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Crossfire - Chris Philpott

The Hype:
Crossfire is a fast, clean, and stunning new book test, in which you read the thoughts of between 4 and 8 spectators (no process, no writing and no fishing!). This not only features some incredibly clean mind-reading, but also features a surprise twist kicker ending!

The performer shows a copy of one of the most magical books ever written: Peter Pan. Every page appears different (they are), and ungimmicked (they are not). The performer riffles through the book - a spectator calls stop; the performer stops exactly on that page and has the spectator remember a word (no peeks).

Then, in a manner similar to the multiple card selection (one of the greatest effects in magic), between 3 and 7 more people also call stop as you riffle, and they think of a word.

Without asking a single question, the performer quickly rattles off several details about the word: "I'm getting nothing. Maybe that's the point. I'm sensing an absence, something missing..." He writes a word on a white board or pad. He asks the spectator to name her word: "Lacking". The performer shows his board: he has written "Lacking".

But as he moves on, he faces some difficulties: some people are resistant to mind reading. Half the words are nailed quickly and precisely, but with the others, the performer can't seem to name the precise word although he always gets close (like saying "Leg" instead of "Limb", "Cask" instead of "Cork").

In the end, he's only got half the words right. But then in a surprising revelation, he shows he's predicted all the other words as well (see video for details).

While the book is small enough to fit in your back pocket, the effect is big enough to wow a large theater!

My Take:
I will have to admit that I was not a big fan of book tests at one time. Then I got a copy of Mother of All Book Tests, gave it a trial run and fell in love with the response. I am now fascinated with the subject and love to see new approaches as I have checked out a lot from the past. All the way from Dan Tong's Peek-a-Book back in the early 60's to the Other Brothers with Words Beyond. I have also become a big fan of Chris Philpott who has come up with some of the more creative things I have seen in the magic field. If you are familiar with 100th Monkey, you know exactly what I am talking about.

So when I saw that Chris has now released his own book test, I couldn't wait. But it was worth the wait. This is a book test using eight volunteers and has a stunning (and reputation making) ending. However, you can use it for a book test with any number 1-7 if you are willing to give up the big ending.

The book is "Peter Pan" by James Barrie and it contains most of the original text except where it had to be amended. If you wanted to, I suppose you could do a reading of a few paragraphs to prove the legitimacy of the book before you start the routine.

The book itself is a standard sized paper back complete with bar code. Looks very innocent but I would not let it be examined. Since the book comes brand new, I feel it can only get more convincing as the book shows some wear, which also gives you more opportunity for a background story.

The mechanics are very simple. You can, of course, memorize the words you need to know but they are also printed in a paragraph on the back of the book as a crib sheet. They are integrated with the paragraph so it is readable and looks fine. The only memorization that is really necessary is to remember who gets which word. Oh yeah, and some acting skills will definitely make it stronger. Chris has a very effusive personality and leaves no doubt that he is having a ball with his performance.

Instruction is via a downloadable video that tells you absolutely everything you need to know. He also offers some valuable performance tips. Chris says that he is mainly a writer and inventor and not a performer. The demo performance is from his first time appearing at the Magic Castle. You know the caliber of the other magicians he is up against. The climax on this had the audience absolutely screaming. I don't think I am giving anything away here by telling you what the climax is as it is in the promo vid. He writes down the word he thinks the audience member is thinking of. (He uses a white board which can be purchased for next to nothing at a local store. The white board also serves to make the presentation more believable by hiding some of the work. The work being Chris giving you a crib sheet so that there is no memory work. The text on the back of the book tells you each word that you need to know and hides it so it is not noticeable.) At the end of the routine Chris shows that the near misses he has gotten are revealed to be the real selections by circling the selections up and down by letter. (i.e. The first circle would include all the first letters of the previous selections. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th are handled in the same manner.) The vertical circles are shown to be the other selections in a crossword puzzle type of reveal.

The only downside I can think of is that the outcome is always the same so if someone sees you twice, they might just remember the outcome before. Fortunately for the serious worker, Chris also sells other packages. This one is $79.95. Crossfire International offers the standard book test plus a non-gimmicked matching copy of PeterPan. $120.00. And for the really serious worker, he offers the Crossfire Pro at $239.00 which gives you the Crossfire book test, the ungimmicked copy and two other gimmicked books that will give you different outcomes. He says this is particularly strong is you are doing walk around. If someone from one table sees you at another, the words will be different.

I have noticed that quite a bit of magic now comes stating that television rights are not included. Chris has never used that until this time. He wants you to go out and have fun, make a strong impression and forget television for now. At some point that may change or you can always contact Chris and make a deal with him.

Like everything Chris releases, I absolutely love this book test. The mechanics are simple and you will fool magicians with this one. The surprise ending alone is a reputation maker. This is highly recommended and I don't think I could recommend something more strongly. If you do mentalism or book tests, you need this in your case. This is a routine you can stretch just as far as you would like to and they won't have a clue.
Chris Philpott
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Thank you so much, Magic Portal!

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