Shit’s about to get real (shit); “Star Quality: the Magic of David Regal”
by Wouldn't you like to know?
I’m finding it harder to find bad books in my library because I consciously don’t buy shit (see previous post about Paul Gordon). If you’ve got any titles you’re not a fan of, or have heard bad things about, let me know. So far on the list; some mid-pubescent Josh Jay, Bruce Cervon and his frilly pirate shirt sleeves with a neckerchief, and Jim Swain Vernon-transferring onto random items and calling it magic.
(A small disclaimer: I have the utmost respect for David Regal as a person and a magician. What he has published since this book has always been excellent and I highly recommend all of his books.The author (Let’s call him Barry) has bastardised everything good about Regal and his material in this book. If you feel otherwise, go fuck a lobster.)
You have been warned…
Today, we’ll have a look at Star Quality: The Magic of David Regal. After seeking out this book for a number of years and finally finding a copy for a reasonable (yet excessive) price for an out of print book, I read the foreword by Barry and quietly vomited into my own hands for about 5 minutes before throwing both the book and my excrement onto a passing child. The repeated mention about being “turned on” by Regal reinforces that Barry clearly loves the cock. He goes on to mention how Regal’s comedy, acting and unique magic makes him stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, throughout the entire book, Barry fails to focus on or explain any of these key points, with each effect and method being only bare bones structure for the routine, and mentioning (read: imposing) his own shitty thoughts and variations.
As a matter of fact, let me have my own little tangent. Because, fuck you. That’s why.
Point: Most writers, when authoring another person’s work, aren’t egotistical enough to add their own ways of looking at and doing the subject’s work. Within the first 3 effects, if I saw one more fucking plug of Barry’s work mid-routine, I was going to buy a Paul Gordon book. I’m assuming he won’t be as much of a cunt. Then again, it’s Paul Gordon.
Also, like many of Barry’s other titles, he overuses the axiom of an idea or effect “worth the price of the book”, which sounds like every other fucking title he has ever published. In this book, he goes as far to “price” each effect at $0.50 to show how much of a bargain the book is. The sudden urge to shit repeatedly on Barry’s doorstep flared up. He not only overuses this in the foreword, but also at the beginning of at least 4 different effects in the book. The more it is said, the less unique and relevant this kind of statement gets.
This book is written in such a haphazard manner, there’s card effects being followed by a coin effect then another card effect followed by a trick with a Q tip. Barry calls it making the book more of a “grab bag” of magic. I call it justifying how fucking lazy he was. If you can’t coherently organise the contents of a published book that will be sold en masse, maybe writing isn’t for you.
I know I’m going to fucking regret this.
And here.. we… go.
A four of a kind is named (such as the the 5’s), taken out of the deck and they reverse one at a time. They then turn into the four jokers and then the four kings. Two of the 5’s are found reversed in the middle of the deck, the other two are found in the card case. Really fucking messy plot. Minimal presentation given. This is being kept here because the method for the “twisting” is okay. For a better effect and logical premise using Regal’s twisting procedure with improvements, see “Tailspin” by John Guastaferro in Brainstorm DVD volume 2, or Paul Hallas’ Still Small, Still Deadly. Also, Barry notes after the effect that the revelation of the four of the kind should elicit screams. You know what else elicits screams? My dick. Or a knife. I’ve never had someone scream after a kicker ending. What a crock of shit.
A Point Well Made –
A card is selected and lost in the deck. A pencil is stabbed through the cards, impaling the entire deck. The pencil is removed and the deck spread to show their selection in the middle unharmed. The idea has been re-done by a few people using cigarettes, coins, flash penetrations etc. as a kind of Koornwinder car style plot, where the pencil, coin or cigarette stops on the selection. Nothing special, owing mostly to the fact that any key presentation points or finesses for the method that Regal would use for such an effect were left out. Some presentation included, but it’s like a 5 year old wrote it (Fuck you, Barry).
