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The Pack Horse Problem

Pronunciation: (pak'hrs"), n.
1. a horse used for carrying goods, freight, supplies, etc.
2. a person who works hard or bears a heavy load of responsibility.
3. a mentalist who feels the need to carry more equipment than he/she
will use.
The term of Packhorse was commonly used in Yorkshire (the region of
the UK where I grew up). It was frequently used as a slang term,
typically when a husband had the unfortunate job of carrying the
shopping bags as his wife stopped at every shop window on the way
Thas got me as a bloody Packhorse woman.
The Packhorse term is one I have coined to describe the Mentalist or
Magician who takes far more props to a show than he will actually
perform. It is a common mistake and if you stop and think about it for a
moment, you will have done this at some point in the past. I know I have!
A typical walk around gig might consist of 200 people split into groups of
10, sat around tables having a three course meal. (This is typical of a
corporate Christmas party in the UK.) If the performer is booked for two
hours, then he will only have on average six minutes with each table.
Take into consideration that some tables will be served with their food in
the middle of your performance, so you may only have two or three
minutes with these tables.
Instead of filling your pockets and bag with as many effects and props at
you can physically carry, its time to re-evaluate just exactly who you are
as a performer and what you want to communicate to your audience.
The time spent with your groups may be short but not too short so as to
not leave an impression. An impression that can either make or break
you as a performer; try to keep this in mind each and every time you
approach a table. So let me describe to you what I will take to a typical
walk around corporate party.

Business cards
A small supply of pens or pencils
Some type of impression device or peek wallet
A marked deck of playing cards

A thumb/nail writer (Invisible)

Post-it notes
A billet Index
As a list it looks quite heavy, but if you visualise each object on that list
and see it on your person, it is anything but.
In certain circumstances I will use a range of covert electronic devices
that are hidden upon my body. These I dont really count as props as
they are invisible to the audience.
As you can see from the list above, it is real bare bones stuff; in fact all
the items could easily fit into just one pocket. Lets take this a little
further and discuss the possibilities of carrying this small supply of
equipment. Firstly none of the above will raise suspicion to a walk
around audience. There have been many, many debates about the use
of playing cards in mentalism. Im not going to go into it here; needless
to say I currently use them, but only for 1 or 2 effects at the most.

Business Cards
This is an interesting section that needs to be considered if you are to be
an effective close-up performer.
One of the most important elements for this type of work is a strong
business card. It should be clear, concise and have all the relevant
contact information but dont give too much away. Obviously your cards
should set the context for you, so ensure it says what you do, dont
waffle though. Mine simply states my name and underneath it the words
Mind Reader.
Why not a Mentalist? Well in the UK this term is relatively unknown. If I
were to ask the majority of the public they would not know what this is.
Although the recent US TV show of the same name now gives a few
people an indication of what I can actually do, at present it is not a viable
term to use on my business cards, maybe one day that will change.
Also, the comedian Alan Partridge is famous in the UK for a sketch
where he uses the term mentalist as a crazy person. Hence if you
were to call someone a mentalist, the image conjured up in many
peoples minds would be someone who is a little mentally unstable.

Whilst this may be true of a few performers I have witnessed over the
years it is hardly the impression I want to present.
Contact details are vital on a business card. Make sure you give your
website details and a phone number. Email is optional as if someone is
interested in booking you they will be able to get that from your site. You
may want to include any testimonials or quotes on your cards. Make
sure these are interesting and if you have had the privilege of performing
for celebrities ensure their name is clearly visible at the end of the quote.
Dont use unknown names, instead write the name of the company they
represent, it looks and sounds so much more impressive and will be
remembered by prospective clients.
How To Use Your Business Cards
This may seem a little unusual for some but bear with me; I dont like
using my business cards as billets. I will not fold them up, or tear them
into pieces. Its disrespectful to the card and weakens their purpose by
giving the impression that they are worthless. I want people to treat my
business cards with respect as if it is something for them to treasure.
When the performance is over and I am gone, it will be the only physical
thing left with them and should serve as a lasting reminder of who I am
and how to contact me in the future. A tatty half torn card with numbers
and words scribbled upon it is not the memory I want them to have.
By this I am not saying that we should never use our business cards in
effects. Much the opposite, I have purposely designed a section on the
back of the card for me to write or draw my participants thoughts on.
Notice how I said for me to write or draw.
The reason why I dont usually allow my participants to scribble on my
card is two-fold. The first being that I can control what goes on there. I
certainly dont want an image of a badly drawn penis or a large dog shit
to be an active reminder of my drawing duplication. Drunken participants
can be difficult at the best of times.
The second reason is that I want to give my card away at the end of
each and every performance; hence if I am using a peek wallet to see
what my participant has written or drawn I will ensure they use their own
business card to jot the thought down. It is natural for me to take their
card and place it inside my wallet, once their card is firmly inside my

wallet; I can get my peek and take out one of my own business cards on
which to replicate their thought. This will then be handed to them to keep
as a souvenir.
I want to re-emphasise that last paragraph as I feel it is of utmost

The participant draws or writes a thought on their own card.

It is placed in your wallet.
You take one of your own cards out (peeking at the same time).
Replicate their thought on your card, and give it to them.

By doing this, you not only perform a strong piece of mind reading but
you successfully network, you have gained the contact details of
someone you have performed well for, whilst at the same time given
your details to the person with a correctly revealed thought permanently
etched onto the back.
Tips On Giving Your Business Cards Out
Here are a couple of tips on giving your business cards out. You need to
constantly bear in mind that every card given is a direct lead, a lead that
could lead to a booking. Therefore everyone is a potential client and
needless to say should be treated with respect.
If you have performed an effect that utilised your business card, ensure
the card is given to them at the end as a memory or souvenir of your
time together. When you do this, always give an extra card and tell them
its for a friend
This will do two things, it will potentially get your card in the hands of
someone who has never met you or experienced your performances. It
also doubles the chances that your card wont be casually left on the
table or lost.
A friend of mine, Iain Dunford, has a great subtlety for dealing with
audience members who ask him about predicting Lottery numbers. In
the UK we tend to get asked this a lot. Participants usually say
something along the lines of Can you tell me the Lotto numbers for
Saturday? or If you are a Mind reader, why dont you just win the
lottery each week?

Taking Iains subtlety and applying it in the context of giving your

business cards will increase the chances of the participant cherishing
your card and making sure they dont misplace it.
Here is what you do: at the end of your performance take out one of your
business cards and on the back write down a sequence of 6 numbers.
Look them in the eye and say:
These are for you.
Hand them the card and allow it to register what the numbers are, if they
dont realise gently prompt them. Then tell them the following:
One thing Im not allowed to tell you WHEN they will come
up, but believe me...they WILL
Iain suggests that it almost becomes a curse, the audience either feel
you are taking the piss out of them but find that they will check the Lotto
numbers every week just to see if they come up or not. And think about
the publicity if they did win?
Just make sure that if you play the Lotto, you play the same numbers as
those given out!
A Small Supply Of Pens Or Pencils
Although this may sound obvious, its very important to take with you a
supply of writing implements. Always plan ahead, one day your pen will
run out or someone will lose it; make sure you dont get caught short by
only having the one. It certainly doesnt look professional asking the
booker or host to go off and find some pens for you.
With that said, please ensure you are consistent with your choice of
writing implement. If you are using a thumb writer that holds lead, dont
for the rest of the effects use a ball point pen. The inconsistency will
raise suspicion. If you use a super sharpie then ensure you use regular
sharpies in other effects.

Some Type Of Impression Device Or Peek Wallet

In my close-up performances I use both. My regular everyday wallet is
the wonderful Stealth Assassin Wallet (SAW) which is in my opinion The
best utility wallet for a mentalist. Firstly, the quality of manufacture is
superb. I have had mine since the first day it was released and I have
never had anything go wrong with it. The second reason is the sheer
amount of effects I can use it for. Each SAW offers the following:

Stealth peek facility

SUC peek facility
SUC loading facility
Billet index system
Pocket writing holder
Space for other props (ESP cards etc)

At the time of writing this, I cannot envision me changing to any other

utility wallet. The current market is flooded with them but none of them
can match the SAW in terms of usability.
Impression Device
The impression device I use for close-up performances is the incredible
Skeeter by my good friend John Riggs. This guy is an absolute genius
and his creativity never ceases to amaze me. The Skeeter is basically a
small acrylic square a little bigger than the standard post-it note pad. On
the rear of it is the famous 3M logo of the company that makes Post-its.
The Post-it pad fits onto the Skeeter by using its own adhesive and you
can gain an excellent impression through several layers of Post-its. Also,
you can instantly reset right under the participants noses.
John describes several peeks and handling tips on his incredible DVD
set, Gods with Feet of Clay. For more information on obtaining one of
these beautiful props please go and visit Johns website at:
If you are averse to using Post-it notes (which I hope you are openminded enough to reconsider) then John offers a range of impression
devices that will suit you. The Baby Hornet is a small version of the now
famous Brown Hornet. This can be used with your business cards.

Marked Playing Cards

The Marked Playing cards I use are the wonderful Boris Wild Marked
deck. It is a versatile and cheap set printed by the USPCC on the
famous Bicycle stock. The reason I use this deck is because the marking
system is so easy to read and I can quite easily spot my markings from 6
feet away. The markings can also be seen in a ribbon spread which is
an advantage over some other marked decks.
Why use a Marked Deck?
Well, its a personal preference, simple as that. Of course, using a
marked deck opens up a whole new world of effects that are clean and
hands off, both attributes which enhance the audiences perception of
the mentalist. A magician would and could handle a deck of cards,
utilising a range of flourishes, fancy cuts and sleight of hand, but a
mentalist should appear very conventional with his physical skills,
leaving his mental abilities to shine.
I want my shuffles to appear rather haphazard and at times sloppy. I
dont want to be perceived as someone with advanced card skills as it
takes away the credibility by somewhat shattering the illusion of a Mind
reader. The cards should be merely perceived as a tool for reading
thoughts, and since a deck has 52 different thoughts, it should appear to
be an ideal tool for such a thing.
With this in mind, I will outline the effects I perform using a marked deck
for walk around, please bear in mind, I will not perform all of these in a
single performance, 2 at the most:
Intuitive Aii (First seen in S.A.D & later in Your Thoughts Are Mine
Red Sky @ Night (S.A.D)
Psychological Foresight (Your Thoughts Are Mine)
Test Conditions (Explained later)
Incidentally, the first effect on that list doesnt actually require a marked
deck but since it is something of a pet effect of mine, I will perform it
using my marked one to save me carrying more than one deck, thus
eliminating me from falling into the Packhorse that I detest so much.

Thumb/Nail writer
My writer of choice is not a
manufactured item, it is one I have
made myself using the fantastic Pilot
Croquis lead holder (see image) It is a
chunky lead holder / sketching pencil
that comes in a variety of different
grades of lead.
The grade of choice is an H as it is a
hard yet visible lead that lasts a very,
very long time. Replacement leads
can be bought for a couple of Euros. The lead itself is a huge 3mm in
thickness which makes it very strong and durable yet highly visible.

