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|Guests - Banachek|
A Very Warm Welcome to Banachek
I would like to take this opportunity to offer a very warm welcome to our next special guest; Banachek.
Banachek has been described as the "Cream of the Crop" when it comes to entertainers, quite simply he is the world's leading Mentalist. His talents are so incredible that he is the only mentalist ever to fool scientists into believing he possessed 'Psychic powers' but to later reveal he was fooling them.
Many of you may already know a great deal of this master of mentalism from his many publications, effects or performances. If you want to explore a little more of this incredible performer before his visit officially begins then please take a look at his website:
I am very pleased indeed to welcome Banachek to these boards and I wait with eager anticipation to read the questions and replies that shall be offered through this forum.
A special "Thank You" to Banachek for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to be able to spend some time offering your wisdom and advice to our members.
This forum is now open for questions, in preparation for Banachek's visit today, on the 22nd November.
What a great privilege it is to have you here at the Warren! A very big warm welcome. Your website makes fascinating reading (and viewing). I particularly liked the section on the revelation of the fraudsters, and was captured by the story of Popoff the Evangelist. How much involvement did you actually have in the "capturing" of this unbelievable "prankster"?
Hi Banachek, Fantastic news that you are finally here! I can't wait to hear your professional input as guest speaker. Thanks for taking time out to visit us here at the hutch!
Steve! Great having you here!
(And thanks again for the materials you sent!)
Yes to what all the others have said. Great to have you at Bunny. I hope you enjoy your visit!
It is with great pleasure that we welcome you onto these boards. Thank you for taking your time with us over the next week!
Welcome, thanks for coming. I watched your metal bending on your website and I have to say it looks fantastic.
Thanks again and look forward to discussion.
What a great honour to have you here! Thanks for visiting and answering our questions!
A huge resounding welcome to you. I'm looking forward to your insights as always!
Thank you so much for all your kind comments. Hopefully I will have the time to respond to all. I will try to add a few stories as well, things that might have been alluded to or asked about on other boards when I have guest hosted.
Again, thank you all so much. Feel free to ask the hard questions as well. Please keep in mind that my views are just that, my views and not for everyone. I fully understand that and as a result I hope no one takes what I say personally.
Thank you so much for taking some time off to visit with us here at MB. It looks like you found the boards and registered okay. If you have any questions during your stay here, feel free to ask Nigel (Admin), myself, Michael Jay (the hardest working moderator in the world), or any other moderator here and we'll do whatever we can to make your time with us easy and enjoyable. Already you have been asked and answered more questions on your first day than others have gotten in a whole week. Hopefully we don't overload you.
Don't tell him that! He might slow down.
Seriously though, we're just one day in and this has already become one of the best (most enjoyable and thought provoking) guest spots we've ever had.
I've just starting reading into suggestion and I wondered how do I go and start doing it. It's all well and good reading it but how can I practise for the 1st time without letting them know what I'm trying to do. Do I just go up to someone and do it and fail looking silly.
The best way to get into suggestions is to use them with fail proof effects.
For instance, use equivoque for a routine. However try to get them to choose the items you want by using your voice. If you hit it right of the bat, perfect, if not you still have an out.
As stated in psychological subtleties, usually one wants to use such techniques to make a fail proof effect stronger but not as just an effect in itself unless one is harvesting, something I will cover in the sequel to PS1.
Welcome sir, to Magic Bunny, the best!
I was lucky to have Peter Warlock as a mentor years ago, who in turn put me onto Theo. What, if any, is your opinion of these two purveyors of the mental art?
I have the utmost respect for both their thinking and creativity styles. As we know, Anneman is required reading, so should Warlock be. Having not seen either perform I can't comment on performing styles. I am sure both were excellent in their chosen environments.
Hi Banachek. Warm welcome to Magic Bunny. Thanks for taking time off!
I am a magician myself, but I do not do so much of mentalism. As a magician, we're supposed to believe in what we do as magic, like we have to believe in magic ourselves before we can convince the audience that it is magic. And I've seen your interview on Unscrewed, and you kinda said one effect that you did is due to some sort of trickery. How come? Aren't mentalists very sensitive to the word tricks?
Hope you understood my question, and once again, thanks for your time!
Most mentalists are sensitive to the word "tricks". I rarely use that word myself unless in the context of adding "tricks like a tightrope worker uses to stay on the rope or a trick like piano player might use to remember notes."
I think most mentalists do not like the work trick or magic because they fell it takes away the mystery. However, I tell my audiences that I use my five senses to create the illusion of sixth (Ned Rutledge credit), that I use psychology, verbal and non-verbal communication, MAGIC, and perceptual manipulation. That nothing I do is psychic! I will not tell them what I am using for any particular effect, it might be a combination or it might be just one of those five things and the reason being is because I do not want to ruin the mystery.
Too many mentalists (in my opinion) want to run away from their magical past. I think Derren Brown has recently done a wonderful job of merging the two and respecting his magical past.
As for the direction mentalism is going. I suspect more to the non-claiming of psychic abilities. In this day and age of instance news it is easy to find out if someone is B'Sing you when they claim to be psychic.
I was watching a fascinating programme last night on the CIA, and Psychic spies. It was all covert, cloak and dagger conspiracy stuff, as per usual. I was wondering, have you ever had to stand in front of anyone and say, " well, look guys, I don't really do this, it's just a trick"?
I don't like the word "trick" but I think I get what you mean.
