Special Aspects of Deception for Women - SOME OPERATIONAL APPLICATIONS OF THE ART OF DECEPTION - The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception - H. Keith Melton, Robert Wallace

The Official CIA Manual of Trickery and Deception - H. Keith Melton, Robert Wallace (2009)


VI. Special Aspects of Deception for Women

While much of the general advice and preliminary observations with which this manual began also will apply to the following section, a great deal will not. This is because the previous material was written solely for use by men and the notes below are written for use by women.

Though the writer is a man, he does not have the idea that women lack any talents which men may possess. However, because much of their training, their clothes, and their manners are not those of men, women must use different methods for performing tricks than those used by men.

It might be well to give examples of a few types of these masculine-feminine differences. Men reach out with the hand, palm down, to take something offered, while women hold out the hand palm up to receive that which is offered. This is one of countless examples of training or of the natural aping which a child does of his elders. From the buttons being on the left side on women’s coats, women’s clothes are unlike men’s. The major difference, as far as performing trickery is concerned, between the clothes of men and women is pockets—their size, type, number, and location. Because of these differences in pockets, women can never use their pockets in the casual manner in which men use theirs.

It is a matter of masculine manners for men to wait on women in public and a matter of feminine manners for women to make such masculine efforts easy for men to perform. Interjecting a sad commentary, it is almost limited to public demonstrations that men may be found waiting on women. In public, even an old man will help a woman to put on her coat in a restaurant. A man will light a woman’s cigarette. A man draws a chair from a table for a woman to sit on. These, and a variety of similarly nonarduous attentions which men pay to women, are not reciprocal. Women do not customarily do these things for men. Were they to do any of these things, women would draw attention to themselves and tricksters should never do anything to attract notice. The following pages are devoted to descriptions of methods for women to do exactly the same tricks which in previous pages have been described for performance by men.

Before setting down descriptions as to method, it must be stated with emphasis that the methods women can use for these tricks are neither harder nor easier to do than the methods described for men. That is, the woman’s methods are of the same degree of difficulty for women to do as are the men’s method for men to do. Again it should be stressed that the required changes have nothing to do with capabilities but only with social customs. A man makes a lengthy and awkward job of buttoning up a woman’s coat he has to put on himself. For that matter, a woman is not particularly handy in buttoning up a man’s coat she has to put on.

There are a few other further preliminary points to mention. Women have to vary their technique in performing some tricks according to whether a man is the subject or another woman. Details will be given in each trick described, noting these differences. Here again the changes are necessary because of social custom.

It was stated on an early page that trickery basically depends upon a manner of thinking and that such thinking must not violate the manners or custom of the spectator. For a woman to do some action a woman normally would not do would violate manners and customs at least by being unusual, and the unusual will attract attention which the trickster should avoid. It is not enough for the woman trickster never to perform an action which would appear unfeminine to a man; she also must never do anything which would seem unusual to another woman. In other words, a woman trickster, to be successful, always must act in the manner of a woman and never do anything in the man’s way. Of course this should not be interpreted as suggesting being girly-girly, but merely not being masculine in actions or manners.

Women are not as apt to slouch in their chairs as are men and so do not have to worry about having to avoid that attention arresting weakness. But women do fidget even though they have their own ways of doing so. Constantly patting hair, feeling earrings, or similar feminine actions attract attention to the individual and should not be done.

Earlier in this manual there were instructions for men to follow in order to appear to be stupid. A form of this technique very valuable for the woman’s pose is that she just does not understand the subject. She tries to look blank rather than dumb. This is not at all difficult when working in front of a man or men. The reason for this is (and ladies, we might as well face it) that men are never astonished when a woman does not know something. There is a major exception in this regard, for men expect their wives to know all manner of subjects. Noting this exception is merely academic, for husbands will not be the subject of the trickery herein described.

While the pose of lack of knowledge will be readily accepted as fact by a man, such a pose is apt to be suspected by another woman. This point is true also of a show of coyness, shyness, or maidenly modesty. A man will accept almost any degree of such ruses, while another woman will work more doggedly to satisfy herself of the correctness of her opinion. Even when a man is suspicious, he still may readily be tricked. It is infinitely more difficult to succeed with a trick before a suspicious woman. The obvious answer is, don’t do anything to make the woman suspicious.

