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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » I suck at mentalism. (3 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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j100taylor
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I've been in magic 30+ years and can blow people away with a borrowed deck of cards. I really am pretty darn entertaining with sleight of hand magic.

Like many others I have recently become fascinated with mentalism. Now instead of doing the Travellers or ACR or whatever (I can easily do an hour+ of strong material) I want to perform mentalism.

Apparently I am not very good at it. The reactions are basically "Why are you doing that? I know what you can do with a deck of cards - instead you did this thing where my 2 year old could figure out..."

They are genuinely puzzled - and I am too. I get the mindset intellectually (yes I have read 13 steps, the jinx etc. - I have devoured the books and dvds like I did with cards). I have absorbed the wisdom in Penny and Inner Thoughts for over a year. I have even invented several strong mentalism effects that could fill an ebook that I think you guys would be happy to own. However, something is seriously wrong.

Here is my theory of what is going on..

I am mainly a hobbyist and for the most part perform for the same set of people. Over the years they have become sophisticated. Although I always am pretty much several steps ahead of them (card wise) I need to do some serious work to fool them. When I try a simple mentalism effect involving say equivoke or something - it's just embarrassing. The method is just transparent to them.

On the rare occasions where I get to perform for a stranger, I have gotten the kind of reactions that I read about on this forum and have connected with them on a deeper level than I normally do.

I don't know why I am becoming obsessed with doing mentalism as well as I do close up card work - but I am.

I will keep practicing and will see some of you this November at Mindvention. Not asking anything - just giving my penny...

Thanks

John Taylor
Lakewood, Ohio
Mindpro
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Your performing for people who know you are not a mentalist. You're simply trying to fool them. That's magic. Mentalism is not about fooling or challenging anyone. This is the same problem beginners to hypnosis regularly experience is the people they initially try to hypnotize are family and friends, which is the absolute worst audience possible. It almost guarantees failure, because they know and don't see you as "a hypnotist".

I applaud you for your keen sense of observation and awareness and of course honesty. It could also be you are performing mentalism from a magic point of view.? See you at MV.
RileyG
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Mindpro, well said...
Signed,
Riley G Matthews Jr
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MichaelCGM
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Mindpro is dead on! It is written, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”
Magically Yours,

Magical Michael

MagicalMichael.com Smile Laus Deo!
j100taylor
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Mindpro - I think you are exactly right. Regarding the magic vs mentalism comment - like I said, I think I get it at an intellectual level but lack the gravitas - stage presence - or whatever needed to pull it off.

Its frustrating for me now - I can choose to do something guaranteed to impress or try something new that I am becoming passionate about but hasn't worked very well for me so far.

I wish I had more chance to try this stuff out on real people. What's in my head mostly doesn't survive contact with real people...
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IAIN
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There is zero percent shame in being a good magician... be what you enjoy and where your skills lay at...

of course you could change all that if mentalism is really your thing, but if you've been doing magic for over 30 years, that suggests to me that you love magic more...
Amirá
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Hi j100taylor

As in any human practice, each of us have different characteristics and talents, which we can place on whatever we want to do. As other said, in Mentalism the credibility factor is essential, not in an way to convince them about your abilities, rather leaving an open path to LET them believe if they want to.
As I understand from your present state, you arent achieving this and the crucial factor maybe isn't that you "suck at mentalism", rather you were not astute enough in your development as a Mentalism character.

Meet new people, perform "mental magic" in new gigs to start the approach to the "mental' area. If you think that you have natural abilities to perform Mentalism, go for it and try it for yourself in that NEW scenarios, where you can be other character.

In Jazz we know that there is not such thing as "bad notes", rather "bad places" to place that notes. Maybe is that happening to you know.

Perform Mentalism where you think that will create the experience that this art can create.


Also, if you are performing Mentalism and not Magic in situations because you think that Mentalism is more inherently powerful, I don't think that this is a good structure to motivate you to perform Mentalism.
Good Magic can be stronger that bad Mentalism. It´s all in us, it´s all in you.


