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\X/ifh the $1.98 Hands

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John Riggs
Author of

The Man With the $1.98 Hands

Heavy Mental
Mo' Better Magic



1995 by John Riggs

All rights reserved
This book is not Shareware - Please protect your investment!

EEttblp of QIontpnts
The Pychic Entertainment Package
The Premise
The Methods
An Interview With the Left-Brain

!murt ffiuro
The Routines
Whillicker's Favorite Method
The Ultimate Psychometry

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

There is no doubt that the strongest two routines in Mentalism are

Q & A and Pseudo-Psychometry. Properly performed, with a modicum
of charisma and dynamic mystery, the skilled Mentalist can hold an
audience spellbound.
However, the flip side ofthe coin is always eager to turn up -long,
tedious, boring presentations that test the audience insomniac quotient!
At a time when the world is rocked with cataclysmic changes,
when technology threatens to strip away the last mysteries of the human
soul, the demand for such mysteries becomes prevalent. As Mentalists, we
live in an excellent time - the old Vaudeville-style presentations are
becoming novel again! People crave mystery and excitement. Even the
skeptics in my audiences these days seem to want me to convince them that
what I do is real - and they put up only a feeble struggle.
Q & A, in any form, is heap powerful Mentalism. A skilled
performer, with a little skill at reading people, a good foundation in
Psychology, and a sanitary methodology could make his living on Q & A
alone. Indeed, in a sense, many people do!
However, I am preaching to the choir - if you have the excellent
good judgement required to be reading this book, you already know that
these are true sentiments!
In this book I will detail many methods and thoughts on Q & A
and Pseudo - Psychometry. I often combine the two effects into an
extended routine that can stand alone as a complete program. I have often
performed Tarot Psychometry as a lecture for metaphysical study
groups, and have literally brought the house down - and received a
substantial 'love offering' at the conclusion.
So, read this monograph in the spirit it is intended - to get your
creative juices flowing, and to make your mentalism as convincing as
possible. My ethical stand, as I have stated many times, is crystal clear I try to convince them. During the one hour or so I am on stage, I do my
very best to convince the audience that they have entered a very strange
world, where telepathy is commonplace, and the supernatural is perfectly
natural. After the show, we all get on with our lives. If you have ethical
problems with the convincing presentation ofMentalism, no hard feelings
- I hope you enjoy the book anyway! No refunds.....

John Riggs

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

In contrast to the Magician, with his truckload of flashy apparatus
and his leggy assistant, or the Juggler, with his flaming torches and highlyhoned skill, the Psychic Entertainer seems almost impoverished by
comparison. His props are minimal.
So, what is the Psychic Entertainment package?
The package, dear friend, is you.
Ideally, the props used in a Mentalism presentation should be an
adjunct to the program - not the program itself. We cannot delight the eye
with lovely, scantily-clad assistants, or colorful apparatus and flying balls
and clubs. We have only and ultimately ourselves.
Weportray ourselves as individuals who have developed the powers
ofthe mind to uncanny levels. Do we look the part? Do we act the part?
Is the package worth the money? Are we extraordinary?
Intelligence and expertise is not something that can be faked. You
must be able to converse intelligently with your audience about subjects
about which they may be knowledgeable. If you use a psychological
premise, be darned sure to get your facts straight. Once the facts are
straight, then you may extrapolate at will. ..
Mentalism is the aristocracy ofthe conjuring profession. We must
at all times be worthy ofthe royal lineage we share with Washington Irving
Bishop, Dunninger, Koran, and Fogel. Mentalists seem to be among the
most curious and inquiring members of the conjuring profession - and,
come to think of it, I haven't heard of a gospel Mentalism act. Not since
Oral Roberts, anyway.
We must be eclectic, dynamic, and electric. Our love ofour art must
be contagious. We are a very select breed. The percentage ofpeople who
can entertain others is very small. The subgroup of that nwnber who can
market their way into making a living at performing is smaller still.
Mentalists comprise an evensmallerpercentage. And those who love what
they do may even be smaller!
I've' often been asked whether or not a Mentalist should use a
And with that, dear friends, let us dive into that Aristocrat of

TbeQ8 A Aet!

John Riggs

The Q 8 A Act and PseudoPsychometry

It was only inevitable that a grey area would emerge between these

two classic effects, spawning a whole slew of routines that combine

elements of both.
Psychometry is the beliefthat inanimate objects retain someofthe
energy field of their owner. A Psychometrician is a person who is
sensitive to these energyfields. PsychometIy is one of the more psychic
of the metaphysical skills portrayed by the media; any time you see a
Psychic, on one of the police shows, fondling a murder weapon in order
to givethe policesomeinsights intothe identityofthe murderer- youhave
witnessed PsychometIy.
Lee Earle was oneofthe firstperformers whomadethe connection
betweenPsychometryandthehumanAura. Leesays,inhispresentation:
"Just as a needle, rubbed across a magnet, carries away some of the
charge, so does the objectcarry awaysome ofthe energyofits owner".
Lee makes it sound so believable, that I almost threw away my marked
During the presentation of a Q & A act, the performer has the
participants write down their questions. In other presentations, the
participants writedowntheirAstrological sign,theirfavorite color,ortheir
fantasies. The folded slips are used to identify the querent and the
information- butnotbythemundane procedureofreadingthe information.
Some other psychic agency is at work. Could it be the refined sense of
Perhapsthe slipprovidesa psychic link betweenthequerentandthe
performer. The physicalrealityof1;he slipcould act as a conduitbetween
the performer's mind and the querent's? Tapping into the Universal
Consciousness without a guide would plunge one into a morass of
thoughts, feelings, and images. Does the slip provide an anchor,helping
the two disparate consciousness link together for a moment? Just
something to think about while you are building your premise.
Also, I feel that the readings given during a Psychometry routine
shoulddifferstructurallyfrom those givenduringa Q & Aroutine. Popular
Psychic reading methods provide insights into the person's character.

The Compleat Fortune- Teller

Forexample, anAstrologermight tella Gemini: "Youare versatile,

mercurial, quick-witted and a little flirty. At times, you are given to
extremes, and you are possessed of a multi-sided personality. Other
people mayfind it hard to keep up with you as you flit from enthusiasm
to enthusiasm".
A Psychometric reading might deal with someone's energies. It
wouldtendto be moreimpressionistic. Therewouldbe fleeting, dreamlike

images, and vague whispery insights into the person's energy field.
"1 sense a strong attraction to nature, an appreciation ofa spring
day. I seem to smell the perfume offlowers. The color blue has some
Significance. I see a lady in a blue dress, an old-time dress, and she's
humming to herselfand dancing to musicfrom a music box. She seems
to be anticipating something nice.
"1 seem to sense that your energy field is drained, as though you
have been undera lot ofstress lately. Someone aroundyou is causingyou
vexation. They are not working in your best interest. Your energies are
sapped by worry andstress. You seem to be doing a lot ofthings that you
do not necessarily enjoy doing, just because it is expected ofyou. This
is draining you ofthe natural 'joi de vivre' that you should have. These
negative influences will dissipate ifyou confront them. The dark things
always flee from the light"
ThePsychometricreading approach, illustrated above, can be used
ina Q & A format, butI liketohavedifferent 'flavors' formypresentations.
My Q & A premise gives answers to questions, with character reading

thrown in to spice up the stew.

It couldbe a successful approach, perhaps, to indicate thatthepaper
becomes energized withthe person's radiations as he writes and concentrates on the question.
.. Annemann's Pseudo-Psychometry, nowconsidered aclassic, can
makeor breakyouas a performer. Traditionally, we havebeencautioned
not to emphasize the return of the object to the correct person. The
emphasis should be placed on the readings.
Theidea conveyed is that you are so well-versed at peoplereading,
that it is easy for you to returnthe objectsto theirowners. This is one of
the technically easiest miracles in the Mentalist's repertoire. Unfortunately, it is also one of the hardest to sell!
Unfortunately, audiences seemto focus on theverythingwe do not
wantthemto! It is not uncommon to see peopleexamining the envelopes

John Riggs

or cards used in a Psychometry routine, looking for marks. Usually, our

methods are subtleenough to escapedetection, butnotalways. I haveseen
a surprising number of performers caught out in this way.
Ofcourse,we climax thereading bydelivering theobjectbackto the
owner. The reading is usually delivered 'blind'. There can be no
verification of the accuracyfrom the owner because ofthe desire not to
give the performer any clues. Any verification is post-facto.
Howabouttrying theprocedure backward? Identify the ownerfirst,
get the challenge out of the way, then continue the reading as you return
the object?
Just a thought; I'm not trying to start a rebellion! The step by step
analysis, leadingto the correctidentification ofthe individual, can be very
dramatic, too!
Howeverhe presents it, a strongperformer can incite an audience
intostartinga newreligious sect,ifhe playshis Psychometric cardsright.
The objects becomethe focus ofstartling, accuratereadings, and as such,
are treasured forever. Just be sure that your people-reading skills are
superblyhoned, and you can amaze the multitude! Psychometry is one
of the purest and most realistic premise in Mental magic.
In Chapter Four, there are several routines that straddle the
division between Q & A and Psychometry. I do not want to. dwell on
strictlyPsychometric presentations - perhapsthat will be the topic of the
next book!
No, I'm sorry- my nextprojectis goingto be on the Psychic Home
Party. Oh well.....
First,wewilldiscusstheimportance ofunderstandingyourpremise.

.Free at last, free at last!

My Master became a Mentalist!

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

The Premise
"Let your premise define your method .. "

The Amazing Whillicker

The very firstthingyoumust establishis your premise - what are
you doing, and how are you doing it?

Supposeeveryone in the audiencewrites their question on a slip of

paper or a card, and you gatherthese up in a basket. You are now going
to use these artifacts in an amazing and entertaining way. How?
The most popular approach, and one that I think is practically
stainless, is to use the premise that you are usingthe handwriting to glean
some information about the individual.
Thispresentational bon mot, pioneeredby Eddie Fields andfurther
developed by Dr. Charles Scott, Lee Earle and mnnerous others,
provides an excellent rationale for the necessary action of opening the
spectator's slip - you are looking at his handwriting!
Thisapproachhas its pros and cons. It does allowyouan excuseto
open the paper to analyze the handwriting, thus using the one - ahead to
get information about the next question. And Graphology, even though
it is another Psychic reading method like Palmistry, enjoys a preconceived credibility among the corporate community, although the debate
rages on in psychological circles.
However, some may object that the use of handwriting analysis
cloudsthe effect. Perhapstoo many thingsare happening at once? What
are you trying to conveyto the audience?
Are you Psychically obtaining the answer to their question, or
deducing it through Graphology? D& Scott's Psi-Grafico uses the
handwriting analysisportionalmostas an afterthought, giving the reading
after he telepathically receives the written information.
Psi-Grafico, and manyvariants, are discussed in Chapter Seven.
So, ifyouusethe Graphological premise,itfollows thatyourpresentation
must center around the accepted limits and practices of Graphology.
Another excellentpremiseis the psychological approach. It is
possibleto present yourselfas a person so skilledat people reading, that,
givena fewcluessuchas handwriting, favorite color,etc.,youcan identify
the person's concerns and the most probable outcome of that concern.

John Riggs

Some may take an occultic approach - the idea being conveyed

that the performer is gifted with certain mysterious powers to push aside
the mystic veil, and peer into eternity. A good approach, but risky if you
live in the south!
The Astrologer is another premise. In fact, a rather excellent
treatment of this theme can be found in Henning Nelms' Maeic And.
The Empath is a good identity. This is the idea that you have
developed such sensitivity to people's feelings, you can somehow 'sense'
the person's needs and respond to them. Kind of like being a Psychic
"Dear Abb s". If you take this approach, you present your impressions and answers in terms of emotions and feelings.
You can guise your analysis around Astrology, Numerology,
Graphology, or any of the numerous 'ologies', but be darned sure you
know what you are talking about! There are a lot of amateur Psychics out
Once you decide on an approach, the best thing to do is to make
up your mind to learn as much about 'the real thing' as possible. This will
not kill you, and will certainly inspire you with new presentational angles.
Metaphysical and Psychological studies are fascinating in themselves.
Once you have decided on your premise, keep it as clear and as focused
as possible. Don't cloud the issue!

Row Many?
People are concerned with answers to their questions. Ideally,
then, it logically follows that you should answerthe questions, and as many
of them as possible.
Questions sealed in envelopes take time to open; returning the
questions to their owners takes time - nluable time that, in the audiences
opinion, could best be used answering their questions!
I know this is true from trial and experience. I used to do a PsiGratico variant as part of the Q & A act, and answer five real questions
and two 'gag' questions. I would return the slips ofpaper to their owners,
along with the check-sheetthatis a vital part ofthatexcellentroutine. After
every show, I was bombarded by dozens ofaudience members who pulled
their slips from the leftovers, and who wanted me to 'tell themsomething'.
OK., so I'm giving away an extra hour of free show. I am reluctant to
refuse, because the more people I can touch directly, the more shows I will
likely book.

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Also,theskepticswantedmeto 'read' them, to assure themselves that

I hadn't plantedthe questions. Their puzzlement was almost as satisfying
as anything else connectedto performing.
Am I crazy, orwoulditbe betterto do allthis aspartofyour regular
show and get paid for doingit?
So, The logical conclusion seems to be to answer as many
questions as possible.

Bow Fast?
This calls for a rapid-fire methodology. My preferred method
appears later. An integral part of holding the audience's attention is the
possibility that "I'm Next!"
I also do not think it necessarily strengthens the effect to read
aloud every question for verification. It is possible to phrase the answer
so the audience 'picks up' on the question.
In obscurecases, it is advisable to referto the question indirectly, in
the course of answering it, to convey the question to the rest of the
So, the effect, as I see it , stripped to the bare essence, is this: The
performer grabs a slip, calls off the name,and through whatever Psychic
agency, provides somekind ofanswer. A littlecold-reading is thrownin
for goodmeasure. The sliphas then servedits purpose, and is discarded.

The Five-Question Presentation

The Five-Question to me has always been: Whyfive? Why not
four or six?
In the literature, there are examples of Psychometry routines
usedas manyas twentypeople. It is the consensus ofmodern performers
that four participants are not enough, and five seemsto be the optimum
number, to get your point across.
Perhapsfourandsixarenumbers that aretoostable? In Numerology,
five is the number thatrepresents change and variety. Maybethat is why
we like it!
Limiting the numberofspectatorsparticipating to five can be a very
effective part ofa Psychometry or Character analysis routine. Ciardi's
Beyond Psi-Grafico is a state- of- the- art routine of this nature.
Using Q & A methods, a performer can demonstrate startlingly
convincing skills in people reading. My thoughts on this version are in
Chapter Four.

