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© 2006 by Richard Osterlind

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First E-Book Edition

August 2006
Richard Osterlind is a musician who happens to read minds
and create wizardry.
He noticed that, with only twelve notes, an infinite variety
of music (good and bad) has and will be played.
So he looks at basic human psychology and the classic work-
ers of magic & mentalism. He observes what combinations of
those notes, at what pitches, cause specific responses. And he
produces routines which are so realistic, which pluck emotions
like harp strings, that some people accused his videos of being
staged with stooges.
I was one of those people who called Richard’s audiences
“the L&L Professional Audience.” Smug though I was, I found
the routines impressive and used a few. And I got the sort of
responses which we’ve seen on the Mind Mysteries DVDs –
including not a few Jon or Janelle type reactions. So maybe this
Osterlind fellow knew what he was doing...
Really, the routines on the third volume of Mind Mysteries
(which will be all but dissected in this book) sound awfully
simple. A card turns over in your fingers. A torn sweetener
package is restored. A spoon bends. Simple. A short clause
describes each one.
So simple, in fact, that an audience has absolutely no trouble
following what seems to be happening. So simple that the im-
possibility of it strikes like an uppercut.
How did we get from music to boxing?
The title of the DVD is Mind Mysteries and we expect “mind
power” psychic material. Yet there are at least two routines
which definitely fall in the sleight of hand category, and he
makes it work.
Have you ever heard a piece of classical music which uses
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 5

conflict to create an impact? Didn’t it seem like a musical ver-

sion of a punch? Yet it wasn’t unpleasant, though it set up
conflicting feelings in you, and you were hopelessly caught up
in “What happens next?!”
That’s how we got from music to boxing – and maybe to
It may surprise you, as it did me, to learn some of Richard’s
mysteries are of less recent vintage than we thought. It seemed
to me that I’d seen magicians doing a vanishing sugar packet
all my life, so I originally thought this was a new version of an
old standard. Not until I read this section, did I remember that
there were no sugar packets until the late 1960s or early 1970s
– and they weren’t common until well into the 1970s. Sugar
cubes were what one found, not sugar packets, until then.
May I strongly urge you to study the autobiographical “How
I Create” chapter? It is, so far, the most significant thing which
I think Richard has written, and it applies to a lot more than
“just” magic and mentalism. No, you’re not going to get an
easy-to-follow checklist – that would defeat the entire purpose.
What you’ll learn is how Richard learned to create and how
his methods of creation still work today. You’ll find real secrets
in this chapter, real secrets which have been openly available to
anyone who wants to expand their thinking. And you’ll learn
how to look at something old, something borrowed, and find
something new.
At the end of the DVD, he comes right out and asks the
audience if they’d like to see a little magic trick, even though
“everyone” knows you can’t mix magic and mentalism. To
really disprove this common misconception, he actually uses
the politically incorrect phrase of “magic trick.” And he still
blows them away! They’re still not sure if he’s not using some
mental powers on them! And if we were there, even though we
know how he does it, we’d still be blown away. Remember a
key moment on the video when someone blurts out the “an-
swer” that the bill’s not in the burning envelope? And how did
6 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

Richard, far from denying it, use that to increase the tension?
You’ve probably seen the DVD; that’s why you’re here. You
learned how these effects worked. You’re about to find out
why they work.

Chet Cox
Farmington, MO
August 2006

P.S.: On the video, Richard says, “No matter where you are,
people drink coffee.” Obviously he’s never been to a Mormon
party, so Cherie and I extend an invitation to him, his talented
wife, Lisa, and their new granddaughter, Kadence Raine Walton.
Green Jell-O provided at the door! (Yes, this P.S. was an excuse
to introduce Kadence to you.)
This edition begins a new phase in the Guide Book series.
Whereas Mind Mysteries 1 dealt with The Act and Mind Mys-
teries 2 with the Breakthrough Card System, the remaining
videos each contain diversified material from many categories
of magic and mentalism. The composure of each was not struc-
tured for the purpose of reaching as many performers as
possible, as has been suggested, but rather represents those
effects I have developed and used constantly over the last
thirty years.
I perform in diversified situations and create for those en-
vironments. Each of these videos is not some type of category,
but rather part of the whole of the accumulation. Neither was
the sequence of these individual effects chosen for any particu-
lar reason nor the spanning of the two-part series, Mind Mys-
teries and Mind Mysteries Too. It was only logistics and my
availability that created the series as it finally finished out.
Interestingly enough, there are more effects on the final
three videos of Mind Mysteries Too than on the original four
of Mind Mysteries. With a little investigation, the reason be-
comes clear. The first video, The Act, had to stand on its own.
(This single video, by the way, has become one of the best sell-
ing in all magic history!)
The second video, The Breakthrough Card System, also
needed its own entity. This left the remaining material, recorded
at that time, to be dealt with. There was far too much for one
video so the decision was made to break it into two and it worked
fine. When Mind Mysteries Too was recorded, we followed the
same procedure and simply divided up the material as equally
as possible.
There are always critics and some have suggested that there
8 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

are effects in the series that are filler. This has always struck
me as an easy way for those with an agenda to attack the series
without having to put themselves on the spot by explaining
which ones are filler!
The fact is there is not a single item on the Mind Mysteries
series that can be considered a lesser or minor effect nor is
there any material offered that was not totally audience-tested
and used professionally over many years.
I have written about the necessity of variety and emotional
diversity extensively in my trilogy (Making Magic Real, Mak-
ing Real Magic and Essays) and in The Principles of Magic.
The material on Mind Mysteries illustrates these principles in
a practical way. Nor was the material in Mind Mysteries Too
less significant than in the initial offering.
There is, in fact, much more of my classic material (i.e.
that from the discontinued Challenge Magic, Dynamic Mys-
teries, etc.) on Mind Mysteries Too than Mind Mysteries. The
entire series is meant to be viewed as a nearly complete repre-
sentation of my output up to 2004.
Finally, there needs to be some discussion concerning
originality versus derivation. Let me draw an analogy. There
are only twelve notes in the musical scale (Western music)
and yet look what has been done with those notes! It is mind-
boggling to consider how much music has been created down
through the ages and what continues to be shaped.
Those inexperienced will write songs they think are new
and revolutionary, but which are really simply minor variations
of what has come before. The truly gifted, on the other hand,
will create new themes and sounds that startle us with their
depth of emotion and originality. Yes, it all comes from those
twelve notes, but somewhere in the creational process the com-
bination has crossed over onto new ground.
That is what I have always strived for with my magic and
mentalism. In an effort to sound analytical, not egotistical,
I would like to think there is something very “Osterlindish”
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 9

about the effects I create. I would like to think there is just

something a little bit different about what I do and the ef-
fect it achieves.

Richard Osterlind
Falmouth, KY
August 2006

Volume 2

Assorted Mysteries
I have no idea when I first created the effect Sweet and
Low. I know it was long before I recorded my Challenge Magic
video and that was a long time ago! I do remember that my first
impression was that someone else must have done this before.
It seemed so logical that I couldn’t imagine it was original. I
did lectures, asked other magicians, and investigated it thor-
oughly and still no one claimed ownership. Finally I put it out
on the video and no one ever came forth and claimed it as their
invention. Since it has been well over thirty years, I am now
officially claiming it as mine!
As I recently told a fellow performer, the hard part of creat-
ing magic is to come up with a simple idea that is new. It is easy
to make up a long and complicated routine based on previous
works. The majority of the new books and manuscripts being
offered contain such material, whereas the older tomes are
where you find the basic ideas that form the backbone of magic.
To come up with material that is of this genre is the highest
I am not suggesting Sweet and Low is of that caliber, but it
certainly is beautiful because of its simplicity. And, as I will
show in the bonus chapter of this book, Sweet and Low creates
a new effect. That is rare.
I have always studied Max Malini. Much of what I try to do
comes from my own interpretation of his methods and mindset.
If you examine the effects Malini performed, they were almost
always with ordinary articles. Whenever you have to pull out a
special prop to do an effect, and here I am not talking about a
pad or pen, but rather some little metal box or tube or some-
thing like that, the audience will assume the magic is in the
prop. But if you can do magic with things just lying around
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 13

which the audience can keep later, the effect is tremendously en-
In Dai Vernon’s Malini and His Magic, there is a nice story
about the Torn and Restored Straw Cover on page 51. Malini
would prepare far ahead of time for this effect and have dupli-
cate straw covers for every hotel in town. He knew the value of
doing a standard effect, i.e. the torn and restored cigarette pa-
per, in a novel and different way. Sweet and Low falls into the
same category. It is an effect that you can always perform no
matter where you are.
As per the opening patter I use on the video, no matter
where one goes, there is always a coffee pot. Whether you are
in a fine hotel, a greasy spoon, an office building, a factory, a
person’s home or apartment or any other place where people
spend any amount of time, there will always be coffee! And
wherever you find coffee, you will find a container of sugar and
sugar substitute.
I have never found it a challenge to swipe a packet of Sweet
and Low (or whatever brand there is in the dish) while at the
table. If you wish, however, you could do as Malini and have a
few of each type with you. This is really not much of a problem
as there are only a few brands. In addition, the packet you
switch in and out is never visible for very long so, even if your
packet differs slightly in the printing, it will never be noticed.
Personally, I usually just take whatever is in my hotel room
with the in-room coffee maker. That usually covers me wher-
ever I go.
It was over twenty years from the time I first demonstrated
Sweet and Low on Challenge Magic to the time I put it on
Mind Mysteries. It was inevitable that certain changes would
be made. We decided to call it Sweeter and Lower, but I still
prefer to call it Sweet and Low (most magicians do as well). To
keep consistency with the video, however, it will be referred to
as Sweeter and Lower here.
I can offer no bigger accolade for Sweeter and Lower than
14 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

to tell you that of every routine I have ever created, this is the
one I am told that is most used by other professional magi-

