Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

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Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Magus » Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:13 pm



Although I'm only and probably will only ever be a hobbyist, my primary interest has always been card magic although I am branching out into sponges and occasional coins. However having recently been bought some Dvd's by Richard Osterlind I find myself more and more drawn to Mentalism. Is it possible to be both mentalist AND magician or at some stage do you have to decide which direction you want to take and choose one or the other?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Mandrake » Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:19 pm

You can be whatever you and your talents allow. It is often said that it may not be wise to mix the two in one act but, if you find a way, then go for it. :D

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Happy Madison » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:25 am

I completely echo Mandrake and I do also feel that there ways to mix the two genres together. Cards and Mentalism can be combined quite easily IMO. It's simply selecting the routines and giving them a presentation and feel that gives laymen the view that these card effects could something more than just a trick......

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Mandrake » Wed Oct 15, 2014 7:24 pm

Some very famous names have used playing cards in mentalism, the lesson I learn from that is when people say, 'Oh you should never.....' that's the cue to find a way whereby you can and should! For a while you'll be the only one doing so and you can use that to great advantage. As an example, there's a school of thought which says that using a magic square in an act is very old hat and nobody will be impressed. Last Friday I saw Pete Firman's new show and he used one very successfully!

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Magus » Wed Oct 15, 2014 8:14 pm

Thanks for the replies guys, I wasn't specifically meaning to combine the two mediums in a single act rather learn different acts for each medium. My question more concerned would you be taken seriously as a mentalist if your spectators knew you also performed as a magician?

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby soveda » Wed Oct 15, 2014 9:46 pm

Magus wrote:Thanks for the replies guys, I wasn't specifically meaning to combine the two mediums in a single act rather learn different acts for each medium. My question more concerned would you be taken seriously as a mentalist if your spectators knew you also performed as a magician?

In that scenario it's more like mental magic than "mentalism", personally I think that people are more likely to think "magic trick" if you have done traditional magic before.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Part-Timer » Wed Oct 15, 2014 10:42 pm

I think you can be both, even within one act, but you must be careful not to undermine the mentalism. It's rather odd that the question arose from watching Richard Osterlind at work, as he is one of the main performers who does exactly that: mix magic and mentalism (in one act).

Personally, I think it is very easy to get it wrong (well, more precisely, not get it as right as you should do - much harder to spot). As an example, if you saw a magician do Ambitious Card, a Torn and Restored, maybe a bit of flashy card stuff, like a Hot Shot Cut and he then told you he was going to read your mind and reveal the card you chose, would you buy into it?

This gets debated a lot, but the real difference between mentalism and magic is that, in this day and age to Western audiences, people don't really think you can do magic (and, if you could, why are you restoring cards you tore up in the first place?). Even if they don't really think you can read minds, there can be that tantalising moment of uncertainty. It's actually a complicated subject and I recommend Richard's various books in particular.

At this point, you often get someone who comes along and says that they chuck whatever tricks they like together and always get good reactions, it's all about entertainment, presentation and the like. My point is always, so what about good reactions, wouldn't you rather have the best reactions?

A bit of magic can help liven up a programme of solid mentalism fare, which can get a bit "samey". As I say, check out Richard's books and also his Live without a Net DVD.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby 10DD » Thu Oct 16, 2014 7:47 am

Magus wrote:Thanks for the replies guys, I wasn't specifically meaning to combine the two mediums in a single act rather learn different acts for each medium. My question more concerned would you be taken seriously as a mentalist if your spectators knew you also performed as a magician?


It depends on what powers/skills you claim to have under both umbrellas. I would also echo pretty much everything that Mandrake has said in this thread.

Yes, it could be easy to get things a bit wrong and have conflicting character traits but that's avoidable with a little thought.

Here's a theoretical (and rather exaggerated) example of what I mean...

You demonstrate some powerful sleight of hand card routines that you say you have been practicing for many years, perhaps a crooked gambling exposé as this has always been an interest of yours. You have shown one of the skills you have and whilst you might not call yourself a magician, people will associate the things you have just done as being 'magic' related. Later in the performance you attempt to demonstrate a different kind of skill, psychological, involving only the mind. You go on to divine a freely thought of person that had been written down on a billet that you never even touched.

In the above example, the skills you initially performed using cards would traditionally fall under the bracket of what a magician does - sleight of hand (they are not even mental magic tricks or card divinations). You have then gone on to perform one of the strongest effects in mentalism - divining a freely thought of person under test conditions. As you never touched the billet, the sleight of hand skills you previously demonstrated in no way diminish the effect or the audience's ability to take you seriously as a 'mind-reader'.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Magus » Thu Oct 16, 2014 11:26 am

Thanks again guys, Part-Timer, I'll certainly try and get hold of a couple of Richard's books, I really like his performance style and am enjoying his Easy To Master Mental Miracles. I'm currently practicing my Billet switching.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby bmat » Thu Oct 16, 2014 5:09 pm

Of course you can be both. If somebody says different then you know that is not a person to be taking advice from. It gets iffy if you start taking money to do psychic readings. In that scenario you really don't want your clients knowing you are a magician or a mentalist. Lay people don't really know the difference between a mentalist and a magician. Most assume its a trick regardless of what you call yourself. But don't tell the mentalists that. Most are pretty much in denial.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby Mr_Grue » Fri Oct 17, 2014 12:44 pm

I believe that if you focus on who you are as a performer, not in terms of what you do, but in terms of your personal style, approach and manner then you could even do away with the notion of magic and mentalism being separate things. All that matters is whether or not a particular trick suits you. Derren Brown is a balls-out mentalist, but he has performed the Losander table. As the old maxim has it, if it moves it's mentalism, if it floats it's magic, but the presentation Brown found for the table made total sense to his persona.

Of course, the trouble with this is you have to figure out who you are as a performer, which is a task I suspect many never get to the end of. We're all works in progress.

Simon Scott

If the spectator doesn't engage in the effect,
then the only thing left is the method.


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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby JAQK » Sat Oct 18, 2014 10:23 pm

Mentalism is part of magic, and mentalist are magicians...
in my understanding, you have to be a really good magician to become a good mentalist, if you don't know the basics of Magic, it is impossible to be a mentalist!

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby TonyB » Sun Oct 19, 2014 6:20 pm

It is possible to combine mentalism and magic in a career. Easy, in fact. But in a single show? You are kidding yourself.

Once you do the first magic trick you have branded yourself a magician. Everything you do from then is magic. You can frame it any way you like, but you are not doing mentalism. You are doing mental magic. You can do a great show that way. Many do.

Mentalism implies that the audience believe the explanation you give them - NLP, psychology, pyschic power. Once you do a magic trick, the belief changes. And thus you are not doing mentalism.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby 10DD » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:34 am

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.

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Re: Mentalist or Magician - Can you be both?

Postby 10DD » Mon Oct 20, 2014 7:58 am

JAQK wrote:Mentalism is part of magic, and mentalist are magicians...
in my understanding, you have to be a really good magician to become a good mentalist, if you don't know the basics of Magic, it is impossible to be a mentalist!


This is just not true at all. There are many mentalists that entered the art without a background in magic and magic is in no way a necessary precursor for mentalism.

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