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Topic: Your First Mentalism Show
Message: Posted by: Harry R (Nov 23, 2002 08:19PM)

As someone who has recently taken the first steps down the mentalism path I'm interested to know about your first performances as mentalists.
Did you start out doing more traditional magic or is mentalism the area you've always specialised in?
Message: Posted by: Larry Becker (Nov 23, 2002 09:38PM)
Hi Harry. From the early 1940's to 1950 I was primarily engaged in performing magic. After obtaining a complete file of Ted Annemann's publication, the Jinx, and reading it night and day for two weeks, I was converted to things mental for life. By the time I was drafted into the Army in 1951 I was performing mostly mentalism. It's almost 2002 and I'm still at it. Hopefully one of these days I'll finally get it right.
Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (Nov 24, 2002 04:35PM)
Asmy background was first rooted in magic (I was studying mentalism from the age of 12) I finally started to phase it in in my mid twenties but it was not until I was perfroming stand-up comedy (with no props or magic JUST the comedy material I spoke) that I truly learned to be "me" and to understand the real how to perform mentalism successfuly. It was then that I dropped the magic altogether and began to perfrom mentalism only. You truly do require a strong presence to do perform mentalism effectively and truthfully, without trying to sound eliist, most magicians have no clue as to how to do it successfuly which is why so many fail or perform very boring bits and move back to magic which they can do successfuly. That is not to say it is failure as a performer, just that it is not an easy genre to perform in and so while many may try it, few succeed in doing so.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Message: Posted by: Bruno (Nov 24, 2002 06:30PM)
Thought reader is absolutely right. I came to mentalism from a long and successful career as an actor.I still act but my work as a psychological illusionist is my main and consistent source of income these days. Though I've had a life long interest in magic I never wanted to be a magician but as a child I longed for the day when I'd grow up and know the mysteries Uri Geller knew, but now I perform as if I taught Geller all he knows. I was taken by suprise by the reaction of the audience at the first show I ever presented. 32 people completely in the palm of my hand. I presented five effects and after each one I could see and feel the specs becoming progressively gripped by the idea that I might indeed at any moment truly read their thoughts. Fantastic!
Message: Posted by: John Macmillan (Nov 24, 2002 07:04PM)
Bruno, inquiring minds want to know, just what were those five effects (if you don't mind me asking)?

Message: Posted by: Joedy (Nov 24, 2002 09:03PM)
This is an interesting discussion. Paul mentions performing stand-up comedy and Bruno is an actor.
What kind of personality styles are better suited to the art of mentalism?
I'm not really seeking a certain presentation style that is the result of acting, but do certain personality traits better help or hinder mentalism performances?
Message: Posted by: RileyG (Nov 24, 2002 09:08PM)
I would not say what those five effects were, as each act should have it's own personality and we all know that far to many people steal other magicians and mentalist acts. Sometimes word for word...

One of the key things for all entertainers to do is develop an act that is unique to their personalities.

On 2002-11-24 20:04, John Macmillan wrote:
Bruno, inquiring minds want to know, just what were those five effects (if you don't mind me asking)?

Message: Posted by: Larry Becker (Nov 24, 2002 11:07PM)
Regarding performing personnas of successful mentalists, I've studied the subject for many years. To keep the answer as simple as possible I found that many of the more successful mentalists all demonstrated an amazing amount of energy while performing. Their presentations were housed in a frenetic energy that's hard to describe and more important, extremely difficult to emulate. What most forget is the fact that it's not what you did that really matters as much as the manner in which you did it. In my humble opinion if the audience comes away talking about an effect or effects that you performed instead of talking about you...I think you've failed. In addition to energy there's a confident aura of professionalism that surrounds these dynamic stars of mentalism. Confidence and professionalism that can only be achieved by countless hundreds, even thousands of performances. Star performers get that way by connecting with their audiences on an emotional level. People like them. Even love them. Some of these performers are not only talented, they have charisma. That indefinable something that makes them stand out from the crowd. Some people are born with it. Some work and drive themselves relentlessly to get it. How difficult is it to achieve? That's the reason there are so few of them. There are no shortcuts. Soemtimes it takes outside assistance to master the stagecraft that surrounds what we do and how we do it. Maybe even a capital investment in your future to study with talented teachers like Bob Fitch and Davy Marlin Jones. But don't give up on the dream. The dream and the blood and guts it takes to realize that dream is what it's all about.
Message: Posted by: RileyG (Nov 25, 2002 01:01AM)

Wonderful plug for Davy Marlin Jones. He is one of the most respected acting teachers in the world. The members of the PEA were belssed with a lecture/workshop from the master in Washington DC many years ago. Great information...
Message: Posted by: Sergeant (Nov 25, 2002 03:30AM)
Mentalism is much more different than magic. The techniques are similar but the execution is completely different. Why, magic is very visual. Menatlism is much more cerebral. This pacing between the two shows is very different. If you always get that instant applause from those fantastic visual effects, well, you are in for a surprise.

Mentalism, by nature is cerebral. There is not that natural applause point like there is in magic. When the effect reaches its climax, many times the audience will sit in a stunned silence. There minds racing, how? but their hands are sitting in their laps. Your character, experience, and abilities to guide your audience become critical. You must let them know when to react. This is why most mentalists start only after much experience on stage from other types of entertainment.

Your character should be you! Do not start looking for Mr. Mysterious, because unless you are a trained actor, you probably won’t pull it off. I would start by doing some strong mentalism in your normal show and get used to the differences in how you must guide the audience to the expected outcome and applause.

