Thoughts from Florida

Dennis Deliberations …

January 2018

 “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin

Remember: Steve Martin never said, “Be so original they can’t ignore you.” We know the source of the trick this guy does, and it’s done by a lot of magicians. The Beatles did everyone else’s hits when they started out (their first album is full of them) — and still they climbed out of obscurity to become great and later “original” (with the help of George Martin)

One tiny bump in the road: You’ll notice when the guy accidentally left one card on the table, he had to fan through the cards and cut to the right place to put the tabled card back. A good sleight of hand worker has more courage than a naked guy swimming through a tank full of hungry piranhas….

Don’t you think that any reasonably intelligent KNOWS it is done with a stacked deck?

Yes, this is a clever variation and done well.

I did a close-up gig years ago after Bill Malone had popularized “Sam the Bellhop” and at the gig one of the other magicians was doing “Sam the Bellhop”… He did it well. The ONLY comments I heard was about how “cute” the story was and how “The guy is great at setting up the cards”… They did not know how or anything about false cuts but they intuitively knew it had to be done with a stacked deck.

Years ago, when I was using a stacked deck in a trick for lay men at conventions, , I would just ask the people at the table, “Have you see a guy named Sy Stebbins at this convention?” They would say, “No” and I would say, “I want to give him back this deck that I borrowed from him. This is a borrowed deck.”  Once I did have a magician come up and tell me that he about fell over laughing when I pulled that line.”


 I rarely get into the topic of Hypnotism, but here goes:

First watch this video:


I over the years I have been  friends with several guys who have done stage Hypno acts. Paul Royter has been a friend for 45 years and his mentor was Peter Reveen.


And yes, up until the 1980s, I did a Hypno act, as another of  my Variety offerings.  I cut way back and eventually ended because of Liability Insurance costs and limited venues. It has been increasingly difficult since the mid 80s to get booked… And now, it is almost impossible. Why?


Much of America has drifted into an irrational superstitious and anti-science mindset , especially in the rural areas, and the Fair markets ( mostly in rural areas) dried up and that was about all there was in terms of venues. High School Proms used to be big and a lot of fun but School Boards stopped that due to parental complaints and lawsuits.


Hypnotism is basically “crowd and individual manipulation” The individual participant wants to please the crowd and the performer.  The  technique seems identical to a modern religious Faith-healer. I don’t want to set anyone off here on a fight over religion. Certainly the mysteries in life and our experiences and convictions, both individually and communally should be respected.  My purpose in writing is only for analysis and comment and not a comment or criticism of religion or anyone’s belief of causality or authenticity. I am a man of faith and active in my church.


I grew up watching Faith-healers so I thoroughly know their manipulative techniques and the amusement value.

The whole performance begins with “Expectations”… The Faith Healer says, “Expect a Miracle!”.   The hypnotist says:  “Expect to see people prance like chickens and talk to their shoes like they are kitty-cats and act like their pants are on fire! ….


The hypnotist need banners, posters and a line of pre-event hype about how great he is. Loads of publicity pictures of people slumped over in a lines of chairs.  Remember “Expectations!”


The show event begins with 20 minutes of loud pop rock music… with frequent announcements calling for volunteers to help. “It will be fun! We need some of you to come up who wants to have fun. The experience of a lifetime!” In the case of Faith-healers, it is religious music from lively to somber and a call for the congregations to be in prayer and expectation.


You bring up 12 to 18 people to sit in the chairs and you begin the “induction” , which is simply finding out who is going to play along, listen to directions and be your most active and energetic volunteers. In a Faith healing service, they line up in wheel chairs and with walkers and canes hours before the service in desperation for a miracle.


As you do the induction exercises (I did between 8 to 10 demonstrations), you winnow down the people and send those unsuitable back to their seats.  On the TED talk video,  the girl that failed, next to the guy on the end would be sent back by me , unless , as in this case, the guy was her boyfriend and he left her up on stage to egg him on.  I did that occasionally but I did not like anyone on stage who I was not controlling.


You then rationalize away and dismiss those who don’t  cooperate…. They go back to their seat. You dismiss them by thanking them for being good sports.


If you are a faith-healer, those who do not “get their miracle” simply lack enough faith to claim it. The problem is their faith and not the basic premise. In my thinking that is emotionally devastating to the sick and dying person and reduces healing their sickness and sorrow to the level of a crass Carnival  Sideshow or Hypnotism Act.  It the worst case it delays or stops proper medical care.


After you get down to between 3 to 6 really good cooperative people, you go on with the silly and humorous  exercises and demonstrations.

All the words you use are identical to a Faith Healer… minus the theological part and demonstrable permanent cure.


Here is the bottom line: In my opinion , after dozens of shows… Stage Hypnotism is an emotional/ imaginative state of hyper-suggestionYou get them focused and simply command then to follow directions.


I am not attacking anyone’s religion. I actually believe that some people do find relief from pain and psychosomatic sickness and , in some cases, the emotional state can lead to bodily healing. I will leave pronouncements of a supernatural causality to others and their faith. Endorphins (contracted from “endogenous morphine”) are power natural substances. We do not fully understand the connections of influence between mind and body. Look at an printed paper insert that comes with medication and read the statistical double-blind test results. By Federal law the results of taking the drug must be better than a placebo but sometimes not by much! That is why some drugs are removed from the market. In a cost to benefits analysis, the drug’s helpfulness does not statistically outweigh its side-effects.


Hypnotism for smoking cessation, removing phobias, giving up illegal drugs and weight loss does work, for some. So does religious faith! Again, it is allowing the hypnotist to manipulate the patient toward positive thoughts and behavior. There is a close parallel between Hypnotism and faith healing and that may be why all faith-healers are against any form of hypnotism. Often, psychologically an addictive personality merely substitutes a less harmful addiction for another one. It like the old joke: “I finally gave up cigarettes! I joined smoker’s anonymous. Now every time I crave a cigarette, I call up a fellow member and they come over and have a drink with me!” .


About blueridgemagiciansring320

Secretary of Ring 320 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians located in the Western Virginia.
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