The beginning of Sweeter and Lower is a bit artificial as I
bring out the packets. This routine would usually occur at din-
ner with a bowl of sweeteners sitting on the table. Although a
minor point, I think you can see how much stronger it would
play if it seemed impromptu like Malini’s straw routine.
Speaking of Malini, I have to tell you there is a lot to learn
from watching me get that thumb tip on in the beginning of the
routine. Notice that after I toss the packets on the table and
ask Jon to choose and sign one, both of my hands go into my
pockets and come out adjusting the flaps. The right hand, of
course, has copped the tip. But the point I want to stress is
that the move is done right out in the open and goes by with-
out anyone paying attention to it. There are reasons for this.
I have made it a habit of often going into my pockets for
different articles and also just to adjust the flaps and the way
the jacket is hanging. Putting my hands into my pockets has be-
come a normal tendency for me now and I always do it whether or
not I am performing. It is an entirely natural motion and it has
become my standard method for getting and ditching such things
as thumb tips, nail writers, etc. Since the movement means noth-
ing to me, it means nothing to the audience.
I truly believe that Malini worked with this same mindset,
enabling him to vanish and produce objects at will. We all know
the notorious small size of his hands. He had to rely on this
type of misdirection to be constantly so successful. Another
factor that makes these kinds of moves invisible comes from
years of experience in doing them so many times your subcon-
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 15

scious mind puts no importance on them. Truly, a performer

can get away with murder if his attitude while doing the dirty
work is nonchalant and innocent.
A small point that I should mention is when I pick up the
packet, I do so with the left hand and immediately place it into
my right hand. It is difficult to pick things up while wearing a
thumb tip. You have no feeling!
I make a big deal out of the fact that my sleeves are no-
where near my hands and even push my arms forward to cause
them to slide back further. This is a type of the cancellation
principle where it is implied that nothing can go up or down
the sleeves and that’s the only place trickery could come from.
It seems impossible that a duplicate packet or some kind of
gimmick could be introduced. It is also a nice touch that the
top of the packet has to be torn off. This makes it mandatory
for the hands to come together without a wasted move. I have
rewound the video at the point where the packets are switched
over and over. There is really nothing to see that looks out of
the ordinary.
After the top is torn off and the right hand takes the packet
proper, you will see that I stand up a bit straighter and stay
away from Jon. It would be next to impossible for him to no-
tice his signature is not on the packet, but I don’t give him a
chance. The packet is crumbled, covered by my fingers and far
enough away from him to cover any problems. In truth, in all
the years I have been performing this, no one has ever asked to
see the signature at this point in the routine.
I would like to mention a moment that occurred during
this taping. As I was pouring the sweetener into my right fist, I
used my standard line of, “How do you like it so far?” That
always gets a laugh. Then Jon topped me by saying, “It’s sweet!”
I was totally surprised that I had never thought of saying that
myself! It is a great line and I have used it ever since! This is a
perfect example, caught on video, of how routines and all the
little niceties grow over the years from audience feedback and
16 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

them writing the funny lines for you! As I have mentioned in

my previous Guide Books, the actual method of an effect is
only a small part of the presentation. It is the finished produc-
tion, with all those little jokes, asides, facial expressions and
finished details, that make for a totally polished performance.
I like the nice close-up work the camera did when I was
pouring the powder into my hands. The routine is just about
angle-proof and that is so important in close-up performing.
Even if someone were to look into the top of my fist (my view)
while I am pouring in the sweetener, they really could not see
anything. The only time the routine is not totally angle-proof
is when the thumb tip is angled down, behind the fingers, after
the torn top is put in. A slight twist of the wrist and bringing in
the hand closer to the chest takes care of that. The benefits of
doing the routine in this way far outweigh the slight problem of
The new finish of Sweeter and Lower uses a flash restora-
tion. This, I believe, is far better than the original method of
just opening the hand and showing the packet restored. Be-
sides being more visible, it has another advantage. The right
hand can be shown completely empty just before the climax. If
you watch the video again, you will see that I rub my right
fingers together as I say, “Watch.” The finger movement is
meant to look like I am getting ready to work the magic, but
the secondary reason is to draw attention to the empty hand
and show its innocence. I never design any of my routines to
fool magicians, but this move does have that effect for anyone
looking for a thumb tip.
The blowing at the hands at the flash restoration also has a
twofold reason for taking place. It looks magical, but it also
scatters powder into the air. It’s almost like a little puff of smoke!
Now, over the years, I have had some magicians criticize the
routine because there is some powder left over on the hands
and the table. I never could understand the logic of the criti-
cism. If you really tore open a packet, poured the contents into
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 17

your hand and then restored it, it would be entirely natural for
some of the sweetener to be scattered in the process. It only
proves that the packet was really opened and the powder
dumped out.
The ending is also a perfect one. The restored packet com-
pletely covers the thumb tip and the hands can be shown very
freely. If you look at the faces of the audience members, you
can almost see their thought process as they shake their heads.
First is the obvious look of astonishment at seeing the packet
restored in such a clean manner. The second rush of astonish-
ment comes when they realize that Jon’s signature is still in-
tact! I would never even consider doing this routine without
having the packet signed. That is what puts it into such a miracle
I want to make a very important point here. Notice how at
the end of the routine I hand the packet back to Jon and say,
“Check it out. Is that your name on it? Is it all sealed up?” I
use questions, not statements. If I had said, “There is the packet
all sealed up and your name is on it,” it would not play nearly
as well. By asking the questions, I am causing the spectators to
admit that the miracle has happened. Even if they don’t ver-
balize it, they are mentally admitting it. It also subconsciously
implies that the focus is on the miracle and not me. It comes
back to me, of course, but that is not the main focus. I write
about this in The Principles of Magic extensively. To sum it up
here, ego is never recognized as a desirable trait. You don’t
want to come across as, “Look what a great man I am.” Instead
it should be, “Look at this wonderful thing that has happened!”
I’m sorry for being blunt, but if you get nothing more out of
this book than that, you will have spent your money well.
Notice at this point in the routine that I am in no rush to
get rid of the thumb tip. Even when my hand drops to my side,
I don’t make an attempt to pocket it yet. I wait until I see the
audience attention has dropped before going south with it.
Let me finish by saying I am always leery about routines
18 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

that need to be reset or cannot be repeated immediately. I ac-

tually wrote about this in my book, The Principles of Magic,
where I stated that a routine should be so good that you should
be able to repeat it instantly. I still hold by that rule and don’t
feel that Sweeter and Lower violates that principle. It could be
repeated before the same audience with the same results, but
just as in stage performances, there are feature effects and the
same holds true in close-up magic. Sweeter and Lower is one
of them. It is a mini-illusion.
I always give it a good build up and even invite people at
other tables to come over to see this. I let them know before I
begin that this is going to be very special and I don’t want them
to miss it. This also implies that I am not going to do it again!
I can tell you from years of performing Sweeter and Lower that
people realize they have seen an event that will not be repeated
that night!
This routine actually consists of two inventions. I have al-
ways been enamored with the one-ahead principle and Mental
Epic type effects. I must have owned a dozen different ver-
sions over the years. Additionally, as of this time, I have put
out the Ultra Board, the Epitome Board, two versions of Steno
ESP (there is actually an improved, no-force version on my
new videos to be released in 2007) and the method I use here
which I call the Turnover Pad. (I also have invented a new
Mental Epic effect that a noted manufacturer will be making in
the near future.) So I have given a lot of thought to the effect.
The Turnover Pad was developed about a year before I came
out with Change of Mind in the 80’s. I used it for other pur-
poses before that, but it seemed to go perfectly with the COM
gimmick. I recently had a friendly debate with another mental-
ist who asked, “How can you say you own the idea of turning
over a pad?” The fact is, up until I developed and published
the idea, no one else had. That’s why! Yes, Max had an add-a-
number effect where he used the move to switch a set of num-
bers, but no one had thought of using the idea for a one-ahead
routine. It is the very simplicity of the idea that makes it so
good. To be complete, I should also mention there are versions
of the Himber Wallet that have pads in them. You could use
one of these in the same way. You will, of course, have to work
out a handling where you have to open and close the pad for
each prediction. That should really not present too much of a
problem for the thinking mentalist.
There is a version of the Change of Mind gimmick in J. G.
Thompson’s, My Best. It is called Ghost Coins by George
Starke on page 188 of that tome. The truth is that I had not
seen that prior to inventing COM. It was brought to my atten-
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 21

tion by another magician. I still would have put out the effect,
however, as the effect in the book had nothing to do with my
own. The purpose of that gimmick was to vanish a handful of
coins silently.
On the video explanations, we happened to have used a
Vermont quarter. At the time, these state quarters were rela-
tively new. Now, they are very abundant and that only helps
the routine. Instead of just predicting the coin and the date,
you can also predict the state if the chosen coin is one of those.
Additionally, if you notice a mark or any dirt or discoloration
on the coin, you can add that to your prediction. Finally, you
don’t have to stick to coins. You can keep the money theme by
predicting the last four numbers of a bill’s serial number, then
the last four digits of a credit card, and finally the coin. You can
also dispense with the money theme completely and predict
anything. Although this works, it is a bit harder to justify using
the coins at the end.
Finally, I would like to add that the stage coin prediction
has been widely overlooked. Looking back, I almost wish I had
performed that routine on one of the videos to show how strong
it plays. There seems to be no apparent way for you to control
the spectator’s actions when they are standing on the other
side of the stage. Hopefully, after you read this, you might give
it a try.

Although I had to rely on Scotty to produce some coins to
use in this routine, in reviewing the performance, I don’t think
that detracted. The whole thing looked very normal and every-
one could see the coins were all different. When I asked Jon
and Janelle to put the coins in their pockets, I said to Jon, “In
your own pocket! I just read Jon’s mind!” This got a nice laugh.
22 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

This is about as far as I would go in using this kind of humor. It

was just the slightest bit risqué, but not offensive. I only men-
tion this because the biggest blunder I see some magicians make
is becoming too familiar with lady volunteers and the over use
of double entendres. Whenever you perform, you have to as-
sume the lowest common denominator of prudence in your
audience. What might seem mildly offensive to one person
might be hugely offensive to another. Once you cross that line,
it is hard to ever go back.
To some, placing the pad on the table and walking away
while Janelle signs her name might seem a bit risky. You might
think there is too great a chance someone might pick up the
pad and turn it over. One of the most valuable lessons I have
learned in my many years of performing is that you can’t think
that way. If you go into a routine worried about what things
might go wrong or who might try to mess you up, you will have
problems. But, if you are confident and put those thoughts out
of your mind, they simply never happen. This, perhaps, is one
of the hardest lessons to learn in magic. Let me quote Edwin
T. Sachs from one of my favorite books, Sleight of Hand:
“If to this delicacy of manipulation is added a suavity of
manner, accompanied by a never-failing cool daring, then the
perfection of a conjurer is attained.”
As soon as Janelle is finished and I pick up the pad I say,
“Did you even look at the coins as you put them into your
pocket …?” I really don’t care here what she will say. It is the
question that is important! When you ask a person a question,
they immediately look into your eyes and think about it. That
takes all the heat off the pad immediately. If you review the
video, you won’t find one person looking at the pad.
I then say, “I don’t know whether this is going to work or
not” as I write my first prediction. I often use this ruse. I really
want the audience to believe I am unsure of myself and might
miss. If you take out the element of the possibility of failure,
you destroy much of the punch of the climax at the end.
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 23

