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Topic: Ricky Jay Sleights?
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 8, 2005 06:40PM)
I love Ricky Jay but I am not sure if I know any sleights of his. Has he invented any, and if so what are they?


Message: Posted by: Leeman (Jan 8, 2005 08:26PM)
He is very secretive. I am pretty sure that he has never published any tricks and I doubt he every will.
Message: Posted by: jtcavataio (Jan 8, 2005 08:27PM)
I'm pretty sure he invented throwing a card through a full grown rhino, or something like that...
Message: Posted by: balducci (Jan 8, 2005 08:29PM)
On 2005-01-08 21:27, jtcavataio wrote:
I'm pretty sure he invented throwing a card through a full grown rhino, or something like that...
Okay, that's kind of funny. :)
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 8, 2005 08:50PM)
Not tricks but sleights.

Have you seen him do a card effect that could not be explained by known sleights?

If you should see him around, tell him I am going to report him for cruelty to animals and card guys if he does not write a book on card magic soon.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Jan 8, 2005 09:29PM)
The guy was a student of the classics and part of the Vernon gang as I recall. He was not known for inventing tricks so much as taking gems from old books and putting them into performance.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 8, 2005 10:00PM)
Thanks Johnathan

I do not read his name mentioned in any books that I have. I know from Jimmy that, he has met him, and that Jay knew Ed Marlo.
I know Mr Jay is a great expert on the history of magic it does not surprise me he is a student of the classics. I do not know what the classics of card magic are now I think about it. Erdnase springs to mind but what other books are regarded as classic study. Are they classic just because they are old or is there a well known list that one should study?

Best regards

Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jan 8, 2005 10:53PM)
Ricky was an early student of Slydini. He even has some pictures with a suit on that Slydini MADE FOR HIM. Like a white tux. I think he called himself "Tricky Ricky" at the time. His grandfather was a well known NY magician named Max Katz.

Ricky learned a lot in NY, then to California and the Castle, hanging with Vernon, Diaconis, Charlie Miler and others. He does not believe in tipping material and gets upset at the way magicians treat secrets so poorly.

I brought him to Europe to meet Fred Kaps and Ken Brooke, as well as Pat Page.

One of his closest pals is Steve Freeman, a top card handler himself.

Ricky is well read and a MAJOR collector and historian. He has great taste in material aned works with people like Stienmeyer and Johnny Gaughan for his props.

His relationship with cine director David Mamet has gotten him into movies.

He does not "hang" at the Magic Castle anymore.

I doubt if he will ever publish any magic or lecture to magicians. It just doesn't seem to be something he's interested in.

I haven't been with him for a few years, but to my knowledge he really isn't into creating sleights, but into mastering them.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 9, 2005 12:35AM)
Thanks very much Pete for that great info. I have been a fan for a long time but I knew little about his learning so to speak. I have seen little of his work but what I have seen, I have loved.

Now, what on earth has happened to your mits? I hope you are OK.
I hope Tricky did not do that for giving us the info! :)

Best Regards

Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jan 9, 2005 02:12AM)
The best thing to do his get some of his early work--all out of print--like "Learned Pigs and Fire Proof Women" and "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic" which tips some of his more subtle card work, his unique Run Rabbit Run routine, along with lots of impromptu magic that can be done for kids.

You may have to change around some of the patter, which was great for the really bright kids, but may be a little esoteric for the average birthday party crowd.

For example, the Cockney slang translation of Francois Villon's classic poem about mountebanks, thimble-riggers, hookers and cut-purses which plays well for the children of the "New Yorker" crowd but should be re-worked into hip-hop for the LA kids.

I understand that he has not performed in those white tails for many years, and rumor has it that David Mamet made him sell both the suit and his handsome beard and long hair to comedy magician Larry Wilson in the early eighties.

