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His name is Roger Clyne
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I don't think it's that no one cares, it's just a slow time of year around here.

Spring is in the air & lots of people are out gardening (check out the Pumpkin Patch thread, that one is pretty busy), cleaning up, just getting out & about in general. Usually by the end of May/beginning of June things start moving again.

Many are in their planning stages, me I fall into the gardener/yard work category, but I do check in daily. There's plenty of members that only come around during "season" which is usually late July - early December.

I didn't respond because I have zero personal experience with seances. The only ones I've seen are the ones in movies & TV. Personally don't believe in that stuff, but I'd go with an open mind & just have fun. I wouldn't believe anything that I saw or that have happened because IMHO it's all just another magic trick but if you believe it would be a different experience for you. Either way it would be fun to see everyone's reactions.

Also, there's a paranormal section here so maybe you can get a mod to move this thread there, that's where the folks that are into that sort of thing would hang out & you may get more responses.

But don't take it personally that no one is answering, it's just that time of year when things slow down.

If you do go don't forget to give us the details about it all. I'd love to know how it goes.
 

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Curious why you're asking.

There's some fantastic info out there on how old hucksters used to fake spirits, for instance.

To describe my expectations fully, you have to understand that I'm someone who used to enjoy conning people (for fun, not money, though I could have done it for money).

I've done the board.
I've done the cards.
I've done the palms.
I've 'spoken to the dead'.

LOAD of conning, with the very rare actual spookiness.

SO, MY expectations would be for a load of conning with a slight chance of spookiness. I'd be watching the leader like a hawk for tells that they are conning the group. It's about 50-50 whether I'd play along or not if I spotted conning. Depends on my mood and if I'd be more entertained messing with the leader or the group.

For spookiness, there's a certain FEELING when things go down, and I'd trust that feeling before I trusted any supposed spookiness. Sounds and physical interactions can be faked. That feeling can only be faked by suggestion, of which I'm not as susceptible as most.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Curious why you're asking.
First thanks for the response. As part of our Halloween festivities, like many of us, we host an annual party. It's typically a handful of friends and close family along with nieces and nephews. It's never been the typical Halloween party like most throw (ie: not a traditional kids Halloween party with games and such nor an adult only party with booze and silly costumes).

At the end of the evening I typically do something of a theatrical performance with effects , props, and various hauntiques. While I don't do blood I don't do cutesy either. Sometimes the shows are a little too dark (like last year) and we have to pre-screen the younger ones to make sure it's not too much for them. Then, if it is, plan out alternative activities for them do while the others are watching the performance.

This year I'm upping the experience to be more for the 13+ crowd. As part of that there's going to be a seance. I'm no huckster or con-artist - in fact I discourage such things. I don't believe in taking advantage of people - and especially in this case, friends and family. But I do encourage the audience to participate in the spirit of the evening and take away whatever they want while not ruining it for the others. The point is to be entertained and have a good time.

We all get our opinions and beliefs about things based on observation or personal experience. With all that in mind I'm doing a bit of a survey to see how others see seances and what their expectations are going into one if they were ever invited and decided to go. There are many ways to conduct a seance. I hope to use this information to help build a better and more enjoyable show. Who knows, perhaps this year the stars will be right.

-TM
 

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Terrormaster,

Years ago, there used to be what they called spirit cabinets where ghosts and spirits would ring a bell, play a horn, etc. If you dig through some old magic books, you'll probably see details on the construction and method. There is a guy selling info on eBay but I suspect it is from an old print.

There is also a subset of "bizarre magic" with floating lights, etc. The seance scene you discussed may work well with this. Some magicians work around Halloween and you could hire them to do some eerie effects. Some do mentalism, cold readings, palmistry, and other things like levitations which would be spooky with the right buildup, atmosphere, and performance. I have a spirit bell made by Anverdi (an electronics wizard, long deceased) which will activate in the middle of the table without anyone touching it. You could ask the spirits one ring for yes, two for no, etc. You could also do a rapping hand where a deceased severed hand "raps" out answers posed to it. The Madame Leota might also work but a lot of people are tech savvy and would realize it's a projection.

