Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Peek Performances

Well, I just finished re-reading "Peek Performances" by Richard Busch. Do I recommend the book? Yes. Is the book the greatest thing since sliced bread like the internet hype makes it out to be? No.

Please do not get me wrong. I enjoyed the book and I have nothing against Mr. Busch. He certainly is more knowledgable than I and his reputation speaks volumes. However, I just didn't think the book lived up to the hype.

First, I should mention that the book is all about gaining secret peeks at information that spectators have written down. The peek then allows the performer to reveal the "secret" information in an apparent display of psychic prowess. The book delivers what it promises by detailing many unique peeks and the psychology behind the moves.

Of particular mention is the Zen Billet Tear. This is by far the best peek in this book in my opinion. I have adapted it to a specific routine that I will dedicate an entire topic on later. The instructions are clear and very easy to follow. You would have to be an idiot to get lost reading the directions. Although, Busch does have a fascination with bold type fonts!

Here is what I do not like about Busch's peeks. First, the majority of them require that the writing be in a specific spot on a card rather than in the middle. This means you have to go out of your way to justify why the spectator cannot just write anywhere or in the middle. Second, one of Busch's main principles (I won't detail it here. If you want specifics buy the book) draws undue attention to the billet. I have always lived by the philosophy that one should minimize the importance of the billet. When thinking back, the spectator should not even remember that a billet was used. Using one of Busch's principles puts the billet in play in ways that I believe lower the impact of the over all effect - although, what the hell do I know? Third, one of the reasons many people seek out Peeks is to get away from doing a center tear. It is becoming more popular among mentalists to use peeks so that the billet may be handed back to the spectator at the end of the effect. Well, the only peek I use from Busch's book requires a tear so I am back to square one anyway.

Aside from billet peeks, Busch details many peeks for playing cards and gives some nice insights on a couple of books tests. I didn't pay too close attention to the playing card peeks because I have my own ways of getting that information. The book tests, on the other hand, were a very interesting read and I really enjoyed them.

Having said all of that, I do recommend the book. I think if you are going to work with billets you should read about all different types of peeks, tears, and other methodologies. There are many good pointers and presentational tips. Overall, it is a good read and you will find something to use in this book.

I know I mentioned above that the book does not live up to all the hype. I still stand by that comment. However, I must say that Busch himself did NOT overhype the book and I do not want to give the impression that he did. It was the usually hype that lingers around the magic cafe whenever someone says they are going to publish something. At any rate, it is definitely worth a read.

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