The following e-mail came from Greg Wilson (reproduced here with his permission):
It's now time for a little hypnotism. Your eyes are getting heavy, they're getting sleepy, you will reveal that 1992 coin trick, you will reveal that 1992 coin trick . . .
/ call it that because the date must have something to do with it, right? I mean, yeah, that definitely has something to do with it. / think. I think I know. I think I don't know. I think 1 should know. 1 think I'm not going to know until you write me back. Don't make me come over there and drag it out of you. it's not going to be pretty.
I want to fill this book with effects that fill me with pride and excitement, and represent the best of what I do. But I hate having to reveal this to you. I loathe you all, individually and unflinchingly, for making me do this. However, with the passing of each year, this effect becomes less reliable to perform, so now is a good time to pass it on before it becomes unworkable.
The effect is quite simply that you ask someone to remove a coin from his pocket and hold it in his fist after noting the date. Throughout this you face well away and see nothing. Once this is done, you turn around and touch the back of his fist. You ask him to visualise the coin - and to make the image bright for a silver coin and dark for a bronze one. In the centre of the image he is to see the date clearly. You pause and appear to flicker in and out of trance. Then you correctly name the coin and the date upon it. This will be enough to absolutely stun the spectator, so you can imagine his response when he forms a fist again over the coin only to feel it bending... and to then see it warped on his palm, untouched by you.
The effect is completely impromptu. You do not need to plant a coin on the spectator before the effect. You do not see what he puts in his hand. And, my loves, you can do all of this apart from the bending over the telephone. There is no 'visible compromise': no procedural clutter. You do exactly as I say. Occasionally it will not entirely work, and this may bother the timid performer, but should represent no problem to the flamboyant and confident Svengali whom you are becoming.
I wish that there was at least a cunningly clever handling with which I could impress you. Nope. The secret revolves around the fact that the overwhelming majority of ten pence pieces in circulation in Britain are dated 1992. No one seems to know this. All you must do is ensure that he removes a ten pence piece while apparently asking for any coin. Please do no venture down the road of equivoque and the like. Merely say, "Do you have a coin on you -like a lOp - take it out note the date on it and hold it in your fist while I face the other way. Tell me when you're done." The instructions are complicated enough to keep his mind moving forward, as he takes the ten pence as asked. If he does not have a ten pence to use, he will tell you at this point, and you can abandon the effect. Otherwise, presume that he has one. Turn and face him and slow down, becoming more solemn. Tell him to picture the coin brightly if it is a silver coin, and darkly if it is bronze. As you will appreciate, this begins to sow the idea that you have no idea of the denomination of the coin. Cup his hand in yours, or touch the back of the fist. Name the coin and date. You may wish to name the denomination wrongly at first and then change your mind. You may also wish to write the information on the back of his fist with a pen: this provides a strong ending that the spectator will not forget.
There are things that you can do to make this a little more sure-fire, such as asking a spectator in the front row at your presentation if he has a ten pence that he could lend you later when you ask for a coin - 'just to save time.' This is a similar ploy to that described in the addendum to 'Plerophoria.' However, the effect is too strong to involve any pre-show work: everyone will think that the whole thing was set up with a stooge.
What if they check all their other ten pences and discover the method? Well, sometimes they do. Greg went home and collected a lot of ten pences and other coins, and found no pattern. Perhaps I was just lucky. You could carry with you some eccentrically dated ten pences, but the elegance and simplicity is somehow lost by doing this. 1 would rather use the bolder ploy of asking questions later such as, "When you were concentrating on the date on that fifty pence, did you find that the image started to flicker?" thus subtly sowing the seeds of false memory as to the denomination of the coin. If they later remember it as having taken place with a different coin, they will have no chance of working it out.
Now, the spectator will look at you dumbly when you correctly name the date, as his brain whirrs around to find an answer. This is an excellent moment to do the following: ask to look at the coin (to confirm the success to yourself)/ and casually pick up the coin from the palm of his hand and check the date for yourself. Drop back into his hand, however, a bent ten pence - with, obviously, a matching date. This can be done quite boldly with a Bobo switch into his own hand, and if the coin is only slightly bent, it will not be apparent to him. It is vital that you make this switch immediately after the revelation of the date, to fully exploit the off-beat. Now bide your time a while, and if he starts to examine the coin slap him jovially on the arm and tell him to relax and enjoy the fact that the world is a place of mystery. Then when the time is right, tell him to make the fist again. Then hover your palm over his fist and emphasise that you must not at any point touch the coin. Look him in the eye and tell him to imagine that the coin is made of chocolate, and that therefore it is starting to become soft in his hand. Insist that he does this seriously: that it is an exercise in suspension of disbelief. Once he is clearly taking part properly, explain that he will start to feel the coin moving and melting in his hand. Tell him to tell you when he feels it. This will place the onus on him to pay attention to every sensation - real and imagined - and to at some point confirm that he can feel the coin responding. Do not rush this - play it absolutely seriously. Once he agrees that he can feel something happening, play it up to any that may be watching: "You can actually feel the coin bending..." Then tell him to open his hand to reveal the bend.
I showed this full routine to Jerry Sadowitz in London, and it absolutely floored him. Which was nice. Whether or not you happen to have a bent coin on you, this is one of the strongest effects to perform for someone - and the fact that it is completely impromptu is a marvellous piece of joyfulness.
Enjoy, you vultures.
My ambiguous relationship with the idea of mentalism stems most probably from the fact that I am not trying to perform mentalism, per se, most of the time, but rather am aiming to push magic into a more interesting area for my audiences. This area is where conjuring and hypnotic skills meet and intermingle. In 'Transformation' the point of the effect is well beyond the adventures of the cards - it is built around a numerological character reading, which is then turned on its head. It allows me to play with some cold reading, but then to provide a more worthwhile message for the spectator and to present her with something rather intimate. For this reason, 'Transformation' has no place in a series of card tricks, and neither is it a piece of mentalism. Rather it is a delicate and, I hope, enchanting piece of magic, which should be quietly performed for an individual once your magical credentials have been established.
I will outline the effect and handling with some brevity, for the cold reading that forms the heart of the routine must come from the reader's own sensitivity to the lady seated opposite, and his own preferred stock of cold reading phrases. I would thoroughly recommend Ian Rowland's definitive work, The Full Facts Book of Cold Reading as a guide to learning this skill. If the style and content of the routine appeal to the reader, he will supply his own wording, presentation and ideas. For the less imaginative reader, little will be of appeal here beyond some unoriginal exchanges of cards. Performed fluently and well, however, this is a very touching piece of magic for occasional performance when the time is right.
Covertly remove the two red Aces and the Ace of Spades from the deck, and place them so that the two reds are face up with the Spade beneath them face down. Beneath them place a Joker, also face up. Place the packet on your lap propped against your left thigh, with a red Ace facing up on the top. From the top of the deck down the following cards are arranged: a Six, another Six, an Eight, and the Ace of Clubs (this is not entirely necessary, as the description below will demonstrate). This is your preparation.
Place the deck of cards in the centre of the table with some seriousness and introduce the subject of numerological divination with cards. As you talk, bring your right forearm across your edge of the table and rest the left hand on the table in a way that seems casual. You must condition her to seeing your right arm in this position. Gesture occasionally as you talk and show the right hand empty in doing so, then resume its position.
I mention that cards have always been associated with fortune telling since they were designed around the days of the year. The four suits correspond to the four seasons, and the fifty-two cards to the fifty-two weeks of the year. Also, I add, the real enthusiast will note that the total of all the values in the deck is three hundred and sixty-six, the maximum number of days in the year. The ten numbers leading to three court cards correspond to the ten hidden stages of each lunar cycle that culminate in the three viewable, or 'Royal' stages of the moon's journey that we can see. (I say this last part sincerely and they just keep nodding.) It is therefore believed that the cards we draw from the deck tell us about ourselves. As I say this, I deal the top three cards onto the table face up in a row. " Six, six, eight." I say, naming the values. "The neighbour of the Beast." She laughs appealingly, and thus becomes a little more responsive to what we are going to do. I return the cards to the deck, somewhere in the centre. The Ace of Clubs is now on top - its only reason for being here is to keep it out of the way so that she is less likely to take it. You can always put it in your pocket prior to performance if you prefer.
Hand her the deck and tell her to run through it, face down, and to remove any three cards. These she is to place face down on the table in a row from your left to your right. Tell her to keep the rest of the deck out of the way - i.e., not on the table. With your left hand, adjust the position of the three cards a little, the far left first, naming this as the card of the past, the middle as the card of the present, and the card on the right as the one that corresponds to her future. As you touch this card, bringing the left arm across the table as cover, dip the right hand into the lap and take the first Ace in a lateral palm, face up.
Turn the 'Past' card over and bring it towards you in doing so. It should now be face up, not far from the edge of the table, nor from your right hand with its palmed card. Name the card and begin to cold-read about the person's past, relating it to the number and value of the card. Obviously you need only work from the same stock phrases, inventing the relationship to the card, allowing the
----------------tQ gyj^g yOU a p0int vvhen she is trying to remember experiences to match your statements, you apparently turn the card face down again and return it to the row. In fact, the right hand comes to take the card, but the second and third fingers of the right hand propel the card off the edge of the table as the palmed card is brought above it. The palmed card is turned over and brought forward in the same action. This card is moved forward and placed back in the row. Thus the first card has been exchanged.
The hands gesture as you replace the card as if to say, "Well, that's the first one." They are seen to be empty. Next, the right returns to its position along the edge of the table, and steals the next card in Tenkai palm as the left turns over the middle card and leaves it in line with the row. Further cold reading is offered about the present, and at an appropriate moment the left hand picks up the card, and exchanges it for the one in the right using the method described in the 'Revelation using the left-hand centre steal' on page 94. At this point you mention in your patter that this or that quality will move 'into the future' and as you touch the future card with your left hand, the right swings back to the edge of the table and dumps its card into the lap. The second has also been exchanged.
The third card is not exchanged yet. It is fairly turned over, as you prattle on, and then replaced face down with as much innocence. After this reading is complete, you say, "However, what's important is not so much how accurate this reading may seem, for I have no wish to confine you into one view of your evolving personality. Rather, it's your own ability to learn from your past and project what you learn into the future, and to visualise that future in this present and get it in place now, and get more and more of what you want..." As you say this, you mix the cards on the table in Three Card Monte style. The left hand comes across and takes the card on the right and slides it towards the centre of the table edge near you. As this cover is offered, the right hand dips again and steals the last Ace in a lateral palm. The left hand then takes the card on the left and slides it across the table, in front of the centre card, to the far right position. As this is done, the hands cross as the right hand apparently slides the future card nearest to you into the far left position. However, the second and third fingers propel the card off
the table into your lap, as the palmed Ace, still face down, replaces it. This exchange is done in the action of sliding the card further to the left. The chosen card shoots back as the Ace slides forward.
You now have three Aces on the table, with the Spade to your left. Swap this with the centre Ace as you continue this patter line about mixing the ideas of past and future. Please make sure that what you say has integrity. Finish by saying, "In short, it's not what you or I think you are that is of value, for as soon as you label yourself you start missing out on new opportunities. The real magic, the really wonderful stuff, happens when you realise your ability to transform." With this, turn over the cards, showing the Aces. As you turn them, shift their position into an arc, for a nice, apparent finale. Gesture widely with your open, empty hands.
In the offbeat created by this revelation, relax back and steal the Joker in a lateral palm. Once the spectator has reacted, gather the cards up, but do so in a way that the Spade is gathered onto the top. Then drop the Joker unseen and unnoticed on top of that, face up, as your right hand comes forward and slides the cards back towards you. Turn the packet face down in your left hand and say, "And once you know that you can break out of old habits of the past by trying new behaviours, and create much of your future by choosing what you focus upon in the present, you can take all of that and learn that you can find that child-like state of wonder again at all the opportunities available to you, and not take things so seriously..." As you speak, you apparently take the cards in the right from above and take them one at a time into the left hand. In reality you perform an adaptation of a wonderful move of Tamariz's, as follows: bring the hands together and briefly get a break under the top two cards with the right thumb at the inner end. You relax back in the chair as you do this, with the right arm in its default position along the edge of the table. The left hand takes the two cards above the break into something of a dealing position (you will need to clip them at the outer left corner with the side of the thumb). It pulls the two as one away, forward and off to the left, then returns for the next card. The two in the left go underneath the cards in the right as the left thumb pulls off the next card into the left hand. The left again swings off forward and to the left, and returns to take the last card from the right. As it swings back, the cards held in the left are released and tossed into the lap in the action of taking the last card. The arms cover the dump from all angles. One card is now held in the left, and you lean forward again and provoke interest in the (apparently) three cards in your hand. The hands should come into the centre of the table. Gesturing with the right, hold the card with both hands for a moment and flex it, then reveal it to be a single Joker. Leave it faceup in the centre of the table as you finish your words about wonder and not taking life too seriously.
"Think about it," I say finally, and normally leave the Joker with the spectator.
The symbolic value of the effect and the aesthetics of the revelations are the substance of the routine. The rest of the deck must be out of view, as the visual appeal is much stronger when apparently only three cards are in play, placed in a row in the centre of the table. The three colour changes are increasingly deceptive, and must be performed very casually. As a final point, this effect is clearly about giving personal meaning to magic - something I have spoken about earlier in this book. It must be handled sensitively, and above all without condescension. It is supposed to be elevating and worthwhile, not an exercise in self-apotheosis on the part of the performer.
Continue reading here: Ta verbal caro Forces
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