In a close-up performance, I have a young lady select a colour from a list of 5 that I offer her and use a means of immediately obtaining her choice (such as Thought Transmitter, Special Delivery, The Note Book, etc.). I then place 5 chocolate "Kisses" in a row in front of a gentleman of her choice, The colours of the chocolate's wrappers match the list of colours that the young lady has chosen from. The illustration depicts how I arrange the participants and candies.
As well as evoking light humor, my patter is designed to carefully direct the man's choice: "Sir, the young lady is thinking of a chocolate with a particular coloured wrapping. Now, does it matter much to you what colour wrapping a chocolate comes in? No, to you, these are all of equal importance, are they not? But the colour matters to her! So, you must allow yourself to be guided by the young lady's preference. And, as you may or may not have experienced before, you have to know what the lady is thinking without her telling you! Fear not, while (name the young lady) concentrates on her colour, I
will guide you through the intuitive process in which all unwanted colours are avoided." The female participant is asked to turn her back to the man so that she will not influence him through body language.
"Now in men, the left hand is controlled by that part of our brain that is most in touch with our feminine side. So, please hold up your left index finger and, with your eyes on the candies, please bring your finger down on one." The participant does so, the "avoided" colours are removed and the young man is instructed to hold up and show the candy he has selected to the audience. The young lady is asked to name the colour she has had on her mind. The colours match and he offers the chocolate kiss to the young lady. I then inform the young man that he has successfully passed Mind Reading 101, which could save him much grief with the ladies in the future.
When I am performing on stage, I approach a young lady before the performance starts and, after some by play, ask her to help me by generating a list of 5 popular songs. I write the song titles in a list on my impression clipboard as she comes up with them. I then ask her to secretly choose one of the titles to keep in her mind until the performance. Shortly before the performance, I write the titles on 5 index cards, one title per card. The cards are folded in half so that they will stand up and display the titles on a table. I then proceed much as I have described above.
This is certainly among my all time favorite mental effects as I enjoy the on-the-fly interaction with the participant in Equivoque. I find many mentalists are reluctant to use the Equivoque technique because they feel it is simply not convincing enough, especially for the stage. I see it as similar to a card magician using a top-change: It has to be repeatedly performed under fire to develop confidence with it. I prefer to use Equivoque in conjunction with an impression device, so that the audience believes that you do not know which is the correct choice. This takes a lot of heat off the entire process. I urge you to read Phil Goldstein's (Max Maven) manuscript on the 5 item equivoque, Verbal Control. A Treatise On The Under-Explored Art of Equivoque. Mind Control by David Eldridge is another impressive study of equivoque based on a 4 item choice. Their ideas on this topic are brilliant, totally convincing and, as they both say, under explored.
My own approach to the participant's first—most important — choice in the equivoque process differs in mechanics and psychology to both Max Maven and David Eldridge. Psychologically, both of these mages, to one degree or another, incorporate some value or meaning of the objects to the participant in their placement of the force object for the best chance of a hit on the first choice. I found that I was unable to consistently anticipate that value or meaning. As a result, I work at making sure that all 5 objects are of an equal neutral value to the participant. This is a very important point. If we are successful in rendering all of the items to an equal, neutral value in the mind of the participant, then this force is essentially the same as using the classic force with a deck of cards. Think about it. In the classic force, the participant sees a sea of card-backs. No one card-back will seem any more important than any other and it is precisely that fact that makes it so easy to bring the card we want them to choose directly under their finger. The patter I use in Mind Reading 101 is an example of how I do this.
Mechanically, the physical setup is thus: A B C D E
For reasons which are well explained by Mr. Goldstein in his treatise, he places his force object at position D. I place the object to be forced in position B. With the participant facing the row of objects, the choices are spaced so that object B will be directly under his poised left finger. I simply say, "With your eyes on the candies, which are all the same to you, please bring your finger down on one." If I have succeeded in convinced him that he should disregard any meaning or value the objects could hold for him, then 8 out of 10 times, he will touch B. Note: Do not omit the instruction to keep their eyes on the objects otherwise, the participant may drop his finger anywhere!
To further aid in this process, there should be a distinct space between the objects. The size of the space will obviously depend on the size of the object. In general, there should be enough space between the objects to give a sense of isolation to each one with out making the mechanical nature of the force obvious. With the candies, I place the centres about two inches apart.
With this mechanical, neutral-value approach, I get an 80-90% success rate on that first choice. On the one or two times out of 10 that the participant misses the first choice, Goldstein's or Eldridge's method's work wonders.
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