10 “I have come to give you life and life more abundantly.”  He spoke for a few minutes about the abundant life God had provided and a tear formed in his right eye, his voice cracked and he looked down at his amply filled plate.  “We have much abundance and for that we should always be thankful.”

He crossed himself and we all followed – even those around the table who did not customarily cross themselves in their faith.

We began to eat.

There was clanging of forks and knives on Grandmother Hardy’s prized china and the occasional sounds of chomping from those in our family who had no manners and could not close their mouths whilst eating.  We thought nothing of it, though.  This was a time of family dedicated to giving thanks.

Then Grandfather Hardy brought out a deck of cards.

The mood around the table changed.

Some of us were excited.  Some showed signs of ennui and others just averted their glance from the old man and his preparation to show a card trick.

There are people who eat with their mouths open and people who don’t like card tricks.  If you were to draw a Ven Diagram describing those two groups, they would not only connect, they would likely match  up exactly in one circle with no evidence of outliers.

Grandfather Hardy asked the youngest of the families to select a card from the deck.

Young Natasha was just four but knew how to select a card and was excited about the attention she was now receiving from not only her Great Grandfather but also the entire crowded table.  She pondered the perfect fan of cards before her and made a selection.

“Show it to everyone but not me,” Grandfather Hardy said.

Natasha did as she was told.  Our memory may be fading but we think it was the two of clubs.

“Now, Tasha, Grandfather Hardy said with a smile, “sign the card so we’ll know it is yours if we see it again.”

She joined in the smile and looked to her mother, our aunt, as she took the pen she was handed and slowly, very slowly wrote her name on the card.  It said, “Tasha.”

Without urging from Grandfather Hardy, she placed the card back in the deck, still spread in a perfect fan.  She knew the elements of such a trick.

Grandfather Hardy handed the deck to Tasha’s mother and asked her to help her daughter shuffle it thoroughly.  The two shuffled for quite a while – or so it seemed to the magicians around the table.  It is difficult to say what the non-magicians thought.

Tasha’s mother returned the deck to her father and he held it fairly in his left hand.

“Tasha,” he said. “Do you remember what your card looked like?”

Tasha turned to her mother with a smile.  Her mother whispered something in her ear and Tasha turned back to greet the gaze of her Great Grandfather.  “Two of cubs,” she said.

“Indeed?” asked Grandfather Hardy.  “And it has your signature on it too.”

Tasha nodded and looked back at her mother for approval.  Her mother again whispered something in her ear and she turned again towards the table and nodded with a smile.

“Take a look at the cards and tell me if you see yours,” Grandfather Hardy instructed with a kind smile.

As he turned the deck face up and began to spread them across the tablecloth – one of four covering the assembly of tables – everyone could see that all of the cards were blank.  Tasha’s card was gone but so were the faces of all others.

Tasha’s eyes grew wide.  She had never seen this trick before.  She had been the volunteer for many of the old man’s tricks but this was a new one.  She turned to her mother again as if to verify that what she was seeing was not only amazing to her but to others.  She saw her mother’s proud smile and her smile increased accordingly.

“Where did it go?” Grandfather Hardy asked.

Tasha shook her head, still smiling.

“Look under your plate, Tasha,” Grandfather Hardy said softly.

Tasha lifted her plate and taking the instructions very literally looked at the bottom of the plate, not the table beneath.  Her mother pointed down to the table and drew her daughter’s attention to a single face down card.

Tasha seemed to accept that the trick was over.  She was impressed, delighted, amused, and very, very happy.  She had no need to turn over the card, she knew it had to be the one she selected and signed.

“Turn it over,” said several of the non-magician family members almost in unison.

Tasha did as she was urged and indeed the card was the same one she had selected and signed.

Her smile grew wider, she looked to her mother and now back to Grandfather Hardy and then her mother again.

She leapt from her chair to give the old man a hug and a kiss.  He accepted both and hugged her tightly.

His eyes were filled with tears now.

“Abundantly,” he said with cracking voice.  “We have been blessed with abundance.”