This next point is put down with hesitation, and not because there is any question of its validity. The plot of a trick should be shorter and more direct when shown to a woman. The hesitation in mentioning this fact is due to the inference which might be made that women have less powers of concentration. This inference the writer does not accept. By many years of experience, the writer knows the truth of the statement and his explanation, true or false, is that a man is more inclined to follow step by step and a woman is likely to think ahead. As with all general statements, this one is not always true and there are both masculine and feminine exceptions. However, it is so generally the case that it is advisable to act always as though no exceptions existed.

The first trick described for men is with a pill which is carried on a paper, or box of matches. As women do not usually light a match to hold to a man’s cigarette, this method cannot be used by a woman. It is not recommended even for a woman to use when another woman is the subject because it is not an act generally done.

While the matches are eliminated, the exact technique described may be used with the slipcase of a very small pocket mirror. The pill is attached to the underside of the case. The mirror inside the case is put in front of the subject and the mirror withdrawn from the case and handed to the person. The mirror and case are carried in the handbag inside an open-ended box such as previously was described. Until the encased mirror has been taken from the handbag, nothing at all is said in regard to it. Just as the mirror is thrust forward the trickster says, “Use this mirror. There’s something in the corner of your left eye.” As the person takes the mirror, the left hand of the performer is brought back to her body and, in transit, the pill is picked off and dropped off into the glass or cup.

It will be obvious that manipulatively the trick is precisely the same as the one a man would do with the matches. Psychologically, too, it is very much the same. It is a kindly, courteous act to try to help someone about to have a foreign body get into her eye, just as it is kind to light another’s cigarette. It is quite immaterial that the foreign body is imaginary, for even if the subject should say, “I don’t see anything,” it is acceptable to assure him that he must have brushed it away.

A woman readily can use the tricks described for men in which wallets, notebooks, and paper pads are used as pill carriers.

Women will find it very easy to hold pills at the base of the third and little fingers as described in the men’s section. However, a woman should never attempt to do this trick while wearing gloves or if she is accustomed to using a quantity of hand cream. Both gloves and cream make the performance uncertain.

Even though a woman will find it easy to handle a pill manually and will be able in rehearsal to manipulate a very small pill, the trick should not be attempted with a very small pill. The reason for this is the excitement brought about by actual performance is apt to make the hands moist. A tiny pill is difficult to release because the moisture makes it adhere to the flesh.

Coins are not suitable carriers for pills when a woman is performing. However, the same general idea may be followed by showing pictures in a small locket—the pill is stuck on the back of the locket. In certain circumstances the monogram on a compact might serve as the excuse to show the compact. The pill would be on the bottom of the compact. Reversing the position of the pill, it is possible to show the maker’s name, or the hallmark on the bottom of the compact.

Because cosmetics are not carried by all classes of women in every country, it is possible to utilize their containers only where it would be a natural thing to do. Again it must be stressed that only those actions which are acceptable locally are permissible for a woman trickster. Manners for women are more restrictive and more rigid than are those for men. It is essential that a woman trickster inform herself of all the taboos of the district in which she is to operate. A man should have such knowledge but it is imperative for a woman to know such things.

In handling powdered solids, a woman will find two of the previously described pencil containers easy to handle. The paper tube simulating a pencil should not be used by a woman. No changes need be made in the wooden pencils except that they should be shorter than the lengths suggested for men to use. There are two reasons for making the pencils shorter. One reason is that a short pencil can be carried more easily in a handbag. The other reason is that men expect a woman to carry only a stub of a pencil if she carries one at all.

The instructions regarding the manner in which men are to use loaded pencils in their tricks are those for women, too. However, there are two points which may well be altered. The first is brought about because it is more difficult to exchange pencils in a handbag than it is in a pocket. The other point is due to the masculine belief that no woman can draw as clear a diagram as can a man. Neither of these points raises any real difficulty but both have to be taken into consideration.

