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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Propless Mentalism: A Case Study (15 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Atlas
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Over the last few years, I've read a lot of posts harping on about a distaste for propless mentalism.

Why would anyone use it? It is convoluted, processy, slow to the point and lacking in impact - in other words, pointless and pathetic. Not real mentalism. A real mentalist should use props the same way actors in a play would.

I feel it is important to take a moment and respond to these perspectives with an alternative viewpoint, especially in light of an incident that occurred the other day.

I was recently out with my friend Max, who is a magician. He is top of the line, a full time performer and award winning act. We met up to have dinner together when we were drawn into a conversation with another group of about eight people.

The conversation somehow turned to what we did, and Max mentioned that we were both performers. Inevitably, we were pushed for a demonstration of our skills. Max had a pack of cards on him and a sharpie. I had absolutely nothing.

I sat back and watched as Max had a card selected, signed, lost in the pack and then made it appear again and again in an impossible location. One of the group challenged him to make the signature jump from one card to another. Max then shifted his focus onto the gentleman who had issued the challenge, letting him shuffle the deck and then select his own card, signing the back of it and losing it in the pack. Max made his card appear again and again in impossible locations, before the challenge to move the signature was issued again by the entertained, yet ebullient, sceptic. So Max shrugged, drew the two signed cards out of the pack and then, counting to three, slapped the two cards together moving the signature of the sceptic off of his own card and onto the first and original signed card.

Everyone went bananas.

I recall distinctly having two separate thoughts in that moment.

The first was an appreciation of Max's ability to think on his feet and respond to a challenge so easily, using only what he had on him - and this was down to his deep knowledge of methodology combined with incessant practise. He was able to perform when challenged despite a lack of gimmicks that ideally he'd have possessed in the moment.

My second and more selfish thought was that I had to follow a highly visual, highly impossible, and highly impactful routine - and I had NOTHING on me. Not even a scrap of paper anywhere.

Max collected his applause and then, an expectant voice was pointed in my direction and then said, "So what do you do then?"

I performed elements from my Penguin lecture on propless mentalism and garnered a reaction every bit as satisfactory as what Max had mustered, each person eager to take their turn with me as I had them think of something, looking into their eyes and revealing it, building to a finale in which all the ladies thought of a Disney film and I revealed to them all at once that one was thinking of "Alice in Wonderland", another was thinking of "The Little Mermaid", while yet another was thinking of "Oliver and Company", simultaneously revealing to the gentlemen which superheroes they were thinking of.

This little group of friends out celebrating the birthday of one of their own were all so impressed that we were invited there and then to perform for their company's Christmas party - and they were also interested in a training workshop that we pitched to them. This chance encounter is more than likely going to lead to a long term relationship with two separate and prestigious companies.

And I had nothing with me but my wits.

Throughout my Penguin lecture, I emphasized that I use props. They have their place. I'd have loved to have props with me the other day, but the reality of performance is that sometimes you are ASKED to do something on the spot and that your professional credibility often depends on being able to amaze in that short window of opportunity that has been presented to you. This wasn't some pathetic pub ambush. It was a chance to pitch ourselves and our services that was unexpectedly presented - and because of my time learning and perfecting prop free techniques, I was able to capitalize on the moment, standing solidly alongside a highly visual and impressive magic performance.

In my opinion, anyone who doesn't see the need for propless, on the spot mentalism or think that it lacks in impact isn't the pro that they claim they are.

Anyone who is serious about performing full time needs a few compelling pieces of prop free mentalism to ensure that they never have to shrug and walk away from a chance to demonstrate their skills simply because they don't have anything on them.

Just a quick rebuttal based on a real life experience.

Best,

Atlas
Vincent V.
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Could not agree anymore Atlas, I always carry in my mind 2 or 3 propless routines, I have used them as main routines on unexpected stuations several times and have never failed to get the reactions I aim for.
IMAGINACIAN
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Absolutely agree with your view, Atlas.

