“The more playing cards that are put out there, they expose themselves, they expose the industry,” says magician, former card-cheat, and playing card salesman, Daniel Madison. “There’s no governance.”
He says this in an artificially grainy, black and white YouTube video released to promote DISCONNECT, a documentary in which Madison responds to telephone calls from people who’ve bought one of his products. The low-fi, art house authenticity of the video is only slightly diminished by the music video from Sia’s Elastic Heart playing on a laptop in the background. My eyes keep being drawn to Shia LaBeouf’s jiggling buttocks and I regularly have to rewind to listen to Madison’s unrestrained truth bombs.
“You can make the sh*ttiest deck of playing cards and just release them and people will or won’t buy them,” he continues. “The point is you can do it. I f**ked around so much towards the end of my career by releasing the most ridiculous playing cards just to f**k with the industry and have a little fun. I released a blank deck of playing cards for f**k’s sake.”
Yes, the playing cards industry has low barriers to entry and is filled with secondary businesses looking to make a buck printing anything anyone is willing to pay for, thus a lot of decks are awful. I know, I wade through hundreds of them for each instalment of Kickstarter Cards.
What’s more interesting is Madison’s apparent suggestion that while other people release bad decks as a quick cash grab, any bad decks bearing his name – with the exception of Madison Blanks which were quite clearly a joke – were made to “f**k with the industry,” like a playing card version of Duchamp’s Fountain.
Whether or not the people who bought any of Madison’s products were supportive of his disruptive goals is a bit unclear, of course. Maybe they just liked the cards.