I also have a Losander levitating table where the spectators can help hold the cloth on the table as it rises. They can lift up the cloth and peek under without seeing anything. These items take skill and practice to pull it off effectively. Actually short levitations look and "feel" better and adds mystique.

With the right setting and performance, you can make it as miraculous or as scary as you want. A skilled performer knows how to "tone it down" for the audience they are working with. I hope this gives you a few ideas and good luck on your seance.
 

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Thanks for the comment htmagic. Great to see like minded individuals in this thread. My theatrical performances are indeed rooted strongly in mentalism and bizarre magic (I'm a member of a few of those communities well). I'm quite familiar with many of the known techniques, the history of spookshows, seances, and the now legendary Fox sisters who started the whole thing.

What I'm aiming for here is to try and see it from an audience perspective in order to better improve what I already do. When doing things from this side its easy to get trapped into the mechanics and miss what the audience and sitters are expecting.

-TM
 

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First thanks for the response. As part of our Halloween festivities, like many of us, we host an annual party. It's typically a handful of friends and close family along with nieces and nephews. It's never been the typical Halloween party like most throw (ie: not a traditional kids Halloween party with games and such nor an adult only party with booze and silly costumes).

At the end of the evening I typically do something of a theatrical performance with effects , props, and various hauntiques. While I don't do blood I don't do cutesy either. Sometimes the shows are a little too dark (like last year) and we have to pre-screen the younger ones to make sure it's not too much for them. Then, if it is, plan out alternative activities for them do while the others are watching the performance.

This year I'm upping the experience to be more for the 13+ crowd. As part of that there's going to be a seance. I'm no huckster or con-artist - in fact I discourage such things. I don't believe in taking advantage of people - and especially in this case, friends and family. But I do encourage the audience to participate in the spirit of the evening and take away whatever they want while not ruining it for the others. The point is to be entertained and have a good time.

We all get our opinions and beliefs about things based on observation or personal experience. With all that in mind I'm doing a bit of a survey to see how others see seances and what their expectations are going into one if they were ever invited and decided to go. There are many ways to conduct a seance. I hope to use this information to help build a better and more enjoyable show. Who knows, perhaps this year the stars will be right.

-TM
Sounds like we are of similar 'not normalness' around our Halloween. Though, I've certainly leaned more mainstream with our party lately, the highlight is always a campfire story with some theatrics thrown in. I usually take a few trial runs on nieces and nephews through the year. Goal is to have kids clinging to parents, but not up all night with nightmares. Older kids to find cool/interesting not neccesarily "SCARY".

As htmagic suggests, look into magic effects on spirit tables and spirit boxes for how some of the more startling effects ran.
 

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Terrormaster,

I'll try this post again (as it got deleted before I sent it). I don't know if you ever had the pleasure of seeing Willard and Falkenstein do their spirit cabinet routine but even during the day, knowing how and (almost) what will happen, it would send chills down your spine. There is a magic convention in Kentucky held the first weekend in November, right after Halloween. I did a magic trick called Psychokinetic Bolt where a nut is threaded onto a large bolt and placed on a case. The nut & bolt is covered with a clear drinking glass and the "ghost" visibly removed the nut off the bolt while covered by the glass!

Doing bizarre magic, you've probably heard of Masklyn ye Mage (Tony Andruzzi) who did a simple trick called "Coffin Nail" and could turn that into a spooky performance. If you have a partner, even better as the partner can do some of the "dirty work" while all eyes are on you and you are clean.

If you're already involved in bizarre magic combined with theater, you know how to play to different audiences. You know the area you live in, the sophistication of the people that live near you, and if you are doing this for friends, family, or strangers. Friends and family can "catch" what you're doing if they know you're a magician. But in theater, the show must go on and sometimes, the magic is not in the trick but the story you weave around it that makes it magical. Like Gypsy thread...

So I don't really know what you want as you already have the knowledge (maybe not all the tools but you have time to collect) to "do what you do". Pick something and practice, practice, practice. Then tell a good story and let the mystery and mystique unfold...

As the Nike commercial says: "Just do it!"
 

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I think I understand what you mean, that you're so close to the internal workings that you might not share the outsider's mindset as to what a seance should provide to them. My version of expectations from the audience perspective--
It sounds like great fun! I'm not a believer, but if I were going to a well-staged seance, I'd expect the area to be cluttered with lots of interesting stuff, Victorian &/or Gypsy. I'd be expecting the group to hold hands around a candle-lit table at some point while spirits were summoned. Some lights that dimmed, apparently by themselves, maybe a book falling off a shelf when no one was near, and anything levitating would be in the range, and very cool. I might be looking for a medium to go into a trance and speak in a voice clearly not his or her own normal voice. Knocking for yes/no answers, or a spirit board with a planchette that spelled out actual words without anyone touching it would be impressively creepy. A sudden cold draft of air across the participants, or an unexpected scent wafting over the room (especially if it could be cleared out quickly after)...some quiet, barely-discernable scratchy phonograph music that fades away...candles that snuff out on their own...at some point all light at least briefly extinguished...maybe sounds of some scuffle, thumps or steps in the dark before the lights come back on and reveal some significant change in the room, though all the participants are still seated and holding hands--- Those would be the sorts of things that would say "spirit presence (or a reasonable facisimilie)" to me.
I hope that's what you're asking! Again, it sounds like a blast!
 

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Study Houdini as he tried to debunk seances and psychics as charlatans. And I think ooojen nailed the setting perfectly. I think the candle that would snuff out on its own would be spooky. And especially if it would relight later on...
 

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htmagic, I've studied Houdini's debunking of seances. I've been meaning to get out to the west coast at some point to check out the Houdini Seance room at the Magic Castle. Also mentalist Derren Brown did a TV special a few years back called Seance. He's pretty much UK based so my exposure to him has been through YouTube. It was a fantastic show and I'm a huge fan of his work.

Again for those reading. I'm not looking for new ideas or things to do during a seance. Everyone has been exposed to it one way or another - either TV, books, movies, or personal experience. People who have only seen seances on TV and movies have an entirely different perception of what actually goes on than those who have actually been to one. I'm trying to see how each side sees it from their point of view.
 

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Terrormaster,

Imagine doing a seance in a candlelit room and then taking a book off the shelf, stating in it are secrets of magic.
Then making it float...


Takes a little bit of practice but it looks cool.
And I bet some would wet their pants in a spooky setting with the right buildup...
 

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In one of the first issues of Haunted Attraction Magazine by Leonard Pickel there was a good story about two brothers in Key West who put on a fantastic "Show Seance" for a few years.They had something like 180 different "Effects" they could do, but , of course only did a small portion of them at any one seance.
People would book these months in advance , and they did understand "Showmanship".
Another Haunter was so impressed he tried it in his city. He told his Wife:"If I can do this even a fraction as good as they do this, I will be a success!"
A few years later I saw him again. He had quit the Show Seances because afterwards people would tell him:"I know it was just a "Show Seance", but could you Please just try to contact my Uncle and ask him where he hid "The Money?'
 

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I'm a big fan of Paul Voodini and Eugene Burger. Do a search for Voodini's séance books and Burgers' "Spirit Theatre". You'll find all you'll need to know and them some.
 

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A local woman's sister paid a Psychic $1,200.. but when she gave her reading ... things only known to the sister concerning her deceased Father came out.
The man always talked about his "Boat" and how he had to allow you to board, and if you displeased him some how, you would not be allowed on his boat.
Then there was also a connection to the one young Grand daughter that was a bit mystical, yet endearing for all who were told about this seance.
It seemed to me that the sister was happy with the money she spent for this, because it was a pleasant picture as "Painted" by the Psychic.
 

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A local woman's sister paid a Psychic $1,200.. but when she gave her reading ... things only known to the sister concerning her deceased Father came out.
The man always talked about his "Boat" and how he had to allow you to board, and if you displeased him some how, you would not be allowed on his boat.
Then there was also a connection to the one young Grand daughter that was a bit mystical, yet endearing for all who were told about this seance.
It seemed to me that the sister was happy with the money she spent for this, because it was a pleasant picture as "Painted" by the Psychic.
Whether or not this account is apocryphal, it does demonstrate the true need of the successful psychic to be a good "cold reader" and to give the client what they want. There are many established psychics in the town where I live so they must be "good".
 
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