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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Has walkaround and propless taken over? (47 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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IAIN
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I'm curious...

have things shifted to such a degree now that anything that is shared/released has to fall under at least one of those two categories?

the walkaround mentalist is here to stay - is it a good or a bad thing? Has propless taken over so much that people are just fascinated by wordplay and would rather go through a heavy process just so that they aren't asking for thoughts to be written down?

here's my opinion...

I feel that there's so many PIN, name and star sign releases that its both mystifying and disheartening...when you consider the old school techniques, where you could (technically) gain those thoughts very quickly and shift it out of the way to focus on presentation - it will take something special from the propless side of things to better that... and I say that because it seems people want the memory of the effect to be simply "he talked for a while at the start and asked me to think about certain things, then eventually he told me the name I was thinking of", vs "he asked me to take part in a thought-experiment, I've never done that before, I thought about my sister and he described her then told me her name..."

maybe I've just not read enough propless stuff, but the majority of the things I've bought out of curiosity - HAVE had zero presentation both in video performance and the written descriptions...there's an out there isn't there..."I don't include one because you'll copy me and no one likes that" - but even in the briefest of old school effects it at least gives you an "I PROPOSE AN EXPERIMENT IN COLOUR PSYCHOLOGY!" or some such dressing...

a hook to hang your hat on so to speak...

I think its a shame that (yet again) premise, character and unique presentational angles aren't discussed more, and its always about the BIFF/BANG/POW of the process...

then there's walkaround - I see it over at latest and greatest section, no matter what is being released, people ask "yeah, but is it good for walkaround", yet very few are saying "yeah, but is it good for stage or house parties or..." SOMETHING ELSE AT LEAST!

what percentage these days do you think, focuses entirely on "walkaround mentalism" and is it destroying the most enjoyable part of mentalism - the mystery, the engagement, rather than the hurry to the reaction...is it fast food mentalism or is there a noble art to it in any way? I think if I were to do it, I would theme it so strongly, I'd only be able to do one thing per table...and try to get known as "iain - that guy who does the one thing per table" rather than a sudden flurry of things, and no one gets to feel special or unique, because you see the guy go from table to table doing 80% of the same thing he did at mine...

I used to defend walkaround mentalism because I hoped it would bring forth something unique, and maybe it has, somewhere? I dunno...

seems a shame though that so many are defining what is good and bad by a warped criteria and interesting and different releases are overlooked because it doesn't fit within a 10 minute table side thing...

interested in your own personal viewpoints, both for, against, or just general spiteful or veiled insults as per usual Smile Smile Smile Smile
Last Laugh
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Well, I think part of this is easily explained by the fact that the majority of consumers of mentalism products are amateurs that mainly (if they perform at all) perform for friends and family. That's why 'walk around' is so popular, not because these are mostly professionals that do walk around gigs. That's my impression anyway.

Re: propless, yeah I don't get it either. We may be able to trace it partly to Derren Brown and the whole generation of people that tried to emulate his presentations as if they were methods. Another part may also be related to the issue of the amateur market. People like the idea that they could have an effect anytime ready, even if they don't have their 'stuff'. A professional of course is going to be different, since they'll always have their stuff when at a gig.

Finally - and this accounts for MUCH of the magic/mentalism market. The vast majority of products are purchased out of curiosity and people are much more interested in clever methods than good effects. There is an appeal for some in clever wordplay....
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Amirá
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If we ask, I can assume that most members in here are social (no professional) performers that do mostly close up.
For that reason I think that this genre is the most popular and ergo the target to creators. Some creators are just that and others are also real performers in social or professional aspects. Personally from time to time I offer some parlor or stage routines but mostly close up.

Propless is fun but not the epiphany. Some creators just focus in that nowadays and it is fine, we need all creative forces to push Mentalism to different places. The most important thing for me is no matter in which setting we perform and no matter the method, we can do our best job to offer our publics a proper Mentalism experience.
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Max Hazy
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Quote:
On Sep 12, 2017, IAIN wrote:
I think its a shame that (yet again) premise, character and unique presentational angles aren't discussed more, and its always about the BIFF/BANG/POW of the process...


I agree with you here. But honestly, in facebook we discuss character, presentation, premisse, justification, methods, business, etc. Even business cards came up as a subject. I do think Last Laugh got a point there about amateurs. Nothing against them but there's a difference in views compared to whoever deal with the business side of it, so other subjects don't appeal to them.

About the 2 subjects in particular:

Propless - I love it, when it's good and well thought out. Not because it's more "real" as some people think, but because it have a clear advantage of being practical to be able to do with nothing at all... again, when it's good and well thought out, not those heavy process "now add the double of the third...".

Walkaround - When meeting people who will book me, walkaround stuff is the way to go imo. I can do a DD in a business card and leave as a memento... what could be better than that? They will have a story to talk about me that is linked to my contact. I could do the same thing using a magic square with their date of birth and they would keep it as a talisman. So far, I haven't done walkaround gigs with mentalism... but I see a lot of value in walkaround stuff.

I would add something else to ponder here. Lately I think self-working and eletronic stuff (the latter not being appealing to me) is also being targeted with propless and walkaround. Seeing some reviews about some really good stuff that requires work on the part of performer, I'm under the impression that a good amount of this new generation of mentalists are not willing to put much effort.

In any case, the market will aim to produce whatever is seeked.
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I'm fine with people having varying interests, but the new propless interest is odd to me because of how narrow in scope it seems to be. It often appears that the word "propless" is a stand-in for PA's or logic puzzles. But there is so much more material out there that is propless that do not get the same attention. For example, with the amount of time and effort it takes to learn one or two PA's, one could go from zero experience to reliable proficiency in CMR.
Martin Pulman
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I don't consider walk-around or table-hopping mentalism to be mentalism at all. It is what it has always been -mental magic, The exponential growth in it, combined with the crash-bang wallop performances on TV talent shows could be the thing that actually destroys traditional mentalism.
IAIN
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@Martin - could your viewpoint be changed, if the performer's persona was sufficiently unique? a "remarkable man" at your table doing a single thing, then leaving you wondering...that kinda thing? or will your opinion never change?
Martin Pulman
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Hi Iain, I don't think a "remarkable man" walks from table to table doing mentalism tricks at a wedding. That's what a magician does. I honestly believe mentalism belongs on a stage or in a parlor setting.
IAIN
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Fair enough...

personally, if I were at a wedding, potentially bored out of my skull - maybe if a well dressed person approached, asked me to think of a friend from art school or someone that I wished was with me at the wedding, and then described them, their character and then their name and walked off... maybe I'd remember that moment, and if I saw them doing the same with other guests too - maybe I'd be thinking "hey...who is that guy?"

maybe I'd think they were a magician, but maybe not...not quite sure if I'm 100% honest with myself...
Martin Pulman
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Perhaps, if the performer presented it in the way you describe, it could work. But that hasn't been my experience of mentalism performers at functions I've attended. They are almost all magicians performing mental magic.

I truly believe as soon as mentalism loses its mystery it is finished. And performers moving from table to table doing mental magic at weddings, and little girls performing shop-bought mentalism effects on Tv talent shows (that are exposed on youtube before the show is finished) are killing the mystery at an alarming rate.
Mark Timon
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Walkaround magic / mentalism is sad. There are no other art form that could do that. Just a mere court jester walking around. How can you expect people to respect the magician/mentalist?
George Hunter
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The career, writings (and our recent loss) of Eugene Burger reminds us that a splendid magician preferred and pioneered close-u magic, with a group.

Likewise in Mentalism, some of our good effects, from Haunted Key to Stegosaurus and many others, will only play, or will best play, for a group and cannot as effectively engage a crowd. There is no compelling reason to assume that close-up performances cannot rank among the best expressions of our art.

George
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Martin and Mark, it seems like something very specific is coloring your distaste for walk-around or close-up. From my experience in restaurants, close-up mind reading is an incredibly intimate experience for the participants leaving them with a memory of the experience that would be for more detached if they were simply a spectator at a larger performance. I love stand-up and close-up, but the latter affords a guarantee of intimacy that is otherwise reserved for only a select few at stage shows.
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I don't believe it has taken over. I think there is definitely a large group of people who gravitate towards propless and close-up effects, but there are equally those who prefer the more traditional approaches.

And then there is the middle of the road too. I'm sure that there are a good number of folks who like BOTH, because let's face it - even if you are a performer who performs on stage, you're not always on stage. It's nice to have some effects that you can do "off the cuff" in casual situations as well. Additionally, there are far more venues for a performer who performs close-quarters than there are for stage performers. If we look at Annemann's writings alone, there is a fair amount of work on "close-quarter" effects, so I am not entirely convinced that this is really a new phenomenon. What *is* new however, is that there has been a substantial amount of advancements made in prop-less methods that never existed before, and this is exciting for those who are interested in trying to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with virtually nothing.

The other issue, is that I believe that there aren't a large number of people who can perform stage Mentalism for a MODERN audience and keep them fixated. I've seen a lot of examples that were terribly boring and long-winded. It may be that close-quarters or short, punchy effects are easier to sell to today's audiences who are easily distracted and have shorter attention spans. I'm not suggesting that close-up or prop-less is better, but that it may just be a reflection of the times we live in.
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Mr. Woolery
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One of the issues that makes answering this a little difficult is what one defines as mentalism. Are palm readings mentalism? How about propless cold readings? If yes to either or especially both, then there are propless things one can do while avoiding the issues of convoluted mental gymnastics in the spectator or being a mental magician.

Disclosure: I'm a social, amateur performer. I don't currently expect to ever try to make a living from mentalism. However, I do get paid for readings. Anything else I do for enjoyment, not money.