When she brings forth the coin, a quarter, I look at it, but
do not mention the date. I just slide it over next to the predic-
tion I just made. That is important. Although later I will sepa-
rate the coins from these papers as I open them, I am careful
here to put each paper right next to its coin. This forestalls
anyone from thinking there is any funny business going on.
I have to tell you my eyesight is not all that good. I had to
ask Janelle to call out the date on the penny Jon chose because
I couldn’t see it! If you have better vision that me, then please
just note the date and do not announce it yet.
When I get to my own prediction, I try to make it sound as
if I just got the idea to use one of my coins. I say, “You know
what I’m going to do since I have some coins in my pocket?”
It’s almost as though I am only doing this because I do have
some coins and wouldn’t if I didn’t. At least that is what I hope
they are thinking. I have developed a style of working where I
sometimes seem unsure of just what I am going to do. This is
my personality and how I work, but I would never tell you to
do the same. If it is natural for you, let me tell you it is very
effective. The idea that you are creating the conditions of each
test as you go makes it all seem very fair. Again, you will have
to decide if this is the right approach for your own style.
You probably have already noticed how I sort of jiggle my
hand when I display the gimmick and loose coins. This, as per
the explanation, is what really makes the coins all appear sepa-
rate. Then I had one removed from my own coat pocket. Please,
please, please do not do what I saw one magician do that used
his pants pocket, thinking he was clever. That is not acceptable!
As soon as the coin is selected and handed to me, notice
how I immediately slide the coins in a line and say, “So this
was kind of the order things happened” while leaving the pa-
pers untouched. The audience attention is momentarily on the
coins. Then, in one motion, I sweep up all the papers together
and say, “Each time you signed the paper, I made a prediction
and then you removed a coin.” This is the only time there is a
24 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

move of any sort. Please rewind and watch this section again
and notice how quickly it all goes by. If anyone suspects how
the papers are now bunched together, they are immediately
reminded that each paper was signed ahead of time before the
coins were chosen.
As I open them, I also say, “OK, and this last one was mine.”
Let me tell you a little subtlety I did not mention in the expla-
nations. I always give my own billet a special little twist so that
I can tell it apart from the other two. Then I make sure I open
it last so that I can use the above line and make it all seem so fair.
Here is another subtlety. As I open the three papers, I turn
to the girl on my right and say, “You keep an eye on me. Make
sure I don’t switch anything!” Again, I am using the cancella-
tion principle. By suggesting that only a switch would allow me
to cheat, I am canceling out the true solution!
Now I recap. I tell Janelle, for about the third time, how
first she signed the paper, then I wrote a prediction and finally
she selected a coin. I am trying to lock in the order of events.
When I get to Jon, I even add, “You signed the paper. There’s
no way I could have switched this prediction!” Again I am us-
ing the cancellation principle.
Finally, I recap with Cassandra and end the demonstration.
You might notice the last thing I say is, “Think about that one!”
I say this because, after years of performing this routine, I have
learned that people do go back and retrace the steps. I often
have spectators come back later in the night and say, “That was
totally impossible what you did with those coins!” It is almost
as though they had to think it through thoroughly to really
grasp how impossible it was!
There is so much to say about this subject. It has been
many years since Uri Geller made his appearance. His metal
bending demonstrations made him famous and controversial.
To this day, he is still well known and talked about whenever
things psychic are discussed.
It was about 17 or 18 years ago that I did a lecture tour that
started in New Orleans, ran through Texas and Okalahoma
and ended in Philadelphia. We were on the road for over a
month. While on this tour, I met Banachek in Houston. He
had already been one of the Alpha Kids and I had been bend-
ing spoons for years. We had a great time showing each other
what we had developed and this is where I learned how to twist
a spoon.
Later, I became friends with one of Japan’s top performers,
Mr. Maric. While having dinner, I showed him how I bent a
spoon. He used a variation of this method on his next TV spe-
cial and fooled me badly with it! I then changed it further and
that is the method I demonstrate on this video.
What one has to remember when it comes to spoon bend-
ing is that even a slight change in angles or methods can make
the effect look totally different. It is amusing to read on the
Internet how different posters think this person or that person
can do it better.
Another person who I have to give credit to for giving me
great inspiration for this bend and others is Meir Yedid. It has
nothing, however, to do with spoon bending. I was watching
him do his amazing Finger Fantasies! He later told me that
many magicians believed he was double-jointed and could bend
his fingers in all manner of contortions. In reality, he said, it
was angles! He told me that getting the perfect line of sight
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 27

made even a simple move look like a miracle. I applied this

same logic to my metal bending.
One thing I can promise you is a fact is that almost no
other effect hits as hard as a good metal bending demonstra-
tion. In my other books, I have talked about the power that
magic should demonstrate. It should somehow reflect an idea
that has meaning. When you just wave your hand over a metal
object and it bends, the audience sees pure power! It can al-
most look a little scary at times and certainly thoughts come
into the spectators’ minds such as, “What else can this guy do
with his abilities?”
When working close up, I will often approach a table that
is very noisy and loud. I almost always begin by bending a spoon
and the result is always the same. A hush falls over the crowd
and I gain instant respect! Since it is so different, people don’t
automatically assume you are just a magician wanting to do a
few tricks! Additionally, other tables can see what is happening
and soon everyone in the room wants you to come to their
table. That is why I always do the Matrix bend, which I dem-
onstrate later on the video. It can be seen from everywhere
and tells the house who you are and what you do. I often hear
remarks like, “Look at what that guy over there is doing!” Then,
when I approach their table, they are all set to listen and watch.
This routine has to be the most powerful of all those on
Mind Mysteries.

When I begin this routine, I say that I am going to demon-
strate something I did on the TV show, Fox and Friends and
later picked up by the E Network’s Talk Soup. Please under-
stand how diabolical this is. Television is seen in many people’s
minds as the supreme test of whether or not you are famous
28 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

and important. In reality, it means little unless you have a sitcom

that pays you a small fortune or a public performing venue, i.e.
David Copperfield, where your appearance may bring in bigger
crowds. For most entertainers, being on television means being
able to say – you were on television. That’s about it. Still, say-
ing it can mean a lot as to how you are accepted and what kind
of prestige you have. Tell them in the wrong way, however, and
you come across as a braggart. If, for instance, you say, “I am
famous and have been on television!” most people would look
at you and think, “Who cares?” regardless of whose show you
were on! There is a technique to talking about your past ac-
complishments. This includes not only television, but anything
prestigious that you might want your audience to know about.
You should always mention this kind of event in a manner
that applies to what you are going to demonstrate. I did this
here by explaining that I was surprised the guy on the show
Talk Soup did not make fun of me when they put my perfor-
mance, originally done on Fox and Friends, on their weekend
edition. I made an interesting little prelude while talking about
a national TV show I was on! Let me give you a few other
examples I use all the time.
“Let me show you something that, when I was performing
it for President Ford, he told me it was his favorite!”
Or …
“I use this large deck of cards because sometimes the crowds
I work for are quite large. Last year I did two shows at the Salt
Palace in Salt Lake city for 4500 people each.”
Or …
“When I was in Beijing, I did this for 600 Chinese busi-
nessmen who didn’t speak English! I had to use an interpreter!”
Throwing in one of these little asides can boost your accep-
tance level 500% (or more) instantly if you do it the right way.
When I get to the spoons, I toss out four of them and offer
a choice as to which one I should use. Let me elaborate on a
very important point here.
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 29

In this instance, I to use my own spoons as we were shoot-

ing a video. For real shows, there is always a question as to
whether it is better to bring your own silverware or use what is
on the table. The story of Malini stabbing a card through an
antique table comes to mind. The hostess was appalled at the
knife marks, but Malini told her she should be thrilled as it
was the Great Malini who did it! This makes for a good story,
but I would hesitate to offer that as good advice.
I always bring my own silverware. If no one objects, I can
always use what’s present. I buy large tablespoons very cheaply
at a local dollar store or Wal-Mart if they are carrying the right
type. I also use a small vinyl pencil case that will hold about 15
spoons. By bringing out at least four or five at a time, having
them examined and then letting the spectator choose the one
to use, I never have a problem with anyone suspecting trick
spoons. Additionally, I always let the spectator keep the spoon
once it has been bent. It’s amazing how many people hang on
to them as souvenirs!
I always take the chosen spoon and hold it up next to an-
other one to show it is exactly the same shape. That is impor-
tant as, later, I will demonstrate how much the spoon has bent
by repeating the movement.
Notice that I explain that what I am about to show them is
different. I tell them that whenever this has been done before,
people never see it happening. They just see the results. Then
I tell them they will actually see bending take place.
Again, I have to stop here for a second and talk about an-
other technique I often use. It is the technique of making what
I do special! You have to be able to do this without openly
putting down another performer, but you certainly can make it
sound like you are miles ahead of what others do! This is a
business. You don’t become successful unless people think you
are the best. There is nothing wrong with promoting your indi-
viduality while performing. You don’t have to do original mate-
rial to talk like this. You just have to have original presenta-
30 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

tions! I used to do the standard Linking Rings. I used it as an

opener and would say, “Although you have probably seen this
before, most magicians do it very fast and try to fool you with
speed. Tonight I am going to do it for you very slowly and
demonstrate the way the Chinese performed this over 5000
years ago!”
The technique not only accomplishes a very important
purpose, but also gives the necessary misdirection to make the
first bend. Since the conversation is interesting, and apparently
necessary, people listen to me and don’t watch my hands. Some
magicians think that just talking will provide misdirection. It
won’t if you don’t say something interesting. Then some magi-
cians think that a big joke or gag is the way to go. That is OK,
but if the gag is too large and causes too much of a commotion,
people will know they missed something later after the effect is
over. That is when you always hear: “Do that again. I wasn’t
paying attention!” You have to divert attention, but you have
to do it without the audience knowing you did it!
I now need to talk about angles. The camera angle on this
effect was not the best for the first bend, but I was playing it for
the audience. You can still see it, but not as well as they could.
This is what I was talking about in the History section. It is the
line of sight of the spectators that is so important in spoon
bending. You can certainly see the reactions on the faces of the
audience as it bends and see they are impressed. Later, in the
explanations, you get the full effect. You can also see it better
in the bonus sections.
Now I do the comparison with the unbent spoon. This is
more important than you might first think. First, you get an-
other moment! Please think about this and understand why I
think this is so important. They have already reacted to the
bend, but by holding it up to the other spoon, they react again
without me having to do anything! Not only do they react, but
applaud! It is during this applause that I am able to put in the
next bend! So not only is the first effect reinforced by this ma-
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 31

neuver, but I can get one-ahead for the next effect!

