Monday, 13 December 2010

Useful Resources For Mentalists #2

Following on from my post here I thought I’d offer you some more sources of inspiration, things to watch, read or learn and a few recommendations of items to spend your hard earned moola on. So here they are, as they say on the reality TV shows that pass for entertainment these days, in no particular order:

1. Fancy a laugh? Want a clever idea that you might be able to make a great mindreading effect out of? Or would you just like to admire how smart some people can be? Then head over to:

2. I’ve always been a huge fan of Martin Gardner’s work, particularly his books (Mathematical Puzzles & Diversions etc) which collected his columns from Scientific American. If you miss reading that kind of thing then I have a couple of recommendations for you:

Firstly, four excellent books which are tributes to Martin. As with his own published work, they contain an eclectic mix of maths, magic, puzzles and philosophy:

The Mathemagician and Pied Puzzler: A Collection in Tribute to Martin Gardner
Puzzlers' Tribute: A Feast for the Mind
Homage to a Pied Puzzler
Mathematical Wizardry for a Gardner

Secondly, a great online magazine that has more content than you can possibly imagine. All of the stuff that interested Martin (and me!) and tons more:

Plus! magazine

3. Next, one of my favorite performers. He's not yet the big star he will undoubtedly become, so you can still catch him in smaller venues, rather than huge theatres. He is funny, intelligent and thoroughly engaging. If you want to learn about how to connect with an audience without saying anything, then study his work:

The Boy With Tape On His Face

There is a LOT more going on in his performance than his casual demeanour suggests. If you want to see a masterclass in getting the co-operation of audience assistants, then watch this:

4. So, you're working on some new advertising materials, or a new email ad campaign. And you're faced with the eternal dilema: short and snappy or lengthy and informative? Remember, this isn't about which YOU prefer, but what works. Opinion, advice and a definitive answer here:

Do Long-Copy Ads Work? 

5. You would think that by now there would be someone seemlessly blending 'magic' with technology and dragging the mystery arts into the 21st Century, wouldn't you? Well good news, there is! As mentalists we usually shy away from technology, assuming that it will undermine our believabiility in the minds of 'intelligent laymen'. Hence the over-reliance by many mentalists on pen and paper, billets and envelopes and the belief that low-tech is best. Well, there is another way. 

First, find some inspiration here:

Marco Tempest

by having a good look around the site and making sure to watch as many videos as you can.

And then, as an exercise in creativity, open a notebook and as you watch the following performance, make some notes about how you would perform a mentalism show (including exactly which effects you would do) if Marco Tempest phoned you up and said you could use his Projection technology for free:

6. It seems that almost every mentalist in the world has completely ditched the 'psychic' approach and these days the NLP/psychological/body language/micro-signals/vocal inflections (i.e. pseudo-scientific) style of preentation is the deceit du jour. (As an aside, I wonder if the Psychic Entertainers Association will soon change its name to more accurately reflect the actual nature of the entertainment offered by its members?)

As I discuss at length in my new book, Mentalism Reveals, it seems that the vast majority of the mentalism community is woefully unimaginative in their choice of premises for their material. It's not as if one even has to be particularly creative; their are hundreds of great unused or under-used premises and presentational themes available online. Just a little bit of research and a few mouse clicks and away you go! To get you started I'll offer a few here:



The Halo Effect

Gambler's Fallacy

One of my favourite new secret resources for presentational ideas is here:

Edge Science magazine.

7. 'Hidden in view' is one of my favorite methodological devices. And it has never been better illustrated than by the incredible artwork of Liu Bolin:

Liu Bolin Gallery

About a dozen years ago I devised a very clever method for a magazine test, a version of which I still perform today. Several years after I came up with it I found out that someone had already developed almost the identical method and had marketed it. Except his  handling was better! So, of course, I switched to using his.

Anyway, the guy who beat me to the punch is Steve Fearson and the trick is called Amagazing. The effect is brilliant, the method sublime and the only two people that I know who use it are myself and Weber. Buy it, it's genius:


8. What is the difference between fantasy and reality, truth and lies? Hoaxes are a very interesting subject for mentalists, not only becasuse of the possibilities of using them as a presentational theme, but also as a source of study for the sociological factors invloved in the actual deceptions vs the widespread belief. Here are ten of the best:

Ten Hoaxes Everyone Bought Into

In this more skeptical age, hoaxes are a lot harder to perpetrate. Hence the rise of the Urban Legend, a more modern form of hoax, which usually has the veneer of plausibilty covering it. Ideal fodder for mentalists then!

