When people find out I’m a Mentalist they ask a few questions, “What’s a mentalist? Did someone teach you? Are you a witch? What’s that burning smell?” My response became short and boring after answering those questions a few hundred times. But recently, it felt disheartening to seem jaded. I’m certainly not, I love what I do, I work hard for it, and I’m grateful that someone would give a damn. So to set the record straight, here's what an evening with me, a mentalist, looks like.
This is a blow-by-blow account of a typical private event, where I’m invited as a mystery guest to mingle and entertain, using skills only seen on TV shows like The Mentalist or The Twilight Zone. It all starts with...
The Shoe Shine
Whether I’m booked in New York, Las Vegas, Los Angeles or overseas, I always begin my preparations with a shoe shine. When I was younger I played baseball for the Las Vegas Baseball Academy, and it was expected that we show up with our uniforms pressed and our shoes polished. It was as a sign of respect for the game, our teammates, and ourselves. To this day I shine my shoes before every show. There’s something intrinsically rewarding about it. Plus, it smells amazing, and the fumes are where I get 80% of my mental abilities…
It’s basic, but important. I shower, brush and floss my teeth, comb my hair, clip my nails, and apply cologne. Just enough to detect on a personal level.
The Suit Up
Undies, socks, pants, v-neck undershirt, dress shirt, shiny shoes, and my jacket. I’ll make adjustments to my pocket square or tie if necessary, then book an Uber car.
As a mentalist, I don’t require much except for a pad of paper, a pencil, and maybe some ESP cards for experiments in telepathy. The rest is done with objects found at the event. All I need is someone’s mind, and the game is set.
In the car I’ll listen to a podcast or some music. Lately, Mozarts requiem in D Minor. I’ll drink room temperature water to prepare my voice. It’s the small things that make a big difference, which you learn from experience.
I’m always early, obsessively early. It’s another link to my Baseball years when showing up late meant you didn’t play. My coach would say “If you’re early, you’re on time, and If you’re on time, you’re late…” I like that, and believe that’s true to this day. Being early also give me a chance to meet the host, and stroll around the floor to get a feel for the space.
My entrance is quiet. People hear of me through the host, email invitations, or some kind of flyer, but they won’t know who I am. And because I’m dressed like everyone else, I’m never suspected. I use this to my advantage when making small talk with guests, taking mental notes, which is of great use to a mentalist. But before long, someone will ask "What do you do?", and I explain… This always gets a nice response, because they’ve been wondering who the mystery guest is, all the while, talking to him.
Now I hate to admit this, but the first group I entertain or experiment with is always tricky, because they set the tone for the evening. If I don’t start off on a good foot, then that feeling is hard to shake. Thankfully, I’ve been doing this long enough to feel relaxed in my ability to blow the proverbial head off of someone, and people can sense that level of confidence, which helps them to relax in return. My goal is to let them feel they’re in the hands of a professional, but still feel enough apprehension to not know what’s going to happen. I won’t explain what happens on this blog post, because I need to keep the element of surprise on my side. But let’s just say what I do is technically impossible, although it looks, feels, and sounds very real. What's more, when you combine learned skills like master memory, rapid mathematics, and hypnotic language, with elaborate hoaxes like telepathy, psychokinesis, and precognition, it's hard to tell where one ends, and another begins. In my experience, people find this element of mystery quite intoxicating (or perhaps that's just the open bar).
The Strange Event
Most evenings, something strange and unplanned will happen. I never know what it will be, who it will be with, or when it will happen, but it’s always the thing that gets talked about long after the night is over. Years later, people tell me their story of what I did at some holiday party in Texas five years ago. But what’s interesting, is that it's always different from what actually took place (and therein lies one of the biggest secrets in the field of mentalism — *wink).
Near the end of the evening, I start getting asked a lot of questions. Some more coherent than others. Some about mentalism, some about the future, some about where to sign up for my cult, but depending on the question, I’m always careful to set the record straight — what I do looks and feels real, but isn’t. It’s a kind of science fiction, where the rules are bent and logic is skewed. But if it’s anything about how cool I am, then I milk it for what it’s worth.
The Pack Up
I find my host, shake their hand (palming that $100 tip folded up inside), thank them for having me, and book my uber car to head home.
The Night Cap
When I arrive at home, I'll pour myself a glass of whiskey, relax into my chair, and start to laugh uncontrollably (something like this). It’s still remarkable to me that this is how I earn my living. But truth be told, outside of mentalism, I’m completely unemployable.
Good night, and happy new year.