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All copyright owned in its entirety by Luke Jermay - December 2006

No part of this publication may be stored, reproduced, copied or transmitted without the prior written
consent from both the author and publisher. TV and live performance rights granted. Conflicting live
performance rights reserved.


The performer asks his audience if anyone has ever worked in telemarketing, sales
conducted over the telephone. The performer spots one such person and has them join
him onstage.

Removing a script from his pocket the performer explains:

Telephone sales much like psychic readings revolve around a predetermined script
designed to influence the person on the other end of the phone. Whether the outcome
happens to be the illusion of telling that person their future or that an item is the best
investment they can make. I have designed my own script that has a very specific
outcome intended.

The performer hands the script to the spectator who is asked to take a seat and to remove
their cell phone. The performer ask they call someone they are certain will be in. The
performer quips:

I would recommend your least interesting friend or a baby sitter

Continuing on the performer moves to the front of the stage and allows the spectator to
read the script to whomever they happen to have called.

While the spectator does this performer holds large boards up to the audience at large.
Each board has a different sentence printed on it the face board informs the audience:

Each word is designed to influence

This board is dropped to the stage revealing another board explaining that:

The words we use can often say much more than we are actually saying

This board is dropped to the floor and the next board says:

My script is designed to influence a choice. The choice of a number, shape and a


The onstage spectator finishes their conversation and hangs up the phone. During the
course of this conversation the onstage spectator has asked their conversation partner to
name a color, shape and number.

The performer directs the spectator to remove an envelope from beneath their chair.
Inside this envelope is a prediction detailing the color shape and number select via the

This is a routine that I have performed in both my corporate and theatrical performances
for the past three years. It has served me well and I hope it will you too.

I have been fascinated with the images of holding boards with writing on them to express
and idea and or dialogue ever since I was child. I remember seeing the famous Bob
Dylan music video for Subterranean Homesick Blues in which he uses boards to deliver
key messages to the viewer.

This strong imagery stayed with me for many years. I eventually decided to use this
inspiration to create a presentation for the classic invisible deck routine. This is still a
sequence I use from time to time as it is very strong features a good hook and takes little
room in my case. However in my full show this sequence is not included. This is due to
a simple rule I have set myself I limited card sequence in each performance to know
more than one effect. My current opening routine using cards and hence I do not include
the invisible deck sequence.

I however loved the hook of using the boards and over time I worked out a replacement
effect and method for the invisible deck routine in the form of a prediction sequence
using a thumb writer and the cover provided by the boards themselves. This worked very
well but the routine still was not complete.

The final piece of the puzzle came with the addition of the script handed to a spectator
to read via the telephone.

Suddenly now the routine felt more complete. It had several layers of presentation that
were both fresh and modern but more importantly interesting. The staging of the
sequence provided many great mental snap shots for the audience to take with them
long after the show has finished.

After working the sequence in after several performances I made some tweaks here and
there. Since that time the routine has been ever present in my performances for the past
three years. I hope it might become an old friend to you too.

I have broken down each part of this routine into separate sections. This allows you to
read and understand each of the elements that combined create the finished product.
These sections combined with the various points made in each section along with the
routine over view should provide you with everything you need to put this routine to
work very quickly.

In order to perform the effect you will need to collect the following items.

1) A thumb writer of your choice:

I personally opt for the use of a listo lead thumb tip style writer when working onstage.
This allows the marking made using the thumb tip too much darker than the pencil
marking. I also carry a spare writer in my right jacket pocket at all times. I would
recommend having a spare writer at hand whenever you make use of a thumb writer.

2) An envelope:

I use a brown manila US catalogue envelope. You will need to cut a slit in the backside
of the envelope, which will be used to load the prediction inside later in the routine.

3) Blank Paper:

I use an index card sized pad of blank paper to record my predictions on. I would
recommend adding your contact details on the paper, as it will be handed to your onstage
spectator as a gift.

4) Paper Clips:

You will make use a paper clip to create a hold out for the prediction billet which will
be marked using the thumb writer later.

5) The Script:

I have included the template of the script I make use of in my own performance for both
the non-card version and the script for the invisible deck routine. Simply print these out
and make use of them.