Here is my favorite book on the subject:

The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings

9. Whilst my Top 10 lists of favourites of 2010 (tricks, downloads, books (magic and non-magic), DVDs, CDs etc) will appear at the end of this month, it would be remiss of me not to tell you about the most useful release of the year, Nardi's new Infinity Wallet.

It is the perfect replacement for my battered Stealth wallet and upgrades it in multiple ways. Firstly, it is bigger, exactly the same size as a regular gent's wallet in fact. You can keep your notes (bills, dear US readers) in the compartment that runs along the back of the wallet, just like every regular wallet you've ever owned. Of course it still has the wonderful Stealth peek, but now also boasts a great card-to-wallet capability as well as the new Shogun feature. All in all, a MUST HAVE! You can get yours here:

Infinity Wallet

10. Finally, one more highly recommended purchase:

Life's a Pitch

If you don't know about this book, you should, In fact it should be the very next book you read. If you do know about this book, chances are you haven't studied it (and note, I didn't say 'read' it) properly, or applied it's priceless advice. Just like me then...! If you have applied it, then you'll be reading this blog whilst sat on your yacht in the Bahamas with some supermodels and a small team of experts working out new ways to be nice to you (thanks Douglas Adams!)

Nevertheless, my personal lack of applying it notwithstanding, this is a brilliant book that should be in every mentalist's library. More than that, it should become the blueprint of how we can improve as both performers and businessmen.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ye Olde Prediction


A new little trick to delight the hearts and tickle the minds of your audiences: Ye Olde Prediction.

It is essentially a very strong prediction card trick, but it is far enough off the beaten track to fit right into the repertoire of any magician, mentalist, storyteller or other oddball (and I count myself as all four!)

The effect? Here it is: 

The performer introduces a letter printed on parchment paper, which he says is a reproduction of a letter found in the collection of King George III, and which contains the instructions for an unbelievable card trick!

The performer and spectator follow the instructions in the letter and end up with a selected card and a pile of random cards. The letter predicts the exact card and the total values of the random cards in a visually incredible way.

Is this gonna get you a TV special? Well, no. BUT, if you ever meet anyone who has had a TV special , then you can perform Ye Olde Prediction to both fool them and charm their pants off! 

The PDF contains the full instructions and the printable letter, and will be emailed to you within the hour. Usually.

And the price for this l'il gem? A measly £10! Order here:

Friday, 29 October 2010

Mentalism Reveals

Well, the word is out...

In early January* I will be releasing a new book titled Mentalism Reveals. It is a 120-page hard back, and represents an awful lot of time spent studying, learning, thinking about and (most importantly) performing mentalism. Here are the details:


Mentalism Reveals
A duality of exploration and discovery.

The first part of the book discusses what mentalism reveals about you - both as a performer and as a person. That your choices about style and premise reveal as much about you as your choice of material. And why that informs and impacts on every aspect of your performance, whether you are a working professional or a casual hobbyist.

What is the goal of mentalism in the 21st Century? What is your goal in performing? And why does it matter?

Through the use of stimulating questions and some unexpected and controversial answers, Mentalism Reveals examines and evaluates the approaches that work. This ensures that this is not just an abstract, theoretical analysis of the issues that lie at the heart of the mystery arts, but offers solid real-world frameworks upon which to build your performances.

The second part examines mentalism ‘reveals’ or revelations themselves. This is an aspect of the art that is crucial to any good performance but sadly neglected by many performers: how to reveal information in the most impressive and entertaining way possible. After the force, glimpse or peek, what are the best ways to reveal a selected thought, word, number or playing card? Methods and techniques are taught which will amplify the way you reveal any kind of information and turn the climax of every effect you do into a genuinely memorable experience.

