November 30, 2006
Originally published October 23, 2004
I don't believe in magic. I don't believe in telepathy, the supernatural, witchcraft or ghosts. But in college, I once saw an amazing show and I still don't know how the guy pulled off those impressive tricks.
I can't remember his name, but he billed himself as a "mentalist." The first thing he did when he came on stage was hold up an envelope that held his paycheck for the performance (or so he said). He told the audience that he would give the check to somebody, exit for five minutes and give us a chance to hide it. If he couldn't find it by the end of the performance, he would work for free.
About 500 people were in the room. The President of the Student Council took the check and finally placed it under the asscheeks of a good-looking woman somewhere in the middle of the crowd. "Don't put it in your pocketbook," he said. "Just sit on it." She did.
The performer came back on stage, announced that the FIRST thing he was gonna do was find his money, and he asked for two volunteers who knew where the check was hidden. A lot of hands went up and he picked one man and one woman from the group.
He grabbed their hands, went into some kind of cosmic trance and walked straight to where his check was hidden as if using a divining rod. "Honey, I believe that you're sitting on my money," he said. She stood up and he retreived the envelope. The crowd went wild.
I figured he had a spotter out there working for him that TOLD him where the check was hidden. That's the oldest trick in the book. But he did some other things that blew my mind.
He could add a series of ten four-digit numbers in his head and get the right answer every time. I KNOW that he didn't fake that stunt because I yelled out "1177" and my number went onto the list a person was keeping on a big marker-board behind him. When all ten numbers were recorded, he gave the answer without ever looking at the board. He did that trick five times. He was correct every time.
If he was wearing some kind of wire, I couldn't see it.
He also hyptonized some people and that was a hoot to watch. I tried to volunteer for THAT, but I never made it to the stage. The guy picked a few members of the basketball team and put them to sleep on stage. He told one guy that when he woke up, everybody in the auditorium would be nekkid. He told another one to take off his shoe, hold it over his head and be VERY ANXIOUS about where his shoe was when he woke up. He told another one that HE was nekkid and nobody else in the place was.
He brought them out of their trances and the reactions were incredible. The one who saw everybody nekkid was grinning like a goof-ball. The one with his shoe over his head was distraught about losing his shoe. The one who thought HE was nekkid, covered his private area and almost crawled under his chair.
I don't know if hypnotism really works, but it appeared to that day. I talked to two of those guys after the show and they confirmed that they weren't acting.
If you ever get the chance to see a good "mentalist," take it. You'll remember the experience 25 years later.
All content © Rob Smith