As I write the introduction to this book I am on a flight from Las Vegas to Los Angeles. I am presented with exactly forty-five minutes to sum up my feelings about the book.
A lot has contributed to the style in which this book has been written; among other things a recent transatlantic relocation from the UK to the USA to make a home in Las Vegas. I now find myself a married man, and to top it all off I have even begun work on that traveling freak show I have been dreaming about for oh so long. As I write this I am currently on my way out of Las Vegas--the magical capital of the world--feeling very ill from the extreme turbulence on an otherwise uninteresting flight. Vegas is a town that has in the short while I have lived here already deeply affected my approach to magic and mentalism. Las Vegas really is the best place in the world to see both great and terrible magic. From the best of the best to the worst of the worst, Vegas is your place.
The bulk of this book was written as I lived and worked as a traveling performer. Much of the book being written on planes, in hotels and while generally on the road. There really is a great advantage to having a mobile office. As one of the publishers of this book would say: "as long as there's a Starbucks, we're good to go."
The book was written in this fashion with my thoughts being collected in essay form while on the road. Now, looking back over it, I find it a genuinely nosaltigic read. The task of elaborating on my traveling essays to make them more complete and lucid was much like reading an old travel journal or diary from years past.
Certain essays remind me of specific performances and places. Others remind me of various TV shows I have worked on. I hold many good memories attached to the writing in this book and some not so good memories.
The one thing the ideas presented in this book all have in common is that they were formed in part because of the countless "bad" magic and mentalism shows I have encountered on my journeys. From live performances to certain recent "TV Stars", bad magic is simply bad magic.
It is these "bad magic/mentalism shows" that are the true inspiration for this book. Without having witnessed so much bad magic and mentalism I would never have been moved to examine my own performances at a deeper level. It was this examination triggered by these performances that inspired my feelings and thoughts as recorded in this book. So in a way I have all the shows that have made me feel sick watching to thank for their inspiration in questioning my own performances at a deeper level.
It is my hope that you enjoy what is presented in this book. You will of course not agree with everything I have written, and this is the whole point!
The best thing I could ever hope to achieve with this book is to encourage you to question your own performances in the same way I have questioned my own. If you do this, we together are fighting against those "bad magic/mentalism" shows I know we both hate so much. Together with our love for the art that has given us so much, we now have the chance to give it something back. Lets keep magic and mentalism as exciting to our audiences as it is to us.
Enjoy your journey and maybe our paths will cross along the way.
With all sincerity I am;
Beginning his descent into LA, 2006.
DEVELOPING COMPELLING DEMONSTRATIONS
This chapter outlines my own personal beliefs on presenting contemporary mentalism. From the structure of an effect to building a routine and a show. Each point is complete with working examples from my own repertoire.
A WORKING EXAMPLE OF MY GUIDELINES
In this chapter we handle a working example of all the guidelines outlined in chapter one by creating and applying these rules to an effect.
AN APPROACH TO "PROP FREE" MENTALISM
A brief look at performing modern mentalism without the aid of apparatus and props of any kind. This chapters features a breakdown of what I think are the most useful methods for a performer to have in his or her tool box when it comes to performing mentalism with no psychical props at all.
THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAILS
This chapter outlines the attention to detail that I feel is needed to make a truly compelling performance. It also features a working example of how applying the small touches to an effect can make all the difference.
A collection of presentational additions that can be added into many effects that you already perform as well as all the effects featured within this book. These range from the use of a slinky as a pendulum right the way up to saying the alphabet backwards and writing inside out verse. These touches are used throughout the book to build compelling demonstrations and will be referenced throughout from this chapter.
TOUCHING ON HOY - THE REAL WORK
This chapter features possibly the strongest, prop free, anywhere, anytime demonstration of mind reading available to the mentalist. Featuring brand new work on my original effect as well as three different effects that are achieved with the same basic conceptual methodology. This chapter also includes new work on the effect eliminating the need for a psychological force, a new and bold out for the brave performer, a new idea from which a miracle could spring "the Stranger's Name Concept" and also features a guest contribution from Chicago's Chris Carter.
HAIL DUNNINGER - A PRINICPLE AND AN EFFECT
In this chapter I take a closer look at the "Dunninger Ploy" and describe its use in relation to a card effect using a prop you almost certainly already own.
A LOOK AT TV MAGIC/MENTALISM FROM EDITING TO BROADCAST
Here I share my personal thoughts on the world of TV magic. From selective editing to pre-show work and dirty "camera tricks".
STANDING ON THE SHOUDLERS OF GIANTS
This chapter is a work inspired by my influences. As performers I truly think we are building everything we perform on the work of greats from the past. Here I share three routines that I feel are directly inspired by Canasta, Dr. Jak's and Koran.
MENTALISM WITH PLAYING CARDS
This chapter features mentalism with playing cards. All neatly piled together so those who would rather poke themselves in the eyes with anthrax covered magic wand than mix mentalism and playing cards can simply skip.
A chapter featuring effects that mix the classic methods of magic and mentalism with suggestive techniques to create bold and new effects never before possible.
A BRIEF JOURNEY INTO THE BIZARRE
No skulls, altars or sacrificed goats rather Mentalism with a surreal twist. From making time stand still, traveling backwards in time, scars healing themselves, incredible coincidences, a game of life and death, demonstrating your "grift sense" while charmingly stealing from your spectators, revealing innermost fears and stealing watches with your psychic power Its all very odd. Featuring guest contributions from Morgan Strebler, Craig Browing and Liam Montier.
Methods to zero in on the correct spectators for your effects. This features a cold approach to working with suggestive methods as well as a honing method design for the stage performer and a method designed for the close up worker.