Yes I have. Especially when I have given lectures to high schools. In fact, in high schools I used to give a lecture starting out with a small performance. I would then ask how many thought it was real, 98 percent or so would raise their hands. I would then turn to the other 3 or 4 people and ask them each why they did not. Their statements where such like: "My dad told me it was not real." Or "I read somewhere that psychic stuff is not real." I would then tell them they were right, it was not real. They would smile, but then I would hit them with: "You are right but for the wrong reasons." I would then steer the talk into a direction that at least the other people saw something they could not explain and I had given them a plausible explanation, however they were taking someone else's word as fact. I would then go into an area of "It is sometimes the smartest tactic to say 'I DON'T KNOW" that it was okay to say you did not know something, It does not mean you are stupid, if fact quite the opposite. To say "I don't know" means you are smart enough not to fall into traps of coming to a conclusion just to look smart. There is a big difference between looking smart and being smart. And we would go on to some interesting discussions of peer pressure and so on from there.
I always state in my stage show that I am not a psychic. I have at times gone as far as to state that it is MY BELIEF that if anyone gets up on stage and does what I do and claim they are psychic, they are either lying to you or lying to themselves.
I believe that some mentalist rely upon people believing in what they do as real in order to be able to get away with the trickery. Kind of like when someone comes to see a hypnotist they are often pretty much pre-hypnotized and ready to go.
Once I worked on stage with Geller, his apparent trickery looked obvious to me, yet all those in attendance were pretty much the converted and no matter what he did, they did not see what I did because they did not want to. This was amazing to me. Geller could have stood on stage, taken a spoon between his hands and bent it out in the open (it appeared pretty much that way to me anyway) and they would have ate it up.
This is what many mentalists rely upon. I think a good mentalist who knows his craft does not have to rely upon this. So I have no problem telling someone presenting it that way. It not quite how I do it but it can be done. For fun I have told people that I will be using a trick to bend a fork, which it will look real and they will try to convince me it is. I then have gone on to do just that and yes they did and have tried to convince me it has to be real. Of course after I told them that, I went into the presentational mode as I performed that it was real. They forgot the trickery statement or just did not want to believe that they could be fooled so badly. I am not exactly sure which but I have my suspicions.
Sorry for rambling.
Mentalism seems to be all the rage at the minute, especially with the likes of Derren Brown catching the public's eye.
What do you think about this ' impact' of TV mentalism and what direction do you see mentalism going in the future?
I think I have answered this question elsewhere so will not cover it again other than saying that Mentalism has had a continued roller coaster ride as with any of our related arts. Copperfield goes on TV and everyone is doing and illusion. Doug Henning did a dancing cane as well as Donny Osmond and next thing you knew everyone was doing it.
Blaine did a levitation, next thing everyone is doing it however you already see a decline in the levitation and the biting coin.
Geller did metal bending, next thing you know everyone was.
Derren is the big thing in the UK right now, this will change over time.
It might take about 20 years or so, but I suspect that this trend will slow down with the next big phenomenon.
First, a very warm welcome to Magic Bunny. I hope you enjoy your time here!
Many mentalists insist on a distinction between 'mentalism' and 'mental magic'. Do you think this distinction is clear-cut and, if so, how important do you feel it to be?
I have given the idea much thought lately and have come to the simple conclusion that the difference is the performer and his presentation. Two performers can perform the same effect and for one it will look like magic and for the other it will look "psychic."
David Blaine is a perfect example of someone who can take something magical and make it look real. He does so with lack of magical presentation. He just does it and let's it speak for itself. No long stories or patter, it is just: "look at this impossible thing, I can't explain it, I just do it!"
Having stated this there are obviously some effects that will look magical no matter how you dress it up, but there are few that can can't be made to look "real" and that is the key. How do I make it look "real?" Blaine made it look "real." Maric made it look "Real."
If you look at many of the Indian Fakirs they performed standard magic but they were looked at as "real" not so much because of the ignorance in their respected countries but more due to how they presented themselves. Many fake evangelists took and take standard magic tricks, adapt them and make them look "real." Jim Jones was a perfect example of this.
Hi there Banachek and welcome!
A slightly off the wall question, apart from the 'normal gigs', you might have had the opportunity to perform in some unlikely places. If so, in your career to date, what's the weirdest/strangest venue you have performed in and how did it feel?
I used to perform in many makeshift comedy clubs. These consisted of hotel, nightclubs, basements and so on. The worse was a country Western Club across the street from an oil refinery. The stage was the dance floor with a huge support beam in the center around the corner from the main area of the bar, and no seats.
I have performed outside in raging winds. Not good for a mentalist who uses book, papers and envelops. I have performed outside in 110-degree heat (not good for a mentalist who wears a jacket to hold props.)
Probably the worse has been walk around. Once I performed at an outdoor party doing walk around. I was done with one table and turned around to go to another. I stepped into open airspace and promptly into the pool (full suit); I walked straight out the other side of the pool and up the steps like nothing happened. Felt like an idiot till the host told me, "We really need to light that pool you are the 6th person to have done that since we moved here. They gave me some swim trunks, a dry deck of cards, I had some extra index cards and was ready to go. At least I fit in now for the theme of the Hawaiian Luau.
I once performed upon a train from Houston to Galveston. I missed the train as it left the station but the stationmaster took me to an area further down the track where the train slowed almost to a crawl. I jumped on board. Much to the surprise of the hosts who could not understand how I could just appear on the train. They knew beyond any doubt I had not boarded with everyone else. I never told them.
I once performed at the Disney Swann Hotel in Florida. Five minutes into y act I realized that 95 percent of my audience did not speak English. I quickly brought up someone who could translate and made it through the show with some slight changes.
