The Amazing Kreskin is simply that…amazing. The legendary mentalist has had a career spanning a staggering seven decades, and is showing no signs of stopping anytime soon. From his latest book (his 20th!), to his off-Broadway show, to his countless appearances, Kreskin is continuing to captivate audiences everywhere—and us, too. We recently visited Kreskin at his home to talk about his career, his humanitarian work—and why he’s banned from most casinos in Europe.
Kreskin, it is an honor to be here with you. But I’ve got to know: why are you banned from most casinos?
Wherever I appear around the world, what I can do with cards is unprecedented. In a casino, theater, private event, or a state fair, what I can do has become legendary. I was in Aruba once for a performance, and on closing night I said to my road manager, “I’m going to the casino to play blackjack.” I put down $37, and after awhile, I wanted to get the money converted from florin, which is Aruban currency, to U.S. dollars. At 1:30 in the morning, we went to get the money converted. At about 2:30 a.m., I called a man in the hotel who had booked me. He comes in and said, “What the hell did you do?” The amount of money that I left with, after only putting down $37, was $22,400, in only three hours. So now I can’t gamble anywhere. [laughs]
But do you like gambling?
Not really, but I did like playing blackjack.
Kreskin, your career has spanned over 70 years. That, in and of itself, is amazing. No pun intended.
Yes, I’m 83-years-old. One of the greatest thrills of my life is being able to give back. During one of those days of Reading Across America, I will go to a grade school and I’ll read a book to the class, which was a book that was read to me when I was in kindergarten—The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss. It takes about 15 minutes, and it’s the story of Bartholomew, who walks down to the kingdom, and people are waiting in line. The king is about to pass him and Bartholomew takes off his hat to bow, and a hat keeps replacing the one he takes off. The basis of the story is to capture the imagination of young kids. It’s a mystical story, and the kids and teachers are enthralled because I read it with excitement.
This year, I read it at the Lincoln Elementary School in Caldwell, NJ. All the students sat on the floor, and I read to them like it was read to me. Afterwards, I had the students stand up, and I told them they would be in for a shocking surprise. One by one, they started pointing out that they saw hats appearing on the heads of some students all throughout the audience. It was thrilling.
That’s an awesome experience. They were so lucky to have gotten to experience that.
I’m constantly sent books because publishers want me to review them or give a quote. [Kreskin hands Jennifer a book, Fatal Sins by David Steele.] But let’s do an experiment. Turn to any page in the book. Don’t show it to me. Find a word on the page, the larger the better. Make it at least 9-10 letters. [pauses] Do you have the word?
Can you think of the first letter?
What’s the first letter?
There’s an N in it, isn’t there?
In fact, the word could be made into two words, couldn’t it?!
Oh my God! Yes! That was awesome! Thank you!
I love what I do. And it’s always exciting. My shows are different all the time. People think they come to see me but they don’t. There’s no barrier between myself and the audience. They are not coming to see dancers or a magical illusion. I am there to perceive their thoughts, so they are an extension of what I do. Without them there I have no show. So either I’m influencing them by my mental suggestions or I’m perceiving what they’re thinking.
So it was nothing for me at Carnegie Hall to read the thoughts of one gentleman who was sitting in the 4th balcony. And at the Oregon State Fair, where there are 30,000 people, there could be people there who are in some way part of the program. They’re not there to see what I do, but to potentially become a part of what I do. That creates an excitement, and that’s why people keep coming back, over and over again. I’ve done over 1,000 university shows in the U.S. and Canada, and I think the excitement is that it’s really happening to them.
Now, when people see me on television, one of the keys in shows like The Mike Douglas Show or The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, is that I’ve not only performed for the celebrities who are on, but I’ve used people in the audience, too. The producers realized that by me doing something with the people in the studio audience, the people at home think, “If I were there, that could be happening to me, too.” I work with people’s thoughts, and they become like a storyline to what’s taking place. That’s what makes what I do exciting—every time.