The Devil's Scrapbook
Is that a magic wand in your pocket?
And so but if you would allow me a moment to tell you of an interest that has been with me since Jesus, Father Christmas (do they have the same birthday, or something like that?) or someone like that, finally got around to giving me the ability to store data. Memories achieved. I never admit to this interest with pride, ˌəʊ kɒnˈtrɛː, it’s a bit embarrassing the truth be told; and certainly a weapon I polish not - but actually conceal - when surveying my arsenal of attraction should it be required for instance to cause a lady to yield. Although, ‘for instance’ here harbours a lack of other instances, for all roads lead to ladies yielding (for the heteronormative white trash I am of course - for identification purposes Lesbosinians and Bendrés etc., might wish to adjust accordingly.)
It’s an interest in magic, or ‘conjuring’ perhaps I should say - ‘magic tricks’ I should definitely actually say, for THAT IS WHAT IT IS - there, I said it: I like magic tricks. But what makes this sinister beast, this seedy niche, of value here, is how it survived me being sexually abused by a magician (whom I met at The Dartford Magic Club. Dirty Martin [less about that later - although the keen eyed and textually aware among you might consider that it survived perhaps not in spite of said sleight of cock but because of it.] A train horn in the distance causes birds to leave the communication lines upon which they sat, until it passes and once more upon it they then did balance. That line is there to remind you This. Is. Writing®
Once I became an adult my interest in magic tricks understandably and thankfully went into hibernation, but was somewhat stirred some two decades later by the arrival of Derren Brown, and fully awoken with the arrival of the Internet. Yes, it was from the Brown/Geocities nexus that I did with foolish expectations jump back into the under-chlorinated, floating plaster punctuated, piss riddled pool of conjuring; of magic tricks.
I forget exactly how - being then on a diet of diazepam and heroin - but I managed to get my filthy mitts on a couple of slightly more ‘industry only’ videos of Derren Brown, with the intention of finding out how the fucker was managing to do what it seemed no one before had done. One was called ‘The Devil’s Picture Book’ (odd for a video) a reference there to tarot cards which is as ugly as old muck. Of course, I didn’t find out how Derren did what he did. The magic trick industry is a lot of promise and very little product. That my interest in this ghastly realm has also survived that often crushing and always expensive failure to meet expectations is also testament to the depths which my passion goes. It’s essentially a dysfunctional relationship - and yet co-dependently onwards along its glitzy, yet well-trodden and unclean brick road I tread.
About twenty dull minutes into the Devil’s Picture Book and I was introduced to ‘Mike’, a man with no hair, many tattoos, a West-Country accent, and a ‘move’ which Derren Brown called ‘Mike’s Move’. If I remember partially, it was some kind of reallocation of a card sleight, where you insert a card into the middle of the deck but actually, using what’s known in the trade as a ‘mechanics grip' (as if anyone masculine enough to actually repair cars - let alone have a grip like such a person - would ever take up magic) is anyone still reading this? Point being, I was running a small eCommerce business at the time and I got an order from a bloke called ‘Mike’ with the email addy: Mike@REDACTEDmagik.com - and having an ‘everything revolves around me’ view of the world - which in fairness it does - I decided this ‘Mike’ who’d made an order must be the ‘Mike’ from ‘Mike’s Move’, fame, so immediately - no doubt breaking - or at least severely bending - several data protection laws - emailed the said ‘Mike’ and asked “Are you the ‘Mike’ from ‘Mikes Move’ fame?” And wouldn’t it be a cuckoo of some sort if I were to now tell you it was? It was. Bingo. Magico-digital brood parasitism achieved.
A relationship was thus established. I had something he wanted, world class lock picking skills, and he had something I needed, some way to sublimate/transfer the trauma of sexual abuse, I mean, insider knowledge of actual, real, cool (really?) magic tricks and not the ones I had a history of feeling utterly underwhelmed after purchasing/stealing etc. It was on.