If the loaded pencils are well made, there is no reason why they have to be exchanged for normal pencils at the beginning of the trick, as they may be handled safely by the subject and without in any way exciting his suspicion. Actually the only reason it was suggested that the exchange be made in the instructions for men is that it avoids a psychological hazard for the performer if he does not permit the loaded pencil to leave his possession.

A man almost certainly will alter any diagram a woman has drawn in order to ask a question. A man will answer a question in his way and will find it necessary to add to or change the sketch in order to give his answer. As this is usually the case, it is well to accept that it will happen. It does not in any way change the performance of the trick, for if the man has his own pencil, he probably will use it, but no difficulty will arise even if he borrows the loaded pencil. In the event that the loaded pencil is borrowed, the performance of the trick is slightly delayed until the pencil is returned. Then the trickster, pretending to review the explanation given by the man, goes ahead in the performance of the trick as previously described.

The reason a woman cannot use the paper-tube pencil is that she cannot lend it, for while such a pencil has the appearance of a genuine pencil, it does not feel like one. However, if the woman trickster has an ability to draw with some degree of skill, it is possible for her even to use the paper tube pencil. This is because the subject of women’s dresses is one of which a man does not claim an exhaustive knowledge and he will not wish to redraw the sketch. It is possibly more difficult to bring clothes into a casual conversation particularly if the man is comparatively a stranger. It might be done to show why a dress of some total stranger across the room was costly or cheap, homemade or store-bought. Being male, the writer probably is stressing the wrong point, and very likely some other point about the stranger’s clothes would be more natural for a woman to make in her sketch, but the idea is sound.

All the above suggestions in regard to tricks with powdered solids are made for a woman trickster to use when the subject is a man. When the subject is a woman, the conversations would be different although the manipulations would be the same. One woman would not be apt to ask another mechanical question and it would be particularly unlikely that she would make a diagram in asking the question. A woman seldom sketches a map for the purpose of asking directions of another woman. A man accepts these things as commonplace but they would be unusual enough to a woman to attract attention. It is possible for a woman to ask for an address and, after having written it down, have it read to make certain it is correct. The pencil may be used by the trickster to point out the number or spelling in order to inquire if it is correctly written. It is also possible for one woman to sketch clothes, floor plans for the arrangement of furniture, jewelry designs, etc., for another woman. While these things are possible, it is true that sketching is not as usual an aid to conversation with women as with men. Though unusual, sketching or writing can be used among women when words alone do not express an idea or in order not to have to rely on memory. All that is necessary is to lead the conversation so that the use of a pencil becomes essential.

In this type of trick a woman is apt to move more rapidly than a man. As rapidity not only makes the trick less certain in aim but also much more likely to be noticed, women have to take particular pains when practicing to move slowly. Practice should be done with very slow movements because actual performance always will be done more quickly than is done in rehearsal.

On the subject of arm and hand movements by a woman, there is a point of naturalness which causes some women difficulty. It will be remembered that naturalness of movement is the best cover for any action which has to be done secretly. Some women become “fluttery” in their manual actions when required to do something which they do not wish to be seen. The fluttery effect of their gestures is caused by making extra and unnecessary motions. In practice, these extra motions may be eliminated easily by concentrating on just what actions are essential. For those women whose hands are constantly in motion, an extra motion or two at the time the trick is performed probably will not attract attention, but even such persons will benefit by doing their tricks in the simplest and most direct way.

In the instructions for men it was suggested that a man could rise from his chair in order to reach across a large table. Even though the action would not necessitate standing, but merely raising a little off the chair, it is not something a woman should do unless the subject is another woman. Usually, in a restaurant, the woman is seated in the more protected chair. Frequently this means that the woman’s place at a table is more difficult to get into as well as harder to leave. A woman seldom is given a choice of where she would like to sit. She is given the chair which, in theory at least, is preferable. The “seat of honor” very often by its very position makes trickery more difficult if not altogether impossible. On the other hand, frequently tables for two are arranged so that the man and woman sit side by side, which makes trickery easier. It is permissible for a woman to mention that she would prefer a particular table if she can sight one suitable for her purposes upon entering the restaurant. Once a table is chosen, it is too conspicuous to demand changing to another table.

