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Topic: Svengali 'total' revelation - never?
Message: Posted by: erik (Nov 8, 2002 12:42PM)
I posted this here, rather than in the card forum, because it is so basic:

Do you think it might be acceptable to do the "total revelation" with Svengali for younger audiences? Particularly for those you are trying to wow into magic :)

:bikes: :bikes: :bikes: :bikes:


Message: Posted by: DavidKenney (Nov 8, 2002 01:16PM)
I know we have already had this thread in the Café, perhaps one of the mods can find it. Personally - I don't think it matters on the age of the spectator.

I think the "wow" is lost once they see all the cards the same.

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Nov 8, 2002 02:57PM)
David's right; the minute you show that the cards are all the same -- or even that there is more than one chosen card in the deck -- the "magic" of the moment is lost.
It then becomes "just a trick", no matter what the age.
Message: Posted by: MOTO42 (Nov 8, 2002 06:02PM)
Is this the one where the mark picks a card (the 3H for example) out of the deck, places it back into the pack, you find it then reveal that the cards are all the same, (they're all 8C's)?

I thought it kicked personally.
Message: Posted by: erik (Nov 8, 2002 06:07PM)
Thanks for your responses.

I had searched the archives for opinions on this, and saw that in general it is frowned upon, but hadn't seen any references to younger audiences. It seemed to me that very young children might see the total revelation as magic as well, but with little experience, I couldn't defend this claim.

thanks again. I will keep my Svengali to myself... :)
Message: Posted by: rvigon (Nov 8, 2002 06:45PM)
I would never show all the cards, but, in theory, if it was possible do it time after time, with different cards, it would be great. So maybe with a younger, not so observent audience, you could have, say, 2 different, even decks. And if repeatedly asked to do it again, although breaking the magicians code, you could do it again and really baffle the children but as for adults, as soon as all cards are the same, they know it's a gaffed deck, so don't go there.
Message: Posted by: Skinny Man (Nov 9, 2002 04:14AM)
:hmm: So I must be in a minority, I've found that doing any effect with a Svengali, and after (let's say) repeatedly cutting to their chosen card, showing all the deck to be the same, and then seconds later not the same at all, has always recieved a great reaction.

No loss of 'wow' at all, in fact, even more of a wow, as they can't believe their eyes.
Perhaps my friends/colleagues/audiences are less sophisticated than everyone else is, but none of them have ever said, "Oh well, that's a trick deck so I'm not impressed."
I have to admit, it can be tricky to switch the deck quickly but as ever, practice makes perfect.

I guess my advice to Eric, is to try it out for yourself and gauge the reactions that [b]you[/b] get.
After all, once upon a time everyone said the world was flat and you'd be [b]crazy[/b] to think anything else. ;)
Message: Posted by: tropicalpenguin (Nov 9, 2002 05:15PM)
There are some pretty decent Svengali tricks out there. There was one recently posted on online-visions.com that works. It's a basic "stabbing the deck trick".
Message: Posted by: ArchMiro (Nov 10, 2002 06:07PM)
When it comes to Svengali decks, my opinion is divided. However, I'd like to think that wowing the kids and revealing the trick would and could be two totally different things.
So to come down on one side of the coin over the other, I'd say don't reveal it. If they want to learn, they'll bug their parents or they will most certainly bug you.

Message: Posted by: Paul (Nov 10, 2002 07:55PM)
To be honest in threads elsewhere I have ALWAYS said it is best not to show all the cards the same.

However, for very young children who may be seeing magic for the first time I see no problem in doing just that! But I suggest you have a nice story to dress the effect with. After all, there are better tricks to show kids than card tricks :)

Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Nov 10, 2002 08:43PM)
I have always been of the mindset that showing all the cards as the same, was a very bad idea. But, I've also had all kinds of people tell me about, this magician so and so, who did this trick where he showed all the cards as different and then thumped the pack (or something else) and they all turned to the same card. And these were adults.

I suppose that if any card trick is amazing enough, people will always say "it's a trick deck", so perhaps it's a moot point. Perhaps it's just one of those many things where, since as a magician, the "all card revalation" is such an obvious sign of a trick deck, we've forgotten how it might look to others. I can't honestly say one way or the other, because I've never wanted to try. I will say this though: if you do, I would suggest a mirage deck, so that you could at least fan the cards. Also, put a good presentation to it. That makes all the difference in the world. Give some silly reason for why the cards all change to the same card. People remember those crazy little things, and it does through them off.