I once showed up for a gig and found out the audience unknown to me in advance (agent did not inform me) was at a nudist colony. Very, very distracting. Especially when you point out body language. You can imagine the things that were going through my mind.
Another time an agent booked me at a gay biker bar and did not tell me in advance.
The only show I refused to perform at was when I showed up and it was a kid's party (all three and four year olds) my stuff would not work for them. Luckily my price keeps me well out of these areas now.
Probably the most disturbing moment (not place) was the time I was doing a Bar Mitzvah. I was asked to involve the kid that was being celebrated. I decided to use him for a map routine. As I tore up the map I had him select a piece. I turned to the audience to discuss what had happened so far and they started to laugh, (at least some of them) I turned back to the kid to get the piece and he had the entire thing in his mouth chewing and swallowing it. That was the last time I ever performed at such an event other than the pre-dinner.
Many people who earn all or part of their living as 'psychics' are, in fact, well known (and often well liked and respected) in the mentalist community. How do you feel about the very close ties between many mentalists and avowedly fraudulent psychics? Can we, and should we, all be happy to work and socialise together in harmony or do associations between the mentalist and psychic fraternities compromise our honesty and integrity?
Wow, a loaded question if ever there was one.
I think there is enough room in the world for us to try to get along on some level however I do not think we should compromise our own beliefs and integrity as a result.
I am a friend with many I disagree with and do so quite openly. If they can see that I have the right to do so without getting personal, we can get along.
We all have someone in our family or a friend whose ethics we despise yet we don't hate the person. We don't accept what they do but we accept the person. Now there are extremes of this. Especially when it gets personal.
I never have a problem stating what I see as the truth and pointing out a lie as I see it and believe it to be. If someone is blatantly lying then by all means call him or her out on it. Just make sure it is not in the context of entertainment. Be careful in this area and make sure you understand fully the context. Of course this context can mean different things for different people but there are some very bold lines with this as well for example, if someone crosses over and starts to give personal advice or if someone starts to blur the edges of science and entertainment by going into a laboratory, these are definitive hard lines they have crossed over.
Having said that, I can only speak for me and what I should or should not do in any particular situation. What you do would be based upon your own standards for ethical behaviour.
For me a perfect example is my wife is devout catholic, I am not. I support her fully so long as she does not force her beliefs upon me. She has so many other incredible qualities that one area of her life does not make her whole. There is much more there to look at. Her intent with her belief is also taken into consideration by me.
Intent is often the gauge I use to decide if I will have respect for someone or not in this area we are discussing. I can respect someone but not agree with him or her or even like what they do when it comes to this area we are talking about.
I think part of the getting along comes from picking our fights. I am not so sure that there is as close relationship suggested by your post when it comes to outright intended fraud. I think almost any psychic entertainer I know would expose someone taking advantage of another human being by using such ruses as the Devil Egg or Pigeon drop type scenarios or the "your money is the root of all your evil, bring it to me so I can burn it all" and so on.
Here is the story I alluded to earlier and said I would post for those who are interested, it is copied from an old web site of mine that is now defunct, hence the third person description:
Buried Alive. October 31st 1998, The United States and Europe tuned in to watch a young man perform the impossible. A feat that almost killed the great Harry Houdini. Banachek was to be chained, shackled and locked in a Plexiglas coffin, lowered into a 9-foot hole and buried. Banachek would have two hours to extricate himself from the restraints and physically dig his way to the surface to safety. The weather this Halloween night was cold and rainy. IN fact it had rained for thirty-two hours straight. After a frightening one hour and forty-Seven minutes, Banachek emerged; he had succeeded where his predecessors had failed.
Since the special hosted by William Shatner, two people have died trying to repeat Banachek's incredible stunt, and Banachek vowed never to perform this difficult feat again unless the money was right. Well folks, the money was right and Banachek performed the stunt again on August 4th 1992 on Japanese soil. Once again it rained, only this time a small typhoon hit the Island of Tokyo. The hole was full of mud and had to be pumped clean before Banachek could perform the stunt, only thing was, the storm had left a small stream flowing in the bottom of the burial pit. But the show must go on and Banachek performed the stunt despite his new nickname, Rainman.
Since that time, I sent my tape to a well-known producer (this was shortly after Penn & Teller performed the bullet catch on World's Greatest Magic.)
This producer told me he loved the look of it but did not know how to bring it to TV in a short period of time. I told him I had some thoughts on that and if he was serious we should talk. I did not hear back, but less than a month I saw mention that a well know and liked (I like him too) was going to perform a buried alive. At the time I was suspicious as this producer was also the same one I had spoke to. But waited just to see. Yup, the way the fellow was handcuffed, was exactly like mine, the Plexiglas case, the bulldozers and everything on the tape was mine.
Well, I called the performer and he was truly sorry, in fact he called me back a few times. It was not his fault, seems the producer approached him with the idea. At first this performer was to appear driving one of the bulldozers. But that type of effect had been performed ad nausea and hence it reverted into my buried alive.
As a result, the performer and I became well acquainted. I never sent anything to that producer again (especially since a few things from my pal Dean Gunnerson had been pilfered as well.)
So all well that ends well, and that is the basic history of my buried alive. I would like to perform it one more time before I am too old on my own TV special.
The producer who is mentioned above has since passed away.
This my version of an old Eddie Joseph effect. I love his thinking.