John Riggs

But, this is a se.parateeffect from answering questions, and indeed,

can be performed very successfully in the same program that concludes
with a Q & A segment.
I firmly believe that Q & A should encompass as many audience
members as possible. Ideally, everyone who has not directly received a
reading should be setting near someone who has.
Personal validation of the phenomenon may be necessary to eliminate the theory that you 'planted' the questions. It is not inconceivable, to
most people, that you could have planted five questions in an audience of
over 200 people.
The great tum -of -the- century Mentalist Anna Eva Fay (who,
incidentally, used a pre-show impression device) answered questions at
the impressive rate of three per minute!

A ground-breaking routine by Dr. Charles Scott (Cicardi). The
performerhas a group ofpeople write down, on 3 x 5 cards, some specific
information about themselves. This couldbe a fantasy, some celebrity they
admire, theirfavorite color, astrological sign, etc. The informationon each
slip is clairvoyantly 'read' by the performer, and then opened in order to
give the unknown participant a graphology reading. Using the traits
discovered in the person's handwriting, the performer fills out a check
sheet of graphology traits, and unerringly returns the slip, along with the
personalized report, to the correct person.
This routine originally appeared in Magick# 412. It uses an easilygimmickednotebook, containing the padded Graphology reports, to allow
you to obtain the information. Psi-Gratico can be used as a complete Q
& A, but I think it is better, unless you are working a very small living-room
or office show, to use just fiE participants, as Cicardi himself suggests
in the bonus insert 'Beyond Psl-Graflco', and as he performs it on his
television program Mind Probe.
Chapter Seven is devoted to Psi-Grafico and some of its variants.
The next evolutionary step from Psi-Graflcc emerged from the
devilishly clever mind ofLee Earle. Superscript allows you to return the

The Compleat Fonune-Teller

analyzed and answered slipbackto theaudience participant in an elegant

Graphology brochure, thatshowcases theirsignature alongwiththoseof
celebrities. It also showcases someofyourmoreimpressive propaganda
in re: your availability to be booked for all occasions!
A combination of methods makes this presentation as sanitary as
couldbedesired. Itis a commerciallyreleased productavailable from Lee
Earle through Binary Star. Like Psi-Grafico, this can be utilized as a
complete Q & A act, but I feel it is at its strongest as a characterreading!
Graphology demonstration with five participants.
Richard Webster's Crystal Ball Reading
Richard describes a verydirectpresentation wherein he obtains the
questions with a little pre-show clipboarding. He then commits the
questions to memory. At somepointduring hisshow, heremoves a crystal
ball, gazes intoit, and reveals the information he previously memorized with liberal doses of cold reading tossed in for flavor.
Thisidea is worthits weight in goldfor the Psi-Party worker. It is
coveredin more detail on the Marketing for Mentalists tape available
from Brian Flora.
Kreskin's Slip Reading .
This is the old Dunninger Mentalism act, wherein audience
members fill outslipsthatarethengathered andplaced in envelopes. The
performer boldly steals a few handfuls of slips. - He secretly opens and
reads them under cover of a notepad. This handling can be found in
Nelson's Encyclopedia !!f Mentalism.
I consider this method absolutely worthless for the modem
performer, who may be working anywhere from someone's living room,
to a banquet floor, with alert spectators breathing down the neck.
The Volta Hull Supper Club Mindreading Act
This routine introduces the reversible card principle, which is
the sneakiest and boldestprinciple in Mentalism. Briefly, the idea is that
whenyouremove a folded cardfrom the basketor box,youquickly refold
it so that the writing is on the outside!
Combining this method withthe one-ahead, you get my favorite
strategy, discussed in greater detail in Chapter Six.


John Riggs

Ralph Re&de's Improved Anna Eva Fay Method

(Tarbell Vol. 4, page 233) This is an improvement on a preferred
impression method of the great Q & A queen of the tum of the Century,
Anna Eva Fay.
Further updating of the basic method by a contemporary performer,
using modem materials (such as Formica veneer), would revive this
excellent method, which is hidden amongst a welter of horrendouslyimpractical, (if historically interesting), contrivances. Also check out
Ralph's Tabulating System, immediately following. There is a great deal
of gold hidden in ThrOOIl, if you can sort through the 'filler'. For instance:
Sterling-Tarbell Astrological Mindreading Act
<.Im:htJJ., Vol. 6, page 198) Once again, a convoluted method, and
a weird premise, but perhaps one that could be updated. Gets "two thumbs
up" for sheer ballsiness from yours truly.


The Compleat Fortllne-TeUer

The Methods
"...In order to read ufe andpredict the probable course oflife, one must
understand the basicfacts oflife. Summed up - he was telling me that to
achieve our goal - we must seek our goal in communion with others.
Those who admire us - who respect us - who love us. Here is a natural
rule ofthe Universe...
" -Robert Nelson; The Dantu SYstem g[Life Span Readings.

In this chapter, we concern ourselves with the methods used to

obtainthe information.
Let's considerthe time frame of the method first.
methods involve having audience members fill out information
beforethe show. Theinformation is either(a)obtained withanimpression
device, or (b) the slip or slips containing the information is stolen out
without the spectator's knowledge.
The first approach, using an impression device, is a preferred
method-of-choice ofmany leading mentalists. Thismethod offers several
First, it allows the spectators to keep possession of their slips for
posterity. It also, from the performer's view, offers him the advantage of
being able to think about the information in advance, and screen his
This is an important point. You must incorporate a way to screen
your questions. It is quite conceivable to pick out five slips in a row that
ask: "Will I marry so-and-so?" and "Will I win the lottery?". Andthere
goes your dramatic ending down the pipes!
I used to go through my leftoverquestions at the end of a show,
and grieve over thejewels left unaddressed in the bottomofmy basket. I
used a one - ahead method, and consequently had no way to screen the
questions, completely missing the opportunity to mine out those nuggets
ofgold that couldhavebroughtthe house down. Keep screening in mind
as we discuss other presentations later in this book.

John Riggs

Stealing the slips before the show has its points, too. It allows you
to screen your questions, picking out the strongest and most effective
questions to use during your program. But always bear in mind that
everyone in the audience thinks his or her question is important, no matter
how mundane or mediocre we may think it is.
The subterfuge of slip-stealing also provides the performer with a
sanitary method, as nothing happens during the show to provide any clue
as to how you are receiving the information.
Slip - stealing methods run the gamut to the bold one-on -one
approach described in Richard Osterlind's book
SurrQupdaJ, Cepter Tear ap<UWw:..:IWlpiQUes, published by Micky
Hades, to gathering the slips in envelopes, and then switching out one
entire envelope full of slips!
Some performers have the slips filled out before the show, sealed in
envelopes, and placed in a bowl. They then boldly steal out several
envelopes, retire to the restroom, and open and read the stolen envelopes.
If they fmd suitable material, they either memorize the information or
prepare a crib sheet. Once again, the advantage is screening. If you need
more info, you steal some more envelopes.
Also, I suppose, while you are in the restroom, you could take
advantage of Stanley Jaks' method of eavesdropping in the men's room
before the show, to glean some nuggets ofinformation. Although it occurs
to me you could get a lot more info from eavesdropping in the lady's room!

During the Show

Most of the methods I have felt comfortable with have been those
that allow me to read the questions in realperformance time. The two
most useful methods are the One-Ahead and the Reversible Card

The One-Abeada The Mentalist'. FrIend

The One-Ahead is so well known that only a brief description is
necessary. The one-ahead is sometimes referred to in some of the older
books as the Washington Irving Bishop test.
By one of a variety of nefarious means, the performer gains secret
access to one of the questions. Drawing a folded or sealed slip from the

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

bowl, he miscalls it as belonging to the person whose information he has

alreadyobtained. Answering the question, the performer opensthe slipto
verifythe question, thus gaining access to yet anothername and another
question. This process is repeated as often as necessary.
Eddie Fields is credited with beingthe first Mentalist to come up
withtheideaofopeningthe slipto givetherespondenta brief'Graphology
analysis. This idea was further developed by Cicardi, Lee Earle, and
Bob Mason. It is a poetically diabolical idea, and one worthy of any
performer's consideration.
Lee Earle pointsout,inhisdiscussion ofQ & A, that onceyouhave
called attention to the person's handwriting, it creates a curiosity in the
audience to see the writing. This is certainly true. Following the old
premise: "Ifyou can't hide it, paint it red", Both Cicardi and Lee Earle
make a formal production of handing the question back, along with a
Graphology Check Sheet. For itemsin the publicdomainwhichfollow
these guidelines, see Cicardi's Psi-Grafico, and Lee Earle's Remote
Control, both published in Bascom's Magick.
Tbe ODe-Ahead aIld '0. .' Questions

A traditional way to get into a One-Ahead is by using a fictional

question for the first slip. I feel this is inadvisable, because (a) it is not a
verystrongwayto openyourprogram, and (b) itisa prettytransparentway
to read the secret information.
However, fictional questions are the Mentalist's SecretPal. During
any Q & A routine,it is advisable to punchup the presentationwitha few
sensational or 'gag' questions. A valuable source for suitable material is
Robert Nelson's Sensational Answers to Ouestions publishedby Hades
Publishing Co.

However,I think it ispretty easy to makeupyourown gag questions.

Afteryou do Q & A for a while, you will get quite a few jewels fromthe
comedians in your audience, anyway. Another good source is the Dear
Abby colwnn, found in virtually every newspaper.
Now, suppose you have answered a couple of questions, and the
issues are pretty tame. You draw a slip from the bowl, and you decide it
is timeto spice thingsup with a good sensational answer. You look at the
name, and your Psychic alarm goes off (method acting)!
I pause for about ten seconds, just looking at the name, until

John Riggs

everyone is thinking" Uh-Ohl",

"Ladies and Gentlemen, J guess some ofyou didn't realize that we
were going to read these questions aloud, and right now, the person who
wrote this question is probably cringing!
"1 will not call out your name, sir, but let me give you myfeelings
on the subject. This is not the time nor the place to come out ofthe closet!
Society is just beginning to open up and become more receptive to your
preferred life-style, but we still have a long way to go, and ifyou do this
now, you will certainly endanger your standing in the company.
"Tellyour closefriends andfamilyfirst, and see how they react, and
this will give you the support you so desperately need. See me after the
show, or call me, I give private intuitive counseling sessions, and I'll help
you all that I can." Pocket the slip and move rapidly to the next question.
Wow! Kick their booty! Butnot only have you spiced up the evening
(and the rest ofthe week, as they try to figure out who is hiding in the closet
-hee, hee!), but you have revealed that you do private readings, ami, taken
the opportunity to memorize tbe name and question of tbe real owner

oftbe slip!
With a couple ofgag questions, and a good memory, you are loaded
with a couple of concrete facts that you can parlay into a superb ending.
Many years ago, George Anderson released a book called DypaThis indispensable essay describes a method for doing
a Q & A act absolutely cold, with nothing written down.
The idea is that individuals from certain age groups, and certain
social circles, have major issues in common.
Corinda also has a 'Table of probabilities' which, if you can
interpret it, gives you the same sort of information, It is in the chapter of
1J Steps on - you guessed it - Q & A.
Statements about these commonalities are thrown out to audience
members, and the odds are very good that some or most of them will hit!
It is an elegant idea, and one that was just made for a climax for a Q & A
Say you havejust answered, using the One-Ahead, about five or six
questions, and two 'gag' questions. You have also taken the opportunity
to memorized a couple of names and questions. Do this:
"Ladies and Gentlemen, I do not have time to answer all ofthese
questions, but let me address a few that J feel are most important.
"Someone in the audience is concerned about their husband's

The Compleat Fonune-Teller

mother's drinkingproblem. I willnot embarrass you bypointing this out,

but you know who you are. Ma'am, you must certainly seek help, notfor
your husband, notfor your Mother-in-Law, butfor you.
"You must learn to handle yourselfin this situation. See me after
the show, and I can put you in touch with someone.
"Someone here is depressed; he is discouraged by his lot in life, and
feels that he should have accomplished more. Sir, I feel that there is no
needfor you to be discouraged.
''If you look at those around you, those who you envy, you will
realize they had head starts in life that you didn't have. In fact,
considering your background, where you started, and what you have
made ofyourselfby your own efforts, you should be proud!
"Someone here...someone is concerned about their brother. He is
a musician? Oh, do you mindifI discuss this one with you? Abbey, Abbey
Jones? Your brother is a songwriter, is he not? Myfeelings are that ifhe
sticks with it, he will be quite successful. Sendhim my best regards, OK?"
Ofcourse, you have invented everything exceptthe information that
you memorized from the 'gag' slips!
There is another source of information that should not be overlooked. Quite often, you will hear from people who work for a company
at whose banquet you are scheduled to appear. They will offer to give you
some 'dirt' on key personnel at the company.
Do not overlook this splendid opportunity! I am careful to explain
that my act is usually performed 'cold', that I do not rely on pre-show
information, but if they know something funny about, say, the president,
I could work it in - for entertainment purposes.
This information is printed on a label, which I attach to my
microphone, back ofmy notebook, or some other easily-accessible place,
for inclusion in the Dynamite Mentalism part ofthe show.
I also developed a method to cull out the slips ofthose whom I have
some good 'dirt'on. ThismethodisinChapterFour,andiscalledSorting
the Soiree.

The Reversible card

The reversible card idea is generally credited to Burling 'Volta'
Hull, having appeared in his manuscript Volta Hull's Supper Club

John Riggs

It was, apparently, ignored by most people except

Orville Meyer, who learned it from Charles Scott, and who contributed
several handlings to Bascom's Magick. Which is where I first heard of it
in the early 1980's.
The general idea is that ifa question is written on a card, and the card
folded in half, it is possible to refold the card, so that it looks exactly the
same, and yet you can read the information.
The method requires that the writing is restricted to one-half of the
folded card, so that the message is not visible from the front, but this is
easily accomplished by having an area defmed on the card, clearly
identified as the'writing area. The remainder of the card can have designs,
logos, instructions, or booking information printed upon it, as long as both
sides of the card appear identical.
In brief, the questions are refolded as they are removed from the box
or basket, and the performer secretly, yet openly, reads the question!
He then pretends to get 'Psychic vibes' about the question, and gives
his Olympian response. The slip is discarded, and the procedure repeated
ad infinitum.
If the audience has been instructed to write their names on the
outside of the folded slips, the performer can pretend to be studying the
person's signature, when, in reality, he is reading the question.
If you have balls of solid brass, this is the method for you!
BUnclloldecl Q fI A The cat's Pajamas


If you are familiar with the principles of Sightless Vision, there is

no need to have the questions folded, sealed, or anything else. They are
gathered in a basket, and you 'see' them with, apparently, your 'third eye'!
This strong procedure, with different methodologies to read the
questions, can be seen performed by the two modem masters of the Q &
A act, Cicardi and Glenn Falkenstein. Watching one performance of
either of these two is a post-graduate course in Q & A!
Of course, any message reading method can be
with the
blindfold, making the demonstration absolutely impossible from an
audience's point of view.
I personally do not use a blindfold while performing Q & A. I want
to be able to make empathic eye contact with the individuals as I 'read'
them. My eyes are my strongest feature, and I like fixing my querent with

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

a Svengaliesque gaze ...

