Sweetings

In 1986 David created a special presentation to launch a new nightclub in Bedford called Sweetings. It was a two-storey building with a disco on each floor and a state of the art lighting system. The lighting was hung from tracks that criss-crossed the ceiling. Remotely operated, the lights could travel around the disco, spinning and changing colours as they went. Part of David's brief was to promote the club's unusual and exciting lighting facilities and so he decided to incorporate the innovative lighting track system into a novel stunt he had devised.

The evening began with a spectacular light show after which David introduced the owner of this fabulous club, Chris Sweeting. He had brought with him a sealed envelope from the National Westminster Bank containing the club's brand new cheque book.

David took the cheque book, riffled the pages and asked someone to call "stop" at any point. They called out the number of the cheque they stopped at. It was 000428 and David wrote it on a board.

Chris Sweeting had been asked to bring along his cheque book for a very special reason. As part of the launch celebration he would make a donation to charity, specifically to one of David's favourite charities, The Variety Club of Great Britain. The sum was an incredible £25,000! The audience applauded his generosity and Sweeting filled in the chosen cheque, dated and signed it. The whole procedure was videoed and relayed on monitors throughout the building.

The signed cheque was torn out and a rubber band placed around the book at that point as a kind of impromptu bookmark. David folded the cheque into a strip, placed it into a small clip attached to the end of a fairy wand and handed it to Sweeting. It was an amusing sight, Sweeting playing the part of fairy godmother and about to dispense £25,000 worth of wishes.

"And accepting the cheque on behalf of The Variety Club," announced David, "is Miss World, Hofi Karlsaottir!" Music played, lights danced and the most beautiful woman in the world walked onto the stage. This was a big surprise and brought a huge round of applause from the audience.

Mr Sweeting handed the fairy wand to Miss World who held it aloft, the cheque in view at ail times. David asked Sweeting to nominate someone in the audience, who signed the cheque book on the front and back. The book was then hung from a clip attached to one of the lighting tracks. At a push of a button the cheque book started to move, travelling along the track and over the heads of the audience. It zig-zagged across the room before arriving next to a party of VIPs sitting some distance away on a raised platform.

David asked the VIPs to take the cheque book from its clip, look at the signatures back and front and check the number on the torn stub against the number on the board. Then he told them to mark the rear of the stub. Failing to Find a pen, they decided to mark it with a lipstick! The cheque book was replaced in the clip and once again travelled across the clubroom. When it was halfway across David dramatically commanded it to stop. The cheque book came to a halt in the middle of the room and remained there, in total isolation, two spotlights marking its position. Then the magic began.

David produced a lit cigarette from the air and touched it to the folded cheque still clipped to the fairy wand held by Miss World. It vanished in a flash of sparkling fire. £25,000 up in smoke! But not to worry. David called for the cheque book to complete its return journey and travel along the track back to the stage.

Chris Sweeting himself removed the book from the clip and David asked him to open it at the cheque stub. He did and was surprised at what he found. "Ladies and gentlemen let me tell you why he looks so surprised," said David. "He's found his cheque for £25,000, totally intact back in the cheque book. Is that right?" Sweeting admitted that it was.

"And is that your signature?" asked David. Sweeting examined the cheque carefully. It was definitely his signature.

"But what is even more surprising," said David, "is that the cheque is still firmly attached to the stub isn't it?" It was and not only that but the rear of the stub contained the lipstick mark put there by one of the VIPs. The cheque even contained the creases where it had been folded and clipped to the wand. It seemed absolutely incredible and the audience applauded whilst a baffled Chris Sweeting considered the impossibility of the situation.

"Now for the second time tonight will you please tear out the cheque," said David. Sweeting did as instructed and, with grateful thanks from Miss World, presented The Variety Club of Great Britain with £25,000.

Revelations: When David devised this stunt he combined what he knew would be two highlights of the evening, the large donation to charity and the unique hi-tech lighting rig that the club had installed.

David had chosen The Variety Club of Great Britain, which collects money to help disabled and underprivileged children, as the benefactor of Sweeting's generosity.

The idea of making borrowed money disappear and reappear is a standard of magic but doing it with a signed cheque was a new challenge. The cheque book was brought to the club in a transparent polythene bank-sealed envelope but what Chris Sweeting did not know was that David had already gained access to the cheque book via his secretary who had been told to order two cheque books from the bank. One stayed in the office, the other was "borrowed" by David under the pretext of having to see if it was suitable for the demonstration.

Having got the book he carefully changed the last digit of cheque 000423 to an 8 using a thin black pen. The stub of the cheque was similarly altered. There were now two cheques in the book bearing the same number, 000428.