Shoot, do it for adults. Tell me how they react. I'm genuinly curious.

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: mip (Nov 10, 2002 11:55PM)
Most of the time when I do a card trick, no one ever asks to see the deck. A couple of times I have done a trick with a Svengali deck where I (ehem..) show all the same and people always ask to see the deck so I have stopped showing all the same and people don't ask anymore...
Message: Posted by: Paul (Nov 11, 2002 03:29AM)
Archmiro, nobody talked about exposing the effect, I guess you misread the thread completely!

Jeb said:
I will say this though: if you do, I would suggest a mirage deck, so that you could at least fan the cards.

Since when handled well, the Svengali can be overhand shuffled, riffle shuffled and table spread (Phil Goldstein's "Sveep" move)I don't think the Mirage deck version would make much difference to the end, though it was considered an improvement to the Svengali deck.

Skinny Man wrote;
I have to admit it can be tricky to switch the deck quickly, but as ever practice makes perfect.

I would think switching the deck AFTER showing the deck has changed would be psychologically the wrong moment because if people are going to ask to see the deck that is exactly the moment they will be "burning" your hands.

Also it was said;
"I guess my advice to Eric is to try it out for yourself and gauge the reactions that you get."

Well, plenty of magicians have already had the experience of people asking to see or grabbing the deck. In commenting on this, they are trying to save you from it, but if people want to learn the hard way...:)

There is nothing wrong whatsoever in the effect of causing all the cards to change, it is a great effect. The problem is that this trick deck is SO WELL KNOWN. Since 1908 there have probably been billions of this deck sold (it refers to many millions being sold and how well known it is in Greater Magic). Cheap versions are available in most toy shops and most that have flirted with magic at some time have owned one. In any large group you perform for there will be someone who has an uncle, brother or son that has one and performed it badly! It is the top sellling trick deck of all time.

Experienced performer and life long Svengali deck demonstrator Mark Lewis (who wrote a book on the deck, The Long and The Short Of It)argues the deck should be shown all the same after a routine as that IS the major effect with the deck. He has done a lengthy routine with the deck first of course, the beginner usually shows the deck all different then immediately all the same.

For many, the Svengali deck remains a valuable utility tool, probably the most versatile force deck around.

If you do the change for adults and have never been "called" then I say to you it is simply a matter of time. Proceed with caution and consider what your reaction will be when it happens, as it surely will.
Message: Posted by: Geoff Weber (Nov 11, 2002 09:45AM)
You could do a coin into bottle trick and then follow that up with a demonstration of your ability to bend the metal with your bare hands... but the latter kinda tips the former don't you think? I think the same is true with a Svengali deck.
Message: Posted by: Paul (Nov 11, 2002 05:16PM)
Actually, a good presentation for a mentalist for the coin in bottle effect once appeared in Magick magazine... but I digress.
Message: Posted by: Jeb Sherrill (Nov 11, 2002 07:57PM)
While I do basically agree with you Paul, if you do ANY trick with a deck of cards and never get asked to see the deck, it's only a matter of time. ;)

:dance: :dance: :dance: :dance: :dance:
Message: Posted by: Paul (Nov 12, 2002 04:19AM)
Touche! lol. That's very true Jeb, but no problem at all with a straight deck. The real problem of the Svengali is that it is too well known (the full deck change), in fact they may not neccessarily ask to examine but just tell their friends loudly exactly what it is! :)

Message: Posted by: Peter Marucci (Nov 12, 2002 05:05AM)
Tropical Penguin refers to a card stab on the e-zine Visions, http://www.online-visions.com
see Peter Marucci's Bizarre Bazaar).

That would be my "The Mists of Avalon", based on Arthurian legend and using a Svengali deck.

The whole point of the routine and handling is to use a Svengali in such a different way that even those who are familiar with it will not send their thinking down that particular path.

It's much like a performer's shuffling a one-way deck. Why bother, thinks the audience, if all the cards are the same; and, since he shuffled the deck, the cards must be different.

