The Invisible Tool
The Invisible Deck must be one of the most popular gimmicked decks in existance. I can see why, the effect you can perform with it is staggering; a card you have someone merely think off appears face down in your face up deck. Pretty special no? But who should be using this most powerful of magic? Should beginners be allowed to use it or should they be made to buy Royal Road, Bobo's Coins and 13 Steps before they even dare look anywhere else? What of the intermediate magician, the amatuer or the hobbyist; are they allowed to use the deck or should they be asked to stick to rising cards, haunted decks and hummer? And what of the old pro, the wise old sage of the bricks and mortar you see sat at the desk showing his Invisible Deck off to another potential customer? Should the pro be allowed to use the effect, or are there not enough cops and robbers in the patter for a decent presentation? I personally think that the Invisible Deck is such a valuable tool for all these magicians that everyone should be allowed to use it, although with a few suggested conditions along the way.
Firstly there is the beginner, the new magician on the block. Forget whether he or she is 12 or 112, the point is they are new to the game, and may not quite understand the best way to learn the rules. I have always thought that the best way to learn the rules is to learn the rule book. And with that interesting analagy in mind, I would suggest that beginners everywhere pick up some of those old classic treatise of sleight of hand with cards coins or minds. Ask any magician who has studied the art for more than a year or so what the best DVD to get to learn card or coin magic is and I can almost guarantee you that they will reply "get a book". But what book should you buy? We could end up with a whole other essay if we look into that, but briefly Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic
, Royal Road to Card Magic (Hugard and Braue)
, J.B. Bobo's Modern Coin Magic
and 13 Steps to Mentalism (Corinda)
are universally accepted as the best source of information for the beginner and intermediate alike. Let's leave it at that.
So what of the Invisible Deck for our wide eyed would be miracle artists? Some say get it, it's a great trick and will get you great reactions. Some say don't as it won't garner you any skills, what with there being no sleights involved. And some say that this latter suggestion is pure nonsense. Harking back to No Skill Required for a moment, and if I may be so narcissistic as to quote myself (albeit sans smuggery) "self working tricks and gimmicked tricks [are] the perfect playground for trying out your misdirection, you've nothing to hide granted but if you can make the spectators look away when you want them to you can apply this in your sleight magic." So we can see here how performing an effect such as the Invisible Deck could help
a new magician. Think about it, how long did you practice the first sleight of hand trick you learned before you showed it anyone? And when you got round to showing it them, were you so nervous about getting caught or messing up that you lost some of the reaction owed to you through showing those nerves? I was, and I did, and it dented my confidence a little. Even worse was getting caught by someone after weeks and weeks of practicing a few effects so I could do more than just one if asked; nobody could have said "you needed to practice more", I had rehearsed my little heart out. So as beginners in the art I feel it is important to be able to perform something as a closer (or an opener of course) that is as powerful as the Invisible Deck. Perform it well and the reactions you will get are staggering, and will do everything to boost your confidence in your magic ability.
Which brings us onto a new point - performing it well. See, I guess one argument against beginners using effects like the Invisible Deck would be that they most likely won't have the performance skills necessary to turn it into the miracle it can be. Fair play, they may not. But where are they going to learn these skills? From performing. And how to we learn from performing? By performing and getting reactions. You will never learn to be a competent conjurer if all you do is get caught using sleight of hand all your life. Remember my quote? We can practice the important skills we will need later on in our magical careers early on through self-workers and gimmicked tricks; tricks like the Invisible Deck. And my reason for suggesting this is simple - if we haven't got to worry about whether or not we will mess up a sleight or needing to misdirect the audience's attention at large to something else for a moment, then we can perform better. In performing better we become more confident in our performance. With a little confidence we can practice making the audience look somewhere else for a moment, so that when we begin using sleights that require misdirection we have that skill in place. I didn't learn magic this way. I learned the old hard dogged way, learning my sleights and moves, and learning the misdirection that went with them at the same time. When it came time for me to perform my new magic to the world I didn't know whether I could misdirect people or not. I hadn't a clue if my sleights would be seen or not. I got very very nervous indeed about performing because I was scared I would get caught. I truly believe that to learn magic the other way, the way where you learn your misdirection by practicing it on tricks that require none, and learning your sleights and moves in the background, is to learn magic a much better way. It is, in my honest opinion, a method of learning the fundementals that is both rewarding and enjoyable. Nobody enjoys dull dry practice, but it needs to be done. And I feel that there would be little else more detrimental to a new magician's mentality toward his new art than only this dull dry practice; it leads to dull dry performance. We need magicians entertaining from round one, building up their confidence and performance skills by utilising these gimmicked tricks, Invisible Deck being a fantastic example, and working hard behind the scenes to better their sleights and subtleties. Balancing the dull dry practice of yet another false count with the exciting adrenaline rush of performing for strangers is very hard when you are a young magician (in terms of being new to the art, not an actual age thing, although the age thing comes into it) and it's easy to get lured into this "no skill required" mentality - don't! Remember that you will be viewed in a more respected light by your peers in the future if is obvious you have put in the hard work and dedication magic requires to be truly awesome.
So the beginners can have their Invisible Deck as long as they promise to work hard behind their bedroom/study door on their sleight of hand and use it to better themselves and learn performance skills otherwise tricky to pick up in the same space of time; they must also swear to not ditch the sleights in favour of the next big hyper trick that comes along and base their entire performing repertoire on effects that require that special something, thus saving themselves from embaressing moments where they have nothing on them and someone wants to see some magic. Now what about the intermediates, who I will group with the hobbyists and the amatuer performers also, do they get to have an Invisible Deck?
Yes. Of course they do. Just as for the beginner, so the Invisible Deck is a fantastic tool for the intermediate magician as well. Assuming that your misdirection and presentation don't need a good spit and polish, the deck should now be a firm opener or closer in your routine if you're using it, and is no longer serving the purpose of practicing future skills. So you have a really good effect on your hands. But how are you showing it? See, this is where the deck gets interesting for the intermediate magician I feel, you can use it to practice creativity. Don't think of this as anything other than a sweeping statement, as I'm sure there are many like me who are in this intermediate umbrella we've put up who are creative on a regular basis and create many effects, but we as magicians could do with a good dose of creativity. Far too many times I see magic that looks exactly the same as someone elses. People perform Jay Sankey effects and use his jokes, or perform like David Blaine, or try too hard to be like Criss or Brad or Gregory or anyone else they've seen and like. Now, trying not to turn this into a performance lecture, I am all for a little imitation when you start your magical journey; it'll help you perform and move forward. But you should drop it quite early on, as sooner rather than later you'll find your own little niche and performance style. It's no good desperately using every joke Sankey has in his book if you are clearly not a 'funny guy'. Similarly, even though I perform effects devised by Banachek or Derren Brown I do not use my hands like Banachek, or act quite so smug as Brown (not that his smug is a bad thing, it fits his character nicely in fact). Magicians across the globe are performing the same old presentation of the Invisible Deck and it's getting tired. So toss the instructions and treat it like a blank canvas. Write down every concievable plot for the deck. What happens (at a base leve) in the effect? A card is thought of and revealed back to front in a deck of cards. Magic. We all know how to get there (those of us that own it of course) technically speaking, but how do we get there in the spectator's eyes? We could simply ask them to think of a card and reveal it. We could get them to pick a card from a different deck. We could get them to draw the card on a piece of paper. We could have two spectators think of two cards, obviously with the contingency plan for if it's impossible to reveal both cards in the Invisible Deck. And what of the reveal? Do we simply say "your card is the only one turned the wrong way in this deck of cards"? Or could we tell them to imagine a deck of cards, and to imagine their card being the only one face down in the face up deck, only to show them that they imagined into existance? Maybe we could say that we've made a predicition, that their card will be the only card face down in the face up deck, and once this has been established show that all the backs of the cards are blank (deck switch required of course). You could fail to read their mind a few times, ask them which card they picked and move on. Pull your deck out of your pocket (Invisible of course), nonchalantly spread through the cards until you hit one that's the wrong way around, ask them which card they picked again and ask them to take the card from your hands. I could go on. Think of the endless possibilities you have to present an Invisible Deck. This then is why I'm giving it to the intermediate magicians.
With the pros chomping at the bit I feel we must press on. Is it ok for a pro magician to be using the Invisible Deck? I mean everyone's got one, it's on every street corner, every US school campus, every TV special, is there really any point in using an effect so widely witnessed? I may be a self confessed amatuer performer but I try to maintain as mature and professional attitude about my magic as is possible, and I say yes. Many in fact. First things first it takes the heat off your hands. Walk up to any group of strangers in the world and introduce yourself as a magician and the first effect you perform will be your clincher, your deal sealer, and they'll make you work for it. You'll find all eyes go to your hands, and unless you're a seriously good professional charmer you'll need to be able to cope with the heat. What simpler way do you have of both confirming your credentials as a magic man AND shaking off the heat than the Invisible Deck? It's simple to do, it's powerful and most of all it's sleight free. It's the best of both worlds. Secondly, the Invisible Deck is what you can call commercial and get away with it. The effect is so powerful it'll make people want to see more. Send it to a potential client sealed in an envelope with the instructions DO NOT OPEN and when you turn up for you interview/meeting ask them to think of any card in the deck. Open your sealed envelope and show them your perfect prediction. Get hired. You'd have to be working a really tough crowd for the Invisible Deck to not win you over. It's so entertaining because it's so direct. Given any presentation spin, you are still showing that one card in a closed box of 52 is the wrong way around and it was the exact one the spectator was thinking of. It's that word thinking
that makes this so commercial. It's a thought in their head. It's pretty darn magical.
More reasons for still using the Invisible Deck as a professional worker? I'd say that the Invisible Deck is great fun to perform, easy to do and gets really strong reactions. It's rather pure looking, very fair and has endless possiblities for presentation, making it suitable for pretty much anyone, the cardician to the weerdist alike. So you professionals can have your Invisible Deck as well, with little more proviso than continuing to help us less advanced in our magic and giving the self-workers and gimmicked tricks their place alongside the sleights and subtleties of the hard working and dedicated magician.
So there you have the Invisible Deck, more than just a gimmicked deck, a truly useful tool for us all to utlise be it for practicing future skills, becoming creative or getting hired. The Invisible Deck may not make you a pro, but it'll certainly start you in the right direction.
This is kind of a footnote to my essay No Skill Required that I wrote based on the thread you can view here in which a beginner card magician wanted to know whether getting the Invisible Deck was a good idea. I realised that in No Skill Required I hadn't really made much on the positive side of the gimmicked trick for the beginner so I've made that point here.