Deborah Baron, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, where Ricky Jay lives, once invited him to a New Year’s Eve dinner party at her home. About a dozen other people attended. Well past midnight, everyone gathered around a coffee table as Jay, at Baron’s request, did closeup card magic. When he had performed several dazzling illusions and seemed ready to retire, a guest named Mort said, “Come on, Ricky. Why don’t you do something truly amazing?” Baron recalls that at that moment “the look in Ricky’s eyes was, like, ‘Mort—you have just fucked with the wrong person.’ ”
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