I use a blindfold while demonstrate Sightless Vision; and I use other
Psychic gifts while demonstrating Question-Answering. Just me; I tend
to be a minimalist whenever possible....
Other Methods, Other ERects

A brief thumbing-through of Bascom Jones' Maeick Yielded the

following items ...
Magick # 205, pg. 1022. A method by Syd Bergson, wherein the
participant writes the question on the center section of a card folded into
thirds. The card is reversed behind the back, and the message read as the
performer bums the card.
# 195, pg. 972. Zodiac, by the mysterious Dr. Z. This is a
psychometry effect, wherein the performer uses three grades of pencil
lead, in the pencils handed to three participants, to identify the writers.
#177, pg. 882. Sun Sign, by Jack Bridwell. This presentation uses
the center tear to gain access to the person's sun sign. Then, you read the
stolen center behind the screen ofthe daily newspaper, as you read aloud
the person's Horoscope from the paper!
#169, pg. 843. Vibrations, by Dr. Nathan Stark. Excellent
Psychometry effect with business cards.
#317, pg. 1582. Photo SessiOD, by D. B. Draginis. A psychometry
effect with polaroidpictures ofthe participants, sealed in envelopes. Uses
the standard marked envelope method.
#320, pg. 1637. Private Stock by Dr. Barrie RichardsoD. Singleperson message reading, using a slightly-transparent manila envelope.
#328,pg.1637. Psi-Eye, by Ted Karmilovich, Jr. Asingle-person
reading method.
#331, pg. 1653. October/Scam, by Dr. Barrie Richardson. A

John Riggs

very good single-message reading method. or getting a one-ahead.

#334. Psi-Pad. by AI Mann. Single-person reading method using
an automatic center- tear method.
#214. Stratagem by Fred Sheilds. Useful for the private reader.
as it uses a gimmicked stationary box.
#234. The Phoenix Effect, by Karroll Priest.
delightful, this is a single-person reading effect.

Weird and

T. A. Waters has several excellent renditions in his book, MiDda

Interestingly enough, Mr. Waters discloses a method for doing a
Horoscope pitch. in a bonus insert that appeared in Magick, dated
November 26, 1976. The title of the article is Secrets o(ajJorosCQpe

This method was recently 'Docctored up' and resold as a Psychic
Pitch for $250.
I have made extensive use of Bascom Jones' Magick in this book
for a reason. Magick is simply the best source of ideas, methods, and
presentational hints existing in the world today.
Sadly. Bascom is no longer with us, and one of the disappointments
of my life is that I never got a chance to meet him. But I consider myself
one of 'Bascom's Boys', as he, more than anyone else, shaped my approach
to Mentalism during my impressionable years.
There are, of course. many other sources for material and ideas. I
will include a partial list of easily-available sourcebooks at the end of the
The pointbeing made, there is no shortage ofmethods to gain access
to the spectator's question.
What then?


The Compleat Fortune- Teller

The Aaswen
"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.
It is the true source ofall art and science. "

-Albert Einstein
"... We live in such times, that if blatant nonsense is uttered with
a straightface, listeners will believe they are imbibing profound
-Ray Hyman, Linking Ring Parade, October, 1986
"... You ought to know, Ray!... "

-Whillicker, private correspondence, 1989.

Whatan intimidating concept! Answering personalquestions from
total strangers! Are we up to it?
After all, with our jaded understanding of Psychic techniques, we
knowthatwe cannotcounton getting the answersto these questions from
some wonderful magickal source. Wemust instead rely upon our own
wits, experience, and the work ofthose otherswho have already walked
this ground before.
Firstofall, we areprotectedbythefactthatthere areveryfewpeople
inthe audience whowillwantto addressserious personalissuesina public
venue. Most ofthe questions you will get willfall into one of a veryfew
categories; the Fortune-teller's stock-in-trade:
Love & Sex
Lost Objects & People
'Gags and insults'
Within theseparameters, andusinga littlecoldreading, it ispossible
to provide satisfactory answersformostofthe questions you will receive.
Here are some guidelines to keep in mind, at the risk of being
Be positive: One of the habits that bother me about some of the
"shut-eye" Psychicsishow gloomy theyare. I believethatMentalists who


are interested in working good gigs need to see themselves as being in the
Motivational business.
Hopefully, people should leave the show feeling quite a bit better
that when they came. If you like to work.
Avoid giving advice: If you encounter a question that is too 'hot',
do not be afraid to either pass on it, or, ifyou are qualified to do so, request
that the person should consult with you privately after the show. It is not
appropriate, in an entertainment format, to dwell on certain subjects, or to
provide psychotherapy! Of course, never give legal, medical, or financial
People believe what you say: Even if they say they do not, people
remember what you say.
Mentalism, especially something as strong and as personal as the
Q & A, hits the subconscious mind like a sledgehannner. You have heard
the stories about people who saw a fortune-teller 'on a lark' and were told
something that worried them for years! Don't do it.
Keep it moving. Don't strain and hesitate on every question. Vary
the pace a little. Some answers pop into your head almost as fast as you
can talk. Some answers are a little more difficult to receive.
Some you don't get anything at all! Drama...
We live in what I call the 'eight second attention-span society'.
Television has reduced our capacity for concentration to eight seconds. If
you watch your next movie or TV show, count the seconds between 'cuts'.
Rarely, if ever, does the camera stay motionless for as long as eight
If your natural pace is leisurely, do not force yourself to work
unnaturally fast, but try to keep the pace interesting!
Study 'Troubled People' books. You can get a lot of reassuring
lines from the Pop-Psychology books. I am known locally for .my
seemingly-endless supply of inspirational and situational quotes for all
It is easier to draw upon a storehouse of previously-learned knowledge that to improvise potentially dangerous answers on the fly.
Beempathic: Put yourselfin the otherperson's shoes. How do they
feel? What are their expectations?
Screen questions'on the fly': Do not be afraid to reject a question
as inappropriate. These can be anything ranging from 'gag' questions
("How high is up?") to personal attacks on the performer ( "I can't believe

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

we are paying you to do this!").

Be imaginative, intuitive, and colorful: A lady once asked me
which ofthree men she wouldgo to a formal with. Shewas a veryclassy
and reserved lady, so I told her: "I thinkyou will select the quieterone".
She seemedto like the answer and nodded her head.
Usesensational questions: I 'salt'the bowlwithslipsbearingeither
no signature or an obvious pseudonym, such as thename ofthe president.
When I draw this one out, seemingly at random, I say: "Here is someone
who wants me to tell them their name. Do you want the one on your
Driver's licence, sir, or the one you use at Motels?"
You can alsohandan unsigned 'saltedslip'to a spectator in thefront
row, withtherequestthat they try to telepathically 'send' youthequestion.
Since youhave plantedthe question, you can makesureit is entertaining!
Some ways to ring in 'salt' are discussed in Chapter Four.
Try to determine if the positive outcome is actually the best
answer. Sometimes, itisnot! Forexample, I oncegota questionthatread:
"Will my daughter marry Greg?" Having been caught in this situation
before, I knew that the mother mayor maynot approve ofthemysterious
Greg. I proceeded as follows:
"You are concernedabout someone close to you, a relative?" She
gave an affirmative. "This seems to involvea thirdperson as well, about
whom you have mixedfeelings. " _
Her eyeslitup! "This situation
seems to center aroundan event that is usuallyassociated with a lot of
happiness. Would it makeyou happy?" Shegot a rueful lookonher face,
so beforeshecouldreply, "Ifeel thatyou donot quiteapprove ofsomeone
whom your daughter is involvedwith. Am I right" She agreed.
I continued: "Your daughter isa biggirl now, andwillhaveto learn
her own lessons. I seeyou as a verycaringperson, andthe bestthingyou
can offeryour daughter is your unconditional love- and support. "
Another way to get the goodson Greg wouldbe to start out: "Does
thenameGregmeananythingtoyou?" and gauge the reaction. You may
haveto go no farther if she grimaces in pain. If she gives an emotionally
neutral affirmative, ask: "Is this a person you like?" And proceedfrom
there: If she likes Greg, I say:
''1 see a coming together of souls, a joyful union ofpartners, a
celebration ofaffection between twopeople whoaredeeply in love. I see
twin flames burningtogetherat the alter ofeternity.
My feelings are that this will be a period ofgreat happiness".

John Riggs

The question is: 'WillI be healthy". This is one question that can
land you in a whole world of trouble. I say:
"1 see you as a very strongperson, very strong inside, with all the
necessary emotional tools to deal realistically with the negative influencesinyourlife. You may tend to worryandfret aboutthingsyoucannot
change, and wish that you had a schedule keeping you informedoflife's
events. Knowing exactly what you are dealing with is an importantthing
to you. I believe that ifyou take good care ofyourself, keep the proper
comeup,youwillwardoffany negativeinfluences,enjoylife to thefullest
and reap the rewards you deserve. OK?"
Its hard to go wrongadvisingsomeone to go to the doctor if theyare
sick! But try to make it sound like an Delphic announcement...
Remember that you do not have to answer the question directly.
In my presentation, I seldom,if ever, visibly open the questionto verifyor
read the question aloud. I pick up a slip, give my answer (alwaysbearing
in mind to get as many affmnatives as possible) and go on to the next
Sinceyouareworking(fromanaudiencepointofview) withPsychic
'vibes', the answer you give can be a bit circuitous. But it
be positive.
Question: 'Will I winthelottery?" Answer: You areconcernedwith
money. I sense a highly developed material instinct, and I see that
enjoysurrounding yourselfwith nicethings. Sometimes, youseemto wish
that money bags would drop out ofheaven!
''You may be temptedto gambleto gainthe quick wealthyou dream
about. However, in a Lottery,the odds areabout 32 millionto oneagainst
you, and you may do better investing your money in securities. OK?"
Question: 'Will I get into school this fall?" Answer: "1 see you
entering a new course in you life, taking a new direction this..fall, I
believe. I see you as having a greatdeal ofhiddenpotential thatyou will
develop during this period.
''You areapproachinga crossroads, witha decisionto bemade. You
willsurprise yourselfwitb the thingsyou accomplish. Your heart'sdesire
willbewithinyourreach. I thinkyou willdo well in school, afteran initial
settling in period. OK?"
Always treat your querents with respect. I shouldn'teven have
to say this, but a lot of Mentalists have borrowed some obnoxioushabits

The Compleat Fonune-Tdler

from their comedy-club counterparts! I do not think we should insult a

personor makehimuncomfortable. Ifyou insulta person'stieor suit,how
doyouknowit was nota presentfromhis wife (whoisprobablysittingnext
to him!)?
Question: "Where did you learn your tricks?" Answer: "I have
made a study ofthe manyforms ofnon-verbal communication that we use
in our day-to-day communication with each other. I have taken abilities
that we all possess, to one degree or other, and developed them to the
degree you see tonight. Nothing I do is a magician's trick, nor is it
associated in any way with the occult.
"These are perfectly natural abilities, that I happen to have been
born with a talent".

See, I take the opportunity to rephrase the question to erase the

implied smear against the claim to Psychic Power that I never made (?)!
It sidestepsthe directconfrontation of a skeptic(nevera goodidea, in my
Butyoushouldlet the skepticsknowthat youare awaretheyare out
Question: "What is the meaning oflife ?" On a goodnightyou will
get about three of these. I save them, if I have time, for the Dynamite
Mentalism part of the show.
If I draw it during the 'machine-gun' phase, I committhe querent's
name to memory and pass on the question, or use a 'gag'. I have written
a speech, based on my own philosophy, and drawing from the positivethinking andmotivationallore,tbatanswers thisquestion inveryschmaltzy
but endearing terms.
I do not includemy spiel here, but leave it to you to composeyour
own. This is an opportunity to really lay it on thick, and get your message
Cull out a 'hot' question to end with. During your presentation,
spot out a hot questionto save for last. This should be a funny or unusual
question. Thisculling procedureis easy ifyou use a pre-showmethod. It
becomes a little trickier during an 'on the fly' method. I give you my
thoughts on how to accomplish this goal 'on the fly' in Chapter Six; the
chapter on 'Whillicker's Favorite Method".
Probablythebest wayto gain experienceis to go outanddo a simple
Q & A routine, using your favorite method.
Developyourideasslowlyandcarefullyfrom thissolidbase. Above

John Riggs

all, listen to your aU(Uence! Deliver what they want. You don't want to
have to work for a living forever, do you?
I suggest to anyone interested in specializing in the Q & A act to
watch the 'real' Psychics at work. You can see an abundance ofTelevision
Psychics (sort of the New Age version of TV Evangelists, I suppose!) on
the networks. Observe how they work an audience, and incorporate what
you learn into your own presentations.
If you have the qualifications and ethics to do private readings, a
Psychic Fair is a good place to gain experience with lots ofpeople. If you
can stand the pace, it is a great way to do dozens of readings in a weekend.
On a good weekend, I used to do between forty and sixty fifteen- minute
readings (at $10, net, each. This is excellent training in fielding difficult
If you don't want to be a player in this game, go to the Psychic fair
and watch other Psychics at work. You can learn a lot!

,.....--- .........



I know!
We'll get
, that Psychic dude
for our sales
' <, meeting!



The Compleot Fonune- Teller

John Riggs



The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Tarot Psychometry
In this effect, the performer introduces a deck of Tarot and briefly
explainsthe meaningof a few of the cards. The deck is handed over to
audiencemembersforshufiling. Thedeckisretrieved,andplacedina box.
Handingthe boxed deck to a spectator, the performerasks himto remove
a card, cautioning the participantnot to let anyone else see his card. The
box is handed to several different spectators, who each select a card.
Now, each spectator is handeda box ofbusiness - sized envelopes.
Theperformerasksthe spectatorsto takean envelopeandplacetheircard,
along with any personal object, within the envelope. The envelopes are
thensealed,gatheredby an indifferent spectator,mixed,andhandedto the
Selectingoneofthe envelopes, theperformerholdsit to hishead and
concentrates! He starts delivering a Psychic reading to the (as yet
unknown) spectator. Ripping open the envelope, the object within is
dumpedout into the Psychic'shand, and the performeruses psychometry
to receive more specific sensations about the individual. The reading
becomes more and more specific, and the performer returns the object
back to the spectatorto whom it belongs! Then, removing the Tarot card
from the envelope,the mysterious one tells the spectator's fortune, using
the card as a basis. This procedure is repeated with all ofthe spectators
exceptthelastone. Withoutopeningtheenvelope, theperformerdescribes
the person's character,then tellsthe individual'sfortune- naming the very
card sealed within the envelope!

You've got to admit - it sounds pretty strong. It is. This routine
follows Uncle John's Second Rule of Mentalism - Show No Mercy!
In most Psychometry routines, the envelopesare secretlymarked.
The envelopes are also where the heat is focused fiom tuspicious
spectatorswho are too callousedand too left - brained to appreciateyour
cold - readingskills. I have often seen spectators examine the envelopes
and cards after a performance of Psychometry. Not only at some of my

John Riggs

shows,butothersas well. T. A. Waters reports similarexperiences in his

book on Psychometry. My markings on my envelopes were subtle, and
remained undetected by the skeptics - and often, unfortunately, by me as
In this routine, the envelopes are not marked. You know which
envelopebelongs to each spectatorbecause you fOrced the Tarotcards on
This force is based on an idea by Gene Neilson whichappearedin
M.a&kk severalyearsago. Gene used it to force a readingon a sitter. The
idea was further developedby Derek Renfro in a handling called Tarot
Tin, first publishedin SYZY2Y YW.....l.
The Tarotcards are in a box with a llil, similar to a small shoe box.
The lidof the boxis onthe bottomof the box, whenthe cardsare removed.
Hidden within the lid are your force cards, in a known order.
The cards are discussed, then handed out for shuffling. When they
are returned, the cards are placed in the box and the lid replaced on top,
dropping the force stackon top. I actuallyuse a small drawerbox (not the
magicalkind!) and the cards are wedged in the top. Shuttingthe drawer
drops the small stack on the deck!
Now, whenyouhandtheboxeddeckto a spectator,havehim remove
the lid and take 'the card'. He will take the top card, falling into what
WilliamJamescalleda 'forced option'. Havethe spectatorhandthecards
to someone else, and tell them to take the next card. Repeatwith as many
spectators as you like.
Whentheparticipants sealtheircardsinto theenvelopes,alongwith
their objects, it is a simple matter to glimpse the card as you remove the
object. You startthe cold readingbeforeyou open the envelope,then you
remove the objectto obtain better vibes. As you remove the object, you
Younow know who the spectatoris, and
glimpse the card within.
can reallyrefineyourreading, especiallyif you have obtainedsomesecret
'dirt' on them!
Ofcourseyoucandivinethe lastperson'scard, sincethe forcecards
are in a known sequence, the last person has the card missing from your





The Compkot Fortune-Teller

Ifyouwam to obtain maximum resultsfromthis routine,youshould

control which person gets which card!
After all, youhand the box to the first person to removehis card, do
you not? Then,you can instructhimto handthe box to "... That lady over
there... "; seemingly a randomand arbitrary choice, but you leavenothing
to chance, do you, you sneaky rascal?
So, ifyouare up on your Tarot Archetypes, youcan forcecardson
individuals who resemble these archetypes. The Hermit could go to a
mousy, quietindividual, withthe suggestionthat he is retiringand solitary,
and could benefit from more assertive action.
The Magician, whichrepresentspower,manipulation, and masculine energy, could go to an extroverted, crafty salesman. The Emperor
could find its way to the CEO of the company.
The High Priestess, with its implication of intuitive knowledge
beyondrational thought, could go to the empathic office "Ann Landers"!
How about The Fool going to the "Class Clown"? One good
archetype deserves another!
I think it is perfectly safe to force all five cards from the Major
Arcana. It mightbe bardfor an uninitiated audiencememberto figure out
the six of cups, for example. The names of the Major Arcana cards are
printed at the bottom ofthe card, and are easily remembered.
I suggestusingthe Rider -Waite Jumbodeck forthisroutine. Some
of the newer decks are pretty esoteric!


John Riggs

Zodiac Psychometry
In this variation, a deck of Zodiac cards is handed out, with the
request that five spectators remove the card representing their sign of the
Zodiac, and seal the card, along with a personal object, into envelopes.
They are invited to keep the remainder of the cards as a souvenir.
In a manner similar to the preceding effect, the performer starts the
reading with the unopened envelope, then removes the object, refming the
reading, then identifies the Zodiac sign. Remarking on the qualities of the
particular sign, the performer returns the card, envelope, and object to the
proper spectators!
The last person's sealed envelope is returned to them, with the
remarks that they are a typical Gemini ( for example), always holding out
for last!

Since we cannot force the card on the individual participants, you
would think this would rule out the methodology described in the
preceding effect. In fact, it does rule it out, but we go use a variation.
Each person is handed a
of Zodiac cards. The set contains each
of the twelve Zodiac signs. Each set also contains some secret mark on
the back or edge of each card, identifying which set its from.
I have found the simplest way to do this is to have a small dot
somewhere on the back of each card. You may want to use the upper left
corner for set number one, the upper right corner for set number two, lower
left corner for set number three, lower right cornerfor set number four, and
the middle of the card for set number five.
Using modern desktop publishing technology, you can manufacture
your own sets of cards, personalized with your booking information, and
incorporating into the design. the small anomaly..that identifies each set.
These can even be produced as your business card, with the Zodiac signs
printed on the back. You may want to check out the local New Age

Bookstores for a set of Rubber Stamps with-the Zodiac signs.

You introduce the deck of Zodiac cards.and briefly lecture on the
attributes associated with each house. If you watch your audience closely,

The Compleot Fortune-Teller

youwillseesomemembers reacting withsmall nodsas youare discussing

their sign! Use yourpowers wisely, if this happens to you! This is heap
bigmedicine thatcanbe used duringtheroutine. You donothaveto cheat!
Next, you hand someofthe cards to participant number one, some
to number two, etc. Of course,you make sure that set number one goes
Handing outa boxofbusinesssizedenvelopes, yourequestthateach
person remove one. Instruct them to seal their card, along with a small
personal object, inside the envelope.
Oncethe five participants have sealedtheir signand theirobject in
the envelopes, tell themto keep the remaining cards as souvenirs. Or, if
youarecheap,haveanindifferent spectatorcollecttheremainingcardsand
set them aside. By no means do you want to come in contact with the
discarded cards! The envelopes are gathered and mixed.
Opening the first envelope, you dump out the object,noticing that
the card is from set number three, and is the sign of Capricorn. So,
Participant number threeis a Capricorn - "... With their headin the clouds
and theirfeet on the ground .. "
Continue in this vein until you reach the last envelope. No grand
ending - just read the person, open the envelope, and return their card.
Need I pointout that the participants couldwrite a question on the
back of their sign?
It would be possible to determine the last person's sign with an
application of Ray Grismer's What's My Sign? or other sneaky preshow method. Or, you couldpeek over their shoulder and glimpse their
card at the very beginning! Whichever way, it plays strong!


John Riggs

Pellet Psychometry
Before the show, audience members write down questions they
would like answered by the Great One. These slips are screwed up into
little balls, and gathered in a bowl. One by one, the Mentalist holds a ball
at his fmgertips and presses it against his "third eye". He identifies
individuals, and answers their questions! The balls of paper are never
opened throughout the routine.
Pads ofpaper are freely distributed before the show for the audience
to write their questions. Some ofthe slips are on your favorite impression
device. I use the Fields Device from Magick. I try to get about a dozen
impressions. These are memorized, using yourfavorite mnemonic system.
Another way would be to gather the balls in a bowl, and steal out a
handful. Give the bowl to another spectator, or the program chairman, to
gather up the rest while you go to the powder room to freshen up ( and
memorize your slips).
During the show, point out that there are pads of paper and pencils
on each table, and "...If you haven't already done so..." You ask the
spectators to write down some question that they would like you to answer.
Phrase your request to fit your theme, of course.
The balls of paper are added to the bowl in the chairman's possession, and placed on your table.
One by one, you remove balls ofpaperand go down your mental list,
calling offthe pre-memorizedinformation. This will knockthem dead, and
the skeptics will lose their minds trying to figure out how you are reading
the balled-Up slips! Don't forget to add some sensational answers, to add
that spicy flavor audiences love.
Put the used-up balls back in the bowl as you pack up after the show
- no evidence!
This method gives you the convenience ofa little pre-show question


Tire Complellt FortIlne-Teller

Mark PsimaD's Clearly Telepathic

Questions are written and gathered in a transparent ZipLoc bag.
One by one, the Mentalist removes the folded slips and telepathically
reveals the answers to the querent's unspoken questions.
Mark pointsout that if you have a bag full of folded slips,you have
perfectcover to do the Umbrella move, opening one of the slips as you
are evidently mixing the slips in the bag. It is a simple matterto position
this card, writing out, againstthe back ofthe transparent bag. This gives
you an unrestricted view ofthe name and the question writtenon the slip.
Thisinformation could be used as a One-Ahead, or,youcouldkeep
repeating the strategy ad infinitum.
This method would also work. splendidly in a fishbowl with a flat
front and back.
If you are working a Rotary Club meeting, you could use the
audience member's business cards. This will help you build up your
mailing list! See the next item.


. ..

John Riggs

Fringe Beaelits
The Mentalist
his audience members to write questions
they would like for him to answer on the back oftheir business cards, fold
them into quarters, and drop them into a paper bag.
The bag is given to a spectator for mixing, to ensure that nobody has
any advantage over anyone else (?).
One by one, the cards are withdrawn from the bag, and with uncanny
accuracy, the mentalist identifies the owner of the card, and answers his
unspoken question!
As you mix the cards up, you unfold one ofthem and palm it, writing
side out, in the right hand. You visibly withdraw a folded card, and as you
bring it into contact with your 'third eye', you read the question from the
palmed card. This gives you a One-Ahead.
You then unfold the visible card and pocket it, but not before you
glimpse the information for your next reading!
You must avoid cards of an odd color, unless you use the reversible
card stratagem, but Il}ost cards are printed on white stock.
This is a great way to hustle business cards for your contact list.


The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Indexed Stratagem
Cicardi (Dr. Charles Scott)published a very good way to secretly
number indexcards for use in a Psychometry styleroutine. His idea was
to use a bluepencilto darkenthe endofthefirstruledlineonthe first card,
the secondline on the secondcard, etc. It is a good idea, and I'veused it
with much success for years.
My contribution to this idea follows:
You canbuy, at the office supply store(theMentalist's Magicshop),
pads ofindex cards that are perforated at the top for easy removal. This
prop was tailor - made for the Mentalist!
Mark the first five sheets as per Cicardi's direction. Hand the pad
andpencil to a spectator, and ask himto writedownhisAstrological sign,
hisfavorite color, or somepersonofhistorical significance thatheadmires.
Thisinformation can be whatever youdecide tobase yourreadingaround.
He does not write his real name anywhere on the card.
Heisthenaskedtotearthecardout,folditintofourths, andholdonto
it for a moment.
Thenthespectatorpassesthepadto a secondspectator,whofollows
the same procedure. This is repeated with three more spectators.
The cards are gathered by a sixth spectator,'who mixes them in a
bowl, and brings them to you.
The procedure with the padded cards forces the spectator's to take
the cards in 1-2-3 order, without the need for the performer to hand the
cards out in sequence.
You can then open the cards, do a reading based on the information
within, and return the card to the correct spectator, via your uncanny
telepathic ability!
Or, by secretlyaddinga sixthfoldedcard( a dummy), youcansneak
one of the audience's cards out and read it as you go for your notebook.
Open the card and read it, refoldit, and secretlyadd it back to the
bowl as you draw out a second card.
Calloutthe information fromthe firstcard (One-Ahead, again)and
openthe card to studythe participants handwriting. Spotting yourmark,
youpointto the correctspectator, saying; "Itsyou,isn'tit?" He will have
to agree.
Putthe openedcard in yourbowl,memorizing the information, and
take out the next slip. Continue until you have read all five persons.

John Riggs

Using sneaky means like Psl-Graflco will allow you to return each
card to the spectator after you identify him. We will return to this idea in
the chapter on Psi-Gratico.
As in Tarot Psychometry, you can control which audience members to use in this presentation.
I have experimented with the idea of using a rubber stamp on the
unlined side of an index card, requesting the specific information. The
marked ruled lines are thus on the back of the card.
The advantage? When the cards are folded into quarters, your
marked comers are in full view. You can now determine who the slip
belongs to without opening the card.
I have also been marking the cards in negative - using a white-out
correction pen. You wind up with a white dot on the blue line.
Nothing new here as far as presentational ploys; I just thought the
idea with the pads of perforated index cards was worth passing on!


The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Impromptu (1) No-BraiDer

Lee Earle markets a prop no Psychometrician should do without the No-brainer bags, which allows you to identify your individuals
without an necessary memory work, or new knowledge that you didn't
learn in Kindergarten. These props are elegant and unsuspected.
I cameup witha bagidea on my own,which I used for a whileand
may use again, now that I'mreminded of it
You use lunch-size paper bags, still in the wrapper, for your
participants to put theircarkeysin. Theytwistthe tops shut, andthe bags
are collected by an indifferent spectator. He mixes themand hands them
back to you.
You proceed to receive Psychic impressions from the keys, and
return them to the owners.

Paper bags have a trademark stamp on them. I had a set of five
stampsmadewhichhas different serialnumbers onthem. Andaddedthem
to the bag. Thesenumbers had the last digit in sequence from 1 - 5.
UsingLee's No-Brainer idea,youcoulduse the samestamp, but in
five different colors!



