OK. Here is more from the chapter.

But how do you develop this capacity for showmanship? Well, we’ll come to that but first, here are a few general tips:



This rule should be obvious to most readers although some beginners feel tempted to show how smart they are by revealing the secret. This is a mistake for instead of impressing people with their cleverness they have lowered their standing with the spectator. Once the secret is know the viewer’s opinion of the performer’s ability will decline since the secrets of some tricks are so simple that the spectator will think, “Oh, is that all there is to it?” and give the matter no more thought, whereas if he is in the dark he will puzzle over it and be impressed simply BECAUSE he doesn’t know the secret. Remember, a good trick is like a precious diamond; protect it and it will give you much joy. A secret exposed is like a burst balloon-there’s nothing left.




This, like the above, is one of the standard rules of magic. There ARE a few exceptions since there are a tiny minority of tricks that are actually improved by repetition. By and large, though, it is not wise to repeat a trick for the simple reason that the audience is more likely to figure out the secret on the second showing. The first time a trick is performed the audience does not know what to expect; the magician might make a card disappear or he may change the four of spades to the four of hearts; perhaps the pack of cards will rise mysteriously in the air without visible means of support; in other words, anything could happen. The point is that the spectator doesn’t know what is coming so he is at a disadvantage when trying to figure out the secret. On the other hand, if the trick is repeated, the onlookers have far more chance of deducing the method since they know in advance what is going to happen and consequently are on their guard. They are in a better position to know what to look for and as a result are often able to work out the secret after proclaiming so in a loud voice much to the magician’s discomfort.




For the reason outlined in rule two it is unwise to let people know what is going to happen in advance. A possible exception to this would be just before the climax of a trick when all the secret moves and preparation have been completed. It may then be in order for the purpose of showmanship to announce the climax of the trick. Generally speaking though, the less said about what is going to happen the better.




As I stated in the first chapter, even the simplest card illusions require practice. For some of the more difficult tricks and sleights that follow in later chapters I recommend practice in front of a mirror. This will help you to judge the effect as the spectator sees it. However do not overdo the use of a mirror since too frequent use may cause you to get lost in front of an audience. You will be so used to seeing things from the point of view of a mirror that it’s absence will feel strange and you will flounder.


Another possible argument against injudicious use of a mirror is one that I have not personally come across. However, since various authorities in magic have stated this view I will give it for what it is worth. That is that frequent use of a mirror will cause the magician to develop a nervous habit of blinking whenever a secret move is executed. This may or may not be true, but I would certainly say that used sensibly a mirror is a useful asset to the budding performer.



Advice for Magicians


I haven’t written anything for  a couple of weeks as I have been touring Western Canada with my hypnotism show. Now that I  have returned I can’t think of a thing to write about! The best I can do is give an extract from a book I wrote about 35 years ago. The second chapter consisted of advice for magicians on showmanship and presentation. I figured it might not go amiss to produce it here as I haven’t changed my views on these matters even decades later. So here you go!




This is where 75% of all would be wizards fall down. Even experienced magicians are often run of the mill performers simply because of poor or badly delivered patter. I believe this is an important subject, in some ways more important than the trick itself. You see, patter is the vehicle of your showmanship; good patter can lift a performance into the heights of entertainment-bad patter can make a trick resemble the sinking of the Titanic. In other words, a disaster.


Admittedly you will have seen magicians on stage and television perform in pantomime to music. These performances are known as “silent acts”. However this book is not trying to teach you to be a stage magician, but rather to instruct you in the art of card magic for your own satisfaction and the entertainment of your friends. With regard to the purpose of performing in social situations for our family and friends good patter is essential.


Now where do you acquire this silver tongue, you may ask? It’s not really difficult; it just takes some application. First of all, after thoroughly learning the mechanics of a trick, why not spend a half hour or so thinking about what to say for it. Use your brain, that’s all you have to do. With a little imagination you should be able to come up with something. In fact, you can get ideas from almost anywhere. Look around you and see if there’s some object in sight that will give you an idea for a patter line. Perhaps you can pick up a book and browse through it in search of inspiration. Whatever you do try and make it interesting, even whimsical or perhaps a little nonsensical. You may prefer to make your tricks appear dark and mysterious. If so, mould your patter accordingly, but don’t try to be something you’re not. In other words, if you’re not really suited to being a comedian there’s no need to make yourself look ridiculous attempting to tell jokes with your tricks. Be natural, be yourself, but be entertaining.


