It's not your typical pull-a-rabbit-out-of-a-hat magic act - it's not even magic.
Eric Samuels doesn't use smoke and mirrors or slight of hand to perform his grand illusions. The psychological trickster from White Rock amazes audiences with mentalism, but he insists he's not psychic.
"I've never had a firsthand experience that psychic phenomenon actually exists," said Samuels. "Everything I do, you can accomplish."
Mentalism, as he explained, originated in the early 20th century as a performing art in which illusionists demonstrated such abilities as telepathy and memory feats. Samuels has gone from dabbling in it as a hobby to taking it on as a full-time job, performing his tricks as part of keynote speeches at numerous corporate conventions.
"I've always been a little fascinated by the psychology of magic," he said, citing such legendary performers as the Amazing Kreskin, Theodore Annemann and Tony Corinda. "I didn't really know much about mentalism, but I'd seen Kreskin when I was a kid on television on old TV shows.
"I started to study it and annoy people by trying to read their minds and pick up on their thoughts, and then I kind of learned the social decorum of how not to be annoying," he said.
His childhood interest in mentalism stuck with him through his teenage years and as he entered college when his dad said drumming in a rock band might not pan out. He originally wanted to study psychology, but switched to another career path.
"A funny thing happened on the way, I found the campus radio station," said the broadcast veteran. "I fell in love with the medium for a bunch of different reasons, and that just brought me into a career in radio."
If Samuels' name is familiar, you might recognize him as the former program director of Z95.3, now Virgin Radio. He had a 25-year career at top stations throughout Canada, but eventually became more passionate about performing onstage than on air.
"A lot of what I present allows the audience to have the experience of accomplishing these acts of astonishment," he said, adding his act involves mind reading based on subtle changes in one's facial expressions and body language.
"I'll pull back the curtain a little and show people some of these techniques, like how to tell if someone is telling a lie. We bring a bunch of people up on stage and go through a human lie-detector test. You can tell by the end that the audience is picking up on these things and they'll leave with these skills."
One of the skills he teaches is how to improve your ability to remember names. But in his line of work, there's a downside to it.
"Here's the problem: I meet a lot of people after the convention," he said. "If I don't remember their names, I'm talking the talk but I'm not walking the walk."
Samuels is performing live Friday, Sept. 28 at Cascades Casino in Langley, located at 20393 Fraser Hwy. Like any good mentalist, he wouldn't reveal entirely how he performs his act, but he said the ending will literally blow your mind.
"I don't want to give anything away, but the way the show ends is designed to fry the wiring of the human brain," he said. "It literally took me years to develop this to the point where it's at today.
"You need to have a lot of focus to pull this thing off," he added. "By the time I'm done, I literally can't do anything for 24 hours."
Samuels' 75-minute show is said to be entertaining from start to finish, full of mind-reading feats and psychological stunts.
Just don't expect him to call you by name after the show.
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