Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby mark lewis » Oct 21st, '14, 13:29



Oh, and here is the proof that I do card tricks at psychic fairs. Note the photograph and the little write up about me which specifically mentions card tricks. I have also made a comment in the comment section.

http://www.blogto.com/sports_play/2014/ ... chic_fair/

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby TonyB » Oct 21st, '14, 23:07

10DD wrote:I disagree. It's not 'easy' to successfully combine them and the example in my earlier post shows that it is possible. I've done something similar informally and the audience believed the explanations provided because everything was plausible and logical, there was nothing conflicting about it. There wasn't any mention or noticeable sub-text of magic in the script, yet something like a Poker Deal demonstration is a classic effect of card magic. Presentation is key.

Unless you have a video of the entire performance, I find that difficult to accept.

When I do mentalism I do not claim, like Derren, that I am using psychology and showmanship. I imply (never state) that there is more to it. And I will not sully that with tricks.

If you combine magic and mentalism you will get away with it, and you will entertain. But you are not a mentalist in the sense that Kreskin was, or the Paddingtons, or Uri Geller. You are a mental magician, like Derren. You have sacrificed true believability for a temporary suspension of disbelief, just for the sake of a couple of tricks. If you are happy with that, great. Many make it work. Many have risen to greatness doing that. But it is different from true mentalism.

My last mentalism show I walked onto an empty stage with nothing, and read minds like Psychic Sally, John Edward, etc, for an hour. The credibility would have been destroyed if I had opened with a card trick.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby mark lewis » Oct 22nd, '14, 01:45

I cannot resist it. I have no idea if I have already posted all this on this forum somewhere. I know I have posted it on the Magic Cafe. I formed this philosophy and wrote it down decades ago. The following words were written those decades ago. I haven't read it for a while and have no idea if I still believe it or not. I expect I do. Here it is:
............................................................................................................................................................................

Here is my take on this mentalism and magic debate which has gone on for decades.
This subject has been discussed a million times. It has been done to death,
in fact.
Yet has it?
I think I have a new perspective on the matter. Actually it is not a new
perspective from my point of view. I figured this out years and years ago.

When I first started performing decades ago I used to believe the standard
wisdom that you should never mix the two. It took about 25 years for me to
realise reluctantly that the standard wisdom was WRONG.

It became obvious to me that I had followed the wrong philosophy for a
quarter of a century. Not only is it perfectly acceptable to mix the two I
have discovered that it is ADVISABLE. Nowadays I do not merely say vaguely
that you can perhaps mix the two. I say that you SHOULD mix the two. I was
almost tempted to say that you MUST mix the two but I will resist it because
there are always exceptions.

I first got suspicious of the rule because there seemed to be too many
exceptions to it. A few exceptions here and there I can accept but when I
noticed that 80% of the really big names in mentalism mixed the two I
thought that there had to be something else going on.

Dunninger mixed the two. Kreskin still does.
Berglas mixes the two and in fact always used to finish his mental act with
pickpocketing!
Al Koran bragged and bragged to me that his Linking Rings was a show
stopper. His actual words " I open my mental act with the rings and it is a
show stopper. Yes. A mental act!!!"
He seemed to be very proud that he did the rings in a mental act and
emphasised the seeming incongruity of such. He seemed quite delighted by it.

With great trepidation I introduced magic into my mentalism show expecting
to be struck down by lightning and great disapproval of the multitude.
Instead I was astonished to find that not only did I get stronger reaction
from the audience I found that the belief in my clairvoyant powers was
ENHANCED!

I have found that to be the case ever since. Whenever I have performed
mentalism alone it has gone over well but less people believed that I was
real. Paradoxically when I performed magic I noticed it seemed in some weird
way to make the mindreading more genuine.

This was not only against standard wisdom it seemed at first to defy logic.
Could all the books I had read be wrong? I was sick as a pig to realise that
they were. I had wasted 25 years following the wrong belief system.
For the last 15 years I have been trying to make up for lost time and I
would suggest to newcomers that they don't waste all the time I did. You
have to be very careful when reading the advice in books it seems and you
must not be afraid to break the mold once in a while.

I analysed the matter and decided to figure out what was going on. After all
it seemed logical that if you mixed magic with mentalism that people would
think that the mentalism was just a trick like the magic they had seen.

Wrong. And I believe I have figured out why. I often suspect that people who
mix magic and mentalism with good results do it out of instinct based on
audience reaction yet feel a vague sense of guilt that they are not doing it
the "proper" way. They may think that somehow they are an odd exception and
this is why it is working. It might be helpful to these people to realise
why it is working and why what they are doing is producing seemingly
illogical results but successful nevertheless.

I believe that it is all to do with the subconcious resentment people have
against being fooled. Every magician has come up against this. This is why
hecklers appear and why certain people show as little reaction as they can
to magic. There are ways to overcome this problem but it is beyond the scope
of what I have to say here.