I once posted it elsewhere, and sent a copy on to Teller, he liked it enough to put his own presentation together for his book, How To Play In Traffic, also available at my site. I gave them a few other things for the book too but that is another story.
I thought you would enjoy it so reposting it here in the spirit of the season! Have fun.
Okay, I want you to get a deck of cards. It must be a full deck. Remove the jokers, in fact, throw them away.
Now remove all the odd cards this includes the Kings and Jacks.
Set the even cards off to the side in a pile for now.
Pick up the odd cards and shuffle them, now look at the top card and the bottom card and add the values together, Aces would be one, Jacks eleven and Kings thirteen.
Now set the odd cards face down to the side and pick up the even pile. Note the card at that position from the top in the deck down while keeping the cards in the same order.
In other words, if the total number of the two odd cards were 18, you would remember the 18th card down in the even pile keeping the cards in the same random order.
Now let us review the situation up to this point. The odd packet is on the table. And the even pack is in your hands face down. You have two things in mind. One; a certain number and two; a playing card.
If I was in hearing distance I could tell you what that card is. On the other hand, I could wait until I hear from you then disclose the identity of the card. But this might take too long as it is Christmas and I have relatives to visit and I do not have time to answer all of you. I could, of course tell you right here what that card is, but then you would lose interest and not care to try this little experiment out.
Therefore I propose to do better... I shall try to find that card even though several miles separate us. I know you don't believe such a thing is possible but I shall prove it to you in the next few minutes.
Oh, I forgot one instruction; you will need a full deck to continue so please place the ODD packet of cards on top of the even cards in your hand.
Have you placed the ODD cards on top of the EVEN pile?? Good!
Now deal out in a row a number of cards face up corresponding with the total number you have in mind (the total of the two odd cards you added earlier). I am asking you to do this because I wish to impress that number deeper in your mind this number is your mystic number.
Have you got the row of cards in front of you?? As I wish you to identify your personality with mine and the cards lying in that row, please spell out my name
S T E V E N B A N A C H E K
Lay out one card from the top of the deck on the face up cards for each letter of my name. If by chance you do not complete the spelling by the time you cover the last face up card in the row, do continue again with the first card and carry through until finished.
Done spelling my name? Good. Now look at the top card of the deck. Bet you thought that was going to be your card. No, Sir! Put it back on top it's not that simple. I have a wish for you this holiday season and for it to come true you need to spell out the wish, deal one card as before for each letter of my wish below.
H A P P Y H O L I D A Y S
Right, now cross your fingers and think of your card. Now turn over the top card of the deck. What do you see? Don't bother calling to tell me, I know.
It is my wish for you.
As we get closer to the New Year you can change Happy Holidays to "A happy new Year" or any sentence that has 13 letters.
Oh, one more thing. For this effect I used Steven Banachek however in the real world my name is Steven Shaw, my stage name is not Steven Banachek, it is just Banachek. In other words my stage name is Banachek and my real name includes the Steven.
In another topic, you stated:
"I personally do not like long routines ... However, I think the strongest pieces of mentalism one can see performed are the simple direct examples ... It is the simple direct items that people remember.
I like to think when people go home after seeing my show they can describe each element of my show. "He had three people stand, think of cards and told them via their body language exactly what cards they were thinking of. He told a lady her social security number and another her birth date."
In order to get this simplicity and directness of effect, how much of your work is pre-show? What are your thoughts on the pros and cons of doing pre-show word? Any sources you would recommend on learning more about pre-show work?
I have one item that I use in my shows that is pre-show. I used to perform my Q&A that way, non-clipped but still pre-show. No longer. Only because it is a pain in the butt to set things up ahead of time.
Those that saw me lecture in the U.K at the Asylum and the Circle saw me talk briefly about how to present pre-show. The Key is not to act like you are hiding anything or changing anything to the person you are pre-showing when it comes time for the reveal in the show. However, for me to state "prior to the show I spoke to so and so" is the kiss of death only because you are now asking the audience to take your work no hanky panky was going on. It matters not if you ask the other person to agree with your statements.
I go into depth on this in the new PS2 and would love to discuss more here but this is a fairly open board and feel a little uncomfortable doing so.
Hope you understand.
I think Mark Strivings has a book called "Before the curtain rises" I think it is Mark. I have not read the book so can't vouch for it but I am sure it has some good pointers. Correct me if I am wrong on the author please (anyone). It might be John Riggs. I do know the title is right.
Not that I wish to pressurize you but I should, of course, point out that you would be always very welcomed to visit the Secret Area of Magic Bunny.
Yup, it is indeed by Mark Strivings.
Thanks I thought it belonged to my Pal Strivings. I do know Riggs has some writings on it as well, hence the slight confusion.
Firstly may I say it's a great privilege to have you on the board.
Now a question that has caused a few heated debates on this board has concerned exposure of mentalism. However just recently this has been debated not reference the more normal TV or Internet type exposure, but some have complained at the likes of the Osterlind DVD set.
The argument summed up appears to be that DVDs like these make the secrets of mentalism too easily accessible. Do you have any firm views on the subject?
For the record I personally don't agree and love the opportunity to learn from this type of format and with such quality teachers.
For easy reference, that discussion can be found using the search function on these forums.
I am well aware of the argument, Richard is a good friend, I have others on the other side of the argument as well. I fully understand the feelings of those who feel it is a bad thing. I am not sure what the answer is.
I think what he has on the DVD's is already readily available. He just shows how to perform it, or more that it can be performed.
Our business is a roller coaster ride. In a few years Illusions or close up or maybe even mime (just kidding) will be the new fad.