We’ve all seen too many sub-standard performers using the “I’m getting the letter L” or the “I’m seeing the colour black” type of revelation which are a complete anti-climax, and leave the audience simply wondering how the performer found out the information (and often, why they bothered!) The principles and fully-scripted revelations taught in this book ensure that you will never give one of these weak ‘why bother’ performances.

Whilst you will want to take your time to study this material, you will learn how your script, language and timing can immediately be improved to strengthen your performance.  Powerful methodologies are taught that can be used just as they are, but which are also de-constructed in order to teach you how to incorporate the essential components into the effects that you already perform.

If you want to be a stronger and more memorable performer, Mentalism Reveals gives you both the knowledge and the skills you need. You’ll never look at performing the same way again...

The book also contains a rather splendid surprise which is not mentioned above (nor will I disclose to anyone) and which I will let purchasers discover for themselves.

You can read a review at the Marketplace of the Mind here:

Jheff's Review

It is a limited edition of 100 copies.

The price is £100 (including postage).



Saturday, 11 September 2010

In The Frame

My newest release is In The Frame, my signed card to picture frame. Here are the details:

The frame you can see in the picture above is an ordinary, examinable picture frame. And the card inside – The Prediction – IS the spectator’s signed selection!

They said it couldn’t be done... they were wrong!

The effect of In The Frame is as simple as it is powerful: a signed selection vanishes from the deck and proves to be the card that was on display the entire time in the picture frame.

This is all accomplished with minimal sleight-of hand (no palming!) and a regular deck. No fumbling, no extraneous props, no awkward 'clicks' or any other tell-tale sounds. Walk up to a table with just the picture frame and a regular deck and you are good to go. Easy reset and nothing to replace.

In The Frame is not just another 'solution-to-a-problem' but a completely practical, commercial piece of magic and is perfect for both close-up and cabaret performance.

What's that you say? You'd like to see an uncut demo of it? Sure! Here ya go:

Comes complete with the picture frame, gimmick* and fully illustrated instructions.

Available now.

PRICE: £40

* The gimmick uses a red-back Bicycle card. Other options (blue-back Bicycle, Mandolin, Phoenix, Tally-ho etc) are available. Please email for details and prices.

Useful Resources for Mentalists #1

As I skip gaily across the net I encounter/discover lots of great sites, books and info that I think my fellow mentalists would find both interesting and useful. So I have decided to occasionally list my most recent finds so that I can share this information with those who might be interested.

So here, in no particular order, is the current batch:

1. Need some inspiration? Some great presentation ideas? Got several hours to kill? Then head over to the Reality Carnival, the most eclectic and inspirational list of links on the net:

Reality Carnival

2. Generators for everything. Need a picture of fridge magnet letters that make up a prediction? A newspaper headline, a ransom note, a theatre sign or the Simpsons intro? No problem!


3. Some great language and logology resources. I can particularly recommend a subscription to Word Ways:

Words 1
Words 2
Words 3
Words 4
Words 5

4. If your business card is still just a rectangle of white card with some flat black printing on it, it’s time to think again! Here is some inspiration:

Cool Cards 1
Cool Cards 2

5. What’s that? You don’t have an augmented reality trick yet? You are so last year! AR is here and it’s gonna be huge. Catch up with what you’re missing here:

AR 1
AR 2
AR 3

and to combine the last two items, you too can have an AR business card right now. You techno-geeks are gonna LOVE me for this one:

AR Business Card

6. Back to more low-tech genius. Do you want a 3D font which really is 3D? Punched Out is a set of cut-out layouts with which you can build 3D style letters from card or paper:

Punched Out

7. Many of you are no doubt already aware of TED Talks, but if you’re not or simply haven’t visited the site for a while, you’re in for a treat. Short talks on almost any subject you can imagine, with lots of them containing information, themes, images and presentational ideas that are ideal for mentalism:

8. This month’s top 4 book recommendations:

What are psychics up to in 2010 and what does science make of it all:

The Psychic Tourist: A Voyage into the Curious World of Predicting the Future

Lessons, advice and stories about public speaking. A very entertaining book on several levels:

Confessions of a Public Speaker

A practical, educational book on communication that doesn’t simply re-tread what’s already out there? Who’da thunk it:

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Take Hold and Others Come Unstuck

Probably the funniest book I have ever read. Learn how a master puts his act together:

How I Escaped My Certain Fate

9. Not really a Rubik’s Cube as such, but a great electronic puzzle nevertheless - Rubiks Slide. I was one of the beta-testers for this, so it’s great to see it finally released:

10. OK, I gave in. This last one is a trick. But what a delightful little piece of close-up theatre. The prop is appealing, the subject matter is interesting and the effect is fooling. What more could you want? Check out Haiku here:


Monday, 9 August 2010

On The Mark

A couple of months ago I finally decided to release my killer named card in wallet effect, On The Mark.

