The Chameleon Chest


This is one of the most exciting professional props I have ever offered. Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back. Professional mentalist, Ross Johnson used it forone ofhis corporate shows and blew his audience awayManufactured for me by Viking Mfg. Co. this miracle producing device is beautifully crafted in hand rubbed walnut with brass fittings. Lined in soft brown felt, the chest measures 8-1/2" x 5-5/8" x 3-1/2". This is the finest switching device ever offered to mentalists or magicians.

Your volunteers freely handle the chest!

The Chameleon Chest does not utilize the Otis Manning Candy Box principle. The entire interior as well as the exterior can be viewed by the spectators. There's nothing to see and there's no flap in the lid. Yet, spectator's slips inserted through the 1/8" x 3-1/2" horizontal slot (visible from inside or outside the box) are instantly switched for your slips. The Chameleon Chest is readily accepted as an Executive Suggestion Box or Executive Ballot Box. In fact, it resembles one of those expensive humidors that are all the rage in America's boardrooms and executive suites.

New and Improved!

You can use the chest to hold your pencils and blank slips while handing them out. Once the slips have been filled in, folded and dropped into the chest, you can walk away and allow the spectators to open the chest and remove a slip or slips depending on which routine you're performing.

The Chameleon Chest comes complete with ten spectacularly baffling and entertaining routines by Larry Becker. A variation of Ned Rutledge's "Minding the Store," the Challenge Headline Prediction, Ultimate Q & A, Money Matters, Number Necromancy, Mirror Images, the Key Effect, the Executive Suggestion Box, the hilarious Comedy Election, Stock Picker and more.

A polished brass plate on the lid awaits your initials (or anything else) which can easily be engraved by any engraving shop.

The price for this superbly designed and constructed apparatus is just $169.00 plus $15.00 for insured, 3-day UPS delivery. Overseas, add $35 for insured airmail delivery.

Your satisfaction is guaranteed or your money back.

The Chameleon Chest is destined to become a classic of mentalism and without a doubt, a treasured collector's item. Order from Larry Becker c/o the address below.


P.O. Box 6023 • Carefree, AZ 85377 • (480) 488-0980


The Chameleon Chest Instructions

In my humble opinion, the Chameleon Chest is one of the most versatile and effective switching devices ever conceived. Please read the instructions carefully before examining the chest, if you can muster that much self-control. My friend, George Robinson of Viking Mfg. has done an excellent job of manufacturing this outstanding prop. With careful handling and a small amount of furniture polish, it should give you years of satisfying usage.

Please note the chest you have received has been modified as detailed on the first two pages.

Chameleon Chest description and specifications

The chest measures 8-1/2" long x 5-5/8" wide and 3-1/2" deep with recessed brass hinges and a button lock. The interior of the lid and the floor of the chest are lined in soft brown felt that compliments the rich walnut construction and finish. Approximately 1-1/4" below the hinges is a 1/8" x 3-1/2" horizontal slot that's visible from both the exterior and interior of the box. A polished brass plate centered on the lid awaits your name, initials or anything else, which can be engraved by such shops as "Things Remembered" found in most shopping malls. To remove the plate, carefully unscrew the four screws and head for you're nearest engraver. I've suggested several alternatives on page 2.

A general overview of the Chameleon Chest:

To begin, the chest has been cleverly engineered to enable you to perform some of the most entertaining and baffling effects imaginable. The felt lined floor of the chest is actually a weighted, hinged metal flap. The flap hides a shallow compartment in the base. Because the hinge of the flap is positioned at the front of the chest, when the left little finger enters the hole in the bottom of the chest and slowly and quietly pushes upward till the flap is above the slot in the side of the chest, it becomes a "funnel" for anything that's inserted through the slot. In other words, when slips and/or envelopes are inserted into the chest through the narrow slot, they're secretly hidden beneath the fake floor of the chest as soon as it is returned to a horizontal position and placed on your table. When you or a spectator opens the lid of the chest, the folded slips they see inside are the ones you placed there prior to the performance. Simply put, you have neatly switched their slips and/or envelopes for yours and best of all; the spectator can freely open the chest and remove a slip while you are several feet away. The spectator can view the entire interior and exterior of the chest. There's absolutely nothing to see.

Please note that you begin by picking up the chest from your table and holding it between your hands, thumbs against the sides of the chest and the fingers of each hand against the bottom of the chest. The catch or lock is facing you and the slot is towards the audience. When it's time to collect the spectator's slips or whatever, you simply insert your little finger into the hole in the bottom of the chest. Slowly raise the flap until you feel it rest against the lid. Now have the spectators insert they're folded, sealed slips or small envelopes into the slot. Gently shake the chest from side to side to make sure nothing gets hung up. When you're finished, simply turn, slowly lower the flap and place the chest on the table with the lock side facing the audience. Never flash the bottom of the chest. Always keep the bottom of the chest parallel with the floor.

To open the catch, instruct the spectator to push the button to the right and simultaneously lift the lid with his other hand. None of the routines require that the chest be locked, so a brass button catch has been used to facilitate the spectator's opening of the chest. The brass plate on the lid can be removed by carefully unscrewing the four screws. Any engraving shop can engrave whatever you wish on it for a nominal cost, usually by the letter. I favor the wording, Suggestion Box. This will enable you to refer to it as an Executive Suggestion Box that you recently purchased at Neiman Marcus. Some might prefer to engrave the words, Ballot Box or Executive Piggy Bank. Or, you just might prefer to have your initials or name engraved on the plate. Or leave it as it is. The choice is yours.