Inside Magic Invention Challenge Now Open

Inside Magic Image of Favorite Melvin the MagicianA while back we had a regular feature where we would pose an idea for a trick and then ask readers for their ideas on how the trick could be accomplished.

It was a bad idea but a good idea at the same time.  Bad because it exposed magic secrets and good because it started a conversation about the types of techniques to accomplish the effect.

The concept was inspired (stolen) from the ACAAN challenge that has puzzled and inspired magicians for years.  We can’t claim that today’s challenge will cause such inspiration or education in the thinking and logistical planning needed to bring about such a revolution in card magic, but it couldn’t hurt.

The notion that something may  have no positive effect for anyone “but couldn’t hurt,” is ridiculous.  Many things don’t hurt but promote not a scintilla of social or even personal value.  Plus, the term “couldn’t hurt” doesn’t seem to mean anything more than physical pain.  What about the emotional  impact or economic devastation suffered by the proponent of this philosophy?  We throw this out for something to ponder.  It isn’t essential to the post but it couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the concept.  It will be non-changeable — just like the original ACAAN challenge.

Effect: A magician has a spectator (no stooges permitted) select a card from a deck of cards held in the magician’s hands.  The spectator is asked if she is satisfied with the selection or if there was any other card in the whole world she could have selected, what would that card be.  She names the alternative card.  The magician hands her the deck and it is turned over revealing that every card in the remaining pack is the card she would have rather selected.

Conditions:

  • The deck from which the first card is selected must appear to be the same deck used throughout the effect (this allows for a deck switch but under seemingly impossible conditions).
  • The deck must not be gimmicked in any manner.
  • The card selected must be different in image from the other faces of the cards shown.

Non-Conditions (Not Required):

  • The trick does not need to be repeatable for the same audience.
  • The trick does not need to require knuckle-busting moves.
  • The trick must not be a currently available effect.
  • The trick does not need to have a cutesy or vulgar name.

To keep secrecy, please send your thoughts and solutions and questions to mystery@insidemagic.com.  We will announce in 30 days whether there has been progress on the solution.  You, the inventor or innovator of the solution will get full credit and we claim no IP rights to any aspect of the effect.  We will be happy to provide endorsements of the trick if you decide to market it.

Send your solutions or questions now to mystery@insidemagic.com.  All submissions will be kept in the most confidential conditions.

 

Finally a New Deck of Cards We Will Buy

Purple-Monarch-07868_2000x1024.jpgLet us get it out of the way at the start.  We receive no endorsement, promise, compensation or promise of compensation (including a free deck of the cards we are about to describe).  We will be buying the Purple Monarch deck from Theory 11 is our bottom line.

With those preliminaries out of the way, thus meeting the FTC guidelines for influencers (can be found here), we have long said that we did not understand the hysteria our profession has suffered from the release of custom made cards.  We have been using our Bee (blue) decks since we were in utero and have attached a sonogram showing our nascent work on the Charlier Cut in previous posts.  But those efforts were always with a Bee (blue) deck — although slightly smaller than poker size for our only then evolving little hands.

Our mother would complain to her OB/GYN that it wasn’t so much the kicking that bothered her during our pregnancy, but the sharp edge of the cards being dropped in her innards during the last trimester (we don’t know what that would be in metric) of her pregnancy with us.

As we grew into what some have described as a young man, we continued to use the poker-sized Bee deck in both red and blue (we were wild as a teen and young adult and frequently lived on the edge as evidenced by our several chain escapes in neighbors’ pools and challenges to schoolmates to tie us up with 100 feet of rope).  Fortunately, our parents understood this was normal for a young man obsessed with Houdini. They wouldn’t buy the rope or chains for us so we had to use our show money to buy them and then boxes and boxes of red and blue Bee decks.

Yes, we went the way of the devil on occasion and would try Aviators (because they were cheaper and usually gimmicked) or Fox Lake (same as Aviators but with better gimmicking) or even a set of bridge-sized Hello Kitty cards.  But we always returned to Bee (now only blue) decks.

