We always aim for something a bit different at the MML, and our May meeting was no exception, with a visit from Paul Bell and his alter ego Paul Voodini - a stage-name which has proved to be both a blessing and a curse; a blend of 'Houdini' and 'voodoo' which is cheesy yet memorable.
Beginning with his days as a Junior Super Hero in Sheffield, Paul took us through his unintended development as a performer, via a palm reading by a girl in a nightclub at the age of eighteen to his purchase of a zombie and thumb tip after being inspired by David Blaine . . . and his disappointment when they arrived and their simple 'secrets' were revealed. Then the realisation came that if they had fooled him they could fool someone else, and the so-called 'secret' was the least important aspect of the presentation.
There were some lovely anecdotes about a prosthetic thumb, apparently spotted by an audience member, and more serious reflections about a man with a genuine hatred of clowns and an African lady who had an equally genuine belief in witchcraft, hailing him as a demon. This had led to the realisation that magic does not occur in the mind of the performer, or indeed in his or her hands, but in the mind of the viewer. Following this epiphany, Paul had jettisoned his children's magic act and created an entertainment based upon palm and tarot reading.
Although he professes to have no skill as a magician, Paul does possess a very real skill - that of communicating and engaging the emotions. He demonstrated this by reading the palm of our illustrious Chairman (very accurately, most thought) and then divining which card he had chosen, by the simple expedient of a marked deck.
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Using a test with any willing members of the audience, Paul was able to ascertain the most susceptible, narrowing three down to one with an additional pendulum test. This was our Secretary, Dave Moss. Paul explained the composition of the tarot pack, then provided five tarot readings for people selected 'unconsciously' by Dave.
The session also included the 'prediction' of a child-like drawing; 'a play-school' style house which had been named by well over half of those present.
This all made for a fascinating and illuminating afternoon, with Paul being very open about his methods. Once again, it all boiled down to the fact that if the audience like you they will like what you do, and if you can make them the centre of attention all the better!
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