John Riggs

Sorting the Soiree

It occurs to the performer that it would be really nifty to be able to
sort out specific audience member's slips while they are being gathered.
This way, you could concentrate on the more interesting and politicallycorrect members of your audience.
The perfect method to do this is with the agency of a Transparent
Change bag. I use the Zip Loe model made by Valerie Neillson, and
marketed through Jeff Busby.
The handling is sweet. As you or your assistant promenade through
the audience, collecting questions, you let the people drop their slips into
the bag.
As you approach your targeted mark, you open the bag to the back
side, allowing the slip to fall within the second compartment within the
clear bag.
You can use this slip to your advantage, or even gather four or five
dignitaries, and base your presentation on these five 'live wires'!
Youcoulddo the same thing with (Godhelp us) a regularchange bag,
ora paperbag with an inner compartment. I like the apparent guilelessness
of the transparent bag.
Even if you only use this stratagem with one person, on whom you
'got the dirt', it can really give your show that extra umph that we all crave
so desperately.
A related idea is used to 'ring in' spicy 'gag' questions.
A large manila envelope is used to gather the questions. The
envelope is partitioned in the familiar manner.
Behind the partition are several slips, bearing illegible or missing
signatures, and containing your 'gag' questions. When you feel like it,
produce one of these dummies, and comment that the signature is
unreadable (or missing altogether). Hand the slip to a spectator, and tell
them to telepathically 'send' it to you.
Play it up!


The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Darkroom Q fI A
An ideathat is worthreconsidering isonethatwasverypopularback

in the 40's. Routines by Nelson, Meyer, and others appeared in the

literature of the day.
The effect was that you had the querents write their questions on
cards, then they were gathered in a paper bag. The lights were extinguished, andthe voiceof the performer was heardinthe darkness, calling
out names and answering questions.
A version by Paul Curry called Nyctalopia appeared in the
Annemann's Jinx, and can also be found in Practical Mental Effects.
The method involved a hidden flashlight and an impression device that
was, to say the least, diabolical in conception! Look it up if you are not
familiar withit - it is worthits weightin plutonium as anexample oftotally
ingenious methodology.
However, the methodthat I am reconsidering involves coatingthe
surface ofeach card with phosphorescent paint. Thisway, they can be
read in the darkness of the bag, when the lights are out. The cards are
'charged' by exposure to light, and, in the dark, you tum yourback to the
audience and read the cards!
A variation by Nelson involved coating one card with paint, and
using it as your light source!
The writing should be done with blackfelt-tip pens,for the sake of
the performer's eyesight. None of us are getting any younger!
These days, there are manyhigh-tech tiny lightsources. There are
small, and inexpensive keychain flashlights that wouldservea darkroom
workerwell. Look in the scientific catalogues for 'coldlight' electroluminescent screens.


John Riggs

The Mind-Reading Balloon Bear

It reads like the classic joke - the guy whose business card reads:
Mentalism Ie Baloons.
Well. I lived it, and the audience loved it. I had been doing my
rendition ofRudy Hunter's The Buddha and The Teddy Bear, from his
book of the same name. I use a different means of gaining the info than
Rudy, based on the original Corinda Whispering Buddha routine. In
essence, a girl tells her private concern to your teddy bear. You take the
teddy bear back from the girl, and the bear gives you her thought. You
reveal the thought, then you intimate that your teddy bearwants to go home
with her. You let her keep the bear. See Hunter's book for his detailed (and
excellent) handling.
Well, one time, doing an out-of -town show, I forgot to bring a teddy
bear! No problem. My evil Twin, Abracadabra Jones, is one of those
shameless Magician types who twist balloon animals. He happened to
leave his stuff in my car, so I twisted a balloon bear that A. J. (also known
as the 'Rembrandt of Rubber'). taught me.
Comes the showtime, and I check on the bear. A slow leak had
reduced him to a grotesque apparition resembling the Elephant man.
Presenting a lady with this monstrous artifact would result in shock and
horror. No time to make anew one - stick a couple ofballoons in the pocket
and wing it!
I hold up a card with the words: Love, Money, Career, Health
printed in large letters. I select my target and have her mentally select the
word that best represents her concern. If you pick a lady in the right age
range, nine out often times she will pick 'Love'.
I take out the balloon, blow it up, and tell a story about my teddy bear
as I twist the balloon. The audience was riveted. I gave her the bear and
told her to whisper the word in his ear: Per the original Corinda method,
it is a simple matter to lip read the word.
Taking the bear back, I hold the following conversation: "Patrick
says he is sorry that you haven't met your prince yet. He says you have
gone through a lot o/frogs looking/or your prince. He says that you will
not have to wait much longer- The person/or you is on the way. Sooner
than you think.
"What's that Patrick? You're sure? Ok. He says that until youfind


The Compkat Fonune-Tdler

yourprince, he willgo homewithyou to keepyou company. " AndI give

her the bear.
Biggest damn round of applause I ever received!
I guess the reason was, apart from the warm fuzzy factor inherent
inthe idea(Rudy's ingenious realization), thefactisthatI looklikea cross
between Mephistopheles, Orson Welles, and Hank Williams, Jr. The
resulting incongruity of such a Mentalist twisting a passable balloon
animal borders on the Surreal.
They saythat confession is goodforthe soul. I'mgladI gotthat off
my chest. Thank you for listening - now I feel cleansed.


John Riggs

T. A. Waters, PS'chometrician supreme, says that by using
deductive reasoning, like Sherlock Holmes, you can add some startling
details to your Psychometric readings.
Why not take this idea and run with it? Instead of being a Psychic,
you could build an act around the premise of the Master Sleuth.
Some strong Graphological demonstration (like Psi-Grafico) could
be used to warm the audience up. Then, the personal objects are gathered.
One by one, the Sleuth analyzes details of the objects and deduces
the personality and personal habits of the owner. It would be possible for
the intelligent performer to re-write his cold reading scripts for this
Plus, you can always use Water's idea ofdeveloping your powers of
perception and deduction!
Then, after analyzing the personalities, he returns the objects to the
owners with incredible accuracy!
Presentational tidbits suggestthemselves around the themes ofbody
language and observation tests.
A good market would be private eye companies and police departments.


The CompleatForlllne- Teller

AD Interview With the Lelt Brain
This interview was recorded a few weeks ago. It is a discussion
between me, the reknowned and beloved 'Southeast's Greatest Charlatan', andmyevil twin,whois a magician, andwhoworksunderthe nom
de illusion Abracadabra Jones.
As you can see, we differ on several philosophical points.








Don'tyou feel that Magicis hardlyan adultform ofentertainment?

I mean, rabbits out of hats, coins out of body orifices,
motivation! Just showing off...
No, I do not agree. Magicappeals to the childwithinthe adult. For
a brieftime, I can transportthe audience intothe childhood state of
fantasywhere anything is possible. Also,by doingclose-upMagic,
I can affect the audience intimately on a one-to-one level.
But most people are afraidofMagicians. They think that they are
about to be made foolish.
Yes, the Magician must overcome this with the pleasantness and
professionalism ofhispersonality. It isregrettably true that Magic's
worst enemies are Magicians. However, it is possible to present
Magic in a wonderfully pleasantformat, that leaves the spectators
happy and cheerful when you leave.
Or relieved that you did not producelingerie or spongedongsfrom
their pockets!
That shot was beneath even you! I only did that once, at that
Bachelorette'sparty! But let's talk about you. How do you justify
lyingto your audiences?
All actingis lying. SirLawrence Olivierpointedout in an interview
that good actingwas goodlying. I givethe audiencesomething they
desperately want - belief in a power that can transcend the boundariesofthe spokenword,andperhapsputusintouchwiththe primal
secretSavethe motivational crap for your audiences! I know you are in it
for the money.
One thing we share in common is a strongmaterialistic urge. Who
was it that got$300fortwo hoursofCardtricks? But youknowthat

John Riggs






we need money to allow us to pursue our chosen life-style (performing), and the best way to make money is to charge for what we love
to do anyway
My audience understands at the outset that what! perform are tricks ...
I do not do tricks. Magic is so left-brained! The constant emphasis
is 'How do you do that? How did I do that? How will I do that?"
All Magicians are fascinated with method. This fascination is
communicated to the audience. All Magic audiences are fascinated
with method. How can you inspire anyone when they are trying to
pierce your innermost secrets?
The methodology of Mentalism is usually minimalistic. We appeal
to the right brain. We dramatize the MAYBE - the hidden potential
of the human mind. Surely you must realize this is more grown -up
than Magic ...
So, where does the Inner Child get to play among all this mind stretching portentousness?
Er, ah... I'll get back to you on that later!
(pressing his advantage): Also, how do you justify the ethical stance
you adopt? For goodness sakes, you even do Psychic readings! I
can't stand it.
All of our lives we are told what we are not good at. By our parents'
and by our teachers, we are told: 'You can't. You won't. You
shouldn't." I say: "You can. You should. And you will." Where is
the harm?
You encourage a false belief.
In what? Yourself? God forbid we should not believe in ourselves!.
You know what I mean. Christian thought...
The parts ofthe Bible I like to read speaks very favorably about what
I do. Jesus preached acceptance. Acceptance of the self and of
others. UnconQjJional acceptance. Anyone who puts strings on
salvation is not practicing the teaching ofJesus. Faith is not a blind
leap into ignorance. It is a leisurely stroll into the light...
Sounds New Age to me.
Sounds very old to me.
False Prophets...
I am not a Prophet. Jimmy Swaggert is a Prophet. Oral Roberts is
a Prophet. I saw Pat Robertson do a Q & A act on the 700 club once.
The only difference is that he did it in the name of God. I do it in the
name of entertainment. Who is encouraging false beliefs, now?

The Compleat Fonune-Tdler

AJ: How do you deal with people who accuse you of practicing unholy
JR: Very gently. Obviously, they have never witnessed true evil. They
musthaveneverseenthepicturesofthe Holocaust. Theymusthave
neverread aboutthe Inquisition. Andtheymustcertainly notwatch
the news! Tothink of a book test as a manifestation ofthe Lord of
Evil is ridiculous. I will have no part of it.
I treat them gently. They have a character disorder that I think of
as the 'Religious dysfunction'. They have accepted that to be
spiritual meansthat youhaveto stop thinking. Theyare frightened,
and have soughtrefuge in ignorance. It is not my place to fix the
damage thattheirfamily or theirupbringing didto them. Nor would
theyacceptmyhelpeven if I offered! I try to put new ideas in front
ofpeopleto consider. You mustalsorememberthatsuchpeoplelike
to seem superior to others. They quite often sit throughmy entire
show, with their back to me, or glare at me, or write me hate mail
during the Q & A. Hostility is not spirituality. I ignoretheirhostility,
andtreatthemwith the samecourtesyI treat themoresanemembers
of my audience.
AJ: I don't think it is very charitable to call them insane...
JR: I don't think its very charitable to try to ruin a show, one that the
company paid goodmoneyfor, for everyone else. What else could
you call it, whensomeone tries to force everyone else to accommodate theirpet superstitions? Its notjust me they'reattacking. Its the
remainder ofthe audience, those who take the show in the spiritits
intended, who sufferthe brunt ofthese individual's lack ofconsideration. Iftheywantno part inwhat I am doing,why don'ttheyjust
leave, and quit trying to ruin it for everyone else? They crave
attention, and this is how they get it. Its anotherform ofheckling,
but not a very nice one.
Al: Do you run into such people often?
JR: Not as often as you mightthink. What they refuse to consider is
that maybeI worshipGod in my own way, and that is between me
and God. Perhaps my performances are a manifestation of my
spirituality. I do notmakea spectacleofit. Ifsomeone asksme, and
they do, why I am so happy and full of life, I will tell them. My
spirituality sustains me. I am grateful for my life - the good and the
bad. Although I believethat nothingin life is bad, in the long run.

John Riggs







Is it the role of the entertainer to be a therapist?
It is the res.ponsibility of the entertainer. If I do a Mentalism show,
that includes audience readings, I am confronted with severalpeople
after each show, requesting private readings.
I notice you always carry an appointment book with you at each
That's right. I pencil them in on the spot!
Monetary motive again?
I would be lying if I was to say that I didn't make money doing
readings. But I am qualified to help people. I have a background
in counseling. I am one of nature's 'ears'. Even if I was not an
entertainer, I would still be a counselor. I like people, I am fascinated
by how hard most of us work at being unhappy and frustrated, and
I try to point out the - well, the silliness of being your own worst
enemy. 'An ye harm no others, do as thou wilt'.
I've heard you say that all psychotherapy is entertainment.
Yes, I've come to believe that most people seek psychotherapy
because they have too much time and not enough encouragement.
Or challenge, which amounts to the same thing.
I still think you should use a disclaimer.
There is no market for a fake mind reader. I want to work. I enjoy
what I do. People reward me by booking my show. I offer a moneyback guarantee if they are not happy. I sleep well at night, knowing
that I have made a positive difference in the lives of many. For one
hour I try to show the audience what we can potentially become- if
we only believed in ourselves. I believe in happiness and peace of
mind. I believe in doing what you love. Happy people do not start
wars. I do not think I have ever caused a skeptic to change his
I sleep well at night, knowing I have made people happier.
As do I. On that note, let's shake and be friends, OK?
All right, but I'm still a little uncomfortable about this Psychic thing...
When we are doing the Psychic bit, just sit back and let me drive.
In return, when you are doing the Multiplying Rabbits, I won't tell
you that you are wasting your time. Agreed?

51 nb

60fij fineb ijappif9 eeer affer.


The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Wbillieker's Favorite Metbocl
"...Flattery can be a sin, a deadly weapon, and a medicine depending
upon how it is usedand when. The Mentalist should study the uses
offlattery and particularly so when it comes to readings... "

-Corinda; Thirteen Steps to Mentalism

Ok, afterteasing you all daywithpromises ofthe routine, hereit is.
I wantto pointoutthat this method is veryminimalistic, leaving mymind
freeto concentrate withthereading oftheperson, andtheFortune-Telling.
First, Iwanttodescribe thedesignofthecardIuse. Aftermanyyears
of assuming that adult audiences can follow instructions, I finally grew
tired of cards that were filled out wrong, folded wrong, and often
containingweirdstatementsthatI coulddonothingwith. I decidedtomake
thecardabsolutely idiot-proof. It nowworksabout, oh- 80%ofthetime.
If you cut an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of cardstock into sixths, you have
theproperdimensions ofthecard. I laythemout,sixup,oncardstock, and
have themprinted bythethousands. Thedesign ofthecardI currently use
is illustrated on the next page.
You will notice thatthecardis setupforthe 'Volta' Hull Reversible
Card ploy. Thisidea,plusthe one-ahead, plusdramatic theatrics worthy
of theBarrymores, are usedto create the impression thatyoucan answer
any question, almost as fast as you can grab slips.
This presentation grewfromthe original handling ofBurling Hull,
and the various bits and pieces fell into place during performance. The
handling allows youto screenquestions, to pass difficult questions when
necessary, and to 'cull out' cool questions for your blockbuster ending.
Plus, the "cheating" cannot be detected, is not suspected, and you can
checkyour information out again if you forget it.
Atthe endofthe show, the answeredslipsare stillfolded, andinthe
orderyouanswered them. Thankyou,thankyou- youcansendyourlove
offerings to me, care of the address at the back of this book.

The performer passes out cards to each member of the audience,
with the request that they fill the cards out according to the instructions

John Riggs

printed on the card. The instructions call for the individual's name, and also
asks for one other item:
This is to be a question, one ofa personal nature, and one into which
the audience would like you to try to provide some insights. To demonstrate, the performer takes a blank slip and shows how to fill it out and fold
it. The cards are folded into quarter, in order to keep them 'from springing
open prematurely" (?).Once the questions are recorded, the slips are
gathered in a glass bowl, and placed on the table in full sight.
The performer removes a folded slip from the bowl, and holds it
above his head. At no time does he look at the slip.
Slowly at first, then gaining speed, he telepathically divines the
querent's name! Then, he answers the question, in terms that leave no
doubt in the audience's mind that he is 'in tune' with the questioner. The
spent slip is taken into the other hand, and a second slip withdrawn.
This procedure is followed with numerous slips, some of the
on target, and some are skipped
answers are specific, some are not
altogether. But several dozen questions are directly answered, names of
loved ones are given, and the slips neatly stacked in the performer's hand.
Placing the stack of spent slips on the table (or in a glass), the
performer grabs a handful ofslips and answers several questions, one after
another! These slips are tossed to the floor as they are spent. The
impression is that the Psychic is receiving answers almost faster than he
can verbalize them.
This machine-gun presentation segues into the performeranswering
some anonymous 'hot' questions, and then ends with the Amazing One
announcing his predictions for the coming year!
At the end of the performance, the slips are placed in a glass for the
querents to sort through and keep as a souvenir, if they wish. There is no
evidence of chicanery of any kind

(1) The slip that you use to demonstrate the 'filling and folding'

procedure becomes your dummy slip for the one-ahead. Follow:

Your slip, after it is used for demonstration purposes, is absentmindedly placed in your right pants pocket. Then, as you gather the slips
from the audience, you steal one. Keeping the stolen slip concealed in your
hand, you give the bowl to the program chairman to gather the remainder
of the slips.

1:\1 & A



This is the card I use for l'W1i1licker's Favorite


A Unique Mental. Oddysey

AIJnique Mental (xktysey
. . 'th joo.. Ri .

. . Mi1. . > >." '.


V\A1tl. JoQQ. Riggs.<. .


. '.< >/.i '. .:<..



. . H .


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please place';90ursiBnature below:


2i;j; _ l._

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The card is filled out, and then folded into fourths,
The signature is on the outside,
I do it this \JJCIY in case I VvOnt to incorporate an
analysis of their signature so that I can scrutinize
a difficult-ta-read question!

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Whenthe bowlofslipshas beenreplacedonthetable,youreachinto

yourpocket, seemingly to withdrawthe demoslip. Actually, youremove
the palmed slip and go into your explanation.
"Suppose your name isJohn Riggs, andyourquestion is: 'How high
is up?'. ] will call outyour name, and when you hearyour name] would
like you to stand up and say 'here'!"
You have, demonstrated with the slipin your hand, actually memorizingthe name on the stolen slip! Old idea.... Continue:
"I will try to provide some insightinto the issues that concern you
at this time. If] cannot 'getanything', ] willlookatyour question and tell
you what] can.
"Butfirst, ] will try to use other senses to tellyou whatyou would
like to know. "
(2). Drop your hand to your side as you deliverthis mouthful, and
reverse the card, so that the questionis on the outside, facing you. You
do this as you tum awayfromthe audience for a second,to move the bowl
closer to the front of the table.
This description seems long, but in reality the sequence takes a
couple of seconds.
(3). As you reach into the bowl (without looking), you read the
question in your hand! This is your one-ahead. Trynot to be too obvious
about this...
Holdthe second slip in the air,and telepathically 'receive' the name.
Continue by giving a briefcold reading,based onyourvisual observations
of the person, and then address the person's issues, providing the best
answer you can to the question (see Chapter Three).
(3). As you answer the question, drop the hand containing the slip
to yoursideand reverse it! Whenyouare throughwithyouranswer, stack
or nestthe secondslipon the first. This is importantforthe 'clean-up'later.
The cards are tent-like, and spring slightly open, so this nesting is
relatively easy to do. Now, the second name and question is facing you,
and you can read it as you draw a third slip out ofthe bowl.
(4). Continuein this manneruntil you 'one-ahead' your way into a
hot question. Instead ofcallingit out, pass on it, or use a 'gag' question,
and placeit on the bottomofthe stack, insteadofthe top. Thisis how you
cull out 'hot' questions for your finale.
This ploy will also allow you to defer the 'hot' question to a
psychologically appropriate time, later on in the presentation. You don't

John Riggs

want to bring the house down with your first or second response!
(5). Whenever you use a 'gag' question, memorize the name and
question that is really on the slip. This gives you some identifiable material
for the Dynamite Mentalism at the end of the presentation.
When you want to pass on a silly or hostile (or otherwise inappropriate question, simply grunt and say: "Nothing!" or: 'Won't even touch
that one!" and toss the slip aside.
(6). When it is time to wind things down, place your stack of cards
in a glass, reversing the fold ofthe entire stack, bringing everything back
to normal for any post-show investigating.
(7). Using Anderson's Dynamite Mentalism principle (discussed
in Chapter Three), and your previously-memorized information, grab a
handful of slips and toss out the information as fast as you can! As you do
this, allow the slips in your cupped hands drop out to the floor.
The first time you perform this, and see the looks on their faces, you
will wonder how you ever lived without it! The impression that I try to
convey is that the only reason I quit was from experiencing sheer
exhaustion. If you sprain your karma, you have to wear a Psychic truss!
If you would like to extend this phase ofthe routine, you just reverse
a few cards as you go, providing you additional material.

None of these ideas are strictly my own, except possibly the ideas
of culling out the 'hot' questions and ofmemorizing the real info during the
presentation of 'gag' questions. And of reversing the entire stack as one
All the above techniques are old, time-tested methods. After years
of looking for a new method for Q & A, one that would make all
previously-existing methods obsolete, I came full circle and realized the
answers I sought were in my own backyard.
I put this handling together from the various bits and pieces as I
performed the Q & A act for real audiences over a period of three years.
Discussion of the Q & A act with such contemporary Maestros as Lee
Earle, Charles Scott (and numerous other, lesser lights), helped me hone
the presentation.
I must also credit such people as Bascom Jones, Burling Hull,
Orville Meyer, and Gene Neillson; individuals whom I have never met,
but whose thinking and ideas I gratefully absorbed.

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Once I had the premise (remember Chapter One?) firmly in mind,

the premise shaped the method, rather than the method shaping the
premise. I sadlytossed out someclevermethodsin favorofa moredirect
presentation. Perhapsthis is the majordifference in thinking betweenthe
Magician in me and the Psychic Entertainer?
I always end my shows with the ThomtonIHoy Hurling the
Headlines. My predictions tend to be, for the most part, humorous. I do
notincludethemhere,becausetheywillbe datedbythetimethisbook sees
Oh, yeah. I mentioned that Dear Abbey was a good source for
sensational answers. Here are a few I culled out recently:
"This is for the lady - I won't mention her name - who hates her
husband's beard. Ma'am, I do not believe that the beardis the onlysource
ofthe trouble betweenyou andyourhusband, butI believe that ifyou were
to somehow communicate to him the idea that ifhe shaved his beard that
- well - that SEX would be more forthcoming, whether that is the real
reason ornot, I think thatyou wouldfind that the beardwouldvanish like
Magic! Men aren't that hard to figure out - or to motivate!"
"Uh, I don't want to address this sort ofthing in a public venue...
Oh, heck, you know who you are. I think a letter to your neighbor's wife
wouldput an endto his monkeyshines, without the need ofstarting afeud
between him and your husband. Its his wife's place to make his life
miserable, not yours!"

A presentation I have beenusinglately, for certaingroups,involves

the additionof a littlepre-showwork. I designedsome slips( as opposed
to cards) that look like the cards. Beforethe show,I get a few spectators
to get a headstartbyfillingouttheirquestions. I use a variantofthe Ralph
Reade impression device cited earlierfrom TarbeD. UsingMnemonics,
I memorize the namesand questions. Dependingon the size ofthe crowd,
this could be from four to ten questions.
During the show, when the cards are being filled out by audience
members, I say "..If you haven't already done so, please write your
question and sign your card. Just place them in the bowl as it comes
around. "

What happensis that the people who filled out the slips before the
show toss their slipsin with the cards. The slips and the cards look alike,
but the paper stock is different.

John Riggs

This allows me to avoid the pre-show slips, and do the one ahead
with the cards. I can tell the slips apart from the cards, because of the
difference in stock, but from a short distance, they look the same.
When I toss in a 'gag' question, I can add the real info, on the card,
to my list of memorized information.
Now, for the mind-melt: After I have read several slips (usually, at
least a dozen), I remove a crystal ball and roll it between my hands. I
continue calling out names and answering questions, usually tossing in
three 'sensational questions', as I peer into the ball.
In case the audience members compare notes later, the mixture of
pre-show questions with real-time questions will throw off any skeptics
who once read a Bill Tarr book. I know this is running where no one
persueth, but it isn't really that much extra work.
I then segue into the future predictions.
And so on. Remember, use your powers only for good!


The Compleat Fortune-Teller

Dr. Charles Seou's Psi-Gralleo
It was withgreatjoy that I received Dr. Scott's kind permission to

include a complete description of his creation, Psi-Grafico.

Originallypublished inMagick #412as Psi-Grafico - The $60,000
Act,thisroutine instantly became oneofthetrueclassics ofContemporary
Psi-Grafico, intheoriginal write-up, was described as a Q&A act.
Several issues later, Dr. Scott wrote a supplement entitled Beyond PsiGrafico. Thissupplement described a handling using a limited number of
participants, and usingfantasies rather than questions.
In otherarticles, Dr. Scottdescribed several methods for mastering
Handwriting Analysis 'on the fly', during performances.
In thepresentation aboutto bedescribed, wewill concentrate onthe
handling for five spectators. While Psi-Grafico can be used as a killer
method for a Q & A presentation (andinfact,thiswashowBascom Jones
described it in his original write- up), I'm going to stickto the premise of
keeping the two effects separate. We will instead concentrate on the
presentational ployusing five spectators, andinsteadofquestions, wewill
use other information.

Psi-Grafico is a demonstration of Graphology combined with
Clairvoyance or Telepathy.
Five spectators are given index cards, with the request that they
writedown, forexample, theirfavorite color,theirastrological sign,and
their favorite fantasy. The participants are cautioned not to write their
name, or any identifying characteristic, on the card.
These slips are then folded and gathered in a basket. One by one,
the Mentalist plucks a folded slip from the basket, and, holding it to his
head,he describes the fantasy ofthe (as yet unknown) spectator. He may
sometimes correctly guess the colorandthe signofthe spectator, as well.
Opening the slip, he proceeds to refine the reading with a brisk
handwriting analysis.
To help with this task, the performer uses a small notebook,
containing a pad of 'tick sheets', describing various Graphological traits.

John Riggs


ED Forgiving
Lasting Emotions
BL Optimistic
TP Contemplative
T Stubborn





Color Sense


For a more detailed analysis call:

You can fit these traits with your favorite cold-reading lines, or study the art of
Graphology and actually analyze the writing.
Dr. Scott wrote several Bonus Inserts for Bascom's Magick on Handwriting
Analysis, including several that were meant to be used for Psi-Grafico,


The Compleat Fortune-Teller



Leo (July 23-Aug 22)


Aries (March 21-April 19)



Virgo (Aug 23-Sept 22)

Taurus (April 20-May 20)

Detail Sensitive

Libra (Sept 23-0ct 22)

Gemini (May 21-June 20)


Scorpio (Oct 23-Nov 21)

Cancer (June 21-July 22)


Aquarius (Jan 20-Feb 18)

Sagittarius (Nov 22-Dec 21)


Self -Reliant
Capricorn (Dec 22-Jan 19)

Pisces (Feb 19-Mar 20)



For a more detailed reading For information about a fun Horoscope Party Call:


John Riggs

He ticks off a few cnaracteristlcs, delivering the reading out loud in

the meantime, and then unerringly returns the card, along with the
checklist, to the correct spectator!
This intriguing procedure is repeated with the remaining spectators,
until all five have received a reading and a personalized check-sheet.
The effect on a discriminating audience can be imagined. The
performer has demonstrated:
Clairvoyance, as he psychically receives the secret wish; Character analysis, as he describes the participant's personality; and Psychometry, as he identifies the person based on their individual traits.
Audiences are stunned by the directness and clarity ofthe handling,
The routine is relentlessly constructed, with as clean and deceptive a.
methodology as you could ever ask for.

The secret of Psi-Grafico lies in the easily-gimmicked notebook
that contains your pad of Graphology Checklists.
On the left side of the notepad is a pocket of transparent material.
Dr. Scott originally recommended an Avery product called Add-APocket. I do not believe these are still on the market, and they were
unavailable in my part of the country anyway, so I developed another way
to add the necessary pocket.
First, you must remove any accessories that are on the left inner side
of the notebook. I use an Exacto knife to do this. If the notebook contains
a small loop to hold a writing implement, I suggest you leave it. It will come
in handy.
Then with three strips ofdouble-sided Scotch tape, you add a piece
of clear acetate that is about three inches tall, and which runs across the
width ofthe inside front cover. The illustration on the next page shows this
This will form a small pocket, that you will use to hold each
participant's card as you fill out their Psi-Graphic Analysis. It also lets
you switch the cards when you do the one-ahead!
If you are lucky, as well as diligent in your search, you can fmd
notebooks already provided with a suitable pocket.
You will also need to prepare a pad of the Psi-Graphic Analysis
sheets. A version of Dr. Scott's design appears on the previous page.
These can be taken to a printer, copied, and padded together. The

This is a good notebook

for modification 10 make
1he Psi-Graphico pad.
My flaps and pocke1s
on 1he lrslde must be

Slip goes In10


Loop for pen

........-_ __ -_
_ _ __ _.. :".
1_ __ .
..... -- .... ....



.. ;:


. ....+
_--- _. ;.
.....+ . - _ _

aear acetate piece

__._._. ;;.,

.....+ --_ _ _. L:..

_ ___ _.._-_
_- --__ _. :


::::t-::::::::::::::::::::::::::: .
.....+ _ ---_ _ _ _ _ ..t..-..__--_..-

Scotch tape

pad, & replace
vJ1h Graphology


The Compleat Fortune- Teller

pad is inserted into the notebook, where the original notepad is usually
Theindexcards are secretlymarked, as describedinChapterFour.
The first blue line ofthe first card is slightly thickenednear one end. The
secondlineofthe second card is thickened. Thethirdlineofthe thirdcard
is thickened, and the fourth line ofthe fourth card is thickened. The fifth
card is unprepared.
See Indexed Stratagem, alsoin Chapter Four, to seehowI assure
that the proper spectator gets the proper card without you obviously
handing this card to this spectator, that card to that one, etc.
Thefive spectators,each identified witha secretly-marked card, are
asked to write someform ofinformation on their cards. This can be their
Astrological sign, their birthdate, some celebrity that they would like to
meet, etc. Your imagination is the only limiting factor here. Remember
to remain consistentwith your premise!
Theparticipants are furthercautionednot towritetheirnamesonthe
cards, nor to place any identifying information. The cards are foldedinto
fourths, or eighths, if you are using large cards, and gatheredin a basket
by the performer. This gives the performertimeto secretlyadd a dummy
card, and to also steal one of the spectator's cards!
The dummy card is dog-eared so you can easily recognize it.
The basket offive slips is given to an indifferent spectator to mix,
astheperformerretrieveshisgimmickednotebookfrom hisbriefcase. The
stolencard is opened, read, and inserted in the secret pocket. The closed
notebookis removed and held in the performer's left hand.
Now,the performerremovesany slip (not the dummy!) and holds it
against his 'third eye'. He telepathically receives the information written
on the card!
Unfoldingthecard,he proceeds torefinethereadingbycommenting
on the personality traits observed in the handwriting of the (as yet
unknown) participant. The card is placed in the pocket, behind the
originally-stolen slip.
Observing the secret mark, the performer ascertains whichparticipant he is dealingwith, checks off a few traits with his pen, and returns
the original slip and checklist to the correct spectator!
It is possibleto give a pretty good reading, sinceit is child'splay to
observethe participantas you are 'studying' his handwriting. I try to make
the reading so accurate that the audience is tellingme who it is!

John Riggs

I also put a few marks on the index card, apparently as part of the
analysis, but also conveniently obscuring the secret mark on the card!
The above procedure will place the second person's slip in the
pocket. You memorize the information, and draw out a third slip. Calling
offthe information obtained from the second slip creates the effectthat you
are reading the mind of the (as yet unknown) third spectator.
The one-ahead principle is so well-concealed here, that even
magicians conversant with the principle have no idea how you are getting
the information.
The procedure is repeated with the remaining spectators, always
being sure to save the dummy slip for last!
At any time, when your 'one-ahead' is inserted behind the current
card, you can point out a few traits to someone in the front row. Clean,
clean, clean!
To the audience, you have read the minds of five people, described
theirpersonality with uncanny accuracy, and returned the cards back to the
correct individuals. Quite impressive!
Experience will teach you the best way to reveal your stolen
information. Each performer will have to work out a way that suits him.
Here are a few ideas:

Sons of Psi-Graiico
The Graphology ticksheetmight intimidate a few performers. If you
have access to desktop publishing technology, here are some ideas:

An Astrological checklist:


A Numerology checklist (based on their name and favorite


A Favorite three Colors Checklist


An Aura Checklist (Perhaps with an outline of the human energy


A List of Personality traits (your favorite cold reading lines)



The Compleat Fortune-Teller

The list of lists is limited only by your imagination!

Presentational Tidbits
IfyouusetheIndexed Stratagem to'salt'yourfive spectators, there

is some dead time to fill. What to do?

I use the opportunity to give the audience a brief lecture on
Graphological 'firstimpressions'. Onthree 12" x 12" cards, I illustrate the
principles ofBaseline, Slant, and Zones. Thisinformation is available in
any book on handwriting analysis. On the back of the cards are my Cue
sheets, in case I have a brain freeze and forget what I'm talking about!
It is also good to have a few blow-ups of current celebrity
signatures, and deliver your pithy and gossipy analyses while your five
spectators are working on their cards.
If you use the Astrological or Numerology approach, of course,
you wouldgive your lecture on the appropriate subject.
The more authenticity you can add to any presentation, the more
belief investment your audience will commit.
By starting with an authoritative, scientific description of your
premise, youwill takeyouraudience with you,a step at atime,intothestate
of suspended disbeliefthat we all crave so much..

Getting the One-Ahead

In a five-person presentation of Psi-Grafico, you must 'plant' an

extrafoldedcard amongst the participant's cards. Thisis becauseyou are

working 'one-ahead' and you do not want the basket to be 'one-behind'!
One approach is to palm the slip into the basket. I believe in the
direct approach, so I 'Balls' my way into the one-ahead.
In the Psi-Grafico folder, I haveplanteda cardthat hasmynameand
otherinformation, filled inlargeletterswitha blackmarker. I willuse this
in a minute, so stick with me!
I fill out a card to show the participants how to do it. I do this with
a large, blackmarking pen. Then,I secretlydog-earonecomerofmycard.
I toss it in the basket.
WhenI retrievethe cards from the spectators, I removea slip from
the basket. I reject it, then anotherone. It is rejectedalso. The thirdone
- "Aha!" -Its mine (not really!).

John Riggs

Now, I open tl\e slip and say: "Suppose your name is John Riggs,
and your Zodiac sign is Gemini. I would know that you are flirty, multisided, and a walking mass of contradictions." I place the unfolded

(spectator's) card behind the previously-planted card, with my info.

"1 will look at your handwriting, and tell you what I really think
about you. Stuffso secret, you haven't even admitted it to yourself. I will
record my impressions on this handy-dandy Graphology form, and you
may keep it as a souvenir of our brief, yet intimate, encounter.

I have inserted the card and shown the inside of the folder to the
audience. Allthat the audience can see is my card (with informationfilled
out in large,black marker) and the checklist, because the spectator's card
is hidden behind my card!
Charles Scott uses this ploy throughout the routine; I just adapted
itto giveme myone-aheadwithoutthe need of hiding behindmy briefcase.
Sometimes, there are people behind me, and I get a little paranoid about
behind-the-scenes action.
I can easily hide the action with the folder behind my body. Their
are very few angle restrictions on the rest of the actions necessary to the
routine, as a few trials will show.
I have also managed to introduce the props and the checklist to the
audience, and detailed the procedure, so that nothing seems unfamiliar
during the routine.
I tear out the first checklist, and hand it, with my card, to a spectator
in the front row.
"Now that I have bared MY soul;" I chortle. "Its YOUR turn!"
And I proceed to do my damnedest to knock 'em dead!

Some More Stull

Dr.Scott,performing Psi-Grafico on his show Mind Probe, 'reads'
the lasttwo spectatorsat the same time, giving the routine a strongending.
It is also possible, since you know the information on the last card,
to reveal this information 'cold', without resorting to fondling the card.
The idea wouldbe that since the other four people are now out of the
way, the 'psychic airwaves' are clear, and you might be able to connect
directly, mind-to-mind.
Then, after strenuous concentration, you reveal the participant's
secret thoughts! And the written slip is clearly visible in the basket!

The Compleot Fortune-Teller

You wouldthenproceedtoremovethecardfrom thebasket,confirm

that yourtelepathic impressions are correct,and return the card to the last
Anotheridea - Ifyouhaveobtainedsomesecret 'dirt'ononeormore
ofthe participants, and you do not trust yourmemory, the notebook gives
you an easy answer.
Simply writeyour crib sheet on a label, and stickit on the back - or
on the inside, if you are nervous - of your notebook!
Thiscanalsoserveyouwellfortranslating birthdates intoAstrological signs.

/ . . .


. -.

"Damn! I'll never heckle a Palm-Reader again! Who would have

guessed he was so touchy?"


John Riggs

The Ultimate Psychometry
"...To stand accused of real wizardry is an affront I will not tolerate;
however, I will say that I am the best Humbug Wizard who ever
, d... "
The Wizard of Oz
I had mixed feelings about releasing this item. It is a powerful
demonstration of the Psychometric ability. But I'm afraid that many will
think it is a pipe-dream.
I'm going to describe the effect, exactly as it is performed, and see
if you can come up with a trick that can come close to it in sheer amazement

Five people are selected from the audience. They are brought to the
stage and seated. The five participants are requested to remove from their
pocket or their handbag a small object, something that they have owned
for a week or longer. Alternately, they could use an article ofjewelry. The
object should be small enough to hold in their tightly-clenched fist.
The audience members are asked to focus their thoughts toward
their object and to 'charge' it with their personal energy.
A bag is handed to an indifferent spectator, who gathers the objects,
and gentlymixes them up. Alternately, the performer can hold a bag behind
his back and gather the objects.. The performer dons a blindfold.
The objects are deposited on a black velvet mat, and, in timehonored manner, the performer selects the objects on by one, and delivers'
a psychic
returned to the correct participants.
Now, I promise you, while it sounds to good to betrue, but it is 100%
reliable. Ultimate Psychometry uses:
No stooges.
No gimmicks
No electronics
No tricks
No kidding!
However, before you attempt Ultimate Psychometry for the first


The CompleatFortune-Teller

time, I suggestyougoto thedoctorand geta checkuponyourTestosterone

level. Thisroutine requires that the performer has mastered the Testicular
approach. I was born with an extra one, so it helps.
Contemporary Mentalism, with its emphasis on 'real'skills, suchas
mnemonics, cold reading, Hellstromism, etc..., teaches us that gimmicks
should be minimal and used onlyas a final resort. Most ofour cleverness,
whenapplied to the Pseudo-Psychometry effect, is centered on new and
clever ways to mark the containersthat the objects are gathered in.
It is not too muchof a reach, for an intelligent audience, to suspect
some sort of coding of the containers.
Often, you see spectators scrutinizing the envelopes for the secret
marks they know must be there.
So the obvious approach is to gather the objects into a single
container. The container should be as guileless as possible. Alexander
Thomas, in his excellent book Turning Thoughts Into Gold, has a very
nicemethod todothisusingapaperbag. I actually preferThomas's method
for the second routine in the book, Psychic Jewels.
So, how do you know who the objects belongto? After torturing
myself, in search of the perfect gimmick, I was seized by an inspiration.
But first, some discussion about Premise.
Well if, as we aretold,the strengthof Psychometry is notthe return
of the objects to the spectators, it is the insightful readings given to the
individuals by the Psychic performer. If this is the case, why botherwith
the secrecysurrounding the collection of the objects? Whydo spectators
seem obsessively focused on the returning procedure?
Becausewe are. I have seen areal 'shut-eye' Psychometrician take
a trayofobjects,holdone up, and ask: "Whose is this?" Whenthe person
raised their hand, the Psychic proceeds with the reading.
I mightadd that the readings were mediocre, by our standards, but
the presentation knocked the audience dead.
So, we decideto discountthis Part. True, we are goingto returnthe
object to the right person, but only after we talk to him for a while. After
we have given him a warm, humorous, upbeat, positive reading.
My premise is to pick up the object, tum to the person, and
immediately start talking to him or her. My attitude and words are
communicating that I have identified the owner, and am giving him or her
my impressions.
I deliverthe reading, gettingas manyhits as I can, then give him or
her the object back with my profuse thanks.

John Riggs

Assumption- We know that it is possible to create a separate

viewpoint of reality on the stage, for the participants, than that perceived
by the rest of the audience. A good example of this is the oft-cited Four
Sided Triangle from Phil Goldstein's
Also,bear inmindthatanyperformer who works at all with audience
reading routines know that a lot of people give themselves away by
reacting to the performer's reading.
I have this happen regularly with Psi-Grafico. When I tell the
audience to keepa poker face andnot give me any clues, at leasteight times
out of ten, someone jumps, yelps, or reacts strongly when I start reading
their mind.
When this happens, I say: "You have three Aces and two Kings in
your hand, Mabelf" It gets a laugh...
Anyway,we know that people give themselves away when we ask
them not to. How much more so will they reveal if we do not make a deal
out of it, and if they think we are talking directly to them?
Bear with me.
Furthermore,if theythinkwe cannot see them anyway,whether they
react ornot does notmatter. It neveroccurs to anyone to hide their reactions
if it is not necessary.
Now,we have all that we need to proceed with Ultimate Psychomlittle secret thing that will make the routine 100%
etry, except the
successful. I will save the revelation of this piece de resistance for the
description of the performance.

"Ladies and gentleman, there is a beliefthat we each generate, to
a greater or lesser degree, an energy field, or Aura. To one trainedin '
perceiving the human energyfield, the Aura appears asflickering lights,
ofdifferent hues, dancing about the person.
'We are going to conduct an experiment in reading the human
energy field. I guarantee that you are about to see something which you
have never experienced before!
"I would like you, and you, and you, and you, and you to help me
please". (Here is the first place where you 'stack the deck' in your favor.
Point out two men and three women).
'Would you reach into your pocket or handbag, and remove some
small object? This should be something you have ownedfor a little while

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

- a weekor more. Andtjyou wouldlike to use a piece ofyourjewelry, that

is so much the better.
"Just hold the object in your hand, an do not let anyone see it.
"Now, please, come up here on stage and have a seat".

(Another chance to get information. Although you cannot see the

object,you can get some sense ofrelativesize. Tryto identify the largest
and the smallest items).
"I would like you to place your object in this bag. / promise / will
notpeek.' (Addressing the audience) Ifthis experiment is successful, ifthe
participants are truly concentrating, you are about to see something very

(Secondchanceto get information! Feel the relative weightsofthe

objectsas theydropintothe bag. You usea bagthatis notquitebigenough
to getthehandtotallyin,sotheobjectmustfalla coupleofinches. Be alert,
and listen!)
(After you gain confidence, you can let someone else gather the
objects. Believe me.)
"Just handthe bagto him (lastparticipant) andplease, GENTLYmix
the borrowed objects. / do not want anyone to have an advantage over
anyone else.
"Now, since this is an attempt to directly perceive the human Aura,
/ will use this blindfold to eliminate any visual cues. Any such clues will
immediately activate the analytical left brain, and throw me out ofthe
intuitive state that / must maintain if we are to be successful.
"I want to see with my mind, not my eyes!" (ThanksBascom!)

