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Topic: Pyschic Conman!
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 21, 2004 06:26PM)
I am working on an act for adults in which I play the personea of a reformed conman who is 'educating' people about how to avoid being conned. The act will consist of the combination of gambling, pickpocketing and short cons that appear to educate without ever revealing the method.

I wanted to included a routine about pyschic confidence artists who 'trick' people into believing they have powers in order to seperate them from their hard earned money. What sort of routines would you suggest?
Message: Posted by: TheNightBringer89 (Dec 21, 2004 07:20PM)
Cold reading for "psychics". Or how about metal bending or pk effects for a more Uri Geller approach.
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Dec 21, 2004 07:47PM)
Hi Nicholas,

If you really want to talk about psychic con artists, you want to talk about the gypsy switch. My advice: take a step back and do some real research first; then you'll be prepared to write an act.

Best of luck,
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Dec 21, 2004 08:34PM)
Docc Hilford has something a little similar on a video that I have. It would be a great place to start or perhaps it contains something to add. The video is very old ( ten years or so). I can't remember the name. Con Man or something like that. Hope that helps.
Good Luck
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 21, 2004 09:51PM)
On 2004-12-21 20:47, Necromancer wrote:
Hi Nicholas,

If you really want to talk about psychic con artists, you want to talk about the gypsy switch. My advice: take a step back and do some real research first; then you'll be prepared to write an act.

Best of luck,
Yes, the gyspy switch is good one and easy to demonstrate in a theatrical routine. I also like the Spanish Prisoner and the Pigeon Drop. I have a wide knowledge of cons and confidence tricks.

What I am looking for is a PYSCHIC angle.

There was pyschic who use the Gypsy Switch to make money. She 'leant' a man $160,000 in cash for him to burn as on offering to appease bad spirits. He then wired her the money to pay her back. In actual fact the money she lent him was fake.

This is the key to many good confidence scams. The conman try and get the mark to have confidence in him but instead the conman demonstrates HIS 'confidence' in the mark. This is why the nigerian oil scam (or the Spanish Prisoner) always includes a line about "we would like to trust you with our money".....
Message: Posted by: chmara (Dec 22, 2004 12:04AM)
It is going to take a lot of work to do a couple of things....entertain and educate...without your audieces feeling they were duped and made to feel dum) by the tricks in the first place...or for you to educate without exposure.

Many skeptics have struggled with this dillema and generally come down on the side of entertaining with disclasimer -- and not exposing. Another approach has been succesful for Ricky Jay. He creates the mystery of why people fall for such things ... but generally does not expose method because he is ethical. He might lead an audiece down a primrose path to guess at method.

If you look up the movie that has Ricky in it playing one opf the con men con man who help ensare a psychiatrist (Mamet - I believe) -- you'll get a more profound sense of the sociopathic tendencies in the real thing.
Message: Posted by: MrHyde (Dec 22, 2004 12:58AM)
House of Games is the movie. Yes Mamet.

Nick, have you read My Rich Uncle from Fiji?
A few nice set pieces there.

Message: Posted by: shrink (Dec 22, 2004 07:04AM)
There will be a market for this type of programme mostly sceptics I would think.

You will take away any real powerful impact any mentalism or magic you provide in the programme by the very framing of the material in the show. Unless you have specific market for this type of show I would wonder why you would want to perform this.

I personally believe a proper mentalism show or magic show would be more entertaining. On the other hand there is plenty material to be had on fake mediums if you look around that can be adapted to a theatrical context. Spirit cabinate for example.

But I feel "exposure" shows even if the method isn't revealed are abit of a damp squid. But then that's just me..
Message: Posted by: RJE (Dec 22, 2004 07:56AM)
Plants Nicholas, lots & lots of lovely plants (or at least one or two really good ones) ;)
Message: Posted by: Tom Jorgenson (Dec 22, 2004 12:30PM)
Get the Janus Pad or Invisible Assistant and do your preshow work...then call up a small number of volunteers, sit them in a clamshell setup with you in the middle, and do a short sitting with them, a short mediumistic readings set. Your accuracy will be evident in their reactions, and no one will be able to figure anything out. You can claim scam all you want, they'll believe you but of course won't know how anything was accomplished.

