PS – Joe Stevens

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And now, I introduce my good friend, and someone we are very proud to feature in the value added content area of Stevens Magic’s website – Jon Racherbaumber. Jon has a tremendous “Rock On” contribution this month in both content and variety, including a value added routine for Masuda’s WOW available at Stevens Magic. Stevens Magic sold Masuda’s excellent products before they were mainstream magic, in the 1980’s and in fact, I remember Jon provided us with a previous value added routine for Masuda’s Frozen In Time effect (that is still available and in fact if purchased from Stevens Magic comes with that powerful routine). Trust me when I tell you this is one contribution you don’t want to miss out on — even though that is a redundant statement when it comes to anything Jon contributes — it doesn’t mean it’s not true.
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Rock On – Jon Racherbaumer Feb. 2010
Last November (2009) Harry Anderson and I hosted a special 2-3-hour late-night session devoted to Ted Anneman and the Jinx magazine. This came on the heels of the special 32-page insert (magazine-within-a-magazine) that appeared in Genii (October-2009). There is little doubt that Anneman and his independent magazine significantly influenced the way many magicians began to think about performing magic in the 40s and 50s. This influence in many mutated forms continues today. I wrote: “Anneman peddled dreams and the Jinx was his dreamscape-a closet of the secrets of secrets, a universe you knew would be more “alternate” every time you entered it.” Our world of magic, although relatively small, consists of many encircling boundaries. The outermost “circle” is the largest, encompassing all of us. The innermost “circle” is the smallest enclosure and is inhabited by a small minority. There are, ironically, “outsiders” inhabiting each sector enclosed by the outermost circle and Ted Anneman, during his era, was the ultimate outsider. Nevertheless he penetrated the boundaries of every sector, traipsing about like a derelict god, performing the unexpected, and leaving trails of radioactive breadcrumbs for discombobulated followers to track.
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Ted Anneman

Anneman published many card effects during his publishing reign. Perhaps the most famous and enduring entries were “Brain-Wave,” “Miraskill.” And “Further Than That.” He also introduced some of the most original and off-beat names for tricks, some of which seem unpronounceable. He also enjoyed wordplay and created many titles that addressed the dark side of human nature. Here is a select list to refresh your memories or induce you to read a complete file of the Jinx:

ENDURING CARD TRICKS

Future Deck (Jack Vosburgh)
A Futile Lesson in Magic (Paul Rosini)
Further Than That (Stewart James)
The Mystic Twelve (Audley Walsh)
Like Seeks Like (Walter Gibson)
Sympathetic Clubs (Herbert Milton)
Omega Card Act
Lies-Lies-Lies (Henry Christ)
Miraskill (Stewart James)
Dead Man’s Hand (Henry Christ)
Hallucination (Eddie Clever)
Brain Wave Deck (Dai Vernon)

BEGUILING TRICK TITLES

The Card That Isn’t
Miraskill
Queer Quest
The Ribbon That Made Good
The Touch That Tells
The Guidance of Fate
Ostracism
Mind or Muscle
The Camel and the Needle’s
The Spectral Seamtress Eye
Pseudo-Psychometry
Notario
The Dream of a Hermit
Card of the Gods
Middle Maze
Tribal Try
Bewilderment of Santa
The Spurious Pelf
Whim of Tituba
The Knickel of Kanadah

GREAT UNPRONOUNCABLE, WEIRD TITLES

Yggdrasil
Gabbatha
Xkwiziti
Nyyctalopia
The Jaipur Jinnee
Sefalaljia

WORDPLAY & NEOLOGISMS

Watchistry
Smeero
Fingeraura
Suspensamus
Circum-Location
Mentelimination
Hypnothesia
Ghostatic Touch

PROSPECTS OF DOOM-and-DAMNATION TITLES

Gnome Madness
Satan’s Scissors
Living and Dead
The Card from Hell
Seven Wenches of Bluebeard
The Waiting Place for Unborn Thoughts
Moonlight Madness
Not For the Meek
That Nazti Man
Dead Man’s Hand
Grimaces

During my presentation at the Anneman-Jinx Session I touched on nine elements that characterize Anneman’s approach to card magic. This list is undeniably speculative, but it is based on studying the methods Annemann published and noting emergent properties. By “emergent properties” I mean those aspects and salient points that are evident in most methods and presentations. Each trick generally features all or many of these features:

  • SURPRISE – This should not to be confused with the CLIMAX of a trick, which is either unexpected or, if expected, the audience is surprised that have achieved a magical result.
  • HUMAN INTEREST – The effect’s narrative has one or more “emotional hooks” or some kind of relevance to human enterprises.