I don't think people should be pointing their finger at Osterlind (just my opinion) but they should be pointing at those who just can't get enough tricks. Knowledge just for the sake of knowing how it is done is not the way to support mentalism. A teaching tool (to me) is not a bad thing, but needs to be used wisely.
The other thing that people seem to be upset about with this series is the fact that a lot of the material belongs to others like Anneman, his contributors and Corinda and his. This is true but most of this stuff is in the public magic domain, just like so much is derivative of Tarbel (you might be amazed at how much). I am sure people had the same problem with Tarbel, Corinda and Anneman when they came out for much the same reasons as Richard. People had a problem with the Ammar tapes and other teaching tapes for the amount of easy access information. I suspect most who get these will forget them much like the exposures of the magic on the Masked Magician shows or the Becker shows. The knowledge will sift through their minds. Those who get something from them will probably be those who entertain and make money.
Too many mentalists forget and want to hide their magic backgrounds. I understand why, but don't think it right (again, just my opinion and maybe I have said too much.)
I hope I have not insulted anyone with my answers but I was asked the question and have been as frank as I can be here. I have much more to say on this but this is good for now as I just arrived home 2 minutes ago.
It's just a personal belief of mine that mentalism can be classed as the last 'true' magic. All because of one thing. The enormous ' emotional' impact it has on the spectators.
The new ' Osterlind' series is not about Osterlind. The whole project could have been taken upon by another performer.
It's just seems to be a bit unfair to mentalism that everything has suddenly become available on a little round disc.
I can see people treating the whole DVD scene of mentalism with the same attitude towards magic.
" Right... I am learning tricks instead of the art!"
The difference is that mentalism should not be treated as such, as in tricks. It is so much more than that and I feel the producers of the latest Osterlind DVD series are just exploiting the current phase of in vogue mentalism. Maybe it's just me, but in mentalism...there is nothing EASY TO MASTER.
It's not just you, Gary.
I have read most of the Osterlind effects years ago but never got round to doing much mentalism...Having watched his DVD's along with Banachek's has given me a new lease of life. I don't think this is a bad thing. My grandkids love the new Magic granddad, who can now find out things in an interesting and exciting way. To me it makes for better entertainment, and let's face it, that's what it's all about
Thanks for your considered opinion.
I think it's a shame that such useful teaching tools are considered exposure by some. I suppose it's always going to be a thorny issue to decide exactly where the line is drawn.
It's interesting that the people that complain about these DVDs don't seem so concerned about the regular magic DVDs.
I don't want to stifle debate, folks, but remember that we already have a discussion on this topic on these boards It would probably be better to carry on the debate in that thread, leaving this thread for Banachek's comments.
I agree, it does in some way appear to cheapen our art, however I am not sure it will hurt our art in the long run. I suspect as a result of this work we will see a few incredible performers get their start that we will all look up to. If Richard was to put these out one at t a time (each effect on the DVD) I suspect that man would not be as upset yet it would be the same thing.
It is the performer who will make it look like a bag of tricks or take it to the next level and present the effect in such a way as to make it look real.
How often have you seen a non-magician perform an effect, a simple effect, but in such a way as to blow you away. An effect you know the method of, yet he does it in such a way as to really blow all there who see it away. I have seen this. Usually it is the only trick the person knows and hence he puts all his heart and soul into it. This is what I mean by the performer either devaluing it to a trick or a miracle.
I am not sure what the answer is. I do think there is more fuss about this than meets the eye. Just like the exposure shows. I hated them but kept my mouth shut, I knew that more exposure and talk about them would promote them and it did.
Not comparing Richards's recent work in any way with this. These are two different birds. One is teaching the other is exposure to the masses.
I also suspect that many of those who complain about these DVD's will be performing some of these effects as a result of seeing Richard performing them. This is a little hypocritical if you ask me. And if one does this then they need to rethink the value of the DVD's.
I have a feeling that there are some very strong personal reactions to these DVD's and as a result I suspect this will be my last post on this, simply because I don't know what the real answer is, time will tell and I fully understand both sides of the issue. It truly is a catch-22.
This is my farewell question and it may be difficult to answer!
It is also difficult to put into words, so I hope I convey this properly!
How would you, personally, define the difference between a mentalism effect and a magic effect on how they affect an audience?
Hmm, a very hard question to ponder. I have been amazed at the quality of thought provoking questions we have had here compared to other boards I have been on.
I would suspect a really good magic effect; trick or what have you is perceived as the same as a good mentalism effect and just as mind numbing. It is amazing how many people asked over the years, how did Copperfield predict peoples thoughts (graffiti wall) or even the more ludicrous appearing question of "Did he really make the statue of liberty disappear?" Look at David Blaine, he performs magic tricks yet many think or thought he was the real genuine thing, that he did real magic. And that is the key I think, real magic vs. a magic trick. This again all goes back to presentation or lack of it in many instances. It goes back to K I S S A T I T . Meaning, Keep It Simple, Stupid And Think It Through.
I think "Real Magic" Affects the audience the same as a mentalism effect. It is why we have the term, mental magic, to cover those effects that just don't look quite real.
It is another reason why I don't think mentalists should shun or hide their magic background. If it was good magic and looked like "Real Magic" they should be proud of it. Magic has many different meanings to many different people. To some religious it means evil. However really magic did not take the name "magic" (trick magic that is as we do it) till not so long ago in the terms of history of what we do. Prior we were known as Jugglers.
