Psychic PselectionsPsychicPselectionsJohn RiggsMentalism routines you’re gonna love1

Psychic PselectionsCopyright 2004 by John Riggs. All rights reserved.2

Psychic PselectionsIntroductionWhen I was five years old or so, I rememberwatching the great Mystery Entertainers ontelevision -- magicians, mindreaders, psychics,wizards, People Who Did Extraordinary Things -MAGICKAL people. I was, in a word, enthralled.I knew that I had found my path. I wanted to makeothers feel what I was feeling: delight, wonderment,awe. A feeling that the world was a magical,miraculous place.I've been a mystery entertainer for most of mylife. I've practiced, struggled to perfect my skills, learned to do things withmy hands, my mind, my body, my bodily FUNCTIONS even, that arealmost miraculous. I've shared these abilities with the world, professionally,since around 1978 or so.I'm going to be 44 this year. If I could travel back in time, and talk tothat wee lad sitting in front of that television, watching The Magical Land ofAlakazam, watching Dunninger and Kreskin read the minds of incredulousaudiences, that little boy already planning to set the world on fire with hisown magic, What would I tell him?Would I say to him, “Look kid -- by the time you grow up the worldwon't need magicians. They'll abandon magic for reason, for prepackagedanswers to life's riddles and dry, bottom-line rationality. You won't inspirewonder. You won't change lives. You'll be a momentary diversion at acocktail party.“And the problem is, you're sensitive; you CARE about what peoplethink. You're not arrogant or self-centered enough to say ‘screw'em.’ People will say mean things, snide things; they'll blow you off, theywill treat your magic, your wonderful magic that took you years to perfect,like a mildly-amusing joke. Oh, you'll make money; your peers willrecognize you, but you will fail utterly at your primary goal. And this failurewill haunt you.3

Psychic Pselections“Furthermore, you will live to see your beloved craft, whose secretsyou swore to protect with your life, sold on the internet to anyone with asearch engine and a credit card. Worse, self-styled guardians of publicmorality, missionary-magicians, members of Skeptic cults, failedentertainers, will expose the closely-guarded secrets of the mentalists onpublic television at the drop of a dime.”Would I go on to say to that child, who dreams of inspiring the worldto believe in magic, “Go on and follow through with your Plan B. Get yourPhD, get a job teaching at a college. You'll have a career, respect, a saucyco-ed now and again to play with, and you can even have your belovedmagic as a hobby when you retire. That's the safe way. Believe me, kid, itwill hurt a whole lot less if you do that.”If I could travel back in time, in a miraculous machine or even inspirit, would I whisper all this to that child, that young boy sitting in raptattention, eyes aglow as he dreams of following in the footsteps of the GreatMystery Entertainers?Would I?WOULD I?4

Psychic PselectionsMillennial PredictionThis is another variation on a number addition/prediction effect that has a long history in mentalismliterature. Originally a lightning-calculation effectby Will Dexter and Frederick Lowe, many variationsof the original concept have appeared in print.Probably the person with the most variations to hiscredit is Larry Becker, the incredibly prolific creatorwhose Sum Total and all of its variations are wellknown to most mentalists. David Harkey has acouple of workings with the instructions of his Pocket Cache, and RichardOsterlind has contributed a few of his own, most notably Sum Total Radio.I’ve toyed with the premise off and on for years, explaining one handling inPsychic Soirees.Here’s another one that I’ve been using for a while, that packs a verysolid punch and incorporates a handling that is so clean, fair and aboveboard that it meets all of my requirements for a stainless methodology.What the Audience sees:“I need someone to come up and act as scorekeeper – you sir, you’reperfect! Just come on up and don’t step on anyone.”The performer hands the audience helper a red marker and then holdsup a 2’ x 4’ piece of posterboard. Near one corner of the board, we see alarge bulldog clip, holding a folded, bright-pink index card. Callingattention to this card, the performer says, “On that card are some thoughtsthat I recorded earlier. These thoughts may have some significance onwhat’s about to follow, maybe not. We’ll see. But for now, we need toconstruct a target number – a six-digit target number. One in a hundredthousand.”To the audience helper: “You’re in charge of the marker, okay? Good,take this marker and I’ll hold this board. You’re in charge, point to anyonein the audience.”5

