"Street" Mentalism

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Delusional, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. Hey everyone,

    Been working on my Mentalism lately, and I seek advice in a particular area. Close up Mentalism. and I'd just like to ask one question:

    What are your favorite Mentalism effects that require minimal props/everyday objects, and can be performed standup without a table (on the street)?
  2. DON'T DO IT!

    I know this and certain other sites cater to a younger "street magic" oriented crowd but when it comes to Mentalism I simply have to ask folks where their head is and why they so enjoy paddling up-stream?

    Mentalism is powerful and can prove even more so when it is staged PROPERLY. When tends to be in a setting and presentational situation that gives you the optimum sense of psychological advantage. . . which is rarely a street corner or public park. BUT if you are a MENTALIST (vs. a magician trying to cash in on the idea of Mentalism) there are ways to draw in the public and create a long series of miracles -- "Naked", as some would say.

    "Minimal Props" is essentially the key reason most people get into mentalism; a few business cards or a note pad, some pencils and that's about it, you can do an easy 30-45 minute show. . . that is, IF you are a Mentalist and know your craft. Given your question I'm having a strong suspicion you've not even read Corinda.

    Ignore the gadgets and commercial stuff and learn the key skills tied to the art form; billets, readings, memory skills, forces and so forth. Do Not Overlook Muscle Reading! Ideomotor skills are probably the most important techniques to learn outside of solid billet & reading abilities; it's the stuff that "real" psychics gain huge reputations through and by which you can start performing on an instant no matter what.

    "Which Tricks?" Well that's the wrong question in that Mentalism is not composed of "tricks" that's what magicians do. Mentalists strive to create an experience that is "real" in the mind of the audience and most especially those participating in whatever demonstrations you do. You don't have to do the New Age/Psychic type character but you do need to make what you do believable in that Mentalism depends on the investment of belief from your audience in order to effective. If you just did a sponge ball routine and then move into mind reading you aren't going to be believable and thus, you loose the optimum power of your routine, so context is what's paramount not the "trick"; put what you want to do into the proper frame and you'll achieve this but you have to see much more than "a trick" you must find its potential for YOU. . . what I do may not work for you just as what Derren Brown does won't work for me; we must make our own decisions based on our own footwork, creativity and experimentation. That's why 13 Steps has so much material on each technique; to help you practice and find your footing with each method & approach.

    I work in coffee houses & bookstores mostly because of my physical limitations now days, as such I have to create the setting for my audience and draw them in. One of the easiest is to break out my Tarot Cards or a Pendulum and just "play with them". Usually in under 15 minutes someone will ask a question and from there I can move into a routine. If I'm in a bookstore I will do a book test (or two) using books & magazines that are on the shelf NOT some commercial piece of business. . . the more I can do using borrowed and common objects the more my audience will trust me and the greater my local reputation grows.

    When I "Busked" as a Psychic Entertainer it was typically tied to the old Horoscope Pitch and similar bits; the objective isn't to show off but to make money. You might do a few things to prove yourself out but the goal is to reel in the marks. . . or so it was back in my prime and how I was trained. One routine we'd do is known as PSIGRAPHICO. . . a Q&A act based on Handwriting Analysis; we'd use the act to draw in a crowd and then charge folks for a 10 minute Personality Reading. . . this is how it works in the real world.

    Mentalism is a related art form to magic but not one in the same thing. If you really want to optimize the response of folks you entertain for via Mentalism, then segregate it from your magic and actually learn how to work it and why it was done in the way it was done for so many years (prior to the late 1990s when it got bastardized).

    Here's a FREE book to get you started.
  3. Craig,

    I deeply, DEEPLY value the advice that you give on these forums. I know of your experience in the arts, and thus I study your input intently. However, it seems as if most of my recent questions on these forums have not been answered by you, but criticized. Which is quite okay. But I do have to quickly chime in.

    As you pointed out, yes I am a younger magician and recent mentalist. So yes, the more "street magic" feel does appeal to me. Contrary to your statement, I actually have read Corinda's 13steps, and just recently finished watching the L&L DVDs of the 13steps. 13 Steps has sparked my imagination, and I was just looking to broaden my performance environment/audience. I just feel that the anecdote of a spectator running into this stranger on the street, and having their mind read in various ways, is almost the makings of a fairy tale. "This strange man ran into me and my friend on the street, and got inside our heads, It was unbelievable!" I find this sort of feel to a performance quite appealing. Just look at Matthew Mellows Modern Mentalism, some great mentalism material there, that can be done standup and on the street.However, I do recognize that a stage/seance setting is much more effective on the spectators with its performance environment.

    Craig, I never mentioned the word "tricks" in my above post. I did this on purpose. I did indeed refer to what a mentalist does as "effects." Which is what Tony Corinda himself called them. I just wanted to make that clear.

    So Craig, I ask, do you thus think that Mentalism shouldn't be performed on the streets at all? Even simple effects with a pad of paper, a swami, and ESP cards?
  4. That's a bit beside the point. You're asking the question a magician would, not a mentalist. I made that same mistake myself when I first started learning mentalism.

    Performing mentalism is vastly different from performing magic and the reason a lot of beginner mentalists suck is because they're still performing mental magic but think they're being mentalists. They don't have the right mindset nor do they perform in the proper context, character, or frame.

