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Master Mentalism and Magic Tricks

Revelation Effect Mentalism and Mind Reading

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The treatise you hold actually started as a low-level project a few years ago. I have a keen interest in all facets of mentalism and have noticed several 'gaps' in the literature. These gaps omit critical information to the student (like myself) as to some of the inner methods, concepts and techniques that can be used to great effect in mentalism and magic. This treatise, and the others that follow, are an attempt to fill some of these gaps with solid information and background.

Over the years, there have been many who have kept my interest in preshow work, and it's many possibilities, alive and well. Virtually all have inspired through their performance and writings. Among these are Rudy Hunter, Docc Hilford, Kreskin, John Riggs, Banachek, Craig Karges, Dunninger, Marc Salem and many others. I have been fortunate in that I can rub shoulders with many of the very best minds and performers in the world of mentalism. I have you all to thank for your inspiration and friendship. This is written as a testament to your many gifts and talents. I thank you all.

As always, I have to thank my wonderful wife, April Canter. Thank you honey, for your love and caring, and for not letting this silly habit! have of writing books you couldn't care less about, get in the way of our relationship.

And to you, dear reader. I trust this work opens your eyes to the many truly incredible miracles that can be done with this amazing technique. Thank you. Now let's get on with it!

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- fl treatise on presfiovv work -

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Potentially (and in many ways), this is the most powerful technique in the arsenal of the mentalist - -

First of all, is it 'pre show', pre-show' or 'preshow'? Beats me, but from this point on, I'll refer to it as preshow. If for some reason that doesn't work for you, please forgive rne. In this instance, at least, it appears I know not what 1 do...

The simple definition -

All right, here's the simple definition: "Any advance work that is done before a performance officially begins that can directly or indirectly involve a member or members of the viewing audience, without the knowledge of other members of that same audience. This advance work can then be used either openly or secretively from the stage when the formal performance happens."

That's the easy definition {as I would define it). This advance work can take many forms and be used to achieve many ends. It's use can be disclosed openly from the stage later on, or more often, is used as a secret weapon in effects or demonstrations.

This is such a powerful weapon when used correctly, yet is seriously underexplored in the literature. In fact, when I embarked upon this project some years ago, I was immediately struck by how little there was in the literature that specifically dealt with this subject The overwhelming majority of it is taken up by individual thoughts. A sentence here, an off-hand comment there. It is so spread out, in fact, that to do a complete bibliography of it is prohibitive. There are simply too many bits and pieces.

So the work at hand is an attempt at a collection (albeit an incomplete one, since doing a totally complete treatise is next to impossible) of time tested ideas and techniques used by most preshow practitioners. There are also some ideas that I believe are seeing print for the first time in these pages. These are practices that I have been using for years in my own performances and I haven't seen them explained anywhere else.

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Of course a project of this scope, on this specialized a technique, is bound to be missing ideas and concepts that some will consider to be crucial, or at least have been crucial in their own work. I can't speak for everyone. So, this treatise will be coming pretty much exclusively from one point of view, my own. This is not an encyclopedia of preshow work {although to date it is probably the closest thing to one), and will not try to delineate everything under the sun. But rest assured all of what you are about to discover has been tested and used in the real world. The only instances where that is not true, I will say so right from the start, These will be as yet untested ideas that shou/d work. Only time and experience will prove them out, of course.

You'll notice, too that there are relatively few complete routines contained herein. Mostly just bare bones and ideas. That fact notwithstanding, there is more than enough fuel for thought here to inspire dozens of routines. Apply the logic and techniques and you'll soon be coming up with killer ideas of your own. These are always the best for you anyway, so enjoy the journey.

We will explore an awful lot of applications and techniques for using preshow. It seems that there is a strong emphasis everywhere on 'how' things work. The 'how' of preshow can be fairly complicated but, more often than not, is really pretty simple. This is the only place I'll mention this in this entire treatise, but without a doubt the biggest ingredient of 'how' to do preshow, is simply having the nerve to approach someone who you have never seen before and get them to help you, with or without their direct knowledge.

Some of us have a problem with approaching complete strangers and just talking to them. My suggestion on this most crucial point is to do two things. One, there are several good books written by people whose names you know, about the art of speaking with anyone. I'll note a couple of the better known titles in the bibliography. These are excellent resources and can be of immense help. If you have even the slightest hesitation about this critical skill, get these books and read them! Even if you don't have a problem with this, get the books anyway, they couldn't possibly hurt!

