How To Get Information

(A) Reference to Technique in Other Steps.

Pencil Reading (Step Two) Billet Switching (Step Six)

The Centre Tear (Step Six) Three Little Questions (Step Six)

The Clip Book (Step Seven) Pellet Switching (Step Six)

(B) Other'methods (not mentioned in later studies).

(1) AlcohcJl pr Chemicals. A story is told of a well-known professional reader who worked nightclubs. He had people write questions and seal them in envelopes, these were then collected in a bunch and thrown into a pile on the table. Throughout his act, the performer swigged liberal quantities of whisky and in fact appeared very nearly drunk. But for the fact that he gave brilliant answers and nobody knew how he found out what to say, he may well have been booted out. His method was simply to keep his glass well topped with whisky and to "rest" an envelope on the mouth of the glass from time to time. With the proof spirit contained in whisky the envelope was rendered transparent enough for him to read the message inside—and so it was done. It may not be the best of methods, but I don't know a better excuse for drinking whisky! !

However, coming back to sobriety, chemicals that render an envelope transparent can be used but it is my experience that these methods are messy and not worth the trouble. If you must do it this way, I suggest you look into chemicals other than Alcohols (which in any case has to be pure-white and not the cheap "Meth" variety) and explore the advantages of Carbon tetra- * chloride. This achieves the same effect and has less smell. You can get wonderful transparency with ether or any of the highly volatile solvents, but generally they give off fumes which make the room smell akin to an operating theatre. Not to be desired!

The only real qualification for using chemical methods is that you need to read the message inside an envelope and then RETURN the envelope unopened to the writer. Hence you have other things to consider. If they are going to get it back—there must be no stains on the envelope and another thing which can be very troublesome today, no "running" of ball-psn ink used to write the question—a thing which is easily caused by the solvent action of many chemicals.

With these complications and with the option to use alternative, but equally as effective methods, 1 recommend that you do not involve yourself with chemical techniques unless you enjoy performing troubles.

(2) Light. Again we are dealing with reading a question sealed in an envelope and with the intention of returning it to the writer. Light is simply another method of making most envelopes transparent. Gimmicks have been made for this purpose so that an envelope can be t4X-rayed" with light BUT once again we encounter snags.

First, if we are to use light then it has to be done secretly and that is not an easy matter. Nelson Enterprises market a gimmick which is suitable when you are using a stack of envelopes and there is a model of a Light-screening unit built into a book which hides the apparatus successfully. However, although you may choose the right cards and right envelopes for this technique, you will always get someone who fails in your instructions, and folds their card before sealing it in the envelope—and what then? Once more, there are easier methods if you want to use them.

(3) The Window Envelope. It is generally the case, that anything simple is good, and the Window Envelope is both. You have a stack of a dozen envelopes and the top one has been treated with a razor blade. A large section has been cut from the back. The questions are written on postcards and envelopes are given out to all people excepting one. You ask him to turn his card face downwards before taking it yourself and sliding it into the window envelope—as if showing the others what to do. There is no need for more than one window envelope as with the facility of knowing one question—you are in a position to work the Washington-lrving-Bishop Test, which as you all know is the One Ahead System! If you like to work with smaller sized envelopes, you use pay-packets in conjunction with visiting cards and apply the same principle.

(4) The Clip Board. Now we come to the group of apparatus that is designed primarily for the purpose of getting information—and very useful too in the right circumstances. In the general run of things, a Clip Board, particularly in England, is not a widely used or accepted appliance. However, where you are intent on having lots of people write lots of questions, it is not wrong to suppose that some sort of rest would be provided. A Clip Board is simply a square wooden board which has several sheets of paper held in position ready for writing—by means of a bulldog clip at the top. It is so constructed that a carbon impression is made and can be removed or seen after the top sheet used by the spectator has been removed apd retained by him. Some Clip-Boards are very simple and some are cunninglvdesigned with trick mechanisms that open panels, etc., and they range from a Yew inches to two feet in size, Likewise, their price on the commercial market varies according to method, size and model. The simple "Draw-out" type now available as a standard Dealers' product is good enough for all general purpose work. [For CLIP BOOK See (A) Reference page 344.]

There are other appliances which work along the lines of a Clip Board. That is to say, function on the impression or copy technique. Such apparatus includes a leather wallet (which I use quite frequently) which by virtue of its smooth yet soft surface, allows a clear embossed impression to be made when anything is written with a ball pen on a sheet of paper rested on the wallet. Having experimented along these lines, I find a black leather wallet to be the best colour for this purpose and since no faking is required, it is a very useful and natural appliance to use. The embossed impression incidentally, can be removed by pressure with the thumbs rubbing over the surface—so it can be used time and time again.

Another appliance was designed by the English Mentalist Eric Mason and is now a marketed item called "Dubbul". This is a wallet-type pocket writing case made in leather, and it gains the information by means of a direct carbon impression. It is very easy to read the impression with this wallet and so it is a very good idea. The original model of this item which was manufactured in plastic was a very poor example of the apparatus but since then it has been improved to a standard which makes it highly practical. Dubbul is obtainable from most dealers for the sum of about two pounds.

Finally, we have a number of clear-plastic or perspex boards which take an impression by use of special paper. Waxed paper (white candle wax) can be used, so can white powder and so can Silico paper. The only object behind the clear clip board seems to be the desire to prove that it is not faked. I object to that on the grounds that if you handle ANY clip board properly, it should not occur to your audience that it could be faked.

(5) The Record Card. This is a trick of the trade, usually confined to use where a reader is dealing with one person at a time—but suitable for more than one when required. ANY information is an asset when dealing with Questions and Answers, so when the visitor calls, he is asked to fill out a "record card" which is handed to him. This is a simple innocent looking filing card which has been printed with the terms as shown in the drawing. It is inferred that the purpose of the card is simply for "the record" of the visit. However, you see for yourself how much information you acquire immediately the card is completed!

Name Address. Date of Birth Question.

As you will see, two varieties of Record cards are given. One of them asks you outright what is the question you want to ask! The other, less conspicuous, gets you off to a good start with lots of personal data about the sitter. A large number of professional readers have adopted these techniques to save time and to be sure of getting somewhere with the client. One might suppose the whole thing becomes blatant when these cards are used, but I can assure you that handled rightly there is no danger or even a suspicion as to their actual purpose. "XX" shows the layout of a question card and "ZZ" a less presumptuous hybrid.

It has been known for many years that one professional reader gave her clients a foolscap questionnaire that, by the time completed by the sitter, gave the reader enough personal data to sit back and write a biography on the client! If you possess the impudence, you can get away with murder. (Without prejudice!)

(6) The Stooge. Here we go again! Everytime I say "stooge" I get fifty letters telling me it's all wrong. Let me come back to something I said in Step Four. Stooges are there to be used if you want to use them, and need not be used if you don't want to use them. You do what you want—and let other people do the same!

I was reminded of this swindle whilst talking about Question and Answer effects with Fogel. It's very old—but very good. Working a hall or from stage the mindreader hands out envelopes and cards for questions. All are sealed by the audience before they are collected by the performer. On his way

XX ZZ

Date of Birth

Telephone No

round he gathers up the envelopes and takes one from his stooge seated in the audience. As soon as he gets it from the stooge, he looks back at him and asks "Did you sign your name?"—the fellow says "No" so the performer hands him back the envelope to open, sign and reseal in another envelope. What actually happens is that the performer gives the stooge a different envelope from his own—one that has just been collected. The stooge opens it, reads the question, copies it quickly on the outside of the envelope and seals it. The performer collects it and is now set for a perfect One Ahead Routine with Sealed Envelopes.

(7) Switching of Envelopes. We shall see that for work with large audiences, it is a practical proposition to collect a lot of sealed envelopes iato some sort of basket or bowl, and then to switch the lot, lock, stock and barrel All that remains to be done then is to open the real ones, read them, copy out the main context and convey it to the Reader. Methods of conveying questions to the Reader, will be considered in the next section of this book. Before that however, let us speak briefly on Switching the bulk stock in the first place.

Quite a number of professional theatre-workers have found it quite an easy matter to have questions written in the foyer by incoming patrons. The envelopes or folded slips being dropped into a Ballot Box, Bowl or Basket by the writers. An attendant is used to collect the full box and take it to the stage where it is dumped in full view of the audience. En route from the foyer to the stage, there are a dozen opportunities to switch the complete box for a duplicate box which has been ready loaded with dummy envelopes or slips. The fact that the method is blatant should lead you to suppose that it is liable to suspicion. The acid test is that it has been used time and time again— with a modicum of success. V

Alternatively, we may resort to trick apparatus, switch boxes, fake-load-chambers, and the kind. My personal feeling is that they are liable to fail and what is more, they are by no means essential. Clip boards used in the foyer enable you to bring the real questions on to the stage and work with the information gained from the carbon copy questions when this procedure is adopted. It is a good method.

(8) Planting of Envelopes and Slips. Another rather subtle dodge is to have many envelopes collected but to ADD a few of your own to the supply. It is such an easy matter to do this that we need hardly bother with it here. As a matter of interest, Question and Answer acts have been devised where the performer answers about twenty questions and has no time for more. The twenty which consume his time are all planted by him and not one of them is genuine. By acting the part "talking to 'someone' in the audience" the rest of the house is convinced the whole affair is proper! Rather an ingenious swindle and one which takes a creditable amount of nerve to do! In any case, nearly all Question and Answer acts for large audiences, should consider the addition of one or two (at least) "spicey" questions which are going to guarantee a stir in the audience. Every question does not have to be acknowledged. You can always come up with the old spiel "The next question is one that I think is far too personal, and since it involves stolen money, I will not embarrass the writer by identification now____" with such an introduction, which sounds plausible, everybody is dead keen to know who is the crook and they are interested before you start the answer! What is more important is that you can say what you like—because the whole thing is fictitious and there is no danger of being prosecuted for slander.

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