LOTUS ACES - ISSUE 23
Producing Aces & Predicting the Future
Hello and welcome to Cardopolis Newsletter 23. Let me remind you that all past issues are still online and you can access them here. In this issue we continue our exploration of the Paddlewheel Flourish, take a look at a routine using Equivoque, try a simple sandwich trick, delve into the past with a card trick inspired by Cecil Keech, and learn the secret of Invisibility. What a smorgasbord of deception!
Cardopolis is free but if you would like to support the site, you can do so via the Buy Me A Coffee platform. Supporters will find extra material on that platform. But don’t expect too much. It’s mostly notes and practise videos and miscellaneous ideas. You’re not missing out on some major underground secrets.
Let’s continue the story of the Paddlewheel Flourish and Riverboat Aces as begun in Cardopolis Newsletter 22. I’v been using the flourish to produce all four aces since the 1980s and have shown it around quite a bit. It wasn’t a secret. I’d just never got around to publishing it. In 1999 I met Yuji Wada at an Opus magazine event in London. Yuji immediately started apologising. It turned out that Yuji had a version of my four ace production in which he not only produced the four aces but also the four kings. Someone had shown him my handling and he improved upon it. The reason he was apologising is he had shown it to Harry Lorayne who, presumably not realising that the original was unpublished, put it in Apocalypse magazine. Yuji, nice man that he is, felt bad about that. I on the other hand was totally amazed at Yuji’s variation, which he did better than I’d ever done mine. Regardless of how it got there, if you’re interested in the Paddlewheel Flourish, I recommend you check out Yuji Wada’s Eerie Revelation in Apocalypse Vol 15, No 3. Meanwhile here is my original four ace production.
Incidentally, I never had a title for this handling but I saw Manuel Cuesta on YouTube using it. He learned it from my friend Carlos Vaquera. Manuel called it The Lotus Flower. I like that title, so Lotus Production it is.
Talking of Harry Lorayne, it was through Lorayne’s My Favorite Card Tricks that I learned my first sandwich card trick. The trick was One-Eyed Jack Sandwich. I became fascinated with the plot and soon developed a handling of my own. I say ‘developed’ but really there is not much to it other than the final squeezing of the cards into the deck. But I do like it and maybe someone else out there will too.
In 2014, I helped my friend Jan Reinder with his Dutch television series De Magie Van for Fox Television. It wasn’t a big budget show but we had a lot of freedom when it came to choosing and developing material. As with all shows, some segments cost more than others. Which means as well as those big expensive scenarios you also need some cheaper but equally effective moments.
I’d previously worked with David Berglas on The Mind & Magic of David Berglas, and recalled a routine from the chapter on Magician’s Choice that made use of borrowed objects. I added the idea of using another well established principle of mentalism and Jan wove into it a presentation that fit a show themed around luck. It worked out very well. Here, with Jan’s permission, is an annotated video of the equivoque routine used in De Magie Van TV series.
If you are familiar with equivoque, it should be obvious from the video how it was combined with the one-ahead principle. The first prediction Jan makes is actually the object he will force in the second part of the routine. The second prediction Jan makes is the object the spectator originally removed from the handbag. You can do this because you know that the handbag is likely to have something like a phone, lipstick or brush that you can force later. Similarly, if you want to borrow objects from a man, you can see easily if they are wearing a watch or carrying a phone or wallet. What I like about the idea is that you can make your first prediction before the handbag is even opened.
For those not familiar with the standard equivoque, here is how it worked in this routine. Six objects are arranged in a row. The spectator is asked to pull three towards herself. In this case the force object, the phone, was among the three.
Jan asked the celebrity to take up two of the objects. The phone was one of them. He then asked her to hand him one of the two objects. She handed him the perfume bottle and kept the phone. Jan designated the phone as her choice. It is basic equivoque. Check The Mind & Magic of David Berglas or Max Maven’s Verbal Control if this topic is new to you.
A few points to consider. Never use words like ‘pick’ or ‘choose.’ You always ask the spectator to ‘give’ or ‘hand’ you objects or, in this routine, ‘pull’ them forward. Only when they have carried out the action, do you interpret what that action means in terms of either retaining the object or discarding it.
