The great Ricky Jay was the magician’s magician

Ricky Jay – magician, sleight-of-hand artist extraordinaire, actor, author, scholar of weirdness and oddities, Guinness award winner for throwing playing cards – passed away on November 24th at age 72.

Ricky Jay's life and legacy have been dutifully celebrated in the feature documentary Deceptive Practice, an enduring 1993 profile in The New Yorker, and lately by David Mamet's eulogy. The man indeed left a dent in the magic community.

A personal note should say enough for my love of this man's work. I have only one object hanging on my studio walls: an original print of Ricky Jay’s book cover “Cards as Weapons.”

I was a teenage kid when I stumbled upon the card-magic bible "The Expert At The Card Table" by S.W.Erdnase. This book became an obsession of mine for a few years; eventually I translated and published the work in my native Italian. One day I got my paws on a VHS tape of a man who took Erdnase’s century-old presentation “The Exclusive Coterie” and brought it back to life – with humor, a charming style, and a never-before-seen flair. I was completely enraptured. That performance set the bar for artistry and excellence for years to come.

Ricky Jay’s long time friend, collaborator and co-conspirator Michael Weber said, “The real mark of an artist is not becoming known as the finest exponent of their art. It’s when the only way to describe what they do is to name them.”

Well, Ricky Jay’s name is set in stone: an artist in a league by himself. Read the rest

Ricky Jay's fancy way of finding playing cards buried in a deck

Ricky Jay demonstrates his admirable faculty with playing cards. To learn more about this remarkable person watch the documentary, Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay, which is often available on Netflix.

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Only 29 inches tall, Matthias Buchinger’s accomplishments were gigantic (new book by Ricky Jay)

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

When Matthias Buchinger was born in 1674, he arrived without arms or legs. As an adult, he was under 2.5 feet tall. He lived to the age of 65, outliving three wives (his fourth wife outlived him, and he was rumored to have as many as 70 mistresses), and he sired 14 children. Most remarkably, Buchinger was an accomplished artist, magician, sharpshooter, and calligrapher. Buchinger's specialty was micrography: the art of writing tiny letters. He was famous throughout Europe. According to Wikipedia, “Buchinger's fame was so widespread that in the 1780s the term ‘Buckinger's boot’ existed in England as a euphemism for the vagina (because the only ‘limb’ he had was his penis).”

The author of Matthias Buchinger: "The Greatest German Living" is Ricky Jay, a famous magician, performer, historian of unusual performers, and writer. Jay’s biography of the extraordinary Buchinger includes many reproductions of Buchinger’s exacting pen and ink drawings, which he made holding a pen in his small fin-like appendages. Jay is a longtime collector of Buchinger original art, and this book includes several entertaining chapters about Jay’s personal interest in collecting Buchinger’s work and his interactions with other Buchinger-philes.

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