Coin in the Middle –
A Chinese coin is “sandwiched” by two Half dollars. The Chinese coin changes to a half dollar, back to a Chinese coin, then back to a half dollar. It’s a muddier version of the Wild card/coin plot, and I can honestly say that I like the premise he starts with, but unfortunately he just starts narrating what the audience sees so it turns to shit. The method is pretty basic coin technique, even if you’re still stuck in the 1950’s, using only techniques from Bobo’s and T Nelson Downs (Syndrome).
High-Gloss Paint Job –
Four blue backed kings change into red backed aces. Wait, no, I’m giving it too much credit. The four blue backed kings are shown, then a KH turns into a KS, then the KS turns into the AS, then the cards are spread to show 4 aces. These are then shown to have red backs. I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I think that if this effect was done the other way around i.e. the backs change colour one at a time and then the face of the cards are shown to be aces, that this would be a much better effect. It’s doable, considering the style of handling he uses. If you utilise some of the ideas from his ‘Cheating’ effect and use it for the colour changing sequence rather than a twisting sequence, you’d have a decent effect. As always, Barry continues to plug his own books and handling variations on the reader, further confusing the matter.
The Aces are Here! –
A spectator-stops-you-at-random-points-where-you-find-the-aces. But you don’t. Instead you find 4 random cards and then “spell” to the aces in each packet using the effect’s title as a phrase. So it’s a bit indirect, but it’s nice for a beginner I guess. To further prove how indecisive and incompetent Barry is with explaining methods, here’s a rundown of how he describes a get ready;
(Explains over a full paragraph how to get into position using a buckle.)
“… And you’re got your break. Actually…. get the break anyway you like”
And then later…
” (It’s easier to spread and square to get the break)”
WHAT THE FUCK WERE THEY THINKING?
Stop changing your fucking mind.
Any Card – Any Number –
Regal’s take on the ACAAN plot. The method is doable, but feels ‘clunky’. With the whole revival of the Berglas effect, as well as Lu Chen’s performance of the plot on EMC 2011, numerous handlings have popped up using similar ideas to get into position. Regal’s solution (circa 1987) uses the same technique from the previous effect. There’s preparation involved, which kind of makes this handling not as “good” as it could be. If you’re going to the effort of preparing, then the method used to do the final revelation ruins any effort you may have done. Not a fan.
Also, another quick tangent: There’s a number of misspellings and grammatical errors I’ve come across so far, and which continue throughout the book. While it doesn’t affect learning any of the items, it just feels like it was sloppily written and put together by someone who didn’t care. Which is a shame, because I love David’s work. It just seems like Barry was a lazy fucker.
Bermuda Triangle –
Essentially a coins to glass style routine, but using a triangle made from cards stuck together. Also, the finale is they disappear entirely one at a time. This write-up kind of jolted me. Mid-explanation, Barry breaks into numbered steps, and then returns back to the normal explanation style we’ve all come to expect (and hate) from him. Also, being that this was written in around 1987, the use of a card triangle within coin routine as a receptacle reminded me heavily of an item of Jay Sankey’s published in a 1983 issue of Kaufman’s Collected Almanac (p.46). Sankey’s is a “Wild Coin” routine, this one is a translocation routine. There are some nice ideas in here which can be utilised in matrix style routines. Or if you just like loading coins under random objects for some fucking reason, that’s fine too.
An Incredible Journey & Holding On –
I decided to lump these two ideas together as they’re conceptually close, but have slightly different outcomes/applications. It’s the idea of making an impromptu servante during a performance. The first method is as a revelation while Holding On is applying the idea to a revelation and as a holdout. It’s not something you can use all the time, but the ideas (including a Ken Krenzel handling) are good. Also, this can be extended to be used in a standup/walkaround setting if you’re a little inventive.
Double It –
Being a big Paul Harris fan (not the new shitty DVD set which was a “Paul Harris Presents Bro Gilbert’s version of every fucking effect Paul’s done”), I read this and it reminded me of “Double Decker” by Paul Harris. The two effects, while similar in removing two decks from one case, are different. David actually produces 2 whole decks, while Paul brings out a single deck, puts it back in the case and removes another coloured deck. The main reason why I bring up the Paul Harris routine is because I consider it to be better than this routine. I ran this effect description by a layperson, and they guessed David’s method right off the bat. Which is something I’ve found with most of Regal’s card work. The methods are clunky, but direct. Some of them needed this treatment. Most of them don’t.
