I I I i I I

YOU USE IT. The wise performer would devote more time to handling and presentation of the blindfold than to elaborate techniques which theoretically prove he cannot see. It is far better to convince your audience psychologically—that you cannot see, than it is to try and do so—physically. Little twists of presentation and subtleties during performance will register psychologically and will be remembered by the onlookers.

If you are really keen on using Blindfolds—and you want to learn a lot very quickly, get hold of the one man who can teach you more than any book or magical society—have a heart to heart talk with a man who is really blind—you will be amazed at what he can teach you. Moreover, if the matter is dealt with tactfully, your blind teacher will enjoy offering his services.

PART TWO TECHNIQUE (1) Downward Glimpse

We are concerned at this point in Step Five—with the finer points of presentation and technique. Consequently, we must consider the proper use of the Downward Glimpse. Undoubtedly, it can be misused; a fault which is commonly caused by bad timing.

Imagine that part of your Blindfold routine called for the reading of a word written on a card. The card is taken and held to the forehead—or well up in the air. By acting you appear to see the word and begin the patter which leads up to the naming of the word. THEN you drop the hand to the chest position for glimpsing and find out what it really is—at a time when the attention of the audience is on the off-beat. Alternatively, you glimpse the word and wait your time before revealing what it is. Never make the mistake of holding the card at chest level whilst you tell the word. Work "one-behind" or "one-ahead" and get the glimpse when it is not expected.

In practice, I have found it better to create the impression that I know the word—long before I do—and glimpsing when the timing calls for a visible relaxation. This is a very deceptive form of misdirection.

A further example will clarify the point:—

On a table you have six objects placed there by members of the audience. You are blindfolded and approach the table near enough to get a good look at the objects. These you memorise. Next you move well away and request that a spectator bring any object to you. When you receive it you hold it high above your head—in such a position that it would be impossible to see even if you were not blindfolded, and from this position you divine the object. By feel it will be easy to recognise which of the six objects you have been given, and if you have been lucky and have a good memory—you will be able to add one or two details about the object, (i.e. it could be a £1 note —and you note the last three figures.)

You must try and pay attention to details such as mentioned above— because it adds so much to the effect. Suppose you are given a key which you hold up—when you name the object as a key, people are a little impressed but some say to themselves "so he felt the shape". These people sit bolt upright when you add "A Yale key—and it has the number 432 on it".

Can you imagine how much less effective this would be if you stood over the table inviting the suspicion that you are "peeping"?

(2) One Ahead System

After some thought, it will be realised that the One Ahead System used in conjunction with the Downward Glimpse—forms a very powerful combination. Working with a stack of envelopes—say giving answers to sealed messages, it is obvious that by holding one envelope in the air and appearing to read its contents, you have every opportunity to read others held casually in the hand at chest level. Attention on the part of the audience is naturally focused on the envelope in the air and you have ample misdirection for your work. You are not left to find out how to read sealed envelopes, it is explained in this series.

Apart from envelopes, we have cards and an effect by Hans Trixer illustrates the application of the One Ahead System and Downward Glimpse used together (Step Ten). We may therefore, conclude that the One Ahead System and The Downward Glimpse have homologous qualities for Blindfold work.

(3) The Magnetic Blindfold

I consider that it is my good fortune to know Punx the German Mentalist. Mr. Punx is responsible for many simple, yet highly practical ideas and this is one of them.

Working with Type I. The Unfaked Mask (i.e. you cannot see through it) and preparing first by sewing a small powerful magnet in the blindfold, you can perform many effects. The magnet is set so that it fits into the socket of the eye when the blindfold is worn. This disposes of any visible "bumps" showing through the blindfold. It is actually sewn into the material so that it cannot move from its position.

The application of this blindfold can be illustrated by one effect; once yoy grasp the principle you will understand that it has numerous possibilities.

