Secrets of the Magus

Reading that Apollo Robbins piece reminded me of this splendid writeup on Ricky Jay, also originally published in The New Yorker.

Often, he would begin a performance by demonstrating a not easily marketable skill that eventually earned him a listing in the “Guinness Book of World Records”: throwing a playing card for distance. A properly launched card would go ninety miles an hour. Unobstructed, it could travel a hundred and ninety feet. From ten paces, it could pierce the outer rind of a watermelon. After impaling the flesh of a watermelon with a card, Jay would rifle one card after another into the exact same spot. He also used a plastic chicken and windup toys as props and targets, often inflicting disabling injuries. His patter was voluble, embroidered with orotund, baroque locutions; he would describe the watermelon rind, for instance, as the “thick pachydermatous outer melon layer.”

via The World Wide Website of Ricky Jay.