Max Maven Live: A Review

Inside Magic Image of Max MavenMax Maven has probably performed the routine presented last night at the Peller Theatre hundreds, if not thousands, of times.  Yet, to watch his interaction with the capacity crowd, he gave the impression he was sharing with them new experiences and unexpected — but amazing — results.

Let’s not kid ourselves, Max Maven is an incredible presence on stage.  From his opening to finale, he is firmly in control of all things at all times.  He has the look, the voice and the words to cause us to trust him even though our instincts tell us otherwise.  He is precisely the type of person we should avoid.

His work with audience volunteers is flawless.  He allows them space to identify with their seated brethren and, while never rude, keeps them in line with a well-timed aside or one of his penetrating stares.

But being an imposing and impressive figure is not enough.  Can Mr. Maven, author, inventor, historian and larger-than-life figure deliver on the implicit promise of his stage persona?

In a word, yes.  In two words, yes siree!

His effects are baffling and so well-presented that one is never sure if we are watching his ability to work with the unexpected turn of events or unanticipated selection by an audience member.  One is left to assume that he has either anticipated every contingency or he possesses real magical powers.  Because we are famously lazy, we presume no one would ever work as many hours in front of real people to gain the experience necessary to handle every contingency and so we conclude he has special skills that defy explanation.

Mr. Maven will be performing at the Magic Castle’s Peller Theatre tonight (Friday) and tomorrow.  If you have a chance to see him perform, take it.  We have no doubt he has already anticipated your attendance and will have something special to show you.

Inside Magic Rating: Five Out of Five

Inside Magic Review: Spy Skills for the Professional Magician and Mentalist

Inside Magic Image of Work Like a Spy CoverWe are not a spy but of course, even if we were, we wouldn’t tell you for your own safety.  But we are a magician and that is somewhat like a spy.  Our specialty is Mentalism and that is very  much like a spy.  62.7 percent of our act is based on intuition, pre-show work and informed guessing.  Perhaps that is why we found so much of the information contained in former CIA operative J.C. Carleson’s new book Work Like a Spy: Business Tips from a Former CIA Officer.

Ms.  Carleson worked in the business world and then decided to join the CIA to serve her country and find adventure.  Along the way, she learned to collect, analyze and use information without detection or suspicion.  Those skills translated well when she returned to the corporate world and so her book is addressed to her new peer group – corporate executives.

Of course the ability to collect information from those who do not wish to give information – a doing so in a way that does not tip off your target – is what we as magicians do for a living.  Even if you are not into mentalism and work solely with automatic tricks requiring no “read” of your audience or volunteer, this book will help you tune your routine to the crowd.

On the other hand, if you are a mentalist or street magician, you need to get this book.  We pride ourselves in being very in-touch with our audience and able to easily pick up on their unspoken communication.  Ms. Carleson says we are precisely the type of person who could be a lousy spy.  Once you are convinced you can read people or discern truths from their behavior or background, you blind yourself to the reality of the encounter.  She provides a step-by-step method to acquire the skills you need to be successful building rapport as a business person, a spy or a magician.

We enjoyed the exercises she prescribes such as picking a stranger at random and learning the make and model of their car in a way that this perfect stranger has no idea you obtained the information.  You can do it – we know because we did it.  (But not on the first through fourth attempts).

Magicians need to pick the right volunteer to do their secret work and Ms. Carleson teaches us how to target the right person to obtain the information you seek.  How to then talk with that person to get the information without asking a single question and ingratiate yourself with your new found friend.
Continue reading Inside Magic Review: Spy Skills for the Professional Magician and Mentalist

Sad News: Ted Lesley Passes

Ted Lesley was an innovator in so many aspects of our magicial arts.  He was an inventor and visionary.  His obituary will be written and re-written on other sites and each will no doubt give a different perspective on this great mind and incredible performer.

Several message boards carried posts notifying the magic public of Mr. Lesley’s passing yesterday around noon in an extended care home in Berlin, Germany.

Mr.  Lesley was born in Dueren, Germany August 1, 1937.

He fell in love with (or at least was smitten by) magic when a school teacher showed the young man an effect.  He considered magic as a profession but his parents suggested he look a “real profession.”

Accounting was apparently real enough for his parents.   He used his incredible mind to assist clients in their financial affairs and later as a tax accountant.
Continue reading Sad News: Ted Lesley Passes

Mentalist’s Death Ruled Accidental

Jason Scott's Death Ruled Accidental

He was one of the original ten contestants on NBC’s Phenomenon “reality” show last year.

He performed for A-List Clients such as Steven Spielberg and Sting.  In July, Jason Scott Ogilvie better known as Jason Scott died in his Summerlin, Nevada home.

The young man’s cause of death was a mystery for months until Clark County Coroner’s Office ruled it was an accident caused by the mixing of OxyContin and alcohol.

Mr. Scott’s mother, Peggy Santana of Redding, Calif., spoke with Norm Clarke of The Las Vegas Review-Journal about the Coroner’s report and the events leading up to her son’s passing.

He had been ill after returning from a gig in Boston and joined his girlfriend for drinks the night he died.

He had about 10 beers and two pain pills, which were prescribed, his mother said. The coroner’s report found Scott had very low sodium in his system, a sign of dehydration.

“You just can’t mix alcohol and prescribed medication, especially if you are sick,” said Santana, a registered nurse. “This is just about the saddest thing I’ve ever dealt with. It’s so senseless.

“I bought him a magic kit for a Christmas present when he was 6. I don’t think he’s had another job (other than magic). He would never give in. It’s what he wanted to do.”

Mr. Scott’s success seemed almost guaranteed.  The Review-Journal notes the young performer left “a regular gig with the House of Blues to perform at the Playboy Club.”

His last performance was at a private party for Sting.

Derren Brown’s Pure Effect – Changed Our Life!

Inside Magic Image of Derren BrownReading Derren Brown reminded us, honestly, of the Biblical Prophet Isaiah.


“What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD.


“I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure.


“When you come in to visit me, who asks these things of you?


“Trample my courts no more! Bring no more worthless offerings; your incense is loathsome to me.”

We thought of Isaiah not because Mr. Brown’s book is spiritual.

Nope. There are parts and pieces of Mr. Brown’s book that make you feel as if he is decidedly anti-Christian.


He mocks Christianity – or perhaps we misread that which is meant to be serious as sarcastic.


So, if he is not biblically spiritual, he is nonetheless inspiring enough to read and re-read.

Consider the Isaiah-like pronouncement Mr. Brown makes:

“Aaahhh, my loves, and so we come to the end of a wonderful journey: we have
dipped our toelets in the the shimmering pool of secret wonder and
emerged triumphant.


I wonder if this book will affect your performance of magic or mentalism.


Let us roll up our collective sleeve of integrity and reach down deep into
the raw, foetid effluence of dull, unconvincing effects: past the
steaming turds that are billet switches; past the faecal nuggest that
are sealed envelopes and ‘gaps left for a nail writer;’ and deep belowy
that dead otter – that single stinking stool of immense proportions
that is the standard book test, or the ‘sealed predicition.”

In Bob Cassidy’s work, including his extraordinary Mental Miracles DVD, he argues that we should avoid the typical “card trick” or the use of cards to in your own mental miracle.

Like Kierkegaard in the world of (later) non-Christian Existentialists, the point is that once you have an understanding of your world, you are free to do as you need to live as you should for He who you know.


Use cards, Mr. Brown argues, use them if you need to or want to if it has anything to do with the effect you want your audience to feel.

Do not use cards because you are comfortable with them or because you know a neat trick.

Mr. Brown describes an epiphany when he sat at a table and imagined what it would be like to be a typical diner being approached by one of us, a table-hopper.


Continue reading Derren Brown’s Pure Effect – Changed Our Life!