Personally Speaking – Jon Racherbaumer – Jan. 2010

ROCK ON – Jon Racherbaumer

I am very proud and fortunate to have my good friend and respected magician/author – Jon Racherbaumer, providing contributions for Stevens Magic Emporium. Jon and I have a long, rich history and I have always admired his sharp mind and wit. The man is exceptionally well read and equally talented in the discipline of magic. I am proud to introduce the first of several contributions by Jon Racherbaumer appropriately titled – “ROCK ON.” We hope you will enjoy them. Joe Stevens (Stevens Magic Emporium)


Jon Racherbaumer’s – ROCK ON (01/2010)

Upon reaching a certain age, more time is spent musing about times passed and persons who have passed on. We are also mindful that “nostalgia isn’t what it used to be” and we are cautious that the “gold” in any supposed “golden age” may be fool’s gold. There is also great temptation to recount one’s “war stories” with exaggerated gusto, misshaping facts for effect and as our dimming memories are better served by fantasy. As Emerson (Ralph Waldo, that is, not Arthur) wrote, “Time dissipates the hard angularity of the facts.” Nevertheless, we memorialize this and that when the spirit moves us.

This column is dedicated to the proposition that (as Slydini often said) “something is better than nothing.”

I’m now in the process of writing an extensive memoir of my experiences in magic which will recount my encounters with notable and celebrated magicians. My list exceeds 1000 names; therefore, this project may take awhile. While compiling the list, I realized that I never actually met face-to-face many of the magicians who have significantly influenced me. For example, I never met Jay Ose.

JAY OSE – Javen A. Ose a.k.a. Jay Ose was born on November 11, 1911.


My initial introduction to Jay Ose came by way of Harry Lorayne’s book, Close-up Card Magic. Later, I saw photos and articles about him in Genii magazine by Dai Vernon and other regulars of the Magic Castle. I also him in action (mostly his hands) in films such The Flim-Flam Man (1967), Waterhole # 3 (1967), and The Cincinnati Kid. Ose was a consultant and player in these films, and in “The Flim-Flam Man,” which starred George C. Scott and Michael Sarrazin, Ose played the part of the grocer in a country store full of yokels who were being swindled by Three-Card Monte. In “Waterhole #3,” the Monte Con was depicted with James Coburn apparently “tossing the broads.” In reality, the insert hands were Jay Ose’s, who played a bartender in the scene. The swindle ends with all three cards having bent corners, an ending Ose used in his own close-up performances at the Castle. Another promotion film was made to advertise “The Cinncinati Kid” (filmed in my home-town, New Orleans). This clip, by the way, can be found on You Tube, titled The Cincinnati Kid Plays According to Hoyle. Ose can be seen teaching Joan Blondell how the shuffle cards and otherwise expertly handle them. His hands are also seen in the close-ups of Karl Malden’s and Joan Blondell’s hands throughout the film. Thanks to an application of nail polish and powder, Ose was able to “play” Blondell’s hands.


Speaking of shuffles and cuts, Ose is widely known for his simple but deceptive false cut…Heaven knows there are plenty of false cuts in our literature, but this one should be in everyone’s repertoire.


Begin with the deck held face down in your left hand. Your right hand grasps the top third of the deck in a Biddle Grip and lifts it away from the deck and tables it face down to your left.

Your right hand then grasps the next top third of the deck, again in a Biddle Grip, and tables it face down to the right of the first “third.” Finally, your right hand takes the remaining third of the deck, again in a Biddle Grip, and tables it face down to the right of the other two sections. (Photo 1)


What registers with the audience is that the sections are tabled in a linear direction-from right to left from their perspective if they are seated opposite you or from left to right from your perspective.

Wait a few seconds and then, reassemble the sections from your left to right, beginning with the portion at the left end. Place this portion onto the middle portion. (Photo 2 – audience’s view)


Finally, place this combined portion onto the portion to the right. That is all there is to it.

Here is a curious thing that shows how people interpret certain actions. The action procedure of Ose’s False Cut looks logical. The spatiality of the packets as they are put down and picked up is what throws people. But get this! If you reassemble the three sections in inverse order from right to left, you will perform a legitimate cut. (Photo 3).


But it will look like you are reassembling the deck to put them back in their original order. So, the false cut looks fair, whereas the legitimate cut looks false.

This interpretative peculiarity was applied to a card-problem Ed Marlo solved. I eventually published three methods in The Greater Artful Dodges of Eddie Fields (“Another Problem Posed”).


Effect: A deck is divided into three packets by the spectator. The center packet is turned face up and the deck is reassembled so that the center section is face up. The performer writes a prediction and the deck is ribbon-spread face down. The two face-down cards on both sides of the face-up section are removed and tossed face up. The prediction is shown to be correct.

Method: Have a deck shuffled by the spectator. Take back the deck and secretly note the bottom card. Suppose it is the Seven of Hearts (7H). Table the deck and tell the spectator to cut the deck from left to right into three portions.

Afterwards turn the center packet face up and ask the spectator to reassemble the deck by picking up the packets from left to right, which looks fair and logical.

Pick up the deck and thumb through the cards until you reach the face-up section and then transfer all the initial face-down cards to the bottom of the deck. This maneuvers the noted 7H back to the bottom.

Thumb over the face-up section, note and remember the last face-up card, and flip all of the face-up cards face down and onto the face-down talon. Suppose the last face-up card is the Ten of Clubs (10C). You now know the top and bottom cards.

Perform some legitimate shuffles, retaining the top and bottom cards. Write your prediction: 7H and 10C. Hand the deck to the spectator and have him perform the cutting procedure, which as you can see is identical to “Ose’s False Cut.” The actions automatically place the two predicted cards on either side of the face-up section.

Spread the deck and remove the 7H and 10C, explaining that these two face-down cards were arrived at by random cutting. Read your prediction and reveal the two cards to cap the effect.

Jay Ose died on November 5, 1967 and is buried at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Hollywood Hills, California. His legacy lies in surviving works…in the word, which William Gass asserts are “containers of consciousness.” When these “containers” are opened, its “contents” swirls into our consciousness, adheres, mutates, and is contained until it too is released.