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Magical Dimensions
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Hello Everyone,
I have a question that may upset a few PURE mentalists but feel it needs to be address! After looking around for the last three years in the realm that we call pure mentalism I noticed something strange. It seems to me that Mental Magic is MORE commercial then PURE Mentalism. From what I have seen it seems that the headliners do what amounts to be a Magic Show with a psychic twist. Some even fill the stage with STUFF!

So the question now becomes, are we (mentalist) fooling ourselves when we think that we can put together an act using PURE mentalism and still market it? With mental magic being more flash and glitter as viewed by the audience then pure mentalism, then WHY are we trying so hard to buck a proven system.

After finally creating an act of pure mentalism, I am now beside myself. I now have to ask myself a question or two and I don’t want to! To compete with other acts we need to be different but ALSO commercial. As been discussed in other forums, pure mentalism can at times be boring. This is why one must MAKE it more entertaining to the spectators.

Pure mentalism uses as few props as possible and I understand why this is, but for the ENTERTAINMENT value as far as the audience is concern, isn’t HAVING PROPS in our best interest? The audience has paid money to see a SHOW and by giving them stuff to LOOK at not only pleases them but also makes for a more entertaining program. I feel that a paying audience after paying WANTS to see props to enhance their experience. It pains me to write this because I want to do pure mentalism and not mental magic with props, but maybe there is the need to include a few props.

So, like the MAGICIAN who includes one or more Mental Magic routines into their MAGIC show, maybe we should throw in one or more MENTAL MAGIC routines or a MAGIC TRICK in our pure mentalism programs. If the formula works for the magician, I guess by flipping it the other way will improve a mentalism program……..WTF……. WHAT DID HE JUST SAY? You ask……. There are estimated around 2000 working professional magicians in the world and HOW MANY PURE MENTALIST are there? ….. You don’t even have to remove your shoes to help count!

I feel we need to look the beast straight in the eyes and at least TRY to find the best answer to create a mentalism program that we can market with success.

What do you think about this? I have my flack gear on and am sitting in my fighting position which is reinforce with sandbags, so throw the bombs and take the shots, but be reinsured that I do feel that we may be fooling ourselves.



Ray
Dale A. Hildebrandt
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Hello Ray,

In order to market something with success, you do not need to depend on props. Pure mentalism can be just as exciting and entertaining as prop-driven mentalism. It depends on many different variables. One of these variables is whether or not the performance is Performer-driven or Participant-driven. When you make a Pure Effect all about the emotions, reactions, and lives of the participant then you can very successfully draw them into your world. After all, which do you think the participant will find to have more of an emotional hook--a prop driven piece that centers around, say, a Mental Epic board---or a piece that delves into the personality and emotions of the participant using Pure Techniques such as some Reading Systems?

You can be a success with or without props. Motivation will be the key in both marketing and performing. If you like shiny things and your audience likes shiny things--then use shiny things. If your audience wants to experience pure effect/technique and that is what you are comfortable with, then give that to them. And there is no law against mixing shiny things with pure effect.

Audiences pay to be entertained and/or to have an experience. Props do not inherently entertain or give an experience. That is up to the Performer!

Sincerely,
Dale A. Hildebrandt
Dick Christian
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Quote:
On 2009-05-08 15:28, Magical Dimensions wrote:
From what I have seen it seems that the headliners do what amounts to be a Magic Show with a psychic twist. Some even fill the stage with STUFF!

There are estimated around 2000 working professional magicians in the world and HOW MANY PURE MENTALIST are there? ….. You don’t even have to remove your shoes to help count!

Ray


Ray,

As a full time working performer, presenting both magic and mindreading shows (but never combining the two) who takes what most would call a very "purist" approach to mentalism I can't begin to address the issue you have raised as I don't have the faintest idea who you are, what your experience as either a magician or mentalist is, who the "headliner" mentalists (I assume you are referring to mentalist headliners and not magician headliners) you refer to might be, or what you consider a "pure mentalist" to be.

Can you enlighten me?
Dick Christian
Necromancer
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Ray,

Just because Carrot Top is commercial doesn't mean that Seinfeld can't also be commercial.

With sufficient talent, one can present a successful stand-up comedy show without props. The same applies here.

Best,
Neil
Creator of The Xpert (20 PAGES of reviews!) and the Hands-Off Multiple ESP System ("Quality and design far exceed any ESP cards on the market"-Genii), both at Penguin.
pearljamjeff
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To me, props or no-props is not what makes the difference between pure mentalism and mental magic... it's the perception of the audience that makes the difference. If they think they are seeing mental magic "tricks," I call that mental magic. If they think what they are seeing "might" be the real thing, I call that pure mentalism. I think a show with no props at all could still be deemed mental magic if the audience still walked away thinking it was a bunch of tricks. There is nothing wrong with either approach, as has been beaten to death on every thread about mentalism and ethics (an important discussion none-the-less)... but I don't think using props immediately classifies your material as mental magic.
Jeff Travilla - Author of "The Extractor." I work in advertising and marketing now. If you are a professional worker and need marketing help, feel free to contact my company. JCM Media Group.
mastermindreader
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Quote:
Excerpts from Ray's post:

[Are we] fooling ourselves when we think that we can put together an act using PURE mentalism and still market it? With mental magic being more flash and glitter as viewed by the audience then pure mentalism, then WHY are we trying so hard to buck a proven system . . .

To compete with other acts we need to be different but ALSO commercial. As been discussed in other forums, pure mentalism can at times be boring. This is why one must MAKE it more entertaining to the spectators . . .

The audience has paid money to see a SHOW and by giving them stuff to LOOK at not only pleases them but also makes for a more entertaining program. I feel that a paying audience after paying WANTS to see props to enhance their experience . . .

There are estimated around 2000 working professional magicians in the world and HOW MANY PURE MENTALIST are there? ….. You don’t even have to remove your shoes to help count!

It pains me to write this because I want to do pure mentalism and not mental magic with props, but maybe there is the need to include a few props.


Ray, if your desire is to perform "pure" mentalism, then do it as best as you can. Be original, be creative and, most important, be yourself.

The suggestions given in the above excerpts would also apply to strippers, professional wrestlers and anyone else who would like to make money in a generic form of public entertainment. (like most "magic" or "mentalism" for example.)


If you focus entirely upon the idea that the public "expects" something from "a mentalist," and that he must do all in his power to fulfill those expectations (like doing the same stuff we've come to expect from the guys on TV and all those commercially successful "headliners" you mentioned), you will join the thousands of others who overwhelmingly outnumber the handful of so-called "purists" who obviously don't know any better.

In Greg Dean's excellent book Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy (which should be required reading for anyone who is serious about the art of performing)he put it this way. (It's as applicable to writing a mentalism act as it is to comedy.)

Quote:
"One thing you should never, ever try to write about is what you guess the audience might think is funny. There's actually a word for people who only try to write what they think someone else will like: Hacks

- Dean, Greg Step by Step to Stand-up Comedy, 2000, Portsmouth NH, Heinemann Drama pub. ISBN 0-325-00179-0, p. 33


"Pure mentalism" is, above all else, art. And true art is not attained by running with the herd.

And, yes, I agree with the estimate that the ratio of hacks to artists is about 2000 to a number you can count to without removing your shoes.

Good thoughts,

Bob Cassidy
Mike Ince
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Quote:
On 2009-05-08 15:28, Magical Dimensions wrote:
...From what I have seen it seems that the headliners do what amounts to be a Magic Show with a psychic twist. Some even fill the stage with STUFF!

...Pure mentalism uses as few props as possible and I understand why this is, but for the ENTERTAINMENT value as far as the audience is concern, isn’t HAVING PROPS in our best interest? The audience has paid money to see a SHOW and by giving them stuff to LOOK at not only pleases them but also makes for a more entertaining program. I feel that a paying audience after paying WANTS to see props to enhance their experience. It pains me to write this because I want to do pure mentalism and not mental magic with props, but maybe there is the need to include a few props.


I agree people like something to look at. Drawing Duplications, metal-bending (and all PK routines I can think of), math squares, video clips, Power Point slides, dry-erase boards where you record thoughts... all give people something to look at. Right now I feel that the most important thing I can put on a stage for people to look at is another person (preferably one who reacts with enthusiasm).