Psychic PselectionsThe person stands up and the performer says, “I would like you to takea deep breath and listen to me very carefully ‘Mary had a little lamb its fleece was white as snow and ever where that Mary went the lambwas SCARED to go. NOW! Give me a number between, oh, 120 and 200.You can take your time; let the number float up into your mind. What’s thefirst digit . the second the third Write those down, my friend. Now,point to another person.”The second person stands up. “Listen to me carefully. ‘Rock a byebaby, near the shore’s edge, when the tide comes, the baby will cringe.’Now, give me any three-digit number greater than 200, since that was hisrange. Take a deep breath; relax your mind, what’s the first digit thesecond the third thank you! Write those down!”The nursery rhymes and bromides are little mind games I play, sort ofin a Hannibal Lechter manner, and is a bit creepy. The idea is that I’msomehow causing an altered state of mind.The performer holds the board perfectly still while the audienceparticipant records single digit numbers that the audience calls out. This iscontinued until a six-digit number is constructed along the top edge of theboard, in red marker, entirely of single-digit numbers supplied by theaudience.Once again, the performer calls attention to the clip. “Now we have tosee if this makes any sense.” He removes the folded card and hands it to thehelper, who opens it up.“What’s on it?” the performer asks.“A whole bunch of numbers,” the helper responds.“Are they the same numbers we have up here?”“Uh, no ”“Let me see ”The performer looks at the card and smiles. A light goes on in hismind! “Ah, this is a math problem! This is a column of four, five-digitnumbers. I was trying to solve this last night and couldn’t figure it out. Let’ssee if we can make sense of this.” The card is clipped back to the board inan open position, so that the helper can see the column of numbers.6

Psychic PselectionsThe performer hands the helper a black pen. “Please write these outso that everyone can see them.”The chap complies while the performer helpfully holds the board, andthe audience sees that there are indeed four five-digit numbers in a column.“Now, let’s add them up,” says the performer, “And all of you outthere help me and make sure I don’t make any mistakes. Eight and five arethirteen, and eight makes twenty-one, um, hmm and two is twenty-three.Write down the ‘3’ and carry the ‘2 ’” About right now the audiencerealizes that this matches the last digit in the predicted number (which,you’ll recall, is written in red at the top of the board).As each column is added and each number matches the red targetnumber, the performer becomes more and more excited. Audience reactionbuilds. When it’s seen that all six digits match, it’s a beautiful moment!Method:In my opinion, this is the strongest version yet of this effect. All otherversions suffered — in my opinion – from one flaw or other. For example,many versions required that you miscall the column of numbers, or that youload the double-written paper into a wallet or envelope, or there lacked aclear, definitive “I didn’t have anything to do with it” presentational motif.Not to mention that tallying up numbers can be slow. But if you buildup the revelation of each digit as a separate dramatic entity, the energybuilds until you circle the last digit triumphantly and the audience can’t helpbut be caught up in the excitement.Notice that in this presentation, the performer can’t be doing anything:his hands are in plain view holding the board. He can’t be up to anythingsneaky can he?Well There are four separate pieces of deception at work here: The mathematical principle that makes the trick work The Ostin Bulldog Clip Swami Writing7

Psychic Pselections A secret pocket onthe back of the posterboard,cleverly disguised as pricesticker.(1) On the card, in three of thequadrants, write the followingnumbers:52, 13532,36826,608These three numbers add up to 111,111. This is the secret that makesthe trick work. When the audience calls out numbers later, you willmentally subtract ‘1’ from each digit and record them in order on the foldedcard with your Swami writer. This will construct the necessary fourth fivedigit number. More on this fascinating principle later.Fold the card so that the numbers are on the outside. I know that thiswill drive you crazy, but neither the audience – nor the helper – will give ahoot. When you insert the card into the pocket, the blank field will beoutermost, so you can Swami write on it.(2) As you should know, the Ostin clip is a metal bulldog clip fittedwith a rubber band that slips around a piece of folded index card. When thecard is pulled out and the clip closed, it holds the card in place. When theclip is opened, the card is pulled back into the clip. This setup is clipped tothe top of the board near the left (audience’s left) top edge. As an addedconvincer, write one of your numbers on the fake card in your Ostin clip.(3) You have to be proficient at Swami writing (often called Nailwriting or Thumbwriting) to perform this routine. Neophyte mentalists areforever asking “What is the easiest nailwriter to use?” and “What is thequickest way to learn nailwriting?” The answers are: “Find ONE Swamiwriter and practice, practice, practice for about a year, and (2) “There is noeasy way, find one Swami writer and practice, practice, practice for about ayear.” It surprises me that fledgling mentalists think that such a8

Psychic Pselectionsfundamental and pivotal skillshould be easy. It takes a lot ofwork. However, I have a DVDlecture called Psecret Writingsthat can help ease the learningcurve a bit, available throughme.(4) To make the fake pricesticker/pocket, print a barcodeon a piece of paper and stick italong the bottom and two sideedges on the board. For yourconvenience, I’ve included atemplate that you can copy andcut out.You must leave room in the pocket to hold a 3x5 file card folded infourths. Use a strong glue, too.I use double-stick tape. TheFigure 1folded card goes into thepocket folded edge down.Where you stick thepocket depends on you. Youhave to reach it comfortablywith your Swami whileapparently innocently holdingthe board in place for youraudience helper. (See Figure1)With the sticker/pocketin place, load the folded card,blank quadrant facing outward,firmly into place. The Ostinclip, with the folded fake cardextended, is clipped near theright top edge of the board as9

Psychic Pselectionsyou would be looking at it from the rear.Place the posterboard aside until needed.In your right coat pocket (assuming you’re right-handed) place the redand the black marker. It’s useful if you can tell them apart by feel. I wrap asmall rubber band around the black marker and that’s all it takes. Also inthis pocket is TWO swami gimmicks. I prefer a Boon style writer, with amedium-strong adhesive. You should be proficient in putting it on with onehand. If you use an undernail or band style writer (or ANY style Swamigimmick) the same applies – you have to be able to get it on and off fairlyquickly with one hand.So why TWO writers? Well, it’s easier to find one of two gimmicksthan trying to fish around for a single gimmick. Furthermore, if you drop it,or break the lead, believe me – you want a backup handy.Okay, so now everything is in position for performance. Grip theboard with your left hand near the left edge and reach in your right jacketpocket as you’re talking to the audience. The board provides a great screenif you need to fumble around to get the Swami gimmick into place. At anyrate, when you finally get it on, remove the red marker and elect an audiencemember to come forward to help you out. Pass the board to your right handand take the pen in your left. This hides the Swami gimmick and you canpass the pen to the audience helper. As soon as he takes the pen, re-grip theboard with your left hand and assume what we will call the Master Position.The Selection of the Numbe rsNow, you’ll allow audience members to call out the apparently freechoice of numbers that will make up the prediction total. As you’ll recall,the first number has to fall between 120 – 200 It cannot be inclusive; itMUST fall between these two numbers. You have a choice here on how toensure this. You can either have the audience member call out a single,three-digit number that falls within that range (“I’ll give you one, and onlyone clue: The number of which I’m thinking is between 120 and 200”), oryou can have three single-digit numbers called out, as long as the secondnumber they call out is greater than 1. I’ve found that it always is; nobodyever says “1” when offered a choice between 1-9. If they ever did, I would10

Psychic PselectionsFigure 2:Showing how you Swami write the numbersonto the folded card in the Secret Pocket!11

Psychic Pselectionstell them, “Between 1 and 9, please.”The six numbers can be called out by six separate audience members,but I’ve found that this takes too long. I far prefer to limit it to twomembers, three numbers each.The second number is a three-digit number between 200 and (as I liketo say) infinity. Actually, of course, i