You have five paypacket size envelopes and one of them has a pin stuck in the bottom. The trick commences when you hand out five cards, telling four people to write a name of a girl and the fifth person to write the name of a boy. Each person is given an envelope and told to seal their card inside. The person who writes the boy's name is given the envelope that contains the pin. All envelopes are then collected and mixed by a spectator. You are blindfolded and the envelopes are given to you. One at a time you hold them to your forehead (!) and eventually you locate the odd card—bearing the boy's name. If you can visualise the position adopted by the performer when he holds an envelope to his forehead, and at the same time, checking for a slight—yet detectable magnetic pull from the envelope with the pin, you will appreciate the beauty of the mechanics. The position is natural, holding something to the forehead as if obtaining some impulses or psychometric vibration—and it visibly precludes all suspicion of glimpsing or markings as one cannot see; this can be confirmed by having the blindfold tested by holding it over a spectator's eyes. It would not be advisable to let them handle it with the magnet inside.

Other subtleties include the use of five paper clips. Four made of brass with a nickel-plate finish and one of ordinary steel. The brass ones are nonmagnetic and yet all look identical. The same can be applied to keys for performing a variation of The Seven Keys to Baldpate.

It is possible to insert shim-steel (about 2 thou' thick) into a playing card. The card is first stripped in two and then the thin steel stuck inside with an anhydrous adhesive such as "Evostick". If you use ordinary glue that contains water you will find the steel rusts inside the card causing yellow rust spots to appear on the surface. By judicious positioning of the shim-steel in various corners of different cards, you will be able to identify any one of several cards by feeling the magnetic pull in certain positions. Hence you can identify say five different cards sealed in envelopes. The effect would be better presented for Mentalism if you were to use Zenner Cards (see Step Two) with signs rather than Playing Cards which are overworked.

The above examples should be sufficient to make it obvious that a Magnetic Blindfold is worth having and using. Like all good things in Magic and Mentalism, it is simple and therefore reliable.

(4) The Stacked Deck

Of all the forms of Mentalism wherein one may resort to the use of Playing Cards, perhaps Blindfold Work is the one field where to a large degree-cards are excusable. The conditions of performance appear to be so rigid that it seems to matter very little what media you choose to use.

To the man with "X-Ray Eyes" there can be no doubt that a Stacked Deck is a very valuable standby. We have already dealt with four systems for setting up cards in Step Three and there is no need for further description. Tricks with the deck are given and further effects will appear obvious when worked in conjunction with some of the blindfolds suggested herein.

(5) Marked Cards

A good marked pack is another useful standby. The Ghost Deck which is described in detail on page 46 of Step Two can be exceptionally good for blindfold work as it functions on touch reading and not visible markings. For that matter, most of the principles of Sound and Touch Reading, will be found of use for Blindfold Work.

Ordinary marked cards (visible reading from the back) will also be helpful and you will find that the handling is much easier working with them blindfolded as the audience cannot see your eyes staring at the backs—as they do in normal use. I have experimented with several types of standard marked cards, both printed and hand-marked, and I find that the marking does not have to be exaggerated for blindfold work. It is just as easy to see with or without the blindfold. If you want to mark your own cards, I suggest a commonplace pattern of geometric design. Use good quality Indian Ink on black backed cards and fill in dots to indicate value. For suits, I usually scratch out from the original print using a fine and very sharp surgical blade, although a new razor blade will do if handled with care. When scratching out, the ink alone is lifted from the card—no grooves are made into the stock because these show up at certain lighting angles.

(6) Annemann's One Way Deck

I once introduced this pack to a Magic Club and the best part of those present thought it a very funny joke. Little did they know that it is a very deceptive and cunning idea. The aim is to make a pack "one way" and to put people off the scent (especially magicians!) they are marked ON THE FACES. I know it sounds ridiculous—but you try it and laugh afterwards.

With a sharp blade as described for marking cards, you make a small scratch on the index pip of the suit of every card—at one end only. The diamonds you cut off a wee bit from the bottom of the diamond. The hearts, you exaggerate the line down the centre. The clubs and spades you make a small gap between the stem and main body of the pip. Remember, these

markings are made at one end and on the small suit pip which stands just beside the number—the index suit pip.

