Richard Turner’s Card Mechanics Lecture – Inside Magic Review

Richard_TurnerRichard Turner is an incredible performer with exceptional talents and amazing skills.

He is, in our very humble opinion, one of the best cardsharps we have ever seen – ever.  His lecture at The Magic Castle on Sunday was more of an exhibition of amazing card technique that even if we were taught with hours of patient instruction, we would still be unable to perform without his “fifty years of dedicated practice.”

The Second Deal is a personal point of pride for us.  We have only been practicing it for about 30 years and of that 30 years, we slept, ate, had a life and worked in our non-magic world so it was not entirely dedicated to perfecting our work.

We saw Mr. Turner’s incredible dealing prowess and later performed our routine in which we rely on Seconds and felt shame.  We wanted to stop our presentation and admit to the innocent lay audience that we were showing them the clutching, tightly gripped mechanics of muscle memory when they deserved so much better.

We did not actually stop our performance mid-deal but we felt it would have been warranted.  We watched our hands deal Seconds that seemed so apparent that they looked (to us) more like a Glide from the top.  We try to be humble (maybe not the most humble but of course if we were the most humble we would not claim to be) but seeing Mr. Turner’s lecture brought us down several rungs on the humble ladder towards humility.

Did we mention that Mr. Turner is blind?  He is blind.  Not “legally blind” or “partially blind” but really blind.  He is demonstrating cardsharping with absolutely no ability to see what he is doing.

He has perfected the perfect Second deal without a visual reference.  His Seconds are slowly done as if he were dealing directly from the top of the pack.  There are no moves, no tells, no flashing or signs that a Second is in the offing, is occurring or has just happened.

Seeing Mr. Turner perform is like sitting in Plato’s Cave with a periscope for just a few minutes.  We saw, briefly, what the real Second Deal looks like rather than the shadows on the wall we have been watching in our own hands or the hands of other performers.

His lecture is a delight to attend.  It is not a study in basic sleights or fundamentals.  In fact, there were very few sleights actually taught.  It is more of an opportunity to watch a true master perform impossible effects using imperceptible skills.  He discussed his involvement with the United States Playing Card Company and playing card production methods.  We could have listened to that type of inside information for another ten hours.  He told us about his interaction with Dai Vernon and Charlie Miller and their collaborative work on cardsharping skills.  We would have gladly paid to listen to more of those stories.

The lecture went for about two hours but we had a feeling he was just getting started.  We departed humbled but hopeful.  It is satisfying to know that there is a perfect Second Deal.  While we will likely never achieve it, we at least know our quest is not Quixotic.

Whit “Pop” Haydn’s New Book: A Treasure


Inside Magic Image of Whit Haydn's Newest Book, Stories of a Street PerformerWhit “Pop” Haydn is to Magic what Marconi was to communication. He is a legendary performer with the skills of a ninja and the charm of a religious idol. In a word, we think Mr. Haydn is pretty impressive.

We recently saw his performance for Magnetized Water at The Junkyard in Simi Valley, California (“Simi” is pronounced “see – mee” and not “seh meh” or “Sigh My” as we learned from about five people along the way).

He was in full character as Pop Haydn extolling the virtues of his latest discovery. With illustrated charts and graphs, he explained how Magnetized Water matches up with the body’s own natural polarity. It was a fantastic routine filled with genuine magic and a convincing sales pitch.

Even more exciting, for us, was the well-developed character of Pop himself. He is a treasure from an earlier century who readily admit his inner hustler tendencies but promises to lie only once per show. Once that one lie quota is met, he will shade the truth and perhaps be less than candid but promises to never lie outright. You have to respect an honest con-man.

We met Mr. Haydn aboard a ship decades ago. He was performing for the huddle masses on the luxurious over-sized yacht and even called upon our bride to be his assistant in his famous Four Ring Routine.

We were more excited than she at his choice and her performance. Our beloved eschews the spotlight and despite her elegance on stage, was happy to return to the relative anonymity of our stage-side booth.

“You were on stage with Whit Haydn,” we exclaimed with a mouthful of caviar.

“Who is Whit Haydn? Is he famous?” She asked, dabbing away the delicious roe from our lips, chin and tie.

“He is the man,” we offered proudly.

“Oh, the magician?” She asked.

“Yes. Yes, that is Whit Haydn and you were on stage performing his Four Ring Routine.”

“He seems very nice. Why can’t you do magic like that?”

We admit that she was very young at the time and it was likely the champagne and fluster talking. Nonetheless, she continued to sing his praises throughout the rest of voyage. Despite our natural jealous nature, we could not begrudge her crush-like admiration for Mr. Haydn.

To see Mr. Haydn perform is to forget about magic entirely. We tend to have a critical eye when watching other performers. We are not critical but we do see flaws in sleights that can distract from the overall experience. Mr. Haydn reminded us then – and now – of Dai Vernon or Slydini. Natural without forcing the impression of being natural.


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Our Award Winning List of Magic Loves and Loathes

Inside Magic Image of Ed Mishell DrawingThere are things in magic we love and hate.

If there is one thing we cannot stand, it is trite or cliché opening sentences to rambling essays about personal likes or dislikes by someone hiding behind an artificially inflated pronoun choice.

But that is just us.

