Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Mindreading...?

I’ve been asked more than once, “Why mindreading?” A valid question, as there are SO many aspects of magic. There’s the big stage illusions, close-up magic, bar magic, animal magic, escape artistry, etc.

I’ve performed it all, privately and publicly. I was fortunate enough to have my first public performance at the Omaha Orpheum Theatre when I was 17. It was a huge task and a, literally, prop heavy act. It was my magic partner, David, our assistant Katey and myself. After that show, we all sort of left each other in one way or another. We grew up and grew apart.

After that it was mostly close-up magic, really cool effects using everyday objects. And then there was the standard cups and balls routine, rope magic, etc. It wasn’t really exciting, though. I suppose in retrospect, it WAS exciting, but my heart wasn’t into it, thus making it, again, not very exciting.

I went back to the stage stuff, just on a bit of a smaller scale, known as Parlor Magic. Again, as much as I loved performing, I just wasn’t into it. A bit of backtracking here, in high school, all I worshipped Penn & Teller. In a book they wrote, they said there was a guy named James Randi, whom, if James Randi had never existed, there would be no Penn & Teller. In the 70’s, James Randi became well known for “exposing” Uri Geller, the famous psychic who bent spoons with his mind (let me repeat that, bending spoons with his mind – exciting, huh? Exactly…), able to draw pictures that had been previously sealed in and envelope – you get the idea. James Randi wrote a book that basically said, that while he (James Randi) cannot prove whether or not Geller was indeed psychic or not, he could duplicate everything Geller does by means of sleight of hand. And he did. I fell in love with that. Not even sure why, but I did, It wasn’t until years later that I heard a quote used by a few magicians that, for whatever reason, made everything fall into place and made sense. More on that later…

Well, the Parlor stuff wasn’t working for me. Trying to find myself as a performer, I decided to go over all the books I had and I kept going back to James Randi’s book, “The Truth About Uri Geller”. It suddenly hit me, mentalism had everything I wanted in an act. Misdirection, double speak, intuition, a bit of creepiness, etc. It became sort of how I started viewing stand-up and my jokes. With stand-up, I quit writing what I thought other people wanted to hear and started thinking of jokes that would make ME laugh if I heard them. That’s a hard pill to swallow because you want to please everyone. Same with mentalism. And this is where that magicians quote played a pivotal role on my wanting to perform mindreading. When you see a girl climb into a box, the box opens and she's gone, you have an idea or two as to how it was done. But to have someone walk up to you and reveal to you your dead grandmothers name or who your first kiss was, that is much more intimate and much more mysterious.

Suddenly, every book and DVD I was buying was on mindreading. I sold most of my large props or tucked them away in storage and basically started brand new. And ironically, I haven’t bought many props over the years. My briefcase that holds everything I need for a good 40-50 minute show. That’s better than trying to get to a gig with a van full of props that I would have to lug around (and I DID do that and it is a pain in the ass!). That, and if my briefcase goes missing, I can get everything I need at Staples. Index cards, pencils, tape, a marker and a giant drawing pad. Done. I love mentalism/mindreading and I’m excited doing it, I’ve blown people away revealing their thoughts and that makes for a great show for me and an audience of 1 or 100.