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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Performing for Friends and Family (11 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Chano
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Has anyone ever had an issue when performing mentalism for friends or family where you have to address the issue of wether this is an act or you're a real mindreader? Whenever I perform I state that I'm not a psychic, but that I've learned to tap into a sort of "empathic network" that we're all a part of. I also state that I can't just go into people's minds and steal their thoughts, that it requires a willingness from the participant to work. That being said, I recently performed for my family, and one of my uncles was a little freaked out by the whole thing. Everyone else was just amazed at everything and had a great time, but he kept asking me if this is something I could do all my life, and if I could explain it a little better. I felt like I was in a bit of a bind because part of me wanted to put him at ease and tell him that's it's just an act I do, but I felt like that would be betraying my craft. I'm not too thrilled with the idea of constantly lying to my uncle about it either though. Do any of you have any advice for dealing with similar situations? I'm used to performing for strangers that I never see again so this was a real first for me. Thanks for the help!
Slim King
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THIS IS A GREAT TIME TO MAKE UP YOUR MIND ON THIS SUBJECT. Magicians deceive. Mentalism is even more convincing when done correctly. Virtually all of us no matter what disclaimer we give have those who believe in our "Powers"......
What are the goals of your entertainment endeavors?
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Marc O
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Performing mentalism in front of people you know is very hard, at least when you go the psychic "I can read your mind" thing.
Don't take the people around you for "dumb people", when they have known you all your life and suddenly you can read there mind they will believe it is a trick or when they make you believe that they believe it is for real maybe the trick is on you....

The persona I use (or better said, the persona I have become) can show some great memory routines, reads body- and face-language, knows when someone tells the truth or tells a lie and knows how to influence the choices that people make.
(Whether that is called mentalism or not is a different kind of discussion...).

The people that know me see me reading books, visit a website or attend lectures about the topics I just mentioned.
Because I became that persona the people around me accept that the things I show them are for real, even when the method is different from what they think it is...
Slim King
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BTW ... My advice is to TOTALLY PLAY IT FOR REAL!!!! I'm not kidding. Otherwise you are just a juggler.
THE MAN THE SKEPTICS REFUSE TO TEST FOR ONE MILLION DOLLARS.. The Worlds Foremost Authority on Houdini's Life after Death.....
Chano
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Thanks for the advice guys.
Tony Iacoviello
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Performing for family and close friends does not work. They won't buy your act as more than tricks. As Bob is famous for re-quoting, "You'll never be a prophet in your own land." (rough translations/variations of Luke 4:24 and Mark 6:4). People you know will not accept you for anything other than they have always known you as.

Perform for family and friends, get the experience, and break in new material, but move outside this circle to gauge real reactions.


Tony
ALEXANDRE
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Chano, if your uncle thinks you're doing it for real (and you're not) then you're doing something right. Keep at it.

If I was purely an entertainer I wouldn't keep lying to my uncle, I'd pull him off to the side and tell him privately that it's just entertainment, for him not to get too hung up on it, he'll get what you mean.

Having said this, I'm a Reiki Master (Tibetan and Usui), a Qigong instructor and practitioner, a reader, and other stuff, so when I do an energy demonstrations, readings, and other odd bits of metaphysical fun, I may be just performing for fun, or I may be performing for real, so even family members are not sure, but they don't worry too much about it, I'm not curing major diseases, stopping wars, or saving the world, so no one is going to hang a picture of me in their living room in worship (except maybe mom). Regardless, I try to focus on entertainment, however odd and mysterious.

What I'm trying to say is that if you're going to go into Psychic Entertainment, it's a good idea to actually learn something metaphysical, take some related classes, read, study, blend all your knowledge, and actually walk the walk (to a certain extent).

And while playing, I agree with Slim King "Play It For Real".
Chano
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Thanks, Alexandre. I think you hit the nail right on the head. The pitch/explanation I give when I perform is actually based on something I believe. I do actually believe that we are all connected in some way. I've just taken it a step further, and used it to justify the things that I do. So I think for my personal life, I can believably attach some level of legitimacy to my act without seeming like I'm starting a new religion. Tony and Slim King, I think you misunderstood me. I'm not trying to fool my family into thinking I have powers. I performed for my family once for fun and a bit of practice, and my uncle approached me afterwards because he believed it all to be real. I understand the idea of committing to your performing persona when you're out there as a performer, but my question was regarding this specific situation. Living my whole life as my mentalism persona would be weird and I think alienating to my family. Specially since I'm only dealing with one relative that seems to have been freaked out. I think I'm gonna play it by ear, and see if he brings it up again. If he does, and still seems concerned, I'll probably let him know that it's nothing supernatural, and that it's based on psychology and muscle reading. Thanks to everyone for the advice, and if you have something more to add, please keep it coming. I'll take all the help I can get.
Robb
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Look, while many will say not to perform for friends and family, that they won't accept it as real, we all do it to some extent. I do it when I want to test out the seed of a routine or a new method. There's nothing wrong with that.

However, I don't expect my friends of family to regard what I do as real and I don't expect the same reaction as a real world audience of strangers. In fact, I tell them that I will "go into character" to demonstrate my new concept and get their feedback. I even sometimes introduce myself to them as if we're strangers with a "wink, wink"...

This has a real advantage that they know I'm not trying to "fool them" but rather demonstrate my art and get feedback about the premise, script, etc. I've conditioned them to focus on the areas where their feedback can be helpful and to forget about the "how". Frankly, they know they have no hope of figuring out how anyway but unlike a real world audience with a theatrical context, it helps to defuse that issue and invite them into your development as an artist.

