Review: Affinity – Coldreading’s 3rd Way by Paul Voodini

[vc_row][vc_column width=”2/3″][vc_custom_heading text=”Reviewer: Madame Curator” font_container=”tag:h3|text_align:left”][vc_column_text]Thanks to contemporary hits on television like Psych, the genre of Mentalism has been given a brighter spotlight, next to its boisterious Magic sibling (with his loud music, smoke and pyro, as well as, in-your-face visual effects). Interesting, thanks to the wildly successful character of Patrick Jane from The Mentalist, the public generally view mentalists as suave, eloquent, well-dressed gentlemen in three piece suits (with no tie!) who are trained experts in cold reading, body language and other such skills of observation.

In 2013, I spent a full month filming in Rome for an Italian television show, and got to know Uri Geller personally during the production of La Grande Magia. Famous for being a psychic and bending spoons on TV way before I was even born, Geller still maintains that his special powers are of a supernatural origin… a complete departure from Simon Baker’s television character who scoffs at the thought of anything psychic. A clever marketing guru, Gellar is still regarded by our circles as a successful performance artist who uses the concepts of Mentalism to entertain, and over the years has written forewords for mentalism books by professionals in the industry.

Magicians typically look at Mentalism as a subset of Magic. I admit that while performing as ‘Magic Babe’ Ning, I used to do the same. Like in 2012, I was involved in a world record setting feat of reading 100 minds in 60 minutes. Mind Heist was a hit but looking back, there are several things I would have done differently.

You see… In Magic, every trick must end with a “tadah” moment – but not (necessarily) with Mentalism. Mental Magic maybe, but not Mentalism. In Mentalism, we subscribe to a theory of not being too perfect, to instil the idea of true realism. Reading old books, the classics revealed that before (and during) the time of Houdini and Dunninger, many Master Magicians of the day would actually operate public seances, conjuring up ghosts and spirits. That is why it’s no surprise to some working professionals that to this day, curious members of the public would come up to a performing magician to have their palm read after a show.

Personal preference (or even prejudice) aside, I think it is safe to say that Mentalism in its purest form, holistically embraces all of that. It is completely up to the performer to choose which “school” they wish to subscribe to. Although the public has a certain perspective and expectation thanks to successful contemporary performers like Derren Brown, there are still splendidly wonderful artists like Max Maven who look larger than life, and create that sense of wonder just the same.

You also have brilliant mystery performers like Paul Voodini from the UK who etch out a good living from stage hypnotism and bizarre magic, complete with swinging pendulums and all.


Also an active member in UK mentalism circles, Voodini has written about thirty books on the subject and conducts the occasional workshop and masterclass. I felt a certain affinity… for his ebook, Affinity: Coldreading’s 3rd Way… So I went ahead with it and am I happy I did! I enjoyed the read so much that I lapped up all 78 pages the very same evening I started reading his book 🙂

So what exactly is “The 3rd Way”? Without giving too much away, I’ll just state that Voodini’s concept is a merger between the 2 different definitions of “cold reading” …by magicians/ mentalists who consider it all to be cleverly gleaned entertainment VS an actual sitting by a “shut-eye” reader who genuinely think they have the gift.

Personally, I do believe the latter to exist, since our world is never completely black or white. While I do consider myself a modern woman of the scientific world, I also understand we need to live life with an open mind and embrace the unknown, keeping the door a little ajar for possibilities and openness… There will be that rare person with the real talents, who stands out from the shams.

Affinity teaches you how to get there, to that point of “The 3rd Way” where you can also push your performance to the next level; generously giving your audience authenticity to your art. Reading his book, it seems that Voiding does knows what he is talking about and has genuinely spent some time observing mediums at work at psychic fairs and such. I enjoyed his read throughout and found him to be a good writer. The manuscript is easy to follow even if English is not your first language, and it ends with a performance script using Voodini’s own method.

Students of the Mind Palace aka Method of Loci, would appreciate what Voodini has to share in Affinity. He is a patient teacher and everything is well broken down and paced out, which lends a soothing burst of encouragement for the reader. Voodini’s method, with its depth of emotive layers and key levels of awareness, when used artfully will also help you beyond just your Mentalism performances. You can definitely use it in your Magic too, and in fact it is recommended!

My 2 cents? Affinity is like a fine wine that not everyone may know how to appreciate (they may much prefer a lager and that’s okay too) but IMHO, I do consider Voodini’s manuscript useful for the serious student of Mentalism who is keen about learning a system and not just an effect. This book (which interestingly, was fully funded via KickStarter – props to the writer and his savvy publishing team for being so forward thinking!) certainly inspired me to try something new and it comes highly recommended. In fact, I can’t wait to sink my teeth into his other stuff. Bravo!

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Ning Cai is a Singapore Literature Prize nominated author, who was also long listed for the Epigram Books Fiction Prize in 2016. A bestselling writer, she is also recognised for her illusionist/ escapologist stage character Magic Babe Ning, and recognised by Channel News Asia as South East Asia's first professional female magician.

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