Other things that bother us include the following:

  1. Older magicians telling younger magicians that they have no future in the business.
  2. Younger magicians refusing to listen to older magicians when they are telling them how it is.
  3. The meaningless objectification of women as mere props for male mutilation fantasies poorly set forth as some sort of “illusion set.”
  4. Magicians explicitly or implicitly demeaning their assistants or any audience member.
  5. All one-trick DVDs – even if the DVD is free.  Write it down, make a photocopy of what you wrote and wrap it around the trick, bundled with a DVD if you must.  We won’t watch the DVD unless it is absolutely necessary to do so – perhaps because we are reviewing the trick as sold.  If you cannot write the trick, chances are you cannot teach it on a DVD or at least teach it in a cogent, organized way.
  6. Theft of another magician’s bit, trick, flourish or act.  Sure, if we could do all the moves and flourishes necessary to duplicate Lance Burton or Dai Vernon’s best routines, we wouldn’t.
  7. Mentalists who claim they have real supernatural powers.
  8. Jugglers who claim they do not, that it all comes from practice and skill.
  9. Magicians who perform whilst attending another magician’s show.  If you’re not on the bill, keep you tricks in your pockets.
  10. Balloon sculptors who use pre-inflated balloons.
  11. Anyone who still uses the line “This silk is imported, I got it from a broad.”  It is the modern era – we can call them by their proper name, handkerchiefs or pocket squares
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Magician Ricky Jay Can Make You Cry, He’s So Good

Inside Magic Image of Deceptive Practices Movie PosterInside Magic Favorite Magician Ricky Jay is so good, his magic can make people cry.

That’s how The Jerusalem Journal begins its very positive review of Deceptive Practices: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay.

We are told of a British journalist who dined with Mr. Jay in a café on a hot, sticky day. (The article doesn’t say “sticky” but we believe it was implied and will stand by our interpretation).

He related a story about Max Malini, “who once borrowed a woman’s hat, placed a silver dollar underneath it, then lifted the hat to reveal that the coin had transformed into an enormous chunk of ice. And at that moment, the journalist recounts, Jay lifted his menu with a flourish to reveal his own 1-foot-square block of ice, which materialized as if out of thin air. The journalist was so astounded by ‘this supreme piece of artistry,’ she says, that she ‘burst into tears.'”

Deceptive Practices lovingly created by filmmakers Molly Bernstein and Alan Edelstein will open this Friday, May 17th in Los Angeles. You can check out the official movie site for listings in other areas and states here.

The Journal says Mr. Jay keeps his secrets – particularly when it comes to magic effects or personal matters – but does perform some pretty amazing things for the camera and the audience beyond.  It “unfolds like a magical mystery tour of Jay’s professional art and artifice. On camera, he transforms a paper moth into a real insect, flings a card at 90 miles per hour to pierce the skin of a watermelon and dazzles audiences with his specialty — astonishing card tricks — with maneuvers so virtuosic they defy the imagination.”
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Copperfield Picks Next “Great Magician”

Inside Magic Image of Paw-Paw Lawton's Instructional DVD Teaches the Magic Trick Glorpy (a/k/a Hyrum the Hilarious Hank)

David Copperfield made the tough choice of successor, sort of, as part of the NBC Today Show’s Magic Mondays.

The finalists, in order of the last letter of their first name: Kayla DrescherJeff Prace and Ben Jackson.

NBC’s publicists claim “hundreds of aspiring magicians sent in videos of themselves performing magic tricks in TODAY’s quest to find the next David Copperfield. Producers teamed up with Copperfield to pick the three best to perform on Monday’s show.”

Ms. Drescher is a magic bartender from Boston and performed “a magic bottle cap trick, swapping Heineken caps with Sam Adams and Bud Light tops right before their eyes.”

Mr. Prace is college student created a stir by producing “a full pack appear from just a single stick.”

Mr. Jackson tore a picture of the show’s hosts and restored same.

Mr. Copperfield chose Ms. Drescher to win the show’s Magic Mondays trophy plus a trip to witness the master magician’s acclaimed Las Vegas show currently at his home in the desert, the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino.

Mr. Copperfield correctly observed, “[t]o have more women doing magic is a great thing.  We’d like to see more of that.”

Congratulations to the finalists and to Ms. Dresher for bringing home the big win.

Mark Panner, the erstwhile Inside Magic stringer, said a NBC producer returned his entry tape with a perfunctory note.  He performed Hippity Hop Rabbits in the 43 minute video.  He was proud that the “turn-it-around” portion of the trick lasted more than a half hour and featured a student audience from Mystic Hollow Elementary School.

“I think a lot of it is political,” Mr. Panner wrote.  “They didn’t want someone on the show who could show up the big star.  They knew I could milk their studio audience with the trick like nobody’s business.  Copperfield’s tricks are all over in a few minutes – that’s why he has to do so many in his shows.  It’s like five minutes and bang, on to the next illusion.”

We do not disagree that Mr. Copperfield performs effects more quickly and of a greater variety than Mr. Panner but do note that some audiences actually prefer more tricks per show rather than less.  Mr. Panner disagrees.

“Copperfield does like six illusions in the first 24 minutes of his Vegas show.  That averages around four or five minutes an illusion.  The audience never really gets a chance to see what’s happening.  Boom, Copperfield appears on stage.  Boom, girls appear out of nowhere and then vanish.  Boom, his motorcycle appears flying over the audience.  Boom, a duck eats a scorpion while Orson Welles talks about cards or something with a license plate with graffiti. 
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