September 20, 1979
"WHAT A NICE THING TO SAY" By Bascom Jones
(NOTE: The author is considered to be an authority in International public relations and publicity. He has organized and conducted press conferences in more than a dozen countries, and has worked directly with the press in most Free World capitals, during a lifetime Career in the field. He Is a Life Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and a member of the prestigious Public Relations Society of America, and has held offices in both organisations . )
The business side of performing holds little interest for most magical and mental entertainers, who generally show more concern for their rehearsed skills and digital proficiency than they do for the more tedious techniques of becoming a success. The exceptions are notable. And remembered,
NAMES THAT MADE NEWS While Houdinl's skill as a magician may be debated, no one has equaled his proficiency for capturing the attention of the media. It was neither by luck nor chance that his name became synonymous with news and headlines. And, more than a half-century after his death, his name remains a household word today. Uri Geller, the Israeli mind-bender and self-proclaimed psychic, showed an uncanny skill at working with the press, and newspapers and magazines in a hundred languages and as many countries flowered with his exploits. Dunninger, too, spared no effort in maintaining favorable press contact. And, today, tio professional is more skilled or energetic than Kreskin. The rewards make it worth it,
WHAT PRICE GLORY? Several years ago, by way of illustration, a full-time East Coast professional mentalist hired a publicity professional as his agent. While admittedly an apples-and-oranges relationship, the mentalist hoped the agent would be able to line up a rash of bookings, nothing came of the effort, and the two parted company, but not before the publicist HAD been successful in garnering several major feature stories about the mentalist'. Later, a more orthodox booking agent included copies of the printed feature stories In a promotional mailing about the mentalist. The result of the mailing WAS the hoped-for rash of bookings. Several of the bookings came from thousands of miles away, and there was a significant jump in fee structure and in the baseline for expenses. What was the responsible factor? The new agent rightfully (and tactfully) sought information from the individuals responsible for the bookings. Was it some aspect of the cover letter? Was It the brochure7 The enclosed letters of recommendation that had been reproduced from many the mentalist had received over the years? "None of those," reported the contacts, although several admitted they all helped. "It was the newspaper stories and publicity you enclosed."
AND FURTHER PROOF Performer Bob Brown, with annual show bookings on three continents, makes skillful use of publicity opportunities. He goes out of his
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("What" - Cont'd from page 1205) way, during his trips, to make contacts with the press and to generate interviews. The resulting stories, in dozens of languages, have helped him get additional bookings. He has told MAGICK, "The stories have paid for my time and effort over and over again." Diana Zimmerman (Diana, The Enchantress) is another who has an almost intuitive understanding of the importance of publicity, as well as a knowledge of how to generate it. In her Bonus Insert, "Follow Your Hopes...Not Your Fears," (MAGICK #227), she outlines some of the techniques she employs during an interview. She goes prepared, doesn't rely on interesting material developing during the course of the interview. "Listen to the reporter," she says. "Find out what interests HIM. By striking a responsive chord with the reporter, you'll often get a better, livelier, longer, and more interesting interview.11 She is right, of course,
THE FEATURE STORY OR INTERVIEW The most distinctive characteristic of the feature story, or interview, is its "angle". Unlike a news story, which generally must be tied to an event and limited to hard facts, a feature story will often depart from the conventional stance of objectivity to play up mystery, color, humor, suspense, or other special effect. While it may have a news peg, it does not depend upon it for its appeal. It generally runs longer than a comparable news story, and its greater range will often give it more substance, perspective, depth, and probable impact. For these reasons, the performer usually will find the feature story, or Interview, more "merchandisable" to an editor than a news story. Certainly, the characteristics of the feature make it more valuable to the performer,
TIPS ON FEATURE PLACEMENT How do you interest an editor in doing a story on you? WheTe do you start? You may have the story prepared by a person skilled in feature writing, and offer it to the editor. Or you may simply contact the editor by telephone or by mail. Start off by telling the editor you are offering a feature idea. He's busy, too. Try to summarize the suggested idea in one paragraph, before going into details. And, if yotj can do It in one sentence, that's even better. Explain why an editor's readers might be interested In such a story or interview. How "good" the story idea is, in its purest sense, is not really significant. The editor wants to know how it will appeal to his readers. If color is an element in the article, give a FEW colorful details. The editor has to get the feel for the story. If it is reasonable, suggest alternate approaches to the interview or story. This gives an editor a choice, and it may save a turn-down, if he doesn't like your original angle. For example, you may suggest an interview wherein you propose to make a dozen predictions for the coming year. An alternate suggestion might be a review of some successful predictions you've made In the past, balanced by some of your more conspicuous failures. If you have some pictures or picture ideas, describe them briefly. Photos can help sell a feature Idea. DON'T talk about what you hope to get out of the feature. Or what your agent wants. This can make your feature, or interview, seem self-serving, and may give the editor second thoughts. Don't gush. Don't ask favors. Try to avoid generalities. Don't obviously flatter the editor. Many pride themselves on being fair and impartial. Don't make them prove it by rejecting your ideas. Tell the editor what you want him to do if he is Interested. If you want an appointment to visit him, ask for one. If you propose to call him by telephone, tell him when. If you want him to contact you, say that.
ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES Some advantages already have been mentioned. A feature story usually gives you more space, more attention, more identification, and more reader impact. The feature story, or interview, will provide you with access to media which do not publish news as such. In addition to newspaper coverage, the feature approach may be of interest to magazines, television and radio shows, and columnists. (Don't overlook the feature columnists. They often are widely read.) There are disadvantages to the feature, also. You should be aware of them. In an interview or feature situation, you are at the mercy of the reporter, (On television, it is the talk-show host.) They can grind their own axe. They can conduct a straightforward interview, add additional information, or tear you apart. It has happened.
The numbers of mentalists working the tables at posh clubs and restaurants is on the increase.
This easily-made-up effect by veteran table worker Alexander Renno long has been one of the most popular segments of his party-pleasing routine.
The eight-to-eleven professional uses it with table audiences. It also works well in the home and at private parties,
Renno describes it sort of a combination of "Quantimental" and Corinda's "Whispering Buddha," although it differs in principle.
Certainly, it combines the mind-boggling impossibility of the one with the proven entertainment value of the other.
From your briefcase, you remove a small wooden box of the type that may be found in a novelty or gift shop. The box has a flat, hinged lid.
You place the box on the table in front of one of the spectators, open it, and show that it contains five chess pieces — a Pawn, Castle, Knight, Queen, and King.
(Renno lined the box he uses with red velvet. His chess pieces are white, and
Page each is fitted into its own slot, A simple foam pad, with holes to separate the pieces, would work as well.)
"Form a quick mental image of the five chess pieces," you instruct the spectator, as you hold the lid open.
Then, dropping the lid, you continue, '*Now, in your mind's eye, clearly visualize only one of the five. Mentally select any one that you wish, and when i move back from the table and turn my head, quickly remove that ONE piece and conceal it in your pocket, purse, or under the table.
"Have you done that? Good. Now close the lid, and place the box out of sight on the floor."
Turning back to the table, you continue, "If you are a chess player, you will have noticed that there was one piece miss-1207 (Cont'd on page 1208)
("Mind * a" - Cont'd ing — the wily Bishop. Secretive. And sly. In any court, the center of intrigue and mystery."
From your pocket, you remove the black Bishop, show it, and then hold it to your ear, as you appear to listen.
"You are a person of inner conviction and confidence. The piece you removed from the box was. . .the Queen,"
The Bishop, of course, is used to provide storyline and misdirection. It is totally unprepared.
Each of the other five pieces, however, has a small magnet embedded in it. While the box, itself, is not gimmicked, you may have to make several minor modifications to it.
The bottom of the box should be about the thickness of the wood used in cigar boxes. Renno's box, in fact, is made from
Ten years of near continuous use have convinced performer Robert Schwarz of the efficacy of this club and stage subtlety. Although not automatic, it does have an astonishingly high percentage of acknowledgements. And the appearance to spectators is akin "to a spontaneous instance of mind probing.
Most mentalists, sometime during their routines, will request a two-digit number from someone in their audience. If you are one of these, try this stratagem.
Turn about 45 degrees away from centfer so that you are facing the LEFT, front few rows of the audience.
Then, pointing to someone in the front row, ask, "Would you please think of any two-digit number?"
Pause about two seconds, and then dramatically turn 90 degrees to your right, sweeping your right arm from left to right across the audience, as you say, "Someone
Page from page 1207) an old cigar box.
The box also must have tiny legs, or feet, to hold it off the surface of the table. These may be made from small wooden beads that are glued, or fastened, to the four corners.
Finally, with a pair of pliers, break five small pieces — each, little bigger than a freckle — from an old razor blade, and coat each piece with a different shade of nail polish.
The five tiny pieces of shim steel, put in position against the BOTTOM of the box, will cling to the embedded magnets of the five gimmicked chess pieces.
Assign each chess piece an identifying color, and remember which color represents which piece.
The action of removing one of the chess pieces will leave a tell-tale color
(Cont'd on page 1210)
over here just THOUGHT of the number 23. Who was it?"
Usually, someone will gasp, and admit the number did, in fact, flash into his or her mind.
You nod and comment that the person's thought waves were so strong that they may influence the spectator asked to think of the two-digit number.
And, turning back to that person, you say, "Please choose ANOTHER number."
Don't make a big thing of it. Try to make it appear as if it happens frequently
First, the position you are in as you sweep your arm forces you to take in most of the audience, even though your words, "right over here," make it seem like the thought is coming from a specific point.
Second, the number 23 is one frequently thought of when a group is asked for a two-digit number. Yet, it doesn't prevent 1208 (Cont'd on page 1210)
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.