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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » You want propless mentalism? (21 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Tony Iacoviello
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On Jun 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
Taken from here - http://www.geniimagazine.com/magicpedia/Dr._Jaks

"Dr. Jaks spoke German and French fluently and occasionally would grope for words when speaking English, "How is it you say it?"

Eventually he started performing mentalism routines and put together his "Curiosities of the Mind" act which he performed at supper clubs with success. His biggest feature was the blindfolded duplication of anyone's signature, while writing upside down and backwards. He carried his magic props in a big red leather book that he called "The Book of Mystery". The front contained pages of autographs of famous people for whom he has performed. After these pages, it contained compartments from which he removed his props for his routines. He also used the book as a close-up mat (the back side being black)."

i for one, would have loved to have met this man, and also be entertained by him and his book of mystery...personally, I find that far more interesting and mystifying than most other things... isn't it better to see someone unique? it is in my book...

sometimes I feel some people look in the wrong direction with mentalism, they want to impress, rather than entertain - some do both, but I get the impression that some just focus on the former, and ignore the later...

being memorable and leaving people happy and contented for a while, that's a good thing...


Iain:

I'm with you on this.
The two I would loved to have seen perform and met were Stanley Jaks and Max Malini.

Tony
IAIN
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I would love to sit at a table and listen to rene lavand too...just to listen to his little poems and stories...

Jaks and Canasta are definitely up there on the "wish I could have seen"...

i'm very happy to say I've seen/met david berglas, docc Hilford, enrique enriquez and a few others...

..even paul shirley!
David Thiel
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Here's the issue: is it about the performer or the audience? If it's a decision the performer makes SOLELY because he wants to be "propless" it may be an idea for them to take a second look at WHY they are performing. Is it about the audience...or is it about him showing the world his POWER?

Coming from a background in magic, one of the hardest things for me to get used to was the starkness of mentalism. We avoid anything that looks proppy for a variety of very good reasons. Even when we use props, they need to look like ordinary things: a book, a clipboard a notepad etc. (You either get that or you don't.)

But that often leaves a whole lot of stage and, while I'm a relatively big guy, there's STILL a lot of stage to fill. Early in my show, I'll do a Which Hand effect using four or five people from the audience, partially because it enables me to set the tone for the show...and partially because five people tend to dress the stage very well.

Is a Which Hand effect "propless?" Does it matter whether you're using a Sixth Se*se unit or P**varicator? Is the item they're holding a prop? Is it only "propless" when there aren't even any 'hidden' props? More: does anyone care about the minutiae of these definitions other than maybe a mentalist or two?

Let's back it up and look at this whole issue from an audience perspective: the guy gets on stage. He hands a coin to one of four people and asks them to give that coin to one person -- and when he turns back, for all four to be standing with their fists extended. He proceeds to eliminate one hand at a time until there's only ONE left.

FROM the AUDIENCE perspective -- do they CARE whether or not the performer is propless or not? I doubt it. Would they even notice if the effect was done with the aid of a method or a gizmo? Nope.

There are times when doing an effect that appears impromptu and "propless" is perfectly appropriate. And there are times when using a prop is appropriate. You make these determinations based upon the audience you're performing for, the circumstances etc. But more importantly, you make these decisions based upon what's going to ENTERTAIN the audience more, since performing is FOR the audience, not the performer.

Remember that props also serve another function. Aside from helping us do the things we do -- often they aren't gaffed at all -- but they create a more interesting visual picture. I LIKE that predictions are made on a Mental Epic board...that my spectator can choose one word from a book that the audience sees...

I've often wondered how REAL mindreading would look to an audience. The performer walks onstage. He asks a stranger to think of a number...and reveals it as 3,454. He asks another person to recall the name of their childhood pet..."Aha!" says he. "You named your dog 'Snot' because he had a nasal condition." He asks another person to think of a color. "PINK!" he says.

Amazing....for the first five minutes maybe. Could you really watch the same thing over and over for two hours? I rather expect that the audience would be bored to death despite the fact that they are seeing real mindreading. Why? No drama. No effort...no fun...no comedy...no interesting presentation...no theater.

I am constantly reminding myself that I am in SHOW business -- that it's not JUST about the effect I'm doing. There are tons of good effects out there. It's about the fun of the presentation. It's about the sharing of the journey with the audience...showing them something that amazes and delights them. When it becomes purely about the effect -- and by this I mean the 'reveal' -- I think the legs are functionally cut off of the presentation.

I'm not dissing the 'propless' guys. Not at all. I think we all have to stay true to who we are onstage. But at this point in my personal development, I have no aspirations to be propless...and can't imagine why I'd want to be.

David
Whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Except bears. Bears will kill you.


www.MindGemsBrainTrust.com
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www.MidnightMagicAndMentalism.com
morgaine_le_fey
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The best 'magic' prop I've EVER used (in all its permutations) is a TT.
I always carry a V€rn€t with me - miracles I've performed with them, miracles I tell you!

But my credo is also 'less is more'; except my haunted props (ooh I do love those, and NO guys, I'm not refering to THOSE ones!).
What Tony, Iain and David stated in their posts is priceless! So true and the same goes for me.
Key for me is: motivation. In other words 'why?'
Cold reading at its finest (no Barnum statements) is a friggin' miracle to the audience.
Mentalism isn't 'about' magic; mentalism suggests it, nay implies it, is the 'purest idea of magic' planted in the brain and lovingly being watered once in a while. Ultimately it'll grow from 'magical idea' to 'maction action', so to fact!
Propless mentalism is, to me at least, magic at its highest potential, its zenith. Because it's devoid of trickery (well, there is some debate possible here)

xxx Morgaine
sandsjr
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This may sound controversial at first but think it through. (In this example, I'll use "performer" to represent anyone executing an effect, anywhere.)

