THE thumb TIP has been a faithful servant to magicians and mentalists for over a century. They have used it to achieve a multiplicity of effects. So much so that you would think by now there could be no new applications left. Given diis, the following trick may cause a fcw raised eyebrows. It employs this ubiq-uitous gimmick, but in a manner that can only be described as unconventional, if not bizarre.

I did this trick many rimes, in Servicemen's Centers and hospitals during World War II. As a boy magician, I used tricks that wouki rake up litde room and needed minimal preparation, yet played big. This one, my approach to the classic Tom Scllcrscflfcct *Just Chance" or "Bank Night," was presented in a lighthearted manner.

Effect and presentation: Five spectators are invited onto the platform. Each takes a seat before being handed a balloon with something inside, and being asked ro inflate and knot it. The performer docs the same with a sixdi balloon. He then addresses the company.

"Noil> lets play a gtmblinggnnel Shake your balloons. Do you tear them rattle Each one has a piece of currency inside. However, ait the bills are phony— play money, AIL that is, but one. There is one real bill in one of the balloons—a hundred dollar bill barr1e rfcjiaadso.y. .

"Let's mix them around. Then you will each get a choice anil leave me dye remaining one. Looks as iff have everything to lose and nothing to gain!

• "To makt tiyis more interesting and profitable, I would tike you each to fake out a one dollar bill LHti it your shirt pocket: Now'if you pick the right balloon you Keep the hundred dotbtrs! if you Mi% I will take your dollar, which will be given to il>e children's ward of Child s Health Hospital You neednt play if you don! wish. We can get a substitute In fact\ you rruiy decide to give xhe money to the childrens ward if you win!

"Sir. which balloon do you warn? This ones9

The selected balloon is placed, on cop of a card table or in the persons lap. The performer dien lights a candle and touches die Hamc against the balloon. A rolled up bill is seen lying in :he debris. The bill is picked up by the performer and brought to the flame, where it flares up and disintegrates to nothing.

"Too bad! You ¿¿¿"The performer takes the dollar from the victims pocket and drops it onto a plate. He then gives him a pack of chewing gum and sends him back to his scat.

The second, third and fourth players also locate only flash bills. Each loses his money bur is rewarded with a small gift.

"Now we come to xht moment of truth. Only two Luloons are left. Youpick one, leaving me with the but—my final chancer

The choice is made and the performer bursts his balloon. He cleanly takes the bill (no switch) and holds it Co the flame. Nothing happens. The «^cctators is similarly treated but bums in a flash.

The performers bill is opened and verified to be a genuine one hundred dollar bill, which he places in his breast pocket for all to see.

In those far off days, the audience was asked ro give a vote of thanks and I used to pass the plate around for the childrens ward. \X'e normally had a good rime and raised many hundreds of dollars. Obviously, the presentation can be done without diis. However, die main point of dlis presentation is to turn a disappointing outcome—your asastants all lose, you win—intoagrau-tving one—their loss goes ro a good cause,

METHOD: Yon will need:

1} Six balloons.

2} She fla^h bills. If you cannot get rhese, make your own from plain flash paper. They are always seen folded and rolled, .so need only be partially colored-

' thfaterofthe.mim

3) One genuine bill.

4) A candle or matches.

Fold and roll each of die bills unril they arc compact enough to be finger palmed- Then insert a flash bill into cach balloon. Have the thumb tip on your left thumb and die genuine bill finger palmed in your right hand.

Over the years I have had three different mcdiods. While the cadicr ones were clever—almost diabolical—this more recent version does the job equally well and is almost self-working..

Really» there is littler to do. Just run through the effect as outlined, getting ail the laughs you can, until the fifth helper makes his selection.

Leave him holding his balloon for a moment, while you burst yours. A take bill will be revealed, which will be later exchanged fur die real one. However, the subdety lies in the switch not being made until after the bill has been touched to the flame. Everything is perfectly tair and above board at this stage.