It's a good idea to purchase a padded carrying case from a camera store to protect your chest while transporting it and the materials used in the performance of the routine or routines of your choice. You should also periodically protect the finish of your walnut chest with a fine quality furniture polish.

If you have any questions concerning the use or handling of the Chameleon Chest, do not hesitate to phone or fax Larry Becker at (480) 488-0980.

The materials recommended for use with the Chameleon Chest:

The routines that will be explained all utilize either 3" x 3" paper slips. The 3" x 3" Paper Cube Refills come 600 sheets to the pack in white and an assortment of colors. The darker colors are better since they are more opaque. These paper cube refills are available in most office supply stores such as OfficeMax and Staples. Blank playing cards come from the Ideal School Supply Company, Oak Lawn, IL 60453. I obtain mine from a store called "Teaching Tools" in Phoenix. The reason I prefer the coated, white card stock to the paper slips is because it's totally opaque. In those cases where you want to be sure the writing doesn't show through, the card stock is much better. Both are prepared in the same manner prior to use. Whether you use the 3" x 3" paper slips or the 2-1/4" x 3-1/2" blank coated white cards, you will also need red Avery Color Coding Labels (3/4" round) #05466. They come 1000 to a pack and are also available at most office supply stores. For those routines that require three different color slips, you can still use the coated white card stock. Simply use different color Coding Labels to seal them. I subsequently purchased a large quantity of gift enclosure cards from Crane & Co. for another effect that are also perfect for use with the Chameleon Chest. Item number CC0116, kid finish, ECRU white.

To facilitate folding the cards in half, measure 1-3/4" from the end of the card and score a line across the center of the card using a smooth, rounded, pointed object. After folding the slip or card in half, open it flat and affix one red 3/4" round label to the outside center of one narrow edge on the card stock and to any side on the square paper slips. The label should have one half affixed to the paper or card and the other half protruding with the adhesive side exposed to later seal the folded card shut. After the spectators finish writing on their card, they simply refold it in half and bend down the exposed half of the label so the adhesive area seals the card or slip closed. This ensures that the slips stay closed until one or more is selected. It also facilitates inserting the folded card or paper slip through the slot in the chest.

IMPORTANT! Since I switched to the gift enclosure cards (3-7/16" x 2-1/2"), I simply pre-fold and open them flat. I carry one in my pocket that is already folded with a small adhesive backed gold notary seal affixed to the long edges of the folded card, sealing it closed. I also carry in my pocket as many individual seals as I need with the waxed paper backing in place. Also the cards and golf pencils. I hand one card, one seal and one golf pencil to each spectator, explain what I want them to write, and show them the sample folded/sealed card to demonstrate how I want them to fold, and seal their card. This procedure works smoothly and is my preferred handling. I also find that seven folded cards works best regardless of the routine used.

Take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with the working and handling of the chest. It literally works itself and best of all, when it comes time for the chest to be opened, the spectator does so while you are several feet away. It's this "hands off' feature that makes the Chameleon Chest so effective. I also employ a clever little subtlety that enables you to show the interior of the box as you distribute pens or pencils and blanks cards or paper slips. Regardless of which routine you choose to perform, you simply place your folded, sealed slips near the front wall of the chest. You then place a cardboard box containing your supply of pens or pencils inside the open chest so they cover your prepared slips. Naturally, the box should be substantially smaller then the interior of the chest, but large enough to hide the slips beneath it. When using the paper slips, I use golf pencils, which I purchase through an advertising specialty distributor. The pencils are imprinted with my name, the word, Mentalist, and my phone number. When I use the opaque cards I distribute Sanford fine point vis-à-vis water base overhead projector pens for a small number of slips or inexpensive ballpoint pens for larger amounts. I also carry a small silver letter opener, which the spectator can use to open the sealed slips, cards or envelopes.

That covers the general overview of the preparation and handling of the Chameleon Chest. Now, here are some of the dynamite routines you can perform.

Routine #1: Super Shopper

Here's a variation of Ned Rutledge's marvelous, "Minding the Store." Simply have 10 or 12 spectators' think of something they would ordinarily purchase in a super market, including the brand name of the product. For example, Jell-O Chocolate Pudding, Campbell's Tomato Soup, Pepsi Cola, etc. The spectators are handed slips of paper and asked to write their choice and the actual or estimated price of the item. They are then instructed to fold and seal their slips. The spectators are then asked to drop their slip through the slot in the performer's "Executive Suggestion Box." The box is then placed on a table next to an upright, closed grocery bag. Any spectator is now asked to step forward and instructed to open the chest. The performer asks the spectator to reach into the open chest, remove any one of the folded slips and to open and read aloud the grocery item selected by a member of the audience. For example, the spectator calls out, "A box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes...$3.49." The performer asks the spectator to open the grocery bag, which has been in full view from the very beginning and to remove the contents. The spectator does so and removes a box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes and grocery receipt for $3.49."

To prepare and perform: Prepare 12 cards by folding them in half, opening them flat and affixing a red seal to one narrow end of the card so half of the adhesive seal is exposed. Write or print " One box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes - $3.49." on all 12 cards. Fold each card and seal them shut by bending over the exposed circular red label, sealing the card closed.

Place 12 blank cards, pre-scored to fold in half with circular red labels affixed as previously described and 12 ball-point pens in a small cardboard box. Place the 12 prepared (Kellogg's Corn Flakes), sealed cards overlapping one another along the front wall of the chest. Put the box containing the pens and cards on top of these slips so they are hidden from view. Purchase a box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes and place it in a Kraft grocery bag large enough to hide the box. Prepare a fake supermarket cash register receipt on a computer, which reads:

Place the grocery receipt in the bottom of the paper bag under the box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes. Close the top of the bag and place it on your table. Place a letter opener in your inside jacket pocket.

To perform, open the chest and holding it in your left hand, approach 12 spectators in the audience after explaining what you want them to do. Hand each spectator an open, blank card with the red circular label attached and a ballpoint pen. Return to your table as the spectators begin to write on their cards. Remove the cardboard box (which hid the folded slips) containing the remaining cards and pens. Close the chest.

Have the 12 spectators fold their cards in half along the scored line and seal their slips by bending over the protruding red label. Pick up the chest and hold it between your hands. Insert your little finger in the hole and push the flap upward until it rests against the underside of the lid. Approach each spectator and have him or her insert his or her folded, sealed card into the slot. When the 12 cards have been placed in the chest, place it on your table with the catch facing the audience. Have any spectator come forward to open the chest and remove any one of the folded, sealed cards. You should be several feet away from the table while he is doing this. Remove the letter opener from your pocket and hand it to the spectator so he can break the seal and open the card. Ask him to read aloud what is written on the card. Of course, he reads, "One box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes...$3.49." Ask him to open the paper bag and to remove the contents. Since the fake sales slip is in the bottom of the bag, you've got a double whammy climax thanks to Mr. Rutledge's ingenious plot. The spectator will remove the box of Kellogg's Corn Flakes, which should elicit a round of applause. Again draw the spectator's attention to the bag and ask if there is a sales receipt in the bottom? Of course he'll find the fake sales receipt you planted there and after you have him read it aloud, you'll get another nice round of applause.

Note: There's absolutely no reason why you cannot use a legitimate sales slip. When you purchase the box of cereal, explain to the checker that you need the box and the sales slip for a sales meeting and would she take extra care to remove a pristine sales receipt of the transaction from the cash register. That's it. Your receipt in the bag will be totally authentic. Just make sure the price on 12 force cards matches the price on the receipt.

Routine #2: Challenge Headline Prediction

The performer visits an official of the company who has retained his services to perform at a banquet scheduled two weeks later. The company official is asked to sign his name across the top of a 3" x 5" file card and the month, date and year across the bottom. The performer then removes a 2-1/2" x 4-1/4" manila coin envelope and an adhesive backed notary seals. The performer asks the dignitary to hold the envelope and seal while he writes a message on the card the dignitary just signed and dated. Then without showing what he wrote, the performer quarter folds the card and has the dignitary seal it in the coin envelope and apply one of the notary seals to the flap. The performer then initials the envelope. The dignitary is instructed to place the sealed, initialed envelope in a small zip-lock bag which the performer folds over and seals with the second notary seal. The official is requested to bring the package with him to the show.

At the climax of his performance, the performer introduces the president of the company and has him confirm what occurred two weeks earlier. The performer requests that to make sure no one but the dignitary had access to the envelope, the dignitary placed it in a wooden chest. The dignitary who confirms that at no time did the envelope leave his possession then places the chest on a table. The official is then requested to open the chest and to remove the sealed envelope. Now, the dignitary is asked to open the sealed envelope, remove the folded card, and to confirm that his signature is, in fact, written across the top of the enclosed card, as is the date he wrote across the bottom of the card two weeks earlier. The official confirms that he wrote both the signature and date.

The performer holds up a copy of that day's newspaper as he asks the company official to read aloud what he, the performer, wrote two weeks earlier on the card signed and dated by the official. As he does so, the audience sees that the contents of the card clearly and accurately describe one of the front-page stories in that days' newspaper.

To prepare and perform: This neat swindle utilizes two subtleties that I used back in 1969 in conjunction with a prediction that I presented during a mall opening.

You will require the following items: The Chameleon Chest, Also, one small transparent zip-lock bag. These can be purchased at your local supermarket. Also needed is a manila pay or coin envelope that measure 2-1/2" wide x 4-1/4" deep, two (2) 3" x 5" white file cards, four (4) adhesive backed, gold notary seals, one (1) fine point black marker, and one (1) Himber style wallet. You will also need a lockable, padded camera case that will accommodate the Chameleon Chest. These can be obtained at discount stores and camera shops.

The set-up of the Himber Wallet is as follows: In the left hand pocket of side (A), place the blank 3" x 5" white file card. The right hand panel should contain anything that looks good, depending on which Himber Wallet you're using. Now close the wallet and turn to the opposite side (B). The left hand pocket should contain just one 3" x 5" white file card prepared as follows. Across the top of the card, simulate the dignitaries' signature. If you have a copy of his signature, like on a contract, make it look as close to the original as possible. But, this is not a necessity. Across the bottom of the card write the month, date and year you are visiting with the dignitary. The right hand panel of side (B) should be identical to the one in side (A). Have your pen in your inside jacket pocket and of course, your Himber wallet. Place the manila coin envelope and the two gold notary seals inside the zip lock bag and place it in your jacket pocket. You're all set for swindle #1.

Once alone with the dignitary, sit opposite him if possible, at a table. Remove the wallet, opening it to side A. Leave it open on the table as you remove the blank file card. Hand it and your pen to the dignitary and ask that he write his signature across the narrow end of the blank card. Show him exactly where you want him to write. When he's finished, have him write the current month, date and year across the bottom. Retrieve the card and your pen with your right hand. Holding both, remove the zip-lock bag from your pocket. Place the bag in front of the dignitary as you insert his signed card back in the wallet pocket it originally came from, with the signature visible at the top. Close the wallet right to left and leave it on the table as you ask the dignitary to carefully open the zip-lock bag and to remove the envelope and notary seals. As he begins to do this, say that while he's doing that, you're going to write a message between his signature and the date on the file card.

