EFFECT: Presenter comes forward with ordinary unprepared slate. Spectator chalks a name upon same while the presenter blindfolded is looking directly opposite to position of slate. However, whatever is written upon slate by spectator, presenter immediately reads aloud. Numbers, sums, messages are as easily read aloud. Here is an entirely new mystery with a slate and a piece of chalk.
PREPARATION AND PRESENTATION: The presenter announces he will have several spectators write as many messages, or names or sums if desired upon a slate he will hold before them. They are to write upon the opposite side of the slate so he cannot see what is written upon that particular side of the slate. Then he will read aloud the written subject. Having approached the spectator who will take the piece of chalk, hold the slate with both hands, gripping the wooden rim only, with forefinger and thumbs. Do not touch the slate proper. Learn to hold lightly. Do not bear too much pressure upon the palms of fingers. Tightly close your eyes and turn head side ways in order to avoid scanning the writing. Do not have any distraction of any sort. Keep your mind on the writing. What ever the spectator will write you will at once sense through vibration. First try with simple single number. Then try with capital letters. Learn names and do not confuse HENRY WITH HARRY. You might get the H - - - y and guess at Harry or vice versa. Go over names. By trying out with having someone chalk write upon a sheet of fine sand paper cut to size of face surface of slate, you will greatly grasp the idea and very soon become expert along such line. I can read the slate writings as fast as the written subject. Another method is had with a special slate which I will supply to you for general work. The fee is 50 cents to cover forwarding. While this is not entirely neccessary, some applicants desire same. Remember it is the scrawl scratch that you will learn to pick up. It is the vibration you learn to read. Once you get the idea, you will advance rapidly with clean clever slate work of this particular type. Doc Nixon.
The final letter concerns the Seeing with the Fingertips routine of Rajah Raboid, famous for his blindfold work and notorious for his claim that he was Howard Thurston's successor. It is, as far as I know, the only complete description of the act ever to appear in print
LETTER FROM FAUCETT ROSS TO PAUL FOX January 25th, 1939
Saw the great (?) Rajah Raboid do Seeing with the Fingertips and follows my reaction to it.
I enter the exclusive grill and am ushered by obsequeous garcon to a very bad table as I anticipated; not being a chronic customer. Smart orchestra is playing in shaded lights. Tis almost midnight and consequently the clientele is becoming mellow, even racous (never could spell that word) in a few spots. Ceiling spot goes on after a spell and then follows several nondescript numbers. Finally —
"Introducing the feature of our program — the man who will mystify, intrigue and astound you — Rajah Raboid!"
The Rajah walks on the floor very briskly closely followed by two waiters, and carries a small telephone table covered with white cloth which he stands six fe<?t behind the inevitable microphone. The other places a small tabouret close by — this latter holds four strips of adhesive tape, two very large pads of cotton (nearly five inches square) and a tumbler of water. Also bandage.
The Rajah deliberately places the microphone to his liking, clears his throat and then breaks into the following harangue — "My friends — for your approval I present a scientific miracle which I call (pause) seeing with the fingertips. All of you have heard or read of Jimmy Valentine — how he was able to open safe vaults by the sensitivity of his fingertips. You may think that such things exist only in story books but such is not the case. In fact what I am about to show you will eloquently prove that the fingertips by long practice can discern things just as accurately as do the human eyes. I ask you not to be prejudiced but merely watch what follows then form your own conclusions."
" I shall have my eyes securely blinded in such a manner that vision will be an utter impossibility. May I have someone from among you to assist?" (Almost before these words are out of his mouth a perfectly sober middle aged gentieman from a ringside table steps forward with great and suspicious alacrity and stands on Rajah's right. I might say, also parenthetically, that the miracle man is attired in fairly immaculate tails with a somewhat badly fitting vest. No makeup whatsoever except his mustache and chin whiskers. There's just a touch of the carnival in his actions and inflection. Also during his introduction, which I've boiled down considerably, no one has paid the slightest attention to him. It is not until the blindfold is applied that he gets attention.)
