Mentalism! You must be mental
By Black Hart

Why the heck would you tell anyone you were a mind reader? Having done so why would you then try to prove it by having them go through some torturous sorting process before they write down their 'choice' and then this paper is burned/destroyed/discarded. It just ain't logical, is it?

It most certainly is NOT what you would do IF you indeed were a 'mind reader'. I can tell you that having done your favourite 'sponge ball' routine to a spellbound (!) audience your favourite mind reading trick is going to be just that. A trick. They know it. You know it. So don't pretend otherwise.

There are some great and very successful 'mentalist' (horrible word) acts around. Take Graham Jolley for example. Just watch him work an audience, great fun by a real professional, but they don't think he is a real mind reader.

Another fantastic example is Derren Brown. Now he really does blow your mind! Derren is a true star with an incredible and successful act, but he IS NOT a mind reader. Deren's angle on this is MIND CONTROL. A very different thing. Now you and I know that Derren is performing some very clever tricks. But that is NOT what the lay audience think. He tells them that he is controlling their mind by subtle hints and psychological means. They go for this 100%, and why not his presentation is spot on. I can tell you he certainly fools me.

Derren's audience members are not looking for a trick or gimmick to explain what happens. They are looking for the psychological subtlety that made them do what they, or the volunteer did. He leads them happily down the path he desires and they willingly follow.

My angle on this 'mentalism' thing is the psychic approach. This is very different from the mind reader. I have my own 'frame' for my mind reading effects. If you want to know all about 'frames' for effects then read Eugene Burger's books. I never claim to be a mind reader. In fact I never really claim anything. My hook to lure the punters down my particular path is 'psychic ability'. Now this can be mine, but it is also very often the latent natural psychic ability that we all have.

You see, now even YOU are beginning to walk down MY path. Most people have had some sort of psychic experience. For example, thinking of someone you have not seen for a while and then the phone goes and it's them on the line. Yes. I'll bet it's happened to you at some time. This is what I build on.

One of my favourite lines when I am setting up a punter is this:

"As we sit in this room you can hear a general hubbub and murmur of voices, yes? But occasionally you can hear one voice a bit louder and clearer above all the others, yes? Well that's what it's like with psychic ability. There is a murmur of many minds, but perhaps one or two will be a little louder and clearer than all of the others. Yours is like that to me now."

By the way, note how many yes' there are and how positive my conversation is.

I am making links between known true facts, such as in a room full of people you can always hear a couple of louder voices above the general murmur, and a logical sounding premise that I want them to accept. This is, that in psychic terms, some minds are louder and clearer than others, and that theirs is one of these.

Psychic ability is so much more subtle than the sledge hammer of mind reading. It is therefore so much more acceptable and believable.

When I am Tarot or Rune Reading, or indeed any fortune telling my client is in a great position for me to introduce a psychic test of some sort. To you, a mind reading trick. It is easy to take them down the path I want. It is easy to leave them with the belief that there was some kind of psychic ability, theirs or mine, but usually both demonstrated.

This is my 'frame', my particular context. Any props that I use are just what you would expect a psychic to have. Such as, Tarot Cards, Rune Stones and such like. There is nothing suspicious or unusual for the context of the presentation. Many magicians would be amazed to see just how simple it can be to fool people with what are really some VERY easy 'moves' and magical principles. These are often dismissed as too simple to be of any use, but believe me the more simple the better they are.

However you do it, if you do it well you will lift your simple mind reading 'trick' to a whole new level, and you will create a great reputation for yourself.


Black Hart June 2002