‘I was kidnapped. Left in Taiwan. And all I got were these notes’; The legend of Chony Tang
by Wouldn’t you like to know?
FEAR NOT FOR I HAVE RETURNED YOU FUCKING PLEBS. FEAR MY WRATH AND IGNORANCE OF ETHICS AND OPINIONS
If you’ve ever been in Tony Chang’s presence, you will know how smooth that bastard is. He glides effortlessly from place to place, brain-fucking the masses with his devilish card-concoctions and sly wit. He is essentially Tyler Wilson and the Dalai Llama’s love child/ butt-baby.
If you don’t know about Tony Chang or haven’t seen his work, check out his site (which sadly hasn’t been updated since 2011). His write-ups, musings and videos show not only how well he can execute his batshit-crazy sleights and effects, but also how scientific and meticulous he is in his approach to both the theory and methods in magic. In the last few years, his work has become more and more visible to the magic community, with instant downloads through Theory11 and Vanishing Inc., and more recently Tyler Wilson’s cock-tease of announcing his authorship of a hardcover collection of Tony’s magic.
To whet our appetites, Tony recently (recent as in July 2013 recent.. fuck I’m behind) released a set of lecture notes. After speaking with Tyler for a bit, I had mixed expectations of the lecture notes. Yes, the material in the notes was originally written for the book, however they decided to cull them from the book and put them together in the notes; almost like the B-sides of Tony’s collected works. Yes, the layout, photography and production quality of the notes is excellent. Yes, the crediting and history of each item is impeccably researched and laid out. And yes, it’s Tony-Fucking-Chang’s material..
Tyler said that he didn’t expect the notes to be more than a limited release of 30 or so sets, so it was put together in a fairly short period. There ended up being a lot more made, and the demand had them sell out VERY quickly. Due to the short turnaround for when they were made, Tyler’s trademark humour and wit is missing from most of the write up, and I did find some random grammatical errors but nothing that changed the write-up to be unreadable or illogical. One of the biggest moments that threw me while reading these notes was the inclusion of something that wasn’t card magic (as all of Tony’s currently released work has been card magic), but my initial dismay turned into awe after seeing that the depth and ingenious ideas that Tony contributes to card magic extends to every genre of magic he touches. (That fucking bastard. ily<3) Let me show you what I mean... THAT WAS A FREEBIE I really enjoyed this. The first item in the notes is a piece of 'perverse' card magic methodology. Tony shares his idea on utilising a spread cull after a selection has been taken from the deck. The thing I love about this (and why it is perverse) is because part of his method actually has the spectator do half the work for you. It's unheard of. It's fucking baller. I love it. Also, the tips on culling can be applied to general culling, and how to counter the 'tells' that people usually have. Way to make a girl feel special, Tony. PRECRASTINATION That zen moment of clarity only comes around so often. This item is a great example of a classic sleight/subtlety/control from LePaul that we all most likely know (unless you're a fucking pleb who knows nothing, i.e. all of you), but is seldom used because it just doesn't "fit" anywhere. It's out of place because the move is it's own moment, rather than blending into a series of moments and movements. Tony's recontextualization of the move to a different plane and his thoughts on the spread and unsquared deck made me moist. This is something that you can pick up and run with, but the more thought and attention you give to it, the better it will be. LOOPER Remember how I said that there was a non-card item that made me rock hard? This is it. One of the biggest flaws with most magic, regardless of what type, is the proximity of cause and effect, especially in close up. Even if the method is completely hidden, any kind of movements or action that occur at the same time as the effect is subconciously linked as the reason it happened. If you were to perform an effect with no discernible movement, it would look like real magic.This is what Tony has achieved, taking a standard effect and tool and making it pure magic. No spoilers on what the effect is, it's too good to share for you speculators. Deal with it. QUEENS GAMBIT I really like this. The method is straightforward but the execution and success of the effect relies on you being confident and convincing in what you're saying. The performer uses random indifferent cards to 'determine' an unseen selected card. This is repeated two more times, the final time having the selected card and the random indifferent cards turn into the four Queens. The impact of the ending is unusual because it relies on the spectator's perception of what's happening instead of relying on visual cues alone. The structure of the effect is very well done and is a perfect example of thinking on your feet when performing, AKA suavely bullshitting your way through the effect as you go. What a wise man you are, Senor Chang. DECK VOID Words from Tyler on this effect: " I'm sad you didn't get a chance to see Tony's deck vanish before reading the method (not the trick, just the deck vanish moment itself). It shocked me when I first saw it. It is SO much better than the typical method, and I don't think it came across that way in print. Use that motherfucker." Unfortunately, Tyler was 100% correct. The change in the context of the deck vanish is fucking awesome, but I didn't get to experience it first hand before learning it. If my brain had an ass, it would have shat itself in awe and excitement.As the effect description says, there's nothing wrong with the current standard of deck vanishes, but that doesn't mean we should stop refining and improving, which is just what Tony has done.The method itself is not revolutionary, but the changes and combination of different subtleties and moments makes his contribution jizz-worthy. SIDE EFFECTS MAY OCCUR This is awesome. It reminds me of the unsettling and awesome ending of Ryan Swigert's 'Kickback' routine. Also, the patter made me lose my shit at one point; the phrase "Just because I'm not great at Engrish doesn't mean I don't potato activation in rambarry". This actually makes more sense than most of the shit published in Bullfrog magazine. The effect is a combination of a transposition effect with twisting the aces. As Tyler notes, the effects aren't bunched together to compete for attention. Instead, they are used to support one another for the overall flow of the effect. A card is left on the spectator's hand, the performer noting that he'll still it from them without them even noticing. The four aces are brought in for a twisting the aces phase, at the end of which the aces and the card in the spectator's hand visually change places. It's honestly a 'what the fuck' kind of moment like in 'Kickback'. Good shit. So, are these notes worth it? Holyfuckingshit yes. Even though the notes aren't as polished as they could have been, they left me wanting more and wishing I could keep Tony in my sex-dungeon, chained up with Rich Aviles and a doll made of Tyler Wilson's hair (Breathe on me, Tyler). The only problem? The limited run makes the notes extremely hard to find now (considering they were released in July 2013). I even bought a spare copy once my current copy is super-saturated with my semen and leftover ramen broth. Perhaps Tony and Tyler could include them in the release of Tony's book as a bonus? But this seems like a bit of a 'Fuck you' to everyone who bought the notes, but it would be a shame to have this material (especially Tony's deck vanish) not have the recognition it deserves. Thoughts everyone? Aside from that, these are a great example of what's to come from Tony's hardcover collection of his work. So, maybe they should hurry the fuck up and get 'er doooooone. P.S. Tony, I still owe you a beer from that night Ricky disappeared. I want your asian babies. Zimbabwe, LH