Paul Draper – Magician, Mentalist, Anthropologist and Entertainer – Tells All

Paul Draper

I first saw Paul Draper work when he lectured at The Magic Circle in 2013. He came across as a very likable and intelligent performer. When I realised that we were going to work together at The Magic Castle the following year I was excited to see what he would do in front of a live audience. I was performing late night close up at the same time as Paul was working the Parlour. For me, his show was mentalism at its best. It was both funny and baffling in equal measure.

Bad mentalism is one of the most boring art forms to watch! Think of something, now I will tell you what it is, repeated throughout the show. Good mentalism draws you in and to some extent makes an audience question the limits of human ability. Like all good mentalists, Paul got a lot out of bits of stationary and a few audience members. It was easy to see why this man has been so successful.

There is little doubt that Paul sees presentation as the key to any good mind reading act. When told that someone else at the Castle was performing a trick with paper and pencils he laughed out loud, “Oh no not another mentalist doing a trick with paper and pencils!” His sarcasm was evident! I doubt the audiences would have seen the connection. Paul’s presentation, to a lay audience, was completely different.

Based in Las Vegas he has developed a strong brand and is now highly regarded. His performances have gained such remarks as “If you’ve got an embarrassing secret, you might want to bring a tin-foil hat,” from Rick Lax at Las Vegas Weekly.

He has had quite a TV career making appearances on shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, Pawn Stars and Mindfreak. He has also lectured at Yale University and is a well-respected artist in Las Vegas having performed hundreds of times on the Las Vegas Strip. Venues include The Venetian and Planet Hollywood.

Paul trained as an Anthropologist and has managed to combine Mentalism with his studies to produce a coherent theatrical presentation.

He is now coming to London to lecture on Mentalism, Magic, and Presentation in June 2015. His two-day workshop “Paul Draper Tells All” is presented care of the Hypnosis Academy. Paul offers a great deal in the space of two days.

I asked him why he thinks it is more difficult to perform mentalism in an entertaining way, than magic.

“Magic at its core is a visual art. Many magic effects can be performed in isolation from the magician and can still be visually stimulating, even if the audience knows how it is done.

Most Mentalism is based in language and a journey of the mind. The success of a show like this is dependent upon the audience caring about the performer and the character. If they don’t, a Mentalism show quickly devolves into a bad open mic night at a comedy club.

As mentalists, we have to accept that we are superheroes fulfilling the dreams and desires of our audience. We need to connect our magical skills to their real life desires so they can see the potential real-life benefits of our powers and abilities.”

Above all Paul is considered to be entertaining and this is why he is popular amongst TV and Conference executives. I asked him if he could identify what made him so accessible to an audience.

First and foremost I am an entertainer. In the United States, I have won national awards in Oratory, Mime, and performed in multimillion dollar musical theatre tours. I am a professor of cognitive anthropology and can speak broadly and deeply about the subjects in the show. My character is clear. The effects that I choose are highly deceptive and performed smoothly.

The show is woven together with comedy, call backs, and a strong theatrical arc that takes the audience on a journey. So many magicians and mentalists simply focus on the trick and if it fools people they say “good enough” and it goes into the show. However, choosing a good trick is like being a white belt in a martial arts class, it is only the beginning of the battle.

This workshop is about discovering what sets us apart from everyone else that will give us the star quality we need to be remembered and booked again.

What will you deal with this in the workshop?

We will look at particular effects used by mentalists and how they can be performed on TV and Stage as well as close up. I will also look at performing at Trade Shows and in Theatres. Each environment needs special considerations and attention.

I will also look at Cold and Hot readings, personality tests. I also sometimes perform a Séance. It is also important from a business perspective that you can perform an impromptu show when needed; I will explain how I do that.

As I’ve said part of my success is character and scripting, I will go into some detail as to how I have gone about creating my own persona and shows.

I have gone from nothing to being a success in a short period of time. This is down to branding, marketing and sales. These are areas where magicians and mentalists are weak. I will go through my approach to the most important part of our jobs, being seen and heard.

Many workshops are offered by magicians and mentalists alike. So I asked Paul what makes his workshop different.

I make my living performing in Las Vegas and Hollywood. I don’t make my living performing for magicians and developing tricks twisted to be more deceptive to magicians than to the real paying audiences. In the last 7 years, I have gone from part-time pro to travelling the world and owning large homes in 3 major cities with a luxury car at each. I will be sharing all the secrets that I have learned to be successful in the art of Mentalism in the worst economy of our lifetimes.

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