Immediately pick up the wallet and holding it tilted towards your self so the inside will not be visible to the dignitary, open it right to left. Of course, you are now looking at side (B) of the wallet. With the right hand, remove the file card with the blank back facing the dignitary. Lay the open wallet on the table to one side. Transfer the file card to your left hand and pick up the pen with your right hand. Now, write a prediction between the forged signature and date. The back of your left hand practically covers the back of the file card. Think of some event that could possible happen around the time of the performance, and that's what you briefly describe on the file card. When you're finished, fold the card in half towards yourself, and then in half again, quarter folding it. Hand the card to the dignitary and ask that he not open or look at what you've written and to please seal it in the manila coin envelope. When he has done this, retrieve the envelope and place your initials in the lower right hand corner of the flap side. Hand the envelope back and ask the dignitary to affix one notary seal to the flap. Have him place the envelope in the zip-lock bag. Take the zip-lock bag and after sealing it, fold it over, above the sealed envelope inside. Now, affix the other notary to the bag.

Return the sealed bag to the dignitary and request that he place it in a safe location until the performance, at which time he is to bring it with him to the event.

The reason for the zip-lock bag is two-fold. First, it adds to the security of the envelope and lessens the chance that the dignitary will open it prematurely. Second it keeps the envelope clean until it is removed during the performance. It's the little things that count in mentalism.

Naturally, you have the original signed and dated file card with a blank space to fill-in a description of a non-tragedy, lead story on the front page in the newspaper published on the day of the show. Don't copy the headline of the story, word for word and be sure to use the same pen the dignitary used to sign the card. Quarter fold the prediction and seal it in a pay envelope duplicate of the one remanded to the custody of the dignitary. Write your initials in the lower right hand corner of the flap side of the envelope, making it as close as possible in appearance to the ones you wrote on the original envelope. A notary seal should be placed on the flap of the envelope. Place the sealed envelope on top of the flap inside the Chameleon Chest. Close the lid.

On the day before and the day of the performance, be sure to call and remind the dignatary of the importance of bringing the sealed zip-lock bag with him to your performance venue. State that it is vitally important to the success of the evening that you see him in private prior to your performance so that he will know what to do and when. Prior to the performance ask to see the dignitary in private. Have the loaded Chameleon Chest with you in the padded, lockable camera case. Once alone, you ask the dignitary to produce the sealed package. State that you don't want to touch it; you just want to check your initials on the envelope. Laughingly state that once when you checked a similar sealed package, mysteriously the initials had vanished and you had to cancel the demonstration. After you check the initials, state that you would like to make the demonstration even more dramatic and theatrical by having the dignitary secure the sealed envelope in a locked wooden chest. State that it would look kind of seedy just to pull the zip-lock bag out of his pocket. Again, stress that you will not touch the sealed package. Have the dignitary break the seal, open and remove the manila envelope from the zip-lock bag.

Remove the Chameleon Chest from the camera bag and while you're holding it between your hands (little finger pushing the flap up) ask the dignitary to insert the envelope into the locked chest. Actually the chest isn't locked, but that's where the camera case comes in. As soon as the envelope is inside the chest, place the chest inside the camera case and lock the case. By the way, I use a soft-sided camera case and one of those cable combination luggage locks. Now, you can safely hand the case containing the chest to the dignitary and ask that he bring it up when called upon during the performance.

The finish should now be quite obvious. Follow the description of the effect at the beginning. When the dignitary comes forward at the climax of the show with the chest locked inside the camera bag, the audience will later assume the chest and its contents had been sealed in the bag for two weeks. Have the dignitary confirm everything that you related concerning his signing and dating of the file card, and sealing it in an envelope with a notary seal. Emphasize that he did all the sealing and that the envelope has positively not left his possession for two weeks. Please pay close attention to the wording you'll be using. It is a perfect example of verbal deception (double speak) at its best.

Take the case from the dignitary and unlock it. Carefully remove the chest and place it on your table. This is a very impressive procedure to the audience and underscores the impossibility of your ever coming near whatever was sealed in it. Remember, no one, including the dignitary has ANY idea as to what is about to happen. At NO time have you ever mentioned anything about what you're going to do. There's been absolutely NO mention of predicting the story in a newspaper. As soon as you have placed the chest on the table with the lock facing the audience, move several feet away. You instruct the dignitary to open the chest, take out the envelope, open it and confirm that the signature on the folded card and the date were POSITIVELY written by him two weeks ago. Then, obtain a copy of the newspaper from your case and hold it aloft as the dignitary reads aloud what you wrote two full weeks earlier. Acknowledge the applause.

Routine #3: Ultimate Q & A

Just prior to his performance, the performer hands out colored slips of paper and pencils to a large segment of the audience, requesting that that each person prints a questions pertaining to the subject matter indicated at the top of their slip. The spectators are then instructed to fold their slip in half and bend over the red adhesive backed label affixed to one edge of the slip to seal the slip.