For you to understand the sense of excitement I felt to have actually penetrated an inner circle of actual magic tricks, some examples I will present. About a year after Dirty Martin made my innocence disappear (interestingly, I had a friend called Patrick, who’d also developed an interest in magic tricks, and would accompany me to Central London to visit the stinking, nicotine stained, and most significantly, expensive, failure emanating hovels that sold the stuff. The most frequented of these disappointment dealers being Davenport’s in the Charing Cross underground, International Magic on Clerkenwell, and Alan Alan’s on Southampton Row, next to The Burlington Hotel, and ran by the diminutive escapologist and eponym himself. However, with a wicked prescience, Patrick’s Mum, who I wanked about a lot, told Patrick he could no longer be into magic tricks because ‘There’s a lot of dodgy old men involved in magic’) I was invited by another friend, Darren, who’s dad was a dustman, and although we’re meant to gloss over that like it’s nothing, or say something like ‘In those days it was a good job you know, something something GLC, something something finished by midday, rest of the day to yourself’, etc., in truth, to feed his family, Darren’s dad picked up that most vile of all things, domestic waste. What sickening mixture of Hell into black bags from homes is thrown? Any job that spends more than five stinking seconds with such stuff is the vocational equivalent of licking the putrid sweat of slow decay from the belly of a dying pig. So, dustman’s son, Darren invited me to a real magic show. Wow! Remember, this is pre-internet. There wasn’t a lot of magic about. In fact, after choosing to leave The Dartford Magic Club due to the previously hinted anal menacing, I was pretty much starved of magic (apart from a once monthly crappy little photocopied magazine, creatively entitled ‘ACRACADABRA’ which I signed up to at Davenport’s for six months, but somewhere on the way human error meant that drag of a rag came through my Mum’s letterbox (that doesn’t mean her cunt) every month for about six years, all throughout the hibernation phase and long after the unwanted sexual event, like a little monthly reminder of the unwashed smell of his….we’ll say ‘house’ for the sake of expediency, but I mean penis) so the idea of going to an actual magic show was very, very exciting.
Not so much when me, him, and his smelly dustman dad rocked up to the Belvedere Working Man’s Club Hall, complete with glitzy, if a bit dusty and decomposed in places, bunting, and sparkly purple strips of some highly flammable material on the stage which the performers could appear through to add a touch of absolutely no class or glitz to proceedings. Here. We. Go!
The audience in this barely ten square meter and half-empty fifty chaired room was mainly made up of the long suffering, drained-faced wives of the steady stream of perverts and social/sexual/financial/hygiene failures that came onto stage, still blowing nervous, residual, chain-smoking smoke from their yellow mustachioed and creepy, nightmarish faces that barely beat gravity to stay correctly placed on their heads, that themselves poked out of ill-fitting - possibly charity-shop/death-auction - suits, decorated with snazzy collars and cuffs to let us know they are indeed magicians/perverts. It was gross. The highlights were of course the nearly naked and clearly void of viable alternative tick-tock tick-tock divorce on the horizon wives who also occasionally stepped through the purple rain and onto the stage and gave my young penis quite the thrill, allowing me to contract my stomach muscles and push blood into my cock to have a no handed wank as they reluctantly (that was the best bit, soz) partook in this mess of a life they looked like they were in a state of continually realising they were actually a part of.
Most memorable - apart from the skirt (all roads…..) was an act who made doves (I wouldn’t be surprised if they were bleached sparrows) not miraculously appear from the little pouches they were stuffed and suffocating in as they waited for him to slip his thumb through the loop in his sleeves and inside jacket pockets and let them flap their disheveled wings for the first time in hours. I couldn’t help but think the wives who’d managed to dodge being part of their husband’s act who sat, bored, but with a kind of ‘avoiding a slap later’ attentiveness in the audience identified with these poor birds, at least I hope they did, or they’d be doing this for another ten years with increasing amounts of vodka and cocks sucked under desks at work just to feel something, anything, just to Feel Alive™.
So, he’s pulling these now crippled birds from their little stash pouches and with crumpled wings and dirty feathers he’s managed to just about keep them alive. The mood in the room is not good. Animal cruelty - even if Anita Ward’s disco classic ‘Ring My Bell’ is playing so loud it’s causing Blu-Tak to un-tak, and all manner of posters advertising other Belvedere Working Man’s Club Hall cultural surplus to fall from the walls - is still animal cruelty, and not made much better, in fact made much worse by the performers sadistic, receding gums and yellow toothed smile that seems to get wider and more chilling with every suffering avian moment. Slight relief is provided by a girl who appears through the purple strips wearing nowt but a gold bikini, stilettos, and fuck-me make-up, although even this ends up hitting hard when you realise she’s about twelve and you’re caught in a Schrödinger’s assistant situation as you at once both hope it is and hope it isn’t his daughter.
A moment of levity amongst the sexualized children, squalor, and animal cruelty as daughter/non-daughter whore-child realises she’s forgot her only job (besides jailbaiting the audience) and risks a stiletto-snapping ankle-breaking as she rushes back off stage, returning seconds later with some kind of Auschwitzian birdcage and stand affair, which she fixes together, giving the audience six protracted seconds of prepubescent arse-crack, the three millimeter strip of gold PVC G-string not doing a good job of hiding her anus that I swear winked twice as she nervously tightened wing-nuts.
Once that semiotic catastrophe leaves the stage, the entire audience inhales deeply and move their shoulders as a little self-comforting gesture, but it’s only temporary relief as now ‘Magic Gavin’, ‘Birdini’, ‘Nicotini’ or whatever his name is, covers the front of the birdcage in some moth-bitten and dusty old cloth, before squeezing the birds into the required size to stuff them into the tiny hole (not) hidden in the base of the cage. One after the other, as feathers flick up into the air, and squawks of bird-pain that ‘Ring My Bell’ still fails to hide, he forces their tiny skeletons to near snappage as finally all eight of them are now once more suffocating, this time in the one inch deep base of the cage. The music stops, and after a tap of his magic wand, he removes the cloth, and wouldn’t you know, the birds are nowhere to be seen, and we’re left with just the torturous, warbling sound of them desperate for air, movement, and freedom. We all know where they are, we just don’t want to, and the weak applause is more to drown out the sound of them dying than to thank The Great Torturini for his performance. I know why the caged bird doesn’t sing. The applause is short as the collective unconscious of the audience wants him to take the box backstage and release the poor things ASAP. That’s magic!
And so now but for Derren Brown and Mike of ‘Mike’s Move’, long buried would my fascination with this ninety-nine percent atrocious world have stayed. But awoken it was, and when Mike from ‘Mike’s Move’ started introducing me to actual magic tricks, effects and approaches that were a world away from the domestic Hell and child/animal/spousal abuse of local magic clubs and local magic shows, it must have been good, incredible in fact. And it was, it really was.
So, you can imagine my excitement when Mike of ‘Mike’s Move’ invited me to attend The 54th Annual Magic Convention at the Winter Gardens Complex in Blackpool. He emailed me a link to their website and what a host of potentially disturbing people and things it promised. Martin Nash (known as The Charming Cheat, apparently), Jean Pierrs Vallarino (the FISM(?) prize winner), Chris Capeheart (known as ‘The Ringmaster’ (maybe he knows Dirty Martin?) for his ‘incredible 3 ring routine ‘Crash Link’’), TWO INTERNATIONAL GALA SHOWS (all caps) including ‘acts booked so far’ ‘Jupiter from Hungary, The Great Nardini’, and perhaps most threatening, ‘The after-show party wil(sic) feature strolling close-up magicians’. Since most people get into magic because they’re socially awkward, have no friends and are unpleasant, I couldn’t help think the after-show party would be like some avant garde movement piece consisting of only, lonely, strolling magicians and absolutely no audience. Why sit and talk when you can bore people with that card manipulation you’ve spent nine years sitting alone indoors learning while the rest of the world is outside learning how to participate in groups, conversations, life, etc,.
Also promised, and I quote exactly: ‘FISM prize winner Kenji Minemura from Japan, and top of the bill, the hits of the SUPREMES’.
All in all quite the unappealing two days up North surrounded by some of the most unpleasant and ill-equipped for existence people you could imagine. Capitalism saved the day though, because when I read ‘The Dealers Fair will feature 104 Magic Dealers from all over the world in two spacious dealer halls’ I was made up! That’s more like it. That’s where I’d be getting my hands on the good stuff, the tricks that aren’t in the shops yet - and maybe would never be, the tricks, books, and demonstrations that someone like me wouldn’t usually have access to until they’ve been performed professionally for about ten years and everyone knows how they’re done anyway. A roller coaster of a flyer though, the after-show party on Sunday would not only feature ‘strolling close-up magicians’ (and no one else) but also ‘comedy vocals from KARL’.
