• Some secret tools on the very surface seem confusing or unworthy of consideration.

    Often those are the principles most worthy.

    Wonder Words is now considered “mainstream” but I can’t begin to tell you of all the Haters there were when it was first released. Many “names” and “experts” just didn’t get it. Not right away.

    The same can be said of the book “Mystery By Association”

    Maybe a few quick examples of what association is generally may whet your appetite.

    When you read the title to this article, did you read it as “WTF is ‘Mystery by Association’”? Look at the title again. Is there an “is” there, as some politicians might say? No, there is not in this case, but chances are you imagined there was an “is” in the title. Why? You put the “is” in the title, due to common associations. Even if you did not see it, to read the title you may have well forced yourself to put it in, even if it did not actually exist, just so you could make sense of the title.

    That’s part of the trick of the principle of “association”. Based on past experience and our own beliefs we add things that do not exist to reality and then wonder how we are deceived. That is a part of “association”.

    Here’s another obvious association that has to do with the title. WTF does WTF mean? You probably already have an association to these letters, and it probably isn’t “What’s The First” or “Where’s The Fun in”. If you can make no sense whatsoever of the title, it is because you have NO ASSOCIATION to the letters WTF together and so it has no meaning.

    We create meaning often simply by association. Still doubt that? OK, let’s take a current entertainment example.

    The band U2 is on tour right now. The first single of their new CD didn’t do all that well in the States some say because it lacked deeper meaning. It had a great bass line, but it had no depth. U2 is known in no small part for being associated with both unique sound and deeper meaning.

    So a song with the main focus of someone putting on their “sexy boots” is a bit mundane and rather silly to many U2 fans.

    Now imagine that U2 on tour is going to play the song live about putting on those sexy boots. They need the song to sell better, and they know part of the problem is a lack of deeper meaning to their audience. It will play fine enough live, but that won’t fix the long term status of the song and sales of it.

    Let’s imagine U2 fixed this by creating depth through visual imagery. As they play the song about “put on your sexy boots”  there are images on the stage screens of soldiers putting on their boots, armies marching instep, battles with boots stuck in mud, people kicking in doors with their boots and so on.

    Suddenly the song has depth. The song seems to be about something more than the surface lyrics. The visual imagery suggests that putting on sexy boots is really an anti-force, anti-war song.

    Now the song connects with their audience, and it becomes far more popular.

    I am not suggesting that U2 has come to me for any such advice, nor do I suggest they take my advice in this matter. I mean to make a strong argument using something many people are familiar with right at this moment.

    Pink Floyd of course made strong use of Jungian imagery mixed with their music to huge success.

    All of this depth in meaning comes about by simple association. It’s one thing for Bono to stand up and say directly “no war” or “no poverty”. It is another matter when the audience comes to this themselves as they make their own inner connections to two opposing ideas: war imagery and lyrics about “sexy boots”. U2 has indeed made indirect and direct association using visuals on screen to help support their primary issues in the past.

    This is not meant to be a commentary pro or con about U2 (although I happen to like them). I mean simply to point out that there is great power in the tool of association.

    Learning to use association can help you connect deeper with an audience, cause audience members to come up with their own meanings so they agree with what you are doing (as opposed to preaching at them or your performance being entirely devoid of meaning), find ways to sensible and easy routining, get people to perceive things that are not physically true and much more.

    If even U2 might be helped by the use of this principle of association, imagine what it might do for you.

    How’s that for starters?

    You can read more about “Mystery By Association” here:

    http://tinyurl.com/mysterybyassociation

    Or search it on my website at www.wonderwizards.com

    Kenton

  • 10 Jun 2009 /  Uncategorized

    Instant Gratification Is Not Equal To Instant Qualification

    The QUEST that goes into finding certain methods is part of the magical JOURNEY.  One cannot grab the Grail without slaying a demon or going through certain portals of passage. While some in a magic club or website may have made their way with some real effort, others have just “found it” by seeming accident, and have little respect for any such things. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen club members pull out a tape measure and write down dimensions of another performer’s prop, or get an email asking for “more details” so they don’t have to pay for the secret.

    These days I see people expecting instant results, free if possible and with very little respect given to those who’ve been around for decades.  When I grew up in magic (and I still am…) I did not call the Names in magic on the phone to tell them off or to ask them for free advice or as a way to get what I needed without having to study or read or think for myself.  I didn’t want to make myself a fool in their eyes.  I respected their time and their energy. I didn’t wish to appear arrogant, ignorant or just plain stupid.

    Now I see many people who have no awareness of whether or not they are looking as if they are idiots. Lack of respect is expected, as is instant gratification.  Study is close to work and so many want nothing to do with that! “Give me, and now!” is the new demand.

    Yet, magical illusion is akin to its esoteric brother.  “Secrets” of what some deem as “Ancient Wisdom” have also been revealed without proper preparation of the reader.  Having these secrets handed to such folks have not increased their understanding.  They have surface education or instruction only.  They KNOW little, if anything.

    The difference, I suppose, is that in magical illusion such people try and book themselves as performers when they are not. They hurt others, as well as themselves.

