Becoming A Mentalist by Craig Browning

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Postby Contrabass101 » Jul 21st, '09, 22:39



Thanks,

Yes, it is interesting how a "skeptic" which comes from the Greek word (σκηπτομαι) for "considering" or "thinking about" has come to mean one who simply rejects any belief system that involves the supernatural... and even with a touch of objectivity. :roll:

I will wait with Switchcraft for another while, then.

Anyway, as far as my own conscience goes, I will not be able to do readings in the "true" sense... being a "real" astrologer/tarot-reader/palm-reader etc. I would not be comfortable doing things that give credibility to a belief system, that is at odds with what I believe myself. I guess that is closed-minded, but in the words of Chesterton, "the only reason for keeping an open mind [which I believe is what a true skeptic does], like keeping an open mouth, is to eventually shut it at something solid."

I am not a "skeptic", in neither meaning of the word. I am quite sure of what I believe (which involves a great deal which should be characterized as supernatural), and I am quite sure of my reasons for believing it. And while I realize that it is important for my "character" to be a believer in what he does, when he does it, I will not be able to see or present myself as "a reader" in general.

Also, while I am sure doing readings can be very interesting, I don't think they are my thing that much... I might add an occasional reading to what I do, but I think my style will be somewhat lighter.

How exactly I am going to present my stuff later on, I do not know... I think I might feel most comfortable somewhere between Banacheck and Eugene Burger (if you can imagine a mentalist Eugene Burger).

I will have to find a way to distance myself from my character, but I do not like the full-blown cynical approach either. I have some ideas, but ultimately, only time will tell how it turns out.

- CB

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Postby Craig Browning » Jul 22nd, '09, 04:35

It's curious that you would want to do mentalism, this being your position. The strongest and most successful effect/routine in all of the craft is the Q&A which REQUIRES us to do Readings and the only way to honestly hone that skill is to do Readings... even Corinda tells you this.

But then this "wall" is one of the biggest reasons most magic enthusiast ultimately run back to the safety of their sponge bunnies and playing cards... it's just "safer" than commitment, so to speak.

There is no other single skill in all of magic, that has the income bearing potential and over-all flexibility as one will find in the art of being an effective Reader. Then again, I know that in today's world many see no wrong in presenting mentalism in the same way they would a kiddie show... not that you would do such a thing, just that it has become an acceptable and practically encouraged mind-set in recent years. :?

As to the word "Skeptic", I can appreciate your trivia on the term and will point out that many who, even a dozen years ago, considered themselves "Skeptics" have chosen to avoid said association now days. Like the term "Christian" it now has a rather ugly and negative stench surrounding it; mainly due to the fact that the current era of self-proclaimed "Skeptics" are little other than artificial CYNICS. I say "artificial" in that the majority seem to simply be on the boat as it drifts down stream rather than being genuinely committed to the idea of total NOTHINGNESS. Too, many are deluded by the modern-myth that suggests that "Intelligent" people do not have imaginary friends or belief in things miraculous or even remotely "impossible" let alone that which may be seen as "Super Natural".

I do feel for such, seeing all the amazing things they have shut the door on and how bitter and rude it seems to make them... but then most zealots fit that description, don't they? :lol:

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Postby Wishmaster » Jul 22nd, '09, 07:55

Craig Browning wrote:I do feel for such, seeing all the amazing things they have shut the door on and how bitter and rude it seems to make them... but then most zealots fit that description, don't they? :lol:

That was a good post Craig and I absolutely agree with you.

You reminded me about something too...when I was a little boy, probably around 6 or 7, I had an imaginary friend who happened to be a Native American boy, complete with the traditional dress. I used to talk to him and from what my mum tells me, he would often just stand in the corner of whichever room I happened to be in at the time. I often wonder what such things mean and what prompts children to see them.

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Postby mark lewis » Jul 22nd, '09, 11:55

I feel that I should point out that being a performing mentalist is NOT the same as being a psychic reader. They are two entirely different professions and one has very little to do with the other. A singer has more in common with a mentalist than a psychic reader does.

A mentalist is for want of a better word a fake through and through. Everything he does is a trick. And he does it in an entertainment situation often on a stage.