    Bob Cassidy talks about the building blocks in his ebook Fundamentals. If you haven't read it, you should if you're even thinking of trying your hand at mentalism. Otherwise, stick to mental magic.
  5. Gazzo does a tossed out deck routine, and Pop Haydn used to use a nail writer and business card to build a tip. Granted, this is busking and not street magic so that alone may make a big enough difference. Also, they are presented as mental magic, imho, rather than pure mentalism.
  6. #6 Craig Browning, Jan 4, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2012
    "Should Mentalism Be Done on the Streets at All?"

    Let me word it this way. . .Mentalism CAN be done of the streets and it can even be done in a convincing manner and has been done by many for many long years. But as I've said more than a few times, to get optimum advantage from it you must segregate it from the magic tricks. This is where most fail; they've just done an assembling ace routine followed by the Princess Card Trick and end it all with TOD. . .


    They have seen you do at least one or two obvious "pick a card" and card manipulation/control routines and then you move into apparent Mind Reading. . .
    . . .wouldn't logic dictate, given what's just been shown, that the Mind Reading side of things was pure chicanery?​

    Conversely, If I've just stood in the park with folks and done random Readings or a Q&A type bit followed by the TOD the response to the "Card Trick" is one of heavy amazement because of the psychic context it was experienced in. The perspective of the audience has been "programmed" so to speak, allowing them to witness the same effect in a completely different light.

    It's pure psychology and the dynamics of how we set the stage as to how the effect affects the patrons. If you do TOD as a magician it will give you short-lived kudos in the moment. When you do the same thing under the guise of being a Psychic test after doing several psi type demonstrations, it becomes AN EXPERIENCE people are more prone to remember and talk about for a much longer period of time and they will automatically censor things when seeing a Magician do the same piece; relating the latter as being a Trick that replicates psychic phenomena. . .
    a nasty thing magicians are known to do. ​

    Context & Purpose is paramount when it comes to mentalism in general but especially on the streets. For an example the thing I tend to do most these days has a more "Shamanic" feel; I start off by watching the clouds over-head and when asked I explain that I'm exercising my mental focus by busting up and creating clouds. . . people chuckle but then I actually do what I said I was doing and start teaching the slowly gathering crowd how to do the same thing. In under a half-hour I'll have well over a dozen people gazing at the sky and indirectly learning how to calm their chaos filled head by way of this simple exercise. . .

    Keeping-up with this Holy Man format I begin having a totally improv exchange between those gathered and myself about things Psychic & Spiritual and as best I can I will address these things in an honest and direct manner while placing strongest focus on the idea of Psi Potential and the limitlessness of the human mind, which leads me into routines that puts the power in their hands; I'm just the guide, they are the one's that do the Mind Reading and work with the Pendulums to find a chosen word in a borrowed book, etc.

    Sometimes I'll move into a fairly in-depth Muscle Reading demonstration using the classic Treasure Hunt (finding a hidden item) as my finale. With the exception of my Pendulums, a pocket notepad (modified Butterfly Pad), some golf pencils and a deck of Tarot Cards that's pretty much all that I have with me and yet, I deliver an easy 60+ minutes of performance time that empowers those that join in, leaves everyone feeling good about themselves and likewise helps folks question "life" a bit more and their role therein. A general sense of good comes from it and though I do not even suggest it, people hand me cash; a circle like this has generated as much as $300 or so dollars in a single hour. . . that's not the norm however but it is the potential on a good day when working the right sites.

    This format probably wouldn't work well at a heavy metal rock concert or the Super Bowl, but place it near a Psychic Fair or New Age type store, Buddhist Temple, etc. and you will find the curious heading your way.

    I believe I also mentioned that Sidewalk Mentalism like Magic, used to focus more on "the pitch" than the "the tricks". That is to say that the performer always has at least one if not two or three things that the act helps them sell. Magician's typically pitch the Magic Mouse and Svengali Decks while Mentalists push the old Horoscope scrolls & Pitch Book of Days as well as Private Readings, Charts, and in the less mystical arena you have the Graphologist and Phrenologists. . . . even computerized Aura imagery with a report are common sight in parks, festivals, theme parks and shopping plazas.

    The bit is to get their attention by two angles; your booth/display and your pitch. . . and yes, I used a standard dinning fly pop-up tent with table complete with signage to get people's attention when working public areas such a a courtyard between high-rises, nearby park areas, etc. You do so with a permit and merchants tag so law enforcement don't give you too much of a hassell and too, it gives you legal right to the spot being worked. Many times I will get letters of sponsorship from the handful of small businesses nearest the area I'd set-up which really solidified my right to the spot and "permission" for a visible booth exhibit. I go into greater detail on this in my Psychic Technologies books.

    The Set-up itself cost about $300.00 total if purchased brand-new. You can get away with far less venture however, my primary approach was very carnival-like and having some kind of backdrop to work in front of simply aided me in the "show" & pitch, giving folks the experience of a midway hustler. For some odd reason folks have not problem throwing money at a good pitchman and I can assure you, there's a ton of paths you can take as a Mentalist that will more than turn a dollar. It's hard work, but it will pay over time.

    The catch is, you really don't want to approach it the same way you would a magic busking routine because you loose the psychological advantages that my previous descriptions encapsulate.

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