Rajah points to the little stand on which reposes the tape, cotton and — almost forgot, heavy white linen bandage — latter about five inches or more in width and at least twenty-four inches long. He continues —
"In order that my vision may be totally obscured beyond any possibility of doubt, I use a number of items familiar to all of you —anyway they should be — they're all from the Katz Drug Company just across the street. Several strips of adhesive tape and two heavy pads of cotton. The cotton will be placed by the gentlemen here against my eyes and held in place by the strips of tape. To render the cotton even more opaque I'll soak it in this liquid. For the benefit of those who do not recognize the commodity I'll explain that it's water — plain water. I'll even drink a little of it, distasteful as it may be. (Drinks and then dips and dunks each pad therein and holds them against volunteer's eyes. Asks him if he can see etc. Now holds them against his eyes and instructs volunteer to tape then in any manner he sees fit — emphasizes this and injustice to the Rajah, must say that it's an exceedingly convincing blindfold — more so than Tarbell's if I'm any judge. Several inebriated gentlemen yell for him to apply the tapes down low and, really, his whole face is almost literally plastered when the job is finished and looks different than the orthodox but may not be so.
At this point Rajah asks spectator to hand any article to the waiters who are to place them on the table. So, at intervals waiters are busy placing articles on table. At no time does Raboid get over five or six feet from the microphone — as usual whole place, with exception of floor, is in semi-darkness.)
"I have been fairly blindfolded. Some of you may have the idea that this cotton and tape are faked or prepared in some clever manner. Well, I shall be here tomorrow night so bring your own cotton and tape and I'll be glad to use them."
"I claim I am totally dispossessed of my normal vision but for the benefit of you skeptics (points to a noisy party of people on right) I'll go one step further." (Gropes around and finally picks up blindfold.)
"Eight thicknesses of the heaviest linen cloth. Will you examine it, place it over your own eyes and when satisfied, place it tightiy as possible over my eyes."
(Assistant does so. Cloth looks wider than that used by Tarbell. While it is being tied Rajah bends his head very low. At this point his thumbs undoubtedly go under bandage and push up cotton. His back is to me, however, so can't be sure. At any rate when he faces audience the catious critics, scoffers, etc. at ringside tables are effectively silenced. Even my own waiter who is seeing the trick for the 12th time is convinced he cannot see. Of course, from now on he simply describes the objects that lay on the table. Picks them up one at a time. Holds them in left hand and his right hand nervously runs over the object — quite effective. When I caught act he described about twelve different items. Talks quite rapidly and his fingers are constantly travelling over surface of object.
In his opening lecture he emphasizes that anything may be handed him or rather waiter. "If you don't trust me with any of your belongings — write a word or a question on a scrap of paper but don't tear up the wine lists."
Waiter tells me a lot of women write questions of a personal nature and, needless to say, the Rajah is an old hand in handling this sort of thing. Some woman wrote, "Will I be married?" Raboid picks up question, feels it, and says, "Here's a question in a woman's handwriting which reads (more feeling and stalling) 'Will I be married?' Well the question, my friends is not quite accurate. What she should have asked is — 'Will I be married again!' "
This gets a great laugh and not a bad gag. Among other objects handed is a credit card, social security card and the last read was a German bill for one thousand marks; he reads number of bill very rapidly and dramatically a la Finneran.
The essential weakness of the act is mainly the matter of lighting. He works under a ceiling spot, placed well in front of him. When he reads or describes object he tilts it towards light to discern — looks a bit phoney but no one objected.
The act also lacks a climax and he walks off with just a scattering of applause. The Fox box of blocks would be very useful to him I'm sure.
Likewise, the thing has the same weakness I told you about — it builds down instead of up. The strongest point is near the start and not the finish. However, he goes over verv well and was held over for the second week. Mingles fairly with the guests ana I'm sure does plenty of private readings. One woman came up to his table for autograph on menu card. He asKed tici for her birthday and made a brief astrological calculation with remark — "You have some interesting possibilities." Evidentally "setting her up" for a reading!1
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.