To make the thumb writer, buy yourself a thumb tip, cut off approx 2/3rds
from the bottom of the tip and retain the top section (the part with the
thumb nail) Place the tip on your thumb and hold onto a business card,
as if you are going to thumb write. We are going to do something not
usually done in thumb writing and that is to take ergonomics into
The point where the thumb tip makes contact with the business card is
the most natural point to have the lead. Mark the spot with a pen dot and
carefully drill a small hole through the front of the tip (ensure the drill bit
you use is slightly smaller than 3mm) You can then push a small section
of the lead into the hole and add a few drops of superglue around the
hole on the outside and inside of the thumb tip. This will hold the lead in
place securely.
Post-it Notes
Why on earth do you use Post-it notes Looch? Simple - everyone knows
them, they raise no suspicion and you have a hundred performances in
your pocket all neatly stacked together ready for you to peel off at any
given moment.
There have been several interesting uses of Post-it notes in the world of
mentalism over the past few years. Most notably Julian (Bev) Moores
Post Justify book:
Julian has given me permission to discuss a most ingenious working
property of Post-it notes. Did you know all Post-it notes have a memory?
Believe it or not, they are a smart material and once you know this
following secret you will use it.
When peeling a note off the pad, you can secretly mark it so you know
either to whom it has been given or in which order you peeled a series of
notes off the pad. Doing this relies on how you peel the note off the pad.
If you grip the Post-it note to be
peeled by the bottom right corner it
will automatically curl the top left
edge once peeled. This curl will be
remembered when you stick the note
flush onto a surface, so when you
peel it off the surface once more later
in a routine the curl will still be there.
Depending on how you peel off the
notes determines how they become
marked. So if you peel the note from
the centre bottom of the note, the
whole top edge will curl, whereas if
you peel from the bottom left edge,
the top right edge will curl.
I use this principle when performing
close-up, it is the quickest, easiest
and most efficient way of marking I
have ever come across (previously I
used nail-nicking). By utilising this I
am able to perform a Sneak Thief
type routine, where I am able to
discern who has produced which
drawing. Another quick routine that I
will use is it to have three marked
Post-its handed out and stuck to
table, with a number written on each
by one of the participants. The three notes are then mixed up into a new
order yet you are able to correctly determine the original 3 digit code.
This is a cross between a lie detector routine and a pin code effect.

People are generally

reluctant to engage in
routines where you
potentially could reveal
any financial information,
so instead of revealing
any detail in full, leave
an element out thats
why using a three digit
number is more
workable than a four.
You could also reveal
the date of birth instead.
On my DVD Your Thoughts Are Mine I perform one of my pet effects A
Nod to Pocket Watch, which also uses Post-it notes. If you decide to
use another medium instead of Post-its, then I have a walk around,
quick-reset variation of Nod to Pocket Watch later in these notes.
Billet Index
At present I believe my LPI (Looch Pocket Index) is one of the only billet
indexes available on the market. I was fortunate to come up with a range
of designs for simple, durable and workable pocket index systems when
I developed the LPI. Many of mentalisms big names including the
President of the PEA own LPIs and I am honoured to have my name
associated with such a widely approved product.
A decent billet index is invaluable to the modern mentalist. So much can
be achieved with one and it opens doors to a range of devastatingly
strong walk around pieces.
A few of those above sections may read as advertisements for my own
products and in all honesty in some way there are, but the underlining
reason for mentioning them is because in my performances they are
what I use.
Developing Sets & Routines
In my honest opinion I feel when performing close-up and walk around
you should not present a stream of single unrelated effects. Consider
your repertoire and mentally link routines together that either share a

presentational angle or context. Alter your scripting to piece it all

together, but leave exit points so you are able to bring each section to a
logical and strong conclusion if a distraction at the table or venue occurs.
This could be anything, a speech, food being served, a photograph or
even a fight (I have experienced each one!)
As an example, if you decide to perform a Psychokinetic routine, make a
list of effects that either are psychokinetic in nature or can be adapted
into a psychokinetic pseudo premise for example:

Spoon/fork bending
Coin bending
Changing the hands on a watch (PK Time)
Making someone feel something (PK Touch, Real Ghost or
Electric Touch)
Moving/knocking over an object
Once done, create a mini-set where you can perform several of these
effects as part of one organic free flowing demonstration. You must
however have exit points where you can finish the routine and it
appears as if thats where the logical ending is. You can never prepare
enough for walk around work. Expect the unexpected, it may be a clich
but its so true.
From the list above a typical mini-set could well be the following:
PK Time - the actual moving of the hands is hidden from view, so
in effect you are demonstrating an energy that cant be seen.
PK Touches - that invisible energy used to change the watch can
be applied openly and people can feel taps when you are nowhere
near them.
Move an Object - maybe using invisible thread or a loop you can
now demonstrate the energy affecting an actual object. The
participants can see visual proof of the energys existence.
Spoon Bend - the ultimate demonstration of the energy at work,
the spoon bends visually before breaking.
In theory it doesnt matter where you stop throughout that mini set as
each demonstration is a logical one and closure is seen to be gained (in
terms of the effect not the minds of the audience). Each effect thereafter
serves to heighten their interest but also satisfy their logic/understanding
and questions of the phenomenon.

Let it flow, be a Jazz Mentalist (Thanks Mr Cassidy!)

Make It Visual
For many years, performers have complained about the lack of visual
mentalism. Well my philosophy has always been if you dont like
something, change it. This rings especially true in the world of close-up
mentalism. There are very few standard effects that can be classed as
PK effects are the most visual the mentalist can perform but many shy
away from them. I dont know why as I personally love PK work
especially spoon and fork bending routines. Other areas of mentalism
have different dynamics and thus cannot naturally be visual, for example
a book test. For the most part, the book should be seen as secondary to
the effect. No one should pay much attention to the book and in a
perfect world the use of a book should ideally be forgotten. Although to
be honest this is not always possible, lets not kid ourselves!
As a result I have thought about the material I perform and have made a
conscious effort to try and incorporate some visual element to the
routines. One such example, although developed quite by accident is a
standard Coin in Hand routine. In its infant state I stood across from
one participant and correctly guessed which hand the coin was in three
times in a row - hardly a performance piece.
By the time it had evolved, I was performing a completely different
routine but in essence still the same effect. I had from three to six people
stood in a line with their fists outstretched. It had become a light-hearted
interrogation piece where I would attempt to determine who was lying
and who was telling the truth. It gave me plenty of opportunities to
incorporate humour and the actual line of people themselves became
the much needed visual element. The line-up became the focal point of
the rest for the audience at the event. People would stop what they were
doing in the vicinity and observe what we were doing. It generated
interest which can only be a good thing for the working mentalist.
I suppose what I am trying to say is change your own perception of what
makes something visual. Try not to focus on the effect itself but rather
the logistics. What can you do to incorporate a visual element? What
can make the presentation more visual? What can you incorporate into
your routine to generate more interest for outsiders looking in? What will

grab peoples attention 20 feet away? Take these into account when
designing your next close-up routine.
Here are some examples to get you thinking:

Equivoque using people not objects

Chinese whispers style routine
Using sticky labels with participants names written on them
Sticking a prediction on someones back (great for any force!)
Creating a line of people

Here is an example of a fast paced and visual opener for use in walk
S.A.D Opener
This effect first saw print in my good friend Alexander Marshs book
Hybrid Mentalism. It is my opener for close-up and walk around
mentalism. I use this because it satisfies my specifications for an
opener. It is:

Simple and direct (SAD)

Very quick (less than 30 seconds)
Uses more than one person
Sets the context
Attracts attention

I walk up to a small group of people, and introduce myself along the

lines of:
"Hi, my name is Looch and Im one of the entertainers here today. Are
you both having a good time?"
"A hypothetical question for you: if someone whom you had never met
approached you and told you that on the reverse side of this Post-it note
there is a two-digit number printed, and that between you, you would be
able to intuit that number, what would you say?"
I bring out the Post-it pad from my pocket and hold it with the reverse
side facing me.
"What is the first number that pops into your mind now?"

"Erm... a three"
"And you sir... What number comes to your mind?"
"A nine."
"So here is the important part...Is it a three & a nine or a nine & a three?"
Both look at each other and decide. Once an answer has been given
"Im certainly glad you intuited it that way round and not the other way.
Show the Post-it after it has been nail-written, to reveal the chosen
This is a very useful opener. It is quick, strong and sets the context as to
what kind of things they can expect from our time together. It takes less
than a minute and draws your participants in, ready for further mystery.
In a walk around setting where there are more than two people I will then
usually move on to the following effect. This creates a visual element to
the performance and helps generate interest from others in the vicinity.
Whats In A Name?
Its interesting being able to discern certain information from people
without ever having met them. I want to try something with each of you.
Please write your name clearly on one of these Post-it notes. Dont show
me, instead swap your notes with each other a few times and stick them
to your chest. It doesnt matter if you end up with your own name or a
different one. I am going to try and deduce your real names by asking a
question and observing your responses.
As you say the lines above you have peeled off three Post-it notes from
your pad in the way described earlier (Julian Moores incredible marking
system) and handed a pen to your first participant. Once the participants
have written their names, exchanged their notes and stuck them upon
their person, you turn back to face them


You see when we hear our name called out, every fibre of our being
wants to react in some way, and it does, even if you try not to.
The performer looks at each of the participants and randomly peels off
the Post-it notes from their chests. He notes the subtle marking and
instructs each of the participants to answer Yes to the following
Is this your name?
The performer shows the Post-it note to each participant in turn and
carefully studies their reaction. Through apparently subtle observation
the performer successfully sticks the correct post-it onto the correct
Nod to Pocket Watch Walk around Version
A Nod to Pocket Watch was first published in S.A.D (Simple & Direct)
Mentalism in 2005. It was inspired by an absolute gem of a routine by
Bob Cassidy. The routine later appeared on my DVD, Your Thoughts
Are Mine.
One slight issue I had with the routine was the logistics. It was a little
fiddly performing it in a walk around setting because the reset
interrupted the flow of moving from one table to the other. As a result I
redesigned aspects of it so it would fit into my walk around repertoire.
The following is the version I currently use for walk around work. The
strengths being that it uses either your own business cards or blank
ones and the reset takes just a few seconds.
To prepare, you will need a stack of about twenty of either your own or
blank business cards. Take the top card and fold it into quarters, ensure
you push all the folds as flat as you can then reopen the card and refold
it into quarters in the opposite direction. Once again ensure all folds are
pushed flat. When you reopen the card you will notice that the folds have
weakened the card and as a result can be folded in either direction with
Holding the card in a landscape orientation, write You Will Name
across the card just above the horizontal half-way fold. Once you have
done this give the top right corner a slight bend (dog ear). This will be
important during performance.

This will be placed on

top of your stack of
cards but before you
do, write on the
second business card
down the outcome of
whatever you want to
force in the routine,
this could be any of
the following:

A time of day
A playing card
An ESP symbol
The outcome of an equivoque procedure

For the purpose of this explanation I will use the word phone as the
outcome of an equivoque procedure. This is written across the face of
the second card of my stack, the top being the pre-folded & prepared
card. Both cards are writing-side upwards, although this is concealed
during performance.
In performance I will ask one of the participants their thoughts on the
theory of Fate Vs Freewill. Whatever their response I will ask them,
If I asked you to name a country, what would you say?
Whatever their response I will continue with,
Now is that answer a result of your freewill, something you decided
upon right then as a result of my question... or could it have been an
answer that had been predetermined for you to respond with before you
were even born?
The above sets the context for the effect ahead. Apparently nothing has
occurred, yet in reality you are already one ahead.
Explain that what you are about to attempt will test their freewill. Have
the participant remove a series of personal items from their pockets etc,
I will usually request 5 items, lets say these are:


As these items are placed upon

the table, I will look over them
and write an apparent prediction
on a business card. I then table
this card face down and move
into my equivoque forcing
In reality what I am really doing
is writing their response to my
question a minute earlier (the
country they named). This is
written underneath the already
pre-written You Will Name
card. Using my thumb to lift the
dog- eared corner of this card I
am able to fold it in half
horizontally and remove the
second business card down
instead (this is the one with
phone pre-written on it).
This is taken as I bring the stack
of cards up towards my chest
as if to hide what Ive written
from view. Once it has been
tabled I will begin the
Equivoque procedure with my
participant. As they select their
first object I casually place the
remaining stack of cards on the
table. Before I do however, I
complete the second fold of the
top card so it is now into


quarters. I do this by turning

the stack of cards over and into
my palm, resulting in the now
quartered card being
underneath the stack, on my
palm. (See images right)
I can now cop the folded card
as my other hand takes the
stack almost in a Biddle style
grip and tables it.
The folded card can be
pocketed or loaded into a
window envelope, or wallet
such as a Stealth Assassin. It
may also be used in
conjunction with an Ostin clip
that has been in full view the
entire time.
The remainder of the
Equivoque procedure is played
out and the card is turned over
by the participant to show the
prediction of the Phone to be
correct. The effect appears to
be over, as the participant
takes in that you have
apparently pre-empted his
choice of objects in advance,
the performer brings forth the
other prediction in the form of
his wallet/envelope/clip etc.
The prediction is opened and
unfolded and the words are read aloud,
You will name (insert relevant country).
Nod to Pocket Watch is an extremely strong strolling routine that has in
my experience with it brought about a very excited response from those
who have witnessed it. It can be adapted to suit any presentational angle
that you wish and can be something of a reputation maker.

