Here's an interesting question:
"Why is someone like Uri Geller or David Blaine far more interesting and entertaining to the public (and media) than the average magician?"
And here are another two related questions that are hotly debated by magicians.
How did a street magician who is only technically average (if even that) get a prime-time TV show and achieve international stardom?
Why is the average magician and mentalist (many of whom are well above average) languishing in obscurity when, in fact, he is far more skilled than David Blaine?
Yes, it's true; the average magician is far more skilled than Blaine. And many of those magicians are pulling their hair out just trying to get regular bookings at uninspiring fees, never mind achieve any degree of success.
But it's not just in magic and mentalism: Why are professional psychologists and counselors driving themselves nuts over counseling guru "Dr. Phil"? After all they are better, more qualified and have more experience. Yet Dr. Phil is on national TV in the US and is a household name!
In every field, you find people who are perceived to be at the top of their profession by the public. But it's not just showbiz and TV: Top lawyers, top dentists charge many times the fees of regular dentists and lawyers, even those with exactly the same qualifications.
I think we can safely make some assumptions:
It's not skill that guarantees success.
It's not your qualifications.
It's not your experience.
So, I'm sure you have a few questions on your mind.
"What is it?"
"Can it be learned?"
"Can I do it?"
The answer to your second question is, yes it can be learned and implemented.
The answer to your first question, "What is it?" is twofold. It is both a mindset and a plan.
And the very essence of that mindset, complete with plan, is distilled for you in this book that I'm now going to tell you about. A book that has achieved legendary status amongst magicians and mentalists.
It's a fact of life. Lay folk and the media have little or no interest in tricks per se. You know in your heart and soul that generally what drives the boys wild at the club will die flat on its posterior in front of a paying audience. That begs the question: "Just what do laymen want?"
The first thing to understand is that it's all theater. Your public image is a theatrical illusion. When the President of the United States or the Pope makes an appearance anywhere, every detail is carefully staged. The late comedian, George Burns, told how he and his wife Gracie had an audience with the Pope in Rome. George describes how the event was staged, especially the entrance of the Pope. He finishes with the remark, "Showbusiness could learn a lot from The Vatican about making an entrance."
Now the President of the United States, the Queen of England and the Pope are as human as you and me. We all eat, drink and sleep. We all enjoy a good laugh. We all enjoy the company of good friends. But they are positioned differently from you and me. They are positioned as being on a different plane than the rest of us. And we all go along with this illusion.
Every top showbusiness star has positioned themselves to have a unique perspective in the minds of the public.
In the public's mind, Uri Geller holds the position of spoon bender.
David Blaine started off as a street entertainer and has carefully evolved himself into a modern-day mystery man, capable of putting his body through severe feats of endurance like being encased in ice, or sitting in a clear box over the Thames for six weeks. He is evolving into a modern-day shaman or mystic.
Step One: Find a hook to latch onto and position yourself.
The next thing is drama. And the essence of drama is conflict. Where would Snow White be without her wicked stepmother?
Lost in obscurity. That's where. The stepmother provided the conflict which made the story interesting, intriguing, and memorable.
The TV show, Dallas, ran for years simply because the character of JR Ewing was so compelling a villain.
About twenty years ago, two lesbian ex-nuns wrote a book about life in the church. By all accounts it wasn't well written and was a tedious, uninspiring read. The book was destined for instant obscurity when the Bishop of Boston declared the book as "banned reading". The media got hold of the story. People became intrigued and, within a few weeks, the book was reprinted and became a bestseller.
A while back on the Larry King Show, James Randi went head to head with a professional lady psychic. Mr. Randi did everything he could to expose the psychic as a fraud. She handled him remarkably well and won hands down. Although I decided to watch the debate from a skeptical point of view, the venerable James came over as biased, unyielding, and heavy handed. I have no doubt the lady's standing was enhanced and since then has more credibility and gets better fees. Controversy can help your career.
The current popularity of reality TV shows is all about the conflicts that develop between the characters. The conflicts then develop into controversy. Controversy is a subset of drama.
Every good story (and people love a good story) is built around conflict. In your show, it doesn't mean you have to fight with your spectators. NO! It could be as simple as a trick (apparently) going wrong. The spectators are intrigued. How will you get out of this? It's conflict between you and the situation you are in!
You could get more dramatic though. Take Houdini. Houdini had built-in drama. Would he escape or die? He captured the public imagination. Yet by all the accounts of reliable contemporary magicians, Houdini wasn't all that great technically.
Yet there he was, a household name before TV and radio, and still is today, almost eighty years after his death.