In order to use the props you have collected you will need to prepare them in the
following manner.

Begin by printing the script and placing it in your right jacket pocket along with a thumb
writer. I fold the script and place the thumb writer itself inside of the folds of the script.
Because I prefer to make use of a thumb tip style writer it allows me to simply apply
pressure to the folds of the script which will pop the thumb tip upward and allow me to
easily place the writer on my thumb. I have experimented with several other forms of
stealing and placing the thumb tip style writer on my thumb however this simple method
is highly effective and pretty much failsafe. I would highly recommend this over any
kind of hold out device or thumb tip dropper. I for a while made use of a commercially
available product designed to hold and deliver thumb tips to the performer upon demand.
This product had a habit of failing at the worst possible moment and thus I switched to
the simple and low-tech method of stealing the tip from the pocket along with the script.

The script is folded as below with the tip resting between the sheets of the fold. Finally
give the script a strong scoring with your thumbnail and the tip will rest in place
throughout your performance ready for you when you need it.

Next you will mount the printed boards onto poster board or thick cardboard. On the
final boards back in the upper right corner superglue a paper clip. This paper clip will
become a hold out for the folded prediction used in the routine. This is I hope is clear in
the illustration below. In the illustration below the prediction billet in its folded position
is highlighted in red.


The final step is to prepare the prediction using a pencil that matches as closely as
possible your thumb writer. I personally make use of a grease pencil style writer for
stage performances. This allows me to use a marker pen to create the bulk of the
prediction as the thick black grease marker matches very closely to a marker pen. The
prediction should look something like the image on the following page.
Notice the use of tick boxes to allow a simple and quick way of marking a seemingly
long word on the prediction. I frequently make use of this tick box concept and have
included in the bonus chapter a personal routine that makes use of the tick box idea
along with some very easy to construct props that I am sure you will want to put into
action during your own thumb writing routines.


In order to produce a folded billet you will need to ensure your folding of the prediction
leaves the blank spaces and the check mark box exposed. This is very much the same as
you might do in a confabulation style routine.

Begin by folding the prediction in thirds. Fold the top third over and under the printed
text. This will leave the lower thirds of the text visible to you. Next fold over and under
the lower third. This will leave the central portion of the prediction with the text facing
outward. This allows you to access the areas left blank in the prediction with your thumb
writer later in the routine. The image above is an example only. Feel free to play around
with various script in your prediction.

The prediction envelope requires a very simple adjustment to allow you to load the folded
prediction from the outside and appear to remove it from within the envelope. I simply
use a long slit one third of the way from the bottom seem of the envelope using a craft
knife. I have over the years experimented with many other forms of loading the
prediction into the envelope. Including the addition of envelopes within envelopes much
like the classic nest of envelopes. I have however found that these additional envelopes
and such make no difference to your audience perception of the effect. I would
recommend the simple slit envelope above all other forms of introducing a prediction.

I think the real strength is the perceived free handling. This casual handling having the
spectator hand you the gimmicked envelope require your being able to direct and control
your audience member.


Begin by placing the folded prediction billet with the side to be filled in facing out into
the paper clip on the final board. I place these boards leaning against the chair the
spectator will later sit on.

Beneath this chair place the prediction envelope with the slit side stuck toward the chairs

Next place the thumb writer and script into your right hand pocket (I use my right hand
pocket as I write with my right thumb however switch this if you write with your left

One final precaution you must make before performing the routine is to check that the
performance area has mobile/cell phone reception. Trust me I have learnt this one the
hard way.

The very last things I do are set my own phone to silent and place it inside my case
onstage. I have this ready and waiting in case there is a problem with having spectators
make a phone call on their own cell/mobile phone. I have again learnt this tip the hard
way. Ignore these two points at your own risk.


Begin by having a spectator joins you onstage. Hand them the script and ask they take a
seat. As you reach into your right jacket pocket to remove the script and work your
thumb writer into position ready to write.

Hand the script to your spectator and have them take the seat. At this point instruct the
spectator to call a friend they are certain will be at home at this moment. Tell them to
read the script to the person on the phone and remember their decisions as they progress
through the wording

At this point move to the right side of the stage and pick up your boards. Display each of
the boards. Try to time out reaching the last (loaded with your prediction) board so the
spectator is reading the final paragraph of your script.

