By ERIC SCHELKOPF
He has amazed audiences worldwide with his incredible mind reading feats, and provided the inspiration for the 2009 movie, "The Great Buck Howard."
Now mentalist www.amazingkreskin.com, will perform three shows April 29-30 at Zanies Comedy Club, 230 Hawthorn Village Commons (Hawthorn Village Commons Plaza), Vernon Hills.
I had the chance to talk to the 76-year-old Kreskin about his gift for reading thoughts and how he has tried to use that gift.
Q - I understand you discovered your powers as a child.
It was in third grade. It was raining outside, so Miss Curtis, as I can vividly remember, decided to teach us a game.
She sent Jane Hamilton out of the room, and we hid in the room a bean bag. We would tell her if she was getting warmer or getting colder, depending on whether she was near the bean bag or not.
I was really disappointed, because I didn't get a chance to play. So I'm going home, and me and my brother walked over to my grandparents house. They were from Sicily and did not speak English.
So I told Joey to go upstairs and hide this penny. And then he called me.
I ended up in my uncle's bedroom. I climbed up on the chair, reached behind a curtain rod, and felt a penny. Then it dawned on us. I forgot to tell my brother to give me clues. We never spoke a word.
That was the beginning of a tremendous evolution in my life. The teachers heard about this. In show-and-tell, I attempted experiments in thought reading.
By the time I was in my teens, I was doing two-hour performances.
Q - What will you do during your show?
In one of the my shows at Zanies, I will do something that is part of my performances all over the world. I will turn my check over to a committee in the audience. I'm escorted from the theater and guarded by part of the committee, and the committee will hide my check anywhere in the entire theater.
If I fail to find my fee, I don't get paid. I tell you something, it's a hell of a way to make a living. People ask if I ever failed. I failed nine times out 6,000.
I have found it hidden in some wild areas. At a Bob Hope dinner in his honor some years ago, I shoved my hand in the stuffing. They cooked it in the stuffing of a turkey.
My work has been exciting.
Q - Was it an honor to have your life portrayed in the movie "The Great Buck Howard?"
Extraordinary. The storyline is not my life, but the things that happened on stage all happened to me because the writer (Sean McGinly) was my road manager in the 1990s. John Malkovich played me in the movie.
My life has been an adventure.
Q - Have you ever viewed this power of yours as a curse rather than a blessing?
No, I haven't. This is not something I am doing all the time. How could people be comfortable around me? Can you imagine being around me if I'm reading your thoughts all the time?
The members of the audience have to concentrate. I couldn't find my check if the committee did not concentrate. It is not something that is happening spontaneously.
Q - You recently talked about your abilities in a book about synesthesia.
It's the first time I've ever discussed this. It's a book by Maureen Seaberg called "Tasting the Universe."
They've discovered that about five percent of the population think differently when they are stimulated by a word, name, sound or picture.
Billy Joel whenever he hears music sees colors all around him. In my case, I often hear a voice talking to me. It's as clear as day in my head. It just seems to be one of those factors.