It's the little things that make the difference! :nod:
Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Nov 12, 2002 06:14AM)
I have pitched the Svengali deck off an on for years (not quite like McDonalds with billions and billions sold, but I have managed to pitch about 1000 gross over the past 20 years). I don’t know Mr. Lewis’ routine but like it I do change the deck to all the same card at the end. I had a regular spot on the Oklahoma state fair midway for years (way back in the early 70’s). Pitching the “Magic Mouse” and the Svengali deck sure helped me get my doctoral degree (OU-76)!

All that said, much like Peter, when using the deck (actually I use the “Mirage” version or Camirand Academy’s “Symbiotic” version) in actual performance (rather than a straight pitch), I try to disguise the fact I am using a trick deck including using a deck switch to leave it laying about for the idly curious.

I was performing a house party this past summer and two of the owner’s kids were “into magic” and had cheap versions of the Svengali deck. They were showing it off (and exposing it) to many of the party attendees. I showed these same people three tricks (over the course of the party) using the deck (saying, “Now you’ve seen what can be done by a trick deck, I’ll show you what pure skill can do!”). No one even thought that I would be using a trick deck. They assumed that a “professional magician” would not stoop to use trick decks but would use pure slight of hand.

I believe that this is a underrated prop, especially in it’s Mirage or Symbiotic forms.
Message: Posted by: Paul (Nov 12, 2002 06:38AM)
I was performing a house party this past summer and two of the owner’s kids were “into magic” and had cheap versions of the Svengali deck. They were showing it off (and exposing it) to many of the party attendees. I showed these same people three tricks (over the course of the party) using the deck (saying, “Now you’ve seen what can be done by a trick deck, I’ll show you what pure skill can do!”). No one even thought that I would be using a trick deck. They assumed that a “professional magician” would not stoop to use trick decks but would use pure slight of hand."

Of course had they been doing that BEFORE you got there, and you done the full deck change in your spot...

I agree it is a great prop, I've fooled many magicians with one over the years.

Showing the deck change in a Svengali Pitch is way different to doing it in a show.

Or should I be saying. "Ahhh, so you're the one to blame!" lol.

Message: Posted by: Harry Murphy (Nov 12, 2002 08:02AM)

My Svengali was a Bicycle Back design and theirs was the TV Magic Cards back design. So from the get my deck looked familiar (normal?).

Er…nope, didn’t do the full deck change in my spot. You are absolutely right; doing a deck pitch is WAY different from performing magic with the deck.

I did do a deck switch later and even lets the boys try a trick with it (the dreaded 21 card trick!).
Message: Posted by: Magicrma (Nov 12, 2002 08:45AM)
I too have pitched Svengali as well as other items. Harry Murphy is right, a pitch is different from a Magic Show. If you are a professional(getting paid to do a show) most of your audience should believe that you would only use a regular deck of cards. If they don't then you have a problem. This can greatly effect the quality of your performance. After all you are a Magician and the other person is just a guy with SPECIAL deck of cards.
Message: Posted by: erik (Nov 12, 2002 10:43PM)
Boy, I am just _overwhelmed_ with the great discussion on this. When I started the thread, I was just looking to firm up my rules for handling the Svengali revelation, but have learned so much more.

I learned about the Mirage & Symbiotic forms, how you guys have used the Svengali revelation as part of a trick 'pitch', and methods for handling the 'lemme see that deck' problem. Regarding this last point, I guess one always need to be prepared for this possibility.

20 replies to what seemed like a 'dumb' question, not bad...

Keep up the discussion, I am enjoying every post!
:bg: :bg:
Message: Posted by: Zack (Jan 31, 2003 10:12PM)
In my opinion the Svengali is a pitch item. It has its uses to a professional (such as forcing a card) but only in circumstances where you are absolutely sure that the integrity of the deck will not be called into questions.

The thing that makes the Svengali so magic is that it can be done by anybody! The gaffus is truely clever, and delights the layman who buys it.