The following is a long established effect of mine that draws its
inspiration from Alain Nus Animalogic, and Richard Buschs 21ST
Century Imagery. Recently I have been made aware that it shares
similarities to Scott Grossbergs Mindcast.
For a long time I us to performed Buschs 21st Century Imagery from
Peek Performances but using my own version of the cards. These were
hand drawn and looked quite interesting but they lacked any depth and,
as an effect, were only just scratching the surface of what could be
I then developed a version that had 6 sets of cards that had 36 options
on them, each option specifically chosen to trigger a memory from the
participants mind. Each trigger word was generic, in that all of us would
have had some sort of personal experience with each of the 36 words.
For example the word Birthday will create a visual image in our mind; it
may be quite generic, a birthday cake for example. From that we can
take it deeper and introduce personal experiences and memories into it.
For example, at my tenth birthday party I had all my friends with me and
I had a football-shaped birthday cake with my teams logo on it.
The routine that follows is one I have used for the last four years for walk
around mentalism; it is simple, strong and visual. I have, however,
recently realised a different direction that I can take this effect in, and as
a result have decided to take the necessary steps to accomplish
something even bigger with this idea. Stay tuned for the marketed and
utterly impossible version of Memories but for now please enjoy an
effect that I have held close to my heart and entertained audiences with
all over the UK.
The performer discusses how memories are our mental ability to store,
retain and recall information. We all have them and they are individual to
each of us. Even though at times we may share a generic experience,
the details are always unique to us.
Six postcard size cards are shown with s different trigger words printed
upon them, thirty-six in total. The cards are given to the participant to
look through and mentally decide upon a word that will assist in
triggering a memory.

The participant confirms she has a word locked inside her head and the
cards are mixed, they are then flipped over to reveal a series of 36
images on the backs. For each trigger word there is a related image, for
example the word birthday has the image of a birthday cake. The
participant is instructed to look through the cards once more as the
performer turns his head. The performer focuses on her image, this
forms the starting point from which she is to allow a personal memory of
that word and image combined to come to the front of her mind. The
cards are mixed and the performer turns back to face her.
At this point the performer knows 100% what memory the participant has
in their mind.
The secret behind this effect lies in a well hidden principle located within
the design of the cards. This goes back years and was made popular by
Alain Nu in his wonderful Animalogic routine.
If you look at the trigger word side of the six cards, the first letter of the
first words are alphabetical:
A = Airplane
B = Birthday
C = Christmas
D = Dentist
E = Easter
F = Fireworks
These have a numerical value which is obvious when stated:
The cards can be in a cyclical stack as long as they go in alphabetical
order, ABCDEF. These cards are given to the participant with the
instructions to look at the cards one at a time and silently read the six
trigger words. Once done they are to put the card to the back of the
stack and look at the next six words, they continue this process for as

long as they wish until they stop at a card which contains a word that
they chose.
They are to focus upon that word and lock it in their mind. The
performers head is turned during the above process, and as he reaches
forward to take the cards and mixes them, what he really does is to take
the front card and move it to the back. This is repeated once more so
that two cards have been moved from front to back.
The performer briefly turns to face the participant as he hands the cards
back to the participant, turning them over to reveal the images. It is at
this point the performer silently peeks the first word of the card on the
bottom of the stack.
The cards are passed to the participant who can freely mix them up
before the next stage of the routine and as this is being done the
performer mentally figures out the numerical value +2 of the word
peeked moments earlier. For example:
Airplane = 1 +2 = 3
Birthday = 2 +2 = 4
Christmas = 3 +2 = 5
Dentist = 4 +2 = 6
Easter = 5 +2 = 1
Fireworks = 6 +2 = 2
Remember this is a cyclical stack so as there are only six images or
words on each card, the numerical value cannot exceed 6, therefore it
goes back to the start and continues from there, e.g. Easter = 5 +2
(goes to 6 then back to 1).
As an example if the performer peeks the word Dentist, it has a
numerical value of 4 +2 = 6, so the image that the participant has in their
mind will appear at the 6th location on one of the cards. It is the simple
task of tracking which card the participant looks at in the second phase
and later peeking at the 6th location of that card to tell you what memory
they are thinking of.
I appreciate this sounds complicated, but in reality it is extremely simple
indeed. At the end of the second phase where the participant is looking
for the image that relates to the word they have locked in thought, the
cards can be taken back by the performer with his head still turned and
one card from the back of the stack can be brought to the top, the cards

can then be tossed on to the table as the participant is focusing on a

personal memory that links with the trigger word. The memory will be in
the 6th position on the second card down on the table.
Once the peek has been made the cards can be haphazardly mixed on
the table by the performer as he apparently still looks away. The
handling of the cards must be done in a casual, haphazard way; the
mixing looking sloppy adds to the deception.
Lets run through an example for clarity. The cards are handed out and
the participant looks through them one at a time, deciding on the word,
Drunk (the second word on the third card). As the performer still faces
away he mixes the cards up, in reality he places the third card to the
back, then the 4th card also to the back. These cards are flipped over to
reveal the images and the performer gives them to the participant. As he
does so he makes a mental note of the first word on the bottom card
which in our example will be Easter (the 5th card).
The mental calculation is made (numerical value +2) so in this case
E=5+2 = 1 (remember the cyclical stack cannot go over 6). So the image
or memory the participant will be thinking of will be at position 1.
The participant has been handed the cards with the images facing her,
she can freely mix them before she looks for her trigger word related
image. When she finally finds her image, she focuses on it and as you
instruct her to allow the image to relate to an actual real life memory,
take the cards back and place a card from the back of the stack to the
front and casually toss the cards to the table. The memory will be in the
1st position of the second card down on the table: The drunken man.
Try it out with cards in hand and you will see that if this procedure is
followed the method is automatic. It really is much easier than it reads!
For a walk around routine it is lovely. The cards easily fit into your jacket
pocket and the effect is strong. It opens up the doors to those of you that
perform readings as it gives you a definite hit from which to. Finally, the
method is so well hidden that it makes it impossible for laymen to
reverse engineer, leaving you to focus on the most important part - the
On the next few pages are the template cards for this routine, you will
need to glue them back to back to create 6 cards, please ensure you
glue the correct cards, they have been paired for easiness.













Test Conditions
This is the marked deck effect I listed earlier. It is an extremely strong
close-up card effect that relies purely on being able to read the markings
in a quick and natural manner. Use whatever marked deck you feel
comfortable with (Boris Wild for me). Hand the participant (or multiple
participants) the deck to be thoroughly shuffled.
No one will ever spot the markings on the Boris Wild deck. They may
look obvious to you and I but trust me, Ive had hundreds if not
thousands of people examine my marked decks and Ive never ever
been caught out.
Once the deck is shuffled, the performer explains that a traditional
magician may use sleight of hand and fancy moves to force a particular
card on someone. The deck is spread out onto a table and a participant
is instructed to reach forward and slide any card out from the spread but
to leave it on the table.
The performer at this point asks if the participant would like to change
their mind and select a different card. This is to ensure a complete test
conditions style effect. The performer has at this point gotten his reading
of the mark and continues by asking the participant to only look at the
cards face when he has turned away 100%. He does so and the card is
placed into the participants pocket or a small manila envelope to isolate
it from view. The remainder of the deck is gathered up and placed back
inside the case which is left on the table. At this point the performer can
turn back to reveal the card.
The reveal is very much psychological in nature but can be adapted to
suit your character and performance style. I will usually have them say
the card to themselves 3 times to lock it into their short term memory,
from there I will embark on a series of questions related to the identity of
the card for example;
1. The card will either be Red, (performer nods) or Black yes? (nods
again). There is a slight pause between the statements of the
colours, approximately one second. Depending on the participants
reaction, (they usually nod on the colour of their card) I will say that
they nodded on a particular colour, giving it away. In reality,
although this is psychologically sound, I try to get them to nod on
their correct colour as I already know what card it is. It is just a

simple matter of nodding and getting them to nod back at you.

2. The suit is the next detail I want to get, so I will ask them to name
the four suits in any order they wish. From experience people pair
the suits into colour so a natural response from a layman would be
Hearts, Diamonds, Spades, and Clubs. But if they have a card in
mind already they will want to try and throw you off the scent. As a
result they will mix the colours up, you can make reference to this
and they usually smile because it is exactly what they have done.
If they are thinking of a Diamond, they may say; Hearts, Spades,
Clubs and Diamonds Since you know the card you can
immediately announce;
Most people would keep the colours together, Hearts and Diamonds,
then Clubs and Spades. Youve split them to try and throw me off; you
put Hearts at the start so you have a red card in mind. The fact that you
put Diamonds in last means youre trying to throw me off. Its a Diamond
isnt it?
It really is about thinking on your feet and making things fit for you.
Remember you already know their card so play it up and try and get the
participants to slip up!
3. The final question is for the value of the card, I first saw this
approach in an old Mind Control special of Derren Browns where
he performed a card effect on a trio of guys in a working mens
club in London. In essence you are going to ask the participant to
count out loud Ace through to King, when the participant counts
aloud. You then claim to have heard a discrepancy in their vocal
tone and correctly announce the correct value. For an ideal
example of this technique being used please go online and listen
to an old audio sample of me performing on BBC radio in the UK.
The link can be found here:


Spectator As Mind reader

This is a very popular term at the moment, one which the majority of
mentalists want to achieve in some way. It certainly isnt a new concept,
it is as old as the hills but there some very nice modern applications and
fusion of methods, one of which I will describe below. This is a technique
that can be extremely powerful if used sparingly and under specific
performance conditions.
There is an incredible effect in Barrie Richardsons Theatre of the Mind
entitled Dollar Divination. In it Barrie describes two participants trying to
transmit complex information over space and time. Barrie acts as a
mental conduit between the two participants and they are able to sense
information that others cannot.
Taking this concept and mixing into it elements of Banacheks
Psychokinetic Touches I have devised a way to secretly cue
participants certain pieces of information so they appear as the Mind
reader in an effect. One important element to consider is that the effect
you choose to try this technique with is very important. It should be
layered so that even if perceptive audience members suspect you are
giving the participant help they still cannot fathom how you as the
mentalist knew what to transmit to the mind-reading participant. The use
of a marked deck is once again perfect for this type of effect.
By having a card selected in an utterly fair way ala test conditions you
can secretly transmit the colour, suit and value to your participant by
doing one of the following:
If you are seated, you can stealthily tap the participants foot at the
correct moment. For example:
In a moment you are going to look directly into their eyes and ask them
to concentrate upon the colour of their card, we know its one of two
colours, either a red card or a black card. For whatever reason you will
know which it is it will just feel right.
As you say the word feel you secretly tap their foot with yours.
Continue with:
Now ask them to think of their colour...they are to think Yes when you
name their colour.

The participant asks Is it a red card? and then Is it a black card?

When they name the correct colour, again secretly tap their foot. They
will know they are in on the trick but experience shows they will play
along, especially if you have chosen the right participant (which I will
discuss further in a moment).
This process is repeated for each piece of information you want to
transmit: Colour, Suit, and then the Value of the card. If you are not
seated you can do this by secretly tapping or applying pressure to the
shoulder or back of your participant using your hand or finger. I have
even performed this with my arm around the participant as an
encouraging gesture. It is important to mention the taps are not obvious,
they should go unnoticed by everyone, only felt by the participant.
Choosing the Right Participant
This is fundamental if this technique is to succeed. Use it sparingly and
only on certain types of people. I will use it if I am trying to bring different
groups of people that dont know each other together at a function. They
are less likely to talk afterwards especially if you put the emphasis on
how well your participant as performed throughout the effect. You may
even give them a sly wink afterwards as a token of your appreciation.
This technique is most successful with people who are not natural
leaders within their groups. In each group there is always an Alpha Male
or female who the others tend to look to as the leader, even on an
unconscious level. By giving the power to a perceived weaker member
of the group it makes them feel special and important. They are less
likely to spill the beans so to speak.
I wouldnt recommend performing this with the Alpha Member of a group
as they will nearly always out you either in front of you or after you have
left. If you want to give the Spectator as Mindreader power to an Alpha
Member you will have to use a different technique, something a little
more invisible perhaps a psychological force.
What if they talk afterwards?
You have done as much as you can to stop them, you have been
respectful, polite and given them the power, so the odds are they wont
talk. But there are times when they will. What should you say? Simple,
emphasise the impossibility of what happened. How could you know
their card? It was selected from a shuffled deck whilst you were turned

