Lee Asher’s Losing Control: Fun, Fast, Affordable
Which scenario seems less suspicious and more direct for secretly positioning a selected card to the top (or bottom) of the deck: Simply having a selected card pushed back into a deck, or having a selected card pushed back into a deck and then having the magician shuffle off (or fiddling with the deck with both hands for no apparent reason)? If you said the first scenario, then Losing Control might be just what you’re looking for.
To me, this innocuous but devilishly subtle and powerful control qualifies – to quote Max Maven – as a “terrifying thing of beauty.”
While it certainly passes my Erdnase Test, “. . . the most critical observer would not even suspect, let alone detect, the action,” like the Pass, Losing Control does require (and for me, the fun part) a brief moment of misdirection. However, the handling is much more subtle and elegant than either a Pass or Shuffle Control, yet it still meets the purpose of both while trimming away any extraneous fiddling or finger fluttering.
In essence, it directly, seamlessly, and secretly places a spectator’s (if you wish, signed) selection on top of the deck before (in their mind) the trick has even begun -- a powerful place to be.
1) Clarity. Losing Control was created with the reader in mind. It is professionally laid out and pleasing to the eye, has plenty of white space for notes at the bottom of each section (if you decide to print it out), and is easy to read in a (mostly) 11 point Ariel font. The photos are crystal clear and their corresponding instructions are on the same page, so no need to constantly page up and down. The .PDF also includes small sidebars of pertinent information and, for the viewer, five embedded video links.
2) Video Section. I particularly like the video link section so that I can literally see the instructions in action. The sleight is powerful because of its brazenness. It’s out there for anyone to see BUT ONLY IF THEY’RE FOCUSED ON IT. (That’s why -- like a Pass or Shuffle Control -- it should only be done in the expository phase, allowing for time misdirection.) In fact, because it’s sometimes hard for me to think like a spectator anymore, I found that if I glance away at the crucial moment (you’ll know when) as when properly misdirected, the experience is simply jaw-dropping. Doing this can help to give you the confidence and timing for when and how you decide to make use of this elegant sleight.
3) Brief yet thorough. At only 22 pages (including photos) Losing Control completely covers the control without being too wordy. It is broken into easy-to-digest sections, including a concise-and-helpful introduction, brief history, and clear methodology. It includes a dynamite convincer from Alan Ackerman, two variations (one for use with a table and one for allowing the spectator to see all the card faces at eye level), and Mr. Asher’s personal tips for the control. Mr. Asher wraps it all up with proper credits and interesting tidbits, thank you’s, and thoughts on how to proceed.
4) Affordable. At $13.99 (as of this date) Losing Control is quite reasonably priced when compared to the cost of a book or DVD that covers Passes or Shuffle Controls. When re-engineered into a routine, the sleight can easily pay for itself many times over via paying gigs; (I think it is clean and unique enough to help set one performer apart from another.)
5) Additions and Variations. The Alan Ackerman Addition provides another subtle layer of conviction; the card is on top of deck before the “selection” is pushed in. The tabled version gives an innocent hands-off feel, and the vertical version is suitable for standing venues.
PERSONAL TIP: Having read and understood the differences between a regular and reversed spread, I have found that it is also possible to control a selected card to the BOTTOM of the deck by reversing the process.
NOTE: Mr. Asher admonishes the reader to not be eager with using the control for an Ambitious Card sequence. I tend to agree. This move is like seasoning -- a little goes a long way, but too much ruins the dish. It is a little-known sleight, and I prefer to use it sparingly. I do confess, however, that I love using it once in my own opening sequence of David Regal’s AC routine.
NEGATIVES: In one place Mr. Asher writes about the control as if the reader will become nervous executing the move. For me, this seemed a bit presumptuous. However, for those who would have been nervous anyway, Mr. Asher continues with how to overcome any possible jitters.
Also, I wish I were the only other person who knew about this.
To sum up, Losing Control makes magic stronger by shortening the expository (non-inherently interesting) phase of having a card selected and returned to the deck, while at the same time raising the conviction that the selected card is in the middle of the deck (it’s not; it’s on top) in preparation for the (inherently) magical phase – however you may interpret what that is. (Thank you, Darwin Ortiz)
Thus, Losing Control eliminates the need to yammer on and on (not unlike this review) just to cover any shuffle control or to pointlessly bring one’s hands together just to execute a pass.
It is fast, it is fun, and it efficiently and innocuously places the spectator’s selection on top of the deck before the trick (in their mind) has even begun -- without all the fiddling -- and at a reasonable price.