A Star is Borne –
A different presentation for Frank Everhart’s ‘Chicago Opener’/ Al Leech’s ‘A Hot Card’ routine. David uses a sheet of gold stars, where one vanishes and then appears on the second selection, vanishes from there and reappears on the first selection. What shits me is that Barry says that the idea of making a “star” at a selected number vanish is something he hasn’t seen before. If you know the ‘Hot Rod’ effect, then the method for achieving this is straightforward. It’s not new, it’s just repackaged. There are some notable points here, making the effect able to be done with a borrowed deck and a sharpie if you use the basic structure. I recommend using stickers of erect penises and let the cock jokes begin.
**(If you do happen to know the reference for who created the Hot Rod selection process, let me know. Or, preferably, choke on your own vomit and throw yourself down a fucking well).
Illegal Collections –
This is my favourite item in the book. I’ve been a fan of technicolor routines, although they may get a bit heavy for lay audiences. In this example, it’s in the context of a Collector’s routine which is very devious, gaff-less and (surprisingly) very well structured and easy to follow. Three free selections made from a red deck, which is then shuffled by a spectator and put aside. With no holding out, the blue deck is brought out, the blue-backed aces removed from the deck and shown. The aces are spread face down, showing a red backed card between each blue card, which is then shown to be the selections made. While there are discrepancies in the routine, and some drawbacks, the routine’s method and structure is excellent. I was almost going to say that this one is worth the price of the book. FUCK. I did it. SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT SHIT. I think I’ve been infected.
(For more technicolor routines, see Collected Almanac, p. 98 and p.377 for Racherbaumer’s treatment on Oil and Water and Reset).
Straightforward Collectors –
An impromptu, one deck handling of the Collectors. The structure of how it is handled is nice, as it does not “feel” like a Collectors routine until the end (For more on this, see here for Tyler Wilson’s thoughts on it). The handling and presentation feels close to the start of Jerry Sadowitz’ “The Whisperers” (Alternative Card Magic, 1982, p.8) where the four of a kind “whisper” the identity of the three selections among them. In this case, the selections are apparently still in the deck and are not named, as in the Sadowitz routine, but instead appear among the four of a kind. As a Collectors routine, I like the handling and presentation differences. Would I use the method as a Collector’s routine? Probably not. There’s room for improvement on the method side of it.
Clearly Impossible –
This was originally published in the December 1985 issue of Apocalypse. It’s a coin through the table routine using a glass. The concepts behind the method are not new, but the applications are different. It’s one of those things that you could perform in a parlour setting, but not so much in a restaurant/walkaround setting due to certain restrictions. There’s some ideas and applications in here that I liked, but nothing jumped out at me.
“..A card keeps turning itself over magically – plus an ending kicker” is how it’s described by Barry. He also says this “plays” better than it reads. It was possibly the most underwhelming card trick (with kicker) I have ever done. And I’ve done some fucked up shit. Just look at my hair. The effect comprises of three cards in your hand, such as the 3 Deuces, with a red deuce sandwiched by two black deuces. This reminded me heavily of the third phase of Larry Jennings’ Ambitious Classic (Classic Magic of Larry Jennings, 1986, p.95) which I’ve felt was one of the weaker points of that routine; there was little justification within that context that made sense of the 3 spot reversing itself in line with the other revelations/effect structure. I love the overall routine by Jennings, but that one phase always bugged me. This is essentially taking that single phase and making a routine out of it. Absolute fucking shite. There’s a Krenzel handling of a Trevor Lewis Monte move (Monte Plus) which is fairly common knowledge if you haven’t been living under a fucking rock since the 1970’s.