With four-hundred quid, a change of underwear, a quarter ounce of heroin and the means to jack it frequently throughout the weekend, and I was on the train to Blackpool. Three hours and half a gram later and there’s Mike of ‘Mike’s Move’ fame at the station in his car. I jumped in the back and was introduced to his friend and performing partner Vern, who looked more like a junkie than me. Reassuring and not surprising I guess, since these two did this stuff for a living. Night after night they went from one reluctant and drunk table to the next, guessing cards, disappearing coins, and other things that interrupted otherwise at least semi-enjoyable conversations at the end of another mandatory suicidal ideation generating, Annual General Meeting. And just when you’ve downed enough free(ish) Champagne(esque) booze to put your hand under the table and onto Melinda from Marketings leg to fiddle nervously with her lacy-topped stockings as you marvel at your first non-viagra generated erection in years, up pops Vern, like a vampire from his coffin, waving his wizened and unconvincing hand above an obviously not really bending spoon and you couldn’t care less; wondering how long you’re going to have to be polite until this glorified children’s entertainer fucks off to annoy another table.
They have the awareness though; they’ve suffered the same disappointing purchases, the same maladjusts blowing on their dirty fingers before making something they already know wasn’t there disappear, and by making a living out of it - a career - another level of disdain has been reached. Upon this shared awareness we manage to extract a fair amount of fun from this expression of a culture well in decline. As we park the car, Mike of ‘Mike’s Move’ fame doesn’t hold back when he states “I fucking hate magic”, which makes Vern laugh as he says “It’s a job though…a really shitty Job”, and as Mike from ‘Mike’s Move’ fame says he was more looking forward to meeting me than the “poxy convention”, a bump in the road wakes me up just in time to reply like someone who is socially able and say: “Likewise”, before falling halfway back into my previous state of Invalid. I. Movement.
Betwixt some no man’s land of a lucid dream and a poppy-juice induced not so lucid reality, in order that consciousness I did achieve, effort I made to join in with life. Good timing since then cars and their surrounding necessities did end, and in the few minutes it took me to fully wake down, the convention we were at. And since there was no chance we’d be watching any of the lectures performed by people who are only famous - that is only valued - that is only known - that is only wanted - that is only ALIVE - at events like these, of which there are about three a year, causing said people to rinse every last fetid drip of mid-pubescent pre-cum from the easily and overly-impressed hordes of acne-riddled and stammering, mother-dressed and body-odoured - at once pussyphobic and pussyphiliac - teenage boys, whilst also rinsing every acidic drip of resentment and jealousy from the touched by the hand of scurvy, bed-bug infested and dog-eared porn-stash men who stuff tortured birds into boxes in Working Men’s Clubs up and down the country - we headed straight for the Dealers Fair.
Buying a magic trick is a Fukuyamaian wet-dream. My boy Derrida even accused Fukuyama of performing a kind of intellectual ‘sleight of hand trick’ with his End of History, celebrito-intellecto thesis. But if you ever wanted to see Fukuyama’s ‘Last Man’, Blackpool Magic Convention, Dealers Fair is the place to go. It’s the same crowd who are at the lectures of course, magicians are a thin slice of the population and at this level are not divided or distinguished between consumers and producers in an event that is clearly just different markets in different guises. But here it’s like one hundred micro-lectures on loop which you can lean in and out of, and quickly - thankfully - should you be (unsurprisingly frequently) appalled and/or unimpressed by what’s on offer.
Actually overheard: “Did you see Dave Allen’s ‘Kidz R Us’ lecture, Clive?”, “Unfortunately not, I think it clashed With Marc’s talking dog”. That will be Marc Metral, who’s act at the convention was referred to weeks later in a review on a magic forum as ‘Ventriloquial Mayhem’ if such a thing could be believed. Metral found his three and a half minutes of fame over a decade later on Culture Industry slop ‘Britain’s Got Talent’, (not too much talent, mind, with Marc being French) where not only did he delight and deceive with his real life talking dog, but became a figure of controversy and hate after Simon ‘don’t pay attention to the man behind the curtain’ Cowell grassed him up to the RSPCA after it was revealed to get the ‘talking dog’ talking, the dog wore a ‘fake-mouth’ muzzle controlled by Marc from behind. Did they think the dog was actually talking? “Think yourselves lucky I am giving you an audience tomorrow instead of twenty years from now” said Simon Cowell, I mean the Wizard of Oz, I mean at this stage it hardly matters and the cogs keep turning.