The motivation was simple.  Bee decks have no borders and possess what some could consider a busy back.  86 percent of our card routine involves second dealing.  The entire middle section (which seems to take about 90 minutes to most audiences) is all second deals.

There are trade-offs, of course.  Our double lift is suspect and our performance of Dai Vernon’s Triumph can be easily ruined with the boardless cards.  We do the double lift on an off-beat and never do Triumph anymore.

But the point of this post was not what we did but what we will do.

Theory 11 is advertising a new deck of cards called the Purple Monarch deck.  It is beautiful and could convince us to move from security provided by one of the several gross packages of Bee (blue) decks to a new deck.  We will order one or two or three from Theory 11 and do a review if we like them.  It is Inside Magic’s policy to never do a review of something we don’t like.   We don’t want to add negativity into our art and we were scandalized in the late 1980s with a negative (with positive points) about a card sword that we described as “it looks neither like a sword or a card sword.  A swashbuckler would not buy or steal this object for a sword fight and a magician would have no need to use it to stab cards or even himself in disgust for paying over $50 dollars for an aluminum pipe and a wood handle roughly cut and unfit for the hands of anyone other than a giant or two very normal-sized men working together.”

The sword manufacturer was very distressed by this review and we felt badly.  We tried to make it up by retracting the story (that’s why it’s no longer on the site) but that wasn’t enough.  We saw him at the IBM convention in Orlando and he ignored us.  We cried and overspent at his booth.  But the damage was done.  Never again.

You can view the Monarch deck here.  You can even tell them Inside Magic sent you but remember, we receive nada for the link or the puff.  Let us know if you agree that it is a deck about which one could be very excited.

Magician Changes Show Title After Concerns of Insensitivity

Box-Bottom The MarshMagician David Hirata has changed the name of his show, now playing in Berkeley, California, in response to objections from Japanese-Americans as reported on The Mercury website.  The show was originally called “The J*p Box” and is now called “A Box Without a Bottom.”

Mr. Hirata is a Japanese-American whose mother’s family was interned in a “segregation camp” during World War II.  He posted news of the new title on the theater’s website in an essay titled “A name change and an apology.”

“I deeply regret the pain that my choice has caused,” he wrote.

Mr. Hirata received complaints that his use of the term “normalized use of a slur” and was “harsh and degrading.”

His show will run through the first of December and features the story of the 19th-century Japanese magician, Namigoro Sumidagawa.  The original title reflected the mocking the magician received.  The new title references one of the magician’s effect,  Soko-nashi Bako (the “bottomless box”).  Mr. Hirata noted that American magic manufacturers appropriated the trick and sold it under the derogatory name.

Mr. Hirata said the show traces Japanese-American history, told through magic.  “We start with Namigoro Sumidagawa and his story and his interaction with Wellington Tobias, which says something about attitudes towards race in America, and weave that with my own personal history as a magician and my interest in the magic of these men. And my own identity as a Japanese-American then weaves in the fact of the internment as part of my family history.”

Mr. Hirata said that he “was extremely nervous when I considered the title.” He discussed the title with friends in San Diego as he premiered the show before bringing it to Berkeley.

In his post on the theater’s website he wrote  that“[t]he higher-profile run of the show here in the Bay Area exposed the show to a broader audience. Subsequent discussions with the Japanese-American community have led me to realize that I have simply underestimated the raw pain of the ‘J’ word. The title itself provides insufficient context to justify its use.

Though I have a real connection with the account of the Soko-nashi Bako, the raw pain of the ‘J word’ is not my story to tell.”

Read more about Mr. Hirata, his show and the decision he made on The Mercury’s website here.

Visit The Marsh Theater’s website and information about Mr. Hirata here.

Letters to the Editor

Inside Magic EditorFrom time to time and when required by the standards of decency and regulations, we publish letters to the editor.  If you have something on your brain you would like to share, please send us a note at editor@insidemagic.com.  We won’t use your last name so ask anything  – related to magic.