Royal Treatment –
Seeing the need for odd-backed cards, and how devious and awesome Illegal Collection was, I expected a lot of this and was disappointed. The idea is that you have a card selected from a blue backed deck, and using sandwich cards from a red deck do a super clean, single phase sandwich effect. However, it’s kind of illogical unless you believe the two queens are really “servicing” the selection like a bunch of squelching whores, which seems to be the presentation. You take the selection, sandwich it, make some sound effects, then take the selection back out and lose it in the deck, and then it reappears between the two red backed queens. A lot of work for fuck all. I’ve seen more better sandwiches made by limbless lepers. No bueno.
This effect appears to be related to Hofzinser’s ‘Everywhere and Nowhere’ Plot, as well as Marlo’s ‘Future Classic’ effect. A selected card is repeatedly found in various positions of the deck, even after it’s been removed. Regal’s handling has a kicker ending where the supposed multiples of the selected card end up being the Ace through King of Spades in order. That’s about it. The lines he uses are confusing as hell. Also, Barry wrongly credits a move of Wesley James/Tom Ellis loading move to Ed Marlo. (This move’s history is messy, with Tom Ellis, Wesley James and Ed Marlo all doing the same thing. The ideas are an outgrowth of Jack Merlin’s tip over change from ‘..And a Pack of Cards’, published in 1928. There’s a publication by J Stewart Smith in 1950, ‘The Top of the Deck’ which shows the action in lieu of a change, albeit using a slightly different method to achieve the end result). Overall, the method is okay to take apart, the presentation and lines are confusing and slightly messy , and the justification for the production of the 13 spade cards at the end is shit.
The Beeper –
A Koornwinder car style location using a beeper. So fucking outdated, but I won’t harp too much on about that. For the idea behind the effect, it still has this bullshit way of making the audience look stupid. You find the selection (Jack of Hearts, for example) in a spread of other heart cards for the first phase, and then for the second phase the spectator is allowed to do it. Only there’s no heart cards;they’re all spades. So many goddamn kicker endings in all these effects. I am so fucking confused.
Small Thinker –
I was reminded of a Jim Swain effect here, where he just Vernon-transfers onto a pile of cards as a “AHA!! FUCK YOU” kind of moment. Actually. Fuck. That pretty much describes all of Jim Swain’s material. A card is selected, then you go to spread the deck and it’s a miniature deck, while the selection stays normal size. No gaffs, but the full effect AND method is two pages long with illustrations. Short, sharp and full of shit.
Tipped Off –
A torn and restored Cigarette routine but using a Q tip. If you don’t know the cigarette moves, take this effect and apply it. If you do know the cigarette moves, see if there’s anything here you’re missing. Not sure why you’d bring out a Q tip to do a magic trick. It’s like bringing out a tampon or a suppository (which I do) and entertaining people with it before using them in front of the audience. They’ll be bored shitless by the awful magic, and then be shocked and appalled by watching an old man shove something up his ass.
A red and blue deck are introduced, and a spectator counts down to a chosen number to make a selection. The red deck is spread to show a lone blue card in the middle which is the mate of the spectator’s selection. Looking at this effect, the amount of work involved VS the outcome is lopsided. It involves a stacked deck made specifically for this effect. Keeping to the same conditions, it’s possible to be done via other more commonplace and flexible stacks, such as Si Stebbins. I have a large amount of respect for people who use stacks effectively, but this is just fucked how much effort would go into this effect when it can be achieved by so many other means without betraying the conditions.
Club Sandwich –
A pretty standard sandwich routine. I liked how he handles the first revelation, where the spectator ‘realises’ the cards they’re holding also has their selection. However, the rest of the routine is fairly standard. Not much more else to say about it.
Temporarily Out of Order –
A strange sucker-style routine, where the numerically ordered cards are reversed, the spectator is asked to guess where the 4 spot is, and it’s in a different position. The ending kicker is that all the cards are aces. I’ve started to feel a trend emerging of short effects where there’s an idea, but it ‘s too short-lived and not explored fully.