Why the greatest Mentalist also can perform Magic and don't lose power? Because they understand that my character as Magician is DIFFERENT that my character as Mentalist.

j100taylor can be a Magician
j100taylor can be a Mentalist
Magician j100taylor cannot be a Mentalist
Mentalist j100taylor cannot be a Magician


Hope that my ideas helps you.


Best
Pablo
Performer and Author

Mentalism Center: The best online space to get quality Mentalism
www.mentalismcenter.com

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Cervier
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Quote:
Its frustrating for me now - I can choose to do something guaranteed to impress or try something new that I am becoming passionate about but hasn't worked very well for me so far.

I've met so many magicians (?) who said they were impressively good even though they were only 13, that to see someone who is really experienced honestly admit he "sucks" makes me want to applaude and congratulate you! That's courageous and says a lot (of nice things) about you!

I believe Mindpro really summed it all up for you: it's a matter of a magician mindset trying to fit in a mentalist character.
My family saw me go from magic to mentalism, and it went very nicely! But when I read about your experience, I believe it went ok because (1) I hadn't done 30 years of agic for them, and (2) I didn't try to slowly go from one art to the other, adding more and more mentalism to my magic, for instance. No, I set up a short mentalism show for my folks with no magic tricks at all right from the start. I like acting (not saying I'm good at it, just that I like it Smile ) so I really walked on stage as a mindreader, even though my familiy know I wasn't born with such skills! But the fact I was doing it with no guilt helped my audience "suspend their disbelief".

Familiy is a difficult audience, but not an impossible one. Of course, reactions are not the same. I don't get the "can you tell me about my future?" requests that are otherwise common Smile.

I believe you'll be better off viewing mentalism as something completely new, as if you were going from magic to dancing or singing! If your magic audience likes you, it certainly means you have showmanship and already have what it takes to please mentalism spectators! Once you settle down in your new persona, you will find it easy to pick usefull stuff in your magician's past.

With the experience you have, it could be a matter of just getting over a "little something" that blocks you. I am sure a meeting with experienced mentalists would help you correct that in a matter of minutes! Maybe if you can arrange a short demo when you meet Mindpro at MV?
The Lynx deck / The Lynx deck - alt. site I'm lousy at maintaining sites Smile

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Stephen Young
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I think Mindpro is spot on with his comments.
Very wise words.

Steve
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While I agree with Mindpro I would also point out that you're still a recovering magician. . . you are probably approaching everything you do as you would a Magic Show and as has been said, that won't work!

I don't know which style of presentation you are using but regardless of that, being able to sell what you do from the stage as being REAL and a valid thing is 90% of the battle.

I tell the younger kids I work with that the easiest way to segue from magic to mentalism is to be seen carrying books on PSI or Mind Development topics. As a seasoned adult it would be akin to saying that you have started looking at the deeper possibilities of "real magic" based on what the mind is capable of doing. From that point you lead your audience by feeding them bread crumbs, showing them plausible demonstrations. You also get them involved with your studies; disc 3 of Banachek's PSI Series has a beautiful use of Psych Forces demonstrated, one that I've used many times with massive success. For someone in your shoes such a demonstration in which you put the power into the hands of the audience, is potent -- it removes "the puzzle" in the sense that you've shared an EXPERIENCE with them that defies logic and much like hypnosis, you pull them deeper into your mind set -- your world.

Keep things very simple; you have to recondition your audiences who've seen you doing magic all these years. Use the old Pendulum demonstration. . . I use Stuart Palm's MAU TOU KNOWS with audiences and it kills; but it is a prelude to the classic Richard Webster demonstration in which everyone in the room makes a pendulum with some kite string and a washer. I give them all an envelope complete with a 4 page how to guide. . . and info on how to order the pitch book, of course.

By taking these baby steps for a year or two and slowly transmuting your current reputation as a trickster into this researcher/investigator -- curious cat -- when it comes to PSI/Mental Prowess, you are essentially allowing your community to take the journey with you, which can be endearing. They will want to see you succeed and that will give you greater support during shows vs. the air of challenge you seem to be now encountering.