Now of course this may create a conflict because you may not naturally be an entertaining personality. On one hand I am stating that you should be yourself and on the other hand I’m saying you should be entertaining. So you may well ask, “How am I supposed to be myself and be amusing at the same time? My conversation is as dull as dishwater, I don’t like speaking in public, I am naturally a quiet, shy person, so how am I supposed to transform to a product of Barnum and Bailey combined with shades of the Ringmaster to the Greatest Show on Earth?”


Actually the answer is you don’t. You will find that the more you perform card magic the more interesting your personality will become anyway. You don’t have to change overnight to a reincarnation of Dante, Blackstone, Houdini or any other great magician of the past. As time goes by your personality will become more interesting anyway. However, you do have to help it along a tiny bit. For example, if you should make an amusing remark extemporaneously try and remember it for future occasions. You will find as time goes by you will accumulate a stock of these remarks and you can weave them into your performances. If you think you’re as dull as dishwater and you lack confidence, don’t worry! Magic is an incredible confidence builder. Every time you hear gasps of astonishment it will do wonders for your morale.


We seem to have gone away from the subject under discussion, namely patter. Well, here we are again; all I have to say about it now is that I do NOT recommend learning it off by heart. You will certainly sound stilted and ten to one you will forget the words halfway through the trick. It’s a far better plan to get a general idea of what you wish to say, rehearse it aloud a few times with the cards in hand, going through the motions of the trick as you do, and finally when you come to perform you will sound more spontaneous than if you had learned the patter word for word. After many performances you will find that you tend to say the same words over and over again anyway, but with more flexibility. If someone interrupts you will not be put off whereas if the patter was learnt off by heart a break in the performance could throw you off completely.

After all this I waffle on about other performance matters. If I can’t think of anything else to write about in future posts I may well post more of those thoughts here.



Advice for Magicians

One Ahead Mindreading


OK. Just one last card trick and then I will have to think about something else to write about in the future. This is another easy one.


Secretly note the top card of the deck. Cut the pack into two sections putting the top half with the noted card away from you. So you now have a near heap and a far heap. The far heap contains the secretly noted top card. Let us assume for the sake of this description that the card is the jack of clubs. Pick up the top card from the near heap, look at it and remark, “This card here tells me that this one (indicating the top card of the far heap) is the jack of clubs”

Now replace the card in your hand on the near heap and go to the far heap displaying the jack of clubs and replace that face down on the packet. Now pick up the near heap and place it on the far heap thus burying the jack of clubs. Remember the card you looked at a moment ago. It is now the new top card of the deck. Cut the pack in half just like you did before with a far heap and a near heap. The far heap contains the new noted card at the top.

Now repeat the procedure of picking up the top card of the near heap, remembering it and stating that it tells you the name of the top card of the far heap. Of course you simply name the card you looked at and remembered the first time round. Believe it or not this bold procedure will not be noticed by your audience despite the brazenness of it. Show you are correct then replace the near heap on the far heap as you did before. Again you have a new noted top card that you looked at a moment ago.

You are now in a position to go on with this ad infinitum until either you or the audience get fed up with it. You just keep repeating the procedure and keep on naming the top card of the far heap. You can vary things occasionally if you want to by asking the spectator to cut the deck instead of yourself doing so or you can for the sake of variation turn the deck and cut them at a different angle. At any rate you continue with this until you deem it sensible to bring things to a close.