away, only the participant saw the card, you were adamant during the
selection process that no one else saw it.
The Garden Path Theory
Many mentalists, myself included, struggled to decide on their
performance character. The clich is, Be yourself or a slightly
exaggerated version of you .This may be all well and good but I wasnt
born with the ability to bend silverware, I just enjoy doing it. No amount
of pseudo-psychological babble can explain how I can bend the tine of a
As a result many Psychological Illusionists restrict themselves in the
type of material they can perform. If you create the illusion of mind
reading through influence and suggestion then fine, but thats not going
to help you move an object with the power of your mind is it?
I struggled for a long time to come up with a logical and believable
premise as to how I do certain things. I was a psychological entertainer, I
could read body language and tiny unconscious signals to get an insight
into my participants head. The trouble was: how could that explain how I
had been able to predict the newspaper headlines live on BBC radio?
It wasnt until I met my now good friend Marc Spelmann that the answer
came to me. One evening we were deep in conversation and he told me
a story that struck me to my core. It made me question everything about
my character and as a result I felt something of an epiphany. I could be
reborn and no longer restricted in the material I could present.
All I had to do was let go of the constant search to explain everything I
do. This is what my friend told me:
Lead them down the garden path, then just as they feel comfortable
with you, kick them in the balls.
This was brilliant, think about it for a moment. Give your audience a
believable premise. Something they will appreciate and is logical to
them, let them think thats how you do it, sometimes dont be blatant, just
hint and let them make the connection. Lead them down the garden path
as Marc says, then just as they feel they understand, flip it on its head
and kick them right in the balls. Let me give you an example.


A few years back when I was performing on the BBC. The host of the
Morning show was an extremely sceptical person; she was very antipsychic and believed they should be burnt at the stake. She would
however accept the psychological approach to mind reading. I fed her
pseudo explanations of body language changes and reading her vocal
inflictions and tones in order to tell what playing card she was thinking of
and what time from a twenty-four hour period she had in mind.
The host was happily presenting the show, taking the phone calls and
generally being a little smug as she felt that she understood how I
performed and what I was doing during a thought reading sequence. It
wasnt until the finale of the show that I flipped it on its head and messed
with her head big time. I had spent the best part of two hours live on air
leading her down the proverbial garden path only to land my size 10
boots firmly in between the legs.
Days before, I had delivered a sealed envelope to the studio with clear
instructions to lock it away safely until the show and not to let anyone
tamper with it. This was done and when called for the envelope was
brought forward.
I explained that so far I had explained the psychological process I go
through to get inside my audiences heads, the host agreed and
announced that she could now follow what was doing and try to do it
herself. I informed her that the process works only up to a point and the
really interesting thing was - how I could know three days in advance
what she would think on the morning of the show?
The host opened the envelope up to reveal a photograph and another
smaller sealed envelope. The photograph was of me holding the
envelope, in front of me on the table was the same playing card that she
had thought of at the start of the show and my watch was set to the
exact time she had freely thought about an hour earlier.
The host freaked. She looked at the smaller, sealed envelope and
opened it, inside was the newspaper headlines from that mornings
tabloid. She really didnt know what to do or on air, for the first
time she was lost for words.
I get invited back to perform every year now.
So come on, dont fight the pseudo babble, be believable, gain their trust
then kick em in the balls, its great!

Chance & Coincidence

I would like to spend a few moments discussing the area of chance &
coincidence within a mentalism context. Over the last few years I have
witnessed many performers not take credit for things which if they had
would have created real miracles. There can be times in a performance
that stick with us forever; we need to grab those opportunities with both
hands or fear letting slip moments of sheer perfection. It can make a
massive difference to the way we are perceived as entertainers.
As I write this, I am reflecting on a performance a few days ago which to
me was one of those moments. The young man that I performed for will
remember one detail of that performance for a long time. The detail
shouldnt have even played a part in the routine, but I allowed it to and it
subsequently took over as the focal point. If I had not been alert to it I
would have passed over it and lost the true essence of what I feel
mentalism is all about.
I was sat with a young offender in a secure unit where he was serving a
sentence. I was talking with him about his life outside, and he was telling
me about some of the antics he and his friends used to get up to. I
enquired whether those things were reflected upon as good times or
regrets, he paused for a few moments and tried to construct a reply that
he thought was the right thing to say, I pulled him up about this and he
admitted that he was not used to people taking time out to talk with him
as a human being. He had been used all his life to being talked at and
not to, and wanted to maintain the rapport that we had obviously
I asked him to reflect back to a memory when he was truly happy and
secure and not one that involved crime. His shoulders dropped and his
breathing began to slow, he began to truly think back and reflect upon
his life and after a while he shook his head and let out a big sigh.
I had a pet once, was his reply. My heart sank, if that was the best he
could come up with the young lad must have led a pretty shit life. I asked
him to focus on his pet and to remember a time holding it and playing


with it. I explained that to help him focus he was to secretly write the
name of the pet onto a piece of paper and hold it in his palm.
I managed to peek the name of the animal and read the word Smudge.
Immediately I smiled inside, as when I was a young boy I too had a pet
called Smudge. I began to describe my own pet to him as the name had
connotations with the same animal, a rabbit. I described the colours I
was getting, and was hitting with them well, so continued with my own
memory as the description.
I explained that I felt Smudge was a soft white rabbit with a brown streak
along his back. The young lads eyes were widening as I told him that
this was very strange because when I was his age I had a white rabbit
called Smudge. His mouth dropped and out of it came all manner of
expletives. I kept relaxed and continued with my story of Smudge.
I loved Smudge, he was a real character. He used to make weird
growling noises, almost like he was trying to talk to us. After a year or so
of owning him, we got another white rabbit but this one was smaller, his
name was Thumper.
The lad kicked his chair back and stood up in a flash, he ran over to the
locked door and began screaming for him to be let out.
How the f**k do you know?!! How?!! F**k off F**k off!!!!
Probably one of the best reactions I have ever had! I was confused at
first but remained calm in what could have developed into a pretty
volatile situation. After a moment it began to dawn on me that the young
lad must have had another rabbit as well as Smudge, this one must also
have been called Thumper. An incredible coincidence had occurred,
something that could never be planned or set up. I knew these moments
dont come around often, maybe once in a lifetime, so I grabbed at it with
both hands and clung on for dear life.
The young man believed the story I was recalling from my own
childhood was in fact me entering his mind and speaking the words as
he was thinking them. I had apparently accomplished what we as
mentalists feel is the ultimate goal, that of actually getting inside
someones mind and reading their thoughts for real. I smiled gently and
he broke one out too. He walked over to me and held out his fist, in a