Not sure I really answered this question, as it is a very slippery one and personal. My problem with personal answers is I try to see things from many different sides. Doing that enables me to make personal decisions about where I stand from my own ethical standpoint. It also enables me to open many other ideas that would not be available if I was just to shut a door and not look at something from another point of view once in a while. For instance, I have come up with many things that would benefit readers although I would never do a reading per say. Yet the exercise has always been enlightening.
Hello again Banachek!
I hope you have a great Thanksgiving weekend!
Mentalism seems to be the "New Black" and I for one (with my chequebook!) have done my bit to help this along. It has become my area of preferred focus.
Many magicians perform "dangerous" magic as you have. Maybe not everyone is willing to be buried alive, but there are a plethora of "Russian Roulette" type effects out there as well as "Bullet Catch" variations (from comic to full-on). There has always been real appeal in the challenge effect where peril is but a hairs breadth away.
Are there any effects in terms of mentalism that you feel mirror this dramatic vehicle? Is there peril in mind magic?
Actually Russian Roulette started in the mentalism arena. Fogel had his Russian Roulette, there were a plethora of acid monties (Kayes handbook of mental magic had a version), I was the first to perform a Russian roulette with knives (also did a gun version and an acid version in the same show by the way). Fogel also had the Cheating the Gallows done in a mental show context. So really, as I see it, the Russian Roulette them was a mental effect prior to the magic world adopting it.
This takes us back to some of the other questions about the ease and availability of magicians to access mental effects now and the diluting of mental effects in the magic market place. This is the fear that some mentalists have, that mental effects will now become known and associated with straight magic. Say "magician" and sadly people think immediately 'kid show magician with a rabbit, hat and tails', (not that there is not a place for this and not to belittle those who do kid shows for a living. There is nothing wrong with this but magic can be so much more as well.)
Anyway, prior to my usual tangent, to answer your question above and below, yes, it started in my mind with mentalism.
You asked; "Are there any effects in terms of mentalism that you feel mirror this dramatic vehicle? Is there peril in mind magic?"
Hi again Banachek,
When I was in High School I was one of Dr. Sean O' Donnell's subjects for his research and experimentation in what he refers to as 'Future Memory', or quite literally the ability to 'remember' the future.
He would have me sit isolated in a room and try to predict the outcome of a Red or Black possibility time and time again. He believed that it is a skill which can be 'trained' and something that we humans are losing as we live in a desensitised world where we have to rely less and less on our intuitive skills.
Amazingly, at the beginning, the results averaged only 44% correct as opposed to the expected around 50%, yet after 'practice' myself and another subject were regularly recording successes of 75% and over!
I just wondered what, if any, still unproven supposedly 'genuine' psychic phenomena intrigue you?
Kind Regards, and thanks for a very entertaining and informative visit.
It definitely intrigues me.
Years ago, some parapsychologists used to state that the reason that there is no documented evidence of ESP under control conditions was because of the psychic abilities of sceptics. In other words the fact that they did not believe caused their "powers" to go back in time and negate the results. "Their scepticism was just so strong."
There was even a name for the supposed phenomenon but I can't recall it at the moment. It probably in one of the parapsychology dictionaries.
But back to the documentation that does exist, I would love to hear more about it. How many rounds did they perform? Odds dictate there will be some abnormalities as a result when one finds something positive, heavy future experimentation should definitely be performed to make sure it was or is not just the odds working in the favor of PSI and that it is indeed the genuine thing. Did they do further testing? If so, I would love to hear about it. I am also intrigued by the fact the hypothesis was it would get better with training and it appeared to do just that.
If you scroll to the bottom of this page, there is a little more info on Dr. O' Donnell's work.
I hope it helps.
I am no cynic when it comes to this ability. I've seen and experienced it at first hand.
The most difficult aspect however is that the parameters and conditions for successful results are so tight.
Predicting with nothing at stake (I.e. NOT in a casino) can be learned (relearned) reasonably quickly, but when you have 'something to lose', e.g. Money, then the psychological pressure of that fudges up the results easily.
Once again, thanks for a great visit. I hope you can come back and do it all again sometime.
Good luck with all of your future ventures and endeavours.
Do you think that PK silverware has achieved its objectives in making people believe that fact that people can bend metal with their mind? If it were possible, what would you change about it to make it, in your opinion, better?
My purpose in PK silverware was not to convince more people; maybe I misunderstood your question.
My purpose on the tape was as a teaching tool and to get credit for some of my ideas that others where incorporating in their tapes and DVD's
On the tape, the emphasis was more on the teaching and less on the being real. When I perform the effects myself, I have a lot more drama and emphasize on making it look real. Eliciting feelings from the person or persons on stage with me and creating a feeling or emotion if you will of it being real (all in context of the stage show or close up I am working of course).
As a result it sometimes amuses me when people state that on the DVD's I did not act like it was real. That was not the purpose of the DVD's, it was to impart information on how to get away with the bends and make the bends themselves look real, not how to make yourself look real, these are two distinct different aims.
Hope that makes sense. Maybe someday on a DVD I will show the difference and teach how to make you look genuine versus making it look like a trick. Such a section could be beneficial to anyone performing mentalism.
Thanks a lot for that reply Banachek! You understood my question correctly!
PS Sorry I couldn't reply you earlier, I had a camp with my school!
Thank you, I will be out most of today, in the U.S. today is thanksgiving and I have to go to my daughters.
But thanks so much for your insightful questions.
As I have stated before, I really enjoyed this DVD and use some of the techniques. I found Gerry inherently annoying on this and it almost ruined the DVD for me. Was his part to play to "dumb" magician so all questions could be answered?