Something seems to be happening at the first booth we see so the three of us mooch over to see a man in a not very magical wig spreading a deck of cards for the small arc of audience to see. He - The magician (salesman) - shuffles the deck of cards and then after squaring them up and holding them in his outstretched arm, feigns wonder as an ace seems to rise from the center of the deck. He places this on the black faux velvet mat on his counter that has a sticker in the top left hand corner saying ‘Today only - 50% off’ before another card flies from the deck, spinning in the air to be caught by his free hand. Another ace, which he puts on the Today Only 50% off faux velvet mat with the other one. Then he cuts the deck in one hand like origami unfolding and a third ace appears on the top of the deck. After putting the deck on the table he asks spotty Eric who is standing front and center, no doubt looking to catch him out, to look in his shirt pocket, and upon Eric doing so the fourth ace is found. The magician then sets the deck aside and shows us each ace, one by one, saying ‘clubs, spades, hearts, diamonds.’ He then asks someone in the audience, scanning first for a girl (any excuse…all roads) but finding none and opting for some rando instead, asks “Pick a suit”, “clubs” says rando, and Saledini plucks the ace of clubs from the stack to show its back is actually a mirror. Little to no response from the crowd. “Pick a suit” he says again, surveying the crowd for someone else awake or interested enough to speak, but as the small crowd notices a pattern forming you can almost hear the boredom. “Lards” says a lad with Downs Syndrome and proper ruins the party. Used Cardini salesman struggles now, he can’t take the piss like he would any other member of his rapidly diminishing crowd because he doesn’t want to treat the Downs kid with any respect whatsoever, assuming he can’t take a joke or some shit, so, he does what he can, and says ‘Spades!’ himself and no one knows if they should laugh or not, resulting in silence, which gives just enough audio air-space for us all to hear BuyMyShitini in the neighbouring booth say “…and the fish becomes…..a dragon!” followed by a toddler saying, nay shouting, “I already saw that, it was in your hand already!”
Bored, the audience just watches as the four aces turn into increasingly unlikely and unimpressive variants, the mirror back, a quite uncomfortable ‘sexy’ card, which he refers to as ‘a page three stunner’ which causes a nervous titter amongst the huddle of definite virgins, a card that had tiny version of all fifty-two cards in the pack printed on it, to which he hilariously added “The ace of hearts has turned into an entire deck of cards!” Clever stuff. And finally, just when we thought we knew where it was going, the ace of diamonds (he stopped asking people to name cards since Downs ruiner hadn’t stopped grunting since “lards’, and rather than draw more attention to that made such decisions himself) turned into his business card, which caused quite the response, as he said “You can hand that out to the table you’re working on, combining a bit of advertising with a very strong and original effect.” Mike from ‘Mike’s Move’ fame looks at Vern who looks suicidal. Skintdini then explains costs, add-ons and other sales talk while people consider purchasing this effect.
But you don’t purchase the effect, that’s the con, you purchase something quite different. And that’s the real trick; however many times you’ve fallen for it, you fall for it again and again. It’s been like that from the first soul-jarring, ‘Have I been had?’ hollowed-out purchase I ever made, to the last. Because when you get home and open the box, you see that for your thirty quid you get a mirror-backed card, a card with fifty-two little cards printed on it, a card with a somewhat blurry page three (un)stunner on it, and four sheets of bad quality instructions that read like some bizarre, encrypted code. Bear in mind too, that even if you know the esoteric language of the modern card manipulator, if you’re a child, these moves are impossible to perform simply due to the size of your hands. And while it would be unfair of me to omit that these squint to see instructions do come with a few token illustrations, they look like they were drawn by someone who is clearly not a professional illustrator, but also doesn’t know the moves, which means they’re not quite useless, and therefore continually lure you back into attempting to follow them, often resulting in anatomically impossible, cramp-inducing finger positions. And yet with the wording being so utterly confusing, you’re again tempted back to the illustrations, the level of frustration doubling with each attempt to make sense the two conflicting modes of explanation, and finding less each time.