Hope this helps.
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Jan 9, 2005 12:15PM)
Thanks to Mr. Haydn and Mr. Biro for the great info on one of my all time favorite card workers! That's great stuff, guys!
Message: Posted by: bishthemagish (Jan 9, 2005 12:18PM)
Max Malini was born - Max Katz Breit... Any connection or relation to Ricky Jay?
Message: Posted by: Larry Davidson (Jan 9, 2005 12:25PM)
I don't believe there's any relation even though Ricky Jay's grandfather was named Max Katz...just a coincidence.
Message: Posted by: cgscpa (Jan 9, 2005 12:39PM)
There was an excellent article about Ricky Jay in the June 2004 issue of [i] Smithsonian Magazine [/i]. You can see it here:

Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 9, 2005 02:19PM)
Thanks for the info guys. "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic" is one I never heard of, I will try to get it.

I have question about His 52 Assistants and "Learned Pigs and Fire Proof Women"
I know or think the latter is a book but is it also a film. I have seen these offered for sale on a cd but it is a rip off, said to be taken from the tv recording! I would like to see it but I want to buy the original, so is the original available? It has been years since I saw him on TV. I am a bit sure it was His 52 Assistants and "Learned Pigs and Fire Proof Women in two programs that I last saw him do his stuff with cards.
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Jan 9, 2005 05:48PM)
Tommy: That was a joke. There is no such book.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 9, 2005 07:33PM)
Donald duck! I have searched the world in the meantime looking for "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic" LOL
Message: Posted by: Bill Wells (Jan 9, 2005 07:58PM)
I cannot imagine that Ricky would EVER have any interest whatsoever in publishing anything in the way of effects and/or explanations or in giving a how to do magic lecture for magicians. I would agree with what others have said regarding Ricky's primary interest being in the becoming the master of sleights and performance rather than the creator.

Whit - I am still laughing at your post! Pete - he deserves one of your rewards for that one!
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jan 9, 2005 08:18PM)
OK, I'll stop saying "Whit Happens" for awhile! That is prize enough.

I forgot one thing about Ricky. He went to college for awhile, I think in Syracuse, NY, studying hotel management (or something like that).

One of his KILLER SHOWS was at McCabe's Guitar Store in Santa Monica, CA.

He had four stooges in the audience. Myself, Dai Vernon, his lawyer pal Steward Gordon and a woman friend that could do great card manipulations. I just can't pull her name out of my feeble rain soaked brain, but her sister was on Saturday Night Live.

Anyway, the routine was he asked for volunteers and we all came on stage PLUS A LAYMEN... who he didn't expect!

The premise was he was going to hypnotize all of us and then we could ALL DO THE CARD FLOURISHES.

He lined us up with Gordon first, then Vernon and the lady -- the layman -- and I was last.

He did the bogus hypnotic crap... and we all pretended to be in a bit of a daze... BUT THE LAYMEN WENT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

He then goes one at a time and does some flourishes and each does them pretty well like Ricky.

Vernon, says, "I don't know if I can do that, I've NEVER MUCH HANDLED CARDS." heheheh...

He gets to the layman and he cannot do the moves. Ricky tried to be easy, with just fan, I believe, but the guy fails.

My turn. I figured we don't want the guy to feel bad, so I decide to FAIL EVEN MORE and spill all the cards on the floor.

Being me, hee hee... I drop to my knees and try to pick up the cards and make even more mess... finally I get 'em gathered up and on the next try do OK.

Ricky thanks us and with baloney fake hyp talk tells us we are out of our trances and will not remember anything we did.

Ricky then does more of his usual stuff and at the end of his show decided to TIP that we were all his friends and it was a put on, except for the one guy. He had each of us stand and told who we were, etc.

SHOW OVER... we are packing up and the laymen came over and said, to Ricky, "I want to thank you so much fro hypnotizing me... I just love being hypnotized."

Ricky and I look at each other, shrug and thank the guy.

Boy was that fun, and WHAT I WOULD GIVE FOR A VIDEO OF IT... but none exist.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 9, 2005 08:43PM)
Cool Pete. Thanks for sharing that with us.
Message: Posted by: T. Joseph O'Malley (Jan 9, 2005 09:25PM)
On 2005-01-09 20:33, tommy wrote:

Donald duck!


Tommy, would THAT be cockney rhyming slang?