Dear Inside Magic:

A long time ago or maybe last week you said you were going to do podcasts.  When will they start going?

  • Unnamed

Dear Unnamed:

We are going to be doing podcasts and have already had two guests who have volunteered to discuss the history of magic, some of the greats they’ve seen and from whom they learned much.  While we are very talented in the double-lift and second deal, we are still learning how to hook-up the electronics necessary for a podcast.  We have been researching everywhere.  We started reading Popular Electronics magazines from the 1960s – just because we still had them, holding up part of our dining room table, also from the 1960s by coincidence.  The table fell down and scared our 12 cats but we were determined to learn the technique of what the kids call “pod casting.”

Our research showed that the technique did not exist in the 1960s (from 1964 forward), the 1970s (the only “pod” reference dealt with the American space program and did involve microphones and receivers but seemed far too expensive to build), and the 1980s.  We figured we would just break down (not emotionally – that’s what the 12 cats prevent) and go to Radio Shack to get a ready-made kit.  But you know what?  There are no Radio Shacks any more.  They’ve gone the way of Good Humor trucks and regular milk delivery to your front door.

Undeterred, we went to the Internet (capitalized to meet the current style guide here at Inside Magic (pronounced, “IN – side mAGIC” – the .com is silent.  We found many things on the Internet but few things on pod casting until we figured out that we should search for something more specific.  We modified our search in the “search bar” to something other than “pod” OR “casting.”  Each word on its own brings up results that are unhelpful.  The latter brings up many results that are not safe for work but we work from home so all we had to worry about was offending the cats and they don’t do much during the day.

Bottom line: we think we know what we need to do and we will do it, by gollly.  We hope to tape our first one in the next two or three weeks and it should go live within a few days after.  Thank you so much for asking.

 

Dear Editor: 

What is the best way to become a master magician? Is there a course I can take?

  • William

Dear William:

The appellation “Master Magician” is given to only one magician at a time.  Currently Lance Burton holds the title after he was given the status by Lee Grabell.  It is, therefore, a very rare honor and one that many of us will never achieve.

On the other hand, you can try to master magic by practicing before a mirror over and over until you fool yourself, perform for a trick for an audience only once (never do it again no matter what they say), and NEVER reveal a secret.  If you keep these things in mind, you’ll go far.  It is a wonderful art and we admire your apparent desire to learn more about it.

We had written a 15 volume set on “How to Become a Master Magician” but it is no longer in print and was the subject of, in our view, needless litigation.  Sorry we don’t have an old set we can give you but it is holding up the other side of our table.

 

Dear Magic:

Why do some magicians change their names to just one name? Like Cher or Sammy?

  • Elaine

Dear Elaine:

If that is your real name.  (See what we did there?)  Usually a single name (usually the first name although Penn & Teller are an exception) is something one takes on when they reach a level of fame but in the magic world, it helps to get promoted and adds to the mystery.

Would you want to see “Timmy Quinlan” or “The Amazing Q”? We hope it is the second one because we just bought 1,000 business cards saying “The Amazing Q” from Vista Print one night when we saw a commercial about a special offer just for those watching at 3:30 in the morning.

They haven’t arrived yet and we have no idea how we will distribute them – especially because we forgot (we were tired and that cats were doing their nocturnal running the length of the trailer and then running back) to put our phone number on them.

That means, if you pick up one of our Amazing Q cards, you’ll need to come to our residence and knock on our door – thus scaring the cats and causing them to hide but not before bumping into each other like furry pinballs (our first album name, by the way) – or write us a letter by US Mail.  Our landlord will not accept FedEx packages on our behalf because she worries they could be bad things.

We’ve asked what kind of “bad things” could be in a standard envelope with a FedEx logo.  She responds out of the corner of her mouth not holding her cigarette, “you wouldn’t know, would you?”

Great question but the bottom line is folks will have to send letters.

We don’t know why ordinary letters wouldn’t carry the same “bad things” but apparently they don’t.