  • ROBUST FUN FACTOR – The presentations and actions are fun to watch by lay people and fun for you, the magician, to perform.

  • SUBTLETY-BASED – The effect should have one or more subtleties or psychological elements.

  • LAYERS OF CONVICTION – The effects should push believability and plausibility to the borderline of impossibility without crossing it.

Anneman thought that implausibility is more impressive than impossibility. Impossibilities can never happen. Implausibilities can happen. They seldom do, but this is what makes them real and rare.

  • SIMPLICITY – The tricks and methods should be simple, but not simplistic…child-like but not childish. They should be intellectually and emotionally appealing.
  • EFFECT TRUMPS METHOD – Anneman first considered the nature of the effect (from the spectator’s perspective). Then he sought the simplest, most deceptive method to achieve the desired effect.

DO SOMETHING EXTRAORDINARY WITH THE ORDINARY

Anneman always sought, if possible, to add an element of surreality to everything he did. He realized that dreams insulate reality and nourish one’s capacity to imagine things reality cannot provide.

To further demonstrate what is meant by an Annemanesque Approach, here is a version of the “Open Prediction” that has been featured in my lectures since 1990. It is an easy and puzzling solution to Paul Curry’s famous card problem.

Effect: A deck is shuffled and the magician says, “Unlike most psychics, I’m going to make an open prediction. Nothing will be written beforehand. I’m simply going to forthrightly predict the Ten of Hearts.”

The magician deals cards face-up to the table, but begins but saying: “I’m going to look for the predicted Ten of Hearts. However, as these cards are dealt face up, please say ‘stop’ whenever you wish. Then I’ll deal the next card face down.” After this happens at a random place in the deal, the magician continues to deal the rest of the deck face up. As remarkable as it seems, the predicted card does not show up during the deal. This suggests that the only face-down card, the one chosen by the spectator, must be the predicted Ten of Hearts…which it is!

This is repeated for skeptics.

Requirements: (1) A regular deck, which may be borrowed. (2) A double-face card. Suppose that the gaff is the AD/5S. Remove the regular AD and 5S from the deck and then place the gaff on the face (bottom) with the 10H-side showing.

Method: Introduce the deck and explain the premise and procedure. Because the gaff is on the bottom, you can freely handle the deck. Perform some legitimate shuffles and retain the gaff on the bottom.

Hold the deck face down in a left-hand dealing position and openly predict the other side of the gaff (AD). Say, “I’m going to predict an Ace. Let’s see…I’m going to predict the Ace of Diamonds.” (The rule here is simple: Always predict the side of the gaff that is not showing at the bottom.)

Start dealing cards one at a time into a face-up pile. After you have dealt a few cards, say: “As we continue to look for the predicted Ace of Diamonds, stop me anytime you like. Wherever you stop me, I’ll deal the next card face-down.” Continue dealing cards face up.

When someone says “stop,” deal the next card face down onto the face-up pile. Emphasize the fairness of the choice and let the spectator change his mind if he wishes.

Flip the rest of the deck face up and resume dealing the rest of the cards. The first card dealt onto the face-down card will be the gaff. The spectator will see the Five of Spades, but it will be meaningless to him. Accelerate the dealing process as you talk about finding the Ace of Diamonds.

Momentarily pause when you reach the other Aces and comment. When all the cards have been dealt, the trick (conceptually speaking) is over. The face-down card inferentially must be the AD. However, the audience will want to see it.

All eyes will be focused on the disclosure; scrutiny will be intense. Therefore, the handling must be scrupulously fair and clean-looking at this point. This would be the least opportune time to perform anything tricky.

Pick up the dealt cards and square them face up in your left hand (dealing position). Then slowly spread the cards face up between your hands. Keep spreading until you reach the face-down card. The tip of your left thumb should rest on the face-down card and the tips of your right fingers should be touching the gaff underneath the right side of the spread.

The next action will look above board and natural: it appears as though the face-down card is being cleanly upjogged. Keep in mind that the audience is seated in front of you.