Here I do two things I want to bring to your attention. I
talk about the accusation that I have strong fingers and dis-
prove I could be bending the spoon at one point by holding it
at another. Do you see the cancellation principle at work? I
am suggesting that the only way the spoon could bend by
force is if I apply force it during the bending process. They
will be looking for that next time and it won’t happen since
it’s already bent.
That brings me to the second point. The wonderful thing
about bending items it that it is nearly impossible to compare
the degrees of a bend. At this point in the routine, I am hold-
ing a spoon that I have just put another bend in, then I am
going to pretend to bend it some more and then show that it
has bent some more. That is three effects even though they
only see two! Let me explain. When I talk and show the spoon
after the second secret bend, I am still showing it as having the
same degree of bend as after the first bend. That’s the first
hidden effect. Next, I pretend to bend the spoon a second time.
That’s the second effect, which is open. Finally, I show the
spoon to have bent more. That’s the third open effect even
though the degree of the bend is the same as before I did any-
thing. That’s what’s so wonderful about spoon bending!
The next two bends, the Karate bend and the Matrix bend,
both get their additional bends through the wider use of move-
ment. Since I don’t want to overuse the ruse of putting in a
bend and then talking, I prefer to openly hold the spoon while
the dialogue is going on the put the bend in at the last minute.
For the Karate bend, I swing my arms left to right and get the
bend in just as the spoon goes under the tabletop. The spoon
immediately comes up into position ready for the motion of
the karate chop. Please take a look at the faces of the audience
in the background shot as this is taking place. You can see their
obvious reactions. This is the bend I use in restaurants while
standing to attract attention to myself from other tables and
32 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

areas of the room. When I want to do that, I make sure I stand

on the side of the table that allows most of the other tables to
see me as I stand there. I actually think about this kind of
thing when I first walk over and always choose the side that
allows me to be best seen by the rest of the room!
For the Matrix bend, I actually place the spoon on the table
while talking to subtly imply that I am not even touching it ahead
of time. I then pick it up and put in the bend as I move it upwards
to my face. This is the only place on the video where I felt a bit
restricted. Since I normally stand when I work, I had to adapt to
my seated position. This worked fine for everything except this
last bend. I was forced to almost lean backwards to get the best
angles and maximum effect. When I look at the video, I can see
that strained position. For your own edification, just know this is
usually done standing and there is no such cramping.
An important point I have not mentioned before is to make
sure to swivel the spoon around after it bends so that the entire
audience can see how much it has bent. If you don’t, those who
are sitting in less ideal positions won’t get the maximum effect.
This applies to any effect where the audience has to see some-
thing. I have watched other mentalists do prediction effects and
sometimes they failed to turn the prediction to everyone. Take
the time to make sure the whole room sees what you are doing!
Notice how Cassandra jumps when I hand the spoon to
her! This is not an uncommon reaction and I get it often. It
shows how strongly this type of effect plays. And, also notice
how I give away the spoon to her at the end. This tells every-
one, not only her, that the spoon is normal. That, I should
mention, is the most often expressed explanation of how the
spoon bends; that it is rigged! You must give it away at the end.
One of the companies I work for on a steady basis is made
up of engineers. I have recently found out that some of them
have actually taken the spoons back to their laboratories to test
them! How I love this work!
Larry Becker is a good friend who I have known for many
years. When his World of Super Mentalism came out, I fell in
love with Some Total. I loved the idea of reversing the addition
process so that you begin with the problem and the audience
provides the answer! That was a stroke of genius! I immedi-
ately saw the potential to use the effect on the radio. Over the
years, I must have used it over a dozen times and it always got
a tremendous response. I would always leave the building to
drive home, turn on the radio to the station and listen to the
callers raving about it.
Many years later, I got a call from Larry and he asked me if
I could give him something for his new book, Stunners! I told
him I would be happy to, but it would be one of his own. He
laughed, said, “OK” and we hung up. After he got my write-up,
he called me back and told me he loved it. Later, when I did
Mind Mysteries, I called him again and asked if I could in-
clude it. He said, “Sure. It’s yours anyways!” I said, “Well, of
course not, but thank you!”
I made only a few changes in the effect. I used cards in-
stead of the wallet with the window and I changed the posi-
tioning of the numbers. Since people at home would be writing
this down, and therefore studying it later, I wanted to make
sure there was nothing to find. There isn’t as the way the num-
bers are situated, even if you knew the math and tried to say
the certain numbers at those positions are always one less than
the total, it would only be a guess. In a really random problem,
the same situation would happen normally. No one, in fact,
has ever come up with the solution.
Larry deserves 99% of all the credit. He even added a very
nice point to the routine by adding the drawing of the line just
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 35

before making the switch. That was the finishing touch and I
don’t know if this could be improved anymore.
You have to think it out to appreciate it. From the home
listener’s point of view, the card with the numbers on it has
been laying on the table since before you begin. You apparently
never touch it. The listeners actually take part in the whole
procedure by just listening or by calling in. Usually, in this kind
of routine, the audience has to take the host’s word that every-
thing is on the up and up and that what the host says is written
really is. In this case, however, they can see everything! They
write the problem, write down the total, and then do the addi-
tion themselves. They take an active part!
Don’t think they won’t do the work, either. How many times
have you watched a television show with a touch-the-screen
effect and someone goes up to the TV and does it? Someone
always has to! Likewise, if you set this up right, people at home
will really go and get a pencil and some paper. How many other
effects can you think of that can do that?
I have found that in almost any magician’s career, at one
time or another, they will be asked to come onto the radio and
do something. This is perfect! Even if you are a magician, this
will work for you. And unlike the touch-the-screen effects per-
formed on TV, the audience can back track this routine over
and over again and never see the work.
It is the perfect radio routine!

To save a bit of time I passed out some pencils to the audi-
ence before we began this segment. I decided not to pass out
the cards until we began, thinking that maybe some people
would think that some cards had writing or instructions on
them. This is a minor point, but one which I went into in great
36 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

detail in my new videos which will be released in 2007.

As I begin, I mention how often I have performed what I
am going to show them on radio stations across the country.
This is done for exactly the same reason as I pointed out in a
previous chapter. Although not television, radio still denotes
importance and makes you look good.
My silent script sometimes goes beyond just a script. Some-
times I find myself assuming a silent personality! I remember
sitting at the table as we filmed this and acting like David
Letterman on The Late Show! I also remember letting myself
go with it as that happened and, if you study my mannerisms
and speech pattern, you will see I really did do that!
As I show the card with the numbers, I cover the numbers
at the third position. This is, of course, not necessary if you do
the routine on the radio, but I wanted those watching this video
to have no clue as to any changes.
When I mention that the problem has over 100,000 possi-
bilities, I just tell them to write the number 1 on their card. I
don’t offer further explanation, I just do it. I explained this
technique in my earlier Guide Books. If you just tell the audi-
ence to do something, without trying to get fancy and justify
why, they will just do it.
You may notice that I glance over to my right just before
the second number is called. This has nothing to do with this
routine, but let me tell you why I did that. We were being video
recorded and there were three cameras. Because of my experi-
ence on TV, I am always leery of a potential camera shooting
over my back when I have something I need to hide. If you
ever work on television, be aware of the fact that often camera-
men, tired with just shooting a straight on shot, will look for
ways to capture something that shouldn’t be seen!
This routine requires five different responses. Just for the
record, you could ask for a 2-digit number and a 3-digit num-
ber to speed things up. I wanted to use five people, however,
for maximum effect. I knew that could get tedious. So, after
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 37

the third number was called out, I turned to the gentleman

sitting next to me and said, “You didn’t get a card, did you?”
I’m sure the audience expected me to give him a card. Then I
said, “Well, you’ll just have to watch!” That got a great laugh.
The lesson is you have to learn when things may be dragging a
bit. Some mentalism routines are a little longer. By putting in a
few jokes or clever asides, you break it up into smaller seg-
ments that don’t seem to be overly long.
Notice how perfectly the card switch works. I am talking
and making sense in what I am saying and that distracts any
attention from my hands. In the radio station format, you would
most likely have only the one host to fool, but the move is so
good that it goes by even a roomful of people. As mentioned in
the explanations, the idea of drawing the line was Larry’s and
it is the perfect compliment to the switch.
When I ask Cassandra to call out the numbers on the card,
I realized she has a slight accent. That is why I began calling
out loud the numbers with her. Although it was not a major
concern here, let me advise you that whenever you need to
have a spectator reveal some information out loud, be prepared
to call it out with them in case they have a weak voice, are
timid or just are unable to speak clearly.
Notice how I get more and more excited as the numbers
come together. When I finally call out the total, I almost shout,
“164,728 – the same number you folks just formed!” Then, if
you listen carefully, you will hear me yelling, “Isn’t that crazy?
How could that be?!” I am building up as much excitement as
I can muster.
The final line, “Man! Sometimes I spook myself!” is not
only very funny but also portrays me as a regular guy who is
sometimes just as startled by these things as my audience. That
provides a nice warm feeling to the audience and denotes a
feeling of humility and fun.
If you ever do this in a radio station you will miss all that
great audience feedback. It is a funny feeling. But, when you
38 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

get into your car after the show and start driving, it is wonder-
ful to listen to callers going crazy over how it worked for them
right at home. This is a wonderful routine and is possibly the
best radio magic/mentalism ever!
I grew up with Frank Garcia’s Million Dollar Card Secrets
and Super Subtle Card Miracles. Those two books contain
enough great card material for any magician to make a living
the rest of their life as a close-up card worker. Jim Sisti, my
business partner, knew Frank well and they were good friends.
Time and time again, he has expressed the highest admiration
for Frank’s incredible skills and remarkable character. The books
mentioned were released in 1972 and 1973. Ten years later,
The Close-Up Magic of Frank Garcia, Volumes 1 and 2, were
released. Within the pages of the first volume is the effect,
Uncanny. In its original dress, a card is selected and lost in the
deck. The magician shows that neither the top or second card
is the selection. That top card is taken and held face-down by
the fingertips. Suddenly it turns over and it is the selection!
For a card worker, I would not suggest changing a single
thing. It is perfect for the purpose of showing off one’s skill
with a deck of cards. But I am a mentalist and immediately saw
a different application. I discovered that by carefully applying
less and less pressure, I could cause the card to turn over very
slowly in a very eerie way. The effect looked more like one of
telekinesis than magic.
I used it for many years and then forgot about it until I
wrote the book, Making Magic Real. In that book is a chapter
called The Magic State of Mind which deals with effects that
work using your own ideo-motor reflexes. The idea was to just
think the effect to happen without consciously moving any
muscles. The result is the magic feels real because you simply
will it to happen! I chose to use the Haunted Key and Un-
canny as examples. When planning the contents of Mind Mys-
teries, I decided to include Uncanny to show those who had read
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 41

the book how real it could look. Hopefully, my point was made.
Some changes had to be made to the original routine for
this routine. I decided to discard the original idea of an indif-
ferent card changing into the selection since this is a mental
effect. I decided to use a just-think type of card selection which
is explained on the video. It alone is very powerful as can be
seen from the first effect (mistake!) with Cassandra. Next, I
altered the grip so that the card is held from beneath instead of
above. I found this looks much better for my purpose. Finally,
I had the card turn over very, very slowly to enhance the ap-
parent psychic nature of the effect. I am very pleased with the
Frank Garcia was known as “The Man with the Million
Dollar Hands.” I consider him a genius responsible for some
of the greatest close-up magic ever created. I encourage the
reader to look up the original routine for Uncanny to under-
stand how clever it is. The opening proving sequence is re-
markable for its simplicity and effectiveness. As a matter of
fact, everything Frank Garcia did was remarkable for its sim-
plicity and effectiveness!

