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.
(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.)