It is important not to make a “move” out of the next action. Do not rush it or feel guilty. The broader action of raising your hands to show the underside of the spread will cover the secret action, which is elementary.

Your left thumb slides the face-down card to the left as your right hand raises its entire spread (including the gaff). You will see the other side of the gaff. Move your left thumb onto the inner left corner of the gaff, which holds it stationary in an outjogged position when you lower the right-hand section of the spread. All of this simultaneously occurs as you raise both hands to show the underside of the spread.

When you finish the outjog­ging action, the audience will clearly see the AD-side of the gaff and the face of the X card is hidden. Everything looks copacetic.

As soon as the audience sees the predicted AD, they will be surprised. With the spread still held upright, slowly close the spread and leave the gaff outjogged.

Hold the deck in your left hand and pinch the outer right corner of the gaff between your right thumb and fingers and then pull it out of the deck. Toss the gaff AD-side up onto the table. Act nonchalant. If you do not care about the gaff, the audience will discount it. Besides, the effect is over.

If you borrowed the cards and secretly add the gaff and remove the other two cards, the audience will never suspect gimmicks.

To repeat the effect, lower the deck below the table. Turn over the reversed X card and place the gaff on the face (bottom) with the AD-side showing.
You are now set to openly predict the other side of the gaff.

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ANOTHER APPLICATION OF THE W.O.W. GIMMICK

The fanatical, frenzied flurry of ideas regarding the W.O.W. gimmick has apparently died down. Mike Powers suggested that a compilation of ideas would make a nice booklet; however, this has not yet materialized. In the meantime, Stevens Magic Emporium still sells this great utility. If you already have one in a drawer, you might take it out and try this application. The germ of this idea came from my French friend, Marc Serin, which dramatically alters how the W.O.W. trick is interpreted. If you do not have the gimmick, order one from Stevens Magic.

THE AUTOGRAPH MATERIALIZATION

The W.O.W. gimmick is primarily used to create an effect where one card visually changes into another card. This is obviously a strong, visual effect, especially since a logical assumption (by most lay people) is that all card changes require two cards. If the transformation occurs in an opaque box or envelope, then there must be a flap, partition, or some kind of secret mechanism. How else? However, if the envelope is transparent and only one card is seen before and after the transformation, the two-card solution is out the window.

Serin’s approach is novel. The effect is that a Joker changes into an unsigned duplicate of a signed selection. Then he causes the signature on the selection to appear on the duplicate!

Requirements: You need a W.O.W. gimmick. Suppose that the “phantom” card seen in your W.O.W. gimmick is the 5D. You also need a deck with its Joker, a duplicate 5D, and a Sharpie pen. (Photo 1)

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Set-up: Arrange these cards in this order from the top of the deck: 5D – 5D – Joker – rest of the deck.

Method: Introduce the deck, the W.O.W. gimmick, and Sharpie pen. If you like, casually shuffle the deck, retaining the top three cards, and then force the top cards, using the Criss-Cross or Cut-Deeper Force.

Explain that you will use the top card. Perform a Double Turnover to show a 5D. Leave the card(s) face up on top and hand the Sharpie pen to the spectator. As you hold the deck steady in your left hand, have him sign the uppermost face-up 5D. (Photo 2)

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Flip the card(s) face down and deal the top card (unsigned 5D) face down in front of the spectator.

Explain that you will also use a Joker. Perform another Double Turnover to reveal the Joker. (This also, by implication, suggests that you indeed dealt the signed 5D onto the table.)

Show the W.O.W. gimmick apparently “empty.” Then flip the top card(s) face down and deal the supposed Joker face down to the table. This is the signed selection. Say, “I’ll change this Joker into a duplicate of your signed selection.”

Insert the signed selection face down into the W.O.W. gimmick. (Photo 3)

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Then activate it and turn it over to eventually show what looks like an unsigned duplicate 5D. This is a straight-forward transformation. (Photo 4)

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Let this effect register and then add: “You know what would be truly astonishing? What if I made your signature…your autograph…go from your card to the duplicate?”

The spectator will likely agree. Snap your fingers again and then activate the W.O.W. gimmick and watch the spectator’s signature visibly appear on the supposed duplicate. (Photo 5)

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Then cleanly remove the signed selection to be examined as you ask the spectator to turn over his tabled card to reveal an unsigned 5D.

Onward…