The analysis of the first part of this effect should be titled:
What to do when things don’t go the way you planned! As you
will see, you have to stay on your toes all the time.
Some people are much better spectators than others! In
the opening of Uncanny, I begin the effect with Cassandra. I
spring the cards in front of her eyes, which I have done thou-
sands of times, and I am sure she had seen a card. I follow with
my standard line of questioning which is, “If I took these cards
like this, and went in front of your eyes like this, could you
think of a card that quickly?” She says, “Yes” and I am sure
42 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

she has the one I saw. The ruse at this point is supposed to be
that I say, “Do you have one already?” She is then supposed to
say, “Yes” at which point I act surprised that she already thought
of one and now I am in a fix! That is what is supposed to
happen! As you can see on the video, she says “No.” So I do it
again and the second time, she tells me she is not sure and
wants to do it one more time! Finally, on the third attempt, she
gets a card. At this point, it suddenly dawns on me that if I just
continue, it might look like I am trying to force a card on her
and failing. After quickly thinking that out, I say to her, “Did
you think of different cards each time?” and she says, “Yeah!”
This gets me out of that fix and makes the routine look even
fairer than planned. So, so far so good.
Now I am thinking I better play it safe and I ask her, “Is it
a lower card?” She says, “Yes” and I am OK. But my plan goes
wrong again! I meant to spread the cards, keeping the selection
under my finger, appear to get a feeling about one card and
pick it up. In the process of spreading the cards however, the
selection sticks to my hand and accidentally flips over! But it
flips over in a very elegant way. I say, “Was that your card?”
and Cassandra screams out, “Oh my God!” The audience goes
nuts and I am thinking, “Man, that’s two in a row!”
I decide to try it again, but elect to use good, old faithful
Janelle. Let me tell you, Janelle is the perfect spectator! She is
so good that I have heard magicians accuse her of being a plant
or set up. She is neither of those, just someone who instinc-
tively has fun with magic and knows how to react.
I do the riffle in front of her and ask her to think of a card.
I know exactly what the card is at this point, but decide to ask
her if it was another black card. Besides the fact that this mim-
ics what I did earlier with Cassandra, I will sometimes throw in
a question just to make it look as though I am unsure of my-
self. As I have said before, if the audience doesn’t feel any sus-
pense that you might miss, you won’t have even half of the
effect. I now am getting my confidence back and am thinking
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 43

clearly again. I say, “Let me try something a little different

with yours,” as though everything I have done so far was
At this point, I want to impress the audience with the fact
that this is special and not just a card trick, but I don’t want to
say it that way and sound like I am degrading magicians. So,
instead, I say, “This is different. I’m sure a good card magician
could do something better than this.” Do you see what that
accomplishes? It takes away any comparisons with card tricks
and yet makes me sound humble at the same time. If some-
thing miraculous does happen, it certainly can’t be the result
of sleight of hand!
As I pick up the card and begin the effect, I say, “Keep
thinking of the card. I don’t know if I can do this. It’s been a
while since I did something like this.” This may seem as though
I am overanalyzing, but you have to know that I really do think
out these things. Notice I didn’t say, “It’s been a while since I
did this,” but rather, “something like this.” The wording im-
plies that I am talking about moving objects with my mind, not
this particular card effect and that I am unsure of whether or
not it will work. This is immediately enhanced when I say,
“Look. Is it starting to move?” Please turn up the volume of
your video and listen to the background voices as I stare at the
card and it begins to turn over. You can hear the gasps of amaze-
ment. I get the audience reacting vocally by asking, “Is it mov-
ing?” and then saying, “This is kind of weird, isn’t it?” This
requires a response from them. The effect here is not one of
finding someone’s card, but moving an inanimate object with
the power of the mind. I keep saying, “Come on!” as though I
cannot let my own mental willing of the card to move to over-
flow verbally. When Janelle finally screams out, “That’s my
card!” it’s almost an anticlimax to the effect of the animation
of the card. It certainly looks more psychic than magical.
I love this kind of effect. The ability to move something is
as fascinating as bending something. Please don’t restrict your
44 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

thinking to just using playing cards. This method will work

equally well with a business or index card. I’m sure, with a
little thought, you can think of at least one of the myriad of
effects using such cards where this principle could be applied
as an adjunct. There is really so much in magic waiting to be
I really cannot claim any credit for either this effect or the
one that follows, the Cell Phone effect. The Swami Gimmick
has been used to predict just about anything imaginable. I can
tell you that I have been doing the Lottery Effect for as long as
I can remember. It always seemed so much more logical to
predict something of value, i.e. the lottery number, than just
any three numbers called out. It also gave me the perfect ex-
cuse to use three spectators instead of one. In that way, I could
do the writing on the off-beat when moving from one to an-
other and addressing them. Even though it is a thoroughly con-
trived situation, people do really wonder if you can predict the
actual lottery numbers! This is fascinating to me and just proves
how your audience wants to give real world value to your powers!
You should always bear this fact in mind. Corinda gives
many great routines in the opening chapter of 13 Steps. One of
them is the Living and Dead Test which he credits to Al Baker.
Like Corinda, I am not a fan of this kind of effect, but one day
I decided to try it. I couldn’t believe the reaction I got with this
simple test. Again, because it has real world meaning, i.e. pick-
ing out who has passed on, it strikes home with ten times more
effect than simply predicting a number or color. Please read
this step.
I remember sending away for an effect where newspaper
reproductions of famous events in history were shown. One
was freely chosen and, when your prediction was checked, it
matched! When it arrived, I was upset at first. The method
was a nail writer! Then I realized that I had been taught a
valuable lesson. There is nothing you can’t predict with a nail
writer and do it effectively! Besides, the newspapers really were
worth the price of the effect.
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 47

This little gimmick is “The Greatest Little Gimmick in the

World” as Eric Mason says of the Boon Gimmick and Corinda
about all Swami Gimmicks. Corinda also states, “The impact
of the Swami Gimmick used in Mentalism is so strong that at
times it appears that you must be using a stooge.” As the reader
may know, the use of stooges is something I feel very strongly
about. Here we have a single gimmick that can do anything a
stooge can! So why even go there?
There are a lot of different types of gimmicks being pro-
duced these days. I read of them on the Internet forums. That
is great and I hope, in time, to explore them all. But I am
reminded of when I first started playing the drums. Even though
I kept getting better and better drum sets, I was always sure I
could play much better if I had a really professional set. It took
years to learn the real truth.
Rather than spend all your time looking for that perfect
Swami, may I suggest you put in as much time practicing with
it. I know on the video I talk about how even getting close to
the word will pass, but the fact is, the better you get at writing,
the more relaxed you will be and the better you will present
your mysteries. I always have a gimmick on me and am ready
to go for it at any time. And here’s a little hint: they will even
make it through the metal detector in the airport!

This is going to be a real interesting comparison between
this effect and the Cell Phone Effect which follows. Both are
really one in the same and yet they are different as night and
day. There is an idea somewhere in The Jinx for a card effect.
You either learn the card taken (stack?) or force a card. The
spectator thinks of the card. You pick up the pad and write
something. When the person announces the card, you turn
48 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

over the pad and show you have drawn a picture of the card!
Now is the really the most basic card effect you can do, but
dressed up in a way that has tremendous appeal and presenta-
tional value. It is the anti-thinking of most magicians. (Sorry if
I sometime seem harsh with magicians, but I have known a lot
of them!) Many magicians look at a new effect and say, “That’s
really just the so-and-so routine done a bit differently.” Instead
of seeing what makes magic so great and what is important,
they are always just looking for new secrets. The truth is there
are only so many basic principles in the art of magic. That by
no means limits the possibilities. There are only twelve notes
in the scale and less than that many colors in the spectrum, yet
look at what has been done with them. I have always recom-
mended the Tarbell Course in Magic as the best place to learn
magic’s basic principles. I could show you how my entire act
comes from variations of ideas from those pages. There cer-
tainly is nothing new in these two effects, but they hit home
like dynamite!
Normally I stand when I perform. When shooting a video,
things are a bit more restricted. Because I had a number of
people up close, if I stood while performing these effects, the
camera angles would have been atrocious and close-up shots
next to impossible. Because of this, I had my Swami Gimmick
inside my jacket pocket instead of my pants pocket (my prefer-
ence). This is why it took me a bit longer to get the gimmick
on. The opening spiel about gambling and Connecticut serves
as both a set-up for the effect and as a means of allowing me to
get my gimmick on. Notice how long I have my hand in there
and how no one is paying the slightest bit of attention to that.
Instead, they are listening carefully to me talk.
After I pretend to write my forecast, I make it a point of
putting the pencil at the far end of the table. I do this not to
prove that it is too far away for me to sneak it back, but to draw
subtle attention to it so that they will remember it was out of
my hand. I have always used the patter here when I do this
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 49

effect. Talking about them being in my living room has a kind

of feeling of intimacy about it. I always notice a slight change
in facial expressions when I do this. Perhaps people think of a
performer as a distant type of individual. When I talk about
coming into my house, it changes the complexion of the rela-
tionship ever so slightly.
I try to make the spectators actually visualize the lottery
ball container. People really do try to see a picture like this in
their minds if you ask them to. By not just naming a number,
but seeing a number on an imaginary ball, their minds are more
occupied and less likely to try to look for some trickery. I don’t
write the first two numbers down as they are called out, but
rather work one-behind, writing the first number as I tell the
second person to see the ball. Note: sometimes I will actually
be holding the card in my left hand when the first number is
called and then transfer it over to my right as I turn to the
second person.
It is interesting to note that I again unconsciously look over
my right shoulder to make sure there is no camera as I talk to
Here is something I didn’t mention in the explanations.
After the third number is called, I write it in and drop my hand
to my lap. That is when I ditched the gimmick. I just placed it
on my lap and then leaned forward to show the card. Look at
how clean the ending of this effect is with both hands obvi-
ously empty. Also notice how I retrieved the gimmick immedi-
ately and actually was putting it back on while I displayed the
card. The reason was that I didn’t want to leave it in my lap too
long and take a chance that it might move. It is easy to find a
nail writer in your pocket, but not so easy to find one in your
lap if you can’t look!
As I talked about on the video, the reason this plays so
strongly is that it is about gambling. It is about making big
money using the abilities of the mentalist. Who would not like
to be able to know the winning lottery number ahead of time?
50 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