The cheque with the genuine number was riffle forced during the routine. To facilitate this David lightly bent the spine of the book so that it readily opened at the genuine cheque. The bend was not visible when the book was closed but could be felt as a distinct stop as the pages were riffled by the thumb. In fact the break was so obvious to the touch that it actually required practise to riffle through the entire book without stopping. It's a technique that David has used in various book tests and it works equally well with a cheque book.

David filled in the fake cheque so that even from a short distance it looked similar to the one Chris Sweeting would complete during the show. He also made a lipstick cross on the rear of the genuine stub. Sweeting never saw this mark when he filled in the cheque because he had no reason to look at the rear of the stub. The book was then put back into the official polythene envelope, which was resealed and returned to the secretary who was told that this was the book that would be used at the opening.

On the night, David took the cheque book and riffle forced the genuine cheque, 000428. Sweeting filled it in, David picked up the cheque book and while commenting on the owner's generosity he opened the book at the fake cheque, tore it out and folded it up printed side out. A little later he switched it for a duplicate made out of flashpaper, coloured and marked to resemble the cheque. The flashpaper cheque was then clipped onto the end of the fairy wand

and handed to Sweeting.

David took care in preparing the flashpaper cheque. He coated part of the paper with a little spray glue and dusted it with iron and magnesium filings. The paper was folded so that the filings were on the inside. Then he glued the top edge of the folded paper together. This resulted in a dramatic puff of smoke and an explosion of fiery sparks when the paper was ignited.

The cheque book was signed back and front by someone in the audience and then returned to David. What happened next will be considered by many to be the most difficult part of the routine. David had to fold the real cheque into quarters while it was still attached to the cheque book. To cover these manoeuvres he used what must be considered one of the greatest examples of misdirection in the history of magic. He introduced Miss World!

When Miss Hofi Karlsaottir, a former Miss Iceland, walked on stage no one was thinking about David holding the cheque book. He could have got away with almost anything. And he did! He simply folded the cheque once, twice and then unfolded it. And no one saw a thing because he did it slowly and in stages, taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the action on stage.

If it sounds bold that's because it was. But David felt that having the creases in the cheque at the finish of the routine added considerably to the impossibility of the whole affair.

Sweeting handed the wand to Miss World and David placed a rubber band around the cheque book so that it would open at the faked cheque stub. This would also prevent anyone else from accidentally opening the book at the genuine cheque.

When the chequebook arrived at the VIP area they made sure the number on the stub matched the number called out earlier. David then asked them to mark the rear of the stub in some way. "I'd like you to sign the back of the stub, perhaps with a red pen." It was unlikely they would have such a pen so, after a pause, David added, "or maybe use a lipstick." A lady produced one and David again made the helpful suggestion, "Just put a small cross on the

back of the stub."

As soon as the cheque stub was marked David said, "So you have now signed or made a mark on the back of the cheque stub." His wording made it appear that she could have marked the cheque in any way that she liked. At the finish of the routine he reinforced the idea that the mark was freely made by saying, "Can we just check with the lady, what did you put on the back of the stub?" She said that she made a cross with her lipstick and sure enough that's what Sweeting found on the back of the cheque stub. It was a subtle process of persuading the audience that they had a much wider range of choices than they actually had.

The VIP party replaced the cheque book in the clip (this time without the rubber band) on the lighting track and sent it half-way across the room where it stayed until David made the cheque disappear. When the cheque book finally arrived back on the stage David asked Sweeting to open it. He did and found his own signed and creased cheque.

David built the revelation step by step, asking Sweeting to confirm each detail of the cheque; the signature on the back and front cover, his signature, the lipstick mark, the creases and so on. Finally he said, "And for the second time tonight will you please tear out your cheque for £25,000 and present it to Miss Hofi Karlsaottir who will accept it on behalf of the Variety Club of Great Britain." The statement was a subtle piece of misdirection because it was actually David who tore the cheque out the first time, not Sweeting.

Getting a £25,000 donation to charity was quite a coup but so was the appearance of Miss World at a nightclub in Bedford. When David came up with the idea he called Eric Morely, organiser of the Miss World contest. Did he think that Miss World might be able to come to Bedford to accept a cheque for £25,000 on behalf of charity? Miss World always has an incredibly busy schedule but Morely immediately said yes. Why? Because like David he also is a keen supporter of The Variety Club of Great Britain. Of course David knew that before he made the call. Consider it another example of the art of persuasion.

The Art Of Cold Reading

The Art Of Cold Reading

Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.

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