The Sacred Riana

Newspaper Trick


On her audition performance for America’s Got Talent, The Sacred Riana performed a mindboggling and scary trick which at the same time shocked, terrified and amazed both the audience and the judges.

Riana walks to the judges’ table and shows them a piece of old newspaper. The headline reads: “12 People Died in Building Blaze: Suicide Victim to Blame”. She then asks Mel B to pick one out of the many pieces of paper she has placed on the table. On each is a photograph of a different face, with the name of the person written below the photo. Mel B selects a photograph of a man named Bob.

Riana then proceeds to take a photograph of Mel B with an instant camera. She places the developed photo onto Mel B’s palm face down, so we cannot see what is on the photo.

Then comes the first big shock of the trick. Riana fully displays the newspaper article and reveals that the suicide victim mentioned in the article was actually the same Bob Mel B selected from all the different photos! There is his picture right in the middle of the newspaper article. How is this possible?

But then comes an even bigger shock. Riana tells Mel B to look at the photograph on her palm. When Mel sees the photograph, she nearly faints as Bob is standing right behind her on the photo!

How did she do it? See the performance of the trick for yourself and then read the explanation below:


How did she do it? Are there really some kind of supernatural forces at work here?

Of course not. But then how did Riana pull off this amazing illusion? To understand how this trick is done, we have to first take a look at the time order of events. Notice that Ariana takes the photo only after Mel has already selected Bob. That tells us that the trick happens after Mel selects one of the photographs. If she picked another person’s photograph (Ronald’s, for example), the trick would be exactly the same but there would be Ronald’s photo in the newspaper and Ronald would appear on the photo behind Mel B.

There are two main parts of this trick: the newspaper part and the photograph part. Let’s first look at the newspaper trick since it is much simpler.

How is it that from all the people Mel B could pick, Bob appears in the newspaper article? The answer is so simple it might surprise you. Riana actually has many different versions of that newspaper page, each with a different person presented as the suicide victim! When Mel selects Bob, Ariana simply takes the version with Bob on it. It is hard to say exactly where she has all the versions and how she secretly takes the right one since the camera doesn’t show everything that is going on.

Now let’s look at the second part of the trick. How does Bob appear behind Mel B on the freshly taken photo? The answer is that the “instant camera” Ariana uses to take the photo is not a normal camera but a very clever gimmick. It has the ability to merge two photos using a technique that photographers call “double exposure”. It can do this for any of the photos that Ariana placed on the table, she just has to select which one. Since she already knows that Mel picked Bob, she selects Bob and the “camera” prints a picture of Bob merged with the picture of Mel that was just taken.

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