Mentalism has been done successfully on the radio, so we know visuals aren't necessary. Still, done live or on television, audiences like to see something. At least we can make the set look nice and full, with curtains and tables, even Chinese screens and plants if nothing else. Anything to make the performance space less barren, until it feels like a Show. No compromise necessary.
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
Nash
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It depends on what type of reaction you look for.
I found that when you reveal thoughts through verbal means, the reaction are more cerebral. People have more of a silent stunned reaction.

Problem is, when people book you, the host might not be able to actually SEE your show. They rely on sound. If they don't hear people clapping or giving you over the top reaction, they might assume your act is not good.

On the other hand, with effects like drawing duplication where they can actually hear and SEE the effect, people tend to react more. that's just my observation. I'm currently revamping my show into a more visually oriented mentalism show. It doesn't mean I have to bring in props, just that the effect can be seen and heard in the same time.

In my opinion, if you want to do a pure mentalism show, the environment and setting will play a significant role. I don't know how well it will go over at a company's after-dinner show where everyone is drunk.
Don't give up, don't EVER give up.

Corporate magician - Nash Fung
bobser
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Kids magic is more commercial than mentalism. Karaoke is more commercial than kids magic. Massage parlours are more commercial than karaoke. I received this info from my accountant. He has a vast client bank.
Having said that we're very proud in out teensie weensie world. Some of us even manage to squeeze an ego or two. Great 'innit.
Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
Mike Ince
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I'm changing my business card to list "personal masseuse" first, then. Should "unlicensed" be in bold?

Bobser, your post reminds me... I'm planning on doing Harry Anderson's "Musicalepathy" in a karaoke joint. Performer sings whatever song the participants think of. Or perhaps a randomly chosen volunteer does the singing?

As soon as I'm practiced, I'm adding that to my kidshow.
The secret of deception is in making the truth seem ridiculous.
Floyd Collins
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Ray,
There really is no right or wrong answer here. Pure mentalism has played well on TV, in shows and even on radio. I think as a performer, if your market area is looking for the purest mentalism show then if you want to be part of that market you need to conform to your market but you need your own identity and do it your way not others. If you are content with sitting around waiting for that big break as a pure mentalist in a market area that does not need one, then so be it. The same could be said for comedy stand up magic headliners, there are not that many, Mac King, Amazing Jonathon are the top two that comes to mind when I think of comedy magic headliners. Yet there are tons of comedy magicians. Looking a little closer in my geographical location there are few mentalists, and tons of kid show magicians. Again I think it depends on your market area, I live in a tourists area near one of the world’s largest theme parks. My main target is family entertainment, for me to be successful in my market area I do Mental Magic, Mentalism and Comedy and I do it all very successfully in the same show. It does take some work building such a show and it does take knowing your craft to pull it off but I do so and have made a nice little spot for myself in a very populated magic arena.
Your question here is valid and there will be others who will disagree just to disagree but if you find that mix that works for you in your area of the world then go for it.
-Floyd
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Matthew Townsend
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PURE Mentalism is not the effect but how it is pulled off in my opinion.

If I performed a mental magic effect so well that people thought it was psychic ability then I have just done some PURE Mentalism.

Then again if I did some psycological or statistical effect on someone and did it badly then I just did a Mental Magic effect.

Its all about what the audience thinks at the end of the day.

When I first bought B-Wave I hated the method. I was really depressed thinking "I paid £15 for this piece of crap?"

However after working on the effect and showing it to people it has now become one of my fav effects to perform due to the reactions it gets.

I don't class it as Mental magic since the overall effect is that I can predict what card they want to choose.

To me it has crossed over into the PURE Mentalism relm since the final result is the spec thinking I CAN predict the future and thier actions.

Think of any WHOLE number between the numbers 5 and 7......








Was it 6???

;)

Peace & Love

Matt
bobser
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Yeah Matt, I'm with you.... anyone involved in magic would have probably done a
cr-ss c-t force as their first ever card-force (I think I can get away with this on an open forum).
And any experienced cardman will tell you that in the hands of 'a good performer' this very basic beginner's force can completely wow an audience. I sometimes do it simply to watch (and remember!) the phenomenon of simplicity being 'performed'.
Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
Dick Christian
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Still waiting for Ray to tell us who the "headliner" mentalists who "fill the stage with stuff" are. That description doesn't fit any of the "headliners" that I know. He must be talking about "healiner" magicians and not mentalists in which case the observation has nothing to do with the issue he raised.
Dick Christian
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You weaken your show by performing something badly...if you asked the punters to categorise what they see into magic/mental magic/mentalism - they'd just look at you blankly for the most part...