    Cynicism has made it appropriate to ignore such things as Quests and Journeys.  I think this is not helpful, nor anywhere near as “rational” as some may purport it to be.

    As we give up the magic in magic, we make way for these sort of egoistic pitfalls.  There have always been non-professionals in magic clubs.  That has not been the trouble historically.  Lack of respect for those who have gone before, lack of willingness to work and travel a magical journey to arrive at a peak of new knowledge – that may be the significant difference.  There is knowledge gained by falling off the cliff and knowing for a fact what you should and should not do.  There is seeming knowledge when you have been told there is a ledge and not to walk off it.  This is know-ledge, not knowledge.  You know all right, but you don’t really KNOW.

    This is why so much of what is selling these days at magic dealers is about seeming knowledge and not a true journey into awareness.  Dealers tend to sell what will sell and what sells most is not deep thinking, but the appearance of deep thinking.  Rarely do the true insights sell as much as how to more quickly and easily appear to understand the real secrets of magical performance.

    Not everyone in a club or buying from a website is a performer and certainly not all professional performers.  They need not be.  But for such fine folks to get more than the basics handed to them on a silver or golden platter (or Youtube) is akin to receiving the Holy Grail without taking on step of the journey themselves.

    You can hold the cup friends, and admire its apparent beauty.  But only The Few will comprehend The Glory.  All you have to do to be one of The Few is work at it, and be willing to take the journey it takes to get there. It’s not that some of us are so much more special. It’s simply that we took care to take a real journey, within and without, not merely make demands like a spoiled child.

    Being The Few isn’t due to withholding something from others either.  Symbolic tales mean to suggest that preparation must be made before one can receive the greater gift.  Without such preparation, the unwitting often go to their deaths, and take others with them. So the stories go. So may better magic and mentalism go too, under the guise of progress and better teachers.

    Perhaps a return to respect for The Quest, and those who take It, might be in order.  Maybe it has gone to a far enough to an extreme now that some will grasp that giving deeper knowledge to anyone who has not proven their ability to handle such secrets, has very real consequences.

    For everyone.

    But then again, only those who have taken the time to KNOW would know that.

    And we are all still learning.

    Besides, I first wrote this in 2003. It’s gotten worse, not better, when it comes to those willing to seek the higher work and the pause for deeper thought.

    I salute those who take the Journey to magic, and pray there will be more, as a way of Return.  I raise a cup to your own Quest, my friends.

    Cheers – To Those Who Journey With True Passion and Honest Study

  • Kolossal Killer Help

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    13 Apr 2009 /  Uncategorized

    Every year people write me saying they have their own twist on my trick “Kolossal Killer”. I don’t save all of those emails. Each year I write back a thank you note, and that’s the end of it.

    But this year, with your help… Over the next few weeks I will be collecting ideas from others about what they do with Kolossal Killer and K.E.N.T.

    I am looking for novel use of the Original Kolossal Killer, the Killer Wallet Set and the effect and method of K.E.N.T.

    What is needed: Novel presentations, unusual handlings, new methods or applications, things not already out in any of my other work. If you sent me something previously (before March 09) assume I do not have it and would like to see what you sent again!

    Send your ideas to me in a WORD or TEXT DOCUMENT and be sure to include your name in that document exactly as you wish it to be published! Be certain your name as you wish to be credited is in the same document as your ideas – not in some other place or in the email body.

    What is not needed: Minor adjustments or things others have already done, unless it is your own work.

    When this is needed: As soon as possible! Many have already been sending in their ideas, and I don’t want to wait too much longer. So get your ideas to me soon now.

    What will happen then? Your ideas may be included in a new updated version of Killer Konceptions and/or K.E.N.T. If your ideas are included naturally you will get full credit. You may also be eligible for a free or discounted PDF version of the book once it is finished.

    Not all ideas will make it in. I am looking for the very best, most innovative and useful ideas possible.

    So don’t delay. Send me your ideas now to:  kenton@wonderwizards.com

    I look forward to YOUR ideas now – but please get them to me very soon. If you wonder if you already missed out on your chance to be included, drop me an email at the address above to check. Please don’t assume you ran out of time, or that you were or were not included.

    This time… I want to see your own “Killer” ideas !

    Until Then, My Thanks

    Kenton

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  • Tricks or Tools

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    We all know what are the hot sellers these days. Most of these items look great on youtube. In real life situations they might be entirely impractical. But what the sellers care most about is selling – not practicality.

    The other night my friend Banachek and I were talking about what we both try to teach to performers. Neither one of us really cares to teach fly-by-night trickery.

    What we are passionate about is not sexy in any flash-in-the-pan way. We care less about the fast buck and the quick trick than teaching actual principles.

    Banachek says he calls “principles” by the name “tools” because that is what we both care to do. We both wish to provide tools to others that can be used in a great variety of ways – rather than teaching a one-trick pony constantly.

    I always wanted to contribute in a lasting way to magic and mentalism even as a young kid. Dr. Tarbell inspired me and I wished to do the same for others.

    Tarbell taught tricks, sure, but most important were the principles he taught. Tricks were meant to be examples of principles.

    That’s how I was raised in magical performing.

    It turns out I am fortunate enough to say that I have contributed a bit to magic and mentalism. Wonder Words, the concepts of Dual or Multiple Reality as such, Indirection, Association, Trance Illusion, readings via new sets of linguistics and more have now become common fare in performances.

    Still the tools are often glossed over for the mad race to the latest trick. At least it looked good on youtube!

    Why should this matter to YOU?

    Because when you go for the tricks rather than the tools you cheat yourself.

    People have made full careers on a handful of tools or principles. Few have made careers on a handful of tricks.

    The biggest names on television must rely on their principles or tools, so that they can keep up with the demand to provide new effects constantly.  Otherwise they’d simply run out of new tricks.

    If you have a tool in real life, you can build almost anything. The same is true for learning the inside tools of performing magic and mentalism.

    You can buy a beautiful door, or a shiny window, or a sleek door knob, but that doesn’t give you a strong foundation or a full house in which to dwell comfortably.

    More than a few people are living comfortably by using little more than dual reality, indirection and association.

    So here is my plea to all wiser performers, including the casual hobbiest:

    Get with the tools.

    It’s better to have them than to be one.

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  • 07 Jan 2009 /  Mentalism

    With the new release of Symbol Readings some have written me to ask if there is a difference between “fake” readings and “real” ones. A few people wanted to know if Symbol Readings meant to be “real” or for “performance”.

    My answer to the latter is – “Yes.”

    If you are new to my work, or even if you have been around it for a while, you might not realize my basic working model. It comes from very old magic and it says, “Use truth to show illusion and illusion to show truth.”

    To me that means that anything I release for performers may well have hints or entire elements of real influence, secret principles or power, hidden patterns, mystical undertones, ancient methods turned towards performing, or flatout psychology and esoteric thought turned into reliable performance works.

    In Symbol Readings I use little known psychology and influence methods mixed with actual symbolism studies to create a system useful in real life, as well as for performers.

    In fact, what I have given to performers is based largely on a work I did long ago for non-performers or “real people” as I call them. I wanted to help people help themselves and learn about certain notions of symbolism, without all the years of study and effort I had gone through to get to some of these principles.

    I put my own spins on these insights and then developed many tools for real people based upon my years of working with complex symbolism. Many years later did I decide to try to add in other principles and methods to help performers make this knowledge into surefire readings and performance pieces.

    This is hardly the first time I have done such things. My work The Secret was based on several aspects of Kentonism of which the Public alone were aware for many years (This pre-dated the metaphysical book and DVD called by the same name). Later, after a workshop and seeing what a friend was doing with such principles, I decided to try and teach performers more about these insights.

    Even flat-out reading effects such as A Date With Destiny has elements of very real esoteric philosophy and thought under the surface. When others copied my original notion or stumbled across it accidentally somehow (a near mystical happening in itself) they missed the deeper aspects. You can take the chart from Destiny into any so-called “New Age” Or “Metaphysical” store in the world and they’ll agree that the chart is in proper alignment according to various teachings.

    So yes I often, perhaps nearly always, blur the line between performance and other teachings. It is what Dr. Tarbell, Ormond McGill, Orville Meyer, Kellar and many of my favorites who came before me did too.

    That’s why some people think that my writing changes in a book they have owned for many years, or feel that there are many levels to whatever I do. I rarely work on one level of thought at any given time.

    That makes the idea of me driving a car a horrible notion, and the ability to give to performers far more than surface thought a typical experience.

    At least from me.

    Kenton

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  • Holi-Daze Quick Bits

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    14 Dec 2008 /  Uncategorized

    Last Minute Free Ideas You Might Want To Use This Holiday!

    Here are a few quick tidbits you might keep in mind during this season for presentation.

    Many tree ornaments have loops on them which are perfect for using as a loop ball.

    You can do much manipulation with an ornament, and never be afraid of anyone noticing the loop – because they expect it! You might have to adjust a loop for your size thumb, or choose an ornament that fist your hand easily, but it’s worth it. Hang it back on the tree and use your perfect loop ball with real sparkle!

    Just the thing for a little quick Christmas magic.

    Maybe you live in a snowy area of the world right now.

    Here’s an interesting fact: Snow absorbs sound.

    Mentalists, you might talk about how still things seem in winter, and part of this may be due to this absorption by snow. This might explain why it is difficult to pick up on certain thoughts at this time of year. The stillness may be used to create an altered state in the minds of the audience as you talk about the snow and how still winter seems.

    Then this stillness within might be the reason that you can access thoughts of another.

    Sound returns however when snow gets icy. Then sound begins to bounce off the sheets of ice like glass. Maybe that is why one spectator chose the same thought as another!

    If you are a magician that has a reel or can do an untying silk with a single line, then you might set-up a package or bow to unwrap itself!

    You might do my effect “CHILL” in warmer climates while talking about snow and silence in other areas of the world.

    Finally, you might want to do my effect “Silent Bells” during the holidays, and talk about how snow silences sound. It is the PERFECT patter for the “Silent Bells” effect.