Your grand finale will be to reveal BOTH cards on EACH pile. This is accomplished by a fine piece of bluff. Cut the deck into two packets as usual, the far heap with a known card. Point to the top card of the near heap and miscall it as the known card. Pick it up with the face towards you and do not display it. Remember the name of it then point to the top card of the far heap and miscall this as the one you already have in your hand. Pick it and again do not display it. Place it with the other card so you now have the two cards side by side. Repeat the names of the two cards meanwhile mixing them up from hand to hand so the spectators will have no idea which is which. Finally show the faces to reveal that you have named both correctly. You have just performed a miracle!

One Ahead Mindreading

The Teaspoon Trick


I hadn’t the slightest idea what to write about today on this blog but then I remembered that about 40 or so years ago when I was  young and had hair I started to write a book on card tricks for beginners. I got up to five chapters and then got bored with the whole thing as I had no idea how I was supposed to get it published in the first place.

However, last year I transcribed the whole thing into my computer on the off chance (a very thin off chance) that I might finish the damn thing one day. It occurs to me that it might be a good idea to put one of the card tricks from the book here today for the amusement of all and sundry. It’ll save me the hassle of thinking of something to write anyway. And who knows? Maybe some great publishing house will see it and be so excited about the trick that they will pay me vast sums of money to finish the book and I can end up rich and famous.

OK. I suppose I had better get back to reality now. In the meantime here is the extract. It is a very easy trick to do and somebody might get a bit of fun out of it.  Here it is straight from the book. Ignore the bit where it says look at figure one since there isn’t one. I never got that far.


Actually you don’t really need a teaspoon. You could use a pen. Or if there is no pen handy you could use nothing at all except the deck of cards. However the incongruity of the teaspoon makes the trick more amusing and novel. I used to do it without the teaspoon but one day in a fit of impromptu devilment I saw one handy and decided to use it as a sort of magic wand and it made the trick more effective.

First there is a tiny little bit of preparation. Secretly place the seven of hearts and the eight of diamonds on the top of the deck before you start the trick. This might be a good point to explain what I mean by the top of the deck. Let us assume that the deck is face down. The first face down card is the top card of the deck. It is at the top of the deck. The last card of the deck is at the bottom of the deck. Now I hope you know what I am talking about. It gets a little more complicated if the pack is face up since the top card will now be the bottom of the deck and the bottom card will be at the top. I am quite sure that you have no idea what the last sentence meant and I now wish I hadn’t written it. I shall try again. Let us assume that the deck is face upwards. The card facing you is actually the top card of the pack since it is at the top. However that is from a technical literal point of view. From a card magician’s standpoint it is actually the bottom card of the deck! And the same goes for the bottom card which is actually the top of the deck.

The heck with it! I wish I hadn’t started this description. I shall let you use your common sense and figure it out yourself. Or look at figure 1; that should hopefully clear it up for you.

Anyway put the seven of hearts and the eight of diamonds at the top of the deck. You do this secretly before performing the trick. Now remove openly the eight of hearts and the seven of diamonds from the deck and hold them together in a little fanned formation as in figure 2. By holding the cards in this fashion your spectators will forget which is which. Just to recap you have two cards on the top of the deck, that is the seven of hearts and the eight of diamonds and two other cards in your hands which seem similar but are not the same, that is the seven of hearts and the eight of diamonds.

Ask the spectator to take both cards together and place them face down either together or separately into the face down deck which you helpfully spread between your hands in order for him to do this. Now square up the pack and place it face down on the table. Ask your spectator to take the teaspoon and tap the back of the deck. When he does so tell him to tap it again. After this second tap ask him to repeat the tap. This of course is all window dressing and showmanship. The teaspoon and the tapping have nothing whatever to do with the trick but it does add a certain finesse to it. If there is no teaspoon handy then use a pen or pencil. Or the spectator can merely tap the deck with his forefinger.

Now take off the two top cards and reveal that the cards he put in the deck a moment ago have now come to the top! I can assure you that the assembled company will be quite amazed. Of course the audience will have confused the seven of hearts/eight of diamonds combination with the eight of hearts/seven of diamonds combination and will actually believe that somehow the cards rose from the middle of the deck to the top. And they will be quite baffled as to how this came about.

Take your bow and bask in your new found glory.

The Teaspoon Trick