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.