If you do NOT do the final revelation, you just aren't doing a Svengali routine. Like the final loads in the cups and balls, the deck change IS the main effect.
Message: Posted by: Cholly, by golly! (Feb 9, 2005 11:30PM)
A Svengali deck is great way to practice the classic force. If one of the force cards is selected, proceed with the trick. If one of the odd cards is chosen, do the total revelation. Then look amazed and ask 'em how they picked the only card that was not the force card. It works well.
Message: Posted by: zur (Feb 10, 2005 08:56PM)
Yes that's a good way to present the Svengali.
Message: Posted by: andre combrinck (Feb 11, 2005 01:12PM)
I think this is a matter of opinion-if you can do a good deck switch the effect is brilliant.If you leave the f*rce card at the bottom of your ungaffed pack,you can do a Hindu display,shuffle it and leave it on the table.This way the spectators will grab the deck and be wowed even further.
Message: Posted by: Aus (Feb 12, 2005 02:01AM)
Exposure is the word here as was well as losing the spectators enjoyment of magic by revealing the cards to be all the same. I believe we can do what is said and by protecting both these things.

First exposure is defined in our art by showing how something is done and simply showing that all the cards to be the same after an effect is not doing that. Look at the effect Out of this World for example, it shows cards equally divided in colours and its that feature of that trick that makes it so highly regarded. Who has said after performing that trick “Oh, by the way I had stacked the deck before hand” or in the Svengali case “See how every card is shorter then the other?” See the difference, simply revealing the fact that all the cards are the same dose not constitute exposure but after mentioned examples do.

The question that is feared to be asked is, “It’s a trick deck, can I see it”. Thinking ahead can solve this to, a simple deck switch with a one way forcing deck that has the matching card of the Svengali is a solution. Giving them that to look at well putting away the evidence dose not expose anything but simple deepens the mystery. How did he have all different cards one minute the all the same the next?
Method exposed? Nop. Lost experience of the spectator? Nop.

I believe that the trick does not scream out “trick deck” as much as many magicians say but rather the context the magicians place that trick in does. For example, we can all take the word “Fantastic” and say it sarcastically, with meaning or with jest and its those ways that makes its perception different. Peter himself said in his effect and I quote: “The whole point of the routine and handling is to use a Svengali in such a different way that even those who are familiar with it will not send their thinking down that particular path.”

Try this as a routine:

Talk about how your great descendants had a great affinity with cards and in fact in the gold rush days many of them were Carrier gamblers. One great (insert family name here) trait was the ability to cut to a particular card.

Hold the Svengali out and have the deck cut by the spectator, taking the cut off pile and turning it face up showing an indifferent card (the force card on top of the remainder of uncut portion). Repeat this a few times to home in innocuously the fact that the deck contains many cards and many of them different.

Taking the deck back and reassembling it, say its ok because you need the (insert family name here) trait. Ask the spectator that you will try to cut to the (insert force card here) at any number she calls out of one to Fifty-two and what’s more you will place that card there with one single cut and without her even indicating to you the number she has chosen.

Place the deck on the table and give it once single cut, then get her to name her number then count done to it to reveal the forced card. Fan the cards toward yourself looking satisfied of your estimate and as you close the fan accidentally drop a odd card face up on the table. Pick it up and place it back in with out saying a word.

Now say you will cut the force card to the top of the deck, as before, make a single cut and show the top card to be the forced card. Continue this antics as much as you can milk it and at the end say, “I will now attempt the famous invisible deck switch.” Place the deck on the table wave your hands over the deck then as the spectators if they seen anything, when the say no pick up the deck and riffle it and show all card to be the same as the forced card.

Well at this point do a real deck switch well the impact is setting in for a one way forcing deck that matches the forcing card in the Svengali and have them look at it if need be.

Have we exposed anything? Has the spectator come away with any less of an experience?

I leave you to decide.


Message: Posted by: BerkleyJL (Feb 12, 2005 05:17AM)
I don't use a Svengali deck anymore, but when I did...I would do the "total revelation" as a comedy bit. Then I would do a double-take, and riffle the deck again showing it to be normal. Since I use a Mirage I was able to get away with some extra moves. Then I would move to another effect quickly--during which I made a deck switch, so when people want to see the deck afterward (which only happened about 1/3 of the time) I was clean anyway.

I think by switching to a one-way forcing deck that MATCHES the Svengali force card, you lessen the effect. A switch to a non-matching one-way might make an interesting kicker though.
Message: Posted by: Brad Burt (Feb 12, 2005 12:24PM)
On the other hand I will NEVER and I mean NEVER forget seeing the Svengali Deck demoed for the first time and seeing all the cards become the same card and then back again simply was the most magical thing that I had seen to the time. Blew me away. Thus the Svengali Deck was the first 'trick' that I bought. Frankly to this day I love the thing.

