Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Syd Bergson Center Peek

Billet work is one of the foundations of mentalism. A billet is nothing more than a slip of paper but true to the elitest nature of magic and mentalism we have to call it something special in order for ourselves to feel special. Typically, billets (or slips of paper) are handed to a specatator who, in order to focus his thoughts, writes down some information and the mentalist then somehow (presumably through thought reading) devines what the specator was thinking. This is a very powerful technique and when handled appropriately it slays audiences.

My favorite billet peek has to be Syd Bergson's Center Read. I am sure Bergson has released this in manuscript form at some point but I admit that I have not read the original presentation. In fact, I learned the move from my mentalism hero Richard Osterlind from Volume 1 of his Easy to Master Mental Miracles DVD set - a must have for any aspiring mentalist!

I wanted to share my presentational idea utilizing this peek as I feel it works around some of the precieved downsides of both Osterlind's and Bergman's handling in a rather bold way. I am going to be somewhat vague so that I won't tip the method of this beautiful peek so if you need clarification shoot me an email (magicadvocate@gmail.com).

In Bergson's handling, according to Osterlind in his DVD's, required the billet to be burned thus removing any evidence of the peek. The billet was handed to the mentalist behind his back, the mentalist brings the billet out front and lights it on fire. This is troublesome because most places frown on open flames because it is a health and safety risk so this presentation is no longer viable in most settings.

Osterlind's handling deals with this problem and improves the routine by being subtle in his handling of the billet so that the audience doesn't even realize he brings the billet in front of his body. The billet begins behind his back and ends behind his back and then he can hand the billet back to the spectator at the end and finish totally clean!

I think that Osterlind's handling is terrific and I would never even consider saying that I have improved ANYTHING he touches. However, I was a little skeptical about moving the billet around and putting it back behind my back after it had been it view of the audience. To me it didn't make sense to do it this way so I set out to find a way to present this effect differently.

My handling requires the introduction of one additional prop - an ordinary paperclip. I hand the billet to the spectator and have them write their thoughts. Then I have the spectator place the folded billet in my hand behind my back - so that I cannot possible peek at the writing. While the billet is behind my back I have the spectator think about their word(s) and and take my free hand and remove a paperclip from my pocket. I then bring the folded billet out in front of me and place a paperclip on the billet while pattering about how I want to seal the billet shut. Of course, the work is already done behind my back and when I paperclip the billet the words are easily seen (if you know the move then this should make sense to you. If not, then buy the DVD and learn the move. You won't be sorry).

Here comes the bold part. With the paperclip in place and some strategic finger placement I can openly show the billet on both sides. Then I take the papercliped billet and place it down on the table in full view. Next, I take my whiteboard and Dry Erase marker and write down my impressions of what the person is thinking about (often times I will be off by just a little bit for dramatic effect). I hand my board to the spectator face down so nobody can see my prediction. Then I pick up the tabled billet take off the paperclip and hand it to a spectator and unfold the billet quickly and in such a way as to hide the work that was previously done. It appears to the spectator that I simply unfolded the card to reveal what was written. I confirm that it is the spectator's handwriting and that it was in full view of everyone and sealed tight the entire time. Then I have the spectator turn the white board over to reveal my prediciton and it matches!

The beauty of my version is that the spectators see the billet the whole time. I don't have to burn anything or return anything behind me. My handling of the billet is minimal and I can hand it back to the spectator when I am finished. Also, it is very bold and therefore exciting for me to perform. With the right specator and audience management you can even have the spectator hold the billet after you put on the paperclip - that is if you have the balls to do it.

I hope you like this variation and find a use for it.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lovely handling, although I'm starting to wonder if a variation can be made to do "the move"; Instead of doing it behind your body, why not use misdirection and the cover of your good ol' hand? The billet leaving the sight of your audience for 2 seconds is much superior to you putting it behind you back. Who knows...they might think you changed it behind your back. The paperclip is a nice addition to keep the notion of "no peeking" to the audience.
Nice.

::dAvid

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i don't know if we are talking about the same thing here, but
i can see the paperclip being a perfect misdirection for the acidus globus/novus:
following your suggestions, i would let the spectator draw, fold back up, then receive behind the back with two open hands, thus being able to put the billet into right position, then come up with the paperclip seal by letting one hand swing from behind your back, still showing your other hand holding the billet behind your back (standing sideways to the audience the whole time, the swinging arm getting the clip should be the one to the audiences side). when you got the paperclip out of your pocket, hold it in two fingers showing it to the audience, then turn slowly around towards the audience, at the same time swing the billet to the front so that the audience can basically see it all the time and you are now facing the audience (be mindful of the angle to the volunteer you are reading though)...
you know how to bring the billet up in the right way to 'seal' it with the clip;D
patter patter patter, reveal;D
i think this is how you are suggesting it, just wanted to make sure...
i really really like the idea with the clip...i don't know if we are talking about the same thing here, but
i can see the paperclip being a perfect misdirection for the acidus globus/novus:
following your suggestions, i would let the spectator draw, fold back up, then receive behind the back with two open hands, thus being able to put the billet into right position, then come up with the paperclip seal by letting one hand swing from behind your back, still showing your other hand holding the billet behind your back (standing sideways to the audience the whole time, the swinging arm getting the clip should be the one to the audiences side). when you got the paperclip out of your pocket, hold it in two fingers showing it to the audience, then turn slowly around towards the audience, at the same time swing the billet to the front so that the audience can basically see it all the time and you are now facing the audience (be mindful of the angle to the volunteer you are reading though)...
you know how to bring the billet up in the right way to 'seal' it with the clip;D
patter patter patter, reveal;D
i think this is how you are suggesting it, just wanted to make sure...
i really really like the idea with the clip...the movement alone adds a great deal of misdirection, but is so brief that 'it didn't happen'.
It's so much smoother than bringing the billet up to ones forehead- that always makes me feel kind of naked


3:25 AM  

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