Inspired by Rich Bloch, Kenton Knepper and Marc Oberon, I wanted an effect that goes beyond anything previously devised and which fits the following criteria:

• Only one wallet used.

• No deck required.

• Different card every performance.

• The card they name is the exact one in the envelope – no ‘off by one’ or other outs.

• No sleight-of-hand.

• Perfect for both close-up and stand-up performance.

On The Mark is that effect! It is fooling, practical and commercial, combining a real worker’s method with a powerful effect and an engaging presentation.

It comes complete with a beautiful leather wallet, envelopes, Bicycle card gimmicks and (very) detailed instructions.

Here is a picture of what the wallet looks like:

And here is a demo of me performing the effect:

And finally here are some quotes about On The Mark:

I have to say how awesome this is. It just proves that Mark is a genius. Plus the concept stretches far beyond this effect!

- Paul Brook

Mark’s thinking on the psychology of this routine is WONDERFUL. When you learn it, you'll immediately start thinking up other routines you can use it for too!

- Colin McLeod

This is a wonderful, wonderful effect. If you could psychologically influence somebody to select a single card from 52 – or if somebody really could use their natural intuition (or perhaps psychic powers) to intuit a single card that has been sitting in front of them the whole time – this is EXACTLY how it would look.

Five stars for this.

- Drew McAdam

Move over Bang On and KK...

The reason I like this is that it is so clean and fair. At no time did I feel coerced by the presentation, as each choice I made was confirmed by Mark and in absolute terms.

The wallet is extremely high quality and fits credit cards, money, and other this can be carried on you at all times and you have a strong and direct piece of mentalism with you.

- Dr Todd Landman

On The Mark is available now, priced £45 including postage.
To order using Paypal:

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Man in the Rubber Mask...

If you could do with a seriously good laugh, then please check out this video by my friend and collaborator Jasper Blakeley in one of his many (dis)guises:

Somebody give him a TV show now...

Whilst Jasper is waiting for BBC3 to get in touch, you can avail yourself of his expertise by booking one of his performance workshops. I've watched him deliver his hands-on training and it is excellent, fulfilling all the three 'I's of good teaching - informative, instructive and inspirational. I can guarantee that you would benefit hugely from spending a day with him. Full details here:


Also well worth checking out is the new online-only series from Trinny and Susannah: What They Did Next. It is very, very funny in that excruciating post-Extras style that seems so current, but trust me, they have taken it waaaaay further than you ever would have thought they were capable of. Imagine Alan Partridge, but with Coogan playing himself, with no character to hide behind...

Watch it here:


Is it just me or does there seem to be more ebooks than ever being released. I'm sure that there must be at least one new ebook released every single day!

I recently read Nevermind - The Mentalism of Mat L'Anoire. To be fair (and because I know that some of you get so uptight about these kind of things...!) it would be better described as 'mental magic done with playing cards' than 'mentalism'. The standout effect for me was Scribble which is excellent. As well as being a very clever card revelation it introduces a rather devious principle which has the potential for much wider application. I'd like to think that someone will read it and develop an absolutely killer effect with it, however since almost all of us simply collect ebooks like sweets, and simply skim through them, never reading them properly, much less trying the effects out, it seems unlikely... Oh well.

Check out Nevermind and in particular Scribble here:


Finally, here is my album of the week: Stars - The Five Ghosts. More stunning, dreamy, indie-pop that deserves to be delighting everybody's ears.

Samples, downloads and CD here:

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Something Old, Something New...

Do I have a treat for you today, or what?

It's no secret that my all-time favorite magician is Gary Kurtz. He no longer performs straight magic, preferring the opportunities offered by working exclusively as a (WARNING: magic-community speak ahead!) stage 'mentalist'.

