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Excerpt by The Amazing Kreskinpublished | august ‘09

Kreskin ConfidentialMake no mistake: I love movies. But I also love magic and I have found that rarely do the two mix well. Great magicians are really a live experience, and movie magic is a less connected experience — especially in this age of computer-generated images, where anything is possible (but increasingly uninvolving). I’ve often been asked where and when I fell in love with magic, movies, and the power of the human mind. In other words, what was the evolution that brought me to the point of appearing all over the world as The Amazing Kreskin. 

Certainly I can remember the earliest "ah ha" moment in my life. Approaching the age of five, I was visiting relatives in Pennsylvania where I was given a comic book to occupy me. I started reading, and, well, fell in adolescent love. The comic book hero was most intriguing to my hungry brain. He was Mandrake the Magician, written and drawn by Lee Falk and Phil Davis. His comic demeanor just enchanted me, and, having started reading at an early age, I became embroiled in the aura of this wizard.

He really wasn’t a magician who did magic tricks or slight of hand. Instead, he had hypnotic and, at times, telepathic abilities. He was able to solve crimes by mentally paralyzing criminals, or causing their guns to change to flowers or reptiles or what have you. This was all in the criminal’s minds, of course.

Now, when other children were playing cowboys and Indians, yours truly was play-acting Mandrake the Magician with his friends, in a different sort of cops and robbers game. Mini-Mandrake (me) was fighting the friends who posed as crooks, and therefore, fighting crime.

But that all changed when I was around nine years old. It was raining one day, so we couldn’t go out to play for the forty-three minute recess. Miss Curtis, our third grade teacher, decided to teach us a game instead. One of the students (I believe it was a Miss Jane Hamilton) left the classroom, while we all hid a beanbag somewhere in the class. Jane was called back and told to walk around, looking for the hidden object.

If she was far away from it, the rest of the class would say "colder," but if she approached it, they would say "warmer." If she got really close, they’d say "You’re getting hot," and eventually she found the beanbag.

I was immensely disappointed, because I was never asked to play the game. There just wasn’t enough time to get around to me. But when I left the classroom, I couldn’t get the game out of my mind. Walking home for a mile or so (as I did for the thirteen years that I attended schools in my home town), I saw my brother. My mother was evidently out shopping, so we decided to go over to grandma and grandpa’s house.

My grandfather was at work and my grandmother was attending to things. Both were from Sicily, and, although they didn’t speak a word of English, we were extremely close to them. They rented the lower section of a two-family house that my grandfather and his construction friends had built by hand. In any case, I told my brother to go upstairs and hide a penny anywhere in the house. He called me when he was ready.

I walked upstairs. My grandmother was sitting behind a large kitchen table, obviously wondering what was going on. I wandered slowly towards my uncle’s bedroom. He was at work. I walked into his room, climbed up on a maroon chair, and was able to reach behind a curtain rod … where I found the penny. 

My brother knew something was special, because I never told him to tell me if I was getting hot or cold. He never spoke to me, but I had found the penny. My grandparents, being from Sicily, might have thought I had the evil eye, but the news of my accomplishment rapidly spread around the family, and I started performing at family affairs, Sunday get-togethers, what have you. 

Then in fourth grade, Miss Galloway, my teacher, was intrigued when I started performing during show and tell. We did some magic tricks. I remember putting a glass of water on the table with a cloth under it, and pulling the cloth away without moving the glass or upsetting the water — a skill I’d seen in circuses.

A few days later, the Principal, Mr. Johnson, told me never to do it again. It turns out that my fellow classmates ended up breaking the dishware from their moms’ kitchens trying to recreate the stunt. By then I was starting to introduce thought-reading experiments into class, and at one point I vividly remember bringing up someone’s name. Gloria Palmer raised her hand, and I told her a movie she had seen a few days earlier. That moment stuck to me.

Miss Galloway was immensely impressed, and had me practice almost every Friday with my classmates. Two years later she reappeared as our teacher in sixth grade, so the classroom experiments continued. Those weeks were invaluable, as I not only learned about what I could do, but how the individuals in my classes reacted. Soon things I only instinctively guessed at became certainties. As a result, my thought-reading became more important, even though I was still doing magic.

In fact, classic magic was the majority of what I did, so by the time I was in junior high school I was performing for teachers and at private parties, among other things. After I had graduated to high school, I presented one of my first public concerts when I was in the ninth grade, and at about the age of fourteen. The high school auditorium was filled with schoolmates, friends, and family. I presented myself, as I had during assemblies, as "Kreskin," a mysterious Mandrakian performer and hypnotist (indeed, in articles around the country I was known as the youngest hypnotist in the United States). 

During the performance, I had one teacher, Mrs. Long, thinking she was Liberace. But, by then, my thought-reading had become a more integral part of my program. As much as I loved magic, and performing magic, my thought-reading was taking on more and more time and substance during the show. What had all started with a game of "Hot and Cold" had developed into what many consider my most memorable contribution to the art of "mentalist entertainment."

But, just like me finding that hidden penny, I will secret more about my "hide and seek" adventures later in this book. For now, I’ll hope you join me on a parallel journey into a world of legendary friends, as well as those who hoped to do what I do without putting in all the years of reading, studying, practicing, and honing that I have … with pleasure.

The Amazing Kreskin has entertained literally millions of people, in virtually every medium, all over the world, for nearly fifty years. He has appeared on television and radio more than five hundred times — most recently with David Letterman and Howard Stern. He is the writer of more than sixteen previous books, including Kreskin’s Mind Power and Commanding the Inner You.

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