As soon as you reach the final board you will mark the correct information chosen by the
spectator onto the held out billet as already detailed in the marking the prediction

Reposition the board to your left hand and steal the folded marked billet into a finger
palm position. Place the board on the floor and move toward the onstage spectator.

Have them remove the envelope from beneath their seat and hand it to you. Be confident
at this moment and the slit in the envelope will go unnoticed. Rip open the top of the
envelope and position the billet still resting in a finger palm position beneath the
envelope in line with the slit.

Reach into the envelope with your right hand and reaching through the slit pull the folded
prediction billet through the slit and into the envelope, finally removing the billet from
the envelope fully. The illusion is perfectly suited to this loading and removing of the
prediction billet.

At this point hand the folded prediction billet to your onstage spectator and rip the
envelope in half at the slit to both display the lack of any duplication/additional
predictions and also to remove any lasting evidence of the slit in the envelope. Finally
screw the torn envelope up and in the action of screwing the paper up unload the thumb
writer into the screwed paper ball. Throw this ball into a case you have waiting onstage
for your used props. Your hands are now clean.

All that remains is for you to read the prediction having the onstage spectator confirm
what is written on the pad and that the prediction details the choices made via their
telephone conversation.


To fill in the correct information on the prediction using your thumb writer you simply
write as you would on any other surface. The poster board forms a rigid surface to lean
against as you write. The position of the board in the hands as shown in the illustration
below taken from an actual performance shows how naturally the thumb rests on the
prediction paper ready to write.

You will grip the board with your four fingers on the face of the board facing toward the
audience at large. You thumbs will rest of the backside of the board. Your right thumb
complete with its swam/thumb tip writer ready will naturally rest on top of the prediction
billet. You will take all of the weight of the boards with your left hand allowing your
right thumb to move freely without an odd grip marking the prediction billet with your
thumb writer. A little practice with this style of secret writer will easily bring you to a
good level of proficiency with this.

I discovered this very natural way of writing while performing the invisible deck version
of this effect. However it was later brought to my attention that John Riggs has published
a similar grip to this in conjunction with secret writing in one of his many manuscripts. I
am told it is featured in his version of the classic Add A Number plot. Personally I much
prefer using this nature way of writing under the context of this routine than the rather
tame application of an Add A Number style routine.

The script handed to your spectator to read via the telephone, as you will notice is written
to ensure the onstage spectator will say aloud the choices made by their telephone
spectator. This allows you to fill in the information without seemingly asking for it. The
information is rather offered in a seemingly natural process. One final tip in a difficult
situation is to listen. Often cell phones speakers are loud enough to simply over hear the
conversation. This allows you to hear the information should the spectator not state it
aloud as the script intends them too.

Finally failing all of this simply ask the spectator to repeat their friends choices to the
audience at large.

With these three approaches working for you your hearing the information is a sure thing.

The combination of tick boxs and simple to write information such as the number and
shapes allow for a very speedy writing procedure. I have chosen these items for that very
reason. I think they seem strong enough for the routine as well as allowing me to reduce
my writing on the prediction. I am fully aware that my thumb writing skills are not quite
up to par with Fogel and try to structure such effect with this in mind!


To steal the folded prediction from the board you will transfer the board from your two
handed grip to a one handed grip with the board hanging by your side. Your thumb still
wearing the writer fingers can contact the prediction easily and covertly with the board in
this position. You will push forward with your fingers and remain still with your thumb
while it applies a downward pressure. This causes the board to move away from the
prediction rather than the prediction move away from the board. This is a small point
however this point ensures that the movement of the board will cover the smaller
movement of stealing the prediction.

In one continuing motion move the board to your free hand and place it on top of the
stack of boards on the stage floor.

With the prediction resting in a finger palm position you will simple have the envelope
removed and grip it in your free hand. Pausing for a beat you will essentially lay the
prediction envelope onto the awaiting folded prediction billet in your right hand. This is
a casual move that relies on timing and smoothness. You will need to work this through
in front of a mirror or camera. This is a knack rather than a technique. After a few trial
runs you will have this mastered in no time.


