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Sniper
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Here's a question for the folks doing paid gigs...

Stage shows.
How many of you use Billets in the course of your show?

There's a lot written about them but how many actually do them?

Sn!per
Jonathan
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I do them a lot! I think it's one of the main tools in a mentalist's belt! They've done as much for me in creating miracles as anything else.

Jonathan Grant
Allen Gittelson
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Easy question. I use billets in close-up, parlour, and stage work. They can be a very powerful tool.

It does seem to me that many people do not use billets. In many cases it seems that performers think the billets will be too suspicious and also think they will get caught. That's what I thought and what kept me personally from billet work for far too long. I'm glad I worked past that.

In thoughts,
Allen
GothicBen
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I use them all the time!
Thoughtreader
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Quote:
On 2002-05-27 22:09, Sniper wrote:
...How many of you use Billets in the course of your show?...


Are you asking about billets in a Q & A act? Or in something else such as a stand alone effect? I use billets in close-up work sometimes and in various effects at times. I don't use paper slips for my Q & A though and in fact sometimes use nothing written at all.

Depends on the situation and type of show. Also, a billet is nothing more than a folded piece of paper. The name itself means nothing to anyone except us.
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Canada's Leading Mentalist
http://www.mindguy.com
AB StageCraft
http://www.mindguy.com/store
mastermindreader
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My act was always and will always be constructed around billet work. Just a pad of paper, some pencils, strong presentation and psychology are all that is necessary. I have always believed that these elements are both the foundation and core of modern mentalism as an art form.

Best Regards
Bob Cassidy
A l a i n B e ll o n
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I do both shows and casual presentations using billets. I have developed my own techniques and handlings and mostly don't do switches much more. I never do center tears, which I consider inferior technique.

The best constructed billet work I have ever known is Bob Cassidy's. That's the only instance where I still use a switch. He has a brilliant routine.

Billet work done correctly can deliver the strongest effects in mind reading and it's probably the most practical method.

-Alain Bellon
mysticz
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"I never do center tears, which I consider inferior technique."

You may not "do center tears" for whatever personal reasons, but they are killer in the right hands. I evolved my own center tear technique and presentation many years ago and it still is very effective for my purposes.

Over the years I've learned and developed a multitude of other billet-oriented techniques that I use for various situations and routines. But the center tear is still the foundation of much of my close-up impromptu repertoire. A well-executed center tear is never inferior technique -- it is one of the building blocks of today's mentalism.

Joe Zabel
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There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

-- Shakespeare's Hamlet I.v. 174-175
Didier Chantome
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I do billet work, in every situation I can do it ! I generaly use blank business cards.

I agree with Mysticz, the center tear is a very effective technique, in the right hands and at the right moment... and with a logical reason !

Best

Didier
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I always get in trouble when I voice my opinion on center tears Smile

The only reason I think it is inferior is because you have handle the billet too much and tear it up for whatever reason.

Why not do a switch instead? It gets the same accomplished and you don't touch the billet as much. Heck if you want you can still burn it.

I am not saying you can't accomplish good mentalism with center tears (which would be a silly thing to say on my part) all I am saying is that technically speaking is not as good as a switch or other techniques.

If there is an option that accomplishes the same but is better, why not use that option instead?

-Alain Bellon

PS. Also, the center tear has been exposed. TV and pet tricks that people show each other around have popularized the notion in some areas of the planet. Yes you can dress it up so that people won't recognize the principle but, why risk it?
Didier Chantome
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Alain,
You use the moove you prefer... but center tear and switch are not to be opposed... Sometimes a switch is good or necessary, sometimes a center tear, especially with access to the information during the tear, can be prefered...
I just want to say that IMO there are no "inferior" or "superior" techniques...there are different techniques, some you like, some you dislike...

The exposure of mental techniques is a current fact of "protection from charlatanism !" We must live with that !

Best

Didier
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Didier I respect your opinion. I am just very vocal on some controversial issues. Forgive me if I come on too strong. Smile

I agree that switches and center tears are not opposed. In fact they are pretty much two techniques that seek the same goal: obtaining information that has been written on a folded piece of paper.

On the other hand though, when I talk about superior/inferior technique I am mostly talking about the advantages and disadvantages of a given method.

For example, a book test using a method where the audience needs to do multiple mathematical operations to reach a number for a page is, in my opinion, clearly inferior to a method where the person is just allowed to open the book at a page. At least inferior in that respect.