During his show, the performer randomly collects 15 of the folded slips (5 red, 5 blue and 5 green) by having spectators insert their slip into a slot in a handsome walnut Executive Suggestion Box which the performer states he purchased from Neiman Marcus. Placing the chest on his table, the performer explains that because of time constraints he will endeavor to answer a few of the questions which will be selected at random by three members of the audience. Three volunteers are invited to come forward, one of whom is requested to open the chest. The spectator is asked to confirm that there are at least five red slips, five blue slips and five green slips in the box. The performer then explains that to ensure a diverse selection of questions he requested members of the audience to write questions concerning travel on the blue slips, questions pertaining to relationships on the red slips and on the green slips, questions concerning financial matters.

One of the three spectators is asked to freely select any one of the red slips; a second spectator is requested to select any one of the blue slips and finally, the third, one of the green slips. Each spectator is handed a letter opener and requested to open their freely selected slip and to silently read its contents. The performer then states that he has the impression that one-question concerns a feeling of uncertainty as to whether or not the spouse of the person who wrote the question is being faithful. The performer states that the questioner can rest assured that her mate is indeed working late at the office and not engaged in an illicit affair. The spectator with the red slip is asked to read aloud the question written on it. The volunteer holding the red slip reads aloud the question, "Is my husband cheating on me?"

The performer again appears to concentrate intently and then proceeds to describe a scene that is obviously a tropical one. "I believe the individual who wrote the question on the blue slip is asking me to help him to decide where to take his annual vacation," the performer states. "Since the choices he offers are Hawaii, Hoboken or Hairsbreadth, Montana... I'm sure this individual has a perverted sense of humor and obviously has tickets to Hawaii in his future." The spectator holding the blue slip is asked to read aloud the question on his slip. The spectator replies, "Please help me decide where to vacation this year, Hawaii, Hoboken or Hairsbreadth, Montana?"

Finally a third spectator is asked to select and read the contents of one of the green slips. The spectator does so and the performer states that he has an impression that the writer of the question is asking whether or not she will win the state lottery. Happily, the performer continues, this person will win the lottery. Unfortunately, he's not sure when. The spectator confirms that the question does, in fact, concern whether or not the individual will win the lottery.

To prepare and perform: The working should be quite obvious. To prepare, write the word, "Travel" at the top of 15-20 blue slips, the word, "Relationships" at the top of 15-20 red slips, and the word, "Financial" at the top of 15-20 green slips. These are the slips the performer will hand out prior to the show. As the slip and a pencil are handed to a spectator, they are asked to write a question concerning the subject printed at the top of the slip. They are then to fold the slip in half and seal it using the attached red label (the slips are pre-folded and opened flat. A red Avery 3/4" round label is affixed to one side of the slip with half its adhesive surface exposed). It's a good idea to have a prepared sample to show so there's no question as to how they are to fold and seal the slip. State that you will collect the slip during the performance.

In addition to the slips, which are handed out prior to the show, you'll need five (5) slips of each color to load into the chest. Pre-fold the slips and attach the red labels. Write the same question on all five red slips. Repeat with the blue and green slips. You can use the examples given or make up your own subjects and questions. These duplicate slips are then loaded on top of the Chameleon Chest flap and the lid closed. Naturally, it makes no difference which slip is selected in each of the three colors. You already know the answers. Just follow the routine as previously detailed.

Routine #4: Money Matters

The performer states that numbers are usually easier to transmit than words. Stating that he would like to purchase three one dollar bills for $1.25 each, the performer selects three volunteers who have indicated a willingness to take him up on his offer. The performer requests that each of the three one-dollar bills be folded in half with the lighter side out. The bills are then collected in an "Executive Piggy Bank", which the performer explains he purchased at Neiman Marcus (or any other swank department store). As the spectators deposit their folded dollar bills into the slot in the chest, each receives $1.25 in quarters in return.

The performer places the chest on his table and asks a randomly selected fourth spectator to come forward. The spectator is asked to open the chest and to remove any one of the three bills inside. The performer explains that like fingerprints, there are no two bills with the same serial number. The spectator is asked to open the bill and to concentrate on the first letter in the serial number. "Is it a "K", the performer asks? The spectator replies that it is. "Please concentrate on the first three digits," the performer continues. "Are you thinking of a 9...9...and an 8?" The spectator replies that he is. "Concentrate on the next 2 digits," the performer states. This time, the performer seems to be puzzled. "I'm getting the impression that one of the digits is a "2", am I correct? The spectator replies that he is.

The performer states that he's having a problem with the other digit. "What is the other digit, sir...I seem to be receiving conflicting thoughts." The spectator states that it is an "8." "Picture the last three digits sir, I'll try to do better" the performer exclaims. Closing his eyes, the performer appears to concentrate intently. "I think I've got them. Are you thinking of a 4...a 1 and another 4", the performer asks. The spectator states that he is. "Is the second letter an "A", the performer excitedly exclaims? Again, the spectator confirms that the wonder worker is right on. (Applause!)

To prepare and perform: The secret to this swindle was first explained in an effect called "Serial Killer" that I marketed around 1990 and subsequently explained in my book, "Stunners", called "Serial Killer." It was an original idea that involved a little known fact that it's possible to purchase uncut sheets of dollar bills from the U.S. Treasury Department or coin dealers. These uncut bills come in sheets of 4, 8,16 or 32. The serial number used above is an actual one taken from a sheet of 32 (see photo on page 23). What's even more important is the serial numbers on these sheets contain multiple bills with identical first three digits, identical last three digits and identical letters. Only the middle two digits differ from bill to bill and on a sheet of 32 it's possible to find three bills with at least one identical number in either the fourth or fifth positions.

The three serial numbers that I selected from this sheet of 32 are K99812414A...K99820414A...and K99828414A. If you'll check the way the patter is constructed, you'll see that with only one "miss", which makes the demonstration appear more legitimate, it doesn't make any difference which bill is selected. You'll get credit for correctly identifying the two letters and 7 of the 8 digits.

The sheets can be purchased through the mail directly from the treasury in Washington, D.C., for a premium. You can get the phone number from information. Explain that you wish to obtain information about purchasing sheets of uncut dollar bills. If you purchase the sheets from a dealer, the mark-up will be much higher than from the Treasury. The three bills that I chose came from the first vertical row on the sheet of 32. All you have to do is carefully cut the bills apart using an Exacto knife and a metal ruler. Be sure to "wear" them slightly by carrying them in your wallet for a week or so, wrinkling a couple of them and then smoothing them out. The three bills are then folded in half with the lighter sides out and loaded on top of the flap in the Chameleon Chest.

It's necessary to memorize the two letters, the first three digits, one of the fourth or fifth digits, whichever is repeated on all three bills and the last three digits. The way the patter is constructed, the fourth digit revealed can be in either the fourth or fifth positions. Believe me, it's worth the trouble to acquire the bills because they can be used over and over. Since you purchased the bills from the three spectators in the audience, they don't have to be returned. In addition, because each of the three spectators assumes that the chosen bill came from one of the other two spectators, they won't be able to identify the bill by appearance or the number revealed.

If obtaining the required bills is too much of a hassle, simply pick three-dollar bills that differ significantly in color, shading, age and/or condition. Use a prompter device to remind you of the three different conditions and their corresponding serial numbers. In this case, you'll want to use one of those leather folios with a lined pad on the right panel. I simply record my "impressions" on the pad. My prompter is taped to the left hand panel. Since the audience does not see the inside of the folio while you're writing, it's quite easy to refer to the prompter. When it comes time to show what you've written, simply bend the right hand panel around, the one with the pad, until it's back to back against with the left hand panel. The pad will now be facing the audience and they never see the panel with the prompter. Just reverse the move to close the folio when you're finished. Smoothly done, it'll never raise suspicion unless you allow your "magician's guilt" to take over.

If you're ever not quite sure you've visually identified the correct bill, just make sure all three serial numbers are completely different, especially the first letter. Now, pretend you've written the first letter. When you've done so, hold the marker away from the paper and state that you think you've got it. Ask the spectator what letter he concentrated upon. When he tells you, smile and say that you thought so. Ask him to concentrate on the first digit. Now, you write BOTH the correct first letter and the first digit which you now know by consulting the prompter. Turn the pad towards the spectator as noted above and ask if you got the first digit correct too. He'll see both the correct first letter and first digit and think you previously wrote the letter. (This brilliant subtlety is the brainchild of clever friend, Roy Miller, editor of Vibrations, the Psychic Entertainer's Association's great monthly newsletter,). Now, reverse the move that brings the pad towards you again, and complete the number. When you've finished, call it aloud one digit at a time as the spectator checks and confirms that you're 100% correct.

Routine # 5: Number Necromancy

Blank slips of colored paper and golf pencils are handed out to 15 or 20 members of the audience. The performer requests that people with red slips should write down the last four digits of their social security number on their slip. People with blue slips are instructed to write down the last four digits of a telephone number that they call frequently. The spectators with green slips are asked to remove any denomination of paper currency from their wallet or purse and to write the last four digits of the serial number on the their slip. The spectators are then to fold their slips in half and to seal them closed by folding over an adhesive circular label already affixed to the slip. The spectators are then asked to drop their slips into a wooden chest, which the performer describes as an "Executive Suggestion Box." The performer places the chest on his table and picks up a dry erase board and marker. After a momentary bit of concentration, the performer writes something on the board and places it, writing side down, on a chair without allowing anyone to see what he has written.

Any three spectators are now invited to step forward. The first spectator is asked to open the chest and to remove any one of the red slips representing those folks who wrote down the last four digits of their social security number. The second spectator is asked to remove any one of the blue slips, representing those in the audience who recorded the last four digits of a well-known telephone number. Finally, the third spectator is asked to remove any one of the green slips representing those in the audience who wrote the last four digits on a bill in their possession.

The performer explains that to stress the fairness and impossible nature of the demonstration, he will now ask the three spectators to randomly change the 4-digit numbers on their slips into four brand new 3-digit numbers. The three spectators are now each handed a pencil and asked to alternately call out any one of the 4-digits on their respective cards in any order, one at a time, crossing off each number as it is called out. As the digits are called out, the performer records them on a large flip chart as four 3-digit numbers. For example, the four digits selected by the three spectators are 6722, 5318 and 3482. These numbers are further randomized into four 3-digit numbers as follows: 614, 232, 788 and 253. The performer explains that even if he had known the original three numbers, it would be totally impossible to know how the three spectators would call them out. The result is four brand new 3-digit numbers that never previously existed.

The performer in full view of the audience now openly totals the new numbers. The resulting total 1,887. With great excitement, the performer picks up the dry erase board from the chair and turns it towards the audience. There boldly displayed on the board is a number previously recorded by the performer...1,887.

To prepare and perform: This is without a doubt one of the most intriguing and baffling routines possible with the Chameleon Chest. It is the one that professional mentalist Ross Johnson performed for one of his corporate clients, and it brought down the house. Ross was even asked to repeat the effect at another engagement he worked for the same company. Naturally, he used different numbers. To prepare, we'll assume you're using coated white card stock with three different colored labels affixed. You'll need 7 blank pre-scored white cards with red labels, 7 blank pre-scored white cards with blue labels and 7 blank pre-scored white cards with green labels.

