My Favorite Card Tricks: Ben Harris
By Alex Robertson - Thursday, October 29, 2020
We asked some of magic's greatest minds to share with us their favorite card tricks. This week is the turn of Ben Harris. You may know him from his many magic products such as Run Silent, Run Deep, X-Ray, or more recently his best selling book Machinations. Over to Ben.
The type of card magic I love is “formal,” or “semi-formal.” This means I’ll have a table top to work with, and a chance to set a stage; to play it large, to create expansive visuals. This is a luxury, but at this stage of my career I can get away with it! Effects with multiple decks, or those with broad and colourful spreads of cards are the attributes I look for.
Currently, my 3 favourite effects include a triple colour changing deck, an ACAAN (where the audience shuffle the deck and the performer NEVER touches it), and an Oil & Water that is the closer! Yes, you read that correctly: an Oil & Water routine CLOSES the set! It’s taken me 25 years to find a way to elevate this trick into what I consider to be “finale” material, and it’s done! Easy as pie, too, which is nice. These are effects from my new book, to be published by Vanishing Inc in 2021. I can’t wait to share it all with you!
While the above paragraph sounds like advertising, it’s not meant as such. These ARE my current three favourite card effects! All are examples of the type of material that I like to use to fill the table-top. They play big: Can you imagine the deck changing colour three times and the resulting splashes of colour across the table?! Or, in regards the ACAAN routine, the broad visuals of an audience member mixing the deck by smearing it all about the table-top. And, with the Oil & Water routine, fully interlaced (and separated phases) displayed in wide sweeps across the working surface. These far-reaching visuals project the magic deep into the audience’s minds!
For walk-around, it’s an entirely different approach. No tables, just 2 decks. I’ll jazz about, improvise, go with the flow. I know it sounds a little arrogant, but when you have been doing card magic for 40-plus years, you can relax and just riff. One has acquired the knowledge to drive the performance in any direction: Some mind-reading here, a card transposition there, a little in-hands Triumph, maybe some Twisting The Aces action. I’ll segue to Cardistry in order to turn the discussion to “amazing skill,” and follow with a pseudo-gambling demonstration (a re-purposed Ambitious Card routine).
Later, I’ll secretly switch-in the 2nd deck, Paul Harris’ classic, Solid Deception. This is the original version. Don’t confuse it with what’s often called an Omni Deck (Danny Korem’s subsequent clear lucite variation). With Paul’s original, the entire deck becomes “glued together” due to the heat from the spectator’s hands, rather than turning into a lucite block (something that never made sense to me). I always have a PH original with me. It does not require a table and is one of the strongest one-on-one effects that you can perform with a single deck(?) of cards! (When I first encountered this—circa1978—the cheek of it all had me laughing for days!)
My favourites are always changing. Times, attitudes, techniques and fashions change. One has to adapt. Covid-19 is forcing us to consider alternate outlets for our performances. “No touch” routines now need consideration. Kuniyasu Fujiwara’s Automatic Ace Triump from Jim Steinmeyer’s Ensuing Impuzzibilities (recently popularised by Penn & Teller) is my favourite card effect for the Zoom genre! Hands down genius! Incidentally, as this blog was being written, a new volume in the Impuzzibilities series has been released. Titled, Virtual Impuzzibilities, it’s a must-have and is selling-out everywhere!
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