5 Ridiculous Secrets Only Two Living People Know: Part 2

#2. The Hapsburg Napkin Fold

What Is It?

A fancy napkin design that puts all cliche wedding place setting to shame, the imperial napkin fold is so important that it is actually an Austrian state secret.

willbryant
This sure makes all our alien conspiracies and assassinations look like shit.

That impressively starched bread holder is remarkable in that it's made out of just one impossibly folded piece of cloth, and also because it sort of looks like a dong. How do you even get one napkin to do that? We're pretty sure some of those angles shouldn't exist. Stare at it long enough and it's like looking into an Escher painting. If you try to fold it yourself and take a wrong turn, you might unleash an elder god. Possibly one who looks like a dong.

Getty
Or maybe an Egyptian god with a silly hat.

Originally, the design was used at the dinner table of the emperor or empress of the Austro-Hungarian empire. The empire may have collapsed, but the timeless secret of the penis-napkin lived on, and it's still used at banquets when a foreign head of state is visiting. The fold is considered so important that an example of the royal bread holder appears in pretty much every museum in Austria and Hungary. With guards watching it at all times, apparently:

Who Knows?

Two anonymous government employees who hopefully have more to do in their day-to-day jobs than fold cloth into the shape of genitals.

How It Is Kept Secret:

Apparently, the two people who know how to do the fold will pass on the technique before they die (as long as they aren't killed at the same time in a bizarre napkin-folding accident).

Wikipedia
Austria's leading cause of death among males between 30 and 45.

Even though the technique is described as a "closely guarded secret," there is no record of it being written down and held under lock and key somewhere. As far as we know, they don't do anything special to protect its secrecy. But that's the thing: they don't have to. It's that difficult. Now, we're sure some of you will look at that picture and think, "How hard can it be?" -- but keep in mind that these napkins are in public view every day of the year in Austria and anyone can take pictures or video of them. Yet nowhere on the Internet is there the solution for how to do it.

gadgetheat
We're talking about the same Internet that can teach you how to fold an origami Batmobile.

Or maybe it's less about how hard it is and more about the fact that not a lot of people seem to be aware that such a thing as a secret imperial napkin even exists. Let's just hope nobody puts a video of the fold on one of the world's most popular comedy websites where millions of people can- OH NOOOO.

#1. The World's Greatest Card Trick

What Is It?

Called the Holy Grail of card tricks, this seemingly impossible illusion is known as "The Berglas Effect" or "Any Card at Any Number." Why? Because the magician is able to produce any card requested by the audience anywhere inside a deck without even touching it.

Invented by magician David Berglas in the 1970s, the trick is mind-blowingly simple. The magician shows a pack of cards to the audience and then gives it to a random person. Another random person is asked to name any card (let's say the ace of spades) and third one is asked to name any number between one and 52 (let's say 12). The 12th card in the deck, as counted off by the audience member who was holding the pack this whole time, will somehow be the ace of spades.


That's uncanny.

Obviously there are a lot of variants and ripoffs of this trick with varying degrees of hackery involved (even Criss Angel has done it), but in Berglas' version, he uses a perfectly normal, often borrowed deck of cards, and none of the people in the audience are working with him. So how does he do it?

Who Knows?

David Berglas and (apparently) his friend and apprentice Marc Paul, the guy in the video.

Magic Week
Seen here with obnoxious facial hair.

How It Is Kept Secret:

By refusing to tell anyone how to do it, no matter how many times they ask him. We should mention at this point that Berglas escaped Nazi Germany as a child, became a U.S. intelligence officer and acted as a consultant on several James Bond films, which probably means he let the screenwriters follow him around and take notes. If this man says, "No, I will not explain my card trick to you," you shut the fuck up and go hide under the nearest table.

175heroes
"I got this medal for killing Stalin. I was 100 feet from the bedroom, with my hands tied."

Keep in mind that stealing magic tricks is rampant among magicians, as demonstrated by that time Wolverine stole Batman's greatest trick in the film The Prestige. Since intellectual property law doesn't cover magic tricks, once the secret of how to perform any trick is out, there's nothing a magician can do to stop others from performing it or even explaining it to regular people. So if you happen to come up with the most-impressive card trick of all time, the only thing you can do is keep your mouth shut.

Wikipedia
We're on to you, man.

While Berglas eventually divulged most of his famous tricks, he still refuses to explain this one. According to rumors, he once told the secret to a reporter who will release it once he dies. As we mentioned, several other magicians have performed different versions of this trick, but the most convincing is the one by Marc Paul ... who happens to be a close friend of Berglas.

It's possible that Berglas told him, or that Paul figured it out on his own by studying his work, or maybe came up with his own version. Either way, Marc Paul ain't saying how he does it either, because he has dignity.

gothamist
Something rare in modern magicians.

To read more from Ashe, check out Weird Shit Blog and Film School Rejects. Kathy and Ashe also wrote short stories for a charity anthology that you can buy here.

For awesome secrets we have discovered, check out 6 Presidential Secrets Your History Teacher Didn't Mention and 6 Massive Secret Operations That Are Hidden All Around You.

And stop by LinkSTORM to discover the secret to Brockway's beard.

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