A mentalist is subject to another difficulty besides the resentment one. He
has a scepticism factor to deal with. He has double trouble. Scepticism and
resentment.

If you do mentalism alone you get this in spades. I well remember a fine
mentalist performing at a certain venue. I remember that he only did
mentalism with no magic of any kind. I also remember the comments
afterwards.

"No such thing as mindreading" and "is he trying to insult our
intelligence?" and "who is he kidding" and "he is pretty good but it is just
a trick"

Contrary to what some self deluded mentalists think laymen can be a bit more
astute than they are given credit for. Sure there are a few laymen who will
believe it is real but the vast majority do not. Some people do have a bit
of common sense.

The natural scepticism and defensive resentment factor worked against this
fellow even though he was a fine performer.

Now perhaps you can see where I am going with this. If you start with some
magic a strange thing happens. A kind of reverse psychology. It is like you
have made a disclaimer without having to say it out loud. You are implying
that you are not real. That what you do is trickery and entertainment.
However, subconsiously the audience relaxes. When you do the mindreading it
seems that you are not claiming anything at all. The scepticism and
resentment factor has been removed.
Paradoxically this brings out the belief in weird things that lurks in all
of us. All the more so because you have not claimed anything. You have let
the audience believe the idea was theirs alone.

Dale Carnegie once said "let the other fellow believe the idea is his"
By doing magic first (I recommend starting with it and keeping it separate
from the mentalism-do not mix and match) a strange thing happens in the
spectators mind. They form the idea that what you do is real OF THEIR OWN
ACCORD. It is not pushed down their throat in the same way it is if you do
the mentalism alone.

As I have said many mentalists have instinctively known that they can mix
the two but may have wondered why. I believe the above reasoning is why.

Think about it.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Mandrake » Oct 22nd, '14, 06:39

Superb thread folks and its now a sticky?

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby mark lewis » Oct 22nd, '14, 11:08

I was performing in Mexico once and an astute member of the audience remarked afterwards, "I know some of what you do is a trick. I think those envelopes were marked but yet I know that some of what you do is real. I saw how you described people on stage and you seemed to know all about them. I would like to get a psychic reading from you". And of course she was right!

I was doing a psychometry routine at the time. People can sense the difference between trickery and the real thing.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby scott1rq » Oct 22nd, '14, 12:37

mark lewis wrote:As I have said many mentalists have instinctively known that they can mix
the two but may have wondered why. I believe the above reasoning is why.

Think about it.


Very Very interesting observation Mark and definitely worth pondering. This had me analysing my own act and it suddenly struck me that I have to some extent done what you have suggested in your post. No I don't actually start with obvious magic tricks (at present) but my performance progresses from what I suppose could be classed as mental magic (pick a card and I'll read your mind) to Q & A which I consider advance mentalism and finally on to pure readings from the platform, each demonstration becoming more impossible and less reliant on props.

Interestingly enough, I used to open my mentalism act with the production of a pint of water from my sleeve which always worked well and as you suggest, relaxed the audience. I dropped this a few years back however when I started to perform more often in semi surrounded cabaret environments. I am now seriously thinking of putting it back in again.

Thanks for your insight.

Regards

Scott

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby mark lewis » Oct 23rd, '14, 01:29

I think I saw Kreskin produce a pint of water at the beginning of his show. Or was it a pint of beer? Or was it even a pint? Maybe a bottle. I can't bloody remember. At any rate he produced some liquid or other at the beginning of his show. If it is good enough for Kreskin I suppose it is good enough for you.

Oh, and you should probably edit that "out of the sleeve" bit. We tend to forget this place comes in search engines. And I will edit these sentences once I know you have seen them. In recent months I have become a bit of an anti exposure fanatic because of the bloody internet. Up to now I didn't care a jot. A bit late to be doing it in my old age I suppose.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Mandrake » Oct 23rd, '14, 08:53

Scott's OK in saying that, the routine is that he walks on stage empty handed, decides to take his jacket off, pulling it inside out, and whilst doing so pulls a full pint glass of beer or water out of the sleeve, takes a sip and gets on with his act.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby scott1rq » Oct 23rd, '14, 15:23

Mandrake wrote:Scott's OK in saying that, the routine is that he walks on stage empty handed, decides to take his jacket off, pulling it inside out, and whilst doing so pulls a full pint glass of beer or water out of the sleeve, takes a sip and gets on with his act.


That's right, Pat page showed it to me years ago, the production is actually out of the empty sleeve, that's not the method.

Great thread though.

Cheers.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby mark lewis » Oct 23rd, '14, 22:23

You know something? I that is exactly what Kreskin did. It may well be the same trick. Paul Pacific was at that show. Perhaps he will confirm if I am correct or not.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby 10DD » Oct 24th, '14, 07:34

TonyB wrote:
10DD wrote:I disagree. It's not 'easy' to successfully combine them and the example in my earlier post shows that it is possible. I've done something similar informally and the audience believed the explanations provided because everything was plausible and logical, there was nothing conflicting about it. There wasn't any mention or noticeable sub-text of magic in the script, yet something like a Poker Deal demonstration is a classic effect of card magic. Presentation is key.