Of course, to almost all magicians mentalism is just another branch and style of magic, whereas to some mentalists it's a completely separate art form! Indeed one which some of the particularly deluded have convinced themselves shares no common lineage with magic at all, being descended instead from the psychic and (cold) reading performers of the late nineteenth century. Hmmmm...

Anyway, discussion of that lunacy can wait for another day, since this post is about Kurtz and one of his wonderful effects, Full Frontal Assault. Some days I think it is the best magic trick ever devised. Other days, I think it is just the best coin magic trick ever devised. Either way, it is pretty special. In fact, if magic-hating kidnappers took my family and demanded to be fooled by a magic trick to ensure my family's safe return, I'd be straight on the phone to Kurtz to come and perform this (no pressure then!)

My guess is that 99% of the people reading this blog have never heard of Full Frontal Assault, which in my eyes is a crime against magic, so here it is:

Cool, eh? When I first saw it I watched it 10 times in a row and had no idea where the coins were going! It wasn't till quite a while later that I was finally able to get hold of Kurtz's FFA manuscript and learn what he was doing. Sadly, that manuscript is long out of print, although it does very occasionally turn up on eBay for an exorbitant price.

OK, I'll put you out of your misery: he's sleeving the coins. Trust me, even now you know what he's doing, you'll still find it almost impossible to follow the when and the how. The reason I've told you though is to illustrate just one aspect of Kurtz's genius. In FFA he uses sleeving at least as well, if not better, than any other magician I've ever seen. And yet this is the only trick he ever uses sleeving in! Most magicians, when they have perfected a specific technique to this level of mastery use it in almost every trick they ever do. Think about Carl Cloutier and sleeving, Michael Ammar and toppiting or Slydini and lapping. Not Kurtz! He learns sleeving so beautifully that you can't see what he's doing even after you know exactly what he's doing and then he only uses it in one trick. Ever.

Actually, something else bears mentioning too. I referred to Carl Cloutier a moment ago. Now Carl is a fantastic magician and a very charming performer, and his smooth style combined with his sleeving and topit expertise allowed him to win FISM and just about every other magic competition of note in the world. What you might not know about him is that he was Gary Kurtz's student. Think about that: Kurtz's sleeving skills were so outstanding that when he taught them to his student he won FISM! And yet Kurtz himself uses the technique in just one effect.

Similarly, he was world-class at lapping. Yet, again, he only used it in one routine, Relentless. But what a routine! It's a tour-de-force of coin magic and still light years ahead of what most so-called coin magicians are doing twenty years on. Again, it's only available in a rare manuscipt and even if you were to buy it you would still be missing out on the feeling of sheer wonder and the laughter of surprise and amazement that you would experience if you were to see him perform it. Which sadly is unlikely now, although who knows what the future may hold? Either way, all interested students of the art should track down as much of Kurtz's material as they can and learn from a master.


And so on the 'Something New' promised in the title of this blog post. Jamie Daws (about whom I know about as much as you do) has devised a truly awesome version of Roy Walton's Card Warp. There have been lots (too many?) of attempts to bring this effect into the 21st Century but I have to say that Daws' new Phantasm is far and away the best I have seen for a long time and goes straight into my top 5 Card Warp handlings. What's that? What are the others? OK, here's the list:

1. Phantasm - Jamie Daws. Great thinking, super visual and with a killer climax.
2. Siamese Twins - Bill Goodwin. I'm still as impressed with this as I was 15 years ago when he first showed it to me. Easily the best of the one-card handlings and one of those things that looks much better in person than it does on DVD.
3. The Contortionist - Michael Giles. Still a well kept secret ;)
4. Warp Factor 2000 - Angelo Carbone. Long unavailable but typical Carbone brilliance.
5. Card Warp - Roy Walton. It's a classic for a reason. Still an absolute nailer for laymen.

Here is Phantasm:

I spoke to Peter Nardi about it yesterday and he says that it will be out "by the end of the summer". So about six weeks then. I predict that this is going to be a very big seller.