Here’s the kind of thing the buyer of such tricks can expect…
While holding the deck in the left hand in the mechanics grip, perform a triple lift and then jog out the bottom right of the third ace in that stack when you’ve performed an ‘aces only’ count with the aces and gimmicked cards (either a Flustration or Orion is adequate unless you have a go-to count you’d prefer) create a pinky-break, peel off the top three cards (the two gimmick cards and the ace of hearts/clubs/spades/diamonds depending on audience intervention. You can slide your right hand index finger left along the top edge of the deck whilst moving your left hand towards the deck to finish this move. Don’t force this last move though, engage eye contact with the audience, and if you want to be really cheeky, say something like “I don’t know why you’re watching my hands, the magic happens in the future”. This always gets a great laugh and means the move is in no way dirty.
Here’s a good time to remind the audience the deck was shuffled by an audience member and you haven’t touched them since. Even though the cards were not shuffled by an audience member and you’ve done nothing but touch them since. They will believe you if this is delivered with confidence and certainty. Tell them this, don’t ask them. And if anyone does remember, they’ll be too shy or embarrassed to mention it as long as you give the instruction properly. Should - on the off chance someone call you out on this - simply say something like “There’s always one!” or “I don’t usually work with stooges!” which always gets a big laugh and you’ll have shut him up good and proper - as well as let everyone else know their input is not required!
Perform the pass as mentioned in Part B (I like to use the classic method outlined in The Royal Road to Card Magic, which has a smoother and less ‘obvious’ steal involved.) But if you’re not confident with this and no ones standing to your left, you can always drop the deck to your side, thank everyone for attending, perform a top change and simply move the top card to the bottom. As long as you’ve maintained the pinky-break and you hit the beat with your cover story, there’s no reason this can’t be done as clean as any other, more complicated techniques. In fact, the irrepressible William ‘Willy’ Jackson once simply cut the pack in half and said “There, I cut the pack in half! Not really’ and yet he did. It’s so confusing the audience would think you’d never have actually done something so deceptive AND told them about it!
You see, what you’re not buying is the desperation of the failed magician. His need to feed his family, his gambling addiction, his whores, whatever. You’re not buying the eight hours a day he’s practiced this standing in front of the mirror for the last five years. And trust me, you really do need all of that to make the crap you’ve bought appear anything like what you saw. The irony is disturbing for what it tells us is no one is more tricked by magic than magicians themselves, who continue to fork out for what is essentially something they could have made at home with some glue, some scissors, and a pack of cards. At Davenport’s once I was handed a playing card by the maladjust behind the jump who instructed me to fold it horizontally and then vertically, running my fingernails along both folds to really make them count. I did so, as he did the same with another card. He then folded my lengthwise card into his widthwise folded card and proceeded to push my card through his, causing it to turn inside out. It went in with the back of the card showing and came out with the front of the card showing. Right in front of my eyes! “And that’s ‘Card Warp’” he said, smiling like a pervert because he was one. I call it twenty quid down the swanee because when I got home and opened the sealed envelope, all I got was two photocopied sheets of writing and one Escher inspired perspective illustration of two folded playing cards and a hand with six fingers.
But the swizz continues, because even though after two lifetimes I finally managed to work out how it worked, it never worked in public for the simple reason your mates in the boozer don’t want to be impressed. They’re not into magic, worse, they’re into ruining the inherent smug ‘I know something you don’tness’ of conjuring. Whereas at Davenport’s, wanting so much to be impressed, I’m cutting him enough slack I barely noticed the migrania-nervosa pattern of his suit.
And so it was with all that and more I did walk unwisely further into the dealers fair with one thing on my mind - the hypnotists bible - and how to get my hands on it. All conjuring fields have a ‘bible’, the book that is the holy grail of it’s area. Expert Card Technique for cards (of course there’s forums full of dusty old men arguing if it’s actually that or some other basically the same stuff in a different cover.) For coins it’s going to be J B Bobo’s 1952 yawnathon ‘Modern Coin Magic’, for mentalism it’s Tony Corinda’s ‘12 Steps To Mentalism’ - which actually has tricks Derren Brown has performed on the telly. And for hypnosis - which is why I’m really here, it’s Ormond McGill’s ‘The New Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnosis’, which that toilet-paper magazine ABRACADABRA told me in almost every issue, ‘is the bible of the dark art of suggestion.’ Let’s go. And soon enough I had it, and into my bag it went, throbbing with excitement, potential, and the art of suggestion!