I can remember from my childhood, magic books talking about

the Miser’s Dream having so much appeal because it shows the
magician producing money. If a crowd can relate to seeing a
few silver dollars being pulled out of the air, as far-fetched as
that seems, how much more pertinent is it to see someone ac-
tually predict a lottery number worth a lot more than that?
You may be wondering what I say if someone comes up to
me afterwards and asks me if I can really predict the lottery
number. Here is the secret of handling that! I tell them, “I was
able to do that because I was working with peoples’ minds.
The real lottery numbers are chosen by stupid machines that
don’t have minds!” That always gets an understanding nod and
then they walk away.
I was on stage, nail writer in place, ready to do a prediction
effect, when someone’s cell phone went off in the audience. I
immediately decided to use the person on the other end of the
phone instead of picking a volunteer. Since then, I wait for the
There is not much to be said here that I haven’t already
covered in the Lottery Effect section. Perhaps I should use
this opportunity to point out that in magic, as in music, there
is such a thing as improvisation!
You should always be on the lookout for opportunities to
apply a magic principle to something new and on the spot.
Malini, who I mention often in these pages, was renowned for
just that. A quote from Malini and His Magic reads:
“Malini was undoubtedly a magical opportunist – he was
always on the look-out to surprise people when they least sus-
pected he was going to work an effect. Many of the effects or
miracles attributed to Malini were performed by him only once
or twice in his lifetime.”
The Swami Gimmick is tailor-made for this kind of work. I
was doing a show a while back in Palm Springs, California for
the Betty Ford Foundation. I had the honor of having dinner
with President and Betty Ford.
We were discussing his early years at Yale, close by to where
I used to live. I asked the President if he ever had a dog as a
child. He smiled and said he had. It was his first dog. I asked
him the name of the dog and he told me. Then I picked up a
napkin from the table and handed it to him.
On the back was the name of the dog he had as a child over
80 years ago!
That is the kind of thing that makes a reputation!
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 53

This effect is exactly like the previous. So is the method.
And yet, it looks totally different and has a completely differ-
ent effect on the audience. This, I feel, makes my claim that
knowing a basic principle is far superior than chasing around
after all the latest books and props.
The idea of doing any effect over the telephone is an old
one and I have countless books in my library with different
methods of guessing cards using mathematical principles,
stooges, etc. The premise has always been sound and doing the
effect with a nail writer is so much more direct.
A nice factor with this effect is, by asking who has a cell
phone with them and who has someone they can call, you are
actually getting a volunteer in the audience without having to
actually pick one out. The routine allows them to stay in the
audience and gives them little chance to try to mess you up.
There are no props for them to touch or any other liberties
they can take advantage of that might be harmful to the effect.
You have to ask questions and keep things moving as you
ask the person to get out the phone and turn it on. That takes
a bit of time and you don’t want the routine to drag. Luckily,
she says her boyfriend’s name is Rex and that gives me the
opportunity to make a joke about it and get the audience laugh-
ing. Go back and time out how long it takes her to get that
phone out and turn it on and think about the tremendous dead
time there would have been if there had been no conversation
and jokes. Then look at how long it took her to actually get
someone on the phone.
All along I was saying things and making little remarks to
both her and the people around me. Whenever you do a rou-
tine where the spectator has to do something, assume it will
take them twice as long as you think is reasonable and be pre-
54 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

pared to talk through it all while they are doing it.

The “Hi Luke” thing is always funny and I have never had
an audience who didn’t want to scream that out. It is fun! I
talked continuously about this in my first Guide Book, but go
back and listen to all the funny remarks in this routine and
how I am chattering almost constantly throughout. This kind
of effect can go very badly if you aren’t prepared to do so and it
can seem like hours before you actually get the number called
out. Also, because the ending is so killer, the joking causes a
relaxing of the tension of seeing a mystery until the end when
they get hit right between the eyes!
I say, “OK, we have Luke on the phone. Let me write some-
thing for Luke!” This is so important! I am putting the effect
on the other end of the phone with Luke! Please don’t under-
estimate this concept. The verbiage is vital! It is the fact that I
am controlling his response on the other end of the line that
puts this effect 1000 times above a simple one-on-one nail writ-
ing effect. Proof of this is in the reaction of the audience at the
end. You must make this effect happen on his end, not yours!
Re-read that last sentence ten times!
Look at the way I toss the pencil aside. Who could miss
that? Look at Cassandra’s eyes. Then I have him name a num-
ber between 1 and 1000. If you are going to learn to nail write
a number, at least practice enough to make it a 3-digit number.
There is something that just sounds so much more impressive
by asking someone to name a number from 1 to 1000 rather
than from 1 to 100.
The number chosen is 420, which has a drug-related con-
notation. Whenever I get something like that, I play dumb.
The same thing goes with the number 69. I just don’t go there.
I would rather seem prudish than try to fall into that mindset.
Also, if I pretend I don’t know the meaning of the number, it is
much better for the finish than if I acknowledge the reference and
then have everyone think, “Oh, yeah. Everyone must say that!”
Now before I tell you, are you looking at the video and
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 55

wondering where the Swami is at the end? Again, I was forced

to improvise on the set. I usually am standing and can ditch
the Swami in my pants pocket or use a ruse that I teach later in
the series. On here, however, I know this is going to be my last
nail writing effect. So when you see my hand drop to the floor,
that’s when I ditch it! I just drop it on the floor right behind
my right foot! I want to be as clean as possible for a finish I
know is going to be spectacular!
And spectacular it is! The reaction is what makes it all worth-
while! And no, no one is coaching the audience. They are just
hit that hard and are showing it. I am delighted! The final bit
of fun happens right before the cut when someone asks me
how I knew what number he would say. Instead of some kind
of lame reason, I just say, “I took a shot! Sometimes you just
have to take a shot!” That is a great line, is funny and dis-
creetly tells the audience, “Don’t ask!”
I mention in my final chapter that there came a point in my
career that I made the decision to risk losing my magic shows
and become a mentalist. I had devised the Bill in Cigarette
routine and had used it for about a month. It had been my
opener and it was about to be replaced with my Bank Night
A close friend of mine, Peter London, was doing a ton of
magic shows and I offered it to him. I promised him that as
long as he was doing it, I would never do it again. I typed up
the whole thing, gave it to him and kept my word. For many,
many years, he used it in every show as his opener and it was
his trademark. He was a very funny comedian and had a mil-
lion lines in the routine. It was hysterical!
He retired from show business over fifteen years ago and
so I felt I could now demonstrate it on the videos.
I could never understand why so many advanced magicians
disdain the use of what is perhaps magic’s greatest gimmick–
the thumb tip! It is an invisible gimmick so there should not be
any way for someone to see it: that is, if it is used in the right
way. Still, I see magicians who think they are more sophisti-
cated if they do the Bill Switch without a thumb tip, even though
they now have angles to worry about.
I have even heard of one mentalist who thinks he has im-
proved on my Bank Night routine because he holds the bill
behind the envelopes instead of using the gimmick. I suspect
this person never performs in front of real audiences!
The thumb tip is the most perfect instrument for vanishing
anything that will fit within it. A bill is perfect. When I decided
I wanted a Bill to Cigarette routine, I never even considered
another method. Why complicate things when the simple ap-
58 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

proach works so well. I wanted everything to be straight for-

ward with no spots in it so that someone could look back and
say, “He must have done something when he went into his coat
for a pen or some such thing.”
That is why I make it a point to keep both the cigarette and
the bill as visible as possible at all times. I also wanted some-
thing that was easy to do.
That is another point that bothers me about some magi-
cians’ thinking. They would rather do something the hard way
instead of the easy way! There are enough sleights and moves
in magic that are inherently hard, like writing with a nail writer,
so why make other moves hard when you don’t have to?
I knew that the cigarette needed to be place far away and in
plain sight before the bill was burned. My good friend, Chet
Cox, who wrote the Introduction to this book, sent me an e-
mail and said:
“Your positioning of the cigarette far from you has even
those who saw such an effect, and (somewhere in their minds)
must have realized that XXXX had the lemon in his posses-
sion all that time, he could have done something – well,
their thought processes seem entirely short circuited at that
point. By getting them to anticipate the climax, while keep-
ing the cigarette far from you, you effectively cancelled out
the method.
I am positive that, because the cigarette was far from
you, you cancelled the thought that you brought the bill with
you to the cigarette. That’s how it affected me when I saw it
– and, thanks to Bank Night, I already was certain that’s
what you were going to do. It still made me mis-remember
that you had to approach the cigarette at all – one actually
remembers, ‘He didn’t touch the cigarette at all.’
This routine is better than I think even you realized.”
The smallest things make the biggest differences! It is easy
to pass over what can be the crucial factor that makes some-
thing work. That is why I write these guide books.
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 59

“Would you like to see like a magic trick? Would that be
As a mentalist, would you expect those lines, based on what
the cognoscenti of mentalism advise, to be ever spoken? And
yet, here they are, at the end of a lot of strong mentalism, from
a guy with a big sign right behind him that says, “The Power of
the Mind.” Let’s see how it plays out!
The question of smoking and cigarettes can be quite touchy
these days and I try to get a laugh out of getting someone to
admit they do. When Scotty brings out a cigarette, I try to do
everything I can to impart the idea that it will never leave
anyone’s sight or be touched at all. There are two things here
that are important points to follow. First, I always have the
cigarette placed in the audience somewhere near the spectator
who loaned it, and second, I never have any kind of special
container to place the cigarette into. I always find someplace
there, on the spot, to put it on or into even, as is the case here,
to have it just dropped on the floor. You do not want, in any
way, shape or form to do anything that could suggest you
switched the cigarette. This is vital!
There are lots of jokes that have become standard when
borrowing a hundred dollar bill and having it signed. These
are very funny…the first eight or ten times you hear them.
Then, after seeing every magician who does this kind of rou-
tine run through the same ones, in the same order, you begin
to lose interest. The only joke I use here is to acknowledge
that, “Yes, I think signing your name on the bill is illegal.”
There is an idea here on the video that I came up with
many years ago and want to talk about now. I remember dem-
onstrating this on that lecture tour in Texas. It is a major im-
provement over the way this kind of thing is usually handled
60 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

and is the type of suggestion I have tried to put in these Guide-

books that is worth its weight in gold.
The problem: I have always disliked having someone in
the audience write down the serial number of a borrowed bill.
You have to pass out the paper and pen and hope they get the
number right. You probably even have them repeat it to be
sure. Since the audience knows someone is writing the num-
ber down, they don’t even bother to try to remember it. At the
end of the routine, at the very moment the serial number is
most important, the only person who knows for sure you are
right is the one who wrote it down. Then, as often as not, they
spoil everything by saying, “Nope, that’s wrong!” or some other
nonsense, trying to be funny. The whole climax is killed and
you look like an amateur.
The solution: It is common knowledge among mentalists
that to memorize the serial number on a bill, just break it down
into two dates. That is the idea I use, but applied to the whole
audience. I give half the group the first four numbers as a date
and the other half of the group the last four numbers as a date.
Then I give the person who loaned the bill the letters. All this
causes the whole audience to pay attention. They, in fact, usu-
ally remember more than just their own date, but the other
date as well and usually the letters, too! So, at the very end of
the routine, when this information means everything, the en-
tire audience knows it and can react! There is no way to be
messed up and no way can anything go wrong!
Besides the specific idea above, I really want to impart to
you how this kind of creative thinking can completely change
the polish of your show. Look at how the major problem above
is completely eliminated while, at the same time, the whole
procedure is streamlined. It is imperative to strive to think this
way even when you might not even realize there is a problem.
Constantly examine your performance and reexamine every-
thing you do to see if there might not be a better way to put
things together and get where you need to go. Now, let’s get
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 61

back to the routine.

