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Sweet Simplicity (John Carey)

Streamlined, straight-forward, and strong magic from John Carey


John Carey is a machine. Since the end of 2014, he's been putting out a new book on a yearly basis. We're not just talking about thin pamphlets here, but solid books with dozens and dozens of new material in each, full of card tricks, coin routines, mentalism, and utility devices. It's an impressive list of his book titles: Crafted with Carey (2015), Minimalistica (2015), The Carey Files (2016), Me, My Cards and I (2017), Carey's Way (2018), and Reflections (2019).

His DVD output is just as prolific, and his videos typically take some of the best material from his books. While there were some home-grown efforts to start with, his venture as a creator of magic videos really took off once publisher RSVP started producing his videos, starting with the DVDs Handle With Carey (2011) and 24 Seven (2011). These were quickly followed by Carey On (2012), Keep Calm and Carey On (2014), Classic Carey (2015), and Eclectica (2016). In further years John started producing some releases with Alakazam, such as The Essential John Carey (2017) and Prime Time (2018). He also hopped on the Big Blind Media wagon with the production of Sublime Self Working Card Tricks (2017), Impossible Location Tricks (2018), and Sweet Simplicity (2019). It really is a staggering amount of material!

In this review let's take a look at the most recent video in this list, namely his DVD Sweet Simplicity. It was produced by Big Blind Media, and is billed as containing 10 killer self-working and easy-to-do card miracles.



This particular DVD features ten carefully selected creations from John Carey, which are described as follows:

1. 1 in 52: Carey’s self working streamlined imaginary deck routine is a total worker.
2. The Trick That Can Be Explained: Carey’s spin on a Dai Vernon classic. Devious!
3. Technicolor Reset: Four blue backed Jokers transpose in slow motion with four red backed Jokers in an exceptionally clean manner and then immediately transpose back in a flash!
4. Five Oh?!: Semi automatic card magic on steroids, where you get five effects from practically nothing. Super strong and so much fun!
5. The Perception Shuffle: A self working false shuffle. Yes, you read that right!
6. Spectator Star: Make your spectator the star as they shuffle, cut and turn over the aces. Boom!
7. Somewhere Over The Rainbow: John’s rainbow deck is a thing of beauty. No sleights, just pure subtlety.
8. Don’t Make Me Cross: Carey’s ungaffed Brainwave effect where the card they think of is the only odd back card - so cheeky and yet SO strong!
9. Entrapment: A really cool, self working slow motion sandwich effect that you will love using.
10. One Thought One Spell: A very subtle spelling effect you will want to add straight to your repertoire.


Performance Examples

As usual, Big Blind Media has given us a sneak peak by releasing a few clips from the performance section of the DVD. The first is a performance of "The Trick That Can Be Explained" (starts at 45 sec), which was part of the official video trailer:

You can also check out the trick "Technicolour Reset" in this video clip:


I first came across John Carey's work two years ago courtesy of his "John Carey Collection 1" and "John Carey Collection 2" videos, both put out as digital downloads by Vanishing Inc. Each of those featured just three tricks, and I was especially fond of the tricks "Pseudo Vernon" and "Think and Sync", both of which I've had a lot of fun performing ever since I learned them. I've come to realize that Carey is a guy who deserves a lot of respect for his prolific contributions, and especially his ability to whittle down tricks to an elegant and stream-lined handling. Here's what you can expect from the Sweet Simplicity DVD and from Carey's videos more generally:

The creator: If you're not familiar with John Carey, then his Sweet Simplicity DVD will make a great introduction, because it's a great place to get to know John and see what he has to offer. John is an experienced close-up magician with lots of practical experience, and he still performs regularly at special events, as well as being in demand as a lecturer and teacher for magicians. But he's especially gained a reputation for his creation of magic effects, as published in his books and videos.

