For 50 years, the Amazing Kreskin has made a name for himself as a mentalist or thought reader. A native of New Jersey, Kreskin still resides there, but he travels around the world doing live shows, television appearances, interviews and book signings. He is to perform at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Ritz Theatre in Tiffin.
"Two years ago, in one year, traveling around the world, between television and constant appearances, I did exactly 362 appearances," he said in a phone interview.
Kreskin's most recent appearance was Oct. 7 on the Fox television network to discuss the mind set the American public has developed during the financial down-turn and the closure of government offices. Kreskin said he senses some kind of deal will be reached to re-open the government before Thursday. In spite of the harm the fiscal crisis has done, Kreskin sees a silver lining.
"I think the good thing to come out of it is it's finally given the American public an idea of the mentality of our political leaders in Congress. They're bull-headed, narrow-minded and not able to negotiate," he said.
Kreskin's show in Tiffin will not concern political issues, he said. It is to be two and a half hours of interaction with the audience, rather than a typical concert or stage production that people sit and watch.
"They're going to be involved from the very beginning ... I'm going to be tuning in to what they are thinking, whether they're in the balcony or the back of the theater. That's what makes it all the more meaningful," Kreskin said.
Last year in Las Vegas, he announced two names and asked if the names were significant to anyone in the audience. A man stood up and said Kreskin had named his dogs. Kreskin asked if the man had been talking about his Army serial number. The man said it had come up in a conversation with his wife at a nearby hotel. When Kreskin recited a number aloud, the Korean War veteran was stunned to hear the correct digits in order.
A few months ago, Kreskin said he did the same exercise during a performance. A woman in the crowd told him the names belonged to classmates of hers. She had been thinking of the names because she planned to use one of them for the baby she was expecting.
"I describe my work as an adventure because every night, so much happens that's different. My audience is different and what's on their minds is different," Kreskin said.
As an author, he has written 19 books. He will not have books for sale, but people can submit requests for books at the show. His most recent, "Conversations with Kreskin," contains anecdotes from his travels and appearances.
"I finally decided to share with my audience some of the behind-the-scenes challenges that took place," Kreskin said. "Television, early in my career, was live. In those days there was no turning back. Whatever happened on stage, it happened on stage. Of course with (Johnny) Carson, he was at times unpredictable. Then there was a man named Mike Douglas who is forgotten today. I did 118 shows with him, which is more than any other guest in history."
Johnny Carson spoofed Kreskin as "Carnac the Magnificent" on the "Tonight Show." A favorite guest on "Merv Griffin," Kreskin also has been a regular on "Howard Stern," "David Letterman," and "Regis & Kathy Lee." Currently, he makes frequent appearances on "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" and "Mike Huckabee."
Kreskin said his ability works best in person rather than long distance. The concentration and high sensitivity required can be exhausting if he doesn't separate himself from other people and compose himself. Before each performance, he spends about 45 minutes alone. He said the intense mental activity causes him to lose more than two pounds per show.
"If I did this all the time, I would be a nervous wreck," Kreskin said. "When I go out on stage, my mind has to be free because... if I am preoccupied I'm in trouble. My whole livelihood is sensitizing myself to my audiences."
A dramatic segment of the program involves Kreskin's check for performing at the Ritz. A "committee" of eight volunteers is to be drawn from the audience for this exercise. The people must not know him or have spoken to him.
Members of the committee will hide the check in the theater and then summon him back to the stage. Kreskin said he does not ask any questions, but he does instruct the committee and the crowd to concentrate as he reads their thoughts and locates the hiding place. If he cannot find the check, he goes home without pay.
Kreskin said one time, he retrieved his check from the mouth of a man who was hiding it beneath his upper dental plate. Some years ago in New Zealand, Kreskin failed to find a $51,000 check.
"I have failed nine times, but out of 6,000 times, that's not many failures," Kreskin said.
Because a ghostly presence is believed to inhabit the Ritz, Kreskin has promised to flush out that shadowy resident. Audience members will be invited to come forward and witness the process.
"The show is going to climax with a ghost sighting, and some people on stage are going to have an extraordinarily frightening experience," Kreskin said.
Due to the nature of the program, no children under 10 are to be allowed. More about Kreskin can be found at www.amazingkreskin.com
Reineke Family Dealerships is the sponsor for The Amazing Kreskin. Tickets range from $10-$25. The website is www.ritztheatre.org and the phone number is (419) 448-8544.