Several of the methods suggested to mask containers of liquid in the tricks described for men are totally unsuitable for women. Hiding containers in match folders or in packages of cigarettes cannot be used. Neither can a masculine billfold be used, for no woman would carry such a thing. The use of coins, too, is eliminated as masks for the containers. All of these methods are not to be used by women because they depend upon material or actions which are unfeminine.

Some of the methods men can use may be used by women. For instance, the small containers (with capacity for two to five drops) which are held between the first finger and the ball of the thumb will be found easy to use. Care must be taken to make these containers of a size and shape that they may be hidden by the fingers. They have to be made especially for feminine hands, which are smaller than the hands of men.

It is far better to carry these containers outside of the handbag. If the woman is wearing a jacket which has a side pocket (a breast pocket cannot be gotten at easily), the container may be carried in the pocket. In the case of no jacket and no pocket, it may be found possible to make a small pocket which will be hidden by a flounce or plait in blouse or shirt. Such a pocket often can be made by a few properly placed stitches. Care must be made to ensure that the pocket is hidden even when the person is walking about or seated. Care must also be given to have the pocket of such a size and in such a location that the container is available instantly and without fumbling. If the attire is such that it is not possible to carry the container in either a regular or a special pocket, it is possible to carry it in the handbag. The excuse (never mentioned) of getting a handkerchief permits picking up the container as well. In such case it is better to pick up the container at the time of getting the handkerchief rather than at the time of returning it to the bag. If the woman is seated so that her lap cannot be seen at any angle, it is possible to take the container from its concealment sometime before using it and leave it on her lap until needed.

The stories which are told to distract attention from the movement of the hands are left for the reader to devise. Besides what previously has been set down in the section devoted to masculine performers, the only additional advice is that a woman must be certain that the story violates no feminine custom.

One simple ruse by which a woman may hand something to a man without exciting any suspicion is to untangle a chain. A chain such as is used to hang a pendant, locket, or religious symbol around the neck usually is made of very small links. Such a chain may be knotted in a tangle so that it becomes rather difficult to straighten out. When the tangling is done so that it keeps the pendant from being taken off, it is most natural to hold the pendant when giving the chain to another person. This brings both hands of the trickster close to the person asked to untangle the chain. One hand delivers the knotted chain but the other hand, at least momentarily, maintains hold of the pendant.

The hand holding the pendant, probably the left hand would be more natural, can hold a liquid container as well. The pendant might even be used as a mask. Another possibility is to have the pendant wrapped in a piece of tissue paper or handkerchief. A liquid container can be attached to the underside of the paper or cloth and be in a position easy to use. A liquid container never should be attached to, or even inside, a pendant. Most people’s curiosity causes them to peep.

Probably the best cover for a container is a handkerchief. Many women quite regularly hold handkerchiefs in their hands. This is so generally true that the action excites no suspicion whatsoever. Some women crumple the handkerchief into a ball while others hold it by the center and allow the edges to hang below the hand. A handkerchief may be held in either manner and yet be a perfect cover for a container. There are three details to understand in using a handkerchief for such a purpose: 1. how to attach the container to the handkerchief; 2. the manner in which the handkerchief is taken from the pocket or handbag; 3. the way the container is emptied.

The container should be placed with the outlet at the center of the handkerchief. Right at the center of the handkerchief a small hole should be cut in the cloth so that the tip of the container can be pushed through. Then the container should be sewn into a pocket in the handkerchief. The pocket may be made by folding part of the handkerchief over the container, or by adding a piece of similar material. The latter method is suggested only when the handkerchief is of so small a size that there is not enough material for a fold. The pocket should be made so tight around the container that there can be no movement. This is necessary so that only the very tip of the container will extend through the cut in the cloth. The tip should extend only enough so that the cloth will not obstruct the ejection of the liquid and that means only that the opening is free from the material. A thirty-second of an inch beyond the cloth will be found to be ample.