It's ALWAYS about the performer first... whether we know it or not. The performer decides what the meaning of mentalism is. The performer decides what the meaning of performer is. The performer decides what it is he/she wants from mentalism.


This is the source of all the conflicting points of view in these posts with regards to props, no props, persona, skills, effects and so on. When we participate by posting our thoughts here at the Café we do so from our own perspective. There are a WIDE range of perspectives here at the Café. That's COOL!

When I said above that it's all about the performer first I meant we "start" with knowing (whether subconsciously or through conscious contemplation) the answers to the following for example...

How do I want to be perceived?
Am I trying to make a living at it?
Do I want to perform a lot or a little, or, am I just a collector of secrets?
Do I want to impress my friends at a party?
Do I want to be like someone else who I think is cool?

Next we set out (or not) to make happen what we've answered.


If the performer wants to make a living it's in "his/her" best interest to give the audience what they need, to "put them first" when it comes to making certain decisions about your show and so on. To be entertaining, interesting for example.

If the performer wants to be perceived as a bizzarist he may carry props and dress in a way that supports that. But then again, maybe he wouldn't.

If the performer wants to be perceived as a normal person with an extraordinary gift he might not want to carry ANY props. Or maybe he'll have a truck full of scientific looking items.

Who knows?

You could construct hundreds of examples where the thinking would be different for each. None is wrong, yet all are "right" for "that" person at "that" time.

Discord arises when we attempt to "drape" our perspective over someone elses. The simple answer and I guess litmus test would be to ask yourself, "Am I happy with what "I'm" doing?" Then, allow others to do what they may.

I don't mean to sound preachy here, I was simply thinking through this and typing as I did.

:-)
DWRackley
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David’s got the real sense of the thing. In a “media age” people are accustomed to having something to look at. Example “visualizations” for MP3 players; they serve no purpose whatsoever, yet people have “favorite” collections of meaningless swirling colors. (Somebody should turn THAT into an “oracle”!)

I think we need to differentiate between “stage props” and “magic props”. In the strictest sense, a pad and pencil are props. It could even be argued (and HAS been argued) that (for really classless performers) the audience volunteers are used as props.

I don’t use anything that can’t be “examined” (although I never offer), but I love my white boards and colored envelopes! I also use a bar stool at one point in my “long” show. But it’s no ordinary bar stool; it swivels!
...what if I could read your mind?

Chattanooga's Premier Mentalist

Donatelli and Company at ChattanoogaPerformers.com

also on FaceBook
John C
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Quote:
On Jun 21, 2014, Tony Iacoviello wrote:
My thoughts are, use whatever it takes to provide the best expeience you can for your audience.

Tony


Yes. Decide what you want to do, devise a way to do it and then have fun.
The ULTIMATE Routine Series: rebirth soon!
IAIN
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To play devil's advocate - take the modern day marvel of mentalism in the uk, derren brown...

guess how much of his show is genuinely propless!

...uh huh...i know what you're thinking...
sandsjr
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What I'm thinking is, who cares?
morgaine_le_fey
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Quote:
On Jun 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
To play devil's advocate - take the modern day marvel of mentalism in the uk, derren brown...

guess how much of his show is genuinely propless!

...uh huh...i know what you're thinking...


You'd have to be a magician to spot them all Smile
sandsjr
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And... I love Derren Brown, as an entertainer that is!

I love Keith Richards too but I don't care how many G7s he plays.
IAIN
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My point is, that though for many, propless is seen by some as some kind of holy grail - yet I am willing to bet, a lot of the top full timers (if not all of them) do anything other than work prop free, or perform "naked" as it were...they stick to tried and tested methods and use what is needed to get the job done...
sandsjr
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Quote:
On Jun 24, 2014, IAIN wrote:
... for many, propless is seen by some as some kind of holy grail



Right, and it IS the holy grail for "them." And, it doesn't matter what anyone else does or why. This is the point of my previous post. (the long one)
IAIN
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I know...
Peter_turner
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I don't think it really matters if someone uses props or not, from a lay persons perspective it ultimately comes down to the performer not the props. I ultimately think how something is achieved or what's being used is irrelevant, why is what is ultimately important.

The only reason I have an arsenal of prop less effects is because I never learnt the traditional way to perform early on as I bought in to certain things I won't talk about here, I didn't know traditional techniques, I just created things the way I saw them. I then learnt everything I could and practiced as many techniques as I could find. Having a hole host of techniques and principles stored up and using whichever one fits the scenario is ultimately in my opinion the way forward.

Presentation is key Smile x
fadattf
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I think propless magic is always the best - in general and in mentalism.
Scott Soloff
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Quote:
On Jun 24, 2014, Peter_turner wrote:
I don't think it really matters if someone uses props or not, from a lay persons perspective it ultimately comes down to the performer not the props. I ultimately think how something is achieved or what's being used is irrelevant, why is what is ultimately important.

Presentation is key Smile x


Ding, ding, ding... Give the man a cigar!

Thank you, Pete.


Best wishes,

Scott
'Curiouser and curiouser."
IAIN
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C'mon scott...don't give pete a prop!

anyway - he likes sheesha best...
mastermindreader
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Quote:
On Jun 26, 2014, fadattf wrote:
I think propless magic is always the best - in general and in mentalism.


There is no such thing as "always."
NeilS
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It may be satisfying for us to be propless - as it can give added credance to what we do. But the most essential thing is to entertain and if that requires use of props, better this than risk not giving the audience a good time.
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