You must be more aware of how to position yourself and your audience so that they understand the effect, know when it is concluded, and know when to applaud. I have many times worked with magicians that thought they really blew some mental effect because the audience did not respond the same way they do with a very visual or comical linking ring effect or whatever. The audience was amazed, but they need a visual flag to let then know when to applaud. You must be able to do that with out looking clumsy in the performance.

Message: Posted by: Joedy (Nov 25, 2002 06:17AM)

Could you provide some generalize suggestions as to which mentalism illusion(s) could be a good first start when adding them into a magic illusion performances?
And besides the obvious bow on the stage, what are some of the techniques that mentalist use to indicate audience applause?
Message: Posted by: Bruno (Nov 25, 2002 09:18AM)
For Inquiring minds,
The effects I first performed were very basic stock: predictions, drawing dupes,think of two geometric shape etc, etc. I think a list of the effects would not be as usefull as telling you that Larry speaks with the truth that only experience can be certain of. Maximum endurance, on the front foot coupled with energy, commitment and an utter belief that what you are doing is entertaining is essential. After that a grasp of stage craft and voice control come in as equal considerations. An audience dosen't simply want to see effects, because after two or three they could just as easily start to think ' You read minds....So what?' What they want is someone who has a charismatic presence and is irresistable to watch.
Message: Posted by: Larry Becker (Nov 25, 2002 09:51AM)
This is a thread that is much more important than the details or inner workings of our tools of the trade. It is the heart and soul of any performing art. A subject that should be explored thoroughly if its practitioners are to even remotely become proficient . I'm sure there are many other who frequent this forum who have the experience and expertise to discuss it. How do we ingratiate ourselves with our audiences? How should we dress and interact with our audiences to earn their trust, admiration and respect? In short, this is where it's at. It's one of the most important discussion points we could possibly explore. If you agree...let's keep it going.
Message: Posted by: Tony Razzano (Nov 25, 2002 10:34AM)
I suggest that for those starating out, there is no better advice than on Lee Earle's tapes, Money Making Mentalism.

Best regards,
Tony Razzano
Message: Posted by: Larry Becker (Nov 25, 2002 10:53AM)
Tony's right. I had the pleasure of being there when he made those tapes. The most awesome thing about them is the fact that Lee did them extemporaneously. That is he did not write them and then simply record. Everything came from his heart as well as his mind. Truly an amazing thing to watch.
Message: Posted by: rickmagic1 (Nov 25, 2002 11:01AM)
I have to whole-heartedly agree with Larry about the energy level. I once saw a mentalist perform and it was all everyone could do to keep from falling asleep. His demeanor was so bland and he spoke very monotone. Even his presentations failed to grab the audience's attention.
Then I saw Tim Conover...completely different story. I, like Tim, am very energetic (picture a gerbil on quadruple Espresso). I have found that you just have to experiment with the energy levels, and find out what the audience is most responsive to.
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Nov 25, 2002 11:21AM)
On 2002-11-25 07:17, Joedy wrote:

And besides the obvious bow on the stage, what are some of the techniques that mentalist use to indicate audience applause?

Since most mentalism effects require the use of volunteers, an old trick is to thank your volunteers at the end of the routine and ask the audience to give them a round of applause for helping out.

(Of course, you know, the applause is really for you.)
Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (Nov 25, 2002 12:27PM)
On 2002-11-24 22:03, Joedy wrote:
...What kind of personality styles are better suited to the art of mentalism?...

I do not think that there is a correct personality type for sucess in mentalism, what IS required however is "sincerity" and this is acheived by truly being yourself on stage. The audience can sense that truth when you are working and this alone is a major component to a succesful performance of mentalism. (A good character actor who believes they are that character can achieve that type of sincerity too).

Despite many "magicians' stating that they are themselves on stage, they are not. When anyone begins to work on stage, in front of people, various psychological barriers go up. Those walls are automatic and it is a very difficult thing to drop them all and to be total exposed to your audience BUT this is what it does take to do this successfuly.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
Message: Posted by: AllThumbs (Nov 25, 2002 03:47PM)
Despite many "magicians' stating that they are themselves on stage, they are not.

...and those who are themselves, you sometimes wish they weren't.


Kris Sheglova
Message: Posted by: Joedy (Nov 25, 2002 06:04PM)
This is a very interesting thread.

Let's try this for fun and insight. Pick an actor and a specific movie role that they performed as an example of a good potiental mentalism illusionist.

I'm being farce here, but I would suppose that Pee Wee Herman is energetic, yes, but would make a poor mentalist with the persona.

But what screen personas would you suppose would make a good mentalism personality?
Message: Posted by: RileyG (Nov 25, 2002 06:52PM)
Movie: Nightmare Alley
Actor: Tryone Power
Year: 1947

Not a mentalism movie but a very powerful film... I suggest the following.

Movie: MAGIC
Actor: Anthony Hopkins
Year: 1978 (rated R, not the edited version)
VHS: Out Of Print, or out of stock

Vare rare movies to find, but can be found if you try. I have a pretty good copy of Nightmare Alley and an original VHS of MAGIC, and will be transfering them to DVD to preserve the tape that I have. Plus DVD lasts far longer...grin

On 2002-11-25 19:04, Joedy wrote:
Let's try this for fun and insight. Pick an actor and a specific movie role that they performed as an example of a good potiental mentalism illusionist.
Message: Posted by: Thoughtreader (Nov 26, 2002 08:24PM)
Nice to see you here.
What excellent suggestions and in fact both magicians and mentalists would do well to study how to take "You do as I do" and elevate it into a mentalism classic.
PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat