Richard Turner — The Magical Phenom Who Will Blow Your Mind (#411)

Photo of Richard Turner and Tim Ferriss during the interview

I am very, very excited to introduce this interview, as I’ve been wanting to meet today’s guest, Richard Turner, for almost two years now. I first came across Richard Turner (richardturner52.com, youtube.com/richardturner52) in the documentary Dealt, directed by Luke Korem.

I can’t remember the last time I finished a documentary, only to want to watch it again immediately afterward. I also can’t remember a doc that made me as emotional as Dealt did, pushing me from laughter to tears. It has 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes and won the 2017 Documentary Feature Audience Choice Award at the South by Southwest Film Festival. Everyone should watch it.

But let’s get to my guest. Who is Richard Turner?

Richard is regarded as the best card mechanic and among the best close-up magicians in the world. He has entertained millions of people, including notables like Johnny Carson, Bob Hope, Secretary of State Colin Powell, actor Brad Pitt, sports legend Muhammad Ali, and many more.

Richard has received many accolades, including the 2015 Close-up Magician of the Year Award, the magic industry’s equivalent of the Oscar.

His skill with a deck of cards has been featured on television shows around the world, including a performance on Penn & Teller: Fool Us, in which Penn Jillette admitted, “Richard Turner is one of the finest sleight-of-hand artists who has ever lived. He fooled us with every single move he did!”

Richard is also a sixth-degree karate black belt, and we get into all that on the podcast.

Note: Toward the end of the interview, you will hear Richard performing card tricks. He did them in front of me, and he absolutely blew my mind. I highly recommend checking out the interview on YouTube, as I made sure to have video from multiple angles for this episode. Just go to youtube.com/timferriss. Not to sound like a mullet-wearing Long Island boy (which I’ve been), but this footage is simply fucking amazing.

Oh, and did I mention that Richard is completely blind? That’s right. You’re in for a ride, my friends.

Please enjoy!

You can find the transcript of this episode here. Transcripts of all episodes can be found here.

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Stitcher, Castbox, Google Podcasts, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can also watch the conversation on YouTube

#411: Richard Turner — The Magical Phenom Who Will Blow Your Mind
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What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

SCROLL BELOW FOR LINKS AND SHOW NOTES…

Want to hear another episode with someone who lives without limits? — Listen to my conversation with Nicholas McCarthy. In this episode, we discuss how to overcome limitations, proving doubters wrong, how to manage ego, and much more. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#174: The One-Handed Concert Pianist, Nicholas McCarthy
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SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Richard Turner:

Website | APB Speaker Agency | YouTube | Facebook

SHOW NOTES

  • What is The Magic Castle? [07:37]
  • Who was Dai Vernon, “the man who fooled Houdini,” and how did Richard get to know him? [09:10]
  • How a broke Richard finagled a free suit for his first meeting with Dai at The Magic Castle in 1975. [12:24]
  • “Won’t get the money.” Sleight-of-hand smack-talk by the bust-out man who once assisted in sending Luca Brasi to sleep with the fishes. [15:16]
  • Practice does not make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect. [20:12]
  • Discipline breeds discipline. [23:43]
  • You think you’re disciplined? Richard hasn’t missed a workout in 49 years — and even used to travel with a weight-filled briefcase in the days when gyms were a scarcity. Why is physical cultivation so important to him? [24:48]
  • Richard shares his experience with Charles Bonnet Syndrome and the unique way in which he sees and interacts with the world. [32:26]
  • Has Richard always had an eidetic memory, or did it come after he started losing his sight? [42:30]
  • What were the immediate changes Richard and his sister Lori endured when they began to lose their sight, and how did this contribute to an admitted streak of rebellion? [44:04]
  • Why does Richard still have a sculpture he made during this time, why doesn’t he have his piece of art that won first prize in a statewide competition, and why did he later go on to sabotage his own work? [46:15]
  • How did Richard relate to anger early in life, and what helped him escape from a spiral of self-destruction? [49:12]
  • What compelled Richard to take up martial arts on February 13th, 1971, and how did he fare as an absolute beginner? [55:09]
  • How to make Richard’s specialty fitness drink: Liquid Hell. [1:01:06]
  • Richard talks about bodybuilding, working out with Mr. Universe, refusal to accept an honorary black belt, and fighting 10 rounds in a sweltering Tijuana sweatbox against rulebreaking opponents he could only see in his peripheral vision. [1:02:23]
  • What did Richard’s insane training workout to prepare for his black belt trial look like? [1:10:02]
  • How Richard learned to reduce fear and control his asthma attacks, what he does to create strength by channeling his Charles Bonnet Syndrome like a superpower, and how he taught his wife to make use of his visualization technique. [1:12:40]
  • A demonstration of Richard’s superpower vs. yours truly. [1:17:20]
  • How Richard has harnessed his CBS to train with cards over lengthy periods of intense focus others might find exhausting. [1:18:55]
  • How Richard learned and expanded on Dai Vernon’s concepts — and pulled off the seemingly impossible — over the course of 17 years. [1:20:39]
  • Richard fought 10 fresh fighters in 10 rounds for his black belt (in spite of earning a broken arm in the seventh round), but it was the L.A. Times headline about the fight that bruised him the most. [1:23:28]
  • What is dreaming like for Richard, and how does something like medication affect his waking visualizations? [1:25:58]
  • What are Richard’s favorite colors, and did he have them before losing his sight, or did he develop them afterward?
    [1:28:39]
  • How does Richard experience wind? What happens when he goes underwater? [1:29:56]
  • As someone who doesn’t necessarily find relaxation relaxing, what activities do recharge Richard’s batteries? [1:31:50]
  • Ever played poker in a casino and wondered if you were getting conned? I can barely shuffle, so what can Richard show me with an available table and some cards? Let’s find out. [1:35:53]
  • What were Dai Vernon’s thoughts about the feat Richard just demonstrated for us? [1:43:06]
  • Richard’s the one who has the ability to analyze when the manufacturing process results in cards of substandard quality and call them out. In the end, it results in a stronger product that benefits the company as well as the consumer. [1:44:37]
  • What would Richard’s billboard say? [1:48:45]
  • Richard is a certified oddball who works out with a crushed thumb and then shuffles cards with his one good hand as an anesthetic while his other hand is being operated upon — believe it or not. [1:49:36]
  • Richard shares what happened when he got the chance to fool Penn & Teller almost a year to the day after his thumb mishap. [1:54:54]
  • “That’ll get the money.” A former antagonist becomes a very dear friend. [1:57:56]
  • Parting thoughts. [2:02:21]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with more than 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.

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10 Replies to “Richard Turner — The Magical Phenom Who Will Blow Your Mind (#411)”

  1. Tim,

    Education is something that I have always cared about. The best education is made by experience. Throughout the years I have attended personal growth events and seminars. I have grown a lot and I have understood that by making a better me I can change the way I see world around me. It was the year 2014, and after a long period of depression where nothing mattered any more, I went to a 3 day event in London. The event was Unleash the Power Within by Anthony Robbins. After that event my life, and the life of the people close to me, radically changed. Now, I have understood that through personal growth we can all live an extraordinary life, full of beautiful emotions, great experiences and exceptional people.

    Today we have decided, along with my partner and daughter, to go to and attend the Mindvalley University to live a unique and constructive experience. Mindvalley was founded by Vishen Lakhiani in 2013. In the last few years Vishen has changed the way education can be done. He is an entrepreneur, author and activist on a mission to raise human consciousness.

    Nelson Mandela said ”if you want to change the world, change education”. If we start from the children we are going to have an outstanding world civilization.

    Would you like to help me on this crowdfunding? If the answer is YES, you will be one of those who will make this dream come true and we will be able to experience the Mindvalley University event in Amsterdam on July 2020.

    Thank you in advance

    Robert James Hanrahan

  2. Hi Tim,

    Love your work- really inspiring.

    As an aspiring writer I’m desperate to contact my role model ‘Richard Curtis’ (director of ‘Love Actually’ and the like) for advice.

    He has a mysterious online profile and for years I have been trying to get through to him. (He doesn’t have twitter/a website/blog etc)

    Could you offer some advise? That would be hugely appreciated

    Thank you so much.

  3. On the 7stud trick, it’s visible he’s not dealing from the top, but how does he know when a top card is “good” to save it for Tim?

  4. Richard Turner is amazing and inspiring!! Truly. I also really, really loved his wife and found her equally amazing and inspiring. I just…….find her equally magical. If you have any shared contact information for her, I would greatly appreciate.