And my second suggestion is to simply practice. Obvious, right? But how many will actually go out and do it?? This is so obvious that I know it will be overlooked by most. This is a shame. What's even more criminal about it, is that you can practice anywhere. Anywhere there are other people who you do not know, is a golden opportunity to practice and get comfortable with talking to strangers. I'm hiding one of the biggest secrets to preshow right here, so listen up. Simply being completely comfortable speaking with someone you do not know (and, of course, initiating the conversation to begin with!) is abso-

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lutely vital to having good success with certain forms of preshow work. If you're not comfortable, your potential volunteer won't be comfortable and that could cause problems later on.

This is particularly true if your volunteer is going to end up on stage with you. If you are uncomfortable in the initial few moments of contact during preshow, they won't feel confident in being on stage with you. Those critical few seconds can make or break how - successful the piece you're going to do will ultimately be. Do yourself (and your audience) a favor and give this some very serious consideration. It will pay huge dividends and is one of those things that truly separates the professionals from the amateurs.

I'm not sure that the above discussion is really one of the bou/s of preshow so I put it here. It's a critical concept, so don't overlook it. But there's something else that fascinates me.

What is equally interesting as the hou> of preshow, is the why. There's been a fair amount of discussion about how preshow is to be accomplished, with much more in the following pages. In most cases it's usually fairly cut and dried. The why, however, hasn't been examined much and is truly fascinating. Why is this technique so incredibly powerful and why is it so completely undetectable when used properly? There have been a few attempts at trying to put into words the 'why' of this powerful technique before, but I don't think there's a better explanation than is given all too briefly in Michael Close's essay on 'Assumption' in "Workers 5". Allow me to paraphrase and expand...

In essence, everyone has certain assumptions about the world they live in, the events of their lives . . . and the performances that they see. One of those assumptions is that the show begins when the show begins. Strange statement, huh? Here's another one. The effect begins when the effect begins. What that means is that we all assume that the various effects and demonstrations that we see performed in a live show start when the performer launches into the introduction. We assume that the entire process of what goes into the presentation happens while we are watching. The thought that something might have happened long before we even entered the theater never even enters our mind. It's a natural thing. Of course there are several things we as performers can do to cement or destroy that impression. We'll discuss those aspects later. What is working for us from the start is that this is a completely natural unconscious assumption.

This is the primary power that is built into the use of preshow. Since preshow is inherently an invisible technique (in that the overwhelming majority of the audience never sees it happen and are, therefore, completely unaware of it), it is all the more powerful.

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There is no way for any logical thinking person to decode and unravel a mystery that has preshow as part (or all} of the modus involved. Assuming that they know nothing of the existence of preshow in any form, there's simply not enough information present at the time of performance to figure it all out

1 distinctly recall the first time I ever saw Q&A performed. It was on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson' many years ago. What I don't recall was whether it was Kreskin or Orson Welles. I do know that I saw them both perform Q&A on Carson's show over the years. Regardless, in looking back, I now know that they had (probably) clip boarded part of the audience ahead of time and were simply revealing the information in time honored Q&A fashion. Whether they made use of clipboards or were stealing slips, I can't say with complete authority (although, knowing Kreskin's love of Dunninger's techniques, he probably just stole slips). Regardless, some kind of information gathering was done preshow. Bottom line to the present story is that 1 was unaware of the concept of preshow at that point in my life, as is pretty much everyone else out there. Needless to say, I was completely blown away by what I saw!!

Since I had no concept of what preshow was, there was no explanation that I could possibly come up with that would explain what I had seen. The same was true for the audience. Plus~I really had two strikes against me from the start. I had the natural unconscious assumption that the show started when the show started, plus I was unaware that there was such a thing as preshow work. The two do go hand-in-hand, but they also reinforce one another. Everyone in your audience is in the same boat as I was back then. It goes without saying that they don't stand a chance of figuring out a thing if this technique is used correctly.

We're going to look at several factors involved in preshow, as well as several techniques that can be used. We'll also look at a few examples of the end result when the final performance happens.

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an overview

There are basically two types of preshow work. Type one, the most common, involves direct contact with the person(s) that are to be worked with. This contact can be done by the performer personally or by someone else who, either knowingly or unknowingly, is helping the performer. Type two involves preshow where there is no direct contact with any audience rnember(s) by the performer or anyone else in his behalf. Here's a brief overview.

