On New Year’s day, I had a walkaround/table-hopping magic show with Kent Estrada at a rich kid’s birthday party.
I came to the party with the intention of entertaining and amazing the guests. I didn’t expect I would have the surprise of the New Year before the day was over.
At one of the tables, after a lull in magic, one of the guests told me confidentially, “I know a trick you would love. Wanna see it?”
As a Filipino magician, I always allow, encourage even, members of the audience who know a trick or two to show them to the group. Usually it’s a boring 21-Card Trick or some simple math magic that often doesn’t wok and gets a laugh from the rest of the spectators.
The laughter that an amateur performance elicits is usually credited to me by the event organizer, so I have no reason to complain. Besides, allowing amateur magicians to take over the show with a quick trick is, to me, good public relation. The bonus is the part when the audience sees the stark contrast between an amateurish performance and a polished show. An amateur magician doing a boring trick unavoidably adds luster to my own performance.
So in cases when an audience member volunteers to show a trick, I yield to him the spotlight.
On this New Year’s day, I did exactly that. When the guy on the table asked me if I wanted to see a trick, I said, yes, I’d love to.
He stood up, promptly twisted his right arm clockwise, placed his palm down flat on the table and then twisted his arm again in the opposite direction until his arm was back in its natural position.
I was nonplussed. What I saw was the classic Twisted Arm Illusion. David Blaine did it on one of his TV specials. The trick is sold in many magic shops. Every Tom, Dick and Harry named John, Paul and George who does magic know that to perform this illusion one must wear a long-sleeved shirt.
This guy at the table was wearing a polo shirt with short sleeves. I did a double take. I thought he was wearing a false arm that he could twist 360 degrees. I looked at his face. He had this huge German Shepherd smile that seemed to say, “Gotcha!”
Then I heard myself saying what I make a lot of my audiences say, “Do it again.”
He did. He twisted his arm around in full circle and twisted it back. I seemed to see his eyes gloating, “Look, Ma, no sleeves!”
I was stunned. I was perplexed. I was flummoxed.
The girls at the table—all his friends, I supposed— were screaming, not with amazement but with delight at seeing a Pinoy magician thoroughly stumped.
Then the guy took me out of my misery. “I was born with it,”he said. “Here, twist it yourself.”
He offered me his arm. I twisted it. It feel like all flesh, mushy and no bone resistance at all.
The guy was a freak!, I was screaming inside me.
Then to prove that his condition was congenital, the guy took my hand and placed it on his shoulder. Thereupon, he dislocated his shoulder. It was the most disgusting experience I had in my whole life. I could hear and feel the bones in his shoulder blade crunching as he removed his arm from his shoulder. If it were not for the skin and flesh, his entire arm would have dropped on the floor.
“Don’t worry. This is not a handicap. My arms and shoulders are fully functional.”
He sat down and enjoyed watching the expression on my face.
Wow, I went to the next table dazed by the experience.