, Salem, MA


October 25, 2012

A little bit of magic, a lot of the bizarre

Magician brings his show to the Hawthorne Hotel

Even when magician Chris Bolter describes how his routine works, audiences still can’t figure out how he does it.

And that makes them wonder if his magic isn’t real after all.

“With me giving you this truth, it’s going to sound like a lie,” said Bolter, who is performing two shows a night at the Hawthorne Hotel from tonight until the 31st, with the exception of Saturday. “When you tell them what you’re doing, it almost seems like you’re denying it. They think, ‘You must have some supernatural ability.’”

If this reaction seems complex, it is part of the mind game that defines Bolter’s brand of magic.

“I am mostly in the world of mentalism, the mind-reading branch of the magical world,” said Bolter, 27, who was born in Quincy and still calls Massachusetts home.

He distinguishes between two kinds of mentalists: those like himself, whom he calls “realists,” who claim they are simply using suggestion and misdirection, while another set professes to have, or at least implies that they wield, special powers.

Bolter’s approach disarms people and makes them do a double take — many of which have been recorded and posted at his website — when they can’t figure out how he knew which card they chose.

Bolter got a taste of magic at an early age at the Marshfield Fair, where he worked at his family’s booths selling food every summer and met all kinds of magicians, jugglers and sideshow performers.

A strong interest in psychology and human behavior influenced the kind of magic he eventually chose to practice.

Mentalism relies on interaction with an audience, which Bolter prefers to acts that offer well-rehearsed material that only requires people to watch.

“Being a mentalist, you need audience participation,” he said. “That’s what makes the material stronger and harder to do: There are no guarantees. The shows are always up for grabs and always fun.”

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