Not too long ago I wrote an article about some funny episodes in the lives of magicians for the GeMiNi network. Amongst these tales I mentioned an offbeat prank played by the late David Hoy on Walter Blaney. It involved the four letter “F” word. Funny enough, few magicians know that mentalist/psychic David Hoy started out as an Evangelist then became a magician then a mentalist and finally a “psychic.” Seems David came full circle when in the later years he opened his own church. This church was only on paper but he had letter head and envelopes made up. The church was called “First Universal Church of Knowledge.” Of course David only used the acronym for his letter head, which brings us back to his use of the four letter “f” word. David thought this quite a funny joke on the unsuspecting who often never “got it.”
Reading David Hoy’s biography, I remember being astonished that the author was so struck by the fact David knew that there was something wrong with one of his parents. Seems the first words out of David’s mouth at their initial meeting was about how the author’s parent was doing. What amazed me was that the author cited in his interviews with other people that David has also known there was something wrong with their family members as well.
Guess I should explain here what I mean by the fact I was amazed. I was not amazed that David had known that there was something with people’s family members, but I was amazed that the author never seemed to catch on how David knew. In reality, I suspect David did not know what was wrong with people’s family members. It was just a standard thing that David would say. “How are you parents?” He would ask.
Now think about this. If there was nothing wrong with them, the person would answer “they are doing fine,” and the fact he asked how they were would be forgotten. If however their was something wrong, the person would reply with something like “my mother is not doing so well, she has to go into the hospital next week!” To which, I am sure David would reply “I had a feeling there was something wrong with your mother, give her my best!”
This is a very clever gimmick and one that can be a reputation maker for any mentalist as it seems to have done for David. Of course this can be adapted to cover more family members by stating “how is your family doing!” and then creating the false memory of fact you asked about a specific family member by stating “I had a feeling your *** was not doing so well!” Inserting the type of family member with the problem after you know who and what it is.
Of course you can try to be very specific up front by asking something like “How is your brother?” If there is something wrong with the brother you simply add “I had a feeling he had been on your mind lately!” What happens if the person you met just says “I have no brother!”? Don’t worry, just state “Oh, I was thinking of someone else, sorry!” And they will forget the incident. But if you hit, remember to point out the fact you even knew they had a brother, “Don’t you think it strange that I even knew you had a brother, beside the fact I knew he was on your mind and I knew something was wrong with him? That is what I do for a living, I am a thought-reader.”
What about the ethics of this psychological ploy. I am not advocating you go out and call yourself a psychic. In fact I don’t, like Max Maven, Marc Salem, Richard Busch and few other mentalists, I tell my audiences that “I do not read minds, but I am a thought-reader, one who uses non-verbal communication, body language and psychology to tell what thoughts are on people’s minds.” Of course I use other things as well, but the above stands true and psychology does comes into play with the Hoy/Banachek principle.