Of course the way in which you will reveal the prediction is totally up to you. However I
would recommend removing the prediction from the envelope and immediately handing t
to your spectator to read TO THEMSELVES. I do this as I reach for the microphone
stand to place the microphone into. I then have the prediction returned to me and

I want you to make sure that what I read is really written on here. You let everyone
know if Im just making this up!

I then read the prediction into the microphone with my spectator reading over my
shoulder to confirm what I am saying is indeed true.

I recommend this for several reasons. The first and believe me it has happened. You
may have someone onstage who simply can not read. If this happens you have not only
blown the climax of the effect but really made someone fee bad in front of a room full of
people also and the most obvious you are the one with the experience at delivering
speech to an audience not your spectator. You can use tone, speed and pauses to create
drama from the prediction that your spectator simply could not.

I have long harnessed the power of thumb writing in several routines. I am especially
found of the Jaks thought transparent sequence and my own Swami Pad routine.

I however like many hate the awkward grip of the pad required to write on the surface.
This has leaded me to create three options to remedy this problem.


The first I call the stable pad an image of which appears below.

This is the version I make use of more often than not. To put it simply the pad features a
hinged flap that can be gripped during the writing sequence attached the back of the pad.

To make this pad you will require two matching small pads. I use a jotter pad of paper
with card backing and covers.

I cut the barcode image from the card backing and affix it to the second pad matching up
the extra barcode with the barcode on the backing of the pad. I use a scotch tape to attach
the barcode, which creates a hinge.

When I wish to make use of my thumb writer I allow the hinge to flap open and grip the
hinge between my middle fingers of my left hand. The cover is now open and obscures
the hinge. This hinge is now gripped securely in my left hand, which also wears the
writer on the left thumb. The pad is now stable and allows me to write on the pad with
the writer without the awkward grip often associated with thumb writing.

This may read complex however the images below should make this concept very clear.
The second of my concepts I call the Thread Pad:


This pad is constructed using a nylon thread. On the back cover of the pad I run two lines
of thread from the top of the back cover to the bottom. I tie the lines in knots and finish
them with a small drop of super glue. I use nylon thread tested to a ten-pound weight.

When I wish to write on the pad I simply insert my fingers between the thread and the
back cover of the pad. This thread causes the pad to stick to the hand and allows a
stable writing surface for the performer to write on without the awkward grip often seen
with thumb writing.

The final of these three concepts is very simple but very effective.


This pad is made from a stack of post it notes. To construct this pad take a stack of post
it notes and breaks them in half. You will now have two stacks both with their sticky
surfaces exposed.

Place the pads back together reversing one of the stacks before you stick it back to the
other exposed sticky section of the other half. This now leaves you with a full stack of
post it notes that has a sticky side exposed on each side.

When writing the performer presses hard on the sticky section of the pad which will stick
to his hand allowing a stable writing surface. The other bonus of this pad is that the top
sheet will be facing sticky side out allowing the performer to write and peel the top note
from the pad and stick it writing side obscured either to yourself or even to a spectator.

This is the simplest form of thumb writing pads I have used and is very practical however
for formal performances I make use of the stable pad the most. The post it note pad is
worth noting in case you are ever stuck in a tough spot.

This is a close up performance piece that I have used successful for some time. It
combines several principles to create what I think is an elegant solution. The whole is
much larger than the sum of its parts.

In effect:

The performer explains that rather than he reading the minds of his audience he is going
to try to switch things around and have one member of the audience read his mind.

The performer selects one person from the group and removes a pad and pencil from his
pocket. He openly records something on the pad cautioning the assist sting spectator not
to look at what he writes.

The performer closes up the pad and places the pencil behind his ear. He has the
spectator focus and eventually name a color. The spectator replies:


The performer opens the pad and displays what he recorded to the spectator. It is sure
enough the word yellow.

The performer excitedly continues. He records something on his pad once again closing
the pad and placing the pencil behind his ear. He has the spectator focus on two simple
shapes. The spectator replies:

A circle and a triangle

Opening the pad and showing it to all, the performer has sure enough a circle and a

The performer now openly draws the outline of a hand on the pad. The performer has the
spectator hold their hand to the performers, the performer cautions the spectator to hold
their hand close but not to make contact.

