New To Mentalism

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

Postby Guest » 07/29/04 04:03 PM

I have been a close-up/platform magician for about 20 years. I was a fulltime close-up performer in the NYC area for about 5 years, I was the manager of Tannen's in the early 90's and a featured bar performer for over 10 years (and still doing that 1 night a week). I am now of an age (35) where I think I can present mentalism in a convincing manner. I perform a lot of close-up and have pretty good chops and presentation skills. What do you think are some outstanding mentalism effects? Not the sources. I have 13 steps, paramiracles, Korans' book and a huge library, etc. I am looking for people who have actually used the effects in performance. When I was going to college. I went to school in Buffalo and I would hang out at the Fork's Hotel and see these guys perform EVERY weekend. I would have the books of a lot of material but not see the true value until I saw someone perform it and it's impact on the audience. I guess that is why a lot of the performers (at the Fork's) would perform Eddie Fechter's material long after he was gone. Please help me!

Postby Guest » 07/29/04 07:14 PM

As another magician leaning heavily, and fairly recently, towards mentalism, I can offer a few suggestions that you might find useful, especially when applying your existing chops.

Mentalists like to say that mentalism is about the audience, while magic is about the performer. While it's an oversimplification, what's true is that you'll find yourself relying on your audience and its reactions a great deal more than you might have done previously.

Another point, you'll want to give each effect time to sink in ... don't be in a hurry to speed past a seemingly ambivalent reaction that's actually shocked silence. Same problem beginning magicians have, you may find you've got it all over again.

Focus on routines that allow you to mix cold-reading and psychic stuff with guaranteed successes. One example is given in Derren Brown's Absolute Magic, where he discusses a riff on center tear info that I've found to be life-changing, myself.

I'm finding Q&A to be a great trainer, as well as being a good routine. I can run with each person's question for as long as I think it plays (changing tempo from answer to answer), throwing in as much collateral info as I feel comfortable with. The routine will train you (because it's still training me) to read people better (reactions as well as conclusions) and improvise more effectively. And at the end of each Q&A, the answer provides proof that you're still in control and acts as an applause cue to boot.

By the way, mechanistically, I'm using Docc's Cinderella Act, with Busch's "Zen Billet Tear" from Peek Performances. Eventually, I'll start collecting pre-show info using Lee Earle's Ultra-Thin Clipboard so I can finish with a Riggs' rush of questions and answers while letting the billets drop through my fingers. That's still in the works.

Similarly, psychometry gives you a vehicle for improvisation mixed with a magician's "safe ending." No matter what, you know what object belongs to whom, so you can improvise without fear before the final revelation.

For my own part, I'm using Osterlind's blindfolded, no-touching psychometry from his Stainless Steel Blindfold booklet. I've only done it a couple of times, but it gets surprisingly good reactions.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that you already have the chops to start and finish some great mentalist routines. It's just a matter now of adding improvisational mindreading to the mix, in between the start and finish you can already perform. That's where you'll begin to be able to develop your sense for what people are actually thinking. I'm beginning the same thing myself, so I can vouch for the theory.

By the way, my first magic mentor was Jack Ferro. So I'm happy to help in any way I can.

Magically yours,


Postby Guest » 07/30/04 11:11 AM

You have some very good mentalists in this forum. What is it exactly that you want? Effects that you can use? Look for all effects as you can put a mental bent to most anything and then work it around your own personality. Look through Tarbell where you will find many great ideas that you can use in a mentalism act. How to structure an act? read Cassidy's "Art of Mentalism" both volumes. Other than that, post your questions or write the mentalists on here privately.

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
AB Stagecraft
Supplying unique Mentalism world-wide

Postby Fred Zimmerman » 08/10/04 10:49 AM

Great advice so far, but let's leave the audience alone for a moment and refocus back on the performer.

Mentalism is charismatic. Magic is as well, as is all performing, but very often a mental effect is heightened by the ability of the performer to catch, hold, and manipulate his or her audience. Therefore, I think that it is important that you reevaluate your performance character.

We are all unique individuals, but we must take those "real" aspects and amplify them to create our stage persona. What is it about you and your life experience that is interesting? Have you been a lawyer? Did you work in the Merchant Marine? Did you grow up in an interesting neighborhood? There are always parts of lives that are defining and that give us a unique worldview. How many times have you known someone who, at first glance, seems rather boring or uninteresting, and then you are thrust into an extended communication with this person, during which you learn a little more about them. Then, as you walk away, you think to yourself, "Wow, that person is pretty interesting. I never knew those things about them." You've gained a newborn respect for them. Why? Because they let you into their lives a little and you learned about what makes them unique and special. Mentalist need to do this all the time or else their act seems incredibly narcissistic.

Mentalism, I think, requires that you connect with people on a more intimate (real or imagined) level. I don't mean telling them the story of your divorce, but I do mean letting them into your worldview, letting them experience how you think and how you see things. That's what audiences will relate to. And then when you show them how this worldview frames and makes posible mysterious events (i.e. the tricks) then you've captured them--then they have something to hang their hat on.

Personally, I am uncomfortable with the 24/7 mentalist lifestyle, seeing myself as a "performer" of mysteries, and not one myself. But just think of the last person you met who absolutely captivated you with their conversation, their viewpoints, and their vision. Was it the INFORMATION that held your interest, or was it the person; their energy, their wit, their wisdom, or their quirky viewpoint?

Most likely it was all of the above. Take out the word "information" in that sentence and insert "mental effects" and you'll see the point I'm driving at.

I urge you to find a character that is active, not passive; engaging, not manic; accessible, not overly-mysterious. These paths have been taken 100's of times by mentalists the world over. For the trail-blazers in our craft, it's great. They were the first to carve out that niche. However, don't fall into the trap Magicians so often do--mimicing. In the 70s, how many Doug Henning clones were there? 80s, David Copperfield imitators? Today, Blaines?

On the mentalist side, how many Max Maven, Eugene Burger, and Tony Andruzzi wannabes are out there? Yikes. The originators can do it because they carved their path. Certainly, they were influenced by others, but Max is Max, Eugene is Eugene, and Tony was Tony. But it's been done--do something else.

I know I may be beating this drum a little loudly, but cookie-cutter mentalists are as big a problem as are cookie-cutter magicians. The whys and wherefores of your act are much more interesting than the whats.

Fred Zimmerman
Fred Zimmerman
Posts: 102
Joined: 02/02/08 01:00 PM
Location: Chicago

Postby Guest » 09/29/04 01:58 AM


I'm in the same boat as Sean-Dylan but I found your answer already above me. :-)

What exactly is Q&A and where did you learn it?

Postby Bennett » 09/30/04 08:04 PM

I have the Osterlind book but I can't seem to find the "no touch psychokinesis" you make reference to in it. Could you direct me?
Posts: 19
Joined: 04/27/08 02:02 PM

Postby Guest » 10/04/04 05:17 PM

"Q&A" is a standard routine in mentalism, like "Ambitious Card" is to card magic.

It's based on the simple notion of the mentalist drawing upon psychic abilities to answer questions posed by spectators.

Variations are endless. Some involve nothing written, but those are impractical unless you're extremely convincing as well as skilled enough to essentially pass for psychic (many are).

What Jonathan Edward does is essentially Q&A, with the questions being solely related to a particular subject.

It's discussed extensively in the literature. There are many, many approaches.

As for myself, I learned about the routine from the Tannen's catalogue, when I started wondering what "Sensational Answers" could possibly be, and Mr. Ferro kindly enlightened me.

However, I didn't really start trying it out until I got Lee Earle's Q&A teach-in video.

Also, since I'm a magician by experience, my current handling is colored by a need to present the impossible. Any experienced mentalist will tell you that the answers are all that matter, the people don't care how you get the question. But my own concern is that they continue not to care, in part because they can't figure it out even if they try.

Accordingly, I use a combination of methods. I start by using Lee Earle's clipboard to gather questions that I never have to touch. Once on stage, I use Busch's Zen Billet tear because it's quick, clean and convincing. I structure the actual routine around Docc Hilford's "Cinderella Act" because it foils reconstruction. Each spectator receives the pieces of his own question back. I am absolutely assiduous about never, ever opening any of the slips, a fact which I point out at the outset. In fact, thanks to the Cinderella methodology, I'm able to physically distance myself further and further from each successive slip, until the last few are "read" and answered without my ever touching them at all.

So that's Q&A.

As for the Osterlind routine, I only recently bought the stainless steel blindfold, so it's possible that the routine is not in earlier editions. Without revealing too much, imagine doing psychometry by simply walking about, looking at some nearby object, and giving a reading of it and its owner. No bags, no envelopes, just walking around and looking. Now do it with a blindfold on.

I actually do it as an opening number, emerging with the blindfold on. It's a problematic approach, because the audience has less opportunity to connect with you when they can't see your eyes, but I love it because of the punchline. After I've performed some readings and a few other blindfolded stunts, I make my way to the stage to deliver the routine's closing line (about feeling blinded by circumstance). I finally remove the blindfold to reveal that I have (and have always had) large Band-Aids over my eyes.

There's no logical reason why the Band-Aids should matter, given that the Osterlind Blindfold is already opaque. But it works. Sort of like the Brainwave Deck, where you reveal that the reversed selection has a different colored back. There's no logical reason for the odd-color back; it's already distinguished by having been reversed. The ultimate effect is no more impossible with the off-color back. But that works too, just the same.

I guess it's an interesting digression. But a digression just the same.

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