IMO, 'propless' is an important branch of the mentalism field. And needs true skill to pull off effectively. A genuine performer must have this in his armory.
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Deano88
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I honestly think what stops people working propless material is there is often a lot of work involved to pull it off effectively. I started to learn Atlas's super hero effect but I stopped putting the effort in for a few days and I lost everything I had already learnt, I personally find the memorisation really difficult and have to really work at it to get it to stick in my head. I know I have to work harder than many others may to to get it down, but I know it will be worth it and I have made the concious decision to give it another go A little bit everyday. I have recently come across a great propless birthday/ day revelation which is fantastic and believe this will be my go to propless piece from now on but with effort I can add a few other pieces to my arsenal so I can be ready at a moments notice Smile
SolidSnake
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Reading this post : the case could be made for saying 'always be prepared' whether that is propless, with pen and paper or whatever : as a mentalist you should know or have effects on you that you can perform at a moments notice.
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John C
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I agree too. But I will have add that lately in the Café there have been many many topics on propless mentalism. What can I do nude, what can I do when some say, hey you're a mind reader do something. These types of effects continue to become popular.

I believe I've seen more call for propless than those against.

But yes it's certainly a very useful skill. I'm working on mine. Our new friend Sudo Nimh has some great ideas in this area.

Thanks Atlas,

J
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IAIN
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, John C wrote:
I agree too.


might be wrong here, but aren't you saying the opposite downstairs in this current thread?!
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......23836#14
Last Laugh
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Of course propless stuff can be amazing and entertaining. But also, many of the routines released out there are fairly deserving of a certain amount of criticism. If the procedure is long winded or unnatural, vs something direct and simple with a bit of paper or a business card, then there shouldn't be any discussion necessary.

Only those who haven't really thought it about it much will make generalizations about propless vs props. There is good and bad in both camps and as performers we have options available for us.

Personally, if I'm out anywhere, I'm going to have my wallet. And in my wallet are some business cards and some billet stock.

I gotta ask though, Atlas -- why not Train Tracking?
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Atlas
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Train Tracking is what I opened with to grab their attention.

And of course it is a good idea to have something on you, but the point of my original post was that this is NOT always going to be the case - and you never want to be caught out, meaning that propless mentalism has its merits.

Best,

Atlas
Last Laugh
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I completely agree.

Generalizations are bad,

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John C
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, IAIN wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, John C wrote:
I agree too.


might be wrong here, but aren't you saying the opposite downstairs in this current thread?!
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......23836#14


looks like I'll have to get a little rude here....PERHAPS YOU ARE STALKING ME OR PERHAPS YOU JUST CAN'T COMPREHEND THE SUBJECT MATTER..

I don't know which it is but LAY OFF.
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IAIN
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What a fantastic reaction to a very simple question...(reading two 'live and current' threads that talk about similar subject matter)...

Smile
Tom Cutts
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, John C wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, IAIN wrote:
Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, John C wrote:
I agree too.


might be wrong here, but aren't you saying the opposite downstairs in this current thread?!
http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......23836#14


looks like I'll have to get a little rude here....PERHAPS YOU ARE STALKING ME OR PERHAPS YOU JUST CAN'T COMPREHEND THE SUBJECT MATTER..

I don't know which it is but LAY OFF.


Maybe you just didn't write what you intended to write, cuz I gotta agree... It looks like in one case you eschew (or cashew Smile ) impromptu, on the spot performance and in another case not so much. Likely your post linked to isn't correctly communicating your position, as it seems the more ambiguous in wording choice.

Atlas, well said and well played. While there are stipulations, "luck" rewards the prepared.

While there are stipulations, such as a concert violinist isn't likely to have his gear with him, what we do CAN be done on the fly if one is prepared and practiced. We should treat everyone as someone important. Even a rude drunk. They could be the CEO of a billion dollar startup which you have no clue of. Playing the ego card is a recipe for making a bad reputation for yourself.

And I can dismantle the whole "others don't have to do this" argument in just a couple sentences. We all know what an athlete, musician, doctor, lawyer, banker, ad infinatum do for a living. Most often the response "Can you show me something?" is generated by an utter lack of knowledge what a "mind reader" does and how they might use such a talent.

The people I know who are truly successful seize these opportunities to inform their new acquaintances and open the opportunity for further discussions. Those who **** on these opportunities are doomed to repeat their downward spiral of outdated stage shows they demand people come see.

That said, I think there is a gap of graciousness which is not being communicated here. I doubt MP just says, "Yeah, well buy a ticket to my show." but it seems some might, for many reasons, assume this.
MichaelCGM
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Though I can see the value in “prop-less” entertaining, I simply have to say that Atlas is addressing issues that I can’t remember seeing anywhere, yet he feels the need to address them.

Atlas says, “Why would anyone use it? It is convoluted, processy, slow to the point and lacking in impact - in other words, pointless and pathetic. Not real mentalism. A real mentalist should use props the same way actors in a play would. “

Can someone point me in the direction of a thread where these negative points were actually made?

Second, Atlas says, “In my opinion, anyone who doesn't see the need for propless, on the spot mentalism or think that it lacks in impact isn't the pro that they claim they are.”

I do not “see the need,” while I do see the advantage. So then, is Atlas telling me that I’m not the “pro” that I claim to be, as well as other pros who do not agree with his assessment? Isn’t it ironic that one feels compelled to address negative statements made by un-cited sources, yet is further compelled to make a negative statement about professionals who don’t agree with one’s perspective? Just askin’ here.
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sychou
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Prop-less mentalism is a must learn for those who are serious about our art.
But the problem with prop-less mentalism is because there are so many crappy prop-less mentalism routines on the market which are sold in ridiculous price,
only because they are billed "prop-less",which also imply prop-less are worthy than traditional method mentalism,which in many times is not the case.
In formal performance,I would like to use a more reliable method or even prop mentalism.
When I use prop in mentalism ,I can still make my audience think that I never use any gimmick.
When I caught on the spot,I will use prop-less mentalism.
There are still a few good prop-less mentalism in the market,
but it will cost you a lot of money in those crap ones before you find the true gems in prop-less mentalism.
Last Laugh
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, Tom Cutts wrote:

And I can dismantle the whole "others don't have to do this" argument in just a couple sentences. We all know what an athlete, musician, doctor, lawyer, banker, ad infinatum do for a living. Most often the response "Can you show me something?" is generated by an utter lack of knowledge what a "mind reader" does and how they might use such a talent.

The people I know who are truly successful seize these opportunities to inform their new acquaintances and open the opportunity for further discussions. Those who **** on these opportunities are doomed to repeat their downward spiral of outdated stage shows they demand people come see.

That said, I think there is a gap of graciousness which is not being communicated here. I doubt MP just says, "Yeah, well buy a ticket to my show." but it seems some might, for many reasons, assume this.


I was wondering what percentage of working pros here actually regularly do 'shows' that someone could come and see. While I'm only a part timer, most of my performances are private engagements and it seems to me that a goodly percentage of the work out there is the same. Assuming that a performer wants to make money, that is...
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Marc O
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Quote:
On Aug 21, 2016, Atlas wrote:

In my opinion, anyone who doesn't see the need for propless, on the spot mentalism or think that it lacks in impact isn't the pro that they claim they are.


I agree that everyone should have something up their sleeve to perform on the spot.
If that is propless or not should be up to the performer and his/her persona.
There have been long discussions on wether a piece of paper and a pen are propless or not...
Whatever you do just make sure you are prepared.

If I was a pro and I would claim to be a mindreader I would be more worried about handing out my businesscard to a potential new client and have them google my name only to find that already the second hit on Google shows them that I am not a mindreader but a magician who sells "tricks" that can be used to portray yourself as a mindreader...
Sudo Nimh
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Quote:
On Aug 22, 2016, Marc O wrote:
If I was a pro and I would claim to be a mindreader I would be more worried about handing out my businesscard to a potential new client and have them google my name only to find that already the second hit on Google shows them that I am not a mindreader but a magician who sells "tricks" that can be used to portray yourself as a mindreader...


This is PRECISELY the reason why it's a good idea to have a "pseudonym" for discussing "tricks" on a public forum or for marketing "tricks" on the internet. Smile
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IMAGINACIAN
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Good point, Sudo.

But why most of us do not like using a pseudonym, probably, is it does not satisfy the ego. If your real name gets famous, the ego shoots thru the roof ! Maybe that's why. Just thinking aloud.
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IAIN
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Sudo nimh's psuedonymn's sudo nimh
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