The performer now marks an X on the outline of a hand and closes the pad. The
performer has the spectator hold their hand close to his again and finally has her decide
which finger he is focusing on. Sure enough the X is marked on that very finger.

Finally the performer grabs the spectators hand for a second and suddenly records
something on his pad. He throws the pencil away and holds the pad high in the air. The
performer hurriedly has the spectator name a three-digit number. Instantly the performer
opens the pad and sure enough the performer has recorded the very number the spectator

This routine makes use of the stable pad outlines earlier in the manuscript. With the
pad prepared and ready I then on the first page write a checklist of seven colors:

1. Pink
2. Red
3. Green
4. Yellow
5. Blue
6. Purple
7. Orange

I have found these colors cover almost every situation. I have the spectator think about
which color I am focusing on. I however explain that it is not obvious. I often wear a lot
of black and would say something like:

Now its not obvious. I mean I didnt just look at my shirt and think of black. Its a little
more difficult than that. Do not try to work it out because simply you cannot work it out
it would be impossible for you to guess. Rather focus and let a color flood your vision.
Imagine everything around has become one color. Almost like you could turn up and
down the contrast on a TV set. Which color do you see?

I have found that stating the above will lead the spectator away from the colors black and
white. I have chosen not to include these colors on my checklist however you can
expand and reduce the number of colors covered in your checklist.

I have the spectator name aloud the color they are seeing and at that moment mark the
correct color with a tick using my thumb writer.

You will notice that I make a point of placing the pencil behind my ear throughout the
routine. I also stand with my body turned to the right. The pencil is always placed
behind the right ear. In this way it is constantly on the eyes and minds of the spectator as
being away from the pad at the moment of the spectator naming their thought.

I have also on occasion used the checklist to seemingly predict a star sign. Having each
of the 12 signs in a list marking the checklist with a tick upon discovering the correct

Display the correct color to your spectator only. I point to the correct color and run my
finger along to the tick next to it. I then state:

Which color did I write and mark on this pad?

This wording is enough to imply to your audience at large that youre recording of the
entire word and the word alone. Now rip the page from the pad and screw it up I screw
up this pad due to the checklist. The other pages can remain open or hand them to people
in the group.

Next you will use the classic psychological force of the shapes circle and triangle. I have
chosen to include this so I can at this point in the performer actually show people what I
am recording on the pad before I have the spectator focus on a set of shapes. This is
included to break down any suspicion about what I am or am not recording on the pad.
In my experience this open recording combined with a subtle flash of the pad coming
later in the effect cut down this train of thought in your spectators minds.

Have the spectator think about two simple shapes as in the classic force and display
youre hit or miss whatever the case may be.

Regardless of whether this force hits or not you continue with the next phase. If the force
hits I excitedly continue if not I explain we need to do one final warm up before moving
onto the hardest one of all. This is a minor failure that will be forgotten if it misses
however the ability to openly show what is recorded before the spectator names their
shapes is worthy of inclusion regardless of the outcome.

The next phase is the correct finger I draw the outline of a hand on the page. At this
point you will seemingly focus for a moment and record an X on one of the fingers. I
explain to the group:

Im going to mark one of these fingers with an X.

I now fake write the X on the page and quickly flash it to the audience as I now have the
spectator place their hand close to my own without it coming into contact. Have the
spectator imagine an invisible line contacting your finger to theirs. This flash is so quick
and subtle that the audience will later remember your showing them the X before your
spectator announced which finger they were focused upon.

Have them explain which finger they imagined and display your thumb written X at the
correct finger.

You will notice that so far in this sequence you have only record a tick mark and a X
using thumb writing I think this is a really good thing. I always try to reduce the amount
of writing needed in any routine as the less you have to write the easier it becomes to

The final phase is nothing more than the standard three-digit thought transference
sequence. I have the spectator hold my hand and think of the number I have apparently
recorded. In actual fact I have fake written a number on the pad. I then fill in each digit
as the spectator names them.
You will notice how this routine maximizes the effect while reducing the secret writing.
The combination of methods along with the Stable Pad makes for a very natural and
strong routine.