Incidentally, when I spoke to Nardi he was in the middle of filming two new DVD projects, one with Thom Peterson and one with John Archer. They will both be out later in the year, Peterson's first and then Archer's in time for Christmas. I've seen the running orders for both DVDs and they contain some excellent new material that their fans will love.

Friday, 16 July 2010


Finally! A cold-reading system that you might actually use...

SRS is my newly released cold-reading system, designed for people who:

1. Haven't got the time (or inclination!) to spend hours studying and memorizing a system or the opportunity to use it often enough to keep it in memory. And,

2. Don't want to do a psychic-style reading, as it doesn't suit them and/or their audience.

Sound like you? Great! You've come to the right place. Here is the ad copy:

SRS – less work than The Cube, more fun than Q & A!
SRS stands for Simplex Reading System. It is a practical cold-reading method designed for mentalists and magicians who want to learn to do readings, but simply haven’t got the time to spend hours and hours memorising traditional systems. Impossible though it sounds, SRS actually requires NO memory work! That’s right, none, nada, zilch. Making it ideal for beginners and experts alike.
With the information provided in this new manuscript you will immediately be able to give anyone an intelligent, perceptive reading. And because of the way it is structured, if you were to meet that person again in a year’s time, you could give them the exact same reading. And remember, no memory work is required.

SRS takes a bold new approach by employing a seemingly random series of questions as the ‘theme’, which means it is perfect for those who want to get away from the more traditional systems. Whilst it will more than satisfy anyone who has previously had an old-school reading, it is also perfect for those looking for a less ‘psychic’ style reading, i.e. something more in tune with today’s psychological approach to mentalism and magic.

The System comes complete with everything you need: the full instruction booklet (not an e-book!), question sheets (printed samples and PDFs so that you can print your own) and a sample reading so that you can see how the system works in practice. Plus audio files of further sample readings being given, so that you can hear exactly how simple, direct and powerful it is. Plus, for those who are brand new to reading, a PDF of informative, entertaining lines that will make you seem like an expert.

SRS has its roots in Ken de Courcy’s fantastic Systematic Seer and therefore shares a lineage with work by Ron Martin, Richard Webster and Mark Sherman. However, SRS heads off in a completely different direction and is a far more ‘pop culture’ approach than anything that has gone before.

If you want to give a reading that sounds like you are in the 21st century rather than the 19th, SRS is for you!
SRS is out now, priced £40.

Sold Out!

Ha! I'm over a year late and I STILL beat Gambit Issue 2!

So here we are again, happy as can be, all good friends and jolly good company!

Well, we're here anyway. It's a start...

For reasons unknown I suddenly feel revitalised about donning the mantle of blogger, which is handy since I have tons of things to tell you about: good, bad and ugly. I will, of course, let you decide for yourself which is which.

This weekend's big news is the Essential Magic Conference and if you don't know what that is, or worse, you do know and you haven't signed up, then you are missing out BIG TIME.

Come back and read this blog some more later, but for now go and sign up for the conference:

Done? Good. So, as I said, I have lots more to share with you, but for now, here are three other things you should know about and you've got time to check out quickly before this evening's EMC lectures start:

Bargain of the week: Scott Guinn is having an 'all my ebooks are $5' sale. There are at least half-a-dozen that I think are fantastic and you really ought to take the plunge. Start off with Marked For Death, That's How We Do It and any random one of his card magic ebooks and take it from there:

Best trick I've learnt this week: Eric Jones's Audio. If you haven't seen this you are in for a treat! It's been a long time since I've wanted to add any new coin magic to the ol' Elsdon reperoire, but Audio is one of those effects that is simply too good not to learn. Regular coins + a bit of skill + brilliant thinking = killer trick. Well done Mr Jones!

Watch it here:

and then buy it here:

Best recent book that I'm annoyed that I still haven't made the time to start studying: Vortex by Tom Stone. Tom is a dreamer of dreams (only a very few of which are of the pipe variety), a keeper of notebooks, a student of the art and a creator of some considerable repute. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading his ebook releases over the last few years, adding several of his brilliant effects to my arsenal in the process, and I'm very pleased to have some of his work in more permanent form. The design, layout and artwork all look fantatstic and I know that the material is top-notch, so now all I've gotta do is sit down and actually read the thing... I'll report back as soon as I do.

Vortex available here: