I think it signals the shape of things to come.
Certainly, the influential magicians of the past 10 years (and I mean in terms of public impact - Derren Brown, Chris Angel, David Blaine, Cyril - stars of youtube and of that other small screen, the telly) have already played it mentalist-style. And much of their impact has not been through playing cards, or coins. It has also been achieved mostly through a form on mind-control - at least that is what the public is led to believe.
And that plays very well.
And yet, much of what is advertised in Genii is cards and silks and streamers and pom-pom sticks. Not exactly the type of fare associated with the above performers. I think it was very brave of Richard to state what he did. It literally goes against the grain of his publishing business; yet I am sure that he realizes very much the impact of the statement.
The whole movement of close-up magic - magic done at close quarters - owes a lot to Vernon, of course. But I think that in the latter half of the 20th century, it was Geller who epitomised the full potential of the close-up performer. Fascinate many with something simple, and apparently spontaneous. The type of the performer who, under the tightest of scrutiny, could perform the impossible.
The movement towards "Blaine-type" street magic, the fascination with bizzarre magic, the mystery school approach, all these really are a reaction to Geller, if you think about it. It is about the magic feeling, being real.
And when he did his thing, it never came across as a trick (as far as the general public goes).
Of course, Geller owed a lot to the media moguls who "pushed" him. Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, and whatever media outlet around chose to ride the Geller comet in the seventies. Geller was news. (One could argue that James Randi also hitched a ride, but I think that would be unfair). As a matter of fact, the controversy allowed the Geller media effect to last longer.
Doing his thing at the Stanford Institute - which had not much to do with the university of the same name - was a stroke of genius.
Yes, he is the consummate publicity hound. Yes, the ethics of his approach are shady. But he still remains a household word after more than quarter of a century. Who did you think of when you saw that spoon bend in the Matrix?
Is there much of a future for the close-up pad? I do not think so. The close-up kinda guy was an 80's creature. The future seems to belong to the mystery entertainer.
At least this week.