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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Penny for your thoughts » » Mentalist's Equivalent to Fiddling with Cards? (16 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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JudahMantell
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So this is kinda a strange question, but one that I've been thinking about as I'm transitioning into performing exclusively mentalism after doing magic for many, many years:
As a magician, an easy "opener" to performing casually is to have a deck of cards in hand. I frequently used (and still do!) playing cards as a figdet toy, and when people see them, the majority of the time people ask if I'm a magician and if I can show them a trick.*

As a mentalist, are there equivalent conversation starters/eye-catchers? If not, maybe it would spark an interesting discussion!

I still carry a deck of cards with me, and choose to perform mentalism effects rather than typical card tricks. So if people see playing cards and ask, I usually use Fraser Parker's fantastic reasoning (using playing cards more in the way a psychic would) as a lead in to a mental card effect.

But in the case where a non-playing card effect would be more effective (as it often is), it's strange of me to explain "well, I read minds, here let me put these away and show you something completely different!"
I'd love to hear any and all thoughts on this!

*While I know many people dislike performing casually (especially working pros, and seemingly even more so mentalists who are "off the clock"), I personally love it, as it builds up the myth of my skills (both magic and mentalism) and has led to many well-paid gigs. So when in public, I often choose to practice a sleight or flourish over doomscrolling on Reddit, as you never know who may see and start a conversation.

Edit: Just for the fun of it, some (joke) options include:
- Air n**l-w*****g
- Testing your ability to read m****d cards
- Openly s****hing billets back and forth
- Magically making something written on a notepad appear on the second page
George Hunter
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Y0u may not need an equivalent of card handling. Just greet them, thank them for the invite, and briefly introduce yourself. Then two options:

Begin with a "major" effect that involves the people (Cassidy) OR

Begin wirth demonstrating a plausible power--memory, math, or body language reading (Earle, Hickok)

George
JudahMantell
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Thank you for the reply, George, I appreciate the suggestions! I actually meant more in non-gig, non-street-magic situations, where an approach isn't desired, rather a conversation starter where the spectator is the initiator, if that makes sense. I know it's certainly not traditional, but something that has proved useful as a magician for me in the past. I was curious if there's an equivalent for mentalists that similarly results in the spectator approaching you.

As an example, I was out to lunch with my wife's friends earlier today actually, (who aren't familiar with my magic/mentalism) and during some downtime, I used "Crazy Sam's Mind" to make a plastic knife jump off the edge of the table -- similar to a card flourish, it was a visual surprise that sparked a conversation about psychic abilities, etc. But PK effects are a bit too flashy for this purpose, in my opinion.
yachanin
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Hi Judah,

How about a coin finger roll as your fidget toy? If someone were to approach you and ask about it, you might perform a "which hand" effect with the coin.

Regards, Steve
bevbevvybev
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Swap the playing cards for tarot and people won’t leave you alone. If that’s a step too far, how about rune cards? And if that’s still too esoteric, zener cards.
All good conversation starters. However, if you mess about with tarot cards you may never leave the room and there’ll be a queue.
Rather than showing people a trick, the thought you may be able to show people something about themselves is incredibly alluring.
It depends on how much you’re willing to let the performer in you take a backseat.
Try it, see how it feels.
Joshua J
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Yes, part of how I learned to do readings. On my travels would sit in bars and cafes practising Tarot spreads. Never took long before someone would ask if you did readings. Did a lot of it while on travels and not in home town as might feel a little awkward somewhere you are known. Then progressed to readings at fairs.
JudahMantell
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These are all great examples, thank you! I've been very interested in learning readings, though Tarot isn't really my style. That being said, I totally see how readings is probably the way to go here. I do love the coin/which hand routine idea as well.
Thank you all!
bevbevvybev
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‘Can you show me a card trick?’
‘I don’t do tricks. But I can give you a reading.’
Best of both worlds. If you’re happy with playing cards, why not stick with them? Then you’re still ready to go with the tricks. Just reframe your use of cards for those that look receptive to the idea.
For the best of both worlds, why not try something like the Rider Waite playing card deck? You can still do many of your ‘tricks’ but add a more psychological vibe by using the images rather than the playing card numbers as the focus. The deck looks kind of vintage and cool. You could beat them up a little to make them look they’d been passed down a generation or two.
I love a backstory.
R.S.
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What about substituting dice for the cards? You could fiddle with a pair of dice and if asked about it you could say you like to practice predicting which numbers come up. Dice are portable, recognizable, and have many applications. They could be used for gambling, magic, mentalism, or to practice manual dexterity. Or they could simply be your "Lucky Dice." Just my two cents.
"It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry." Thomas Paine
Stunninger
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Was thinking along the same lines as Julian, that if you are already comfortable with playing cards, why not continue using them.

But, if tarot is not your style, catromancy would be ideal. Three card readings with regular playing cards are great. There is so much you can you with cartomancy.

One way to ease in to cartomancy is the effect Getting to Know You by Peter Turner. I think he teaches in on his first Penguin lecture. It's not full blown catomancy, rather a mentalism effect that transitions from a magic trick, where it's all about the magician entertaining the spectator, to being more about the participant, who they are, why they chose a certain card.

Traditional Cartomancy using an ordinary deck of playing cards is not hard to learn if it interests you.

.
Philemon Vanderbeck
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Fiddling with Zener cards and performing ESP tests on yourself is always possible. You could shuffle, quietly name one of the symbols to yourself, and then turn over the card to reveal that you were correct. Eventually, someone might notice.
Professor Philemon Vanderbeck
That Creepy Magician
"I use my sixth sense to create the illusion of possessing the other five."
JudahMantell
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Wow, seriously, thank you all for the suggestions, they are fantastic!
I'll definitely have to give this some thought. Cartomancy is something that interests me, and I know there are a lot of resources out there to learn it, so I'll begin my deep dive this week!
amazingadan
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I definitely get where you're coming from. I've always wished I liked cards more, but coins are my biggest fiddle thing. However, when I'm out and about, sometimes I'll practice billet moves etc, but only for my own benefit, never as an eye-catching performance starter. For that, stick with cards. Can even do something classically "magic", and then make a direct and explicit transition into mentalism. Kreskin would do this kind of thing a lot.
JudahMantell
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That also makes a lot of sense, thank you, Dan!
It can also work well with an idea I'm toying with (certainly not original, but new to my character to make it more flexible) of magic tricks (emphasis on tricks) being my hobby, while my "main thing" is this odd psychic ability. Doing a pretty good card effect first (which is what they expect when they see cards) can work as a good way to lead into more mental effects. Even an ESP matchup with playing cards (A-5) has served me well.
bobaji
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What you are talking about here is "social magic". I think this is a great thing to do as a mentalist. I am a full time pro and I am never "off the clock".

As a magician you are not manipulating objects - as a mentalist you are are "manipulating" (for want of a better word) people.

For me personally, and I have many good friends who disagree, being a reader - is not being a mentalist.

I see being a mentalist as more playful, but also you are more in control. in D&D terms - you are the dungeon master. - Think Patrick Jane rather than Stanton Carlisle.

In terms of mentalism in a social setting - I would recommend doing something that is strong and believable but also fun. do not try and blow peoples minds with mentalism because you will, and if you are in a social setting, especially one to one with people, it might not be the result you want. it can actually make things a bit awkward sometimes. Mentalism done well is not always going to get screams and applause - unlike a lot fo close up magic, if it is done well it is more likely to be met with thoughtful silence. for someone coming from a magic background you might find that unsettling to start with.


so what to do - I would do a simple which hand routine around a lier truth teller premise - or a simple billet piece, but using some information such as numbers (NOT PIN numbers) or a general category like times of animals or a drawing duplication. however you need to think a bit about your premise. - I always present such effects as a little game, abit fo an experiment, or simply as something I am working on and want to try out. 9 and I've been "trying out" some of these things for 20 years!!) do not do the latest and greatest trick or something that deals with peoples emotions etc. (this is all marketing bunkum..)

The other thing is don't be slick, don't have "patter" or long winded psycho babble. keep it light, keep it simple. The goal is to be completely natural. This is not easy for the vast mount of people the vast amount of the time - with or without performing a magic or mentalism effect.

if you want to be a reader - then be a reader, have tarot cards or read palms - BUT this is not mentalism. at the beginning you should explore everything though and find what you enjoy the most - and you may find that what you enjoy the most is magic rather than any area of mentalism.

I am not against playing cards in magic - they are an everyday object - but I don't carry a deck of cards around or away - "I am a mind reader - let me show you something with these cards".

watch chan canasta not for his method or boldness - though there is a lot to learn there but for how all his effects are about people. something that is often missed by magicians who are used to looking at methods miss.

Unlike being a magician - you need to think more about out your premise and presentation, you need to limit the range fo material you do more. Mentalism is like the Keto diet - it's very restrictive in terms of whats available to you, its difficult to do properly, but when it works its very effective.
JudahMantell
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This is some incredible insight, bobaji, thank you. It's always super helpful to get a wide range of perspectives here.
I don't want to derail this conversation into the discussion of playing cards in mentalism (or even magic vs mentalism), as I'll be honest and say that I don't quite agree with some of your statements, but that is the beauty of such a discussion Smile

Your notes about social magic, patter, and character are all spot-on to my thinking, and formulated into much better words! Smile

I definitely have a lot to be thinking about here in terms of what direction to go, so thank you all again for the insight, notes, and thoughts.
John C
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I agree with bobaji on most aspects of his thoughts. Almost all.
amazingadan
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Well said Bobaji.

Judah, I also came back because I just had the thought, a pendulum could be a good eye-catcher. If it makes sense with your character, it could be a reasonable object to have in hand in most situations.
JudahMantell
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I like that as well! I've actually been playing around with pendulum effects using a key on a string. That allows me to lead into the haunted key (or more recently, Key Motion by Seth Prace, which I've been enjoying). That's more my style than the more typical ornate occult-y pendulum.

Thank you for the note, Dan!
tctahoe
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Well, Babaji has made some excellent points. Well said. Now, if you know anything about me and most likely do not, you would know my opinion on pendulums. Never leave home without them! Pendulums are real magic, and magic can happen in their hands.
TC Tahoe - The Intuitionist
The 33rd Most Interesting Man in the World
http://www.tctahoe.com
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