SUMMARY: A surprising twist enhances a proven `Cards Across' classic
Las Vegas Leaper is a classic Paul Harris effect that became a staple in many professional magician's close-up sets when it was first released a couple of decades ago. It was first published in Las Vegas Close Up (1978), and later included as part of the terrific Paul Harris compilation Art of Astonishment Vol. 1 (1996). It is a clever "Cards Across" routine which can be done impromptu with normal cards. The classic Cards Across plot typically has a number of cards disappearing from one pile of cards and reappearing in a second pile, and that's effectively what happens here, but several elements really strengthen the routine. In Las Vegas Leaper, the spectator counts ten cards and puts them in their own pocket, only to discover that three cards are magically transferred to join the ten cards already in their pocket.
The effect became a huge hit in the world of magic, along with several popular variations, including Bill Malone's Leap of Faith (Art of Astonishment Vol. 1) and Paul Harris' own Big Time Las Vegas Leaper (Art of Astonishment Vol. 3). When the True Astonishment boxed set of DVDs was published by Paul Harris, it included a new take on the original effect, which added a new twist to the end of the routine: travelling money. This newer and improved routine of Las Vegas Leaper is called LVL$, and is also sometimes referred to as The New Las Vegas Leaper, and has been selected by Bro Gilbert as part of his series "The Vault".
The official ad copy does a good job of explaining what the effect involves. Effectively it's the original Paul Harris routine, with some new touches and a new twist for the ending. You count 10 cards for your spectator, which is confirmed by your spectator re-counting these cards, before putting them in their pocket. Then you count 10 cards for yourself. But then three times in a row, each time you re-count the cards, one has vanished. Where have they gone? In your spectator's back pocket, as your spectator removes the cards to discover they now have 13 in total!
Then as an additional twist, you do something similar with five banknotes. First one is shown to have vanished and there are only four left in your hand. But what's that in the spectator's back pocket, which you haven't been near the entire time? The fifth banknote!!!
What you get is an instant digital download of the video, which demonstrates and teaches the routine. The entire video is just under 12 minutes long, and consists of the following:
2 minutes: introduction & tips from Paul Harris
2 minutes: the set-up
6 minutes: the original routine
2 minutes: the twist
Like the other videos from the Paul Harris set Art of Astonishment, the explanation doesn't use any spoken words. Instead, there's gentle background music and all aspects of the routine are clearly and carefully shown from a top down view, with subtitled text that explains what is happening and what to do. Different camera angles are used where necessary, including close-up shots of the hands, and exposed views.
I have been pleasantly surprised how well this method of teaching works, and it even has some advantages over the traditional method of verbal instruction. It's easy to pause and replay sections, and the annotated text makes it crystal clear what part of the routine you're in. Overall, good job with the teaching!
No gimmicked cards are necessary for this trick, but some sleights are necessary. The original Las Vegas Leaper part of the routine does require the ability to do a f***e c***t, and this is all covered in the explanation. It's not an advanced move, but does require an intermediate ability with cards. So while this isn't a difficult trick, it's not something ideal for a beginner either.
Adding in the new twist in which you follow up the original effect by doing something similar with banknotes ramps up the difficulty, and also makes the first part of the routine slightly harder for you. Most of all, it requires a lot of bravado. In his introductory footnotes, Paul Harris admits that the trick may seem too bold and adventurous when you first think about it. But as he advises, the moves are similar to the original routine, so you just should go out and try it!
In recent years some countries, including Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, have switched to banknotes made from polymer instead of paper. I don't know exactly how this impacts the routine; I suspect that it's still quite workable but perhaps slightly more difficult, so some small elements of the handing may need readjusting.
With the original Las Vegas Leaper, Paul Harris has created a true classic. If you're not familiar with that routine, picking up this video download will basically introduce you to the original effect. It is relatively easy to learn the basic routine from this video by just leaving out the final twist with the dollar bills, and anything related to that (ideally making an adjustment that eliminates the card box).
The original routine as first published was more straight-forward than the Big Time Leaper variation published in Art of Astonishment Vol 3, which has a build-up involving three phases (1. Three cards travel to spectator as 10 cards become 13; 2. This is repeated as 13 cards become 16; 3. The spectator makes more than 20 extra cards travel to the magician.). The version taught by Michael Ammar on his Easy to Master Card Miracles Vol 1 video is the Big Time Leaper variation with the third phase omitted. LVL$ uses the simpler form of the routine, which makes sense since it has its own additional kicker, involving money. Many would agree that the extra phase added with Big Time Leaper stretches the effect too far anyway, and is even anti-climactic. In that respect, by introducing banknotes the climax of LVL$ is much better than Big Time Leaper.
The additional twist and challenges resulting from making banknotes travel to your spectator does add a level of difficulty to the routine, but it also comes with a great payoff if you can make the routine work for you. Travelling cards is already a mystery, but having a banknote travel into a pocket that you have never touched seems truly, truly impossible!
Bro Gilbert is doing a great job in bringing some of these classic Paul Harris effects back into the public eye with his "The Vault" series. Many long-time magicians will already be familiar with the original Las Vegas Leaper, given how popular it was when it first appeared, but there is a new generation of young magicians who may not be familiar with it. It's a classic that you really should know about. Everyone likes the idea of having money in their pocket, so having banknotes travel to an impossible location really adds an extra layer of astonishment to an already brilliant effect.
So take a look and consider giving this a go. Anyone who does successfully add LVL$ to their repertoire is going to be set for a lot of great entertainment!
- BoardGameGeek reviewer EndersGame