    You can get “Silent Bells” as an inexpensive download, and you may also get it FREE in my book “Secrets of Indirection“. You get my book “Indirection” FREE when you order anything that totals over $35 (before shipping) at www.wonderwizards.com

    In “Indirection” this effect is called “Jingle Balls” – but it’s the same thing.

    A Decorative Open Prediction: Plant a cheap, breakable or “eggshell” type ornament on the tree for a surprising prediction. Have someone make a holiday wish, or guess what their present may be. Write what they say down, secretly double writing on a billet. Slide the folded billet into a thumbtip in your pocket as you put away the pen with which you wrote. Have someone take the prediction ornament from the tree and place it on a towel or hank held in your hands. The thumbtip is on your thumb but under this cover, so it really is unnoticeable. Safely crush the light ornament between your hands, keeping your hands protected with the towel or durable, thick hank. If you are using a glass ornament, do not use your hands. Rather gather the hank and ornament inside of it and place these together on the floor. Step on the hank until you hear the ornament break.

    In any event, you show the broken ornament in the hank in the palm of one hand as your other hand is shown “empty” with the thumbtip. Carefully, (very carefully if you are using a glass ornament!) take the tip off of your thumb secretly and let it fall into the hank along with the broken pieces. Take out a pair of tweezers as you mention there is a slip of paper inside the ornament and you don’t want to touch it yourself. In truth, you use the tweezers to pull the billet from the thumbtip with your right hand as your left hand holds the pieces and the thumbtip tightly through the towel or heavy cloth. All attention will be on what the paper says, and you will surely be excused to throw away the pieces of broken ornament (and secretly retrieve your thumbtip).

    DANGER! If you think a thumbtip is something you have on your hand daily, or you are new to mentalism or magic, don’t even try this. You’ll hurt yourself. IThis is for people who know what they are doing and are trained in such things only. If you’re not a trained magician or mentalist, or new to these things – simply DON’T. You pros however, have a great tme!

    I hope all of you will have fun putting some sort of magic (and mentalism) into the times.

    Happy Holidays

    Kenton

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  • Politricks By Association

    By Kenton Knepper

    People often write me and ask,

    “What exactly is your book Mystery By Association about? What will it do for me? I’d like to get it, but I’m not sure I understand what it is supposed to do. I’d like to know more and then I’d buy the book.”

    No small description is ever going to do this book or the main principle in it justice. It’s a bit like asking, “What will Wonder Words do for me?” The answer is beyond measure or count.

    But here is a presentation using Association that “counts” – literally.

    In this country there was a big election about to occur. One side publicly announced possible voter fraud, while they also organized with great zeal to disenfranchise voters and eliminate many real votes.

    Now, what can a lowly “magician” do about that? What can a mentalist do?

    Perhaps a mentalist can predict the number of votes that will be disenfranchised, stolen or uncounted? Nope. They are still trying to find out how many more millions of votes mysteriously vanished by sleight of hand (and other deviousness) from the last election.

    So, “Best to stay away from religion and politics” as the old saying goes, right?

    Sure. Just don’t say that to successful acts such as Penn and Teller.

    OK – what can YOU do?

    Any topic that you feel passionate about can be turned into an interesting and deeper routine, associating your feelings to a trick you already perform.

    For instance, here’s a process I just went through myself:

    1) I am upset by the lack of reporting on votes being tossed out by the same party that claims the Public had best watch the other side for voter fraud (basic misdirection and relabeling).

    2) I look at primary words or actions that are part of this story or emotion. In this case the words COUNT, VOTE, STEAL, MOVE, DESTROY, ELIMINATE, CHEAT all come to mind.

    3) I decide which tricks I perform already that might be easily associated with these words or ideas.

    In this case, I thought of how I COUNT cards in my “Cards Across” routine. Then I realized that cards disappearing and being put into the hands of someone else is what the trick is about.

    “Putting votes into the hands of the other” is about the stolen votes between two parties – a pretty obvious association. COUNTING votes is what is at issue, after all.

    It doesn’t take big brainpower to make these associations of ideas, words or feelings with a trick. It just takes a moment for me to think about what the main topics or issues are, and then see how these words or ideas already can relate to something I perform.

    I won’t discuss methods here, as this is a Public forum, and you are likely to have your own favorite version of Cards Across anyway. If not, look into Paul Harris’ version. I have my own variation of that which I have been doing since before I moved to Phoenix. It still holds up as strong as ever today.

    Here is some suggested patter. You may use it if you like. But keep in mind that I share this as a way to demonstrate a basic understanding of the principle of association – how one thing can easily be related to another.

    “Votes count! That’s what they say. But they also say that you had better watch the opposing party because they might be the ones stealing votes! Then again, the complainers might be the biggest thieves of all – who knows? I don’t know, but I do know how votes disappear… It’s all sleight of hand and sleight of mouth! Let me show you…”

    “Here, you be one party, and our friend over there will be the other party. Let’s begin counting. So far we have one, two, three… am I going too fast? No? Good! Four, and five votes. You are the Republicans, so you keep those votes you have good and tight. Lock them down and don’t let anyone steal them!”

