The Unconventional Mind of Paul Draper - Mentalist Magician and Anthropologist
by David Goodsell
Not long ago, Paul Draper was performing his stage show in a large theater in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah. He brought a man up from the audience and, as he always does, he engaged him in conversation. This way the spectator becomes comfortable with Paul, and the audience gets to know the spectator. In doing so, he is treated as a person, and not a prop. He truly becomes their representative; thus, the entire audience is engaged.
“Where are you from?” Paul asked.
“Iran,” the man replied.
“Are you Sufi, Sunni, or Shi’a?”
“I am Sufi,” he said.
“Oh, you’re my favorite,” said Paul, “the singing, dancing, Mystical Muslims.”
The man laughed, and said, “Yes.”
“My best friend from childhood is half Iranian, said Paul. “His father’s family was from there.”
Paul then addressed the audience directly. He said, “Look! It takes Utah for the Jew and the Iranian to be best friends, and that is the solution to the Middle East!”
Turning back to his new friend Paul said, “You and I, here, on this stage, we can be friends starting now; and we can be friends tomorrow and forever.”
The man smiled and said, “Can I hug you?”
Paul said yes and gave him a hug in front of over a thousand people.
A pleasant enough story, a “feel good” story…but actually much more.
The story emphasizes an important part of Paul Draper’s approach to magic and mentalism. Whether performing a single trick or his ninety-minute Mysteries of the Mind show, his goal is to interact with his audience so that they become the stars of the show. In this case the spectator went on to help blindfold Paul in layers of steel, leather, cloth, and duct tape. Paul emphasized that he depended on him to keep Paul safe through the experiment. Paul asked the audience members to hold out unusual objects and the man led Paul around the room to individuals. Paul received a sense from them and described the objects and their owners. Paul’s audience participant became an important character in the show, his uniqueness helped build and add to the struggles and comedy in the routine. Since he represented the audience, they cheered for him and shared in the experience.
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