top of page
  • Writer's pictureMadison Hagler

Black Infinity Bag by Eric Samuels

Eric Samuels is an incredible creator of mentalism. If you’ve read my review of his book, Setting the Stage, then you know I think very highly of his material. In fact, his book is currently ranked #5 in my top ten items I’ve reviewed on the blog. Eric creates a lot of great routines, but he also makes THE BEST clear forcing bags on the market. In my opinion, there’s no competition. His bags are made of thicker plastic which will hold up for countless performances, and their locking feature allows you to have some genuinely creative applications. I have used his clear forcing bags for a few years now in my shows, so when I saw his new Black Infinity Bag (a black forcing bag), I instantly knew the quality would be incredible. At first, you may wonder why you would want a black forcing bag. Isn’t that a step down from a clear forcing bag? Well, no, because they have two different purposes. Essentially, the Black Infinity Bag is used more as a switch device (think of a ballot box that switches billets). The beautiful thing about this is that it is far more portable, and it can even be passed through the audience for collecting billets. The locking nature of the bag ensures that no one will accidentally place their billet in the wrong place or find anything suspicious about the bag at all.

When you purchase this, you get two black infinity bags, a clear forcing bag, 10 plastic liar/truth tokens, and a 68-page booklet. I’m sure you already have ideas for how you can use this, but the booklet provides a lot of food for thought. Here’s a breakdown of what is included in the booklet.

The Black Infinity Bag - This section describes what the Black Infinity Bag (referred to as BIB from here on) is and how it is gimmicked. It’s short and sweet.

I The Power of the Infinite Force - This section discusses how much stronger an infinite choice is versus a finite choice. This is the biggest advantage that the BIB offers over a clear force bag. A clear force bag only allows the audience to select from a finite choice–how many slips of paper are in the bag. The BIB allows the audience to select from an infinite number of options because even though there may be the same amount of slips in the bag, the audience members have determined what is written on those slips. I strongly agree with this viewpoint. If it’s possible to go from a finite choice to an infinite choice with your routine, I truly believe it increases the impossibility tremendously and adds a layer of deception that makes the routine significantly more difficult to backtrack.

II The Theatrical Power of the Force - This section focuses on why forcing information can be more advantageous than peeking information. A force allows you to reveal the information in the most theatrical way possible. It is a waste to force information with the BIB and then reveal that by writing it on a whiteboard. When you force information, the sky is the limit with how you reveal it. Derren Brown is brought up as an example. He squeezes so much theatricality out of a force. Eric also tells a story of how he once revealed a thought-of-song uniquely using what was around him in his performance venue.

III Handling Tips and Tricks - This section goes over a few topics. It begins with a discussion on the security of the bags. The next topic is why you would use a black bag. The most obvious answer is that there is no way for the performer to get a peek at any of the information that’s written on the slips. It also presents the idea that multiple pieces of information can be written on the slips giving you more to harvest. There is also a brief list of examples of what topics you can have the spectators write. This section also introduces the idea of how to use the BIB to perform a confabulation using multiple colored slips. The section ends with a discussion on presentation framing.

IV Presentations

Childhood Memories - A memory is drawn by a participant, and yours matches. This is a drawing duplication, but the onstage participant isn’t copying a drawing onto a larger board. Instead, they are picturizing the memory they’ve selected from the ones written by the audience. It adds a layer of deception since it seems like the onstage participant has more of an active role other than simply copying a drawing down, but I do think this reveal isn’t utilizing the theatrical element as well as it could.

Childhood Memories II - The audience writes down a word they struggled to say correctly as a child; you guess the word and how they used to mispronounce it. The unique thing with this routine is that even though it is forced, you get to speak to a real spectator who truly wrote that down (sometimes.) The second hit of nailing how they mispronounced the word is a little obvious, but it is a bit of fun you can interject. Eric provides several possible force words.

Meme Generator - Half the audience writes down a quote, and half writes down a famous person. They are collected in two separate bags, and someone selects one from each bag to create a meme. The meme is then revealed on a large easel. This is a topical presentation that has a comedic reveal. While it is described as being done with two BIB, you could also use two different colored slips, as discussed in Section III.

Phantom - This is a take on Annemann’s Phantom Artist routine using celebrities written by the audience. If you’re unfamiliar with the routine, essentially, an audience member thinks of a celebrity, and the performer begins cutting a piece of paper. In the end, the paper is opened to reveal that the performer has cut a perfect silhouette of the celebrity. It’s a classic for a reason. It is a surprising revelation with a visual build-up and strong payoff. The addition here is that it appears to be an infinite choice instead of a finite choice.

The Telephone Game - The audience writes down random words, and one is selected and whispered to the person next to them in their row. The person who is told the word thinks of a completely different word–the first one that pops into their mind when they hear it. Person 2 whispers their word into the ear of the next person in the line, and they come up with a new word and whisper it to the next person. This continues all the way to the end of the row. The last person tells the performer the word they were told. The performer then works backward to figure out what the original word was. The fun here is clearly in the whispering bit. The reveal is just the icing on the cake.

Mind Reading Audience - Audience members make a drawing, and they are collected. One spectator is blindfolded and dons a pair of headphones, so they don’t see or hear anything. A drawing is selected by a second spectator, and they attempt to send their thought to the first. The first person correctly describes the scene. This uses an interesting combination of principles which will hopefully cause the first spectator to guess the correct scene. It should be noted that this isn’t 100%. It sounds like a fun idea, but I wouldn’t be bold enough to use it in performance.

Prize Draw - The audience is given raffle tickets as they enter. They tear their ticket in half, keeping one half and putting the other half in a black bag. The CEO selects a winner for the door prize, and the performer correctly predicts who that winner will be. This is a really nice idea, but I don’t necessarily love the thought of predicting who would win a door prize at a company meeting; that feels a little unethical to me. However, I could see someone building a whole show concept from this thought. You could even raffle off who gets to keep your confabulation prediction at the show's end. It just so happens that the confabulation prediction also predicts who would win it. I could see myself using that idea. Just know if you want to perform this, you must get a specially printed set of raffle tickets. It isn’t too hard to do but should be noted.

DDD (Double Drawing Duplication) - The audience makes a drawing, seals it in an envelope, and then they are collected in a black bag. Not only does the performer nail a selected drawing, but he also nails an additional drawing that is submitted to test the performer. This is a clever idea that allows for two hits out of one force. There’s a chance the spectator could miss the test image, but with some coaxing and careful scripting, you could probably make them see it 100% of the time.

Lie Detector Redux - Five spectators are brought on the stage, and they choose a plastic token from the black bag. Four of the tokens are white and have the word “truth” printed on them, and one is black with the word “lie” printed on it. The performer can discover who has the lie disc and show that he predicted who would end up with it. The full routine is described in Setting the Stage, and as such, there isn’t much discussion of the presentation. Instead, it focuses on the method to make it happen. The way it’s written, it’s a little confusing, but it allows you to have your force person in any position you choose. There is a simpler, more efficient version taught in the Facebook group for the product. It’s a great use of the bag, and the provided tokens can be used for many routines of your choosing.

V Routine Contributions

The Stingy Tipper - This routine was provided by Colin McLeod. Everyone removes a receipt from their wallet/bag, and they are collected by an audience member. The audience member chooses a receipt, and the performer can reveal multiple pieces of information from the receipt. Knowing that this is a forcing bag, you can see how this works, but it’s a novel idea to use receipts, albeit a bit odd.

Today’s The Day! - This routine was submitted by Marc Paul. The gentlemen in the room write a number on a blue slip of paper, and the ladies in the room write a number on a pink slip. These are collected. Throughout the show, the performer reveals one number chosen at random (maybe with a magic square) and then reveals another chosen number differently. At the end of the show, the two selected numbers are multiplied together. The total is revealed to have been predicted from the very beginning, and even more special, the total is the performance date (or any other important date.) Marc Paul uses this type of reveal very frequently. I have closed my show with it, so I know just how strong it can be. This is one of the more natural ways to get into it because it uses information that you have already revealed at various points in the show.

Analogue Speed Counting (ASC) - Timon Krause provides this routine. This two-phase routine is a quick counting routine. The performer has a bag full of nuts. Two spectators and the performer grab a handful of nuts from the bag and throw them into a bowl. The performer instantly names how many nuts are in the bowl. This is repeated with a spectator naming how many nuts are in the bowl. The second phase does require preshow, but the first phase is a clever use of a forcing bag. Timon has performed this for a while with the clear force bags, and that’s how he described the routine, but at the end, Timon discusses what using a black bag would add to the routine. Primarily, it removes the notion that you’re somehow counting how many are left in the bag. I still think this routine plays better with the clear force bag than the BIB, personally.

Trash-O-Mancy (An Idea) - Timon Krause also shares this idea. It is a strange concept. You would have the audience remove trash from their bag/purse and throw it into the BIB. Then a spectator would choose an item out of the bag, and you could reveal their selection. Timon clearly sees this as an unfinished idea at this stage, but the method's core is there. I don’t necessarily love the idea of a spectator reaching their hand in a bag of trash. But if that sounds appealing to you, with a little thought, this could be turned into a workable routine.

Spare Change - This routine is presented by Looch. He suggests having the audience remove a coin from their pocket and mark it with a drawing. Several coins are collected. A spectator selects a coin, and the performer can identify multiple pieces of information about the coin. This idea is interesting, but it sounds quite theatrically dull compared to all the other possibilities with the bag. I definitely don’t think you would be able to pass the bag around to collect the money in this routine since the hidden coins may “talk.”

Supermarket Prediction - Bro Gilbert submits this routine. Several rows of audience members receive a supermarket flyer. They are led through a process of ripping the page in half, throwing half of the page on the floor, and repeating this process until there is a tiny piece (the size of a single ad) left. These pieces are collected, and an audience member selects one. The performer then reveals that he predicted the one item in the chosen ad. This is my favorite routine in the booklet. It is superb theatre, and it makes for a very dramatic and fun process. They describe two different handlings. The first version involves everyone having a supermarket sheet, and the second involves having one supermarket ad that the audience passes around and tearing out an ad of their choosing. IMO, The first version is far superior from a theatrical standpoint. I love everything about it. It makes sense, everything is justified, and you can make the reveal as dramatic as you want. They even provide several ways to reveal the chosen ad.

The booklet ends with a “Thank You.”

If you know how you want to use this, or you like the sound of the routines provided, then you will love this. The quality is top-notch, and the uses are endless.

277 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page