Another point worth including, if you can, is phrasing the instructions so that it appears you are giving one instruction and not two. For example, ‘Look at the items and then pull three of them towards you….. and then pick up two of them, one in each hand.’ Done right it all sounds like one instruction.
One final point. Think about what you want this routine to mean. What is the point of your prediction? In Jan’s presentation he framed the two choices as entirely different. One choice was identified as an object the spectator hardly ever uses. The other object was the ‘lucky one’ which the spectator then realised was also the object she used the most. This was her interpretation of the event. That’s exactly what you want to do with mentalism if you are portraying it as some kind of experiment. You don’t necessarily want people to think about your claimed skills. It can be more interesting to have people think about what the experiment reveals about their behaviour. Even if it is something as simple as thinking that they must have chosen the phone because they would never want to be without it.
Cecil Keech - A Card & A Number
Mention of David Berglas takes us to ACAAN, which in this case means Australian Card At A Number. I say Australian because of an interview that was published in an Adelaide newspaper in 1936. I later discovered that it was a reprint of a 1935 interview in Britain. In the interview, Cecil Keech talked about a trick in which he predicted the identity of a selected card and the position it could be found in the deck. I’ve written about this interview in an upcoming Cardopolis column in Genii magazine. That column describes an impromptu version of the trick. Here we have something more elaborate and also related to the Equivoque routine that Jan Reinder performed on De Magie Van.
In the videos, the predictions are simply scrawled on bits of card but if you decide to try this, you should ensure the predictions look good and are clear. If you are going to predict the future, make it look like something important. Writing predictions on small bits of paper is usually accommodating the method not enhancing the effect. And though, in this case, it’s not strictly true, emphasise that you made your predictions before the spectator made her choices.
The handling described here is a basic one. You can add some finesse. For example, as my friend Patrick Garrett points out, asking someone to ‘cut less than half the deck,’ is the kind of instruction you want to avoid. Instead, you can ask the spectator to cut the deck into two portions. And then have them use the packet that contains the least number of cards. You can also manage, in the final cut, to put the card at a less obvious number than 26, simply by cutting a few more cards from the top of the deck to the bottom. How many is up to you. But once you go down this route you are also on your way to positioning the card at a more significant number, someone’s date of birth for example, than the meaningless 26.
If I was printing this deck rather than using available marked cards, I’d dispose of the Si Stebbins set up and print the marks on the backs so they revealed the identity of the card above them. It’d make things much easier. I also avoid having the Ace of Spades in the deck because two Ace of Spades might be noticed.
The version that will be published in Genii magazine (April 2022 issue I believe) has an additional convincer for the predictions, and uses a regular deck. If you support this site via Buy Me A Coffee, you will find yet another version on that platform in which both predictions are made before the spectator even touches the deck. I have one more version that I’ve been working on that may see the light of day in a future newsletter. Four versions is surely enough?
The Art of Invisibility
I’m fascinated with tricks and illusions in which people or objects become invisible. You’ll find a post about one such invisibility illusion on the Cardopolis blog. In 2018, I learned about an incredible method for invisibility from German illusionist Topas. I was working with Topas and Luis de Matos on the Virtuoso DVD album in Portugal. On Disc 2, Topas talks about collaborating with Argentinian artist Jorge Iglesias on a project called RIO - Revolutionary Invisible Object. Much time, money and energy was spent on that endeavour but the project was never finished. The principle behind it is intriguing.
Topas met the artist as his home in Argentina and it was there he saw an incredible demonstration. Iglesias showed Topas a box, open at the front, inside of which hung two bare light bulbs. The box was empty. But at the click of a switch a faucet appeared inside the box, hanging from the back wall. Another flick of the switch and the faucet disappeared. Or not so much disappeared as became invisible because Iglesias could turn the invisible faucet on and a stream of water poured out of thin air and into a glass. Topas said he had never seen anything like it, and it inspired the large scale project RIO mentioned in his Virtuoso DVD album.
Jorge Iglesias is an artist noted for his ‘invisible sculptures.’ And there is now a video on YouTube of the demonstration that so impressed Topas. It is, as Topas said, like black art in broad daylight. Enjoy and dream.
Thanks for reading, feel free to share. Feedback is always welcome via the Comments section. I look forward to seeing you in the next issue.