Or for example we have impression devices that look strange or some that don't leave good impressions, wouldn't those also be inferior to others that leave good impressions and look less strange?

Or perhaps a billet move that requires you to hold your hand in a strange position with the fingers curled like you are holding a billiard ball in your palm, as opposed to a billet move where you naturally hold the billet with a couple of fingers.

I think we can come up with examples of good and not-so-good techniques/methods. Pairings where one has better advantage/disadvantage ratio.

The center tear

Advantages: Most impromptu, information can be looked at with no hurry, in some presentations burning the billet is a good thing, technically simple.
Disadvantages: Writing is limited to an area of the paper, the mind reader must handle the billet and tear it appart himself, the rationale for tearing it needs explanation, method has been exposed in some circles.

The Switch

Advantages: Can be almost impromptu, the mind reader barely touches the billet and the touch can be psychologically invisible to the audience, the original billet can be returned to the participant, there is the choice to burn it if needed, information can be read without hurries, area of writing is not limited.
Disadvantages: Is not totally impromptu (requires "that" special preparation), it is psychologically more challenging than the center tear to perform, requires some misdirection.

This is of course a partial list, but I think that the switch has all the advantages of the center tear except for the impromptu factor. But this factor is easily solved.

The only other issue is the challenge to the performer, since switching needs misdirection. But as Ortiz says, we are not trying to make our life easier but to deliver the most powrful effect. The tearing of the billet is in my opinion too strong of an action for the audience, too memorable in most cases. This offsets the difficulty in the switch.

But I have to concede that ultimately it is about the performer.

-Alain Bellon
Jonathan
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I agree completley Alain! I understand the power of the centre tear and try to incorporate it all the time. BUT, in every effect I do the billet switch always seems to trump it for some reason. Another main disadvantage of the centre tear is that the paper is usually folded only twice and is pretty small. A billet switch billet can be folded many times and use a very big piece of paper (comparatively). However, this means reading the billet is harder.

Alain, can you PM me with the kind of billet switch you use? I use one that isn't the cleanest one but is very easy and people don't remember that I touched it because of the psychology I use in the presentation and carefully chosen words and phrases. I'm looking for a great switch to learn. I think it's easier than the centre tear in my opinion.

It's just hard to rationalize!

Does anyone use the billet switching devices as shown in Corinda's 13? I don't know of anyone that actually does that.

Jonathan Grant
Didier Chantome
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Alain, you're convincing. I agree with you on book tests and impression devices. A direct and effective process is better than a messy calculation with cards to open a book !

I believe switches and center tear must be mastered as basics of mentalism, and both are useful depending on conditions. The knowledge of a few peeks can be useful, too...

Jonathan,

I currently do and recommand the Baker switch, in a casual manner (a switch is not a move).
Bob Cassidy's microphone switch (art of mentalism 2) is also very effective.

There are very interesting pad switches in Waters MMM.

after many trials, I generaly use business cards(folded twice)for tears and switches.

Did you give this a try ?

best

Didier
mastermindreader
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For impromptu work I think the situation dictates the move. If a move is out of place or suspicious (ie. why tear up the billet?) I will either use another move, or, more to my liking, I will change the situation. For example, here are two classic versions of the center tear that manipulate the situation in such a way that everything seems to make sense:

The first is attributed to Dunninger when Dave Lustig was his front man and aide.

In the green room prior to his radio show, Lustig approaches one of the celebrity "judges" scheduled to appear on the show and proposes a special test. He asks the judge to concentrate on a word and just to jot it down on "this slip of paper, which will act as evidence should Dunninger be right or wrong. Here, just print your word here [Lustig draws a line on the center of the paper] and fold the paper into quarters."

The "judge" has no sooner folded the slip than Dunninger enters the room and asks Lustig if everyone is ready for the broadcast. Lustig says that he has set up a special test with the judge and had him jot down a word on a piece of paper.

Dunninger angrily grabs the slip from the judge, tears it up and throws away the pieces, at the same time berating Lustig.
"I TOLD you I don't want anyone to write anything down. They are to keep their thoughts in their minds only!"

The other perfect set up for the CT is the George Anderson handling, which I use very often.You tell the spectator to print his word in the circle (or however you choose to logically restrict him to the center) and to fold the slip into quarters. Take the slip and hold it aloft as you take a few calculated guesses. Then ask the spectator,
"Wait, did you print the word or did you use
longhand?" No matter what the answer is, you tear up the paper while saying, "No,no- you need to use your handwriting- it is a true expression of your mind." (Or- No, no- you need to print it out so you can visualize each letter and project to me.)