You'll also need a duplicate set of 21 cards. On each of the cards, you record a different 4-digit number. As usual, try and make the handwriting on each card different from one another, so it appears different people wrote them. Each of the four 4-digit numbers, when added together totals 17. For example, 6+7+2+2= 17, 5+3+1+8= 17 and 3+4+8+2= 17. So no matter which slip is selected, the 4 digits will total 17 when added together. This means you need 21 different 4-digit numbers that each add up to 17. Seven of the slips should be sealed with red labels, 7 with blue labels and 7 with green labels. These 21 sealed cards are loaded on top of the flap in the Chameleon Chest.

During your performance you distribute the 21 blank cards, explaining that you want the folks with red labels to write the last 4 digits of their social security number, the people with blue slips, the last 4-digits of a frequently called telephone number and finally, the people with green slips, the last 4-digits of the serial number on a bill removed from their pocket, wallet or purse.

Follow the procedure as previously outlined. As long as you have the three spectators call out the 4 digits on their respective cards, alternately...the total of the resulting four 3-digit numbers will always be 1, 887. Try it. For repeat shows, simply create 21 new numbers that all add up to 18 when individually added together. For example, 5238, 4194 and 3645. Now, alternately record four 3-digit numbers having the spectators call out one digit at a time, in any order, from each of the original three 4-digit numbers. For example,

596, 245, 344 and 813. These will total 1,998. Now, try it again. Make the original 4-digit numbers 3717, 5922 and 7641. Change these to 324, 757, 191 and 726 and the total will be 1,998.

To understand the principal, examine the first vertical left hand row of the four 3-digit numbers and you'll see that it consists of the original first 4 digits. Same for the middle vertical row and the right hand vertical row. Even though they're in a different order, they will always result in the same total when added, provided you have the digits called out alternately. In other words, the first spectator calls out any one of the digits in his 4-digit number and puts a line through it so he won't call it out again. Then the second spectator calls out and crosses off one of his digits. Finally the third spectator calls out and crosses off one of his 4 digits. Now, you go back to the first spectator and have him call out a second digit. Then the second spectator and so on until they've created four 3-digit numbers. Once again, go back to the original description of the routine and follow it. The Chameleon Chest switches their numbers for your force numbers. That's all there is to it. Except the showmanship and you've got to provide that.

Don't forget to have three letter openers to hand out when the spectator are ready to open their sealed cards. It makes opening them a lot easier.

Routine #6: Mirror Images

Blank, pre-scored, coated opaque white cards with red adhesive backed circular labels affixed and 12 pens are distributed to 12 members of the audience (it can be more or less, that's up to you). Each is asked to draw anything they wish on their card, from a simple geometric design to a portrait of a maiden aunt. The spectators are then asked to fold the cards in half and to bend over the red label to seal their drawing inside. The performer proceeds to collect the folded, sealed drawings in his Executive Suggestion Box and places it on his table.

Picking up a drawing pad and a bold marking pen, the performer invites any spectator come forward, open the chest and to freely select one of the cards. Standing well away from and with his back to the spectator, the spectator is requested to pick up a letter opener from the table and to break the seal on his freely selected card. The spectator is asked to mentally visualize what is drawn on the card. After a moment's concentration, the performer begins to draw something on the pad. When he has finished, the performer places the marker aside and asks the spectator to describe what is drawn on the card he selected. The spectator responds, for example, a country scene replete with clouds, birds and a tree. With a flourish, the performer turns his pad towards the audience and everyone sees that he has drawn a country scene with clouds, birds and a tree.

To prepare and perform: You know the drill. Simply draw the same thing on all 12 of the sealed cards on top of the flap in the Chameleon Chest. That's it. Just follow the routine as described. By the way, if you're adventurous, try this. Draw a completely different and easier to draw image, for example a smiley face, on one of the cards and fold it in half along the pre-scored line. When you apply the red label to seal it, affix it noticeably offcenter. Even from a few feet away, you'll be able to notice the difference. If the spectator happens to select that slip, you know what to draw. If he selects one of the other 11 (which he probably will) you finish with what I call the great convincer. Let's assume that he selected one of the 11 force drawings. After you've gotten your round of applause, walk over to the chest and remove the off-center sealed card. Quickly break the seal and display the drawing inside. Smile and say, "It would have been a lot easier if he had selected this one." You have just innocently shown that the drawings were all different from one another. This is one of my more diabolical ideas and it can be used in other Chameleon Box presentations as well.

Routine #7: The Executive Suggestion Box

The performer hands seven members of the audience a pen and a pre-scored, blank white card with a circular red adhesive back label attached with half the adhesive exposed to enable the spectator to seal the card. The spectators are asked to write a suggestion concerning something the performer can physically do. At this point, the performer stares at one of the spectators holding a card and smilingly quips, "Anything but that! (Pause for a laugh). All kidding aside, you could suggest I bend over and touch my toes three times without bending my knees. Or, I should shake hands with the gentlemen in the plaid sports jacket, sitting in the front row. Use your imagination."

When the spectators have finished, they are requested to fold their cards in half and to bend over the red label to seal their suggestion. The performer now collects the seven suggested actions by having the spectators drop their folded card into a handsome wooden "Executive Suggestion Box." The chest is placed on the table and any member of the audience is invited to come forward, open the chest and to remove any one of the folded slips. The spectator is handed a letter opener and requested to open and read the suggestion on the card silently to himself. The performer, with his back turned, asks the spectator to picture in his mind whatever action has been suggested on the randomly selected card. As the spectator concentrates, the performer suddenly begins to do his version of a hula dance. After the laughter subsides, the spectator is asked to read aloud what is written on the card. It reads, "Do a Hawaiian dance."