    Turning to the second spectator I say,

    “Now you represent the Democrats’ votes. You have one, two, three… are you with me? Good! Four and five. Five votes. Fair enough. So far, things are fair and square. But wait! You don’t get to hold on to your votes. That’s because the Republicans over there are not so sure about some of your votes. We have to check! There may be voter fraud!”

    “Yes… See this one? They spelled out their full name on the voter registration, but only used their middle initial on their driver’s license. That vote has a little discrepancy, and you know what that means! No? Well of course that means it is a fraudulent vote, so it goes away!”

    The first card vanishes.

    “That’s one, two, three, four votes… still a close race. But wait. I just heard there might be an issue with one of your votes there. It seems someone was just thrown out of their home due to the mortgage and real estate crisis. That means – horrors of horrors – they changed residence! And you know what that means, right? No? That means their vote is probably a fraudulent vote! Oh yes it does! Check out the rules… just ask them over there… (point to the other spectator). POOF! Sorry but you’re down another vote. You have one, two, three… three. Well, it’s still rather close. It can’t get too obvious or they’d have to own the voting machines too!”

    As this last statement is made, the performer gestures and only two cards are shown to remain.

    “Oh, you actually noticed that? Most people get confused and so they stop bothering to pay attention! Damn. Well, if you are paying attention and demand it, then I guess we have no choice but to check the other guy’s hands over there. But how could he be doing anything? He was just standing there trying to be fair and balanced? He was simply trying to be sure every vote counts – every vote that was worth them counting it, anyway! Besides, I thought your side wouldn’t fight to get your votes back – something’s very odd here indeed.”

    “Ok then, let us see how many votes they have now…”

    The cards are counted to show that the other person now holds eight cards.

    “Oh yes, well their side does seem to have your votes. You know what that means! No! It means of course… THEY WIN! Let’s here it for the grand old party over here!”

    “You don’t seem too happy. Look, if this sort of deception bothers you, just be sure you get as many of your friends as possible to vote! That way, even if they eliminate half of your votes, you still might win!”

    So saying the performer shows that the eight cards are now more like twenty cards! The performer spreads the cards faces to the audience saying,

    “Let’s face it… It’s all in your hands now” as the cards are given to another person to examine.

    Please keep in mind that the parties could of course be switched, although the tactics named here would not apply – you’d have to find new ones if you reversed the parties. I just took things I knew were happening from many sources and used those as something to associate to each card vanish.

    This may seem like a political statement to some, but really what I intend to show is how a simple and effective trick can be associated to topical and more meaningful events. That’s one of the ideas behind the principle of association.

    Art is more than mere diversion. Art is meant to spur us on, examine, rethink, feel, and challenge our prejudices or current associations.

    If magic or mentalism is to be ART, it must at times also allude to greater issues, provide occasional social commentary, and provoke rather than preach.

    This is but a very simplistic and small example of the type of thinking you will find in my book Mystery By Association.

    I repeat this is not about making a pitch to you about any political preference. While some may later call this writing “predictive” it is meant to be an example of how a basic effect such as Cards Across can generate real emotion, reaction, and active audience involvement – just like real art forms in theater tend to do. You don’t have to agree with the social commentary, but rather understand that social commentary may be made – in an entertaining and non-threatening way – by using the principle of association.

    I often end such a presentation by saying something such as,

    “And that’s why it used to be called ‘Poli- TRICKS!’ …Then they got smart and changed the name slightly… Well enough deviousness. Let’s just do some overt cheating now, shall we?”

    If any of this has you irked, angry or laughing, then you will have my point. Mystery By Association allows for more meaningful and novel performances in easy and entertaining ways.

    PURCHASE KENTON’S BOOK “MYSTERY BY ASSOCIATION” HERE:

    http://www.wonderwizards.com/product_info.php?products_id=304

    ©October 2008 Kenton Knepper

    www.wonderwizards.com

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  • 06 Oct 2008 /  Mentalism

    Kenton has been performing realistic metal bending for over 30 years. He recently completed an exclusive seminar in which select students were able to learn Kenton’s inside secrets.

    Now that Kenton is also finally releasing his “Bending Party” manuscript, we thought it was time to share one of his writings on this controversial topic…

    “Get my latest DVD and be the life of the party! Bend metal, spoons, keys! It’s a LAUGH-RIOT!”

    Do you want to know why so many mentalists say that they strongly dislike magicians?

    It’s simple, really. I like magicians, and I am one. But I also understand mentalists very real concerns with what magicians do to mentalism.

    “Magicians don’t DO mentalism,” said one frustrated performer to  me, “they DO TO mentalism. They mess with mentalism and (blank) it all up. They think it will make them seem like great performers, rather than the lousy ones they really are.”

    Many neo-mentalists became such performers because they found out that doing mental tricks made them more successful.

    I am not so different in one sense. I made a name for myself in High School bending metal in cafeterias and turning back the time on watches. That was in the 1970s.

    But back then, only Randi openly called metal bending A TRICK.

    Today, I run often into laypeople asking me if I can “do the spoon trick.”

    Frankly, after spending decades perfecting this craft, such a comment from real people SUCKS. Yes, I am being blunt and brutal again. I really am dismayed by this trend.

    But let me ask you what you do really well. Perhaps you have painted an original piece of art, and it is admired worldwide. Let’s imagine your name is, oh I don’t know, Da Vinci. Now, this makes the rounds and everyone loves you for it.You and a few of your friends print similar types of art and it is understandably admired.

    But then someone comes along and sells paint-by-the-numbers versions of your art. It isn’t the real thing, so you are not upset.You know this is an inferior copy of your art.Besides, everyone knows the copies are really the art of you and your friends, so no harm is done.

    This is where magic and magicians take a weerd leap that no other performing art can quite live down to.Yes, I said, “live down to” not “live up to.”

    In magic, the Public is so ill informed that they act as if the paint-by-the-numbers art is the real art. Moreover, they imagine that since their son, daughter, uncle and brother have painted Da Vinci art, that Da Vinci is a lowbrow artist. Anyone, they reason, can “do Da Vinci – it’s easy.”

    Worse yet is that lame magicians think they can make a quick buck and a fine reputation teaching how they paint-by-the-numbers. This would be ludicrous, save for the idiocy and ignorance of the followers of such cons. The followers will spend great sums of money to learn that the latest so-called expert is simply telling how they paint using numbers and colored paint, and how the numbers correspond to the paint colors, the type of canvas they use, and how cheap cardboard painted white “works just fine” as a real canvas medium. These and other spurious techniques make the rounds sufficiently.

    Sadly, many will read what I just wrote and not understand one wit of it. In their frustration, they will buy the latest DVD that tells them how to be the “life of the party” by doing “spoon and key bending tricks – with bends and twists too!”

    Imagine what the art world would be like today if Da Vinci was thought inconsequential and if both the Public and modern artists thought all art was “easy – just paint by numbers – that’s all there is to it really.”

    Does this imagined future seem too fantastic to be even possible?

    Not in my world.

    I see this “seeming unimaginable” as a daily fact of life among magicians hocking wares on DVD and like pathetic performers imagining they are great because now they paint-by-numbers and have thus convinced the Public that there is “no special talent to it at all.”

    “Not only will you learn how to bend metal… you’ll be able to bend plastic too!”

    Wow, that is so psychic.

    “Compete with joke reel for more hilarious laughs!”

    OK, all of this is to make a point. I don’t imagine for a moment that anyone will get that far-flung and disrespect metal bending quite that badly. But in a sense, this is the attitude that has brought much mentalism from being performed by the “talented few” to “tricks anyone can do…and believe me we can find just anyone to do it”. We can find just anyone even to teach it, regardless of how little they truly comprehend. It’s all “paint-by-the-numbers”, after all. It’s EASY.

    My point, though I know it is made in vain, is that the reason mentalists dislike magicians so much is that magicians treat mentalism like a magic trick that anyone can do. All you have to know is the “secret to the trick” and you can perform what mentalists do – “just like the professionals.”

    Like Da Vinci, you cannot simply copy a person’s art and expect to be considered the same as the talented artist. Or can you?

    In the world of magic, you can. Magicians make sure of this, and so do those who sell them “EZ DVDS U Can Do Too.”

    The lack of heart and art is the issue that magicians in the main refuse to grasp. They keep the Public focused on the notion that all magic is TRICKS because this is their own attitude to both learning and presenting magic.

    It is not the Public that is at fault. The fault is within us. It is not even a fault, but more a careless representation of our supposed art.

    That is our problem – us.

    The reason so many mentalists say they will have nothing to do with magicians now is that they feel magicians constantly defame and deflate what it took them years to build into a legitimate performance.

    Ask Uri Geller if he will do one of his “spoon tricks” and see what happens.

    Slowly, I am leaning towards a similar reaction to such remarks and notions.

    And I am a magician.

    And a “mentalist” – in all sense of that term.

    And a “Psychic Entertainer.”

    And whatever other label peers and clients conjure up for me.

    What I am not is a copycat creator of bad metal bending. I am sure my readers are not about to be that either.

    So I am writing to remind you that you are in a special league, and I hope that my teaching for you will keep you heads above all “the rest.”

    That’s why I teach for select people like you, after all.

    EPILOGUE: This was written before most DVDs came out on metal bending. Since that time, much of what I wrote as satirical has come to pass. Only today did I find out that the most outrageous points of exaggeration in this writing have turned into fact.

    It sickens me. I am saddened, disappointed in such magicians on the whole, and especially those teachers of tricks who will teach anything to make a buck. You have hurt not only my act, but also that of many actual performers. You have lowered the art of mentalism to a lower and more common fare. You make magic and mentalism mundane and wonder-less.

    When you spread the notion that any idiot can do profound magic, you make profound magic idiotic. When you debase the artistic work of others so you can make a buck, you debase your own art. Do not pretend that you elevate magic or mentalism by making easy that which was once difficult to obtain. Do not pretend that the fault is within the tricks or in others when you choose to expose other’s works with superficial understanding.

    Those who teach powerful magic and mentalism as tricks anyone can do, hurt magic and mentalism, and all serious performers of such material.

    If you want to expose something – expose your own original ideas.

    Of course, that assumes that you have them.