(Side note: I'm doing a ten-minute oral presentation on the Alpha Project at University on Monday.)
This was his intent, I was not aware of this intent up front as he decided to do that as we started. As we continued through the project I was aware of it. Gerry has a great ability to improve. Sometimes it is brilliant other times annoying. My only problem on this was it sometimes through my timing off, however he did bring up some good points with being simple minded so to speak. Some people loved it, some hated it. I guess it was just one of those things.
As Shaun stated, some people (on other forums) really hated the fact that he made comments so they reduced their overall rating down. They said, however, that it was a pity because the moves shown in the DVD were good.
The thing I look about in DVD's or videos is if I learnt anything. I don't really care about the quality or the nuances they try on each DVD or even the layout. Although all those things can enhance the experience I realize I am not watching a movie or a TV show, it is a learning experience and do the learning contents leave me enhanced.
HD, layout, editing and such are all secondary benefits to me.
That's a great way for what to look for when picking out magic DVDs! Great idea!
Thank you so much for taking the time to be here and answering the questions so thoroughly. I have been out of town for a bit and before leaving I stopped at my favourite magic shop to see what book I might pick up to take with me on the trip. When mentioning that I was leaning towards something in mentalism two others in the shop said something to the effect of...."Banachek......or Annemann? Both are great reading"
I suppose with your name coming up so much currently in my pursuit of knowledge of mental effects, I have to wonder how far back this interest went for you and when it began. In looking through your web site I noted your participation in the McDonnell lab experiments in 1979 and the reference to you as a "part time mentalist" at 18.
My question to you is can you describe your beginnings that ultimately led you to pursue mentalism, was there an event or a moment of realisation or that moment of "ah ha?" Who or what inspired you and when?
I hope this is not a redundant question, as I believe I have read all of the questions so far and did not see a biography on your web site. If so, please feel free to move on to others, as I know the time is running short.
One more question. Your site only lists the 2004 tour schedule. Will it be updated soon?
Thanks once more.
My interest was started really back in 1976 when I read Randi's book "the truth about Uri Geller"
By 1979 I was pretty much a full time mentalist despite the fact I still had a couple of other jobs, by 1981 I had no side jobs and just started performing.
I was always interested in new ideas even when very young. I invented a move to fool people when I played football. I quickly learned that if I stepped to the right, people would spread their legs and I could pass the ball through their legs and run around them. (Same for stepping to the left), I once was fascinated by a magician I saw at a school function and do remember going home and constructing a way to make a silk disappear into an egg. I was always fascinated by ways to fool people with unique ideas for some reason but the real passion started late (compared to most) at the age of almost 16.
I have just been asked to 'MC' at a charity Function (for disabled kids) and the host has asked that I perform some 'Psychological Entertainment' for the adults just before I introduce the next guest. Now I have a few ideas including the Chair selection from Pre Thoughts and a drawing dupe using the Symbology Pack(possibly), but is there any type effects that I should steer clear of and do you have any advice or experience doing this kind of thing.
By the way the Children will be entertained by a kids' entertainer.
Thanks in advance.
Also I found Gerry quite annoying on PK Silverware but looked beyond that and I still rate as the best Metal Bending stuff out there!
When they state "psychological Entertainment" I suspect they are talking about Derren Brown like. In other words so long as you give a psychological feel to it you will be fine.
As an MC you can usually get away with short bits. For instance you could use Gauci's Eye to eye to good laughter. I would suggest two bits in the beginning one quick and to the point to let them know who you are, and one longer item. You could also close with a longer item as well at the end. Keep the other bits short in between the other items you are introducing. If you can somehow tie them in with what is coming up, the entire better. For instance, Bruce Bernstein has an effect using the Paul Curry switch that is called Eat At Joes. In other words the letters spell this out at the end. Look it up.
There is no reason not to use Pre-show in this environment. Like if you were going to do the Picture dupe you talked about. MC'ing leads itself nicely to this. Depending upon if you are introducing acts like bands or not, Q&A gives you nice fill time and flexibility if you need it. Let's say you a quick effect, and they need more time to set up, you can do another one of your Q&A bits.
MC'ing is very different than a regular show, as you do not have to have a build to your performance; each bit is singular since you have others coming up in between you. I would suggest keeping most of your bits short and to the point. Your job is to keep the show moving, not slow it down. A quick tossed out deck, a pic dupe, eye-to-eye three or four times for money. Basically lots of standard stuff but add plenty of humor. The main reason for this is if you are introducing boring speakers, you will be the breath of fresh air. Tell a joke or two instead of doing a trick a couple of times. MC'ing is fun, keep it so.
As for staying away from anything, yes, in this context stay away from long routines. You do not have the time for it. As said, your job is to keep things moving. Have a few lines ready for when things go wrong, like mic problems, a speaker dropping something. Make sure you ask each speaker in advance if there is anything you need to stay away from. Nothing could be worse than telling a joke and finding out later that the next guest was controversial in that area, like a joke about a mistress and the big scandal in the company was the fact the guy was and is seeing his secretary. As a result it is often good to ask your hostess as well if there are any areas you need to stay away from with the speakers that you will introduce. You don't want to be doing an effect with coke if the next speaker represents Pepsi so go over you list way in advance, get a copy of the list. Learn a few things about each person so you will feel very relaxed when it comes time to introduce them. Even if you use none of the information. Treat MC'ng like the folks are in your living room and you are the host of the party. Keep in mind people are sitting for hours (if this is the an all-day event) do things where they can all stand up or all interact with each other.