"but, but, but..." they'd repeat...

be good at what you do, be consistent in what you do, be entertaining in what you do...

and don't worry about silly labelling - except on your underwear and possibly bottles of poison you may have laying around...

I've never heard a layman leap from their seat in disgust saying "By jove! how dare you! that was mental-magic!" you either engage with your audience and participants, or just plain show off...
RichardShure
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I agree with Iain on this one. Great Post
mindshrink
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What initially attracted me to magic was the 'visual aspect' of the entertainment package.
I then moved on to mentalism/mental magic....probably becuz leaving an "educated/intelligent" person in awe is more satisfying.(for me)
Props do make it more visual....u can direct the audience concentration and probabaly hold it longer.
But I guess the end point is ...do it well...whatever you do ...and that is not very easy!
Floyd Collins
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Quote:
On 2009-05-10 08:33, IAIN wrote:
You weaken your show by performing something badly...if you asked the punters to categorise what they see into magic/mental magic/mentalism - they'd just look at you blankly for the most part...

"but, but, but..." they'd repeat...

be good at what you do, be consistent in what you do, be entertaining in what you do...

and don't worry about silly labelling - except on your underwear and possibly bottles of poison you may have laying around...

I've never heard a layman leap from their seat in disgust saying "By jove! how dare you! that was mental-magic!" you either engage with your audience and participants, or just plain show off...


Right on brother, you nailed it! The last line is soooo soooo true..
No one said it would be easy, or did they?

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Waters
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The difference between mental magic and mentalism can be ambiguous. For some, this can mean you have incorporated a deck of cards. For others, it means you are not "playing it straight" (to be believed as a psychic). I think good mentalism has the best possible logical disconnect from obvious (and even educated) assertions.

..In other words a "pure effect" has the highest common demnominator with whatever the proposed "skill" one is trying to portray. That is why there is so much argument about writing things down (or not), using laborious procedures and generally having any contrived method to arrive at the demonstration of the "ability". The more uncluttered this journey, the more "pure" it will be (and more likely it will accepted, as such). People are quick to sniff a "rat" and one's personality and general mystique should be equal to the skill proposed.

In "Strong Magic" (Darwin Ortiz), one of the most immediately apparent "truths" to gleen is the fact that whenever there is "contact" between two objects, the impact of the effect is immediately dimished (ex: card to wallet). In mentalism, the same principle could be communicated as: any reasonable explanation that will account for the demonstrated effect will weaken the impact. Thus, if the method requires a complicated procedure (which will be surmised as necessary), the game is already over (ex: unreasonable procedures at arriving at words, for booktests, etc).

If the effect appears much as the "real ability" should (according to the on-lookers eyes, whatever that means) and the performer seems reasonably capable of such an affect, you have reached mentalism (in my opinion). Contrived plots and procedures (and effects that do not communicate something) will often lead to mental magic. I think the difference is that mentalism should be communicating something, which is the reason that some magicians creating mental magic may be great as an "effect", but fall short as mentalism.

My equation is such: Uncluttered method + meaning + character = mentalism.

Any one of the requisite elements missing can reduce the effect to mental magic. However, it is important to realize "the meaning" can also be an inferred one, not one that is overly apparent or heavy-laden. In otherwords, meaning can simply be your own subtext for the effect (though it may not be spoken).


Regards,

Sean
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Tom, I have very strong opinions on this subject which you may very well disagree with. My mental magic days are far behind me. I do not even use the the word mentalism or mentalist in my promotional material any more. Thanks to T.V. and You Tube the term "Mentalist" has become associated with magic and tricks anyone can do. Successful pure mentalism versus mental magic is a matter of promotional techniques. And you must leave out the word "mentalism". Without giving up too much I will tell you that I demonstrate traditional psychic feats. Things like automatic writing,remote viewing, message bearing. When some one attends one of my psy-parties they get readings,readings, readings. My public shows are only psy-parties on a larger scale. Psychic work is essentially a close up discipline. You are working one on one, with the largest portion of attendees participating as witnesses, hoping to get the opportunity become part or the action. If you have difficulty understanding the point I am trying to make, You can PM me about specific areas of confusion....Bob Tripp
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