    Stop reaping the benefits for yourself by selling the hard work of others, and ruining magic and mentalism in the process.

    If you want to make common something, and debase a concept, then do that to your own material. Again, assuming you have any.

    I didn’t learn metal bending from a DVD or a book. I had to work hard at it.

    It took me decades of experimentation, creativity and experience.

    How many years did it take the Great Debasers of magic and mentalism to ruin bending?

    Less than a year.

    Just look at the DVDs now…

    They count the steps to High Art or low sharing.

    And for those of us who actually perform, our professions go in the direction of those stairs.

    Share your own material – if you have it. Sell your own hard work, if you will it. I do.

    But leave the work of the rest of us alone. It is not yours to debase.

    Remember always that what you sell and do either elevates our art, or ruins it.

    How the Public perceives our tricks, as common or rare and special, is how they will treat our art and us.

    We kill the magic with our own two hands.

    And our pocketbook.

    Your move.

    (We suggest you see Kenton’s “Bending Party” for the inside work on a realistic bending experience as well as attend one of his exclusive seminars to learn the real work of over 30 + years of Bending Experience from the Master himself.)

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  • 03 Sep 2008 /  Questions and Answers

    What is the protocol on effects you see, and come up with your own solution and the idea of how to do it, or recreate the effect.  Is it then my effect, or must I give credit to where I saw it, although I figured out and the solution for myself?

    It is something that prior to meeting you, I would have no clue how to recreate.  However, ever since Rants and Raves, Kentonisim, Dunninger’s, and just learning how truly sneaky you are… (and by the way…  sneaky, is a good thing…) then applying what I’ve learned to what I saw, it seems that all of this makes much more sense.  I’ve rewatched the mentalists on youtube.  Everything they do is Kenton Knepper, or a variation of everything Wonder Wizards.

    So, can I get credit for an effect that I saw, but figured out on my own, and sell my version of the trick, although my solution, is most likely the exact same?  If this mentalist does it differently from how I would do it, then great for him, but I know how I’d do it.

    Kenton Responds:

    I understand your point about many people on the Internet. As to originality, there is originality in effect or in method, or both. If something is original, then it is yours to do with as you please. Knowing whether something is entirely original can be rather challenging. But you must try your best to find that out.

    As far as watching an effect by someone else and selling how you would accomplish it, the issue gets highly questionable. Some might say there is no question at all – it should not be done – period.

    There are many on youtube and eBay trying to get “rich” by selling the imagined secrets of name performers. Usually these sellers are people with too little information or too little respect for the art and/or others.

    So you need to be very careful in my opinion about rushing to put things out there like that. I know this is the new craze. Everyone thinks they can make a quick buck or a thousand by rushing out an idea they have. Let me know how that works for you. Maybe I am going about it the hard way.

    The real work is the stuff that has been performed countless times and tested under all sorts of conditions. It’s far more than a guess as to “how” someone else managed their own original presentation. There is a lot to consider in the effort taken in the presentation alone. Magicians focus too much on methods rather often. They forget that a major part of any performance is, well, the performance. It is not the method only, but the presentation of any method, that is so often very vital.

    How then can you sell a method without also taking a person’s original presentation ?

    The best I can offer in this sticky situation is that you write out your ideas and methods. Then send them to a few pros you feel you can trust and who might have the time to look at such things. Their time however is usually swamped with many other things to do, including their own writing, creating and performing, so it is not possible to read and answer most of what is sent to them.

    One friend of mine simply says essentially, “That’s fantastic!” as a response to anyone who sends him anything. Then when I mention to a person that the idea is old, and what they are doing is not very new, I am told “Your friend who is a huge name LOVES it” implying of course that I should feel the same. I guess I would be more beloved by some people were I to do as my friend, but to me that is not honestly telling someone my opinion. So try to send your thoughts to pros who have the time to actually read what you send, take “Attaboys” with a touch of skepticism, check out what more than one or two people say, and don’t be upset if most cannot get  back to you at all.

    I must tell you I am backed up on my own work fiercely right now, and have others who have been waiting in line for a month or more for me to quickly give them a thumbs up or down on one of their quick ideas. So keep in mind that patience is important if you ask pros for advice and to look at your ideas. Sometimes, if you are lucky, they are able, and on even more rare occasions they can also respond – in less than several months or years.

    I would stay away particularly from trying to sell your “own method” of Derren Brown/David Blaine/Criss Angel tricks (for instance). Some do that on eBay for very cheap, and the magic and mental community thinks such sellers and peddlers are slackers. Not to mention that if you mention Derren in your advertising, his people will be on you like a heard of elephants. We use the same Internet people as he to hunt out such things, so I know what I am talking about there. Besides, how can you expose Green Screen technology when everyone already has it on their computer? I already know most people can jump over buildings on their computer screen. Who would buy some of those secrets anyway – even the real ones?

    On the other hand, if you have a lot of ideas of how you would perform certain things, and you care more about performing your versions than selling them, you may perform your original methods and unique presentations as much as you like.

    Try however not to perform things that are signature pieces of a particular performer. For instance, I know a guy in town who thought he could come up with his own version of my floating ball. The method was awful.