As I said, your job is to keep the event light and moving along. You do this and you will be the star of the show. You slow it down and you will be the reason the event failed. MC'ing is a lot of responsibility, but a lot of fun.
Thanks again for the great questions. Not sure I answered exactly what you were asking but hope some of this helps.
This is just to remind you that Banachek's time will be coming to an end very soon. If you have any burning questions, please get them posted by tonight so that he may have an opportunity to respond before the end of the weekend.
This has been a thoroughly amazing week and I have certainly enjoyed reading the questions and replies of all the posts in this forum - I hope that you have too.
A very warm thank you to Banachek for his input so far, to what has been a remarkable week of thoroughly enjoyable discussions.
It has been fun, I appreciate everyone being so polite, especially when it comes to the controversial topics that sometimes lead to very heated discussions. You guys were very, very cordial and I will not forget that.
I'd like to add my sincere thanks. Banachek has been a wonderful and memorable guest. It has been fascinating to read his detailed and insightful answers to a huge variety of different questions.
It really has been a great pleasure and privilege to have you visit us, sir.
This has been one of the best guest speaker spots in the history of Magic Bunny!
Thanks for being for being so open and forthright with your replies.
It has made for a very impressive read.
I'm sure that every single one of us learnt something from this.
Thank you for visiting Magic Bunny Banachek!
All of the above.
Thank you very much Banachek.
Perhaps you'd like to re-visit us in the future?
Thank you very much for taking time out for your busy schedule.
Just a quick post to add to the thanks.
First time I've ever actually posted a question to one of our guests, inspired by the frank and open contribution by you.
From an Old'un in the pack may I say what a pleasure it was to have a gentleman on board to answer all our questions. From my point of view, It has certainly enhanced your already first class reputation. When you decide to do a UK Visit, please let us know.
The last week has been a massive spot for our guest speaker, Banachek. The entire interview is HUGE! Thank you Banachek for taking your time with us and giving the frank and honest answers that you have...You are certainly an amazing man and deserving of all the accolades that you receive from our industry.
I am indebted.
This is possibly the Guest Speaker that his forum received some many topic/posts! Amazing.
Appreciated that you 're here, Banachek. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your replies.
Sleightly Magical Tom
Thanks for sharing your wisdom Banachek!
I would just like to add my thanks - particularly for the depth of the replies and even replies-to-replies.
No doubt Mr Credit Card will be purchasing the PSI DVD's very soon.
I just wanted to add my thanks as well. There aren't many people that would take the time and consideration that you did to answer our questions. It's been a fascinating week.
I would like to offer a very warm vote of thanks to Banachek for being our "Special Guest" over the past few days.
This has been the most incredible week. I cannot recall any other of our previous quests creating such a stir and generating such a wide range of threads and discussions. We have been incredibly lucky throughout the past three years on Magic Bunny to scoop some most amazing guests and I am grateful for everything that they have all contributed but you have set a new benchmark for future guests – it really has been the most incredible appearance.
Thank you Banachek for spending the last week on our boards in the role of a Special Guest. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your input and I know that many of our members have learnt a great deal from your words. There has been an incredible buzz on these boards over the past five days and this forum has generated some of the most astounding discussions.
My postbag has swelled over the past week or so, initially with correspondence full of excitement about your pending visit and then with further correspondence praising the activity and standard of contributions in this forum. I am so very thankful for all that you have done for these boards in the past five days.
Thank you so very much.
I would also like to thank Steve for his time here. I haven't posted a lot because I thought that a lot of the things he dealt with wouldn't apply to me. After reading all of his posts and re-reading his website I have most definitely changed my mind. Thanks for your time Banachek; you're a true commodity.
I just want to say that it has indeed been my pleasure to spend the week here, it went by quite fast. The questions were fascinating and as I said elsewhere, way above the usual quality of other boards I have appeared on.
Thanks once again for making if fun and thanks for making me think, it is always a good thing to do.
Damn - Nigel beat me to it this time!
I have not been participating on the posting - but rest assured this has all made fantastic reading.
A great big thank you for all you time - and entertainment!
It has been out of this world!
I'm not famous yet, but I make it my point to meet as many successful people as possible to both increase my potential network, and to learn as much as I can from my potential network, and to learn as much as I can from them in my constant pursuit for success myself. Someone once said, "Take a millionaire out to lunch." Well, we were fortunate enough to have you for an entire week. Of all the people I have ever met and out of all the people I have ever learned from, you are definitely up there at the top of my list. Thank you for taking some time off to share your wisdom with us. Anyone who didn't read any of your posts are fools; there is something there for everyone, even if their only goal in life is to sell rail passes at the station.
On behalf of all the other members of Magic bunny, thanks a lot Banachek! It has really been great to have you here on these boards.
Many thanks from myself, also. You have truly been a great guest speaker and even, though, I did not take place in the discussions, I thoroughly enjoyed reading them.
That's all I can say, I don't have the talent Nigel has by writing so strongly.
Thanks for the help.
I wasn't around over the weekend, but I have thoroughly enjoyed this last week and, though I've thanked him a few times already, thanks again to Banachek for taking the time to speak to us. It's been great hearing from such an innovative performer.
I have also thanked you for being with us over the last week Banachek, but, again, thank you! It has been a great privilege to read your in depth and well thought answers, which are a mark of your professionalism. May life give you everything you could ever want!
Once again, many, many thanks. Please feel free to call by and see us in Bunny from time to time.