Muscle Reading

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Muscle Reading is the art by which magicians perform an apparent ESP demonstration by "reading" the involuntary movements and reactions of a spectator. The demonstration usually involves locating a hidden object (e.g. car keys, a check). The spectator, who knows where the object is, must concentrate in able for the demonstration to be a success.

There are two types of muscle reading. "Contact" muscle reading in which the magician stays in contact with the spectator by grasping his wrist or holding on object like a handkerchief between them. “Noncontact” muscle reading consists of having the spectator follow the performer about and having to "read" his hesitation patterns.

The art is also referred to as "Contact Mind Reading" or "Hellströmism" after Axel Hellstrom who made it popular early in the twentieth century and Cumberlandism, after the English performer Stuart Cumberland.


  • Contact Mind-Reading by Dariel Fitzkee (1935)
  • Contact Mind-Reading Expanded by Dariel Fitzkee (1945)

Notable performers


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