To operate, a card is taken and you reverse the deck under cover of closing the fan (the neatest way to do it). It is replaced anywhere and they are mixed by an overhand shuffle. The cards are spread face up and you look for the odd one to tell which was chosen. Commonsense tells you that if you are blindfolded, from the audience point of view, it does not make any difference which way the cards face as you (apparently) cannot see them at all. There are not many people who will have the brains to work that one out for themselves!

(7) Mirrors

When performing in a Drawing Room and use is being made of a see through type of blindfold, it should not be overlooked that a mirror can be of considerable use. Mirrors are generally to be found on the walls of a drawing room and they are not liable to be suspected when you perform blindfolded. Aside from mirrors that, by good fortune, are to be found in the place you perform, there are other devices which act as reflectors which you can take along with you.

(8) Reflectors and Shiners

I have spent quite a bit of time exploring the use of shiners and have examined most basic types such as miniature mirrors built into finger rings, pipes, brooches, etc. Of these, I cannot say that any have proved really successful. In my experience, the use of such deliberately faked equipment, causes one too much concern when performing. You get over worried about someone seeing the gimmick and spend more time hiding it than using it.

Knowing that shiners can be of great use, I decided to try out new methods and after quite a bit of trial and error I find a well-polished cigarette lighter gives me all that is required by way of a reflected picture. Other very good and inconspicuous items include a well-polished spoon and table knife. A heavy chrome table knife resting on the blade edge gives you a terrific amount of scope and in it one can tell with ease—playing cards, bold writing, dates on coins (with a bit of practice) and obtain a pretty wide view of the room. I consider it far better to utilise such things as knives and spoons— than the specially prepared gadgets. No one ever looks twice at a knife lying on a table and since it can be used to open an envelope, it serves its purpose as far as the audience are concerned—if they are concerned.

I understand that certain wrist watch faces can be adapted to act as reflectors. As yet, I have not seen one that I would care to use. There are special fittings in the form of black discs that go over the face of the watch forming a mirror surface. You might have some luck with this type of apparatus—but, as I say, up to now I prefer working with everyday improvised equipment.

It is generally a good rule to suppose that with any type of reflector, if you can see it—so can the audience. In view of this, I maintain that it is best to use things which although seen are not suspected.

Whilst on the subject of reflectors I may as well tell you about a good swindle that you can use to fool fellow magicians (or lay people). To perform it, you must both be seated at opposite sides of the table and you must not have anyone standing too near you.

You borrow his cards and mix them. You don your blindfold and then have him choose any card from the middle of the pack, which he places face down on your hand. You feel the back of the card with the fingertips of your other hand and finally name it correctly. You do not turn the card over. He knows they are not marked because they are his cards. Your only requirement is a sixpenny birdcage mirror from Woolworths. This you place on your knee when seated and that affords you the reflection of the card index seen through the open fingers of the hand. There is nothing to it, but you can make a lot of it!

(9) Self-Working Effects

As you know, there are many tricks which are called "self-working" and these effects can be made use of by the blindfold worker. The important point to remember when doing, say a self-working card trick, is that you cannot see to check that the spectator is doing as you tell him to do; and you must therefore be extra explicit with your instructions. Eliminate ambiguity or vagueness in your orders so that he does not make a mistake because of your instructions.

It annoys me to see a trick performed and when it goes wrong the performer turns round and tells the spectator "it was your fault, you made a mistake". There is no such thing as a mistake on the part of a spectator. Every stupidity on their part should be catered for in your presentation, you know what you are doing—they don't.

(10) Prior Observation

A skilled performer is always wide awake, ever on the lookout for something that can be used to cause that extra little miracle. When you visit a

\ i r r t r { f drawing room or club, there are dozens of things lying about that can be casually examined before you perform. Get a good look at one or two items and remember any outstanding features.

You might be visiting a friend to show a few tricks at a party. When you arrive suppose you spot a mantlepiece over the fireplace. Stand there a moment and have a look at any brass monkey "Made in Birmingham", or a photograph of a young man in uniform perhaps bearing a signature. Half an hour later you can do something with this knowledge. Don't waste your time gazing into a glass of gin—the Spirits won't help you!

Let us consider an effect to illustrate the usefulness of "prior observations".