Basically, treat friends and family with honesty and respect. They can be a great resource.
Chano
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That's a really great way to do it, Robb. Thanks for the insight! That's definitely the sort of thing I was looking for. Thanks again.
jstreiff
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For some, family and friends can be a good test bed to ensure that the performance is technically seamless. What one should not expect, irrespective of the truth, is to convince those folks of any newly acquired psi abilities. So even if you have the luxury of this kind of test before your performances, you still don't know for a fact that your performance will play to a general audience. There is only one way to know that for sure.
John
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You could start reading psychology books around the house and from time to time get your family members to participate in an 'experiment' you've recently read about. Of course this limits the effect you can perform and you'll really have to think about how to frame the effect before performing it which isn't a bad thing.
siepielski
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RedDevil's ET Q&A would be a great routine for this audience.
saysold1
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Quote:
On Jan 7, 2016, Robb wrote:
Look, while many will say not to perform for friends and family, that they won't accept it as real, we all do it to some extent. I do it when I want to test out the seed of a routine or a new method. There's nothing wrong with that.

However, I don't expect my friends of family to regard what I do as real and I don't expect the same reaction as a real world audience of strangers. In fact, I tell them that I will "go into character" to demonstrate my new concept and get their feedback. I even sometimes introduce myself to them as if we're strangers with a "wink, wink"...

This has a real advantage that they know I'm not trying to "fool them" but rather demonstrate my art and get feedback about the premise, script, etc. I've conditioned them to focus on the areas where their feedback can be helpful and to forget about the "how". Frankly, they know they have no hope of figuring out how anyway but unlike a real world audience with a theatrical context, it helps to defuse that issue and invite them into your development as an artist.

Basically, treat friends and family with honesty and respect. They can be a great resource.


Exactly how I feel
Creator of The SvenPad Supreme- "One of the most versatile and well made utility devices I have ever used. Highly recommended." Bob Cassidy www.SvenPads.com
bevbevvybev
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I've always told everyone that I'm a bit strange and can do strange things. So even when I do stuff for friends and family, they're halfway buying into it.

However, if you bought a bicycle tomorrow and pronounced yourself a professional cyclist tomorrow, your family would probably give you funny looks.

Takes time to grow into it.
Ricky Atkinson
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For what it's worth, I've been asking myself similar questions as my focus moved entirely onto mentalism. I've found the best way to approach these questions is to not lie, but NEVER tell the truth either. Smile

For example, to your uncle's question I may have said "No, not always. This is something I've had to work at, not everyone is trusted with these secrets". Leave the rest to their imagination, trying to work out what really happened appeals to people on some level. It's why people love puzzle games and the like.

If asked if it's a special "power" or if I'm "talking to the dead" I can answer honestly because I personally claim nothing along them lines to start with. I again, prefer to sit on the edge of truth and talk of secret techniques passed down and truths that lie in plain sight but are rarely noticed. I believe our art is intriguing, mysterious and entertaining without having to claim unearthly powers, but you have to sell it that way. If you act like "anyone can do this ****, it's nothing special" or else people WILL think like that about you and have little to no interest.

I say take this for what it's worth because I'm not a professional doing regular paid gigs or anything like that, but I have found this to be the best approach for myself over the years. I hope you can find an approach that you are both comfortable with and works for you. Good luck Smile
Chano
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Thanks, Ricky. That's pretty much what I've been doing. I'm really not trying to convince my family that I have powers. I just feel that this is becoming a larger part of my life, and I'd like to share it with my family. Specially if I can start booking shows, and want to tell them about it. Thanks for all the help, everybody!
saysold1
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Bob Cassidy has said for many years - performing for family and friends is probably not the best idea - at all.

They will never EVER see you as having powers Smile

So... like Robb I do perform for family & friends for feedback and testing but not in a million years would I expect them to be that impressed. I also know that my family especially knows many of the secrets so they see things from a different perspective.
Creator of The SvenPad Supreme- "One of the most versatile and well made utility devices I have ever used. Highly recommended." Bob Cassidy www.SvenPads.com
Robb
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Echoing Brett echoing myself, I will say a little bit more about this question... There was definitely a point at which I saw a shift in the perceptions and reactions of my friends and family. No, they still don't think I can really read minds! However, they did start to give up on guessing how I did a particular routine. And I don't think it's simply because my methods became so much more unfathomable.

It's because my performing chops improved and I was performing for them just as I would perform for complete strangers. In short, they are being truly entertained and having fun and (most) everyone wants to be entertained.

The point is, when your performing skills improve and the entertainment value increases, friends and family will still recognize that and be affected by it, even if they don't ultimately buy that what you're doing isn't anything more than a very clever trick. They just don't care as much about that.
Paul S Wingham
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I think it ultimately comes down to how you want to be percieved and how seriously you take yourself. To be clear, I totally agree that unless you convey the image 24/7, your mum is unlikely to suddenly buy in to the concept that you have some sort of psychic ability. She may be more likely to buy that you can pick up on subtle tells in a truth or lie routine and she may be willing to accept the concept of you being able to influence her somehow and she may be willing to consider what you are doing as not a trick. especially if you don't also show her magic.

However, I don't think that matters does it? I show stuff to my friends and family because I don't actually want them to percieve me as anyone else than who I actually am. They are the people I am most honest to and don't convey a performance character; or at least not in such a full on way. Sure, presentation is a little different and perhaps a bit more low key, but take away the "realness" of mentalism and it is still enjoyable to witness and be a part of. My presentation is all about having fun and being humourous, with poinent moments scattered about. Primarily I perform to create a fun moment for people whilst conveying a degree of realness so it isn't seen as a magic trick. I think your mum can still enjoy that, as long as you go in to that scenario with your eyes wide open and understand that you'll a) need to pitch things slightly differently or appear disingenuous and b) acknowledge that the response you get will definitely differ from the reactions you get from strangers who you can sell your abilities to a little more convincingly.
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