By Ted Lesley
In a recent “Vibrations”, the magazine of the “Psychic Entertainer’s Association” I found an effect which immediately drew my attention. In an article by my good friend Docc Hilford from Florida he explained parts of his “bizarre” show. Amongst the effects he described was a “bank night”-routine, which he didn’t explain, because he sells the complete trick. I really don’t know how he accomplishes the experiment, but I wanted to do it and here is my solution for it! Believe me, with this item you’ll get gasps from the audience, if correctly performed.
A banknote of high value is borrowed and signed by a spectator. Three other members of the audience are asked to come on stage. The performer removes three unsealed envelopes and two pieces of newsprint out of his wallet. One of the spectators seals the bill into one, and the pieces of newsprint, one of each, into the remaining two envelopes. It is essential that the envelopes look alike, being absolutely opaque and have a self sealing flap. After this has occurred the spectator takes the envelopes behind his back and mixes them so that nobody knows which one contains the money. With a broad marker he numbers them one to three on the address side. Now each of the two remaining spectators chooses an envelope. The performer brings forward a sealed plastic bag, which contains about 50 butane lighters in an array of colors.
The bag is opened with a pair of scissors and each spectator chooses a lighter. Then the performer turns his back to the proceedings and asks the spectator who has, for example envelope number three, to set it on fire with the butane lighter. This is repeated with the spectator who has the number one envelope. The remaining spectator is instructed to do the same, but his lighter doesn’t work! The spectator opens his envelope and finds the signed bill inside! Not only has the performer identified the right envelope with his “sixth sense”, but with his “psychokinetic powers” he has caused the butane lighter to fail to work as well! The three spectators are asked to ignite the lighters once more, and the audience sees in amazement, that all three work!
The assisting spectators can take the lighters with them as they’re leaving the stage, there is nothing for them to find! Believe me, this is “STAGE MENTALISM” as it s best!
One of the three envelopes is marked. In this one goes the borrowed signed banknote. I have marked them on the address side with a pencil dot in the upper left and the lower right corner of the envelope. The same procedure is used to mark the back. The plastic bag, containing the butane lighters isn’t as innocent as it looks.
I construct them out of three layers of transparent plastic sheet with a normal household sealing machine. Now the bag acts like the well known “Transparent Changing Bag” when it is cut open. One side of the bag has to be loaded with working butane lighters in various colors, the other compartment contains 10 to 15 lighters in two different colors only, that means, five of each say in red and white. The lighters in the secret compartment contain no butane! You have to use empty ones. To remove the gas from the lighters you will have to drill a small hole in the bottom with a small “hand” drill. Make sure you do not use an electric drill as this could cause an explosion or fire. A safer method is to simply hold them open (unlit) so the butane escapes. For obvious reasons you should do either of these outside, not in your home! Also take some care to make sure you are well away from all sources of flame or sparks.
Then you must seal the opening of the bag. This little “touch” of mine floored all the mentalists and magicians, because the lighters come in such bags when you buy them wholesale! In your right outside jacket pocket put one working lighter matching the color of one of the prepared ones, in your right pants pocket put a working lighter matching the prepared remaining colored one. In both of the pockets put a small pair of scissors with blunt ends also. You will see why in a moment. Remember in which pocket is which lighter! You must have a table on stage on which you put three transparent Pyrex containers.
Borrow a banknote and have it signed with a broad marker by the spectator. Ask three members of the audience to follow you on the stage. Place them behind the table, which should be placed by an assistant to the front center. One of the spectators gets the marked envelope first to seal the banknote in it. After he has done so, hand him the unprepared envelopes and the two pieces of newsprint with the request to seal the pieces into the envelopes. Then the spectator is instructed to take all three envelopes behind his back and mix them around.
Hand him the marker to number the envelopes with the numerals “1” to “3” respectively. Now the other two spectators select an envelope. Due to the markings you know, who of the three has the envelope containing the banknote. Now take the bag of lighters out of your case or from the table and cut it open with one of the scissors. Put the scissors back in your pocket. With your fingers open the secret compartment of the bag and have the spectator holding the envelope with the banknote choose one. He gets one of the non working lighters of course.
Remember its color! Now you must open the compartment of the bag containing the unprepared lighters and have the remaining two spectators choose one each also. Put the bag away. Now follow the routine as in “Effect” above. The last spectator should be the one who holds the envelope with the bill inside. After he is asked to light his envelope, which doesn’t work of course, “absent-mindedly” take his lighter with the right hand and go into the appropriate pocket and take the scissors out. As soon as you’re in the pocket, switch the lighters and come out of the pocket immediately with the pair of scissors and the working lighter! Hand him the scissors to open the envelope and put the lighter beside the Pyrex-container. Put the scissors into the pocket again. As you go back to the person, who loaned you the bill to verify his signature, ask the spectators on stage to ignite the lighters once more……and now, all three work. The lighters can be kept by the spectators as a souvenir.
It is a good idea, to perform another “psychokinetic effect” before you do this routine. For the last couple of weeks I haven’t used just one table. I have three small ones spaced evenly in the front of the stage. This isn’t only for looks, it makes sure that the spectators don’t change envelopes or lighters when you have turned your back towards them! I use the “Spider” tables, which are manufactured by my good friend Claus Fleischhauer here in Berlin. You can, of course, instruct your spectators on stage to light their envelopes simultaneously. This depends on your own personality and patter.