When reading the lastest Phenomenon press release, it seemed that
some of the contestants were promoting themselves as the real deal
whereas others seem not to as willing to go that far.
I suppose it is one thing to be coy in answering whether you have
special powers and another to actually claim credit for them.
Snake oil and water don't mix.
You guys got me thinking about the "Valentino Gambit"
I think I know why I came up with my statement.
In the past eight years, I have seen three different mentalists perform
(besides Jim Karol who is more of a hybrid act)
I should note that these three mentalists are all highly respected and
Well, in the instance of every performance, not only did they fail to
grab the audience, they actually angered some people.
I have never in all my years seen a magician ever anger an audience
(well..outside the vicinity of the Wyrick theatre) and yet with a mentalist
is left onstage for more than ten minutes, tensions rise.
Was it because the audience members were frustrated in not being
able to figger out all the phenomena?
No, it was because roughly half of the stuff WAS too decipherable
and because the other half that wasn't just wasn't all that
It seemed, on average, that out of every 100 people, there would be 5 that were
digging it with rapt fascination, 15 who were mildly amused,
who were bored and 10 people who were painfully resisting
to rush the stage to physically beat the hell out of the performer for
turning their evening into a slow churning pit of agitated boredom.
I liked all the three performances myself, but there it is, I'm not exactly mainstream America.
Another story I can tell you to attest to the current state of mentalism happened
last year when I was called up by the booker of the Tom Green internet
show in Hollywood. Oddly enough, he had two separate cancellations
just hours before airtime and he was asking if I had Johnathan or John Cassidy
available to fill in on short notice. But they were both out of state
so I instead told him that I would try to find someone else for him as a favor.
I started making calls and put out a blanket e-mail and followed up
on leads and some magicians recommended other magicians but
basically after 90 minutes, I had only one candidate.
A leading mentalist was within driving distance. Cool!
So, I call up the booker and talk the guy up and throw some enticing
ideas out about how the mentalist and Tom could interplay and I send along
the guy's website and so on and so forth and the booker is intrigued
but tells me he needs to review it and that he will get back to me.
I get a call an hour later and am given the "thank you no".
A few hours later, curiosity gets the best of me and I tune in to see
who they scrounged up at the last minute that they thought was better
than the guy I tried to sell them on.
It was no one.
The host went on that night with no guests. When faced with the choice
of booking a top mentalist for free or nothing, they went with nothing.
Ergo, there are those of us outside of the fishbowl who believe that
the best thing that can happen to the craft of mentalism is a semi-exploitative
show like Phenomenon because the scrutiny and skepticism the craft
of mentalism endures will force it to evolve into a higher art form.