sort of urban youth hand shake, I did the same and he tapped his
knuckles with mine.
The lad had tears in his eyes and couldnt stop praising me. I explained
that although I was flattered, it wasnt just me who did it, but it had to be
him that played the major role in what just happened, as without him, it
couldnt have happened. He seemed to understand and appreciate this
and I led the conversation into the area of him being obviously talented.
I asked him what he liked doing, and what he could see himself being
happy doing.
He wanted to become a plumber, so I offered to look into some courses
available in his area, (I am a qualified teacher, so was well within my
rights to offer this). His eyes lit up and felt I had given him a chance. He
wasnt used to being praised but with me seemingly taking an interest in
him as a person and not judging him he felt that he could begin to take
the steps needed for him to change his life around and start being
happy. It is without a doubt my warmest memory of performance.
What if I hadnt taken advantage of this miraculous coincidence? Well
nothing, the lad wouldnt have experienced true magic and I would have
failed as a performer. Make sure you stay aware of everything and keep
calm, if you do you can take advantage of real moments of magic, these
moments will affect everyone, including yourself.


The final effect I will describe in these lecture notes is something of a
work in process. Not the effect itself, as it has been performed dozens of
times in the real world and in paid performances but the principle itself is
in its infancy in terms of its application to mentalism.
When I was a child, I was bought a Transformers robot action figure. I
loved it and was especially fascinated by the small sticker on its chest
that if touched would change colour and show the robots allegiance,
either an Autobot or a Decepticon.
The material the sticker was made from is used in the design industry
and a few years back I came into possession of a sheet of it. I
immediately thought of the uses in a mentalism context and since that
time I have experimented with it eagerly.
In the near future I will be releasing a DVD based around using this
material and how you can incorporate it into your performances. We
have dozens of effects and routines that use it but for now as a treat and
a big thank you to all of you that have invited me to spend time with you
in Hamburg, I wish to share with you the principle and how it has been
applied to a close-up effect.
The performer is armed with a stack of his business cards wrapped in a
rubber band and is seated at table with several participants around him.
He asks one to focus on a place that he has been to that holds a positive
memory for him. This can be a specific location, city or country; he is not
restricted in choice. Once he has somewhere in mind, the participant is
to call out the names of a total of either four or five countries or cities,
with one of them being the one that he is focusing on.
The performer writes each one down onto the top card of his stack in a
list and hands the stack to the participant. The performer then turns
away so he cannot see anyone and instructs the participant to place his
finger upon the destination that he has been concentrating upon. As he
does this he is told to try and sink back into that memory and allow
details to come to him, the sounds, the smells etc. He is to try and bring
this memory to life inside his head.


After a few moments of concentration he is asked to remove his finger

and to imagine the entire memory locked in his fingertip. When the
participant touches his fingertip to his temple the memory will come back
to him. It acts as an anchor and trigger for the memory.
The business card with the list on is removed from the stack and slid
towards the participant who is asked to place his finger to his temple and
once more relive the memory locked inside. With his other hand the
participant is given the pen and asked to draw something from his
memory on the reverse of the business card and not to show anyone
including the performer. The image that the participant draws must be
something directly linked to the memory and something that everyone
would be familiar with, such as a famous landmark (e.g. Paris = Eiffel
Tower, New York = Statue of Liberty etc).
Once completed the performer is able to Channel into the participants
mind and recall details of the memory known only to the participant. He
finishes by correctly announcing the specific place and landmark in the
To perform this, you will need a small stack of business cards, a rubber
band, a pen and the special strip of Thermochromic film. The film is the
key to the method and if you hold it you will see why.
It reacts to heat, by that I mean when you touch it, the film changes and
goes through a series of colours. This ranges from:
Because of the of the range of colours, the determining factor is a
mixture of temperature and the elapsed time since the heat was in
contact with the film.


With this in mind the

method should now be
self-explanatory. You
have a strip of the film
stuck to the second
card down on your
stack of business
cards. When your
participant touches the
business card with the
list written on it, the
heat from their finger
will transfer through the
card and onto the film.
When you later remove
the top card from the
stack and hand it to the
participant to draw on,
you can easily peek
which part of the film
has been affected by
the heat and you can
mentally match it with
the list and hence know
which one they
The interesting part
comes when you ask
them to draw a detail of
the memory on the
back of the business
card. Since you know
the overall key word of
the memory for
example New York
you can take a series of
educated guesses around the specific memory, especially when they are

told to think about the sounds, sights and smells of the memory. You can
begin to describe New York quite easily and reliably.
The choice of landmarks really is quite limited, the Statue of Liberty and
skyscraper are the top two chosen and if you push your participant into
drawing a well known landmark that everyone will recognise, the odds
are in your favour to be one of these. They certainly wont draw a hot
dog stall or a yellow taxi. Even if you are unlucky and they do, you still
have a 100% hit with the memory.
Thermochromic film can be found online for a few pounds/dollars,
search google or ebay
To Finish
Well there you have it, a current and honest snapshot of my mental hard
drive when it comes to close-up and walk around mentalism. I want to
thank each and every one of you for purchasing these lecture notes and
hope you will put the ideas to good use. I dont want you to take
everything I say and apply it directly to yourself without making little
changes. Its the small alterations that will make you appear natural
rather than forced. Think about your character and performance
material, be logical, consistent and most importantly be you.

Auf wiedersehen
August/September 2009