The Powers of Darkness

Despite the title this was not the routine marketed by Corinda, it was David's version of the Spirit Cabinet. The cabinet is a four-sided affair made up of curtains hanging from a frame. It is set upon a low platform. Inside the cabinet is a table on which are several musical instruments, mostly percussion, and, surprisingly, a typewriter. With this simple apparatus David will attempt to contact the spirit world. But first he needs a volunteer.

A young man hesitantly steps forward from the group on stage and is tied to a chair by the others. They lift him up, still tied to the chair and place him into the cabinet. The lights dim, music plays and David asks the volunteer to relax and begin a breathing exercise. "Breathe in through the nose, out through the mouth. In through the nose, out through the mouth." His head nods to one side as if he has fallen asleep.

"Are the spirits with you yet?" asks David.

"No," says the young man, suddenly awake.

"Did you close your eyes?"

"Ah, well please close your eyes," says David, "that's why it didn't work."

David asks him to keep his eyes closed, relax and continue the breathing. If he concentrates the spirits will appear. His head tilts to the side once more and he falls into a trance again. This time it appears to be for real. David pulls a cord by the side of the cabinet and draws the front curtains shut.

For a minute or so the audience hears nothing then faintly they detect a moaning and groaning sound coming from within the cabinet. "They're here." Suddenly an invisible hand pushes at the left side of the cabinet and the curtain billows out. Then it's at the right side, now the front. Something is moving around inside with astonishing speed. Not just one spirit, maybe two, or even three. David quickly pulls the curtains open to reveal...nothing save the volunteer, his eyes still closed and head down as if in a deep trance.

The curtains are drawn closed again and immediately the audience hears a cacophony of sounds coming from inside the cabinet. A siren is wailing, tambourine rattling and bell ringing. They play loudly for some time. David quickly opens the curtains and the audience catches a glimpse of the ringing bell briefly suspended in the air before dropping to the table. All the instruments are now suddenly quiet and lying on the table. The tambourine balanced on its edge. The spirits have disappeared as quickly as they came and the young man is still in a trance state and securely tied to the chair.

Revelations: The cabinet was not so innocent as it appeared. There was a hidden compartment at the back, about ten inches deep and concealed within it was a secret assistant. He had a variety of tools at his disposal that were all contained in pockets attached to the hidden side of the rear inner curtain.

When David asked for volunteers several people stepped forward from the group on stage. Among them was the young man. He was the twin brother of the man hidden in the cabinet. It wasn't essential to use a twin but it does prove advantageous at other points during the show. David brought forward the chair and asked for one of the men to sit down. The request seemed to be an open invitation for anyone to volunteer but it was actually the young man's cue to sit on the chair. So that it wouldn't be obvious that the young man was in on the act David deliberately looked at one of the other volunteers when he made the request. It's a minor point but an important one and helped disguise the young man's role as a confederate.

David directed the tying up process because the exact manner in which the tie was made would become important later in the routine. But to all intents and purposes the man was securely tied to the chair.

When inside the cabinet it was his twin brother who was responsible for the spirit manifestations. There were two slits in the inner rear curtain and he could reach through them and push against the sides of the cabinet with a long stick. The end of the stick terminated in a stuffed glove that gave the impression that it was a hand pressing against the cloth. It could be quickly swung from one side of the cabinet to the other convincing the audience that several spirits were responsible for the phenomena.

The musical instruments were played in the same manner. The secret assistant reached through the slits and rang the bell and blew the siren. He had a duplicate tambourine and rattled that. The original tambourine was never played but remained standing on edge throughout. The assistant withdrew his hands before the curtains were opened.

One final touch was the glimpse the audience had of the bell suspended in the air. It was hanging by a thread the other end of which was held by the hidden assistant. He also had a duplicate bell. This was the last instrument to be played and David's cue for him to open the curtains. Several seconds after this the assistant stopped ringing the bell and allowed the "levitated" bell to drop to the table by which time the audience was thinking, "Did I really see that?" It was an eerie moment.

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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