Figuring out what someone’s thinking – the name of a loved one, a specific number, a hidden secret – is, in a way, the ultimate magic trick.
Oz Pearlman, the globe-trotting mentalist appeared in the studios of the Wall Street Journal’s “Lunch Break” show with host Tanya Rivero and asked her to choose a name from the thousands of contacts on her iPhone.
When the host asked Pearlman how he comes up with his tricks, he responded that: “I reverse engineer it. What would be incredible? And that I try to figure out a way to do it, and how to fool you with it.”
And does he share his secrets with anyone?
He said he and his wife Elisa share a “magic prenup” where she knows how he does some of his tricks, but not all of them. “I take joy in her not knowing,” he said.
Oz Pearlman continues to impress. This time on the “Today” show, where in less than seven minutes, he performed three stunning tricks that had them dumbfounded.
Take a look for yourself in the video below:
This was not the first time Pearlman has performed for the “Today” show. Back in August, he was able to correctly guess what each of them were thinking in a special weekend segment about birthday parties.
Now, see Oz Pearlman, the “America’s Got Talent” finalist, get into the mind of the Judges!
“Making them feel at ease helps me get into their heads and do what I do, but it also helps them enjoy it,” he said.
Failing strengthens the act
Pearlman never pretends that he’s conjuring up these answers from nowhere. He doesn’t call what he does “magic” or say that he’s a “psychic.” He simply utilizes what he describes as laser focus, a well-honed memory and a keen eye, combined with problem-solving skills he learned as an engineer managing Merrill’s UNIX servers.
“So much of what I do is layering different methods on each other, so you never catch what’s going on,” he said.
A person’s gestures, eye level, and other tiny details are “tells” that reveal your thought process in action. Most people do the same things, no matter how unreadable they think they are. He’s also in control of the conversation, which is why he can’t guess what you’re thinking at any random moment.
He acknowledges that he doesn’t always guess things right during his 90-minute stage show.
“The moment you’re on stage in front of 500 people, someone thinks of something, and you don’t get it, you know what that just did? That validated the whole rest of the show. People think, ‘This guy’s not trying to screw up on purpose. That means all those other things he did must have been real.’ If I got it right every time, this would be a magic show.”
Knowing your ‘partner’ makes things harder
During his show, he says he establishes a rapport with the people he selects from the crowd based on his observational skills. But that doesn’t mean that his job is easier.
“It’s harder, because in my shows, when I have random people selected out of the audience, you know they’re random. If I say something about Howie [Mandel], you can Wikipedia that. I have to think out of the box and be pure in my approach.”
You can’t use your family to rehearse
He certainly can’t use his wife, who he said “is brutally honest about what I do. If I can fool my wife, Howard Stern is easy,” he joked. “My wife knows my humor. I can play off of her a little bit, but she has biases. I can’t get her to think of something because she knows where I’m going with it.” He talks to mentalists he admires and they help him brainstorm and refine a trick, but there’s no real way he can rehearse.