Chapter Five

Pseudo-psychometric Exercises

..and friends

Alexander Adrion

IN MY YOUTH, when I was still an apprentice tax-account in Cologne, every day I passed by a well-known bookstore on my way to the railway station. One evening I found a poster hanging in the shop's window, announcing a performance of the famous German magician, Alexander Adrion, in the theater of the Belgian House. I immediately bought a ticket and, as I returned home I wrote a letter to Herr Adrion, asking if we could meet after his show. A week later I got a generous reply, telling me that he would like to see me. On this occasion I had the pleasure to meet, for the first time in my life, a professional magician, who answered all my questions with friendliness and great patience.

Herr Adrion's show was an evening of wonders for me. I saw for the first time, a master magician who, with a minimum of props, entertained the audience wonderfully. He was appreciated by the spectators not just for his tricks, but also for his poetic, beautifully constructed patter. The show lasted nearly two hours and Herr Adrion received thunderous ovations at its end.

This was more than forty years ago, but I still remember in particular two tricks Alexander Adrion performed: his version of Pseudo-psychometry, and a trick with a rope, in which he used to fish a selected card out of a receptacle. Both tricks were a great inspiration to me, and different versions found their way into my own repertoire.

At the beginning of my career our paths crossed again in Berlin, and I still remember his kind advice after my first close-up show. Just last year we met once more, during my engagement at a trade-show in Cologne. Later, in my hotel, we had a wonderful conversation that lasted for hours.

Alexander Adrion has toured with his "Kammerspiele des Scheins" show throughout Europe, performing his very special kind of chamber magic. He is also a noted author of books on the history of magic, which are enjoyed by both the public and magicians. In private life he is a renowned collector of magic as well.

The weekly magazine of the prominent German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine once wrote this about him: "Alexander Adrion is a magician who has the highest standard of professionalism." I agree with this statement wholeheartedly, to which I would add that he is an exceedingly kind gentleman and an outstanding fellow performer.

Herr Adrion, I salute you, for being such an inspiration for me during the many years we have known each other!

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is an effect popularized by Theodore Annemann, who presented it with great success in his shows. Through the years many magicians and mentalists have explored the possibilities inherent in this effect. Dozens of versions are available on the market, hundreds are in the literature.

The effect, as I'm sure you know, is that several spectators receive an envelope (or some other type of container) from the mentalist. They are asked to put a personal object into it. The envelopes are mixed by another spectator and returned to the performer. As he removes the objects from the envelopes one by one, the performer senses the personal vibrations of the owner and returns the objects to the correct person.

The secret is simple and functional: The envelopes are secretly marked and are distributed in a known order. Thus, their markings automatically identify the owners of their contents.

This effect has become a classic, but as far as I'm concerned it's no longer suitable for today's audiences. Let me explain. If Pseudo-psychometry is presented as a genuine feat of psychometry, in which you give each lender of an object a cold reading, the effect becomes too long-winded for modern audiences seeking entertainment (which mine are). And if the presentation is stripped down to a simple test of what belongs to whom, it becomes a mere puzzle with a solution that is not terribly difficult to guess.

There is another flaw, as I see it, in the idea of using Pseudo-psychometry as a platform for cold readings: In the context of theater, corporate and banquet shows it is seldom believable. In these venues you do not receive many family heirlooms and long-held personal items. Instead you get lipsticks, combs, mascaras, purse mirrors, pills, lighters, coins and other incidental items. (I have even received condoms and tampons, and if you perform Pseudo-psychometry for long, you will too. Be prepared to deal with them.) Few thinking persons will actually believe that such transitory items can carry meaningful psychometric vibrations that could provide you with deep insights into the lender's history and personality. Of course, if a truly interesting item comes my way, I will certainly capitalize on it—but most of the time the objects are going to be trivial.

Over the years I have developed a presentation based on one by Tony Griffith,1 which discards cold reading while it dresses up—and therefore conceals—the identification of the owners of the lent objects. I have five objects collected. More would make the routine repetitious. For the first test I take one of the objects and pass it before each of the five lenders, watching their expressions. From "tiny subconscious responses" I determine the owner of the object. For the second test, I have each of the four remaining subjects say the name of the object. Subtle inflections in their voices tell me the owner of this item. For the third test, I have each of the remaining lenders say "No", after which I detect the individual who has lied. This brings me to the last two items.

'See "Pseudo Psychometry" in Griffon Close-up (1967), pp. 35-40.

To avoid the pitfall of having the last item become anti-climactic, I take the remaining objects, one in each hand, and ask their owners to look at them. Then, from their gazes I am able to divine which object belongs to whom.

This series of varied presentation premises keep things interesting and entertaining—as long as the pace is brisk and a bit of humor is applied. While I feel that this flurry of presentation ploys misdirects strongly from the simple method behind it all, over the years I have sought for better ways to conceal the identification method, making it impossible for even a critical audience to discover the secret. Spectators know more about magic and are much shrewder than they once were. Many intelligent people who take the time after the performance to think about the Pseudo-psychometry effect can arrive at the correct solution-—and that's a pity. Here I offer three easy, yet very deceptive methods that have worked extremely well for me.

Understanding Mind Control

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