The bill is gripped between the left diumb and forefinger. The flame is brought up and held against the thumb tip, which you hold between the

/______highly inflammable note and the fire (Hgure 1}. Nothing happens, of course. Hie flame doesn't contact die flash bill, so the hill docsn t ignite. As everyone has been anticipating this, diey assume that if any trickery is afoot, if will have already been accomplished, and what follows is mere formality. Consequently, they are off guard for the ultimate piece of chicanery.

You apparently exchange die contents of your hands, taking the candle inro your left hand, and the flash bill apparendy to your right, in reality die flash bill is retained in left-hand finger palm, while your right hand casually opens to disclose the real bill. All attention is on the flame as it bursts the balloon held by the last person and lights his flash bill.

Simple, virtually no moves and lots of fun.

The Totally Iselated Predictkm

Hr.RE IS ANOTHER trick that uses a balloon in an interring way. It is a trick I feci 1 'own/' Ivc done it countless times, in all sorts of environments, and found it never fails to get a strong reaction. Causing a slip of paper to appear in an inflated balloon is by no means new, George Boston, who worked at Jim Shermans National Magic Shop in Chicago, taught me the method. He used it for producing a vanished dollar bill. The idea of tying the principle to a prediction came to me about fifty years ago, and I have done so ever since, even explaining one variation in A BoonjbrAll Seasons, a book 1 wrote in 1982 with Eric Mason (see "Thought Project Effect,M p. 43).

However the idea has occurred to others as wdl. The Hollywood Magic Exchange marketed it in a trick called "AirTight Prediction1 sometime prior to 1960 (for a description of this, see I lull's fjicjciopedic Diaionary of Men-talism, Volume /. p. 4); and Maurice Fogel performed and marketed a similar conceit in the form of a headline prediction, using a botde instead of a balloon. While my trick .shares die same basic principle with these others, it is quite different in cffcct.

Although not intended to be magic tor magicians I performed the trick some vears ago in a lecture to The Magic Circle. .Afterward David Berglas, Eric Mason and Harry Devano all admitted that they were perplexed. Ill tell you more about th^ later.

Generally, I work it as the dosing item ijn my after dinner cabaret performances. 1 have also used it on stages and in close-up settings. At one time I' even employed it as a headline forecast. A box containing the inflated hal^ loon was sent to some local personality, who was told to bring it to the show. 1 stopped doing this after a rather embarrassing incident about ten years ago. Oil diat occasion, in front of a thousand people, I opened die package and found to my horror that the balloon had shrunken to the size of a baseball!

. * EhhLCT: A balloon is shown to contain a folded piece of paper, which the audience is informed carries some messages. It is blown up and the neck knot- .

ted, before being thrtr*vn into the audience for someone to catch. When a person has done so, they are asked to ratde it and at the same time call out any letter or digit. I le might for example .say; ,4Z'' or u8.i%

Subsequendy. he is instructed to toss the balloon to someone else, who is also requested to nominate a letter or figure. This procedure is repeated with four more spectators. The balloon is then retufned.

A volunteer is next asked to sit on a chair in the center of the performing area. The performer slips the balloon into a large clear plastic bag and places it on her lap.

I ie then walks into the audience, stops in front of someone and aiks him to choose any color, .Another person is told to decide on a geometric shape, while a third selects a card. Each of these choiccs is written down, along with the six previously chosen letters and digits> in a small notebook. The page is torn out and handed to a witness, who will later verify the predictions.

Standing well away from the assistant guarding the balloon, the performer has he: take a pin and burst it through the plastic. She opens the paper diat was inside and reads out its message. First the color, shape and card arc announced. Then the performer internipts and tells everyone who chose a letter or figure to stand. They are instructed to sit down again if they hear their choice named. Each does so. in turn, demonstrating the correctness of the performer's prediction.

METHOD: You will need the following:

1) Two balloons, preferably the type that are white inside and have multicolored exteriors

2) A spiral-bound notepad and a pencil or ballpoint pen

3) A clear bag large enough to easily hold the inflated balloon

5) A paper clip

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