Of the two mains types of contact that we will examine here, this is the most common form of preshow work. In this first scenario, the performer himself approaches individuals prior to the show and asks for their assistance in some of the demonstrations to happen later. In some cases, the assistance is asked in a 1specified' manner. By this I mean that the individual involved knows that they will be called upon to either assist on stage with a demonstration, or in some other fashion that the audience will witness. There are several factors in this type of contact and we'll look at them in detail in a moment.

There is also another scenario that is common in this form of contact. It is used most in Q&A type of performances. In this instance, the individuals who are approached preshow don't know whether or not they will be called upon to actively participate later on in the show. Their assistance is being solicited in an 'unspecified' manner. This type of work is best used for demonstrations where large numbers of people will be (apparently) used, such as Q&A.

Another form of this type of contact was very common in the vaudeville era (and before) mentalist's program. Since these performers frequently traveled with at least one other person as part of the act, they could take full advantage of the situation. In this instance, someone other than the performer would approach members of the audience and solicit information and/or assistance as above. Dunninger and Lustig are a prime example of this. This could be simply filling out slips for Q&A later on {an 'unspecified' manner of usage), or for specific demonstrations in the show (a fspecified' usage of the spectator).

Even if you work alone, you can still use this technique. It is very effect-dependent,

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though. By that I mean that it's use as I'm about to describe it is somewhat limited. Here's what I mean.

Let's say you're doing Q&A and you're having slips filled out by members of the audience as they enter the lobby of the theater. The slips are then folded and left in a large bowl or other container on display in the lobby. Later on the bowl full of slips will be brought to the stage and left in plain sight for the Q&A (or sightless vision or whatever) later on. This technique was. very popular in vaudeville days.

Well one of the easiest things to do is simply steal out a handful of slips while the bowl is in transit from the lobby to the stage. Just pocket them and you're set! But you can only do that if you get the bowl yourself, right? Not necessarily. Suppose you have an employee of the theater retrieve the bowl and bring it backstage momentarily {"So I can make sure we have enough slips to do the demonstration later."). While they have the bowl backstage you simply stir the slips and steal a few right under their noses. They then take the bowl out on stage to display it. This takes only a moment and will pass unnoticed. The employee is an accomplice and they don't even know it!

You can't do this with every effect that uses preshow, but if your 'helper' can honestly swear that they were not 'in on' anything, your demonstrations wiil be just that much more credible. You may want to even consider sending an audience member out to do your clipboarding for you! Imagine how strong this can be! You'll have to work out the actual details of what they will say and so forth, but the end result could be devastating. While I have never done this, I can easily imagine how powerful this could be!

This type of contact (someone other than the performer himself making contact) is very effective. However, direct contact has become the main form of preshow since Theo Annemann came on the scene and turned almost all mentalism acts into solo performances. Prior to Annemann, almost all mentalism acts involved at least two people. Annemann changed all that At least he was the most influential in that regard, so blame him.

^Ypc qJvvo: cjmfircct Contact -

Perhaps the term 'Indirect Contact' is a bit misleading. In this particular case, I'm really talking about a situation where no direct contact has been made by the performer or anyone else associated with the performer with the spectator(s). This is a much more

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covert type of preshow work. It frequently involves using a computer, occasionally a private investigator is called upon, and any one of a number of other ruses are used. The one common denominator of all these techniques is research. Basically you're doing research of some type on those who are attending your performance. Some of this research is specific and some is very much determined by chance, but we're getting ahead of ourselves. More details follow.

That's a brief overview of these two main types of preshow work. Now let's examine these two types of contact methods in more detail.

^ircct Contact ~

Anytime someone approaches a spectator prior to a performance and solicits assistance of any type, that moment is highly suspect right from the start. That moment is even more suspect when the performer himself approaches a spectator. However, in the last several decades this is exactly what has been done. Ever since the strong movement started well over 75 years ago towards solo performers, the performer has had to do it all himself. There's been very little choice. This moment can make or break how well the piece to be performed later plays. It is absolutely critical, and i cannot stress this enough, that everything you are going to say and do with this spectator be thoroughly thought out and rehearsed.

In a bit we're going to discuss some ways to diminish the 'moment' of that contact and make it 'fly' a bit easier later on when the show starts. Obviously, this type of direct contact for preshow is used most often for the current versions of Q&A. Whenever a performer clipboards the house, or is passing out cards and pencils, he is in direct contact with those whom he hopes to call on later during the show.

