programs it is often necessary to be able to perform extraordinary effects with unprepared objects that you borrow from spectators. Wrist watches are well suited for the purpose. Many years ago, a watchmaker made me a gimmicked wrist watch fashioned after Himber's Ducatillon Mental Watch1, which I used for many presentations for the press, and later as a feature effect on a television broadcast from the famous Olympia Music Hall in Paris. This watch made it possible for me to divine or predict a seemingly random time set by a spectator on my watch.
Then I read John D. Pomeroys "A Matter of Time" in his 1973 book Mentology.2 In this trick Mr. Pomeroy explained
'This is described in Richard Himber: The Man and His Magic (1980), pp. 37-38.
how a special type of watch crown could be of great use to a mentalist.3 On learning this secret I immediately sold my Himber-style watch. At the time Mr. Pomeroy released his excellent idea, the special crown required was available, but not widely used in wrist watches. Since that time the desired type of crown has become quite common, making it possible for me to present my routine with unprepared wrist watches, even watches I can borrow!
The mentalist borrows a wrist watch and invites a spectator to come on stage. The crown of the watch is pulled out and the watch is set in front of the spectator's eyes. The spectator herself then holds the watch face down and turns the crown as much as she wishes, rotating the hands to a completely random time—one that is unknown to everyone, herself included.
Once the spectator has executed this simple task, the performer tears a design from a folded sheet of newspaper. This accomplished, he instructs the spectator to push in the crown of the watch, locking the hands at their new positions. She is then told to turn the watch face up and announce, loudly and clearly, the random time she has set.
The performer unfolds the sheet of newspaper and the audience sees that he has torn out a design resembling an ornate doily pattern—and to everyone's amazement, in the center of this newspaper brocade appears a clock face showing the time just announced by the spectator!
Mental experiments with small props performed for large audiences are always problematic. For this reason I always
3Bev Bergeron, in his 1989 monograph, Predicting Time, reports that he made the same discovery of the double-setting crowns in certain watches in 1969. It would be worth the while of the serious performer to locate a copy of this work (released by Exclusive Magical Publications), as it contains many fresh ideas using the principle.
look for some way to make the climax of every trick visible to everyone, even in the largest theaters. The paper tearing stunt (an original idea of Keith Clark's4) I've adopted here is one solution to the problem of visibility, one with a touch of charm that delights your spectators at the same time you astonish them.
During the performance I have plenty of time to look at wrist watches. In this time, I almost always find a watch with the special characteristic I need to perform this trick. What I need is any wrist watch with a date function and, therefore, a crown with two positions: one for time, the other for date.
'See "The March of Time" in The Jinx, No. 20, May 1936, pp. 116 and 114. Annemann includes a note that in 1931 Mr. Clark copyrighted this effect in Vienna, Austria. His original presentation was to fold a sheet of paper and tear it behind his back, creating a clock face that showed the current time less two minutes, which he explained was due to the fact that he started tearing the paper two minutes earlier!
Currently, the popular Swatch-brand watches, even those without a date function, have this type of crown. Other suitable brands and models are also widely available.
When you pull this type of crown out to the first setting position and twist, the date changes. Only when you pull the crown out farther, to the second setting position will the hands of the watch move. There is a definite click at both positions, which can be both felt and heard. This type of watch crown, as shall soon be seen, permits the performer to force a previously determined time.
The newspaper is, of course, also prepared. You must make a large sheet of paper from three double-page sheets of newspaper. In Figure 1, A and B are two full sheets. C is made by cutting the third sheet in half widthwise, and D, which is a square, is cut from the remaining piece. The shaded lines show the areas where glue is applied to make the four pieces one large sheet.
Fold this big sheet in half widthwise, as shown in Figure
2, then in half lengthwise (along the dotted line), forming a square, as in Figure 3. Make sure your creases are sharp.
Fold the square along one diagonal, as indicated in Figure
3, then once more, as show by the dotted line in Figure 4.
This results in forming a triangle of paper, like the one shown in Figure 5. Flip this over and you will see the shape shown in Figure 6.
Now turn the triangle ninety degrees clockwise and fold the top point down, making the crease even with the left point of the triangle, as in Figure 7.
Then fold the bottom point up, just where the folded down point has come to rest, as indicated by the dotted line in Figure 8. The result is shown in Figure 9.
Now undo these last two folds, as shown in Figure 10.
If you now unfold the sheet the rest of the way, you will see a pattern of creases like that shown in Figure 11. Notice that the creases formed from the final fold, indicated by the heavy dotted line in Figures 10 and 11, border the central area where you will cut or tear out your clock face.
Using light pencil lines, draw a watch face with hands, or a digital readout like 10:40, in the center of this jumbo newspaper sheet. Naturally, the time shown is the one you will force. Then, with a pair of scissors, cut out your simple watch face, or use a pin to make perforations for you to tear neatly along. In fashioning your clock face, take care to position it on the paper in such a way that the tears won't be visible when you refold the sheet into its triangular form (Figure 10)—which you do in preparation for performance.
The presentation of the trick is quite simple. If you spot a man in your audience wearing a watch with the feature mentioned above (as mentioned, an analog watch with a date window is a sure sign), ask to borrow it. On your way back to the stage spot someone who looks intelligent and cooperative, and ask this person to assist you. Whenever possible, choose a woman for this task. When the two of you are back on stage, show her how to set the hands of the watch. In doing this, you pull out the crown to the second position. Show your helper how to rotate the hands and make sure she understands the operation. While you are talking to her about this, boldly set the time to be forced and push the crown all the way in; that is, so that neither setting position is engaged.
Hand the watch to your assistant and ask her to pull the crown out carefully. When she does this she will feel a definite resistance and hear a distinct click as she pulls the crown out to the first setting position. Because most women are not familiar with the operation of men's wrist watches, and because you have cautioned her to be careful with this borrowed watch, she will not try to pull the crown out further—and that is exactly what you want. When she turns the watch face down, she can rotate the crown as long as she wishes. She will change only the date. However, she will not be able to change the time you have set.
Important: If you borrow a Swatch brand wrist watch for this test, use a male assistant on stage. Swatch watches are most often worn by women, who will therefore be familiar with their crown settings.
As soon as the lady has finished "setting the time", have her firmly push the crown all the way in, against the case of the watch, so that she knows the hands are locked in place.
With the time locked in, you now pick up your folded piece of newspaper and begin tearing or snipping away at it, something along the lines suggested in Figure 12. So long as your decorative cuts remain above the lower crease, all will be fine. (You could lightly trace the design you plan to tear in pencil, but with just a bit of practice, this shouldn't be necessary.)
Make your tears or cuts swiftly as you converse entertainingly with your helper. When you have finished your alterations to the paper, ask the spectator to turn the watch face up and clearly announce the random time she has set. Pause a moment, for effect, then unfold the newspaper to reveal the pretty pattern you have made, with the correct time boldly displayed in the center!
But what should you do if you do not find a spectator with the right sort of watch? Quite simple. Have one of your own in your pocket. Then borrow one similar in appearance from someone in the audience, and while you accompany your lady assistant to the stage, switch the watches.
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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.