So when the cards come (by regular mail) we will write our phone number on the bottom of each.  We wish we had chosen Comic Sans as the font so that when we wrote our phone number on the card, it looked like we intentionally were writing poorly.  But you know what they say, “if wishes were dishes, someone would have to take them out of the dishwasher just once in this dang house, how hard could that be?  You can put them in, no problem, but you can’t take them out?”

If you have a question for our editor, you can use the contact link at the top of the page or just send an email to us at editor@insidemagic.com.

Actress Accuses Magician Ex of Abuse

Inside Magic's Famous BunnyDiane Neal, a former  actress on “Law and Order: SVU” claims her magician ex-boyfriend physically and sexually abused her and her pets.   She accuses magician JB Benn of being a con artist as well as a “manipulative and maniacal fraudster,” according to  The Daily Mail.

The musician Moby posted his disbelief.  “I’ve seen JB do magic at least 250 times and each time I’m just as stunned as the last. Some of his magic shouldn’t be possible, and it makes my brain hurt in the best possible ways.’

According to The Daily Mail, the magician allegedly “defrauded her of millions” and “violently inflicted emotional distress” in a “campaign of isolation, terror and (physical and sexual) assault, and destroyed her reputation by doing so.”

According to Page Six, on Wednesday, Mr. Benn pleaded guilty to a disorderly conduct charge resulting in a $200.00 fine and a two-year protection plan for Ms. Neal.

 

As in any story of this ilk, there are terrible claims and accusations; including injury to their pet.  Most of which we won’t print here because they turn our stomach and makes us sad.

If you want to read more, see pictures of the couple and their home, you can read The Daily Mail‘s coverage.

Tour with the Cat Circus – A History

IMG_7836

We heard of the famous Cirque Mexicain Los Gatos Caballistas in our much younger days.

It was a time when cat circuses were all the rage.  Small towns like Mystic Hollow, Illinois would anticipate the shows for weeks; stoked by the colorful cat circus poster (like the one pictured to the left) that promised excitement and danger.

Cat circuses have all but disappeared today.  Some say it was concern for the animals’ safety, or the heavy cost of feeding an ever growing group of felines (this was before mandatory spaying and neutering of feral cats came into law).

Some say the cat circuses were taken over by human-centric circuses where audience members could understand the ringmaster.

Kit shows (as they were called by those in the know) usually had a cat ringmaster and while his meowing had some meaning to his fellow show members and the roustabouts setting up and tearing down the acts as the show progressed, it was lost in translation for the mostly human audience.

Many a kitten, though, was entranced by the circus life and there are tales a plenty of kittens (as young as 15 weeks – we don’t know what that is in metric) leaving their mothers and siblings to join the exciting world of circuses.  A few became entranced by string or yarn as well — but this post isn’t about them.

Humans were needed not only as audience members but also logistical help.  Our father’s chief assistant, Paw Lawton, worked several cat circuses in Canada and South Texas.  He would help set up the tent and the double rings for performances.  Once the scene was set, he would work the ticket booth and occasionally fish for the large dinner needed to feed so many of the very hungry performers and workers.

The cat circuses reached their nadir in the US in 1973 when they appeared as a novelty on ABC’s Wild World of Sports.  In fact, the circus featured was the one pictured above and the star of the show was the cat pictured.

Cuidado was the star of the Cirque Mexicain Los Gatos Caballistas from 1966 through 1974.  He was reckless and never backed down from a challenge.  Ride a horse?  No problem.  Wear boots whilst riding a stallion? Easy for Cuidado. Hold a cat-sized rifle whilst riding? Everyday for the spry, enigmatic star.

Cuidado allegedly came from McAllen, Texas, not far from the border with Mexico.  His understanding of Spanish and English was fostered by his family and, later, the folks he met along the way.

He began as a schlepper.

He would carry equipment and help Paw Lawton set up grandstands and occasionally make popcorn and cotton candy.

He loved children and it is rumoured he was the father of hundreds throughout Mexico, the US and Canada.  He tried to keep in touch but the life of a cat circus member is hard and communicating with loved ones without a written language made it even harder.

Cuidado got his big break in Davenport, Iowa, when the star of the show came down with a horrible stomach pain that turned out to be a seven kitten litter.  Cuidado leapt into the ring, a hat was tossed to him as he jumped on to the silver horse and away he went.

The audience loved him.

Paw said he extended his performance because of the standing ovations and demands for encore after encore.

At the end of his first performance, he gave the crowd what became his trademark sign-off: he would hiss, jump to the ring, remove his hat and bow.  He held the bow longer than most and when he lift his head to the thunderous applause, he smiled and walked off into the darkness of the circus tent.

The Des Moines Tribune Circus Critic, Monty LeClaire wrote, “We’ve seen cats, we’ve seen circuses, we’ve even seen cat circuses.  But what we saw last night at the fairgrounds was none of those.  It was the birth of a star we hope will shine for many years to come. Cudado (sic) has something special and the audience provided thunderous applause in appreciation for what he offered them last night.”

Continue reading “Tour with the Cat Circus – A History”

Rapper Macklemore Now a Magician Too

Inside Magic Image of Ask Alexander LogoWe’re not big into the Rap scene.  Sure, there are a couple of Rap artists that we enjoyed but they hale from what now seems to be decades ago – because they do – like Sugar Hill Gang and . . . okay, so the Sugar Hill Gang really is our last real affection for the genre.  But to be fair, how could anyone top “Rapper’s Delight” with the memorable rap opening:

I said a hip hop
Hippie to the hippie
The hip, hip a hop, and you don’t stop, a rock it out
Bubba to the bang bang boogie, boobie to the boogie.

QED

But there is a rapper from Seattle who is hoping to steal our heart.  Macklemore posted on his Instagram page that he is releasing the “first ever Magic Rap album.”  We don’t have an Instagram page but we do have Twitter (@insidemagic) and that’s where we learned the news of this melange of magic and Rap.

It could be true that Mr. Macklemore (if “Macklemore” is his last name – we’re not sure) is releasing the first Rap and magic album but we aren’t sure.

We checked our always reliable Magic Guide book to see.  It is like Major League Baseball’s stat and history book but for magic.  It said Alexander (“the man who knows”) did an impromptu poem to ghostly hums during a performance in Detroit, Michigan.  The poem was about the dead (he was doing a “Dead or Alive” test effect at the time) and while it didn’t rhyme as well as modern rappers, it could be considered a Rap:

I ask who is dead
And who is alive
I’ll be able to discern this jive
Bubba to the bang bang boogie, paper notes to the Magi.

Apparently the last line is a traditional fourth line of any essential rap.  We didn’t know that until we checked Wikipedia.  The fourth line was obliterated by Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five’s groundbreaking work in the 1970’s with “The Message (It’s Nasty).”

Mr.  Macklemore wrote “I’ve been working hard on this magic s—.”  He told a hip hop site that  he’s “been doing magic for about 2.5 years now.”

“A lot of people are already calling me mid-pack David Blaine,” he said. “One afternoon in my magic shed, I was doing some rabbit work when the idea hit me — ‘What if I combined my natural ability of wizardry and used music to genre blend!?’ I ran it by the local magician community in Seattle and one out of two of them agreed — it was a great idea.”

We embrace his ambition even if we think 2.5 years and the opinion of “one out of two” magicians (we think that is close to 50% but we don’t know what that would be in metric for our European readers, sorry) share our embrace may indicate he has not yet mastered his skills.  That said, we likely would not book him yet for our birthday party but that is only because we have already booked two rappers from the 1920s to appear via hologram.

“Psychic” Reveals Tricks of Trade

Inside Magic Image of Psychic SignThe Guardian newspaper had a great article this weekend about what it is like to be a psychic and astrologer.

The author of this fascinating piece quit the practice but leaves the reader – us in this case – wondering if she still believed she possessed some power to read the future or the inner-struggles of her customers.