After I fold the bill, I hand it to Cassandra while I get the
envelope from my pocket. I want to make sure it stays in sight
with no monkey business going on. Then I take it back and
openly put it into the envelope. Notice how I keep asking,
“OK?” until the audience repeats, “OK!” Even though there
is a lot of humor in this effect, I still am going to play it up for
maximum mystery and I want to use the principle of getting
them to admit everything is fair (see my earlier Guide Books)
to lock that thought into their heads.
I have always hated the idea of pretending to light the en-
velope on fire in the Bill to Wallet routines. If you are not a
master like Terry Seabrooke, it usually comes across as so fake!
That is why I ask if they can see the bill through the envelope.
When they say, “No,” I borrow a lighter and hold it behind the
envelope. Then, instead of pretending it is a mistake, I very
openly light the envelope on fire and say, “You can see that,
can’t you?” That move comes as a bit of a shock as it is so
deliberate! As it starts to burn I say, “Do we have a fire alarm
in here?”
Now comes a very interesting moment that needs discuss-
ing. As I am walking around bantering with the audience and
having fun, one of the ladies says, “It’s not really in there!” I
was a bit surprised and this should go a long way in showing
that an L&L audience can sometimes be trouble and say things
you wish they wouldn’t! I decided that to try to argue with her
would be pointless. So instead, I stare at the envelope and say,
“Maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s not in there. I hope it’s not in
Please learn something from this. See how what could have
been a very big problem just got turned around? Instead of
being confrontational, I take her statement and go with it. When
I hear another audience member agree with me and say, “I
hope it’s not!” I know I am home free. The whole thing is now
simply part of the routine!
62 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

As the envelope burns and I put it into the ashtray, I have

some fun by talking about a card trick. This gets a laugh. Then
I make a reference about helicopters! Let me explain here what
was going on. The day of our shoot, there were a number of
forest fires in Lake Tahoe. Helicopters were flying overhead to
drop chemicals on them. Every time one flew over, we had to
stop shooting and wait for things to quiet down. Since I was
playing with fire, I thought that would be a funny inside joke
for the group!
After all the byplay, I just say, out of the blue, “Your ciga-
rette has been sitting there that entire time. Just sitting there,
right like that on the floor, hasn’t it?” This is the part I love!
Listen carefully to the comments as I walk over to the ciga-
rette. You can hear, “No,” “No way,” “Get out of here,” “That’s
impossible,” all before I even open it! Everyone knows what is
going to happen, but no one can believe it can possibly happen!
This illustrates a misconception I wrote about in The Prin-
ciples of Magic. You don’t always have to surprise your audi-
ence. Sometimes it is much better if they know exactly what is
going to happen and they still can’t believe it! This is the case
here. You can see in their faces as they are re-thinking what
they just saw.
As I am walking over to the cigarette, they are trying to
remember if anyone approached it. They are seeing if there is
any way that bill could have gotten from the envelope or the
ashtray over to the cigarette in the middle of the floor. The
“No way!” comments tell you they are realizing that the ciga-
rette was never approached. They have already been convinced
they have seen a miracle before they have even seen it!
“Does the serial number 5158 1964 ABU …” was spoken
by me – but not alone! Listen for the audience – most of the
audience – saying it right along with me! And not just their
numbers – but all the numbers! Do you now see what a signifi-
cant improvement this is over having the number recorded and
read back? The whole audience now has an emotional attach-
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 63

ment to the finish and can feel the same degree of mystery!
What an amazing thing the thumb tip is!
Bonus Chapter

How I Create
I was born in Bridgeport, Connecticut on March 6, 1948.
My first house was a multiple story apartment building on
Columbia Court which has since been torn down. It was just
blocks from Seaside Park, home of P. T. Barnum. My father
took me down to the park every Sunday to play ball or swim at
the beach and, when it came to town, to the circus! In the 50’s,
the Barnum and Bailey troupe didn’t set up in the local arena;
it used a real Big Top, a huge tent, in the park. When the high
wire artist was doing his thing, you could stand right at the
bottom of the line where the rope was staked into the ground.
You could walk right up and touch the cannon that shot the
Human Cannonball into a net that seemed miles away. And, if
your parents allowed you to, you could go to the sideshow and
see the Lizard Lady. You could also buy revealing pictures of
her if you were an adult!
Besides the freak shows, there were other acts such as ma-
gicians and fortune tellers. I have to admit, I never did see any
of the latter – I was too young – but I did see the former. Be-
sides the shows, there were booths where they actually sold
incredible items including real magic secrets! My first purchase
was the Chinese Handcuffs and the Coin Slide Box. The hand-
cuffs proved to be a disappointment as my friends could es-
cape easily, but the Coin Slide was a wise investment. Put in a
penny, close up the slide, open it and it was gone! Just like
that. Slide it closed again and, if you did it right, the coin
rematerialized when it was opened. I was off and running!
Vaudeville was dead, but not all of the vaudeville artists
were. The Bridgeport Police force sponsored an annual Vaude-
ville Show at the Klein Memorial Auditorium, a few blocks
from my home. My dad and I went every year until we moved
66 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

away. I patiently sat through all the singers, dancers and come-
dians waiting for the magician, who was sure to be on the bill.
I have no idea who the magic men were who I saw back then,
but I bet some of them were names. They were too good, or so
I remembered, not to have been famous.
My grandma worked in the original Reads Department Store
on Main Street in Lady’s Fashions, on the second floor. If,
however, you got on the elevator and told the lady wearing white
gloves to take you to the top floor, she would close up the steel
gate and then the heavy elevator doors and move a big brass
handle. At the top of the building, when the motor stopped
and the doors were opened, stood the Toy Department! I re-
member it totally decorated for the Christmas season and there,
in the midst of erector sets, dolls, bicycles and chemistry sets,
was not a Daisy Red Ryder air rifle, but an imported German
Magic Kit which I wanted more than anything! I could see metal
rings, silver boxes and other arcane objects inside the black box
and it was the only one left.
I got it that Christmas! The only objection I had with my
wonderful present was the lack of any instructions to go with
the props. Still, it really didn’t matter much. I figured out some
of it and made up the rest. I was only about seven years old at
the time and having the directions probably wouldn’t have
changed a thing.
That wasn’t the only Christmas that was magical. A year
later, I got a Sneaky Pete’s Magic Show set made by Remco.
Although mostly plastic, it was good stuff. The yellow cabinet
would allow me to vanish and reproduce anything that would
fit inside, and I could saw a little lady right in half. I could read
your mind with the Talking Dice or make spirit writing appear
on a slate. Actually, it was black cardboard, but you could still
write on it!
My dad got a veteran’s loan and we bought a house in
Ansonia to get away from the slums of Bridgeport. I didn’t
know at the time that we had been living in a slum, but that’s
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 67

what they said. In Derby, the next town over and Ansonia’s
biggest football rival, was a United Cigar Store, something you
don’t see much anymore. In the back was a small magic depart-
ment! The stuff in there was expensive. It cost $12.50 for a
genuine metal Walsh Appearing Cane. I never did get enough
money to get that, but I was able to save up for Chinese Rice
Bowls, the Vanishing Quarter in a Glass and a very special
clipboard that, when you took off the clip, revealed…well, I
think you know what it revealed! All in all, I had a lot of magic.
I could keep going on like this, but I am starting to bore
myself so I can imagine your own feelings. Let’s jump ahead a
few years. By the time I was in my 20’s, a friend had told me
the Tarbell Course was a necessity and I took him at his word.
At the time, that included six volumes. That had a profound
influence on me which I will get back to. It took me about four
months to get them all and it taught me the value of the clas-
sics. After that came Sachs’ Sleight of Hand, Our Magic, The
Fine Art of Magic, Modern Magic, Greater Magic, Bobo’s Mod-
ern Coin Magic, Stars of Magic, etc. I had, by this time, joined
the IBM and Ring 59. The members were extremely helpful in
recommending books and I soon had a small library. I have
always been a voracious reader and read what I bought!
As my knowledge of magic grew, I was attracted more and
more towards mentalism. It just seemed to fit my style. The
final push was the Kreskin TV series and his numerous ap-
pearances on all the talk shows. I already had Practical Mental
Effects and Corinda’s 13 Steps, but now I made it a crusade to
get every book on mentalism I could find. Frequent trips to
Tannen’s (then on Broadway), Flosso’s and Hank Lee’s in
Boston netted me quite a library. I also met Al Mann and he
was another great influence. One could spend a fortune just
buying his books!
I had been doing magic shows since I was a kid. I had also
learned hypnotism while in college. Yet I still continued to work
primarily as a magician. I was unwilling to take the chance to
68 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

switch to a mentalism show and lose all my work. Finally, one

day, I decided it was now or never. I immediately got some
literature printed and started calling myself a mentalist. When
I turned up for a show, I would just say that I was going to
show them something a bit different! Then I just did it! I also
made it a point to find those types of magical effects that worked
in a mentalism context, such as the Linking Finger Rings and
Coin in Bottle, and interject them into the show. This made
the transition smoother. It was easy to do since I had already
studied Dunninger, Al Koran, Kreskin, Annemann and Al Baker.
They all did some magic in their shows.
In 1980, I was approached by the Landerman and Jarvis
Entertainment Agency who offered to manage me exclusively.
It was a choice I have never regretted. Paul Landerman and
Tom Clark set out to introduce me into the corporate market.
Paul later retired and Tom has been my manager and friend for
over a quarter of a century.
Working corporate shows required a very careful selection
of material and presentation. I didn’t want to take any chances
so I went straight to the classics. I knew this was tested and
proven material that I could rely on if I did my part. I analyzed
my choices carefully and practiced them relentlessly. Many
people think the material on my video series, Easy To Master
Mental Miracles, was compiled just for those videos. In truth,
when Louis Falanga of L&L Publishing approached me with
the idea, I knew I had the material already! Everything I
performed on those DVDs was from my repertoire of those
early years.
That is not to say I didn’t change things a bit from the
written word. Sometimes it was minor and sometimes I per-
sonalized it to a greater extent. For example, I never liked the
slate pencil crib notes for Extra Sensory Perception, so I just
memorized them and stacked the cards in reverse order so that
I didn’t have to work backwards. I did The Modern Mindreader
the way I published it in my book, The Ver y Modern
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 69

