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  1. #1
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    Beginner's Question on Billets

    Hello all!

    I'm starting my journey in mentalism with some great material by Ted Annemann, and I'm super excited.

    I had a ton of billets cut out of index stock a week ago, and now I'm practicing palming and switching. I'm a little worried I had the billets cut too small, though... Annemann suggests 2 1/2 by 3 1/2 size billets, but I cut them 2 x 3 inches, since they would then fit inside a #1 coin envelope. I also read some people liked that size on the Magic Cafe, and I didn't think 1/4 or 1/2 inch would make too much of a difference, AND it's not too hard to find pads of paper that are 2 x 3 in. (in case I don't want to use a loose stack) and I want to use a uniform size all around.

    Long story short, I'm worried the billets are too small when folded, now. Palming and switching feel awkward, and I feel like I have to fumble because they're too small.

    Or maybe I'm just not used to handling them because I'm a beginner? I would love to hear if anyone has any opinion on billet sizing.

    On a related note, does anyone use alternate folds to what Annemann suggests?

  2. #2
    ChristopherThisse's Avatar :: Moderator
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    You are way too focused on method.

    The size of the billet isn't that important.

    Just keep working with it until it becomes natural. Find the size you prefer to work with and use that. There is no definite right size - it's whatever. It doesn't matter. All that matters is that you present a show that the audience feels is genuine.
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  3. #3
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    The majority of billet workers use either half an index card or a business card blank for billet work; I personally prefer the business card blank so they can write bigger and too, it lends itself to certain tear & peek methods better.

    I would strongly urge you to pick up Elliot Bresler's SWITCHCRAFT and the Bob Cassidy Billet download @ Penguin in that these will take you a long way with things. You and pretty much trust everything Bob puts out on the subject and most of what Docc Hilford produces on the subject (Docc does have some questionable, albeit workable, bits). The other piece you may want to invest in is the Master Billet Course by Allen Zingg.

    Do bear in mind that Billet Work is some of the purest and most practical aspects of Old School Mentalism you'll find; it's literally started religions. Develop this, Cold Reading skills, Muscle Reading (Full Contact and Non-Contact) and nothing can stop you.
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  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Browning View Post
    The majority of billet workers use either half an index card or a business card blank for billet work; I personally prefer the business card blank so they can write bigger and too, it lends itself to certain tear & peek methods better.

    I would strongly urge you to pick up Elliot Bresler's SWITCHCRAFT and the Bob Cassidy Billet download @ Penguin in that these will take you a long way with things. You and pretty much trust everything Bob puts out on the subject and most of what Docc Hilford produces on the subject (Docc does have some questionable, albeit workable, bits). The other piece you may want to invest in is the Master Billet Course by Allen Zingg.

    Do bear in mind that Billet Work is some of the purest and most practical aspects of Old School Mentalism you'll find; it's literally started religions. Develop this, Cold Reading skills, Muscle Reading (Full Contact and Non-Contact) and nothing can stop you.
    Craig, thank you so much for your response. I think I will put Switchcraft next on my list to purchase!

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    Getting comfy with billets

    I prefer to use card stock the size of a business card and card stock that is post-it note size. I second Craig's advice -- get both the billet course and switchcraft, there's a plethora of great stuff in both and more than enough to find what works for you. Switchcraft is a great supplement and helped me discover what I'm comfortable with and not so comfortable with -- as far as billets go. I followed Corinda's advice in 13 Steps: "Run through them and try them out until you discover which one suits you best and then stick with that one and practice it to perfection." As far as pellets go...Richard Osterlind makes it really simple in his 13 Steps -- it's a little pricey, but will teach you a lot. Richard, in fact, states on the DVDs that when you're reading method - play with them. You don't have to follow the methods verbatim and you don't need to use them all -- although it's all "handy" knowledge. You're going to fumble, but don't lose faith. And remember, if you don't learn to project confidence, you can't sell your performance.

  6. #6
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    While Corinda will give you some basics it can get confusing because of all the variations in billet type and styles. Personally the two best lessons on billets out there is the Bert Reese routine shown in Annemann's Practical Mental Magic and a short chat given by Bob Cassidy in his "Theories & Methods for the Practical Psychic" -- the discussion about the Simplified Baker Billet Switch and how to present a One-on-One Reading with a billet (a "Billet Test" as they're known).
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Browning View Post
    While Corinda will give you some basics it can get confusing because of all the variations in billet type and styles. Personally the two best lessons on billets out there is the Bert Reese routine shown in Annemann's Practical Mental Magic and a short chat given by Bob Cassidy in his "Theories & Methods for the Practical Psychic" -- the discussion about the Simplified Baker Billet Switch and how to present a One-on-One Reading with a billet (a "Billet Test" as they're known).
    I remember Corinda saying something about learning just a few variations and sticking with those few. How many variations would you suggest? And how often would you say, do you use billets in a reading?

  8. #8
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    I've done Readings for decades now and other than when I get a really difficult client, I've never used billets for anything other than entertainment type settings. The only exception is that I have used the Hilford's Ritchie Technique as a reputation building "stunt" -- if you're familiar with this routine you will know that it is a 3-way prediction with no reveal. . . at least not at the table while the client is sitting there; they take the sealed predictions home with them and it is there that they open them and find that they are all accurate both, to the Reading itself and the client's life situation. The "Predictions" are written before the Reading ever starts. This is a very powerful reputation maker that I've exploited off and on over the years, so if you plan on doing Readings, you may wish to learn it.

