When you think of a mentalist, Merritt McKinney in Now You See Me or Patrick Jane in The Mentalist, who use their abilities to right societal wrongs or solve crime, might pop into your head.
While these performances put a Hollywood twist on the craft, New York-based mentalist Oz Pearlman said the main facets of their interpretations are accurate.
On April 12, Pearlman is coming to the Normandy Farm Hotel and Conference Center in Blue Bell to perform for Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties. The proceeds from the show, for which tickets are still available, will go toward the local chapter.
“A lot of what you’re doing — I don’t want to say it’s similar to a con man — but you understand human psychology, and you know ways to guide people in a certain direction based on your actions, your words, your pauses, the way you utilize your eyes and your body language gestures,” Pearlman said. “It’s a very layered and utilizing performance.”
In his shows, Pearlman makes predictions about what people will do, figures out memories from their pasts or guesses the PIN on their phones. He picks individuals randomly out of the crowd and goes to great lengths to prove they were random.
It’s mostly a craft of reading body language, misdirection, and distracting and influencing people. He’s studied how to read people’s body language for 20 years, and he said there’s just too much to it to be able to explain.
Like most mentalists, Pearlman started out as a magician when he was 13 years old. In his 20s, he started doing mentalism, which uses some of the same skills.
“I like the fact that you don’t need the props,” Pearlman said. “It kind of becomes more of a pure pursuit. The same way that a stand-up comedian just gets up on stage and just has a microphone and is able to entertain 100 people, 10,000 people, 30,000, I mean millions if you count people on TV. I love that approach, where I don’t need somebody saying, ‘Oh, that’s a trick deck of cards,’ or ‘Oh, you have some sort of a box that does the trick for you.’”
He was born in Israel but grew up mostly in Michigan. Right out of college, he went to work on Wall Street. But in 2005, he decided to leave his full-time job to pursue magic and mentalism.
“It was my passion,” he said. “It was beyond just a hobby. You gotta take some risks in life, and it seemed like this was the right time and place to do it.”
He figured that if he couldn’t make it, he could always go back to his corporate life. But he did make it, and every year has been bigger and better than the last.
In addition to placing third on season 10 of America’s Got Talent, he has been on The Today Show and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
Marianne Lynch, CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties, said board president Bob Nydick arranged for Pearlman to come. Nydick is a magician and attended one of Pearlman’s shows in Florida.
Afterward, the two got to talking, and Nydick invited Pearlman to perform.
“On TV, it’s far away,” Lynch said. “So I’m really looking forward to seeing [Pearlman] in person and enthralling our audience and getting everybody excited about his performance.”
Pearlman said audience members should expect an interactive and fun show.
“It’s almost like me telling you about a song instead of hearing the song,” he said. “It will never ring as true as when you watch it.”
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