    His presentation was close to the way my original is performed.

    People mistakenly thought that his poor method was what I also must use. It hurt my original performance piece greatly.

    The same has happened with the way I have been doing metal bending for over 30 years. People have performed what they saw me do so poorly that they have hurt bending and turned it into “the bending spoon trick” rather than a miracle of the mind.

    All of these things are at issue when you think about performing something you have seen someone else do.

    That’s just for starters, but I hope I have given you pause to think carefully before you choose what to do – or not do.

    - Kenton

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  • 03 Sep 2008 /  Readings

    I did a palm reading for a girl.  My intuition told me that her friend who she goes to, for venting, and any other trouble she might have… that her friend’s name started with an S, or an S like sound.  She looked at me, and her eyes got so bright, that I could see it in her.  I said, that it wasn’t an S, but a C, but the name sounds like S…. SS C Celine??  She pulled her hand away from me,… shook her head no, said I was impure, and then told me that I was so close it scared her.  Celest was the correct name.  My intuition told me she was not native and that she came from out West,… but that for whatever reason, I could be mistaken, and it could be East, but I’m pretty sure West.  She told me she grew up in Indiana, and moved out to Colorado for college and just moved to Iowa from CO.

    Kenton, I understand why this stuff is too powerful.  I did another reading, for a random person who was at the previously mentioned party, and told this kid that I saw him tomorrow on a date, with a very attractive woman taking a long walk or run.  He told me he was signed up for the Labor day 8K and was meeting a girl he was crazy about at that race.

    Kenton, I’m filled with questions.  If you have time, your response will mean everything to me.

    Kenton Responds:

    Many mentalists make a major flaw in my view when disregarding the idea of actual intuition. In any sort of readings that I do, I always add in actual intuitive thought. I worked to make this clear on the Completely Cold on CD Expanded version, because like you, I have found this to be invaluable.

    From a more skeptical point of view, one might also say that S is a common letter in names. While the letter was actually incorrect, the sound was correct. Cynics might say that is a miss made into a hit by believers.

    People with intuitive experiences might say that they see this is a possibility, but that they felt it within themselves so strongly that this is why they chose that particular letter – or even heard the sound of the letter.

    Which is true? Maybe both.

    “Celine” might have come from the subconscious due to name recognition of a famous singer. Perhaps. It is possible. It might be an association that the subconscious made to the S sound and the letter C. It might be the only association that could be made.

    Then again, people that believe in real intuition say that the subconscious is the doorway to intuition. So who is correct?

    Maybe both.

    Your East or West surely is a fine example of what I have taught as Polarity in action – in a literal sense. The person being read happened to see how both extremes fit her clearly. Quite a hit!

    But then we come to your reading with the kid who was going to be in a race. It might be that this kid was muscular or looked like a runner in some way, and that somewhere in the back of your mind you knew about the upcoming race – perhaps from television. As you said “walk or race” that might have fit many different scenarios.

    Perhaps his age indicated to you that he might go out on a date soon. But you did say the next day, and you did say a walk or run, and he was going to a running race and was meeting there a girl he was crazy about.

    It could be you thought about all of these things and factored everything together consciously or subconsciously.

    Or it could have been real intuition.

    Or it could be that sometimes intuition comes from a combination of subconscious and conscious analysis. In fact, many ancient wisdom teachings have claimed that long before we had the terms “conscious” and “subconscious”. Some say all of this is true and more, and others say none of this is true, and less.

    I say both may well be true, more or less.

    Mystics know that what they have experienced cannot be talked about completely, any more than those who have experienced intense intuitive experiences can speak about what they inwardly know or felt.

    We are left then to use conjecture and thinking to imagine possibilities to seek out answers.

    Some see that as science, some see this approach as cynicism, and others see the whole thing as a mystical endeavor.

    I imagine it is all the above, and more.

    In a very practical way, I have found it useful to imagine I have real working intuition when doing readings when I perform. I have found this is a great shortcut to over thinking everything and trying to figure out what might be going on with a person logically only.That’s too much intellectualism to establish a meaningful relationship with someone with whom I am doing a reading.

    When I teach about readings it is generally a mix of logic, emotion, psychology, and intuition.

    It isn’t a polarity of “science” versus “psychic”.

    I have seen as many false scientific studies and claims by so-called scientists as I have from so-called psychics, in my lifetime.

    I have heard preposterous conjecture from fake scientists who are interviewed and displayed as experts in science on television. I have heard absurd claims from fake psychics who are strewn on television interviews as the real thing.

    My feeling is that in time science will label, as its own, intuitive thought, psychic experiences and the like. Then these things will cease to exist in the public mind. Not because they no longer exist, but because the label of “science” will then label psychic things as “science”.

    As long as there are scientists making claims that psychic and intuitive thought is a scam however, psychics and psychic performers will have a job, performing what science claims is impossible.

    Little doubt perhaps then why the company of mine for performers is called Wonder Wizards. Perhaps only with a label of something resting outside of science do we still pause to wonder, and to create wonder, in our performances.

    The good news is this is all conjecture and I do not have the answers.

    In Wonder

    Kenton

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