By the way if you think about it....the color changing deck is very much the same effect, yet no one has a problem with that as 'magic'. Do what I do: Do the Svengali Deck, change all the cards the same and then back and then switch out decks. Make sure you have the new deck shuffled by a spectator before you go on. That's magic brothers. (By the way...no, in this case, I won't give away the switch. Took a ton of work to get it right. I plan on putting it in a future DVD. Think about it though and you will see any number of places in a Svengali routine where you can switch the deck in a very bold manner. Even fooling most magicians.)

Message: Posted by: Aus (Feb 12, 2005 07:27PM)
"I think by switching to a one-way forcing deck that MATCHES the Svengali force card, you lessen the effect. A switch to a non-matching one-way might make an interesting kicker though."

I would be intrested in your reasoning for that statment Berkley.


Message: Posted by: BerkleyJL (Feb 13, 2005 06:50AM)
If you switch to a one-way deck that matches the S-card in the Svengali, then the spectator will think, "Oh, THAT'S how he did that." I admit, it takes the heat off the previous method. However, if you switch out for a non-matching one-way deck, they will think, "How the @^%&! did he DO that?" Just another punch in the psyche for them...
Message: Posted by: Aus (Feb 13, 2005 05:18PM)
Yes that would make them suspicious, if we where to riffle the deck once to show all the cards to be the same then riffle them back to again to show them different once more as some of you have indicated it would lesson the impact. But I’m saying only riffling the deck once to show the cards the same as the conclusion of the effect and not turning them back is where the deck switch would come into play. The deck appearing to be all six of clubs (for example) then switching the deck out for a one way force deck that has all six of clubs in it would not lesson the impact in my mind.

In my example routine I give a number of small convincers that subconsciously show that the deck contains all different cards. The deck switch is simply to take away the risk of exposure and add a examinable element to the effect.


Message: Posted by: Cholly, by golly! (Feb 17, 2005 05:59AM)
Why do magicians think it's necessary to let audience members inspect their props? It seems desperate and anti-climactic to me...

"Look at this everybody! It's just an ordinary deck of cards! I can do REAL magic...really I can! I'm not kidding... really!"

If someone asks to see a prop, I politely refuse and move on to something else. Someone who INSISTS on seeing my props is a HECKLER and will be handled as such...

"Hey, fella...You wouldn't ask a fireman to see his hose, would ya?"

Nobody ever gets a chance to inspect my cards...svengali deck or not.

Message: Posted by: BerkleyJL (Feb 17, 2005 06:08AM)
In a close-up situation, some examination of props is to be expected. Part of the charm of being so close to the peformer is that the spectators can see "everything." These are great misdirection moments for you to take advantage of. I just make sure that when I'm allowing props to be examined that it doesn't slow down the flow of my performance. It can get boring to those who are not close enough to check out the items.
Message: Posted by: Cholly, by golly! (Feb 17, 2005 06:33AM)
On 2005-02-17 07:08, BerkleyJL wrote:
In a close-up situation, some examination of props is to be expected.

I disagree. Close-up, stage, whatever... the basic principles remain the same.

A modern audience knows we are illusionists. Noone thinks we have supernatural powers. They know we use trickery to do the things we do. They expect to be fooled by us. They don't expect us to hand them our magic case. If an audience expects to examine props after a performance, it's because of bad presentation during the show.

This whole diatribe is probably off subject. I just find it ridiculous that magicians shy away from the greatest force deck of all time simply because they don't want to say "no" to pushy audience members.
Message: Posted by: Aus (May 5, 2005 07:09AM)
I know its way to late to be continueing this thread in the month of May when the last post was in Feb, but I feel compelled to make a point.

I think the examine prop concept is less to do with magician it self but rather the trick by its very nature. A torn and Restored card effect for example, where the whole point is the complete restoring of the card back to its former state. Soon as you say "Sorry you can't look at it" you start having the questions run thru the spectators mind like "Well why can't I" which is a valid question.

This question then leads to others like "Maybe there is something with that card he does not wont me to see" and so the snow ball effect continues.

Granted that not all effect suffer from this but this I believe is due to structure of the effects. Some scream examine me more then others.