The style: The hallmark of Carey's work is that he has the ability to streamline existing effects and turn them into practical, hard-hitting magic, with the help of clever thinking and solid presentation, rather than knuckle-busting moves. His card tricks are not firstly aimed at fooling magicians, but at entertaining lay-people. Typical of his method, is an attempt to produce effects that are straight forward and practical for magicians to perform, while still having a real ability to astonish. Someone once described Carey well by stating that he has "a unique ability to see potential in already-good card magic, simplify the handling, and make the routines GREAT."

The teaching: John has a very under-stated approach to his magic and his teaching, and he gets right down to the business of explaining things. There's minimal fluff, and the explanation parts of his videos are easy to watch, because he's clear and easy to follow. His attention to detail is also a real positive, and he touches on the small nuances you need to be keeping in mind. John Carey might not have a dynamic or effervescent style, but he's a non-nonsense guy who lets the strength of his streamlined magic do the talking. While his suggested patter might benefit from some polishing at times, that's something that every performer should be trying to make their own anyway.


The difficulty:Given what's been said about John Carey's style, it won't come as a surprise to discover that none of the tricks in this video are difficult. Most magicians will find them accessible and quite easy. Much of the material will even be able to be mastered by dedicated beginners - after all, there's good reason that the title of the video is "Sweet Simplicity"! That title sums up what John's style is all about, but it also says something about the degree of difficulty you can expect in this particular video. If you're an intermediate level magician, any sleights that are used will be ones you already know. Compared with other John Carey videos, this probably contains easier material than most. While you're not likely to fool experienced card workers with these tricks, they're perfect for easy learning and astounding family and friends.

The contents: All the tricks in this collection use standard playing cards, although in a couple of instances you will need to grab cards with different coloured backs, or make a custom deck in order to pull off a particular effect. But you'll put together the few specialty items like this with ease, and they aren't the focus of the DVD; most of the routines use a regular deck. Some of the tricks are self-workers, while others rely on clever psychological techniques, such as equivoque. I especially like the premise of "1 in 52", which is a kind of invisible deck routine, and where your spectator ends up selecting from an imaginary deck the very card that is in your pocket. Do check out the above performance video for "Technicolor Reset", which is a stunning colour transposition, and is certainly a strong contender for one of the top tricks from this collection. The range of effects included is quite varied - to name a few: a transposition effect, a prediction effect, a sandwich, a mind-reading trick, a spectator cuts to the aces routine, and a spelling trick.

The publisher: It's not hard to see why John Carey is a perfect fit for a publisher like Big Blind Media. This is a company that specializes in helping beginner and intermediate magicians get going quickly with powerful magic that is self-working or relies on easy moves to get things done. Their growing range of videos includes DVDs like their tremendously successful Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks series of videos, which are all about getting performers going with strong self-working card tricks that are proven successses. They have also produced many other great videos that use some sleight of hand in combination with entertaining and straight-forward presentations. Many will associate the Big Blind Media with respected names like John Bannon. But John Carey deserves to have similar reputation to Mr Bannon, due to his easy-going style that doesn't focus on frills, fuss, fancy moves, or flashy presentation, and instead uses a minimalist approach that relies on subtlety, and where psychology and careful construction are king. Naturally BBM ensures that this type of magic gets the very polished presentation it deserves on camera with the high production values that we are accustomed to from their videos.



Sweet Simplicity has only helped enhance the already high regard that I held for John Carey. He has real ability to reduce effects to what really matters, ensuring that they are easy to perform, and yet remain strong in their presentation and performance. If you have a fondness for creators like John Bannon and Nick Trost, then the card magic of John Carey is likely to appeal to you as well.

There is a huge target audience for this kind of card magic, because doesn't almost everyone like the idea of routines with clever plots and powerful magic, without the knuckle-busting moves? Big Blind Media has done us a great service by bringing us more of Carey's magic, with the production quality it deserves. Fans of Carey will almost certainly want to pick this up, while those new to his work will find this an excellent place to get acquainted with the man, and make a new friend and frequent companion. Whether you're relatively new to card magic, or an old hand, you're almost certain to enjoy Carey's Sweet Simplicity.


Want to learn more? Visit the publisher Big Blind Media or check their social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube).
Product pages: Sweet Simplicity DVD, and other John Carey titles at BBM.

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