Just my two cents worth, but it may help.
j100taylor
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Wow. I am humbled by all of your thoughtful comments. It's obvious that you gave my post some serious consideration and have given me a lot to think about.

Bard - I love your phrase "recovering magician"!

Quote:
I don't know which style of presentation you are using but regardless of that, being able to sell what you do from the stage as being REAL and a valid thing is 90% of the battle.


Picture Bill Malone without the talent or sense of humor...
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CarlZen
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It takes time be patient you will be great just keep at it 100 I for one am proud of you...
illusionactor
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John,

I think MindPro is spot on here. A similar thing happened to me recently. I was doing a Mentalism presentation and an old college friend happened to be in attendance. The presentation was well received but after the performance he approached me and said "What was that? Where were the changing cards and things vanishing and appearing from random places?" He knew me as I was in college. A magician with a style similar to Mac King. He entered the experience expecting a magic presentation because that's what he had always known me as. Everything was a trick to him because of his history with me. Everyone else in attendance had no preconception so they accepted it as I was presenting it.

Bard presented some great ideas.
Keep at it and best to you!
Shrubsole
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It's the exact same as Hypnosis: Turn to your family and friend and tell them "I am a Hypnotist!" and they will probably fall above laughing. At best they just won't be convinced and you will get nowhere.

When, however, you announce to total strangers "I am a Hypnotist!" they may laugh, but it will be in not knowing how to judge you as they don't know you. It will at least peak their interest and if you then carry out a successful demonstration, they will be eating out of you hand.

The act same goes for mentalism. Friends and family know you do tricks and so you do something strange or incredible and what is going to be their very obvious first thought? Announce to strangers that "You are a Mentalist" and they won't have any knowledge of your skill at trickery. Follow it with a successful demonstration of mentalism and their thoughts won't go straight to it being a trick.

It's a kind of a very first logical disconnect that you should put in place. Disconnect yourself for the magician you were in your mind and the audiences.
Winner of the Dumbringer Award for total incompetence. (All years)
j100taylor
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"Is he not the carpenter's son?" Mark 6:3...

Of course I am in no way comparing myself with Jesus. Just pointing out that even he couldn't perform miracles where he grew up!

Again I really appreciate everyone's support. Thanks!
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Mind illusionist
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Great posts here on this thread. Il just chuck in my 2cents, being a young performer, and having started with magic for a good year or 2 before I fully immersed myself in mentalism it is pretty tough.

However, I find that I can still perform magic and mentalism even to the same audience, and they truly to leave believing that I can do magic and mentalism (mind reading). I think what Pablo said before makes a lot of sense, I can relate to it.

As long as I make clear distincitions between what I am doing, and I have a logical, simple explanation as to how I learnt my craft, nobody ever accuses me of using magic skills or even relates my magic to my mentalism routines.

I have found though, that if I just did one mentalism routine, and a whole bunch of magic, than the audience would leave calling me a magician, and vice versa with mentalism.

Your situation is much different to mine Taylor, but I hope that makes sense in some way. As everyone has said before, its just being aware of your audience perception of you, and then its up to you how you want to shape it.
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As a "purest" I am of the old school thought that Magic & Mentalism should never mix in that the psychology involved conflict; one suspends belief while the other encourages it. To me and many of the old school mind set, to feature mentalism in a mix of magic devalues the former by lowering it to the level of being trickery and not something "otherworldly" or a discipline of the mind even. BUT, there are always exceptions to this rule, which depends on how you do the mixing . . . as I mentioned above, you can present your Mentalism as something you've been researching and so you can do a sequence in a Magic show in which you share that homework as it were, encouraging the audience to get involved. . . this disarms the would be cynic in that you are literally offering "experiments" and "demonstrations" in which the audience is primed to COOPERATE and PARTICIPATE in.

Many an old timer would deliberately section off his show with an intermission, warning parents that the second half of the show might prove too cerebral or "dark" for younger children. . . they wanted to create a mind-set that made the Mentalism something other than trickery and better suited for the mature mind... not the kiddies!