If you haven’t noticed the trend emerging so far, then you must be fucking blind. The effect ideas are unique and good, but the execution and method chosen are generally not. Also, the write-up for each idea is very short so it doesn’t give justice to how far the idea could go. I’m not sure if this is Barry’s shitty authoring or if David just did not feel it necessary/commercially feasible to include anything beyond basic ideas and solutions, but it feels like there should be more in each item.
I almost gave up this review and was going to post this, and say “fuck the rest” but I love David’s work…
So.. let’s push on.
Half and Half –
A signed blue-bakced selection is ripped in half, one half is put inside an envelope, which is sandwiched inside of a red deck. The remaining half is waved over the whole mess like a wand. The half which is in the sealed envelope is removed and is seen to now have a red back. No duplicate signatures, the torn edges line up. The idea is nice, but the effect is fucking bullshit. There’s not even a decent presentation to justify putting one of the halves into an envelope and then removing it. In the notes, there is mention of the “Too Perfect theory” and having the performer remove the card from the envelope being ‘stronger’ than if the spectator were to remove it. Aside from this point, which is an excellent one and can apply to a number of different circumstances, the effect is shit. Not off to a good start. Fucking hell.
Dust… Anyone?… No?….Dust?….Anyone?… No? This is more of a throwaway. The magician points out that a speck of dust on the selection was the dead giveaway to finding the selection and produces a large object underneath the selection. It’s a cute idea, but kind of irrelevant. Produce a phone, or a spherical ..thing. Tadaaaaa! Fuck that.
The Flying Hole –
This plot made the rounds a few years ago. A hole is punches in a selected and it moves around the card. In this effect, a signed selection is placed away and a hole punched in a random indifferent card is visually removed and then appears on the signed selection which was under a spectator’s hand, in the card box etc. I like this idea, the method is good and it raises some interesting ideas to do with this plot. But, again, it feels like it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
A Flighty Personality –
A handling for the standard two card transposition ala Scarne. However, there’s the addition of a signature to the standard routine, which allows you to achieve the face of the cards transposing and then the signature transposing. I can see how this could play for magicians, but it confused the shit out of the lay people I showed it to. There are some nice moments and ideas in here, but it gets muddy in the middle. Worth looking into, but not using.
Freshly Painted –
A selected card is placed between two other cards. The selection continues to change into another card, and back again a few times. Again, another effect which doesn’t really jump out. It feels like filler. No presentation, and excessive handling of cards. Skip this item, save your brain from losing out on important information. Like how to piss standing up.
The Optical Shuttle –
An in the air handling for the shuttle pass. If you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Nothing different or special about this one. Barry notes that David came up with the handling before anyone else and it was also independently created. Statements like this cause people to misinterpret opinion for fact. Fucking prick.
Four Coins, Two Hands, One Glass –
I prefer ‘Two Girls, One Cup’. But we’ll have to do with this one I guess. The title is a bit of a misnomer actually. It’s a standard coins across routine, with little difference between each phase. The coins travel from one hand to the other, one at a time, and then each coin is put into glass after it’s jumped across. The glass can be replaced with… I don’t know.. a flat surface.. and you will achieve the same thing. Slippery fucking slope, eh?
Self Evident –
Spectator deals cards face up and stops on a random card which they place aside. The deck is spread to show one coloured back, while the card that’s been put aside is a different colour. The effect sounds excellent. It can be played up as a prediction style effect and the method is okay. From reading the effect, there’s a few different ways that the effect could be achieved. With the discrepancies and specifics of the handling that David uses, this might be your cup of tea. The method feels a bit clunky. Moving on….
Piece by Piece –
A torn and restored card routine. I expected a routine similar to JC Wagner’s ‘Torn and Restored’/ Paul Harris’ ‘Ultimate Rip-Off’, which left the card not fully restored, but instead found this handling. If you are a fan of the torn and restored plot, such as Hollingworth’s, Garcia’s, Lovick’s etc. then you will find this interesting to read. Again, the method feels a bit clunky. There are points where a different move or tweak could make this ‘neater’. Fuck it.
