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Tony Iacoviello
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Iain:

Let's take memory work as an example.
A: A mentalist does a memory routine using memory techniques.
B: A not ready to perform performer does a similar routine using cheats to avoid the real work, and tips his method.
Some people who have seen B will assume that A uses the same "tricks" and is just better at it

The same can be said of Lightening Math and other real works in mentalism.

Sword swallowers have complained about fake sword swallowers for decades.
IAIN
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, Tony Iacoviello wrote:

Let's take memory work as an example.
A: A mentalist does a memory routine using memory techniques.
B: A not ready to perform performer does a similar routine using cheats to avoid the real work, and tips his method.
Some people who have seen B will assume that A uses the same "tricks" and is just better at it


to play devil's advocate again then, are we saying that despite of B, it can still be seen as close enough to be mistaken for A?
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January
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As someone who was up until recently a layperson, maybe I can offer a word of encouragement:

I don't think poor performances are ruining mentalism for your average person, though it may feel that way to us. What initially caused me to dive into mentalism was researching on the internet, trying to learn what sort of magic the "mind-reading" stuff that David Blaine did was. To me, that was the most interesting kind of thing he did, but I didn't know the word for it, or even if it was a different subset of magic. It actually took a bit of searching for me to stumble across the term "mentalism." When I found all the greats of mentalism, it was really exciting, and it all seemed very fresh to me.

And what WitchDocChris said was actually true: from my previous interest in card/coin magic, I actually knew many of the methods for the effects I was seeing, but I had no idea they were being used because of the different presentation.
January
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And to answer the OP, some of the "problems" of mentalism might be some of the following:

In regards to making it big on TV, some of the strongest mentalism effects are so strong that they almost make your average viewer think they must be accomplished through stooges. Of course your average person doesn't know the term "stooge," but they'll think, "That's impossible! That person must have been in on it." Of course any kind of magic can be subject to this sort of thing, but I think really strong mentalism effects are more prone to it. Of course, though this might be a "problem" for TV, it's a strength for smaller performances. If you see one of these tricks done on a friend (or yourself) as a layperson, and you know there was no stoogery, you can't pick your jaw off the ground. At least that was my experience as a layperson.

Perhaps that's why it's so tempting for mentalists to go the body language/NLP route, because most people have a very naturalistic worldview, and several TV shows have popularized the idea that this sort of thing is scientifically possible. This makes it where your viewers will accept your explanation without feeling like they've been "duped into believing in the supernatural," which most modern worldviews (and even mentalists and magicians who like to debunk psychics, faith healers, etc.) make a habit of ridiculing. That said, your audience remains extremely impressed at your ability. This is opposed to other presentations, that may leave more mystery, but also make the skeptics give you a harder time?

I actually found the NLP/body language reading/manipulation explanation intriguing at first, but I'm now drifting way from it in my own work, and trying to find a presentation that works well without explaining away too much of the mystery.
elimagic
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I think there are many sides to the issues presented. However, on the topic of a mentalist and magician presenting the same thing and the magician is seen doing a trick and the mentalist, sharing a mystery, let me share an example of why this may happen.

First, magicians tend to rely the routine/trick itself as the support. This is not a negative, but is fundamentally DIFFERENT than that of a mentalist. A mentalist relies first and mainly on his character and what that communicates to the audience.

This is seen by the magicians need to "prove" things to the audience. Let me give a very simple exception as seen on a recent mentalists penguin live lecture (it was a fantastic lecture by an absolutely incredible mentalist)

Essentially, it was a pseudo influence routine where the mentalist talks about how we are continually being influenced in our lives, by politics, the media, advertising, etc, so we know it is possible to be influenced. He then presents a simple test of this by saying he will try to influence someone to choose a two digit number he is thinking of. The helper is asked to think of this number and to write it down for verification later on by a second audience member. This is placed by the helped into an envelope, and given to a member f the audience to hold. Then the mentalist reveals the number he tried to influence the helper to think of and of course, it matches.

What a mentalist does, is to accept the applause of the audience as the helper has confirmed that she was influenced correctly(and was very amazed as she confirmed this).

The mentalist was then asked by someone during the explanation process as to why he never shows the number the helper wrote in the envelope since it clearly matched the number and would further prove it was what she thought of.

The mentalist then made the point that as a mentalist, he doesn't feel the need to "prove" anything, and that referring back to the written down number diminishes the experiment that just occurred where as in magic, that type of reveal at the end is quite common and expected.

The key to the routines success is that the performer didn't make mentioned of NLP or any other such nonsense, he simply talked about the normality of how we are influenced in our everyday lives and then offered to try to replicate that in an easy to understand way.

This routine could easily be done by a magician, however, it would take on a very different tone because of the way a magician presents a routine. The difference in a nutshell is this in my own experience.

When someone is impressed by a good magician they typically say things like "Wow, now THAT was a good one" or "THAT is is incredible"
I often find that the response to a mentalist is slightly different, and is more "HE is incredible" and "It's amazing that HE can do that"

Do you see the slight difference here? The significance of the effect on the audience for a magician is generally given to what he DID, where as for a mentalist the significance of the effect is put on who he IS.

To put it another way in line with what another well known mentalist says, a reaction to someone experiencing a mentalist performing shouldn't really be applause, it should be awe, mouths open in silence with a inhale in because this is an expression of true wonder.

Again, I don't claim to be right about any of this and my professional journey is young, so I in no way to be claiming expertise in the area of differentiating magic/mentalist. But I think Chris above got it right by way of, we control the reaction we get from an audience based on the character we choose, and the material we choose to perform within the limits of that character. The audiences perception of these two choices by us dictate whether we are seen as doing magic or mentalism. neither one is BETTER than the other, but I do believe they have a slightly different effect on the audience, however, both having the same goal as entertaining our audiences to the best of our ability.

Just a few thoughts off the top of my head. Also forgive me for spelling/grammar, I am typing this on my phone.


-Eli
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Imho magicians need to stop claiming to be mentalists or Mind readers or god forbid magician and mind reader! They need to stop doing pure mentalism in the same breath as card tricks. This is not a problem of character, presentation etc of the mentalist.

If a magician does a book test - that's seen as a nice trick. If the audience then see an accomplished mentalist do a book test - they remember that the magicians also did said Mind Reading with a book so must be some sort of trick. This is compounded the more magicians do different mentalism stunts.

Now you may say we as mentalists have to evole adapt change our props methods etc but let's be honest here there is only so many ways to read ones mind. If magicians keep claiming to read minds - regardless of the method or prop - then whenever the public see a mind reader : mentalist or otherwise - they will assume it is a trick.

In all honesty, I think pure mentalism is pretty much finished. Apart from the odd 2 person act, I think most mentalism has been ruined by magicians to the point that in the publics eye magician mentalist mind reader : they are all the same thing. I'm seriously tempted to stop trying to fight this losing battle and join the magicians and start doing ****in floating roses and card tricks.

Oh and it really doesn't help that soo called top mentalists will go and work with any old magician if the money is right. So yea - what is wrong with mentalism? Apart from if your a fake psychic - it doesn't really exist anymore.
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IAIN
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, SolidSnake wrote:
If a magician does a book test - that's seen as a nice trick. If the audience then see an accomplished mentalist do a book test - they remember that the magicians also did said Mind Reading with a book so must be some sort of trick. This is compounded the more magicians do different mentalism stunts.


david Copperfield has done a book test (on Oprah I think?), and he's seen purely as a magician, do you think (considering he's very famous, and Oprah is very famous - so therefore I am assuming that the book test was seen by a few million) - do you think that has affected anything in real terms?

if yes, how?

if not, are there any parallels to be drawn between that amount of exposure vs a couple of dozen people seeing a guy in a glittery waistcoat at a wedding or social event also doing a book test? I would say that the general public are fully conditioned to Copperfield's label of magician...he's theatrical, he can fly, he can move buildings etc...nothing that a mentalist would do...

does this now mean no mentalist should perform a book test (especially on tv)? because its going to be attributed to a magician's trick?
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ibm_usa
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, SolidSnake wrote:
Imho magicians need to stop claiming to be mentalists or Mind readers or god forbid magician and mind reader! They need to stop doing pure mentalism in the same breath as card tricks. This is not a problem of character, presentation etc of the mentalist.

If a magician does a book test - that's seen as a nice trick. If the audience then see an accomplished mentalist do a book test - they remember that the magicians also did said Mind Reading with a book so must be some sort of trick. This is compounded the more magicians do different mentalism stunts.

Now you may say we as mentalists have to evole adapt change our props methods etc but let's be honest here there is only so many ways to read ones mind. If magicians keep claiming to read minds - regardless of the method or prop - then whenever the public see a mind reader : mentalist or otherwise - they will assume it is a trick.

In all honesty, I think pure mentalism is pretty much finished. Apart from the odd 2 person act, I think most mentalism has been ruined by magicians to the point that in the publics eye magician mentalist mind reader : they are all the same thing. I'm seriously tempted to stop trying to fight this losing battle and join the magicians and start doing ****in floating roses and card tricks.

Oh and it really doesn't help that soo called top mentalists will go and work with any old magician if the money is right. So yea - what is wrong with mentalism? Apart from if your a fake psychic - it doesn't really exist anymore.

I gave up this fight a long time ago. I no longer label myself as mentalist nor magician. I am purely a psychological entertainer. It has settled well, there is no confusion with my audiences and the only time someone brings up "trickery", it's in recognition of skill rather than gimmicks.
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Sudo Nimh
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Perhaps spiritualists felt the same sinking feeling when "Mentalists" started appearing on the scene. Smile
Djin
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I think that mentalism has suffered, indeed the audiences have suffered, from generations of "debunkers." Somehow guys who dedicate years to the theory and practice of cheating with cards decided that guys who put a lot of effort into appearing to have super minds had to be unmasked. Guys who pull coins out of kids ears ("awww, that's so cute...") couldn't stand that a guy who bends spoons is treated seriously. There has been a crusade to make sure mentalism is seen as "doing tricks" which is what conjures have long been known to be doing. Once the image was cast that this is "tricks" magicians decided why not add these tricks to their repertoire. Likewise, I see mentalists disparage "fake psychics" while at the same time I know that a lot of reputable mentalists make money doing private readings.
The change hasn't all been at the hands of magicians. People are in general less believing of mystery than they were in previous generations. People today mock anyone who believes in anything remotely extra-ordinary. This is as true of once mainstream spiritual beliefs that are now openly mocked as it is of claims to "see the great beyond..." Not so long ago, the notion that someone may have studied under a guru and gained the ability to see into another's mind was a much more plausible sell than it is today.
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I would also add that I see the "disclaimer" as a symptom of the fall of Western Civilization.
IAIN
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I think those that are constantly claiming are the ones who do the most damage to the world...
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Raum
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1) Most mentalists are much more successful in selling secrets than in selling of their own show.
2) The word "mentalist" now means "the second or third word in the magician advertising"
3) Art and secrets are not respected as money.
4) 90% of the new material - crap.
5) Buy this incredible bi**et sw**ch that was stolen from ancient Egypt mentalists. Special price - only $ 200, and tomorrow it will cost $ 350. If you buy this phenomenal sw**ch you within a week of its use will become a new Hanussen. Special 20% discount if you bought before that incredible apocalyptic demonic chthonic book test only for 400$
Mobius
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In the UK the term "mentalist" poses a problem.
The Oxford Dictionary defines it as:
1. A magician who performs feats that apparently demonstrate extraordinary mental powers, such as mind-reading.

2. (British informal) An eccentric or mad person.

Doh! Should have checked before I had a 1,000 business cards printed up. . .
Sudo Nimh
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, Djin wrote:
I would also add that I see the "disclaimer" as a symptom of the fall of Western Civilization.


Europe as well.... Smile


An awful lot of fear being expressed in this thread over things that not a single one of us has any real control over. None of us are the arbiters or gatekeeper of anything but ourselves.
Robb
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, IAIN wrote:
Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, SolidSnake wrote:
If a magician does a book test - that's seen as a nice trick. If the audience then see an accomplished mentalist do a book test - they remember that the magicians also did said Mind Reading with a book so must be some sort of trick. This is compounded the more magicians do different mentalism stunts.


david Copperfield has done a book test (on Oprah I think?), and he's seen purely as a magician, do you think (considering he's very famous, and Oprah is very famous - so therefore I am assuming that the book test was seen by a few million) - do you think that has affected anything in real terms?

if yes, how?

if not, are there any parallels to be drawn between that amount of exposure vs a couple of dozen people seeing a guy in a glittery waistcoat at a wedding or social event also doing a book test? I would say that the general public are fully conditioned to Copperfield's label of magician...he's theatrical, he can fly, he can move buildings etc...nothing that a mentalist would do...

does this now mean no mentalist should perform a book test (especially on tv)? because its going to be attributed to a magician's trick?


Personally I don't think mentalists should perform on TV these days at all unless they're extraordinary performers and do something novel. If I see one more guy do Glance on some morning show I'm gonna scream...
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It's always easier to blame someone else for our own problems. Why should one take responsibility when we can just blame those magicians? Time for a bit of a reality check. The only problem is people stopping themselves. It's a cop out and an easy excuse. Everything changes and so must I. Exposure doesn't matter if I layer my methodology intelligently. Although, as has been stated previously, mentalists sure do sell quite a bit of stuff. I can find mentalism classics all over Amazon! So who's trivializing our secrets? It would seem mentalists themselves.

Both magic and mentalism require proper theatrical staging, character, scripts, etc. for it to achieve the desired effect. The problem with most performances is that they are under rehearsed and lacking in any creativity. Mentalism has another challenge given that it's often process driven which can make it predictable and/or boring. There is no surprise.You make me think of something and then you tell me what it is. How many different ways can one do this? As soon as the first part begins the audience has already jumped to the end. What else would happen? Zzzzzzzzzz........
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The BIGGEST problem usually is the performer him or herself.

Due to age and health I have had a little over a year to think and research ideas and concepts that, while performing, received little time for consideration. Choosing, and maintaining a character and rationale for mentalism's performance takes a lot of consideration and effort most, including myself, have little patience to apply regularly.

Let us consider this. Mentalism and its branches including readings and seances, all have a small corps of "true believers," some of whom see and evaluate our performances. There are also a horde of amateur magicians and magic aficionados who attend out shows and look at us in a different light than those who believe. Then, there is the general public who is either there because they want to be entertained, or have been dragged to the event by one of the former as a partner/date, or by a group (often corporate) which has booked the show as part of a larger events doings and entertainment.

Too often performers, amateur and pro alike -- listen to the comments of all the varying groups and try to satisfy them all on an ongoing basis To me this is a mistake.. They should, instead, be doing the dance and enjoying their personal form of mentalism (not just one trick) to the hilt.

I say "The Dance" because I have been deeply influenced by a small but valuable book called "The Dance" by Brad Henderson. It suggests that we need to be not only knowledgable
in our craft, but also deeply immersed in the character we need to create to fully perform our specialty so there is no doubt either in our mind or that of any audience member that what we are doing IS REAL!

Yes, like Richard Osterlind, we may know the mechanics and tricks of attaining the effect, but, we must let our audiences know that we have powers, by coincidence, by spirit, by gift, by unknown psi-sources or by scientific and paranormal methods -- in a way that the effect is married to us personally and well as imbedded into the understanding of how the sitter, audience or participant, is personally affected by the work.

This takes careful consideration and patience in rehearsal. Rehearsal is hard, because audiences and conditions vary widely, wives and children finally refuse to participate, friends shy away almost as badly as they do from the guy who always has the latest card trick to show. Often early shows may be the early rehearsals and are fraught with failures -- and a few good hits. But the temptation to go back to magic or magic mentalism should never gain a foothold.

And yes, ego can show through -- Kreskin and others are exemplars where their ego overshadows the effects.. Still others like Uri Gellar surround their mysteries in what I personally consider a fraudulent reality -- a line I hope I do not cross too often as have "mediums" since their inception. But, then I couch my new work as that of a medium, carrying the whisper of :ghosts" into my work, rather than letting the whispers drive me insane. For me this is an enjoyable and easy character.

ANOTHER hard problem for magicians who would be mentalists -- is that mentalists do not have many flashy props, half naked assistants to misdirect, or very visible tricks with flashes of fire. They cannot walk into a shop and then survive on "what's new." They must use their mind to discern and perform what people merely wish they could do with their own minds. (Like reading the mind of a used car salesman to determine his/her veracity.)

For myself -- the use of technology, like iPhone trickery, is not mentalism, but mental magic and while currently in vogue, do nothing to prove "mental" or Psi powers to the audience.. They see and remember the technology, not the performer and/or how the effect affects them as an individual who wished he had similar powers.

Realize all this does not happen overnight. Learning to deal with skeptics, drunks and loudmouths -- is as hard as dealing with true believers that want to closet you after a performance.

So, then, determine your abilities, the persona youy wish to sell and have at it. That is the biggest problem. Changes come with time and experience. Experience is made from mistakes and failures that are treated as learning experiences.
Gregg (C. H. Mara) Chmara

Commercial Operations, LLC

Tucson, AZ



C. H. Mara Illusion & Psychic Entertainments
Second Sight
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Quote:
On Dec 16, 2016, Djin wrote:
I would also add that I see the "disclaimer" as a symptom of the fall of Western Civilization.


Hahaha. This is great. I get what you mean. Psyhic and paranormal phenomena are an important part of human experience, whether real or not. Pyschic entertainers fulfill a human need, just as athletes do. Disclaimers undercut our need to "play" at believing in these things for a little while. Scientific progress isn't the only important thing out there...
Second Sight
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I feel that it's less important to create a "character" who believes in or can do these things, than it is to do come to understand the importance of these beliefs for humans. This isn't too say that one should try to "convince" people that these things are "real." But rather, that there is great fun and value in "playing" with such "rituals." Humans have always done this. Mentalists are like psychic athletes, in my opinion. So, I have no qualms in playing that role. So, I don't need a character, because I have a belief system which allows me to do this work as myself.
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