So, we've had a look at positioning and drama, two vital elements of a successful career in the public eye.
Let's now look at the third vital element. The element that, once understood, can catapult you to the top and garner you international publicity. You'll have to add a new room to your house just to hold the newspaper and magazine articles and clippings!
It's what can get you on almost any TV show, you name it. It's the factor that distinguishes David Blaine and Uri Geller from all the rest.
Let me ask you a question. Could you see any chat show turning down Blaine or Geller?
Why not you?
An understanding of this is what's allowed Geller to be the international psychic superstar for MORE THAN THIRTY YEARS. It's what has made Blaine a household word. It's what's kept Houdini in the public mind for over a hundred years.
So just what is this amazing secret?
It is an understanding that it's all about creating a myth. The myth of you. Geller and Blaine are myth-makers. It is creating romantic legend. The stories of King Arthur and Robin Hood are the stuff of romantic legend. So is Houdini. Marlene Dietrich, John Wayne, Madonna, David Beckham, Ronald Reagan, John F Kennedy... the list goes on and on.
When you read the biographies of famous showbiz personalities, you realize that they all understood the importance of creating their own legend - their "myth".
It's not something that's covered in the magical literature, is it? Go on, search the magical literature. Sure, there are books on advertising and marketing - about getting shows. There are books on getting publicity and promotion. But there's no other book on creating your myth, your legend, even how to become an international psychic superstar.
That brings us to this book...
The Shiels Effect
This 72-page book was originally published in a limited edition. It created a sensation and went out of print very quickly. You could search on eBay and be lucky to find one copy coming up per year and it sold in the hundreds of dollars.
The book itself has achieved legendary status. So, what great secrets does it contain?
Well it does cover the intricacies and staging of spoon bending in Chapter One. But this is not a book of mentalism secrets. Any magic store has shelves weighed down with such tomes. Every magician and mentalist's library is full of books and DVDs crammed with the secrets of some of the greatest minds of our craft.
The Shiels Effect is the book that shows you how to leverage that information. How you can become the stuff of romantic legend... the next psychic superstar! A top footballer like David Beckham was on a high salary. But he was able to leverage his position to bring in lucrative multi-million sponsorship deals. So why wouldn't you leverage your skills and talents - the skills you may already have to bring you more publicity, more celebrity status, and more income?
Even if you don't want to achieve all the trappings of international stardom, surely if you are a performer, shouldn't you be seeking to become a local celebrity? This way, when they are looking for a service you provide, you are the one who pops into their mind straight away?
The plan and the mindset are laid bare -- the secret ingredients that go into the making of a psychic superstar. No other book has delved so deeply into the subject of psychic superstardom and how to achieve it. No other book has laid out a step-by-step plan (two separate plans in fact).
I'll wager David Blaine studied this book in great detail before he took his first steps towards international fame. Certainly, his path mirrors that laid out in this book (see chapter two) which was originally published when Blaine was three.
Back in the early and mid-1970s, Tony Shiels, known affectionately as 'Doc' Shiels, achieved international publicity for raising the Loch Ness Monster.
'Doc' sure knew a thing or two about gaining interest and publicity. But maybe you're thinking it was a one off. Could the publicity be repeated? The answer is a resounding yes and you can read how 'Doc' arranged national publicity in the UK for his daughter in chapter three.
While you will learn some magic and mentalism secrets from this book, and good secrets too, that's not where its real value lies.
Its real value and what makes it unique in the field of magical publishing is the detailed plan for designing your own path to celebrity status and even onto psychic superstardom.
Delve into this book and uncover the real secrets:
Two secret elements that help capture the imagination of the media and public. Geller uses both and Blaine subtly uses one to his advantage as a "Mystery Man". Page 25.
One of Geller's powerful secrets - and it's nothing to do with skill. Page 16.
The big secret used by all top entertainers to achieve constant publicity. Understand this, use it and you will be well on your way, able to generate publicity almost at will. Page 41.
Are you technically skilled already? You can have all the technical skills you want but without this 'one' thing, you won't make the front pages of the world's newspapers. Page 24.
The most important thing associated with any kind of "psychic" metal-bending. Page 15.
The great secret to causing an uproar using bizarre magick. Page 38.
A little-known fact you can turn to your advantage. Use it to add excitement to your work and personality. Page 26.
The fatal trap you must avoid when giving your demonstrations. Page 25.
Want to cause a sensation at your press conference? Use this secret. Page 40.
Your 'psychic' credibility will be enhanced if you can get the backing of scientists or medical doctors. Find out how on Page 26. Could this be what Geller used to achieve international publicity?
You're at a party, you've bent a spoon. Someone hands you a poker with the challenge, "bend this." What would you do? Find out what Doc did on Page 15.
Leverage and use old forgotten conjuring tricks to gain publicity. Page 23. Look at the publicity Blaine got from using and adapting the Balducci levitation, originally published in the Pallbearer's Review.
Looking for publicity? 'Doc' reveals one area where you can be pretty sure of regular coverage. Page 51.
Sooner or later some jealous magician will try to 'expose' you. Find out what to do on. Page 27.
'Doc's' secret for bending nails and how he dealt with the challenge of bending a six inch masonry nail - and succeeded. You will also discover how he would have handled the challenge if he'd failed. Page 14.
Your first and vital step to psychic superstardom. Overlook this and you have no hope of success. Page 23.
You can create major hoaxes from pocket tricks. Find out how on Page 53.
A secret presentation ploy used by top mentalists and psychics but ignored by practically all magicians. Use it and generate tons of word of mouth publicity. Page 28.
You're doing some impromptu spoon bending for a group. 'Doc' reveals the real secret for achieving success. Page 13.
Don't neglect this important psychic success "key" or you're doomed to failure. Page 22.
How 'Doc' became invisible in broad daylight on a busy street. Page 53.
'Doc's' method for having a spoon bend while being held by a spectator. Page 11.
How to be seen in two places at the one time. (Al Mann would have charged $35 for this information). Page 55.
A complete plan for a woman to achieve psychic superstardom. (It can also be adapted for a man). For an ambitious performer, this is a perfect plan for the times we live in. This plan alone is easily worth tens of thousands of $$$. Pages 34 - 48.
Why attacking psychic superstars is counterproductive. Use it to your advantage for even greater publicity. Page 9.
Yes, this book contains secrets you won't find anywhere else in the magical literature. There was nothing like it when the book first came out and there's been nothing like it since.
You can see why every mentalist will want to snap up a copy. Every magician who has thought of adding mentalism to his (or her) show will study the plan. Do you want to discover how you can leap frog over the magicians and mentalists to the top of the heap? And here's a little known inner secret. You don't have to wait for other magicians and mentalists to tell you you're good. You don't have to wait to win magic competitions. Do you think David Blaine would be where he is today if he stood waiting for other magicians to tell him he's good enough?
No, he took the opportunity and leap frogged over everyone else. He is king of his hill. Geller is king of his hill. Derren Brown is king of his hill. Trying to copy these guys is an exercise in futility. Instead you make your own hill, with your own hook, your own positioning and no one will be able to turf you off.
And in The Shiels Effect, 'Doc' will show you how.
Snap up a copy before it goes out of print again.
An Evening with 'Doc' Shiels
'Doc' retired from active performing twenty years ago to devote himself to his avocation - art. (You may recall that the late Chan Canasta, while at the top of his profession, also retired to devote his life to painting).
Pat Sullivan traced to a remote part of Co. Kerry in South West Ireland and coaxed him to come and talk to the Cork and Kerry magicians. Fortunately, this very special evening was recorded and is preserved now for your enjoyment.
Sit down with a pot of strong coffee or a generous portion of your favorite beverage, pop in this DVD, relax and enjoy an evening's company with Doc Shiels.
'Doc' will regale you with stories from his early days as the boy magician performing at the local mission for deprived children, when he was barely older than they were.
Hear how he switched a spring snake for a real one.
How he developed his interest in bizarre magick ('Doc' was one of the founders of this genre).
You'll hear of some of Blackpool's side shows and discover the FIVE WORDS that caused long queues to see one sideshow illusion.
'Doc' will tell you a lot more about raising the Loch Ness Monster and makes a suggestion that could achieve similar levels of publicity for you.
How he came to be known as 'Doc'.
Just how the disembodied head of Princess Raman Ra handled a heckler - not something you would use yourself but very funny!
If you're looking for tricks - they're not here. This is an entertaining seventy minutes spent with one of magic's most intriguing characters, a man who lived the life he chose, answered to no one, developed a new genre in magic, contributed widely with numerous books and magazine articles and achieved international publicity.
For the technically minded, this is not a studio quality production. It was taped with one camera. There's no special lighting. The sound is OK. Don't come back bitching that it's not studio quality. It's perfectly watchable and perfectly audible.
We could have released this DVD separately for £25 and we still might. But, for the moment, you can have "An Evening with 'Doc' Shiels" DVD included free with every copy of The Shiels Effect.