We will take the magical effect conceived by Bob Hummer and improved by A1 Koran of locating a ten shilling note under one of three ordinary cups, which has to be found by the performer without looking under the cups— and adapt it to use for a Blindfold trick.

The first thing is to obtain three cups. They should appear to be the same. The next thing is to place them in a row on the table and then to look at any one and detect a marking which will identify that cup from the others. This will be very easy as every cup has imperfections, a small crack, one-way trade mark on the base or some obvious feature. You can safely borrow three cups without much fear of getting a set of three that are perfectly identical. Having located your mark, the next step is to remember the position of that cup. The other two do not matter. We will suppose that from left to right the positions are called "A, B and C'\ Moreover, our mark for the sake of this description appears on "A' the first cup on the left.

Next we borrow a ten shilling note and screw it into a ball. When explaining what is to be done to the spectator (see "Self-working effects") you actually run through the moves so as to make everything painfully clear.' If they get mixed up—so do you!

The note is to be placed under any cup. This having been done, the other two, whichever they may be, are to be exchanged. That is, suppose the note goes under "B"—then cup "A" is transferred to position "C" and cup "C" to the place previously occupied by "A". Likewise, if it went under "A" then "B and C" would be exchanged and if under "C" then "A and B" are the two transferred.

Having demonstrated the point and ascertained that you have made yourself understood by the spectator, you replace the marked cup at position "A" and leave them in a tidy row on the table. The note is given to the spectator and you turn youi back and blindfold yourself whilst he does the exchanging. When he tells you ne is ready, you turn round, take his hand and ask him to guide your hand over the tops of the cups without touching them. With a moment or two of mentalistic fumbling—you stop over one cup and declare that under this one is the note. It is. If it is not, you have either been cheated by the spectator or you are an oaf!

The method, in case you do not know, and many people do know—is simply a process of reasoning from a known factor (the marked cup at a known position at the start). We started with the marked cup at "A". When we turn round we glimpse down the nose until we see the position of the marked cup again. We can tell from that position which one hides the note.

Remember the spectator was told to move the other two, so if the marked cup remains at "A" it is obvious that it has not been moved, which means that the other two were moved, which means that "A" hides the note—it was unmoved. Suppose the marked cup now appears at position "B". We can reason that if it appears at 4kB" then what was at "B" has been moved to the vacant space at "A". Since both 44A and B" have therefore been moved —the unmoved cup must be 44C\ Lastly, the marked cup turns up at position t4C". Again we reason that "A" must have been vacant when the first cup was moved, and since it is now at "C" that cup must have gone in its place. Therefore 44B" was not moved and must hide the note. Fogel suggests you end by telling the number of the note!

If does not matter at what position you start with the marked cup as long as you know where it was before you turned your back. A few minutes work ^X ill teach you the system which is very simple and yet good enough to fool nfany an intelligent audience. You may even care to progress further, and have the cups moved several times before you turn round. This can still be done as long as you remember the relative positions and after the first move the spectator calls out the number of exchanges and what they are by position 44A, B or C". It is sufficient to show that by prior observation, a simple matter of noting a mark on a cup, the means to perform something which greatly entertains and baffles is made possible.

Another aspect of Prior Observation worth mention is that you cannot always identify a person by their faces when you are blindfolded—but very often you can—by their boots or shoes. Watch the spectators shoes when you are blindfolded, you can tell which way he's facing. Watch an assistant's shoes and you have as good a code system as you will ever need for fake Muscle reading. Blindfold walks, and when he stands next to another person, identifying a member of the audience. Last but not least, 1 have no doubt that you know Patent leather shoes make a reasonable reflector. Or did you! ?

(11) Memory Systems

As part of a blindfold act, if you are lacking material, it should not be forgotten that most of the memory systems can be brought into play as effects. The Knight's Tour or Giant Memory Feat are good examples and these, with others, are fully described in Step Three. I have known people capable of performing the Giant Memory of some twenty objects—who can do it at an incredible speed and yet never could get up and perform because they just couldn't face an audience. Blindfold that person and when .they cannot see the audience—they perform. I have no doubt that you like me, could think of quite a few people that would look better doing their complete act blindfolded!