(The blindfold is a simple tube blindfold, or, as I prefer,the rolled

handkerchiefmethodthat Annemann advocated, that givesyou straightahead vision.
This is all you willneed, and I don'tlike usinggimmicks that can be
caughtout later. Thereis no need, duringthis routine, for a test-condition
blindfold. Being able to see would not make what you are doing less
amazing. What can be simpler than a rolled handkerchiefl).
(Statusreport: Ifyou arelucky, youhave been able to identifya few,
ifnot all ofthe objects. Male andfemale gender-specific objects giveyou
further clues. You will have further chances in a moment.
(However, even if you do not obtain a single clue, you will end
triumphantly! Read on...)
(Havethe objects placedon an emptytabletop, placedupon a black

John Riggs

jewelry pad. This is an elegant touch that looks very classy. Ball up the
paper bag and throwit away,for post-showdissection byany skeptics who
are left living at the end of your show. Pick one object up and proceed. It
would be good to start with an identified object, but not essential).
(Start describingthe object, as best you can while blindfolded, and
hold it up so that the five participants can see it. It is vital that the owner
of the object knows you have their artifact!!!)
(You then start delivering the reading, turning to the seated spectators and talking directly to...who? No one can tell who you are talking to,
because you are blindfolded.)
(The person whose object you are holding will naturally assume
that you are talking to them! Yourreadings should be delivered directly
to the person; i.e.: ''You are a person who feel things deeply" ...etc... This
will encourage the spectator, who thinks you are talking to him anyway,
to acknowledge or otherwise react to the readings.)
(My readings are often humorous, and the person usually starts
giggling. No one knows exactly where you are looking, because YOU
(So, you deliverthe reading and watch for the appropriate reaction.
Since you cannot see, and you appear to be talking directly to the person,
this is a cinch.)
(When you are on firmer ground, you refme your reading. To the
audience, you have just identified a person after briefly touching their
jewelry! Fabulous....)
(Optionalfishing techniquenumberone: Ifyoucannotascertainwho
the objectbelongs to, ask them a direct question! Say: " Do youfind this
happens often?" Or: "Doyoufindthatyou havefeelings andhunches, that
invariably come true?")
you starting to get that eerie Twilight Zonefeeling?").
(Other direct questions: "This ring has a nice feel to it. What kind
ofstone is this?" "There is more than one person attached to this. Did
someone give it to you?")
(Optionalfishingtechniquenumber two: Startbabbling. Watchwho
isfurrowingthebrowtryingtomake sense out ofwhat you are saying. "I'm
seeing the color blue. A lady in a blue dress-its very old, like maybe a
hundredyearsago. She is ina blue dress, and dancing. I hearmusicfrom
a music box. She is alone, and smiling. I believe she is anticipating

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

something nice. This may be significantto you in terms ofpast lives, or

it couldbeyour grandmother. Doesthis imagemake sensetoyou? "Direct
(And if this ploy doesn't suit you, try this. Finish the reading, and
then take a step or two toward the participants. As you address the
audience, slowly and hesitantly extend your arm, as though to give the
object back. They will reach for it! You are blind,and can't see to give
it directly to the person, so they helpfully reach for their property, which
they are usually anxious to retrieve anyway - before you let the cat out of
the bag! Continue talkingto them, complementing them on their hidden
talent or powers of concentration).
(So, there are two realities occurring simultaneously, depending on
where you are sitting).
If you are on stage with the performer, you are receiving startling
readings about yourself. You assume the performer knows who you are,
becausehe is holding your object and therefore, must be talking to you!)
(Ifyouareintheaudience youseetheblindfoldedperformer receive
information fromthe objectaboutthe person,andthenreturnthe objectto
the person! Outstanding...)
(Remove the blindfold and dismiss the volunteers. Ask: "DidI get
them back to you all right?" Ofcourseyou did, but evenin the eventyou
had a few near missesduring the procedure, do you think you willnot get
applause for getting three out of five correct?)

Very few people readingthis will ever try this routine. Thosewho
do will haveananytime, anywhere killerthat will elevateyouto gum status
among the true believers. Magicians in the audience will scratch their
heads and wonder....
Its real!


John Riggs

The other night, I awoke screaming from a hideous nightmare: I

dreamed that I was working for a big company, and was making lots of
money! Horrible, horrible!
If I had ever achieved success in the hellish scenario above,
desperation never would have made me tum my attention toward being a
commercial performer - and I would not now be enjoying the satisfying
life-style I now maintain.
"Normal" friends ofmine sufferfrom a seeminglynever-ending bout
ofwork related stress - which affects their health, their sex lives, and, worst
of all, their outlook. Even while thinking that being a performer is an
uncertain and somewhat flaky way of means, they envy my stress-free
I am often told how lucky I am that I can do what I love to do. Luck
has very little to do with it, folks - I have worked incredibly hard so that
I do not have to work for a living! I believed it was possible and I made it
possible, one step at a time.
I am also amused at comments about the insecurity concomitant to
working for yourself. Well, security is certainly a myth, especially when
your salary and your livelihood is in the hands of another. The thought of
someone else assigning a dollar amount to the hours I am allotted is
intolerable to me.
I might not feel that $25 an hour is what my life is worth. I might feel
it is worth $500 an hour. My job then becomes convincing others that this
is true. 'Nuff said on motivation.
I hope you have enjoyed this write up on the Q & A act. Realizing
that any attempt to capture the sheer majesty ofthis effect is doomed to fail,
I have nevertheless given the matter my best shot.
What I have tried to convey is the potential inherent in the Q & A
presentation. Practically any, of an infmite number, of presentations are
possible to the creative performer, providing, from the audience's viewpoint, with virtually unlimited potentialities for personalized performances.
I have performed Q & A for people from all walks of life. I have
performed for rural laborers, management personnel, law firms, farmers,
sales groups, engineers, and crowds of every motley description and
variety. The Q & A is the great equalizer - it reduces everyone to a primal

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

state of amazement!
It has, however, taken me years of experience to feel completely
assuredthat I canhandleeveryeventuality. Let metellyou a battle story.
Thisstory, in a moreexaggerated form, will appear in mymemoirs: Tales
From the Front Line.
Once, in one of the small neighboring towns, I performed my act,
MindBenders! at an eventfor a calendercompany. Theeventwas a postChristmas appreciation dinner for the employees and management.
Theaudience consistedofindividuals fromalllevels ofthecompany
- from the floorworkersto uppermanagement. Therewas a lot oftension
in the audience due to this unaccustomed mixing of castes, and a lot of
imbibing of salubrious libation.
So I'mdoing Pychometry with five spectators,and I havethe folks
on stagewithme, doingthe readings and returning themto theirseats, one
by one, utterly amazed. The crowd was with me, and hanging onto my
every word.
I noticedthat a youngladyhas saunteredup witha ringin her hand.
I marvelled at her audacity, to inviteherselfto my stage area, but the best
was yet to come!
When I had dismissed the fifth spectator, and the routine was
supposedly over,shethrusther ring at me and said: ."What canyou tell me
about this ring?"
No bigdeal- I've done one or two cold readings in my time. Sizing
the girlup, I see thatshehas had it rough- probablya historyofalcoholism
in the family, dysfunctional relationships, druginvolvement, the works. I
try to keepitpositive, as befitting anentertainmentvenue, butshe will have
none of it.
"Tell me about the time I was raped in Prison! Tell me about
She was losing it on my stage! I apologized to her. "I'm not
accustomedto discussingsubjects ofa highlypersonalnatureinfront of
a largecrowd, duringmy show. Ifyou would like to see me aftertheshow,
I will be glad to discuss this with you. "
"Bulls**t! Its all a bunch ofbulls**t!"
Desperatetimesrequiredesperate measures. I hadto gether offthe
stage, and I had tried to be nice. I turned off my microphone, and said
quietly (but loud enoughfor people in the front two rows to hear):
"1 willbe glad, AFTER THESHOW, to discussthe timeyou werein

John Riggs

prison, and the issues surrounding your relationship with your father-"
"YOULEAVEMY FATHER OUT OF THIS!" She had reached new
heights of shrillness.
Her language disintegrated into a tirade ofprofanity and abuse about
psychics in general, me in particular, and everyone present. Herdate came
up and WRESTLED her from the stage area, and back to her seat, where
her impassioned soliloquy continued unabated for several minutes.
In the meantime, your humble servant looked out on an audience
who sat in utter silence, totally motionless, and with a uniform look of
pleading on their faces. Do something! At his moment I knew that most
of my friends, who were Magicians, would have started crying.
Recognizing a turning point when I see one, I did the only thing.
possible under the circumstances - I proceeded to tell a joke. It was a
humorous story involving a local politician of dubious morality, that I
customarily used to break the tension later on during my show. It is a fairly
long story, which gives everyone time to shift their interest to the
It worked. When I delivered the punchline, the house broke up. I
continued with the show, while the poor guy dragged his date out of the
door. It turned out that this had been his first date with her. The manager
assured me that she wasn't 'one of us'.
I wondered ifthe couple ever had a second date, and, if so, ifthe guy
had managed to keep her out of jail on an assault charge.
When I was being blindfolded with tape for my Sightless Vision
routine, I pointed out that the cloth tape was the second stickiest thing
known to man, "...The only thing stickier being that situation I was in
fifteen minutes ago ..." This broke them up again, and everything was all
right after that.
In retrospect, I realized that nothing could ever occur during a show
that could rival this experience. In fact, I sort of wish that poor disturbed
girl could come to my shows more often, to spice things up! It would be
a lot like the daytime TV talk shows....
I believe in doing whatever it takes to deliver the product. When I
was foolish enough to perform the Blindfold Street drive, I always had
about five of my stockiest friends ( all named 'Vinnie', oddly enough)
placed strategically in the crowd to deal with troublemakers. I am amazed,
and a little touched, at performers who assume that the audience is always
friendly and receptive.

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

A quickreading ofthehistoryofHoudini,andofthebulletcatch,will
giveyouplentyofstories ofspectatorswho thought nothing ofputtingthe
performer's life at risk, in order to 'show him up'. "Assume the best", my
Grampaw advised me, "But be prepared to deal with the worst".
CharlesScotttoldme a storyworthpassingonto future generations.
It seemsthat Master Mentalist, Curmudgeon, and all-around bold rascal,
David Hoy,(whom historyremembers as Dr. Faust) was performing his
Blindfold act in a theaterin a town where, it seemed,that sort ofstuffwas
illegal. A sheriffcamein, and while the goodDoctor was still blindfolded,
presented him with a summons!
David read the summons out loud, still blindfolded. I assume the
localnewspapers and press were alerted to this anomalous occurrence. I
wonder how muchyou have to pay a Sheriffs Deputy to delivera bogus
Stories like this only go to prove that the performer who has
mastered the Testicular approach will get the blue chips.
And what fun he will have!
Remind me to tell you somedayabout the timeone of my corporate
clients booked me as a Palmist in a shopping mall in a store in a small,
conservative city on National Prayer Day!
Be excellentto yourselves. And for your audiences.
Your Pal,

John Riggs

May 10th, 1995


John Riggs

I will not insult anyone's intelligence by suggesting such classic and

indispensable old chestnuts as :

Practical Mental Effects

13 Steps to Mentalism
The Collected Mental Mysteries of William Larsen Sr.
Ifyou do not already have these, and list them among your most wellthumbed tomes, then get 'em ASAP.

SuperScript by Lee Earle. The videotape discussion on Q & A included

with this set is worth watching again and again. You either love Lee
or hate him; my stand is obvious.

The Classic Reading by Lee Earle. A write-up and elaboration on

Bertram Forer's Personality sketch.
readings during your presentation.

Good material for 'filler'

Docc's Perfect Mental Club Act by Docc Hilford. Available through

Flora and Company, this limited edition video release set off
fireworks in my head. A stunning premise for the bold worker, and
a great way to get your foot in the door of clubs where you would
like to pitch private readings. I offer to give the club a free twenty
minute Psychic show, in exchange for letting me do readings (at ten
dollars each) for the rest of the night, or until I have made my rent
money. A real life-saver if you do not work for a living!

The Encyclopedia of Mentalism by Robert Nelson. Describes all the old

methods. These guys must have been crazy. Faro boxes, movie
projectors, etc. Who were they trying to impress with these
convoluted methods? Dunninger's act is described in detail, and
there is a great deal of useful information to the reader. Nelson's
cynical advice is right on target to the contemporary Mentalist.

The Dante's System of Life Span Readings by Robert Nelson. One of

the all time great 'cradle to grave' stock readings. The preliminary

The Compleat Fortune-Teller

discussion of the cold-reader's premise is priceless. I like Nelson's

stuff. All of it.
Tape Twoofthe Q & A Tape setbyBrianFlora. Tape one, in myopinion,
ain't worththe iron oxide its recorded on. Sony!
The Awakening of Intelligence by Jiddu Krishnamurti. Wonderful
insights into your own mind, and therefore, the minds of others.
Effective Speaking by Dale Carnagie. Still one of the classics.
The Dead Zone by Stephen King. Contains some of the best scenes
concerning Psychometry ever written. This is the real stuff; what
its all about. I use a lot of episodes from this book as a performing
premise. I also stolethe ideaofacting likeI hada headache, and am
totallyexhausted after keybending or mindreading, from this book.
When I've really nailed a small audience, I lay it on pretty thick,
rubbingmyeyes,speaking slowly-butneveradmittingthatanything
is wrong, brave little me! I love it...
Shadowlands by Peter Straub. More of the above.
Mind, Myth and Magic, by T. A. Waters. Great stuffon Psychometry
andthe Q & A. One method, whereyouburnthe sealedquestions,
delighted me so muchthat I laughed fortwentyminutes at the sheer
brass of it all!
One of the interesting ideas on Psychometry was to get
some distance from the (marked) envelopes containing the borrowedobjectsbylayingthemoutonatraybeforeyoucommencethe
readings. I won't violate confidences by relating Tom's idea, but it
reminded me of a similar strategy I came up with on my own.
Before I developed my Ultimate Psychometry, I used to
perform Psychometry usingLee Earle's No-Brainer bags, which,
I understand, is thematically similar to an idea used by Fogel. In
essence, the bags 'color code' the objectsto the spectators.
I had the spectators mix the bags and hand them to me. I
removed the objects, one by one, and placed them on a tray. The
designenamelled on the tray contained the samefive colors coded

John Riggs

into the bags. No-Brainer, part two.

My next favorite method is Alexander Thomas's from his book,
]'urnina Ihouahts into Gold. Can't reveal it here, but it is worth
ten times the price of the book.
All the objects are gathered into a single container. This method,
along with some hellacious presentational ploys, makes for a preeminent performance piece.
Dr. Barrie Richardson also contributed a related idea, using a
single container, to Magick.
Do you all think I read too much? .......