    When it comes to using billets in Readings I play things quite close to the Bob Cassidy notes I mentioned above. But, if I have a group of 3-5 people at a table, I basically follow the Bert Reese routine noted in Practical Mental Magic.
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    So much stuff...

    Entering the world of magic and mentalism is so daunting. This is a relatively short conversation, and already at least 4 separate sources have been thrown into the ring, haha.

    I think I'm going to pick up Bob Cassidy's Billet Killer material next. I'm more than excited for Switchcraft, but at this point I would just really appreciate SEEING someone do some billet work to get a feel for the rhythm and all.

    Kenneth

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    @ Craig
    I am going to check that out, if I can find a copy. Is it possible to use the technique with more than 3 people?

    @ Ken
    Billet Killers is pretty good, you don't get to see the methods in an actual performance, but I recommend it. I bought both Billet Killers and Name & Place by Bob. Name & Place, I think, will give you a better idea of using billets in performance and it's a good example of patter (personal opinion). If you can afford both, get them. I think they complement each other well.
    Last edited by MentalMark; 02-08-2015 at 02:53 AM.

  11. #11
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MentalMark View Post
    @ Craig
    I am going to check that out, if I can find a copy. Is it possible to use the technique with more than 3 people?
    Most certainly, you take the basic one-ahead method that the routine teaches and apply the same logic, you're just adding people to the group. . . more billet work. This is what is typically known as a Q&A (Question & Answer) Act, you're just doing it in a casual manner be it while sitting around a table or standing around in a pub.
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    While we're on the topic, I have another question:

    How do you ensure spectators fold billets properly before giving them to you? If they hand you a billet folded in quarters, and suddenly you're holding one folded in skinny in sixths, I bet they'll notice, especially if you give it back to them...

    Are all the blank billets you hand to spectators pre-folded?

  13. #13
    Craig Browning's Avatar :: Elite Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by kennethcmerrill View Post
    While we're on the topic, I have another question:

    How do you ensure spectators fold billets properly before giving them to you? If they hand you a billet folded in quarters, and suddenly you're holding one folded in skinny in sixths, I bet they'll notice, especially if you give it back to them...

    Are all the blank billets you hand to spectators pre-folded?
    Prefolding the slips is the most common method, nothing is ever thought of it. I will frequently have the slip folded as I hand it to them after demonstrating what I want them to do i.e. "Open the slip and jot onto the blank surface your thought and then fold it back up so none of us can see what you've written".


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  14. #14
    Raymond Singson's Avatar :: Lead Forum Manager
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    Bresler's SwitchCraft has completely changed my entire perception about billets. It is a must-have in any mentalist's library. If you purchase directly from Elliott, he'll automatically add you to his e-mail distribution list. And he'll send additional supplements as they become available to the body of work. Switchcraft has become a comprehensive, encyclopedic resource for all billet work. Peeks, switches, tears, routines, subtleties-- everything you could possibly need to know-- is found somewhere within the resource. I cannot recommend it enough. It is the best bang for your buck, hands-down, for this particular topic. Quite literally, as long as Elliott continues to send supplements and additions, it's a living body of work, which makes it quite exciting to own.

    Like Craig mentioned, I carry a bank of blank business card stock for billet work. I found that these were often met with some resistance in casual, everyday settings so I started looking for alternatives. I made up a few 'custom billets' by designing fake business cards printed in such a way that actually facilitated the Acidus Novus peek and allowed me to see the proper orientation for two really versatile real-time tears. If I found myself about to perform at a bar, I would just toss a handful of these on a nearby table or have the bartender hold on to them so I could effectively "borrow" them later on. The most challenging thing about billets isn't so much the techniques you use with them, but rather how to make them psychologically invisible in the way you perform with them. I still carry blank business cards, but I enjoy employing the custom billets if I ever want to go an extra mile for a performance.

    RS.



  15. #15
    Raymond Singson's Avatar :: Lead Forum Manager
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    Quote Originally Posted by Craig Browning View Post

    Prefolding the slips is the most common method, nothing is ever thought of it. I will frequently have the slip folded as I hand it to them after demonstrating what I want them to do i.e. "Open the slip and jot onto the blank surface your thought and then fold it back up so none of us can see what you've written".


    Michael Murray has some very interesting insight about the action or writing down information.

    He typically advocates NOT calling the information a thought until after it is written down. It's such a small tweak presentationally, but I've found that it really enhances the overall effect/experience ten-fold. The logic behind it is that as mindreaders, we're expected to be able to read thoughts. So by asking participants to write down thoughts, we're making a counter-intuitive request which often comes off as a challenge (albeit subtle, depending on your proficiency as a performer) with the audience. Bottom line, we shouldn't need to have participants write down their thoughts. Most justifications for doing so are contrived, weak, or downright insulting to the participants. How many times have you cringed watching another performer justify billet-work by saying, "I want you to write down your thought so you can better focus on it..." That's a ridiculous notion, given what we're expected to do.

    When performing with billets, Murray believes that it's best to essentially keep the participants in the dark about your intentions until after the information is written down. Instead of first having someone think of a name, and then write it on to a card after the fact-- it's better (and even more streamlined, in my opinion)-- to first hand them the incidental piece of paper and have them write any name they want as it comes to them. This way, the information is never considered a thought until AFTER it's written down and the paper forgotten about. This gives the performer a lot more flexibility to do what he wants with the information.

    I cannot recommend Murray's book highly enough. A Piece of My Mind is one of the most innovative books about contemporary mentalism I've ever read. There's something in it for everyone.

    RS.


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