(12) Patter and Movement During Performance

This is a very important aspect of the Technique of Blindfold Work. Probably too little attention is paid to it and nothing is more likely to lead to a second-rate performance than inattention to presentation.

You must watch your wording pretty carefully. I recollect seeing one Blindfold act where the performer, doing a book test, insisted on the ridiculous phrase tkI can't see the word very clearly—it's becoming visible now"—and "1 can see the word 'Cardiac'—is that right?" If you are blindfolded you cannot see "period!"

The mediumistic gambit "I see" is well used by mentalist and often with good reason and effect. However, you must avoid it and similar absurdities during blindfold performances.

On the other hand, there are many subtleties of phraseology that can go a long way towards improving the authenticity of your lack of vision. When you need a pack of cards from a table and you stand blindfolded to one side of the stage, you say to the assistant or spectator, "there is a table over there and on it a pack of cards, will you please take them and remove them from the case". Through your blindfold you watch him, do just that and wait until he has them and starts to remove them before you add "they are in the middle of the table, have you found them yet?" You know he's got them—but the question at the right time helps to show that you do not know. Don't exaggerate this sort of misdirection too much, use it a lot in quick simple plots with words and action and don't make it obvious.

By "obvious" it is meant that when you tell him to bring the Goldfish Bowl and seconds afterwards you get a deafening crash of breaking glass, you will alter your usual tag line from "Now have you found it" to some« thing which clearly shows you heard the blessed thing drop! Sometimes one has to alter or remake the patter according to the misfortunes of performance.

The next consideration is movement. On this subject a lot could be said as there is much to consider. However, in brief, one should always behave with dignity whether blindfolded, unblindfolded or even doing a fan-dance. To move with dignity and grace and still appear blindfolded is not easy. You have to mix the need to walk cautiously with the need to appear graceful. To fall head over heels over a chair would be a positive way to prove you couldn't see, and would also reduce you to a ridiculous level as a performer. (Unless doing comedy). To extend the hand feeling for a chair just as you arrive at it—is just about enough acting. You cannot do better than stand still when you have no important reason to move. As said very early on, keep« your eyes closed when you want to act blindfolded and know the position of all your props and the chairs and tables. To entertain is one thing, to break one's neck is another.

The combination of well-acted movement and appropriate patter will do more to convince your audience that you cannot see, than would a microscopic examination of the blindfold. There is one particular stance that seems just right. When you are talking to the spectator (wearing the blindfold) you do not turn your face to him. It is as though you have misplaced the point at which he is standing and you appear to address an empty space nearby the spectator. When you refer to a table "over there", point, but make the pointing a casual wave which misses the exact spot where the table stands. When you approach a blackboard or any piece of apparatus, create the impression that you are feeling for it; the hands go ahead, fingers outstretched feeling for the impact telling you that the board is there. These minor points make the act, and the demonstration rise above trickery and ascend to what seems to be supernormal.

Finally on the subject of technique, don't be afraid to make a deliberate • mistake. Some Mentalists are inclined to aim at absolute success with every effect, and if anything, this is by no means essential or good. There are times when one mistake is worth a hundred successes! To be right most of the time and nearly right now and then—is perhaps the very best. Nothing seems to give greater assurance that the whole thing is genuine—than a few mistakes.

If you are going to do a blindfold act, work out the routine and effects until everything is just so. Then look through the programme and find one i ( f c : i i r r or two places where a mistake can help. Sometimes it can be used to bring laughter, as for example, you have two assistants from the audience, a Lady and a Gentleman. At one point in the routine, you turn to the gentleman and say "Now Madam!". As one line of print in a book it looks cold and weak. Put the same line in patter at the right point in the performance and it can be your greatest success. Let us take another example. You are mixing some cards, one drops to the floor. If you look downwards and pick it up— you are finished. You drop the card, you pause as though you know something has happened, allow one of the assistants to pick it up and hand it to you, and, as this is done, refuse it saying "did I drop one? Never mind we don't want that one it's the Ace of Spades!".

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