Mindreader. I used a corner short for Magic vs. Mentalism and

divided the envelopes over just two pockets instead of six. These
may seem like minor variations, but to me, who looked on these
routines with reverence, they were bold moves made only be-
cause I really thought it suited me better. This is how I started
to invent – by just making minor changes because it made sense
to me, not for the purpose of change for change sake.
A big move forward in my creativeness came when I de-
cided to work on a new center tear. Here is how that happened.
I had just gotten hold of Al Mann’s Lexicon Phenomena. It
was a wonderful dictionary test using a very clever principle.
My friend, Nelson Nicholson, was having a party. We set it up
that I would come in as his friend, an incredible mentalist, and
he would suggest I do something. The dictionary would be on
the shelf and I would grab it as though it were just one of his
books laying there. Then I would perform the test.
That day, at home, I decided to also add in the center tear
as I wanted to make the routine a bit longer. That night, at
Nelson’s house, I began the performance. First, I had some-
one write a name, then I tore it up and stole the center, stuck
the pieces in my pants pockets while I ditched the center in
another pocket! Then I did the dictionary test. As I was writ-
ing on a clipboard for that test, I secretly retrieved the center
and read it. Then, after the finish of the Lexicon Phenomena,
I revealed the name. Everyone was stunned, including Nelson!
I didn’t know that until the next day when I went over to
get my book. “How did you get that name?” he asked. I told
him and he said, “I thought that somehow you had read it
while you were tearing it!” That’s all it took to get me going on
the quest! I figured that if it looked that good, reading it while
tearing would be the way to go. So I began working on what
would turn out to be years of development starting with the
Ultimate Center Tear, then The Slow Motion Surrounded Cen-
ter Tear and finally The Perfected Center Tear! As you can see,
it was developed from an idea that was already proven, not just
70 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

from wanting something new.

After seeing Kreskin perform live a number of times, and
after reading about the workings of Dunninger’s act, I knew I
wanted to do something similar. I must have made a dozen
different Dunninger Pads and even had one made by a book
binding method. I never was happy with any of them. I tried
different vinyl folders, but they never were quite what I wanted.
In my mind, I could see the perfect design. My cousin had his
cabinet-making shop in the basement of my father’s tool and
die business. I took my idea for the ThoughtScan board, drew
up a blueprint and had my cousin make it up for me. It came
out beautifully and worked perfectly. I was happy even though
he charged me $200.00, and that was in the 80’s! And he was
my cousin!
The same thing happened with the Ultra Board. I was us-
ing the Mental Broadcasting slate, but it always jammed. It
also looked quite gimmicky. I had Syd Bergson’s Eclipse. I
thought the principle was clever, but wanted to improve the
clips and make the idea work with an ungimmicked blackboard
while using no force. I went back to my cousin and, for another
$100, I had it! So, in this case, the creation came from fixing a
problem, not looking for something new for its own sake.
I have already written about how I created the Breakthrough
Card System many times. Card Calling was already in my show,
but I wanted a better stack to use for it. I understood how impor-
tant a mathematically-stacked deck, which looked completely ran-
dom, would be for mentalism. I wanted no exceptions to the rules
and I wanted it to be cyclical so that it could be cut. I knew what I
wanted and wouldn’t stop until I found it.
Sometimes my creations stem from entirely different rea-
sons. In the early days of digital clocks and watches, Richard
Bloch came out with some great effects which Kreskin used on
TV. I wanted something like that myself, but wanted it to be
different and simpler. By this time, my show was coming to-
gether and I wanted a watch routine that would fit the feeling
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 71

or genre of what I was already doing. I had a watch I had gotten

from Richard Mark and liked the simplicity of the method. I
was also working on my own handling of Acidus Novus. One
day, the two thoughts came together in my mind and there I
had it! To this day, the Watch Routine is still one of my most
popular pieces.
I could go on and on, but that is not necessary. Everything
I have created is on the Mind Mysteries series and the history
of each one has been or will be discussed in the Guide Book
series. The point that I wanted to make clear in this article,
however, is nothing was ever created just for the sake of inven-
tion alone. There was always a reason, whether it was to solve
a problem, make a routine better or find an entirely new effect
to fit a particular performing agenda.
Along with that, I need to point out that no Osterlind ma-
terial has ever been offered that was not field-tested for a great
deal of time. One of my pet gripes is the number of new magi-
cians who, when they think they have a new idea, want to pub-
lish the routine immediately! I have seen them openly admit
they have never performed the material and that the invention
was only a few weeks old! You cannot offer material to the fra-
ternity in this manner. Even after over 40 years of performing,
I never know how a new idea will play until I use it over and
over. Even if it plays strongly for ten shows, if it bombs in the
eleventh, it needs fixing! In my book, The Principles of Magic,
I quoted the following:
“I’ll tell you what the problem with the magical power you’re
using here. It didn’t require any discipline to attain it. You read
what others had done and you took the next step. You didn’t
earn the knowledge for yourselves so you didn’t take any re-
sponsibility for it. You stood on the shoulders of geniuses to
accomplish something as fast as you could and before you even
knew what you had you patented it and packaged it and slapped
it on the Internet and now you’re selling it.” – Jeff Goldblum
from the film Jurrasic Park (paraphrased).
72 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

This, to me, hits the mark exactly. Magicians have to have

respect for that which has gone before them and try to earn
that knowledge themselves before building on it. All this brings
me to my final point.
The opening lines of this commentary were to show you a
short history of my life in magic. I have loved the art since I
was a child and that love has never diminished. I have great
respect for it and always want to honor it. I have also, to my
complete surprise and amazement, become known as a sort of
teacher. I accept that responsibility with pride and commit-
ment and wish only to pass on whatever small knowledge I
have earned in this field to those who are interested. You can
see from this brief overview of my life that I place great impor-
tance on books and knowledge. Of every bit of advice I have
ever offered, the most important is for you to obtain and study
the Tarbell Course in Magic. I have been talking about this my
whole career, but let me now show you why it is so important
in learning how to create.
If you read the chapter, The Science of Magic, in Tarbell
Volume One, you will understand what I am about to say. Tarbell
teaches you the principles and fundamentals of magic. To para-
phrase him, If you learn fifty tricks, but no principles, all you
know is fifty tricks. But if you learn the rudiments of magic
and why they work, you become a real magician and can always
create new magic! What I love so much about Tarbell is that he
clearly proves he is not talking pipe dreams. Each chapter not
only teaches the fundamentals, but then goes on to show ac-
tual routines created from that knowledge. But there is far more
that has never been talked about and is what I want to reveal here!
A common phrase today is to “think outside the box.” This,
of course, refers to using original thinking to solve problems.
Tarbell doesn’t do this because Tarbell was never in the box in
the first place! If you take a volume and randomly open it to
any subject, let’s say Card Stabbing in Volume 3, you will find
nine different versions of that effect, each one of which is to-
Volume 3: Assorted Mysteries 73

tally different! Unlike current magic books which will give you
page after page of a magic problem with a slightly different
variation for each one, Tarbell offers solutions that come at
you from all different angles! Check out Volume 4, chapter 51
– Card Transition, or chapter 57 – Slate Mysteries, each one
offers a multitude of effects using entirely different methods.
It is amazing how many principles this course touches upon
within its eight volumes. Tarbell forces you to see magic from a
scientific viewpoint. If you study his words with diligent atten-
tion, you can’t help but become a creator!
I firmly believe that because I grew up with this course and
studied it my whole life, I have learned to think according to
Dr. Tarbell’s advice. When I have a magic problem, I never feel
hemmed in by what has been done before. I don’t try to solve
it by trying to slightly change what others have done, but rather
consider the problem matched against all the principles Doc
has taught me! When I created ODDS, I thought, “Why do I
need to use mirrors or impression devices or stooges to dupli-
cate a design. What if I just know what the design is?” This led
to a totally new concept in design duplication.
When I created my Miracle Flying Cards, I thought, “Why
do I need to get the actual signed cards into my pocket when
everyone is looking? Why not use dummy cards and switch
them back when they think it’s over?” This effect, before I ex-
plained it, fooled some of the best card magicians in the country.
I always loved the Torn and Restored Newspaper, but
wanted it to look even better. I first got the idea to give it away
at the end. Then I thought it would be good to have it signed
first. Finally, I got the idea of having any page chosen to do it
with. I never let the word impossible enter into my thinking
and didn’t stop trying until I solved the problem. I floored
magicians with this effect for over ten years before I decided to
share it on my videos. The method is based on principles I
learned in Tarbell. But, more importantly, it was Tarbell who
taught me to think that way!
74 Mind Mysteries Guide Book

Even now, I still have a few effects I won’t part with. One of
my favorites is my coin bending. Everyone keeps arguing how
it must be done and I like to keep doing it right in their face!
It is so good to be truly amazed and to see real mystery.
Too many magicians think they know it all. When they get
there, they lose the wonder and that is sad. You can’t create
wonder if you can’t feel wonder. I like to knock them back a
notch for their own good! And yet, I don’t want to be only on
that side of the fence. I want to see miracles myself. I want to
be so badly amazed that I am stunned. I want to see magic that
I can’t even begin to understand!
I hope I am hitting on some dormant emotion within you.
I hope I am sending you back a few years to when you first
began studying magic and thought that each new book would
bring you miracles that would stun the world. I hope I can
bring you back to that frame of mind that didn’t put bound-
aries on what you thought could be done with magic. How ab-
surd is it to think that magic could have limitations?
I live in a magical world filled with miracles. It is my hope
and prayer that you will see the magic in yours.