This is a magic performance of the classic con game Three Card Monte. But this one is done with four cards! The setting is an old-fashioned Carnival and Fair in a small Midwestern town. I was 16 1/2 when I first saw a working conman perform the Monte.
The inspiration and influences in this four card Three Card Monte include magic greats such as Joe Riding, Fred Kaps, and Harry Anderson. The story is my own with inspiration from Harry Anderson.
The poem is my own creation. I have always been intrigued with the story line of someone making a deal with the devil. Then of course when it comes time to pay the bill (their soul) they try to wiggle out of the deal with one last game or challenge. I wrote the part of devil as one similar to a con artist playing the three-card Monte or the shell game.
The idea of telling a story or a poem as a background to a magical effect has also been of great interest to me. Storytelling and magic are two very powerful mediums and together they can pack quite a one-two punch.
The card effect is called Beat the Devil from Darwin Ortiz, Scams and Fantasies with Cards. I took the presentation idea of the magician vs. the Devil and created the poem.
I truly hope you enjoy it.
The Great Houdini
(March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926)
Graphite on board 16” X 20” – Steven Paul Carlson – Gicleé prints available
The center portrait was created from Houdini’s favorite publicity photo.
On the left Houdini is performing his “challenge handcuff” act; it was in escapes, not magic, that Houdini would find his great success.
On the right is Houdini’s most famous escape, the Chinese Water Torture Cell. Houdini affectionately referred to it as The Up Side Down. Contrary to common belief Houdini did not die performing this act.
In the center are the Famous Mirror handcuffs, a custom set of cuffs made as a special challenge for Houdini by the London Daily Mirror in 1904. It was reported that 4000 people and more than 100 journalists turned out for the much-hyped event at London’s Hippodrome theater. The escape attempt dragged on for over three hours. When Houdini finally emerged free he broke down and wept when he was paraded on the shoulders of the cheering crowd. Houdini later said it was the most difficult escape of his career.
Professor Steven Paul Carlson’s traveling magic and mystery show. Magic that mystifies the mind, enriches the soul, and delights the heart! Acclaimed by the Crowned Heads of Europe!