Max Maven’s VideoMind
Review by Michael Close
Max Maven needs no introduction to the readers of this magazine, nor to anyone who has been in magic for any length of time. He is a prolific creator, a commanding performer, and an eloquent spokesman on the art of magic. L&L Publishing has released three videos in which Max performs and explains mentalism effects suitable for close-up, parlor, and stage conditions. The material is first rate, Max’s performances are thoroughly enjoyable, and the production values are among the best I’ve seen.
The first video of the series offers mental effects suitable for parlor conditions. Six items are explained including: “The Mockingbird,” a remarkable card location from the “Birds of Prey” series; “Autome,” an absolutely terrific book test; “Zenvelopes,” in which a spectator manages to pair up ESP symbols contained in opaque envelopes (this really fooled me when I saw Max perform it on Swedish television); and “Kurotsuke,” a previously unreleased routine in which the mentalist does some dowsing using five spectators and some marbles. The best thing about this routine is that it can be done completely impromptu.
Video two contains Close-up mentalism, and seven routines are explained. Among my favorites are: “Shape Up,” in which the spectator chooses an ESP card in a very fair manner and yet manages to pick one which matches a previously isolated prediction; “Isolation,” a word divination to which Max has added some really sneaky stuff; “Positive Negative,” another impromptu stunt using imaginary props; and “The Hawk,” an absolutely impossible two card location.
There are five Stand-up mentalism routines explained on volume three. All are excellent, but I was particularly impressed with “Tossed-out Tech,” which is Max’s previously unreleased work on the venerable “Tossed-out Deck,” and “Continental,” in which the spectator thinks of any country in Europe or Scandinavia and the mentalist reveals it. This routine can easily be done as a phone stunt.
On all three tapes the performances are grouped together at the beginning, and this is a great idea, because you can play these tapes for your non-magician friends and you won’t have to constantly fast forward past explanations. The assembled audience is lively and enthusiastic, and they genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves. Their energy adds a great deal to the tape.
After the performance segments Max is joined by Eugene Burger for the explanations of each routine, and it is in these explanations that Max really shines. The clarity of his explanations is enviable, and his love for the subject matter shows through. One of the hallmarks of Max’s work is that his methods are truly ingenious. You’re going to get fooled by the material on these tapes, and then you’re going to be delighted when you find out how everything works. (By the way, there are some very funny moments on these tapes.)
One aspect I must comment on is the use of computer graphics to aid in the explanations of the routines. I don’t believe I have seen graphics used so effectively in any other videos. Max directed these three tapes, and his experience in the video medium is obvious. (I should also mention that Max directed the Elmsley videos which I reviewed in June.)
What more can I say? If you have an interest in mentalism, you’re going to learn a ton of stuff from these tapes. Excellent material, excellent performances, excellent production values. Very highly recommended.
- Michael Close