By Essie Lustig 10/11/2012
A New Jersey transplant to Oxnard, Lincoln Kamm has the ability to make you question reality. Why? His acute perceptive skills are a combination of natural insight into the human condition and years of learning to gauge emotion and expression. To quickly define what Kamm does, he is a mentalist. His live show, a combination of a thematic element and an active conversation with the audience, is dazzling. Mentalism can be defined as the simulation of extra sensory perception (ESP). It relies on perception and the power of persuasion, and if anyone has the ability to persuade it is Lincoln Kamm.
He’s a magic man
When he was a child, Kamm admired the popular magicians of the’80s, and by the age of 8 he began to hone his craft. By 11, he started performing for money and realized that magic is not real but is based on the perception of reality. Lincoln, like any adolescent fixated on a new idea, took to the library and discovered books about magic theory. After a series of incidents where synchronicity shaped his burgeoning interest in the science of thought, he came to a conclusion: “I think I am genetically predisposed to knowing how people think.” He likens this evolution to a strongman competition where the athletes are naturally gifted, but their disciplined regimen brings their true gifts to the surface.
From Shag to swag
Mentalism is something Kamm does, but it certainly is not the entirety of his creative output. At Cal Arts, he studied photography, animation and filmmaking. He also kept molding what eventually would become his unique stage routine at the prestigious Chavez College of Magic. Kamm worked as an animator, a visual effects consultant and a photographer. Pop artist Shag commissioned him for a portrait and, using his ever-growing understanding of human needs, Kamm was able to capture Shag in a surreal yet entirely apropos setting. While this was a career highlight, he knew magic would eventually draw him back into the fold, and it did. Kamm is a member of and regular performer at the legendary Magic Castle in Hollywood, where he showcases his “unique blend of high-impact magic, personalized upbeat comedy and very interactive ESP demonstrations.” His study of improv and classical theater provides a context for a dialogue with the audience. Minus a few overly zealous participants, Kamm encourages people to think outside their traditional definitions of magic. He understands that some audience members expect coin and card gags, but those tricks are rather difficult to demonstrate in a theatrical setting. Instead, he delights in the reactions of audience members who feel as if they have had their minds “read.” Kamm almost seems more amazed than his subjects when he reveals, “It’s funny if you think about it; people are so excited to have you tell them something they already know.”
Perception isn’t always reality
Working on a book, Kamm is still very much an auto-didact, reading relentlessly and turning every experience and emotion into something almost quantifiable. He respects the idea of shared reality, but he wants to impart the idea that there is a distinction between personal perception and what really happens. He calls this “actuality,” and it perfectly underscores mentalism. Kamm does not rule anything out, either. Perhaps something magical does exist, as he explains; “I still think there are a ton of things we don’t know about. To assume certain things are not even possible is pretty short-sighted. Even the platypus was once considered a myth.”
For more information about Lincoln Kamm, visit www.lincolnworld.com.