Unless you have a video of the entire performance, I find that difficult to accept.

When I do mentalism I do not claim, like Derren, that I am using psychology and showmanship. I imply (never state) that there is more to it. And I will not sully that with tricks.

If you combine magic and mentalism you will get away with it, and you will entertain. But you are not a mentalist in the sense that Kreskin was, or the Paddingtons, or Uri Geller. You are a mental magician, like Derren. You have sacrificed true believability for a temporary suspension of disbelief, just for the sake of a couple of tricks. If you are happy with that, great. Many make it work. Many have risen to greatness doing that. But it is different from true mentalism.

My last mentalism show I walked onto an empty stage with nothing, and read minds like Psychic Sally, John Edward, etc, for an hour. The credibility would have been destroyed if I had opened with a card trick.


I do appreciate what you were trying to say but I think the last few posts have rebutted your claims rather effectively (see Mark Lewis' observations).

I do not appreciate you incorrectly telling me what you assume I am. You cannot define who I am (or anyone else for that matter) in any way shape or form. It is a shame that you think you can, especially from a couple of posts on a forum, and only serves to contribute to certain negative stereotypes around mentalists. I don't know if you read through my posts in their entirety or if you have just misunderstood, but I would never open a 'mentalism' stage show with a card trick, I merely stated that in an informal setting there is no reason why a mentalist cannot entertain with some of their other interests, such as gambling, if routined intelligently, without sacrificing true believability.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Lady of Mystery » Oct 24th, '14, 08:48

Play nicely please boys :D

You have to remember that it all depends on who you are and what sort of performance you're doing. As long as you think about the structure and context of your show and what you're doing fits in with that then there's no problem. Of course, going from giving a display of mediumship to pulling sponge balls out of the air isn't going to work but if something fits in with your act then why not. I've always thought that Derren's Sceance was a great example of how you can use some very old magic tricks to really enhance something much deeper.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Ted » Oct 24th, '14, 12:52

One point that's not been addressed, and may be worth looking at, is that the original poster is (and possibly always will be) a hobbyist but is also asking, "would you be taken seriously as a mentalist if your spectators knew you also performed as a magician?"

My question is, do hobbyists (like me) actually want to be taken seriously as mentalists? How would that work if we did? Would people truly believe we could read minds etc? And would that be a good thing if they did?

IMHO: no: it would be weird and dishonest; doubtful but possible; probably not.

T.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Mandrake » Oct 24th, '14, 13:38

Good point Ted, isn't enough that we would be known as entertainers?

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby scott1rq » Oct 26th, '14, 14:39

Ted wrote:One point that's not been addressed, and may be worth looking at, is that the original poster is (and possibly always will be) a hobbyist but is also asking, "would you be taken seriously as a mentalist if your spectators knew you also performed as a magician?"

My question is, do hobbyists (like me) actually want to be taken seriously as mentalists? How would that work if we did? Would people truly believe we could read minds etc? And would that be a good thing if they did?

IMHO: no: it would be weird and dishonest; doubtful but possible; probably not.

T.


Ted,

I think you are correct from a hobbyist's point of view but as a full time professional, my perception is slightly different. Because I bill myself as a mentalist it is very important to me that my audiences do take me and my skill set seriously. It is only by being taking seriously (even when I am entertaining them) that I can up sell other products.

I explain the psychology behind this in depth in my ebook "The Corporate Mentalist" http://www.scottcreasey.com/downloads/the-corporate-mentalist/ here's a few quotes from the book.

"The management will pay (and often pay well) for a lecture, teach in, training technique, motivational speaker or anything else which will empower their sales team and allow them to perform more efficiently and increase profits."

"If I marketed this presentation as a magic show (which I could) I would probably manage to get booked to work the Christmas parties associated with my target audience. I might land a couple of private parties off the back of the main performance, but to be honest I would be limiting (in this instance) the commercial opportunities available within the corporate (particularly sales) environment."

"Once I have the act together and have rehearsed it to as close to perfection as is possible, I search for any extra financial spin off's I can incorporate."

"If I pitch this presentation as an entertaining demonstration of advanced psychological techniques which can be taught and that once learned can enhance the performance of any work force, I open up a lot of opportunities for spin off lectures and training days, on subjects such as stress management through self-hypnosis and mnemonic memory techniques."


Is that weird and dishonest? Well it would be if I lied and wasn't able to offer workshops to teach mnemonics, confidence building, body language techniques and self hypnosis.

Would corporate management take me seriously if I pitched those follow up lectures to them then during my demonstration of advanced psychological techniques I dropped in a zombie floating ball? I'm not sure, but I doubt it.

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