I don't like most of the propless stuff. I also don't see a reason to walk about and do the same mental card trick for dozens of people at several tables. But something like palmistry is readily accepted as esoteric, even if not super-human. I really do like the idea of Iain's remarkable person stopping by to share a bit of wonder. (Since the first palmist I knew was a woman, I changed it to gender neutral.) If what that person does is personalized (as Max mentioned with the magic square), there is no reason for me to think less of someone for doing it again for other folks. But if it is clearly a "routine" or a "presentation," things get different. Then it does look like a magician performing tricks instead of an interesting person sharing interesting things.

I suspect most of us who buy the DVDs and the books are actually more interested in stuff we already have a venue to perform. We don't have stage shows and I at least don't intend to have one. What I buy is largely determined by what I think I'd like to use. And if it only works on stage, I'm not going to use it anytime soon.

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Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Sep 12, 2017, George Hunter wrote:
The career, writings (and our recent loss) of Eugene Burger reminds us that a splendid magician preferred and pioneered close-u magic, with a group.

Likewise in Mentalism, some of our good effects, from Haunted Key to Stegosaurus and many others, will only play, or will best play, for a group and cannot as effectively engage a crowd. There is no compelling reason to assume that close-up performances cannot rank among the best expressions of our art.

George

There will always be a place for intimate performances in mentalism. I believe that is different from walk-around or table-hopping. With the deepest respect to the incredible Mr Burger, who was always very personally kind to me, he never claimed to be performing mentalism. And I think magic plays very well in a table-hopping scenario. But Bob Cassidy often spoke on the Café about the dangers of table-hopping trivialising mentalism. I agree with him. But I also understand the reality of people having to pay their bills, and I seem to recall Banachek speaking about combining magic and mentalism in a table-hopping scenario. I think the customers would have thought they were watching mental magic in that scenario. Just my personal opinion.
Marc O
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Martin Pulman wrote:
Hi Iain, I don't think a "remarkable man" walks from table to table doing mentalism tricks at a wedding. That's what a magician does. I honestly believe mentalism belongs on a stage or in a parlor setting.


Knowing that man like Looch and Atlas Brookings walk from table to table already has answered the question to me that it is possible.
What the heck, I would even be more impressed by those men alongside my dinnertable then another performer on stage!
Mark_Chandaue
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As far as propless is concerned I think we have recently turned a corner with effects like Train Tracking, V2 by Manos (Verbalist 2 is indistinguishable from Prevaricator) Pete Turner's IS3 and Michael Murray's forthcoming Isolation. Personally I am a traditionalist, I will use these propless effects in a casual situation but not on stage although Manos demonstrated at Minds that his Velvet can play extremely well for a large audience,

I don't think it is fair to say that it's the amateurs leading the charge towards walk around and close up Mentalism. In the UK at least it is extremely difficult to make a full time living as a mentalist without taking close up or walk around gigs. The market has moved that way unfortunately. Weddings used to be exclusively cabaret either after the speeches or when the band took a break, These days weddings are pretty much exclusively close up. A lot of corporate work these days is mix and mingle or close up.

Personally the majority of my work is banquets. I will do some weddings and close up gigs but I am predominantly a cabaret performer. If I didn't have other sources of income I suspect the current market would force me to be predominantly a close up performer.

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Michael Zarek
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The problem you're discussing is not a problem at all, it merely has to do with the fact that both mentalism and Magic are becoming more accessible and there are more pole getting into it. When more people get into it, you can't resembly expect everyone to be a professional stage performer.

Most of them will be people who perform casually for friends or strangers in a bar (because they just like performing) and maybe occasionally do walk around couse it's easier to do then setting up a stage show.

I love propless effects, and yet most of the time when I perform then, it's in an environment where it literarly doesn't matter even one bit if I fail.
Propless mentalism to me is more exciting and fun to perform, if I were to do the same few mechanical effects for everyone I meet, I would have quit mentalism long ago.

Not everyone needs to be a professional performer to enjoy mentalism.
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Martin Pulman
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Quote:
On Sep 13, 2017, Michael Zarek wrote:
The problem you're discussing is not a problem at all, it merely has to do with the fact that both mentalism and Magic are becoming more accessible and there are more pole getting into it. When more people get into it, you can't resembly expect everyone to be a professional stage performer.

Most of them will be people who perform casually for friends or strangers in a bar (because they just like performing) and maybe occasionally do walk around couse it's easier to do then setting up a stage show.

I love propless effects, and yet most of the time when I perform then, it's in an environment where it literarly doesn't matter even one bit if I fail.
Propless mentalism to me is more exciting and fun to perform, if I were to do the same few mechanical effects for everyone I meet, I would have quit mentalism long ago.

Not everyone needs to be a professional performer to enjoy mentalism.

You can certainly enjoy mentalism if you are not a professional. But if you do not perform mentalism professionally it would be rather odd to consider yourself a mentalist, don't you think? Would someone who enjoys reciting Shakespeare for their friends and family consider themselves an actor?

I have performed professionally as both an actor and a mentalist (far, far more of the former). But as I am currently choosing to perform neither I don't consider myself to be either an actor or a mentalist.
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