For the second time in the last few years, it was my pleasure to attend MindVention in Las Vegas, Nevada. While many people venture to "Sin City" for the pleasures of gambling and wild abandonment, there is an another annual pilgrimage made to this desert oasis. Mind readers from all over the world descend on Las Vegas to compare notes, exchange ideas and improve the art of Mentalism.
For those who do not know, Mentalism is the performing art in which mentalists appear to demonstrate highly developed mental or intuitive abilities. Mentalist are sometimes referred to as psychic entertainers.
One of the great joys of this three day meeting is the opportunity to meet some of the world's best in the field of Mentalism. In past years these names have included Bob Cassidy, Banachek, Paul Stockman, Docc Hilford and Colin McLeod. This year, German mentalist Sartori performed and lectured, as did Kenton Knepper, Dr. Larry Haas, Patrick Redford and Max Krause along with a large Israeli contingent including students of Uri Geller who exhibited some mind-blowing performances and gave eye-opening lectures.
Since Mentalism is a performance art, there are "best practices" and "better ways" of performing and presenting various effects to audiences. Much of the focus of the discussions had to do with these sorts of topics. There were panel discussions on the use of blindfolds in Mentalism. Another panel discussion focused on Mentalism on Television. Among the panelists on the latter was Eric Dillman, who was a finalist on "America's Got Talent". Eric is a very likeable guy in real life, and was one of the performers at MindVention.
I noticed one interesting change in perspective this year as compared to the MindVention I attended in 2009. That year, it seemed there was a very large skeptical contingent amongst the attendees. Most attendees seemed to believe that no one could really do what they did in performance; that all who claimed to have any form of "psychic" ability must either be deluded or a fraud.
This year however, the focus seems to have changed. I spoke with many performers including Kenton Knepper, Docc Hilford, Sartori and Steve Wells, all of whom completely allow for the real possibility that psychic abilities and phenomena are quite real, although none of them actually claim those abilities themselves. This is an interesting change in focus which parallels a similar overall change in attitude I am seeing in the general population.
The last two nights there were public performances. This is perhaps one of the best-kept secrets in Las Vegas entertainment. Fully twelve world-class mentalists performed in the two performances for over three hours in total. There are few shows as good in Las Vegas when it comes to magic and mentalism. While the lectures and demonstrations are great for the working mentalist, actually seeing these greats in performance with real, live audiences is a whole different matter. It is live and anything can and does happen.
I am about to make my reservation for next year's MindVention. It promises to be another great meeting for those of us working in this wonderful field.