This will all be effective without stepping on the toes of performing Mentalists...and the audience won't think of performing mentalists at all, they'll have conmen in mind.

Don't forget to include the most important expose of the set; the "You have a curse, I can cure it" "You have bad luck around you, I can clear your aura" "I can rid you of the malevelant spirits around you" Tell each of the participants, sincerely, the above. The audience will catch the scam and you'll do some real good with the act.

•Before you start the above, Borrow a batch of singles(say 5) from whomever has the most on them...collect them, put them in a double envelope, sign it and have the person keep that envelope on them...at the finish of the above seancey thing, mention the scam of burning money, and demonstrate how you could burn that particular pile of money all day long without busting a sweat...tear open the envelope they've been holding and shake out your sheets of newsprint, showing the switch. Tear open the envelope showing it empty, money gone. Crumple and discard the envelope and give them a $5 bill in exchange for their 'lost' money. They'll be impressed that a switch could happen like that, in front of them.

That should be enough for a 10 minute segment on psychic/mediumist cons.
Message: Posted by: chmara (Dec 22, 2004 03:36PM)
I would suggest you also get in touch with Rod Robison, the chief fundraiser for Family Life Radio (US) He does wonderful mentalism that exposes ESP Cons -- without exposing the tricks. (So, if I, who have no special skill can do this -- what do you think someone who really practices deception can do?)

Rod works out of Family Life Radio network headquarters in Tucson, AZ.
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Dec 22, 2004 06:44PM)

I'd have to disagree with you there. There are hundreds of movies, books and TV shows about conmen and the methods they use. People love seeing a rich mark get is just desserts or a dodgy conman getting double.

I wouldn't base an ENTIRE show around pyschic conmen because it could easily descened into a 'new age' bashing session which few people would enjoy. However, Ian Rowland makes a good living performing a show about 'exposure' without exposing methods. (although I know many people feel he HAS revealed methods in other shows and forums)

Tom - THANKS for some GREAT ideas!
Message: Posted by: Greg Owen (Dec 23, 2004 08:09AM)
Nicholas -

I put together a stage act around the premise of fake psychics and such. I did this as an extension of the con man/shady gambler premise that I and many others have successfully used for years. What I found is that there is a difference, in 2004 anyway, between being a hustler character doing shell game, 3-card monte, etc. and the psychic expose angle. In 2004, it can be like you are raining on a parade and can be difficult to make entertaining. And then there is the challenge of how to do what you want to do without exposing what you might not want to expose.

Explore it by all means. I ended up recasting most of my stage show. I did keep a great bit where an audience member becomes a medium on stage. I love it when *they* get the credit :)

- Greg Owen
Message: Posted by: Ian Rowland (Jan 1, 2005 08:25PM)
[quote]However, Ian Rowland makes a good living performing a show about 'exposure' without exposing methods. (although I know many people feel he HAS revealed methods in other shows and forums)[/quote]
No, I don't. I have never performed a show about 'exposure'. I regard this as a very unhelpful and misleading mis-representation of the stuff that I DO actually do in my public shows. As a matter of fact, the show to which Nicholas is referring is my "Mindpower: fact, fiction and fakery" show which he saw me present once in Canberra. I actually sell a tape of me presenting this show and guess what -- there are no explanations or exposures in it. Heck, some magicians even complain to me precisely because there are no explanations or reveals (it is quite clearly sold as a performance-only tape).
Message: Posted by: NJJ (Feb 23, 2005 01:37AM)
Let me be quite clear:

) The show I've seen Ian perform (Mindpower) does NOT contain any methods or exposure.

2) I have NEVER personally seen Ian expose methods.

3) OTHER people believe that Ian has exposed methods. I do not agree that he has e.g http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/search_post.php?topic=47223&forum=15&post=3476734

I have nothing but the greatest respect for Ian's work and do not wish to be misunderstood on this matter.
Message: Posted by: Bill Cushman (Feb 23, 2005 03:06AM)
I wonder if a routine structured around a pendulum or dowsing thene would acccomplish your aims? Dousing seems particularly sutited for demonstrating how gentlefolk can separated from large sums of money. And the use of a pendulum over a map in order to idenitfy aread rich with oil. water and valuable minerals has been rumored to serve their operators well. I can see various methods possible in these areas that can create entertaininment.