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Rocketeer
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Westchester, NY
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I want to add to what malchat said about watching all the performances you can.

First, Youtube and similar sites have lots of interesting stuff to watch. Some crappy. Some great.

Second, and I can't emphasize this enough: When you get ANY magic/mentalism DVD WATCH THE PERFORMANCE MULTIPLE TIMES BEFORE YOU WATCH THE EXPLANATION!!!!

When I got the Osterlind DVDs, for example, I took more than a week just watching the performances before I watched even one explanation. And that includes a few effects whose methods I already knew!

Watching the performances multiple times before watching the explanations is important for ALL magic DVDs but I think it's ESPECIALLY important with mentalism.

Why? Well for one thing I just love to be fooled. And I want to remember how that felt. I want to burn that emotion into my memory. I want to know how my audience will feel and once I know the method I will never be able to feel that emotion again.

Also, once you know the method it's all too easy to sort of "lose respect" for an effect. Sometimes the methods are so easy that in HINDSIGHT they seem obvious. Suddenly, something you NEVER noticed when you were a spectator now seems to be painfully obvious. Like maybe you never noticed that the performer never shuffled or offered to shuffle the deck. Once you know that the trick requires that the deck not be shuffled it suddenly seems ridiculously suspicious that he didn't shuffle it. If you watched the trick multiple times and didn't hit you (or you came to appreciate how slickly he or she glossed over the fact) you will tend to agonize less over it.

In a similar vein, if you have a spouse or girlfriend/boyfriend (who may end up learning or surmising your methods over time simply by repeated exposure or rehearsal slipups) consider watching the performances with him or her. I had a lot of fun showing my girlfriend Osterlind's performance of Two Cards in Pocket. I had already decided I wanted to master it but seeing her reaction really sealed the deal.

And needless to say, in the rare event there's a mentalist doing a public show within a hundred miles of your home, try to catch this act!
I'm selling my hardcover autographed limited edition copy of Jerome Finley's "Thought Veil"

PM me for info.
kroberge
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Old Town, Maine
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Wow, that's great advice Rocketeer! I've noticed just that effect. I watch a trick and say "hot dog, that rocks!" and then when I study the trick I think "doh, that's obvious, they'll (the specs) will never buy into that." Of course I'm wrong (since I fell for it). And I'm wrong because when I study a trick and get to the point where I can perform it, they (the specs) buy into it. I'm always amazed that I fool them. I think its one of the difficult things about starting in magic is that you just can't believe something so simple will work so well. The only thing this does help is keeping secrets. When I do a trick and my friends/family ask how its done I tell them I can't reveal the secrets. When they ask why I tell them that they just wouldn't enjoy the trick anymore. Of course I enjoy knowing how the tricks work, but from a different angle than I do as a spectator. But anyway, I'm definitely going to follow your advice about watching the performance over and over again before learning how the trick is done. Thanks again for such great advice!

Kevin
Brad Burt
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Start small and start simple. Select some easy to do effect that strikes your fancy from any source that you have. Work that heck out of that one effect. No matter how easy, practice it. Work with differing patter ideas. Keep it simple.

Once you have it down try this tact: Find someone to perform it for and say, "Hey, Marty, I just found the coolest thing. I was reading this old, old copy of one of those true psychic stories magazines and they had this 'test' you could do and I was playing with it and, well, let me try this on you..." Or, some variant thereof. What you want to do at this beginning point is set off what happens at One-Remove from yourself. Present it laid back, etc. as if the thing is as real as real can be and SEE WHAT HAPPENS.

You are going to slowly build an experiencial context for mentalism work in the future. What does it feel like? How was the spectator reaction? What happened after? Were you able to maintain the illusion without breaking down like a boob and giving away that it was just a trick? ETC.

From that base add ONE presentation at a time before going onto the next one. Read all you want, watch all the DVD's you want, but DO NOT be side tracked trying to learn more than one presentation at a time. If you do this within a year you will have great working repatoire and you will have gaing great insight into the what, how, why, etc. of mentalism. Remember: Mentalism is NOT magic! It is it's distinct entity performance wise. If you can keep the two separate in your performing 'mind' it will help you derive the most from each. Best,
Brad Burt
Darkfrog
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Maybe I'm the lone wolf here, but I disagree about buying the Annemann's Practical Mental Effects. This is an incomplete sampling of what you can get and for only a few dollars more, you can buy buying The complete Jinx, either on CD for about $20, or the printed, bound edition for about $80.
Also, if you are truely interested in mentalism and not mental magic, start reading the recomended books on cold reading, first “Red Hot Cold Reading” – by Dewey, then move on to other cold reading books (check "Penny for your Thoughts" forum)
Oh yeah, one more thing, if you are wealthy beyond reproach, try to obtain the complete bound editions of Bascom Jones' 'Magick'
ToasterofDoom
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I'm pretty sure Magick is worth more than gold of equal mass, Darkfrog. I wonder if Banachek could afford it.
kroberge
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Old Town, Maine
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Thanks again for the advice. I actually ended up purchasing Corinda's book. I started reading it and I can see what folks mean about mentalism versus magic. Its a very good book and I can see that its not trivial material. I think I can also see (maybe) the difference between mental magic and mentalism. At least at the performance level it seems very different. It also seems as though you don't use anything that would resemble a classic magic prop during a display of mentalism either. I think before I buy anything else I'll slowly work my way through a first reading of Corinda and study the material therein. Its very different than the magic books I have studied thus far and I need time to appreciate the differences.

Thanks for your advice,

P.S. I'm not wealthy beyond reproach. Smile
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