Catch of the Day –
A blue backed card is signed and lost in a blue deck, which is ‘sandwiched’ between two halves of a red deck. A flourish cut later and the blue deck is spat out, with the signed selection being caught face up in the middle of the red deck. The selection is turned over and found to now have a red back. Bullshit simple. But unjustified. It’s one of those ‘Fuck you, I’ll do it because I can’ moments. Shite method.
Actually, I’m going to stop myself here. There’s almost 100 pages to go, and to be honest, most of what remains is pretty shit. There are some good bits and pieces, but I’m not going through every fucking thing. It’s not laziness (it is), but to focus on the good and the downright shit that remains.
Dave’s Move-A-Card –
I’ve always loved this plot as a memory demonstration. This method is actually decent if you’re not keen on actually remembering shit. However, it is easy to fuck up and expose the method while performing unless you are subtle about it. Once you read it, it will smack you of how obvious yet devious the method is. But, as you all know, I’m a memory expert. So I don’t even need a devious method. HAHA. Fuck you.
The Divining Card –
A handling of Elmsley’s ‘Between Your Palms’ ( originallypublished in 1952 issue of Abracadabra, vol.13, no. 335). Regal’s handling here has been published in Apocalypse before and just republished. The main difference is that there is a prediction card noted then four aces are introduced to the prediction card and then the prediction card is revealed. Half the effect isn’t even fucking there. Barry says to use your favourite method, or plugs one of his own fucking moves or books. At least give the aces some relevance. Check out ‘Mysterious’ in Jack Carpenter’s Modus Operandi, 1992, p.13. There are still some logical flaws in the effect, but it at least uses the ‘glut’ of the aces to do something magical aside from produce them.
Perfectly Oiled –
A technicolour handling for Oil and Water. I thought this was interesting, but again, short lived. There are two separations and a finale where the colours mix. Using the odd back designs allows the effect to be done quite cleanly with the faces and the backs. The method, however, is pretty basic. Fuck I’m losing it. I’m becoming too complacent. WHERE THE FUCK ARE MY SHOES. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK.
Let’s assume I give a shit about Barry and his terrible, hokey magic. This is one of those self-serving bullshit effects that should have been smothered at birth. It’s based on Barry’s effects, moves and routining. The structure is shit, the method is shit. I feel stupider for having read this. For the effort involved, do Brother John Hamman’s Two Card Trick (p.24, “Secrets of Brother John Hamman, 1989, Kaufman) It’s a much better effect.
A Failsafe Prediction –
Apparently, this is elicits ‘gasps’ from your audience. Again, this effect seems like a “fuck you” style effects. A spectator is told they’d pick a card that is NOT the eight of clubs. After all this work, their selection isn’t the eight of clubs, but the deck is all eight of clubs. There’s nothing special here. Prior to this moment is a fairly convoluted selection process and first phase where they actually pick an eight of clubs. It’d make more sense to start with a force deck with a random card somewhere, do the first phase as a total free choice, then force the random card before the big finale. Cuts out any switches and crazy bullshit procedures. If you’re going to fuck over the audience, you may as well be lazy too.
I can’t be fucked writing any more about the rest. There are some assemblies, some coin effects, random moves and a sympathetic card routine. The overall trend I found was that the methods usually had promise, but wholly failed to keep going, making the effects end too abruptly, or resort to a simplistic or shit method after a moment of genius. Also, the essence of David was entirely skipped over. Even though, at the time, he was much younger, the good points of David’s personality and presentations are missing.
Overall, I am not blaming David. Being his first major publication, and seeing his current books and work, he has some amazing ideas. I feel he was let down by an author who rushed through writing it up, did not put it in the right order, and continually plugged his own shit. There were times when Barry even said that he had not done any research because he didn’t have time, too busy. If you’re a writer, especially when you threaten and belittle people for ‘stealing’ your work, you do some fucking research and give credit where it is fucking due.
FUCK YOU BARRY. I hope you enjoy the steaming pile of recognition that’ll be on your doorstep.
Good book? Meh. Some good ideas, but overall, not worth the price or the hype as an out of print book.
If you’re a Regal fan, get it.
If you’re not, then fuck you and read his new stuff.