Friday, July 15, 2011

Outlaw Magic and REVIEW: Principles of Mentalism

Hey everyone,

Wow, what a week! I've had much better than expected response to my Pre-Release Sale of my Murder By Magic: The ULTIMATE Corporate Magic Show package! The good news is things are progressing very nicely and I will probably have the package ready to go before the end of this month, meaning I should beat my deadline by nearly two weeks! (Don't worry, though, as I will still keep the sale price in place til August 11.)

That's the good news...bad news is this week's blog will be shorter than normal as I am so swamped with hypnosis work, the Murder package, and of course performing.

Before I get to the review, though, I want to mention an unbelievable item I just received from Outlaw Magic called Re-Animator! It's a perfect "spooky" prop that looks like an ancient, creaky old machine in which you supposedly bring back to life a dead animal...only briefly.

The prop takes quite a while to build, and not realizing how much work goes into it, I was pretty rough on Rick from Outlaw, badgering him rudely constantly, but I have to say he always responded promptly to all my emails and the product is worth far more than the asking price.

Here's a link if you're into the Bizarre side of magic:

Now onto this week's review...Principles of Mentalism by Richard Osterlind. It's available for $25.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link:

WHAT YOU GET: A well-produced booklet that outlines Osterlind's views on the performance of mentalism as well as ways to make your performances stand out.

QUALITY: The book is nicely type set with a lovely full color soft color.

MY THOUGHTS: I'll say it right up front - this booklet should be in the library of every mentalist. This book does not offer a single new effect, but it's one of the best books on the subject I've ever read.

Osterlind has always been one of my favorite mentalists in terms of what is taught. After reading this book, I certainly have even more respect for him. I may not necessarily agree with everything he writes, but the fact that he cares so deeply about his craft makes what he thinks worth study.

Some of the things I agree with include his thoughts on the Power of the Silent Script. In a nutshell, he talks about having a silent script in mind, which in a way is related to the Method style of acting, in which you get your mindset into the idea that what you are portaying is real. To take Osterlind's idea further, the silent script is not even something that you need to make the audience aware of...kind of like the actor's technique of coming up with a backstory for his/her character in detailing things that the audience may never hear of.

The advantage of this is that you on some level become an actor, giving more substance to your performances. It's thought-provoking stuff, to be sure.

Osterlind also talks extensively about the levels of ability. To me, this is one of the foundational cores of a great mentalism show. Essentially, this boils down to starting off slow in terms of "unbelievability" and working your way up. To use real effect examples, this could mean starting off a show with something like a Magic Square, which people can actually learn to do legitimately, placing it in a believable category in terms of what 'could' be possible and eventually working your way up to a Confabulation-style prediction...obviously a much more "unbelievable" style of effect.

To relate this to the movies, if you start off with the big robots fighting right off the bat in Transformers, you've got nowhere to go in terms of building intensity and interest as the movie progresses. (Of course, for some reason, the writers thought that the best solution to this in Transformers 3 was to fill the first hour of the movie of long, boring sequences of Sam Witwicky searching for a job. Unreal.)

Osterlind shares his views on the use of technology (read: electronics, such as Taste by Bobby Motta). Osterlind seems to come down harshly on such things, as many traditional mentalists do, but if you read between the lines on what he's writing, I think what he is really recommending to the reader is a caution against jumping onto the latest fad...and one of his examples is the endless variations of the Russian Roulette-stab-kind of effect.

There are, of course, things I did not agree with, such as his views of showing fatigue after a seemingly taxing effect. It's a nice view and a nice thought, but I firmly believe things like this should be avoided unless you've got the acting chops.

I only feel this way because I've seen way too many DVDs by respected mentalists trying to "act" as though they are struggling to receive impressions and much of it as laughable, in my eyes, even from very respected workers. I'm not saying NOT to do such things, but merely suggesting that one should not exceed one's own acting ability.

Nevertheless, even though I don't agree with everything, the fact that I think about it and consider my own work more deeply shows the positive effect the book has had on my own work.

There's so much great food for thought in this book and I feel it's one of those books that if you are serious about mentalism, you MUST buy this...all of this without a single effect!

RATING: 10 out of 10. How could it be otherwise?

NEXT WEEK: The new Four Told effect by Devin Knight

Questions? Email me at



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