A psychic reader may be a fake or he may not be. The latter is more common than the former. And in the main he doesn't do it in an entertainment situation since there ain't much "entertainment" in a reading. On the contrary most of the time it is full of problems and misery.

The exception is when a psychic gets booked to do entertainment readings at say, a corporate or other event. These are 5 minute readings that still have very little to do with mentalism since they are done one to one and not in front of an audience.

Most psychics of my acquantaince know absolutly nothing about the tricks of mentalism and in fact it is the same thing the other way round to an extent. I find very few mentalists know that much about readings except at a very cursory level. That is why most of the books you see on the subject are a load of twaddle written by people who have done very few paid readings if any at all.

I bet Ian Rowland for example has never done a paid reading in his life. If you have never done a reading for actual money how can you claim to know anything about the subject? Anything you say is academic which sounds good in theory but has no validity in the real world. If you write a book about something it should be grounded in REAL exoerience not what you imagine goes on.

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Postby bananafish » Jul 22nd, '09, 13:14

mark lewis wrote:I bet Ian Rowland for example has never done a paid reading in his life.

I bet he has...

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Postby Contrabass101 » Jul 22nd, '09, 16:46

Thank you,

Mark, I like your pointing out the difference between a mentalist and a psychic reader. I definitely see myself as being in the mentalist category.

Craig, yes there might eventually arise some tension between my interest in mentalism and my personal beliefs. But I do not intend to be a professional mentalist, nor to make a substantial income from it. It's a hobby. A rather time-consuming hobby, but a hobby nonetheless. And I am sure, that if I put some thought to it, I will find a way to reconcile the two. And perhaps create something very interesting in the process.

But bottom line: I'm in it for the fun. For the wows and the laughs. So in a sense, I guess, I am much more of a magician than I am a psychic. I want my mentalism to entertain people... I want it to be theatrical and dramatic. But I don't want any religious followers, thank you :D

- CB

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Postby Craig Browning » Jul 22nd, '09, 17:17

bananafish wrote:
mark lewis wrote:I bet Ian Rowland for example has never done a paid reading in his life.

I bet he has...


Let me defend what Mark says here by a slight "re-wording" (which is how I think he means things)... Rowland had never had to rely on doing nothing other than Readings for making a living for any extended period of time, on a consistent basis. To this day the man stacks his audiences with those he knows will think & work with him in ways he requires so as to prove his various points vs. cold, off the street everyday human beings. I wouldn't say that he "stooges" things as much as set's things up to an extreme sense of advantage while claiming his exposure style demonstrations are on the up and up and purely legit "work anywhere-any time" scenarios; he's been caught red handed on that front.

The other thing both, many magicians and Rowland himself seem to forget is that his book was not penned for the magic community but was an EXPOSE' intended for the general market and as his own "pitch book" at his "Consumer Awareness" talks. It wasn't until the magic mob discovered it and started heralding it as the holy of hollies that its original purpose and target market changed.

I have some serious mixed feelings on this book, especially given the chapter on Psychic Baiting and "How to Harass the Believers While Generating Cheap Press For Yourself" (or so said sections should have been titled). More than anything else around the book, these sections proved to me that he was just another self-professed Intellectual that equate intellect with atheism and the need to not believe one single thing about what could be classified as "the magickle"... other than exploiting the idea.

I know of not one single person working in show biz that do Readings on a regular basis that does not have a very strong opinion that contradicts the assumptions put forth by Rowland and his ilk. At the same time, most that do have learned how to understand either side of the eternal argument.

To a degree what Mark says about the differences between a table side Reader vs. stage performer is "true"... if we are to buy into the whole Nelson idea of simple one-liner Answers to Questions that would be the case. Professional Quality Mentalism is however, moving light years ahead of that idea with programs running over 2 hours in length, in which the Q&A is the only real feature to it all and being able to deliver reasonably accurate and unique (as in, not canned) feedback without anything ever being written down, is the way things are heading. Even Banachek and Maven have pointed this out and how the paying public is wanting encounters with someone along the line of John Edward vs. Kreskin... someone that's of the current bend vs. the yesteryear "carved in stone" (so it would seem) Dunninger Mold. It is from that understanding and a philosophy that's been a growing undercurrent within the mentalism community over the past 15 years or better, that I base my statements around and why I tend to be so outspoken when it comes to such things.

