Skip to main content

Ricky Jay, master magician

I just came across a ton of videos of Ricky Jay performances on YouTube. Ricky Jay is one of the world's great sleight-of-hand artists, as well as an expert on the history of magic and author of several books. I highly recommend this New Yorker article. A small excerpt:

Deborah Baron, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where Jay lives, once invited him to a New Year's Eve dinner party at her home. About a dozen other people attended. Well past midnight, everyone gathered around a coffee table as Jay, at Baron's request, did closeup card magic. When he had performed several daz- zling illusions and seemed ready to retire, a guest named Mort said, "Come on, Ricky. Why don't you do something truly amazing?"

Baron recalls that at that moment "the look in Ricky's eyes was, like, `Mort- you have just fucked with the wrong person.' "

Jay told Mort to name a card, any card. Mort said, "The three of hearts." After shuffling, Jay gripped the deck in the palm of his right hand and sprung it, cascading all fifty-two cards so that they travelled the length of the table and pelted an open wine bottle.

"O.K., Mort, what was your card again?"

"The three of hearts."

"Look inside the bottle."

Mort discovered, curled inside the neck, the three of hearts. The party broke up immediately.

Here is a video showing what he does:

If you want to see more, here are some excerpts from his one-man show "Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants": Card finding and Four queens. There's more - check out what he did on Arsenio's show, for instance. (And can you resist the video called "Ricky Jay penetrates a watermelon"?)

I would love to see him perform live one day. What does magicianship have to do with interactive entertainment? Believe it or not, there is a link (it's not called Intelligent Artifice for nothing). I will post about it soon.