After that I was pretty much done with the convention. I got Ali Bongo’s autograph for my girlfriend just for the lols, and the three of us spent the rest of the weekend in the bar, drinking, watching some pretty decent magic from Mike from ‘Mike’s Move’ fame friend Felipe showing a card trick to a group of four lads whilst simultaneously removing the watches of three of them and wearing them himself, which although incredible, was just another glimmer of hope I really didn’t need. There was one moment of mild distress where I suddenly realised I’d left my heroin stashed at the hotel and suddenly, and with no explanation to Vern and Mike from ‘Mike’s Move’ fame, I bolted out from the bar and all the way to the hotel, who luckily hadn’t let the room to someone else, and fell for my story of having forgot my passport. I was accompanied to the room, but I asked if I could use the toilet quickly so I could get the required privacy to pull the end off the curtain rail and procure my medicine. And while I was there, I used the toilet and had a hit, which mixed with the alcohol I’d already consumed meant a very different man walked out of that room to the man who walked in.
You know what happens next. If. You. Don’t. You Have. Not. Been. Paying. Attention. A hole it did burn in both my backpack and mind, as between mine hands the true power to suggest would soon occur. I even slowly wiped the shiny but admittedly underwhelmingly designed cover, shuddering meself in the knowledge that inside it did contain the goods. Also, I will admit, squeak it I did when wiped, causing me all manner of symbolic exchanges, lost in the hope contact would be made between me and the power™ so that as soon as I prized apart the pages, invested in it already I would be.
You know what happens next. Here’s a few chapter headings that although at first effervescent with potential, only really signaled the start of the same old magic buying Sisyphian hod-carrying routine:
Your Hypnotic Power
The Art of Waking Hypnosis
Harry Aron’s Arms-Rising-and-Falling Test
Fastening Open The Subjects Mouth So he Cannot Close It
Making it Impossible For The Subject To Sit Down
Stiffening The Subjects Leg
The suspicion started to set in proper when I noticed chapters nineteen to thirty eight, a whopping hundred and twelve pages - a novella - were all ‘methods’ to achieve the same thing: Hypnotism. The eye-blinking method, The clock dial method, The light and shadow method, The arm levitation method , The candy method, The Marx Howell nonverbal method, The fatigue out of focus method, and on they went going from the mundane to the bizarre and back again. A moment of slightly sensual levity was achieved with chapter forty one’s title though: Woman’s Place in Hypnotism.
There were some sub-headings of note from chapter sixty one, such as: The ‘Hot Seat’ Test, Sexy Reactions, and The ‘missing finger’ Test. But the rot had truly set in, and as I dipped in and out, hoping against much evidence very much to the contrary that it hadn’t all happened again, I stumbled upon this bastard of a line, in which the entire lie of hypnosis and what it is and is not were explained… ‘Training by this progressive method of hypnotizing shows the new students how to effectively use suggestion while you train your subject(s) in how to be hypnotized’. Fuck me.
It was almost (almost) a work of genius since Ormond McGill, the dirty rat, spent half the time trying to explain what hypnotism was and how to do it without giving the game away that it’s nothing and you just tell people to do things. That’s it. Here’s the filter:
Advertise a hypnotist show
Ask who wants to be hypnotized
Induct those people to see who will play along
See who will play along the most
Hypnotize them (That is: relax them - provide them a mask)
Tell them to do things.
I should have known. If you were sitting on the stage at an event - already weird - and the hypnotist says ‘when you wake up I will be invisible’, before proceeding to wake you up and carry the mic-stand across the stage. If you - in your normal life saw a levitating mic-stand, or forgot your own name, or couldn’t count to five, or found you were stuck to your seat, or couldn’t close your mouth, you’d have a panic attack, maybe go actual spaz, scream, question your entire outlook on reality, possibly actually lose your marbles, or many other significant experiences that are not really reflected in those hypnotized people who just seem a bit confused. Yes, they’re confused that they really are playing along with this shit and it would be bad manners to suddenly say ‘Sorry, I’ve had enough, I don’t want to do it any more’.
Well, magic, conjuring, hypnotism, Derren Brown, fuck you. Now here and for ever more I of magic again will not be tricked. Props to Mike of ‘Mike’s Move’ fame though, decent chap. And Patrick’s mum was right. And hot.
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