The other way "Magic" is used by Mentalists is for the sake of levity; I use the McCombical Deck routine frequently in a Magician vs. Mentalist type routine but I likewise incorporate bits of Mental Magic, like Casino Royale or a number of bits from the old Lee Earle "Best of SYZYGY" video series . . . Mental Magic being so named because of how "Prop" oriented the routines tend to be and how they resemble something straight off the Magic Shop shelf. Understand however, this is not a negative and that most of the more successful commercial show that are Mental oriented, use such things for the sake of production value and creating a "big show" feel. When done properly Mental Magic can take a so-so production and turn it into an award winning sensation; simply because of how such elements enhance the other. . . it's why certain Roulette routine are so popular, for an example.

I've done grand illusions in Mental programs including the Blizzard of Copperfield fame and the classic Chinese Snow Storm. . . these are "Magical" effects -- enchanting -- and they help me frame the rest of the show psychologically; the show theme being more about the power and potential of the mind to create a life as we envision it, the snow being an anchor -- a theatrical demonstration of such.

Grand Illusion, when used right, can allow us to better explain and demonstrate metaphysical ideas such as the layers of the human Aura, Bi-Location, and of course Spirit Contact (spirit cabinets). I know that many would argue against this, in that Mentalism is supposed to be the "portable" and "inexpensive" mode of performance, but these are ways that we can borrow from the auspices of magic technology to our benefit. . . imagine having a self-contained version of Don Wayne's popular DREAM VISION effect. . . one that isn't reliant on those added moves we've got to deal with. . .

Paul Osborne gave us a method and it's gorgeous and completely self-contained, easy to construct and not overly expensive.

Just a few bits of perspective that may help you in your transitions. . . there is one more point I'd like to make, something Rick Maue pointed out to me in a phone conversation about a year or two ago.

Most all of Magic can be tied to "Mentalism" to some degree, the last remnants to this example is how mid-20th century performers were still hypnotizing the young lady prior to the levitation. . . but go back a generation earlier and look at how little devils and imps were blatantly used in ad copy and how themes such as the Mysteries of Egypt, India, the Orient, etc. were all invoked -- given credit for everything from keeping wet sand dry to causing a young lady's middle to vanish. . .

Maybe it's time to reprise the more esoteric modes of creating Magic and making it more real rather than lessening the power held by Mentalism when it is being executed in its "proper" format???
Danyel
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Mindpro and Shrubsole have really hit the bullseye, which is a thing that Bob Cassidy says for decades: NEVER use your family & friends as an audience, if you want to be taken seriously. It becomes severely demotivating. (But, then: give yourself a go, prepare a 45' show, go to a charity, and propose your show to them. There -retirement home, hospital ward...) you will have either a sympathetic audience, and a real one).

An entirely different thing is using your relatives as **critical reviewers**.
This is the very best thing you **must** do.
My wife, and one of my best friends, are my best critics.
Not only they come to the small shows I give prior to giving larger stage ones, but they help me also in the wording of some routine! This does not imply explaining them the secrets (my friend-in-the-know is not interested, my wife is more), but to hear from them about consistency, believability, credibility of my persona... don't really miss this opportunity.

My best wishes, j100taylor -and amuse yourself.
'People who lean on logic and philosophy and rational exposition
end by starving the best part of the mind' -William Butler Yeats
lunatik
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I agree with Bard. Maybe slowly morph it into mental magic? After they are comfortable with that, take it a few degrees further towards mentalism. I think with family and friends, it may be as close as you'll get to straight mentalism for a long time. Slowly morph your persona over the years and it may be possible go the direction you want, maybe not but I'm sure you'll have a fun trip!
"Don't let your Dreams become Fantasies"
j100taylor
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Danyel - great suggestions. I have been thinking along those lines myself. Although I have done walk-around at restaraunts I have never done a stage act. So I have been considering , as you said, volunteering to perform for my church. Also at our local pub, there is an open mike night - mainly for want to be comedians. But I don't think anyone would mind some mind reading, it would probably be funny anyway. Aslo thinking about Toastmasters as a way to develop a stage presence.
Lakewood, Ohio
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