An Interview with Ray Piatt

by Sherid Adams

In November of 2005, Mark Stevens asked me to do an interview with Ray Piatt. I didn’t know much about Ray and I began to look through the catalogs for his products. I found several. After a few Email messages back and forth, Ray agreed to talk with me.

It was only days before Thanksgiving and his son would be visiting. This seemed to be an opening and we began the question and answer with the agreement that I would call the next day at 1:30. He began by talking about an article in M.U.M. magazine, which had been published twenty years ago. I hadn’t seen it and he said he would send it to me. Ray mentioned that the picture on the cover was a portrait of him done by the late Ed Michell. I was happy to say that I had met Ed back in the seventies in Allentown, PA. He was very kind to a young conjuror and had taken the time to show me his sleeving techniques. Ray and I talked about the old Kratz’s Magic Shop in Allentown PA, I had also met Dai Vernon that same weekend.

I found Ray Piatt to be a warm and generous man with a sharp intellect. His knowledge of magic and magicians is encyclopedic, stretching back to those rarified days before Doug Henning and David Copperfield. We talked for four hours. I tried to ask probing questions and go a little deeper into the mind of an inventor. Like Thomas Edison, Ray has had to develop intricate systems and make his own tools. When cornered about how things really work he replied in a comical way, “You’d like to know, wouldn’t you?”

And I would.

It’s obvious that other people share an appreciation and friendship with Ray Piatt, including his peers and other professional mentalist.

"Ray and Lisa Piatt have been our friends for over 25 years. During this quarter of a century, I have watched Ray become one of the finest craftsman and creators of magic and mentalism in the world. What makes it all more incredible is his ability to function as such even though he has been plagued by a debilitating affliction for over 50 years. Ray’s penchant for excellence in both quality and methodology has made him a well-deserved worldwide reputation. I am proud to call him a friend as well as a colleague. As for Lisa, she’s an angel and deserves all the credit. I don’t know anyone else who could have kept Ray percolating through the good, bad and ugly. Together they make one terrific team. May they have many, many more years of creating "mental mousetraps" (Ray’s favorite title) to tickle the fancies of magic’s aficionados. Larry Becker"

NOVEMBER 22nd, 2005
9:30 PM

SM: Do you do card tricks? Do you make trick decks?

Ray: I don’t perform a lot of card tricks, the exception being a few of my own. Regards to making trick decks – oh yeah! I have my own decks “prepared” including my own blank, marked decks.

SM: How do you do that?

Ray: You’d like to know wouldn’t you? Nobody knows that but me. I take that with me when I go. I have a marked deck that I use that are put out by the U.S. Playing Card Co. They’re marked. That’s a long story. I’ve seen other marked decks and I always asked, “Where do you put the batteries?”

SM: What does that mean?

Ray: Well, they’re so obvious. You can see the marks clearly. They put a big JS down by the bicycle wheel-Jack of Spades. That’s not a marked deck. How dumb can one get? You would never play cards with a deck like that.

SM: I have the deck with the rosettes scraped off. One side shows the suit and the other wheel shows the value.

Ray: Yeah.

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