“The range of problems faced by people who can afford $50 for fortune telling turned out to be limited: troubles with romance, troubles at work, trouble mustering the courage for a much-needed change. I heard these stories so often I could often guess what the problem was the moment someone walked in. Heartbroken young men, for example, talk about it to psychics, because it’s less risky than telling their friends. Sometimes I’d mischievously say, ‘Let her go. She’s not worth it,’ as soon as one arrived. Once I heard, ‘Oh my God, oh my GOD!’ as an amazed guy fell backwards down the stairs.”

She explains her start in the practice beginning with studying astrology and the tarot.  She signed up for a year-long course at the Sydney Astrology Centre, where she learned how the planets and their alignments vis-a-vis the birthdate of individuals could reveal much.

Her conclusion after studying the mystical methods of the astrologer? “Astrology is one big word association game.”

Her appreciation for the life of a fortune teller waned with the realization that no matter what she foretold and no matter how vague her readings, customers readily made all of the mental associations to give truth to her predictions.

“What broke the spell for me was, oddly, people swearing by my gift. Some repeat customers claimed I’d made very specific predictions, of a kind I never made.”

It is a fascinating article, in part, because she does not conclude the ability to read people is bunk.  She found a talent for evaluating what and how people asked questions that gave away what they wanted to hear.  In essence, she discovered cold reading but without an intention to defraud.

We couldn’t help but be reminded of a great book by Ian Rowland, The Full Facts of Cold Reading.  While the author of The Guardian article apparently stumbled upon the tricks of honest and dishonest practitioners of Cold Reading, Mr. Rowland provides a crash course chocked-full of secrets and methods.

Check it out in The Guardian here.

The Man Behind the Carbonaro Effect

Derrin Berger.pngSo, we were reading through the on-line version of The Poughkeepsie Journal and came across a great story about Derrin Berger, the man behind the wondrous magic performed some of the Carbonaro Effects.

In case you are not aware of the Carbonaro Effect, you need to get a television, stat.  It is one of our favorite shows  on cable television next to 90-Day Fiance but for different reasons.  Although both deal with deception and trickery but we are rather sure that Mr. Berger does not create the effects for 90-Day Fiance unless he practices in that very niche area of our art entitled “Catfishing Magic.”

Back to our story, though.

Mr. Berger has been interested in magic since he was just six and shared his joy of the art with his dad.  He performed for parties and attended a magic camp with his dad.

He decided as he grew in age to pursue magic full-time.  His father was supportive but very father-like in his questioning of the move.

“I asked him, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?'” Marc Berger said, noting his son has a master’s degree in engineering and computer science. “He told me, ‘I’ve been doing magic all my life.’”

He is 40-years-old now and has performed in some of the greatest venues for a magician including The Magic Castle here in Hollywood and the Chicago Magic Lounge, in Chicago, we believe.

As if that was not enough — and by our standards it would be — he has also become a contributor and part of the consulting team for truTv’s “The Carbonaro Effect.”

He’s been with the team for five years which coincides with the five years Mr. Carbonaro’s show has been on the air.  He estimates he has created more than 700 effects.

“I tell people all the time, the 12-year-old me could not even comprehend doing what I’ve been doing,” Derrin Berger said. “When I was 12, TV magic was mostly David Copperfield, David Blaine and as a kid and teen, you think ‘I absolutely want to do that when I grow up.’ And, cut to 20 years later when I’m actually doing it, it’s pretty amazing.”

And his dad is a proud watcher of the show — he claim to have never missed a single episode.

“He knows so much magic and people will come to him to ask about tricks,” His father told the reporter. “He rattles the answers without thinking twice. He is more knowledgeable than I ever know.”

The #CarbonaroEffect begins its new season tomorrow (Thursday, November 7th) on truTV at 10 p.m. 

Make sure you check out the full interview and article at The Poughkeepsie Journal here

You can visit Mr. Berger’s website here.

Check out the Carbonaro Effect’s page here.