Pete: that is a great story, have read it before, didn't know it was you involved in it though! Thanks for the laugh.
Message: Posted by: tommy (Jan 9, 2005 10:03PM)
T. Joseph. It certaintly is.

I have just been reading this and there is some interesting card work in it that I would like to know the names of. Can any one name the effects from the descriptions?

Any one but Whit that is. :)

Message: Posted by: Metalepsis (Jan 15, 2005 11:13AM)
Hey Pete,

Thanks for that story. Was that Parkinson you did over here with Kaps and RJ? I saw some of the photos in a Magic awhile back, RJ hadn't sold his beard yet LOL.

I have never seen him perform magic, much to my dismay, as I am also a Mamet fan. The fact he directed RJ+52 is enough to make me shuffle myself. I hear there are video copies of the performance but I have been burned a few times trying to find them. Any pointers?

RJ is also quite an amateur historian. See Jay's Journal of Anomalies.
Message: Posted by: CamelotFX (Jan 15, 2005 12:42PM)
While he may not have published much after "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic Vol. II", there are hours of his wonderful radio broadcasts on his website at [url]http://www.rickyjay.com/radio.html[/url]. He has a marvelous voice as well, very hypnotic zzzzzzzz.....where was I? Oh, yes, a little-mentioned point: You can't be a great magician without "Jay" somewhere in your name.

Message: Posted by: MichaelCarolina (Jan 28, 2005 07:10PM)
Pete Biro writes that he thinks Ricky went to college in New York-- Syracuse. Actually, it was Cornell, which does have a school of hotel management. Friends who knew Ricky then remember him as a guy who spent a lot of time in his room practicing card tricks.

I found a great article about him on the internet awhile back... it was a New Yorker piece, and I think that's where I remember this stuff from... also some great material about Ricky being curator of a fantastic library of magical works... that was eventually bought at auction by David Copperfield, which may have marked the lowest point in Ricky's life.

As for a tape of Ricky Jay and his 52 Assistants... I tried to find it a few years ago, but I don't believe it has ever been offered for commercial sale... in keeping with Ricky's clear desire to protect his art. If you ever see it on HBO, it is wonderful.

Caught "On the Stem" at Second Stage Theater in NYC on July 4, 2002... best use of the holiday I could think of... David Roth got credit in the program for some of the coin sleights and he was in the theater that night when the show ended. A truly memorable evening.

Sorry to use so much space, but clearly I've devoted too much time to following this remarkable performer, and I'm not the least bit regretful.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Jan 28, 2005 08:21PM)
Cornell, thanks for the correction.
Message: Posted by: Nick Wait (Feb 20, 2005 04:34AM)
If you go on Ricky Jay's site there is a wonderful article about him, http://www.rickyjay.com It is long but a great read. That will tell you a lot about him.
Message: Posted by: theAmazinbryan (Feb 22, 2005 01:20PM)
What a great read!!well worth the time I was up untill 3am reading it. well worth it even if you are a newbie!!
Message: Posted by: negrette (Feb 22, 2005 02:10PM)
On 2005-01-09 18:48, whithaydn wrote:
Tommy: That was a joke. There is no such book.

I'm not sure what you're referring to here? The book Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women? If so I'm afriad you're incorrect as there is indeed such a book. Here:


But perhaps I am just misunderstanding what your were referrin to. If so I apologize :)
Message: Posted by: Whit Haydn (Feb 22, 2005 06:35PM)
On 2005-02-22 15:10, negrette wrote:
On 2005-01-09 18:48, whithaydn wrote:
Tommy: That was a joke. There is no such book.

I'm not sure what you're referring to here? The book Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women? If so I'm afriad you're incorrect as there is indeed such a book. Here:


But perhaps I am just misunderstanding what your were referrin to. If so I apologize :)

The reference was to "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic"--the one with Ricky's "Run Rabbit, Run!" routine. There is also no "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic Vol 2" as someone else suggested above.

"Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women" is not only real, but also a fascinating and informative book.
Message: Posted by: negrette (Feb 22, 2005 08:22PM)
Got it. :)

Darn, and here I was going to research those to thinking I had somehow missed them. Being one of my favorite performers I was eager to find these new titles. Ah well :)

It is interesting to confirm my earlier belief that Mr. Jay is not overly interested in publishing what is undoubtedly a staggering knowledge of secrets. It is almost disappointing to know that someone with all the experiences and knowledge he could pass on is not willing to do so. Hopefully, if he isn't willing to pass on his vast knowledge to the magic community, he's at least willing to do so to a select few so that the knowledge can remain alive, even if somewhat limited. And I don't just mean secrets like sleights but also all the stories he has with some of the magic communities true masters.

I've loved reading some of the experiences and stories here that others have related. Really makes the magic community feel like a big family. :)
Message: Posted by: wsduncan (Feb 22, 2005 08:48PM)
My favorite Ricky Jay line comes from Mystery Men, in which he plays the publicist for Champion City's main super hero Capt. Amazing. Capt. Amazing is unhappy with the publicity he's been getting lately and is giving him a hard time about not getting him better endorsements.

Ricky replies:
"I'm a publicist, not a magician."

Of course, I was the ONLY one in the theater laughing...

sad really.
Message: Posted by: atucci (Oct 24, 2005 07:51AM)
Not to beat a dead horse, but after reviewing an original copy of Jay's HBO special (".....52 Assistants") I can understand why he may not perform any original moves or doesn't broadcast them if he does. He has devoted his life to the study and perfection of the art and operates under the premise that all magic is based on a few concepts. Card magic was defined years ago and all the moves you could possibly want or use, to perform any type of effect, are published in the classics.

His life and performances are the result of a lifetime of perfecting those sleights and also their history and integrating them into a performance that reflects his love and interpretation of the art.

When I watched “…52 Assistants”, I didn’t see a magician performing moves while shuffling, cutting or dealing. I only saw a man shuffling, cutting and dealing cards. There were no pauses, hesitations, or out of the ordinary flinches, that often indicates when superb card men (or women) execute a sleight. Ricky just ‘did it’ as simply and naturally as anyone else would shuffle, cut or deal.

His interpretations of the classics are no different than the London Symphony performing a piece from Bach, Beethoven or Mozart. It’s no different than the Bolshoi ballet performing Swan Lake. These artists, Mr. Jay included, have embraced the classics, studied the artists who created them, studied the history behind every aspect of these classics, then spent years building their presentations of them.

His performance was beautiful. His life and accomplishments related to performing magic, his study of the art and its history, are a once in a lifetime occurrence. We should celebrate his work, his integrity and his passion.
Message: Posted by: Joe Russell (Oct 24, 2005 10:06AM)
Did any one see Ricky Jay on discovery channels "Myth busters"?
Message: Posted by: PapaG (Oct 24, 2005 10:07AM)
From what I recall, isn't David Mamet involved in some way in Ricky Jay's stage shows?
Message: Posted by: atucci (Oct 24, 2005 10:18AM)
Papa - Mamet directed both 52 Assistants and 'On The Stem'.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Oct 24, 2005 10:31AM)
Glad you like the "Erdnase" style cardman. Wait till you get a look at the magic of J. N. Hofzinser. :)
Message: Posted by: tommy (Oct 24, 2005 11:29AM)
Well I have found a Ricky Jay video for $10 but don't tell Whit. :)


Message: Posted by: pierredan (Oct 24, 2005 08:51PM)
I don't know if many will agree, but I am of the opinion that part of Ricky Jay's appeal to magicians is that he does not want to have anything to do with the fraternity.

The fact that he makes himself unavailable increases his appeal to magicians. Just like the only trick magicians want to know is the one that is not explained at a lecture or on a video (i.e. Vernon and The Berg Move).

I do admire Jay's work but there are many card magicians that have his talent that want to leave a sense of legacy and give back to magicians (Bill Malone, Johnny Thompson...).

So let’s not waste our time admiring someone who has no respect for 99% of the magicians who read this newsgroup. He has little respect for the amateur magician and for most professionals who he does not believe to be worthy of him. Heck, he even asked Richard Kaufman not to write a feature story on him in Genii.