An important other point that needs to be brought out when it comes to the idea of doing table-side Readings... that is the fact that one does not need to do Tarot, Runes or Palmistry when in said role. There is a myriad of non-occult feeling divination/character analysis systems out there; graphology, tree/drawing readings, SAR, etc. that one can specialize in. I think it sad, how so many in our world assume that being a Reader means one must be spooky, esoteric and "deep" when I know that the converse is very true and proves to be loads of fun.

Finally there is that underlying fact about Mentalism, making that extra cash and doing Readings; the Home Psychic/Astrology Parties and what Webster refers to as "Lady's Night Out". The bulk of such packages center the the act of doing one-on-one mini-readings for the group. The practice is the bread & butter for many in this line of work, and what fills in those low points when not doing the big shows but likewise, what serves as a marketing tool when it comes to generating both, those bigger shows as well as reputation... but I am an "all or nothing" kind of guy, so maybe I'm just not seeing history's lesson in the same way all the "cake and eat it too" enthusiasts see it
:?

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Postby mark lewis » Jul 22nd, '09, 17:47

Again Ian Rowland has never done a paid reading in his life. If he has then he is a hypocrite of the first order. He can't debunk we holy spiritual people and then at the same time follow our example.

And if his alleged paid reading is of the same quality as the reading in his book then the clients would be demanding their money back.

If what is mean by "paid" reading is the chatter on television about twaddle such as psychics looking in coffee cup reflections then he is diddling the public telling them about things that plain aren't true and he is just as much a fraud as he alleges we holy psychic people are.

As for two hours shows from the stage if you are referring to John Edwards and the rest of the psychic medium gang then you are not talking about showbusiness or entertainment. A psychic medium is not in showbusiness even though sometimes it might seem so. A medium is merely transmitting messages from the other side

Now it is indeed true that people like Kreskin and Marc Salem are doing two hour shows but not once do they indulge in readings from the stage.
The only two performance pieces that are really conducive to readings are Q & A and the Anneman Pseudo Psychometry. Admittedly these are both strong items but if you don't do them it isn't the end of the world.

You can still be an entertainer and a strong mentalist without getting involved in readings. As I stated readings and performing have very little to do with each other except in the case of the two items above.

It is true that you can sometimes incorporate cold reading into certain mentalism tricks but very few psychics actually use cold reading. In fact very few of them even know what the hell it is. Not the spiritualist mediums of course. The more prominent of them know exactly what mischief they are up to. They do give solace and hope but it could be argued that it is false hope and this may be good or bad according to your viewpoint.

But again this has very little to do with showbusiness. And mentalism is SHOWBUSINESS.

I am active in both areas. I have had a very successful career as a psychic but I also do mentalism shows or more recently magic shows with a fair bit of mentalism mixed into it. When I do mentalism I use no psychic ability whatsoever except for my version of pseudo psychometry where I mix trickery in with my genuine intuiton and psychic ability however you wish to define it.

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Postby cactus mx » Sep 6th, '09, 12:14

Thank you very much for this PDF, I've been waiting for my copy of 13 steps to arrive (I've ordered it before discovering this forum, and after reading all of this I think that's a good start) and it got me more and more excited and eager to study.


Cheers!

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Postby Klangster1971 » Sep 14th, '09, 07:42

Hi,

I saw some posts earlier whereby people were saying "I wish I'd bought these books before and not wasted money on shiny props that don't get any use any more". I'd counter that, in any hobby/interest, you need to invest in a long learning curve in order to reap the most benefits. You were probably delighted with the reactions that some of those 'old' tricks got and that will have fuelled your desure to continue and invest further.

I know that I have got dozens and dozens of old packet tricks that I cringe when I look back on now - but at the time I was over the moon at the reaction they got.

