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RiffRaff
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Reverend:
Is it possible to mix magic & mentalism in the same show?
*Mark Lewis*
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Yes. It may even be advisable in certain instances.
*Mark Lewis*
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Let me expand on the matter. First let me deal with a magician who is known as a magician rather than as a mentalist. Can he include mentalism. Of course he can! It is just another demonstration of the impossible so I see no problem with it.

It becomes more of an issue if you want to be known as a mentalist alone. I personally have been moving away from mentalism to a degree because it fits better with my other activities as a close up magician and children's entertainer. And since, as I mentioned, on another thread I got on a bit of a Potassy kick a few years ago I prefer the magic. And another unique reason is that I do many psychic readings in a genuine manner and I feel uncomfortable doing the same thing by trickery on a stage. At a psychic fair I emphasise to everyone that I am a magician and keep away from mentalism altogether. It may seem counter intuitive but think about it. If you see a psychic do sponge balls and coins through the table you won't find it odd that he does readings also. Instead you are fascinated by what seems to be an interesting character. However, the minute you do mentalism at a psychic fair you are actually in danger of losing customers because they suspect you are using trickery and they won't like it. And the other psychics won't like it either. That is because what you are doing is fraudulent and fraud is not appreciated by genuine psychics however you define the word "genuine"

But doing a mental act is different. Here is my philosophy of a few years ago. I haven't looked at it for quite a while and for all I know I might not agree with it any more. Still, here it is for what it is worth. I will be pleased to read it myself and see if my views have changed. At any rate it will give you all something to think about.
...........................................................................................................


Here is my take on this mentalism and magic debate which has gone on for decades.
This subject has been discussed a million times. It has been done to death,
in fact.
Yet has it?
I think I have a new perspective on the matter. Actually it is not a new
perspective from my point of view. I figured this out years and years ago.

When I first started performing decades ago I used to believe the standard
wisdom that you should never mix the two. It took about 25 years for me to
realise reluctantly that the standard wisdom was WRONG.

It became obvious to me that I had followed the wrong philosophy for a
quarter of a century. Not only is it perfectly acceptable to mix the two I
have discovered that it is ADVISABLE. Nowadays I do not merely say vaguely
that you can perhaps mix the two. I say that you SHOULD mix the two. I was
almost tempted to say that you MUST mix the two but I will resist it because
there are always exceptions.

I first got suspicious of the rule because there seemed to be too many
exceptions to it. A few exceptions here and there I can accept but when I
noticed that 80% of the really big names in mentalism mixed the two I
thought that there had to be something else going on.

Dunninger mixed the two. Kreskin still does.
Berglas mixes the two and in fact always used to finish his mental act with
pickpocketing!
Al Koran bragged and bragged to me that his Linking Rings was a show
stopper. His actual words " I open my mental act with the rings and it is a
show stopper. Yes. A mental act!!!"
He seemed to be very proud that he did the rings in a mental act and
emphasised the seeming incongruity of such. He seemed quite delighted by it.

With great trepidation I introduced magic into my mentalism show expecting
to be struck down by lightning and great disapproval of the multitude.
Instead I was astonished to find that not only did I get stronger reaction
from the audience I found that the belief in my clairvoyant powers was
ENHANCED!

I have found that to be the case ever since. Whenever I have performed
mentalism alone it has gone over well but less people believed that I was
real. Paradoxically when I performed magic I noticed it seemed in some weird
way to make the mindreading more genuine.

This was not only against standard wisdom it seemed at first to defy logic.
Could all the books I had read be wrong? I was sick as a pig to realise that
they were. I had wasted 25 years following the wrong belief system.
For the last 15 years I have been trying to make up for lost time and I
would suggest to newcomers that they don't waste all the time I did. You
have to be very careful when reading the advice in books it seems and you
must not be afraid to break the mold once in a while.

I analysed the matter and decided to figure out what was going on. After all
it seemed logical that if you mixed magic with mentalism that people would
think that the mentalism was just a trick like the magic they had seen.

Wrong. And I believe I have figured out why. I often suspect that people who
mix magic and mentalism with good results do it out of instinct based on
audience reaction yet feel a vague sense of guilt that they are not doing it
the "proper" way. They may think that somehow they are an odd exception and
this is why it is working. It might be helpful to these people to realise
why it is working and why what they are doing is producing seemingly
illogical results but successful nevertheless.

I believe that it is all to do with the subconcious resentment people have
against being fooled. Every magician has come up against this. This is why
hecklers appear and why certain people show as little reaction as they can
to magic. There are ways to overcome this problem but it is beyond the scope
of what I have to say here.

A mentalist is subject to another difficulty besides the resentment one. He
has a scepticism factor to deal with. He has double trouble. Scepticism and
resentment.

If you do mentalism alone you get this in spades. I well remember a fine
mentalist performing at a certain venue. I remember that he only did
mentalism with no magic of any kind. I also remember the comments
afterwards.

"No such thing as mindreading" and "is he trying to insult our
intelligence?" and "who is he kidding" and "he is pretty good but it is just
a trick"

Contrary to what some self deluded mentalists think laymen can be a bit more
astute than they are given credit for. Sure there are a few laymen who will
believe it is real but the vast majority do not. Some people do have a bit
of common sense.

The natural scepticism and defensive resentment factor worked against this
fellow even though he was a fine performer.

Now perhaps you can see where I am going with this. If you start with some
magic a strange thing happens. A kind of reverse psychology. It is like you
have made a disclaimer without having to say it out loud. You are implying
that you are not real. That what you do is trickery and entertainment.
However, subconsiously the audience relaxes. When you do the mindreading it
seems that you are not claiming anything at all. The scepticism and
resentment factor has been removed.
Paradoxically this brings out the belief in weird things that lurks in all
of us. All the more so because you have not claimed anything. You have let
the audience believe the idea was theirs alone.

Dale Carnegie once said "let the other fellow believe the idea is his"
By doing magic first (I recommend starting with it and keeping it separate
from the mentalism-do not mix and match) a strange thing happens in the
spectators mind. They form the idea that what you do is real OF THEIR OWN
ACCORD. It is not pushed down their throat in the same way it is if you do
the mentalism alone.

As I have said many mentalists have instinctively known that they can mix
the two but may have wondered why. I believe the above reasoning is why.

Think about it.
*Mark Lewis*
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Goodness gracious! I just looked at the length of the above post. I do go on a bit don't I? Still mentalists are supposed to be long winded. I think that is another reason to go back to magic.
RiffRaff
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Let me see if I got this...
If you consider yourself a magician you can include mentalism in your act.
If you consider yourself a mentallist you can include magic in your act.
If you consider yourself a psychic you can include magic but not mentalism in your 'act'.
Is that a fair summary?
*Mark Lewis*
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Yep. You got it. That is what I should have said in the first place. It would have saved a lot of typing.
Alan Wheeler
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I'm glad you typed out the underlying thinking, especially regarding the skepticism and resentment factors. Your significant insight may lead to other applications! Thank you, sir!
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
A BLENDED PATH
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*Mark Lewis*
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With regard to the resentment factor even though it is nothing to do with topic under discussion watch me doing a card trick on this clip. About two minutes in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Why4ATfcNNA&feature=related

Now it may just look to the casual magician observer that I am merely doing a card trick but in fact if you are astute enough you will notice something else going on. Every move and action is calculated even though it seems accidental. And it is calculated to remove and disarm that resentment factor and get the audience on my side. I know there was only one person present but if I act like this in a group I can get them all eating out of my hand very quickly. There are unseen psychological factors at work which are just as secret as the magic techniques and tricks I am using.

I am not going to say what is going on. The astute among you will notice it. Bear in mind that I am not saying the average magician should emulate exactly what I do but he should be aware of the philosphy behind my actions and try to adapt ways to indulge that philosophy in a way that will suit him rather than me.
Alan Wheeler
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Beautiful work!
The views and comments expressed on this post may be mere speculation and are not necessarily the opinions, values, or beliefs of Alan Wheeler.
A BLENDED PATH
Christian Reflections on Tarot
Word Crimes
Technology and Faith........Bad Religion
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