This is a fun little moment. The methodology is very flexible. Although it does require a stooge/friend/wingman to help you out. But their role is incredibly easy.
I'm meeting up with my friend Samantha to get some coffee and do some writing at our usual cafe.
"Do you have any new tricks you're working on?" she asks.
"Uhm... hmm.. not really," I say, as if I haven't been waiting specifically for her to ask this question. "Actually, I do have one thing I want to try." I go and get an empty cup from the barista.
"Do you have a dollar bill?" I ask Samantha when I return.
She pulls one from her pocket. I ask her to crumple up the bill into a small ball and place it on the table. I cover it with the cup and slide it towards her. I don't touch the bill.
"This next part is just in your imagination. Rattle the bill under the cup and imagine it's a 6-sided die. I want you to peek under the cup and tell me what number is on top of the die." She does this and says, "four." I tell her to keep the bill under the cup on her side of the table so no one can get to it.
"We're going to use the number you 'rolled,' and wait for the fourth person to come through that front door. We're not going to talk to him or her, necessarily, we're just going to make note of who it is."
A young woman in yoga pants and a tank top comes in the door. A few minutes later a middle-aged woman with a computer bag enters. Soon after that, another younger girl in athletic clothes and a ponytail comes in. She is closely followed by a thin guy with a sweet afro and sunglasses.
"That's person number four, right? You did say four? Not five?" She assures me she said four.
"Are you fine with him? Or do you want to roll a different number and start again?" She's fine with him.
"You could have picked any bill you had on you, and 'rolled' any number you wanted. And you didn't know who the fourth person to come in here would be, did you? And even after he came in you could have changed to someone else." She agrees to all this.
I tell her to take her bill out from under the cup and uncrumple it. She does, and she finds this:
The method is really whatever you want, you can utilize whatever skills you have to make this happen. Essentially you're going to switch a bill for one that has George accessorized in a manner similar to you wingman. Fun!
The basic idea came to me from Leo Reed in St. Louis (and he wants me to give a shoutout to Joe Mckay for help with this). You can read more about his version in the History section below.
Here's how I handled the elements of the trick.
Preparing the Bill
You're going to draw on the bill so it's accessorized like your wingman. I have a friend with a nice afro and I thought he'd be good for this. You don't need a friend with an afro (but they're good to have). Your friend just needs a couple items to make him/her distinctive. You can put them in a backwards baseball cap with sunglasses, or a ponytail and normal glasses, or earmuffs and a nose ring, or a beard and a cowboy hat. Whatever. I think it's good to have two different accessories of some sort. One is probably fine. More than two is a bit too cute.
Coding the Number
You need to code the number chosen by the spectator to your accomplice (who is outside) so he knows when to enter. You could do it with your phone, or via a complicated visual code. In my circumstance, because my friend could see me easily from outside, I just said I would move my drink from my right side to my left when we were two people away from the target number. So after the second person came in, I put my cup on the other side of me.
(If the coffee shop you go to is one where a lot of groups or couples or mothers with children go, you may want to make it clear to you spectator that you're not looking for the fourth person to enter, but the fourth time the front door opens. That way your wingman won't have to try and slide in-between people in a group.)
The Opportunity to Change
You'll notice I asked my friend if she was happy with the person who entered or if she wanted to pick a different number and go again. This is similar to the Reverse Psychology Force. Yes, it's a free choice, but it's a free choice where they'll never choose one of the options. No one wants to wait around for another number of people to walk through the door. So they'll just go with the "forced" person, although it feels to them like they didn't have to.
You can do any bill switch you want. You could use a switching device like a purse or a wallet. You could do a shuttle pass with a folded bill. Or some kind of lapping switch. Or you could do the first half of the $100 Bill Switch, but instead of immediately opening the bill you toss it in the cup.
The benefit to the switch I use is that you don't seem to ever touch the bill.
I came up with this myself, but it's kind of obvious, I think, so there is likely a precedent. I think of this as my "coffee house" switch, because I've only ever used it there. It can be done with any small object. You have to account for the angles pretty well, which is why I only ever do it in coffee shops, one-on-one. I have to be seated across a normal-sized table from someone who is not overly tall, and with a normal sized paper coffee cup (it's done with a mug in the clip below, but I never use a mug). With those elements in place, I'm good to go. (Without those elements, I would use another method.)
Here's what happens. When you get the empty cup, you drop the bill to be switched in inside of it before you get back to the table. The other person crumples up their bill. You want it similar in tightness to the one that's sitting in your cup. Have them place their bill on the table and indicate a spot in front of you. If they don't place it close enough, you'll kind of drag it towards you with the mouth of the cup a little bit before the switch.
In the action of covering the bill with the cup, you will flick the bill into your lap with your pinky (while the mouth of the cup is pointed at you) as you turn the cup over. It looks like this:
When I do this switch I want them to remember that I never touched the bill. But if I say, "I'll never touch the bill," before the switch, then there will be do undue attention paid to me covering the bill with the cup. However if I don't say anything at all, then at the end of the trick they won't remember if maybe I picked up the bill or handled it before giving it to them to shake in the cup. So the timing is: they put the bill on the table, I cover it with the cup and slide it towards them. I rattle the bill so they can hear it, and then I say. "I'm not going to touch it at all during this. Keep the cup on top so no one can get to the bill." Or whatever
And that's all there is to the trick. Every element of the method can be changed and you can still have essentially the same effect.
This is an idea that came from Leo Reed as well, I couldn't use it because the cafe I normally go to doesn't yell your name when your drink is ready. But if the one you go to does, then have your wingman tell them his name is George. So the trick is over and things have settled down and then you hear them yell, "George" and your accomplice grabs his drink. And you just turn to your friend and you're like, "Holy shit!"
The version Leo Reed originally sent me had the magician removing five individual dollar bills of his own. Then asking the spectator to name a number. They name, say, "three." You then take note of the third person to enter the cafe. He has sunglasses and a baseball hat. You turn over one of the bills to reveal George has sunglasses and a baseball hat on. If/when the spectator begins to suspect that maybe the other bills have other drawings that you would have displayed if someone else had walked in, you turn them all over to reveal they all have hats and sunglasses on them.
I liked the concept but wanted to do it with one bill and have it, ostensibly, be their bill.
Leo was inspired by an old Karl Fulves publication where he wrote:
That seems like an okay trick, but it doesn't really grab me as much as the idea of bringing the real world into the trick, as in the effect above.