When the handkerchief is taken from the pocket (or handbag) is the time to get the container in the proper position so that the liquid can be released. In order that this may be done easily, it is necessary for the handkerchief to have been put into the pocket (or handbag) in such a position as to make this action possible. The manner in which the handkerchief is held in the hand will vary according to the person doing the trick. It will depend upon the size of the handkerchief, the size of the person’s hand, the size of the container used, and the manner which the performer finds most natural to hold a handkerchief. These things can be learned only through experimentation. Two things are necessary. First, the container must be held so that the liquid may be ejected downward when the hand is held in a natural position. Second, care must be taken that no part of the handkerchief will cover the mouth of the container and thereby interfere with the flow of the liquid.


Showing how a woman can hold handkerchief so that hidden container may be used. The inside pocket should be sewn to position the tip of the tubing at the handkerchief’s opening.
Phil Franke

To use the handkerchief as a mask for a liquid container requires that there be a reasonable excuse for the hand holding the handkerchief to move over the object into which the liquid is to go. This may be done by handing a menu to the subject of the trick or passing the sugar bowl, bread plate, etc. Both hands should be used in the operation of passing but the hand with the handkerchief (the left hand is suggested) releases the passed object before the other hand is removed.

The handkerchief cover is very practical but it needs considerable experimentation by the performer and somewhat more practice than most of the other methods. However, it can be used when none of the other methods are practical.

Women on occasion carry small “purses” of brocade, petit point, suede, etc. The writer’s masculine memory (in such matters undoubtedly masculinity inaccurate) is that such purses are called “evening bags.” Provided that the time, the place, and the girl would make such a bag an expected adjunct, it may be used to advantage to hold a liquid container. The container is sewn into position inside the bag so that the mouth of the container will stick out through a minute hole at the bottom corner of the bag.

A bag is suitable for either a container which has to be pressed to eject the liquid or a rigid container from which the contents are released by removing a cork. This latter-type container was described in a previous section of this manual. At that time it was suggested hiding the container in a package of cigarettes. When such a container is hidden in a bag, the thread attached to the cork is run though the upper part of the material of the bag. A small bead is tied to the thread on the outside of the bag. The purpose of the bead is to have something which may be seen and easily grasped so that the cork can be released without fumbling. In case the bag is of a material or design which would make the bead noticeable, there are two alternatives. One is to sew a number of beads onto the bag where such added decoration would be in keeping. The other is to run the thread through the material to the outside of the bag and, at a point about a half an inch distant, run the thread back through the bag and fasten it to the inner surface of the bag. This will make a loop of thread flat against the outside surface of the bag which, by slipping a fingernail under the loop, makes it simple to pull the thread and thereby remove the cork. The thread used must be extra strong to avoid any chance of having it break. Linen thread usually called “carpet thread” (sometimes called “shoe thread” or “button thread”) is suitable. When thread of a matching color is used, it is invisible, and even a contrasting color is not apt to be noticed and, when noticed, is meaningless.

The advantage of the use of an evening bag for holding a container is that a container of large capacity can be used. As these bags always are held in the hand, when not left on the lap, they excite no notice when in the hand. It may be found easier to use the bags while standing near a punch bowl, or coffee urn, if the occasion be such as to have these things. However, there should be no difficulty using it while seated at a table. Here again the writer being unable to know or even to guess all the circumstances and situations in which the tricks might be performed must leave many details to the performer’s greater knowledge of the particular occasion.

In ending this section, it might be well to stress by repetition several points regarding women tricksters. The primary and chief point is that a woman trickster never should be seen to do anything which would be unnatural for a woman to do in the locality where the trick is performed. She should take advantage of any of the mistaken ideas men cherish about women because aiding a person to fool himself by letting him follow his false beliefs is the easiest way to deceive. It is so much easier to nudge than it is to push (even when the nudge is verbal) and far less apparent. No matter which type of woman her role requires her to act, the woman trickster should be a calm, rather than a fluttery, example of that type. Finally, no matter what the speed of her speech, she must remember to make her gestures deliberate.