To prepare and perform: It should be getting easier by now. Just write the same suggestion on all seven cards and place them on top of the flap in the Chameleon Chest. Incidentally, you can also use the offbeat, "off-center label" idea from the previous effect and open one of the other slips and have an even more ridiculous suggestion read aloud by a spectator, prefaced by your remark, "Boy, am I glad he didn't select this one!" Naturally, if the offcenter slip is the one first selected, simply execute that action, and then have any of the remaining slips open and read. Good friend Robert Bluemle suggests that this is the perfect routine for me. I wonder what he meant by that?

Routine #8: The Comedy Election

To demonstrate his intuitive abilities, the performer asks 12 (or more, if you wish) members of the audience to cast their vote in a special Presidential election. The performer shows a large flip chart on which he has drawn two comical looking presidential candidates bearing the equally comical names of "Frank Fraud" and "Bill Baloney." Slips of paper and pencils are distributed to the 12 spectators. Each spectator is asked to cast his or her vote by printing the name of the candidate they wish to vote for. The completed ballots are folded in half and collected by the performer or his assistant, in a smartly styled "Executive Ballot Box." The performer states that using his intuition he will attempt a "Huntley-Brinkley." In other words, to forecast the outcome of the election. The performer quickly writes something on a dry erase board and places it writing side down in full view on his table.

Two election judges are randomly chosen to count the ballots. One judge opens the ballot box and removes the folded (not sealed) slips, one at a time. As the contents of each ballot is called aloud, the second judge records each vote by placing a bold check mark under the appropriate presidential caricature. When all votes are accounted for, the second spectator is asked to count and record the number of votes each candidate received by boldly printing the total votes under each group of check marks. The performer retrieves the marker and draws a bold circle around the name of the winning candidate, for example, "Frank Fraud."

The performer shows the audience what he wrote earlier on the dry erase board. It reads, "NARROW VICTORY WON BY FRAUD, 7 TO 5!"

To prepare and perform: Once again, there's little to explain. The 12 force votes are printed in different handwriting, 7 for Frank Fraud and 5 for Bill Baloney. Fold the slips and load them on top of the flap in the Chameleon Chest. Get a flip chart, markers, pencils and 12 additional blank folded slips to hand out. Draw the two dumb faces and names of the candidates on the top sheet of the pad and you're ready to go.

Some additional thoughts:

Friend and fellow member of the Psychic Entertainers Association, Larry Fink of Sylvania, Ohio had an excellent suggestion. Larry suggested that a dramatic summary of a jury trial and the subsequent verdict could be used as an effective presentation. The performer would describe a trial scenario that could go either way as far as guilt or innocence is concerned. Twelve members of the audience are then asked to act as jurors and render a verdict, which the performer has accurately predicted, i.e., "Not guilty with 9 to 3 for acquittal."

Obviously, you can predict or discern many other things such as words, colors, celebrities, anniversary or birth dates, etc. While I believe I have furnished you with some of the most entertaining and baffling routines I've ever created, I encourage you to use your own imagination and creativity. By the way, if you develop a particularly effective presentation for this great device, please share it with me. I could probably do a small book on this one prop. There's so little time and so many great-unborn ideas!


Recently the very clever and creative mentalist Ted Karmalovitch (creator of the Mother of All Book Tests) suggested an excellent routine using the Chameleon Chest (Ted had one of the first chests made) along with pros Ross Johnson, Jeff Evason and many others. Ted suggested using the theme from the popular TV show, "Survivor." In short, three members of the audience are invited to the island (the stage). Each is given a nametag so the audience can clearly identify each. Several members of the audience are asked to stand (7-10 is about right). Each is given paper and pencil and asked to vote for the two people they would like to vote off the island (stage). The votes are gathered in the ballot box (Chameleon Chest). The performer keeps score on a pad while another member of the audience is asked to open the chest and to call off the names on the ballots. The two spectators with the most votes are asked to leave the island (stage) while the audience gives them a nice round of applause. The remaining survivor is declared the winner and receives a suitable prize. To prove his uncanny powers of prediction, the performer has an envelope suspended from the ceiling, lowered, opened and the contents read aloud. It contains the name of the survivor-selected moments before by the audience.

The working should be apparent. Obtain the names of three members of the audience seated in the first couple of rows. Quickly prepare the 7 to 10 slips with a majority of the slips bearing the names of two of the three spectators. Quarter fold the slips and place them in the chest proper. The remaining spectator will be the "survivor." Prepare your prediction and place it in a conspicuous spot, i.e., hanging from the ceiling. on a wall, sitting on a chair positioned in full view of the audience until it is needed. Follow the description of the effect and you'll have an up-to-the minute routine.

Also, I have recently begun to use small thank you or gift enclosure cards and envelopes available at better stationers. The spectator is instructed to write his thought on the card, fold it in and seal it in an envelope. The use of the small envelopes keeps the cards from accidentally being opened and/or glimpsed during the routine. To accommodate more items within the capacity of the chest, I also use just the cards themselves, pre-folded with a notary seal attached to the back of one half of the card. Half of the adhesive backed notary seal backing remains attached to the exposed half of the seal. I also use a sample, folded card to show the spectators how their card should look when sealed.

Larry Becker's

Continue reading here: Universal Coin Purse

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