Saturday's mentalism show

Instead of mentally projecting your mentalism thoughts, type them here.

Postby Guest » 07/19/04 10:53 AM

I did a mentalism show on Saturday night, and learned a few things.

I brought my girlfriend along, something I don't normally do, and she ran my music, which ranged from jazz to New Age to movie soundtracks, and found that it dramatically improved my show, even in a living-room setting.

I performed Banacek's "YOUR PHONE NUMBER" gag, and it worked! Wow, what a rush! I've got to get those Banacek DVDs ASAP.

I successfully avoided the skeptics and beer drinkers, and concentrated mainly on the compliant, smiling woman, the well-mannered black man, and the Scandinavian 16-year-old in the bikini.

I asked the lady of the house to collude with me on the book tests, asking her beforehand to volunteer "her books," which were actually my gaffed books, in the middle of the show. She did, and they killed. When performing "Insight" (which is now sold out forever, sorry guys!), the grown man holding the book, a stockbroker, said, "I'm scared," with no visible signs of sarcasm. And "The Wizard's Manual" is so strong that it could easily be a closer.

{Any thoughts, anybody, on colluding with clients in this way? I believe it's worth the risk that she will later spill the beans. She may or may not talk of her collusion later, but the effect in the moment is absolutely strong.)

When I did my three-billet routine (Prediction in the Shoe, which is available in manuscript), and had the bikinied girl stand facing the entire audience, and I successfully divined the date that she was thinking of, 24.5.88 (which I reported as "May 24th, 1988," of course, not as it was written), her face melted in frightened astonishment in various ways about eight different times, and seeing those genuine reactions was stunning: The tremors that it sent through the audience were strong, indeed.

I love performing mentalism shows, if only because I don't have to fight with my bunny to get him into the bag.

Postby Frank Starsinic » 07/19/04 12:31 PM

I've never done one but I'm interested.

Where did you acquire your material. Videos? DVD? Your own stuff?

I have a few of Banachek's items but I'm not prepared for this kind of show to date.
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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 07/19/04 12:58 PM

Originally posted by frank starsinic:
I've never done one but I'm interested.

Where did you acquire your material. Videos? DVD? Your own stuff?
Annemann and Corinda are the best places to start.

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Postby Jim Maloney_dup1 » 07/19/04 01:01 PM

Originally posted by David Groves:
{Any thoughts, anybody, on colluding with clients in this way? I believe it's worth the risk that she will later spill the beans. She may or may not talk of her collusion later, but the effect in the moment is absolutely strong.)
I'm not against collusion, unless there are better ways to accomplish the same effect. I don't know what your presentation for the book test is like, but would something like David Hoy's Book Test work? Then you can actually use your hosts own books.

If you are going to give your own gaffed books to the host, you may want to work things out so that they don't necessarily realize that they are secretly helping you. Banachek's book has some info on doing pre-show work without it seeming as if it's pre-show work, if I remember correctly. I'm not sure if that made any sense...if not, let me know and I'll try to elaborate.

(I just picked up Hoy's booklet, which is why I thought of that book test...I'll admit that I haven't done much research into them. But still...the Hoy stuff..."bold and subtle" indeed!)

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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/19/04 02:09 PM

Screw this book test/collusion crap, tell us more about the 16 year old Scandinavian in a bikini.
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Postby Guest » 07/19/04 10:04 PM

But was the bikini lady "well mannered"?!

Asking the host to help you only sabatoges you. Yes, there are those who won't tell a soul in their lifetime, feeling they helped "put something over" on their guests...but most will tell to let people know how clever they are, and are "in the know". The talk.
(Remember in "The Godfather, part 2, Michael Corlene tells Tom Hagen he can only trust him, as he is the only one he did NOT entrust certain information to.)
Much better to have a host telling,(selling) your show on how amazing you were, as opposed to how she helped you...they don't need you, if you need them.
Also, other ways to set things up, without directly asking the host.

Postby Guest » 07/20/04 10:43 AM

Originally posted by frank starsinic:
Where did you acquire your material. Videos? DVD? Your own stuff?
I put an unusually strong creative stamp on every piece that I do, sometimes turning the author's trick into something else entirely. But initially, I acquired my material, going down the list trick by trick, from:

*Max Maven's Videomind videotape series
*A Banacek booklet that I bought in the '90s
*A trick watch
*Larry Becker
*Keith Field
*Docc Hilford
*T.A. Waters
*Andy Nyman

In putting together this show, there's been a lot of discarding, I must say.

Postby Guest » 07/20/04 11:03 AM

That's an interesting point of view, Diego.

On the other hand, I'm not sure I would ever again do a book test with books that the audience thought I brought.

"Here are some books from my library," I once said.

Later, I heard comments like, "They must be trick books."

This vastly narrows down the situations in which one might use gaffed book tests at all. I have sometimes done library shows in which I snuck a couple books onto the shelves before the show. In my old coffeehouse cabaret-magic venue, Magic in the 'Burbs, I used to "borrow" a few books from a student with a book bag.

But in an evening show, at an auditorium or hall, or at many other types of shows, there's no opportunity to naturally bring books into the environment.

As far as the Hoy book test, yes, that's quite strong, and I use it at times. But I use four different books to achieve a kind of galloping, crescendoing feel to the tests, one book building on another on another, each new one canceling out their theories of how it's done, picking out two or three words on each double-page, having the book handed from one spectator to another to another, some of the words chosen seemingly at random on the page and that's impossible to do with ungaffed books.

I'm not totally fixed in my opinion about this, which was why I mentioned it in this post.

I would also note that the Blackstones famously used collusion on his watches steals, and that Banacek uses collusion with spectators on some tricks, too, including the "YOUR PHONE NUMBER" trick, which works only by collusion. Banacek argues, as I recall, that if it works, it's a miracle, and if it fails, it's an intended joke.

And if the spectator tells others afterward, is it such a tragedy? After all, are we trying to convince people that we are psychics, or are we trying to entertain? In fact, is it ethical to convince people that we are psychics? Oh, that gets into boggy ground.

Postby Bob Taxin » 07/20/04 01:25 PM

I've presented many book tests and I always simply pull out my books. I claim that we all have personal preferences which enter in when we choose a word, but by picking a "random" word in an "arbitrary" fashion the choice is truly free. I offer a selection of several books, all which appear normal. I prefer that - where someone may suspect that the books are gaffed - to using a stooge where someone knows for sure that there's something fishy about them.

Bob Taxin
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Postby Guest » 07/20/04 08:18 PM

Reading your post shows a lot of "magicians guilt" in your thinking...focused on what you know you are doing vs. what the audience should be perceiving.
To the audience you are not doing a "book test"...only magicians and the magic dealers who sell them, ever think of that term. The audience (should) see you doing a WORD / mindreading test.
If you are using 4(!) books, one after another, that is a lot of focus on those books.
(Like a 4-phase 4-Ace trick)

Trying to justify your books, is only worse...but salting bookshelves can work in PUBLIC venues.
I once performed a show in someones den, with a wall of books behind me. As I was setting up before the guests came in, I realized to bring out MY books, which the host, might know aren't theirs, would look as silly as if I went to a casino and asked the dealer to please use the deck of cards I handed him, with a Fox Lake pattern!
Instead I did the Hoy test by "just grabbing" some books off their shelves, and the word test, went over great.

Yes, stooges have/can be used...the current article in GENII about David Abbott, has good examples. But remember the Blackstones and others, performed in public venues, where the audience spread into the night, and didn't huddle afterwards to break in down.
What does it matter?! Stooges are like any m.o, that you wouldn't like spilled to others.

Postby Guest » 07/21/04 01:25 PM

I believe we have several differing opinions about how book tests should be done.

Diego believes only in using borrowed, genuine books.

Bob Taxin believes that bringing gaffed books is just fine and you don't have to apologize for them.

I believe in planting gaffed books, and in using multiple books and a galloping kind of divination.

Diego believes that they shouldn't be called book tests, but word tests, and shouldn't be done in a rapid-fire manner.

Any other opinions?

Postby Guest » 07/21/04 02:22 PM

Re-read my posts and see them as what the audience (might or should) perceive...these are questions to think about, not Gospel.

There are times when it is best to apparently use ordinary-borrowed books.

Not apologizing, needing to examine is great, when appropiate. Most spoonbender/magicians would pass out spoons for examination.
(Uri Geller just shows a handful of spoons he says he got room the coffee shop, downstairs and away he goes.)

Actually it would be often best to do a book test in a rapid-fire manner, I did not say otherwise. I did say it may not be good to have too much emphasis on the books.
There are trade-show magicians who use quick book tests for a constantly changing audience.

I ask you think if you want an audience to remember you did a book test, or a word/mindreading test.

Again, things to ask yourself, you are the best judge of what might apply to you...things can be changed depending on venue, audience, and premise.

Postby Guest » 07/21/04 02:52 PM

Diego, thanks for your thoughtful responses. I've met you in person only once, but have gotten the impression that you've been doing this for many decades on a high level.

Collusion with spectators is an edgy topic, to say the least.

On a slightly different topic, Sean Taylor of Sydney prompted me to think about book tests in a different way, too. He said to slow it down. I respect his opinion--he's the man in Sydney--but I ultimately disagreed, esp. in these days of ever-decreasing attention spans.

Years ago, I would have thought that mentalism would have been on its way out. The media was announcing the death of God, and I'm not religious, so I thought that we would have had no people who would wonder about psychic powers.

But there are millions who wonder about our powers. In my recent trip to Vanuatu, I discovered that 99% of the people there believe in real magic, while here in the States, I'd say that about 95% disbelieve in real magic. As far as mentalism, 99% believe in the possibility of real psychic powers, while maybe 50% of Americans believe (skewed mostly to women).

Postby Guest » 07/21/04 04:51 PM

Hopefully, not that many decades.

Never mind the wishfull thinking or ignorance of what "the media" wants to "tell" us.
(It was wonderful to see news anchors squirm during the results of the 2000 election, as their projections and pronoucements crumbled and the look on their faces realizing, that their candidate, wasn't going to win afterall.)

Almost 4 decades ago, TIME magazine's cover read, "God is Dead". 2 generations of communist regimes, could not convince those who believed in God, to do otherwise, despite a stranglehold on information to their comrades.

No mentalism and it's fellow travelers, have and will only continue and grow.

Postby Guest » 07/27/04 12:34 PM

Upon reflection, Diego, I think you've convinced me. A private show with only 50 family and friends in attendance is not the place for major collusion with any member of the audience.

Thanks for the challenging words. That's what this forum is good for.

Postby Guest » 08/02/04 06:53 PM

Re: Collusion,
As the current David P. Abbott article in GENII shows, there are ways so a person can have the motivation, NOT to tell his wife what he spilled. I watched Ricki Dunn for decades, make an instant co-conspirator, "to have fun/fool everybody".

But I always remember the words of Walter Winchell who said, "I always got my best scoops from someone, who promised not to tell."

Postby Guest » 08/02/04 07:17 PM

Diego, I would be interested to hear your opinion, or any other opinions, about collusion in other areas of magic. In fact, I'll transfer this over to another thread....


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