I fact, I hope someone follows the example of Germain and Hofzinser's pupils and publish a big book of Jay's "secrets" once he is gone. I wonder how he would feel about that?
Message: Posted by: atucci (Oct 25, 2005 08:14AM)

Frankly I could care less whether Mr. Jay chooses to be part of the magic community or not. Perhaps that is appealing to some. For others, including you, it appears to offend. Why is that?

It's well documented that Jay wishes to have no contact with those who look to steal and copy without any thought to creating something of their own. The New Yorker feature from the early 1990’s, mentions how a magician bragged to Ricky about the audience reaction he receives when he performs Jay’s card revelation using wind up toys. Ricky Jay considers that stealing. It distresses him that others simply copy, rather than attempt to create their own magic.

Because of this, he has no interest in publishing or lecturing on his magic and style of performing. He does publish and lecture on magic history and related fields of deception and targets an audience which is mainstream rather than niche magic community.

And so what if he doesn’t wish to leave a legacy. His allegiance, in my opinion, is to the art itself, not the artists. It doesn’t make him any better or worse than Malone or Thompson. It just makes him different.

Furthermore, he has the highest respect for certain amateurs who hold the same values for the art as he does, such as Percy Diaconis and Steve Freeman.

As for, what appears to be a vindictive remark about a book of his secrets once he's gone, most of his 'secrets' are published in the classics so they’re hardly secrets. The difference is he has perfected them and injected his persona into performances that use them.

Also, he wouldn't feel anything (referring to a published book) once he was 'gone', as he would be dead.

Tony Tuccillo
Sebastian, Florida
Message: Posted by: Stanyon (Oct 25, 2005 01:50PM)
Nice verbage Tony! :applause: :applause: :applause:

Cheers! ;)
Message: Posted by: Ellen Kotzin (Oct 30, 2005 10:04AM)
I love that learned pigs book! It's great!

Message: Posted by: icicular (Nov 14, 2005 12:39AM)
Consider Cliff Gallup, legendary guitarist for Gene Vincent. Mr. Gallup was a master of his craft, and perfected the "sound" and "style" of rockabilly guitar. He was, however a notorious recluse and avoided his fans, even refusing to sign autographs. Brian Setzer of the Straycats actually had a RIFLE pulled on him when he attempted to speak with Cliff at his home.

Does this side of Cliff Gallup's personality change his relevance in the history of American Music? Of course not!! (In fact, I think it sort of adds to the mystique)

I think Ricky Jay is the bees knees.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Nov 15, 2005 10:00AM)
Atucchi -- You know Ricky well... thanks for your intelligent posts.
Message: Posted by: Payne (Nov 15, 2005 02:42PM)
On 2005-02-22 19:35, Whit Haydn wrote:

The reference was to "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic"--the one with Ricky's "Run Rabbit, Run!" routine. There is also no "Ricky Jay's Big Book of Magic Vol 2" as someone else suggested above.


But there is Ricky Jays The Magic Magic Book available here


And you thought Cards as Weapons was expensive.
Message: Posted by: silverking (Dec 30, 2005 10:01PM)
Ricky has his broadside collection out on tour ,and any web search will turn up plenty of information on him. He's hardly a magician hater, but he does make clear that he has no time for the business that goes on at the Castle, and wants no part of it.

Looking back at Cards as Weapons, one see's that wasn't always true, there's a few pictures of Ricky throwing a card over the Castle roof with some of the local wags looking on, so one can only assume that in the time span between then and now, Ricky has seen things that made him change his mind.

People change, and Ricky has turned from a magician who was interested in history into a historian who happens to perform now and then for a few lucky few.

The fact that he could have sold the 52 Assistants show on Broadway out for a few years but chose to only do a couple of weeks worth of performances, *and those two weeks hold the Broadway record for time taken to achieve a sell-out* only goes to show how badly he wants to get back to his collection, his reading, and his writing.

He's just a part time magician, and I think that's pretty cool.