At this point I just toss the pieces onto the floor and hand the spectator a fresh slip. You turn your back while they are rewriting the same word and take a look at the center. (theres plenty of time to tear it up and toss it on the floor with the other pieces.)

Note: the above premises are Dunninger's and Andersons. I have no idea what Dunninger's exact words were and have simply paraphrased here to give you the gist of it.

These examples show how altering the situation or premise ("no, you're not supposed to write it down" or "no, you need to handwrite it!") set up the tear.

Done properly, the spectator will hardly recall the tear as being central to the method- it is simply used to correct a mistake or misunderstanding.

Of course you could use a switch in these cases, but why bother when you can avail yourself of the incredibly powerful psychological misdirection afforded by these applications of the tear?

Best Regards-
Bob Cassidy

Best Regards-

Bob Cassidy Smile
A l a i n B e ll o n
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Good ideas Bob. The only problem is that they are doable only once on the same audience.

I still think people remember you handled the paper and in some cases they will think you somehow looked at the writing while you were tearing up the pieces.

Why not bother with a switch? Smile

-Alain Bellon
Jonathan
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I wonder about the fact that pieces of their paper are on the ground. It's like their word is lying in plain sight on the ground. I've always worried about this.

One question about the famous and often-used longhand/print method...if you are claiming to be real this should work great. But if you do it in a less real persona where they know it's not real wouldn't this force them to believe that it was part of the trick since obviously the idea of longhand/print wouldn't make a difference in a trick. Or would it? I don't know. I'm curious. That doesn't apply to me and I would use it if there was an effect I thought warrented it!

What is the Baker switch? Can you PM me about it? I use the pad switch (paul harris also uses this to switch a dollar bill). It is a work of art. Most of the time I just palm one and using the other hand just switch it out while they are looking in my eyes.

I've done the centre tear several times and about a 1/4 of the time someone knows it. They'll come up to me afterwards and tell me. Sometimes I've done the billet switch and I can tell they are waiting for me to tear it up! It blows them out of the water! I have never had anyone familiar with the effect when I did a billet switch except when i messed up (early on). I've got to tell you, my best close-up effect by FAR (except for floating things) uses a billet switch and I actually had someone who has the jaw-droppers video which explains the centre tear LOCK ME IN HIS GARAGE and refused to let me out until I told him how I did it!!! No joke! You'll be glad to know that I revealed NOTHING! I just patiently waited.

I'm sure you all have stories like this, but fooling someone who thinks they understand what's going on is just indescribable. Please excuse my pride. ha ha ha

Jonathan Grant
mastermindreader
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[quote]On 2002-05-29 00:14, Alain Bellon wrote:
Good ideas Bob. The only problem is that they are doable only once on the same audience.

I agree, Alain. But neither version is really intended for an audience. They are both one on one and should never be repeated for the same person with the same method.

My point, though, was simply that what may be a less than desireable method in one circumstance may be ideally suited for another.

But switches require the same type of adaption and misdirection. (As Corinda pointed out- if you are going to ask someone to close their eyes to concentrate- THAT is the moment to do the peek or the switch!)
Generally, though, I think that mastery of many different techniques which all accomplish the same result is very important.
The best technique is the one best suited to a particular moment. I think that this kind of flexibility is an essential part of being believable.

Best-

Bob
mastermindreader
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Jonathan wrote (in part):
But if you do it in a less real persona where they know it's not real wouldn't this force them to believe that it was part of the trick since obviously the idea of longhand/print wouldn't make a difference in a trick.
...............

Sure it would, but if you are not presenting it as real, ANYTHING you do or say will be seen as part of the trick. (If you suddenly sneezed, for example-even if it had nothing to do with your actual method.) That has nothing to do with mentalism and is an excellent example of the difference between mentalism and mental magic.

Effective mentalism requires that you appear to be improvising as you go along.

Best-
Bob
Mr Amazing
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Quote:
Bob Cassidy wrote:
...Dunninger when Dave Lustig was his front man and aide.
"David Lustig" as in "the man who sold the Eiffel tower supposedly as a pile of garbage... twice" ?

Would you Bob, or anyone, please care to tell us how Dunninger and Lustig were acquainted? (perhaps in a new thread). I'm really curious. Mr Lustig was as far as I know an ingenious criminal con man, convicted for the above mentioned crime (among other things?). Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Thanks

/Matias
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