And this leads me to my second point - don't be afraid of simple stuff. If you look at the basic work mentioned in PDF (billet work, pocket writing,etc) you can get some incredbile reactions from laypeople (and some magicians!) if performed right. So, I would actually suggest that you spend more time on your performance than delving too much deeper into the more detailed methods, once you've got some basics mastered.

With mentalism, confidence is the key (even more so than in some card magic where you can rely on practiced sleights to do the work). And the only way to build your confidence is to perform and not be afraid to fall on your a**! Using some of those basic methods will get some great, great reactions and give you confidence to develop further.

And I promise that, unlike some of those old props and packet tricks, you'll ALWAYS be using some of those first mentalism methods that are mentioned in that PDF!

Sean

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Postby seadawg » Sep 23rd, '09, 21:40

Craig,
I noticed that you didn't mention Herb Dewey in the list. I was under the impression that he was up there in terms of learning how to read. Any thoughts?

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Postby The Morrigan » Sep 29th, '09, 13:30

If you'll forgive me saying this and in the hope you can take criticism in a constructive way Craig, this document reads as if you're actually trying to put people off mentalism by giving them a huge reading list to get through before they ever start thinking aobut performing.

I've been quietly reading a lot of posts over the past few weeks and it seems to me all you really need is Corinda, Annemann and Fulves and you have a life time of material. But how to present it all, thats the question? Where are the books on presenting your act? A friend of mine says Absolute Magic should be on the list.

Sorry to be blunt. I don;t mean it that way. I'm in a rush as usual lol!

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Postby Craig Browning » Sep 29th, '09, 20:20

seadawg wrote:Craig,
I noticed that you didn't mention Herb Dewey in the list. I was under the impression that he was up there in terms of learning how to read. Any thoughts?


I'm discussing the BASICS here, Herb along with numerous others newbies tend to get pointed towards, are more intermediate to even advanced sources of study. Too, Herb specialized in one area (Private One-on-One Readings) which again, is not the purpose of this thread to focus on and too, a practice that many that adhere to the "new school" mentality, would prefer to distance themselves from and possibly bury deep in some undisclosed grave if they could.

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Postby Craig Browning » Sep 29th, '09, 20:23

The Morrigan wrote:If you'll forgive me saying this and in the hope you can take criticism in a constructive way Craig, this document reads as if you're actually trying to put people off mentalism by giving them a huge reading list to get through before they ever start thinking aobut performing.

I've been quietly reading a lot of posts over the past few weeks and it seems to me all you really need is Corinda, Annemann and Fulves and you have a life time of material. But how to present it all, thats the question? Where are the books on presenting your act? A friend of mine says Absolute Magic should be on the list.

Sorry to be blunt. I don;t mean it that way. I'm in a rush as usual lol!


Not in the least, this article is for those SERIOUS about learning the art NOT magicians that want to learn a handful of tricks. I can assure you however, you need much more than Corinda and Annemann; they are the primer to everything else but far from being a complete 101 level of study.

I am however, expanding on this article and compiling a book that will take what I've shared here, bring it a bit more up-to-date and better explain one's course of study and why.

I've not ever heard of "Absolute Magic" so can't say anything about that.

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Postby Klangster1971 » Sep 30th, '09, 12:05

Probably referring to Derren Brown's 'Absolute Magic'.

Along with DB's 'Pure Effect', these books have gained an almost mythical status amongst the more casual practitioners - mainly because they're so hard to get hold of!!

In terms of content, I don't think that they constitute the term 'essential' reading. To be sure, there are some great thoughts and ideas that Derren discusses but they are really the sort of books that should be read when you are a confident performer, looking for alternative ways to develop your act.

So - I think, from Craig's perspective... it should stay off the list for the moment!

In terms of books on 'presenting your act' - IMHO the best way for you to present your act is to get out there and present it! No book is ever going to be a substitute for experience and any book on the topic is likely to expect a level of performing experience. In my own case, I watched as many performers as I could (live, DVD and, yes, youtube - performances only!!). I was lucky enough to be working in a job that required daily 'performances' to customers (Working as an IT Trainer - brilliant opprtunity to use magic to keep the delegate's enthusiasm up!) and I tailored my act to my own personality. No book is ever going to be able to do that for you.


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