If this audience member is going to be used in a 'major effect' (ala Cassidy} like Q&A, there will be several people who are openly being approached. In this case a large amount of the pressure will be off of both you and the participant. It simply appears that there are several members of the audience who are participating in a survey of some kind. No big deal, and it should be played as such by the performer. No pressure, simply an invitation to join in on something that could be a lot of fun and very interesting later on.

Nothing in your delivery or demeanor should place any apparent importance on the activity of writing down a bit of information or a question. It's simply to 'help concentration' later on. This is really quite easy from the performer's point of view because you

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don't know if you'll use their information or not! Whatever they write down may be worthless to you in the show. So treat each participant with respect, but not as if the success of your show rides on their shoulders! Q&A and effects like it are easy in this regard.

However, effects where the spectator is going to be involved in a specified manner {i.e., end up on stage or in some way be specifically participating in an event) are a bit more delicate. In these cases, the success of the effect does ride, in part, with your spectator. But you cannot let them feel any pressure. There are several things you must establish with this person in order for things to go smoothly.

First and foremost, develop a sense of trust between you and the spectator. They must be at ease (which means YOU must be at ease!) and never get a sense that they will be embarrassed in any way. Of course, much of this depends on the specific effect involved. So let's use a specific example.

Let's say that your spectator is going to select a word, either directly from a book or simply by thinking of one. If it were me, I would first approach a person whom I got a good feeling from just in their appearance and demeanor. Someone who seems friendly and a bit outgoing, without being an extrovert. Avoid extroverts for this type of work like the plague. They can make life absolutely miserable for you later on. If they get to be on-stage, God only knows what might happen, if you get one of these persons in preshow, get out of the situation as best you can. Don't open yourself up to this potential disaster later on.

So I select someone who seems friendly and a bit outgoing. I would approach this person and introduce myself as the performer in the program tonight and do all the pleasantries, Be sure to get their name. Try to establish as much rapport as possible without becoming overly friendly, 1 would then ask this person if they would be willing to assist me in a demonstration later on during the program. This assistance would be very simple and in no way would it be embarrassing for them. I usually make a bit of a joke at this point about me being the only one who is embarrassed by this program! Big smiles at this point! Above all else, give them a chance to back out. If they are not comfortable with you by this point, don't force the issue. This discomfort is the exact type of thing that has been known to cause people to leave the show for fear of ending up on stage. Then you're out of luck!

So do everything you can to keep them comfortable. The best thing is to be comfortable and likable yourself. This will go far in accomplishing your mission. I would then explain that all I need for them to do is to think of a word. "Easy enough? But I'll make it even easier. I've got a dictionary here with thousands upon thousands of word in it We're going to pick one at random. Tell you what, I'll just flip the pages and you say stop when ever you want. Right there? Great. Take a look at that word right there at the top of the page. I don't want to see it. Got it? Can you remember it or do you need to write it down? Great, now don't forget it.

"Later on during the program I'll call on you from the stage. You won't need to come up, but I will have you siand. I promise that 1 won't do anything to embarrass you in any u^ay. In fact I think you'll find it to be fun! I'll ask you to confirm that we spoke before the program and so on. We'll do something that will be amazing (I hope!). Sound good?"

With these few words, I'm all set to go. Later on I'll have her stand and I'll go over basically what happened earlier before the show, using all the things in the section on verbal misdirection. See that section for more on this. What will end up happening, is that I'll apparently read her mind and pull out the word that she is thinking of. She will be amazed, the audience will be amazed and everyone looks good. Make sure she gets a good round of applause for her participation. Take good care of your direct contact volunteers who are going to be used in a specified manner and they will take good care of you!

Indirect Contact -

As 1 mentioned earlier, this type of work is mainly research, the gathering of information by covert means. This can take any one of a thousand different forms. In fact, this is probably the single technique that is mentioned the most in the literature. I can't tell you how many times I've read something like, "Just keep your eyes and ears open and you'll get information on people just by overhearing conversations and by casual observation", or words to that effect. While this is very true, it's not terribly exacting. There's simply no telling what information you'll get, if indeed you get any at all! So I'll try to give you more specific techniques that you can use.

First we'll go with low-tech. I'm sure some of you reading this immediately thought about doing online searches on the internet and the like. Well, we'll get to that in a moment. First, here are some things you can do even when the power goes out!

First of alt, just keep your eyes and ears open and you 7/ get information on people just by overhearing conversations and by casual observationl Sorry, I had to do that, but it really is true. But you can obviously go much farther than that. If you have an assistant (or more than one), by all means use their eyes and ears as well. If they are an assistant who is

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