First of all, let’s get this out of the way: The Amazing Kreskin did not read my mind.
I didn’t ask him to during our phone interview for this story. But I thought about it, and I figured that would be enough.
“I read people’s thoughts. I’m not a fortune teller predicting the future, I can’t tell what somebody’s going to do unless they are thinking about it,” said Kreskin, 77.
He started by asking me questions about Maine. I wasn’t thinking about Maine.
He wanted to know, for instance, how close Boothbay Harbor and Ogunquit are to each other, because those are the two towns in which he will be performing this week. And he wanted to be reminded of the name of a big park “near the very northern tip of Maine” where he has camped with some park ranger friends of his from his home state of New Jersey.
“Baxter?” I said tentatively.
“Yes, that’s it,” Kreskin confirmed.
During my time speaking to Kreskin, I decided that the only way to really see what he does is to see what he does, in person. People from a wide swath of Maine will get that chance when he does two shows this weekend — on Friday at the Opera House in Boothbay Harbor, and on Sunday at Jonathan’s Restaurant in Ogunquit.
Kreskin has been a celebrity thought reader — and often a comedian’s punchline — during a career that has spanned more than 40 years. His fame began to spread in the early 1970s with his syndicated TV show “The Amazing World of Kreskin,” and he went on to be a staple on TV talk and variety shows, amazing hosts by the likes of Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Johnny Carson. His talk-show career continues today, as he often appears on David Letterman’s and Howard Stern’s shows.
Born George Kresge in New Jersey, Kreskin said he first found out about his mind-reading powers in grammar school, when a teacher played a game of “hot and cold” by hiding things in class and having kids find it using clues given by their classmates. Kreskin did not get to play, so he went home and asked his brother to hide something. He found it right away, but never asked his brother for clues.
“This is something I was born with, but I’ve conditioned myself to do it too,” Kreskin said of his purported mind-reading skills.
Kreskin has done thousands of live shows, and there are lots of people who have been amazed by details he seems to know — because, he’ll tell you, he can read their thoughts. He says he once recited a World War II veteran’s dog tag serial number, and the man swore he had never shared that number with anyone.
A staple of Kreskin’s live shows is the method in which he gets paid. He has his paycheck for the evening in an envelope, then he has audience members hide the check. When he comes back in, he asks people to think about it, and then he finds the check by reading their minds.
He says of the thousands of shows he’s done, he’s only not found the check nine times. When I asked him again how he reads people’s minds, he didn’t really answer (maybe he did telepathically or something), but instead launched into a couple of stories about finding his checks.
In fact, most of the interview was taken up by stories and anecdotes about his career, which didn’t always match the questions I asked.
“One time, I was drawn to this man, and I asked him to open his mouth. The check was under his upper (dentures),” said Kreskin. Another time, Kreskin said, he was at a dinner honoring Bob Hope and found his check inside a turkey that was being served for dinner, covered with stuffing.
Kreskin also consults for companies and offers tips on positive thinking to businesses and individuals — for a fee. Basically, he says that reading minds all these years has taught him that the power of one’s mind can be harnessed more than we know.
“We create most of our own problems. But if a person is responsible enough to admit their fault, they can change their lives,” said Kreskin.
Now there’s a thought.
Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: