The Amazing Kreskin

by Aaron Kinney
Described by promoter Chris MacNeill as “77 years young,” The Amazing Kreskin still tours 48 weeks a year. Kreskin estimates that he’s flown more than 3 million miles, performed more than 6,000 shows and he says he’ll retire 10 days after he passes away.
“But don’t put any obituaries out, please!” Kreskin jokes.
And with a career like his, who’d want to retire? The Amazing Kreskin will be in Jacksonville for an evening of fantastic possibilities at the Florida Theatre on July 28. Kreskin’s a mentalist: A man who purports to possess psychic abilities, which he uses extensively during his internationally known act. If you’ve ever seen The Mentalist, it’s unsurprisingly kind of like that.
“He’s not a magician, though. He’s the real deal,” MacNeill says.
He explains that a magician’s act involves illusions and parlor tricks. The Amazing Kreskin’s act is all about getting into audience members’ heads and messing with them.
“People, when they come to my program, I realize, they’re not coming to watch,” Kreskin says. “They’re not there as an audience. They’re an integral part of my performance, because I’m reading their thoughts.”
He notes that he can’t see the future. For instance, if somebody were to ask him where they’d be September 29, he wouldn’t be able to answer that unless they knew. It’s clairvoyance, not precognition, he says.
Nor is he a hypnotist. Kreskin’s been vocal in his dismissal of hypnotism.
“There is no hypnotic trance,” Kreskin says. “I demonstrate the power of suggestion, and how people wide awake, totally conscious, can respond to suggestion very dramatically.”
But he can read minds, he says.
At a show at a nightclub in Las Vegas, Kreskin says, he called out two names to the audience, prompting an older couple to stand. The man said that they were thinking of their two dogs when Kreskin named them aloud.
Kreskin asked him, “Didn’t you say to your wife, ‘I wonder if Kreskin can tell me my Army serial number’?”
Hearing this, the man pounded his fist on the nightclub table and said that, yes, he had said that to his wife over dinner—before they’d even come to that particular establishment. Kreskin, of course, then gave him every digit of his World War II Army serial number.
“So, the program is dramatic in many, many ways,” Kreskin says. “Not that I intrude on people’s lives. I’m not a busybody in that sense of the word.”
Most people aren’t afraid when he’s able to tell them personal information about themselves. In fact, the usual reaction is fascination. And don’t worry—Kreskin doesn’t reveal information that could hurt anybody. Not enough that they’d come after him anyway.
“There have been very few attempts on my life,” Kreskin jokes.
Not too shabby, considering he’s been doing this for more than 60 years. At 13 years old, The Amazing Kreskin was doing small shows for $5, making “big money” in his early adventures.
Kreskin discovered his abilities when he was nine years old, during a game of Hot and Cold with his younger brother. When his brother hid a penny upstairs at their grandparents’ house, Kreskin set out to find it.
“I’ll never forget, I walk into the kitchen, an old-fashioned kitchen with a long potbelly stove, and I find myself meandering into my uncle’s bedroom,” Kreskin says. “Finally, I (climb) up on the sill and I remember reaching behind this curtain rod, and I (feel) the penny.”
It was only after that that Kreskin realized his brother hadn’t been saying, “hotter,” or, “colder.”
He uses that intuition for his most famous act. At the end of every show, Kreskin has to find his paycheck, which is hidden by the audience. If he fails to find it, he goes home without pay. Out of more than 6,000 times performing this trick, he’s failed just nine times.
“And that’s a hell of a way to make a living, let’s face it,” Kreskin says.
Kreskin’s latest act will be a “ghost sighting” at Jacksonville’s own Florida Theater. Adding to its reputation for being haunted, the Florida Theater appeared in the season finale of Local Haunts, produced by Steve Christian for CW17, where Christian says they caught a ghost on camera in the balcony, in Section 500, Row E, Seat 2.
“We heard some seats folding down and our camera operator zoomed up into the balcony,” Christian says. “She didn’t notice at the time on her viewfinder, but when we reviewed that tape we could see that somebody is sitting up there… but he doesn’t look solid.”
When they tried to replicate the scenario, they couldn’t. Syfy series Fact or Faked couldn’t do it, either—although Christian says they “had a thermal hit in that same seat,” supporting the Local Haunts crew’s findings.
Christian doesn’t know what Kreskin has in mind, nor is Kreskin revealing his plans.
“Now, I don’t happen to believe in the spirit world,” Kreskin says. “I do believe in the hereafter. (This ghost), I gotta leave hanging.”
Will Kreskin show people a real ghost, or will he convince them through suggestion that they’ve seen one? We’ll know after his July 28 performance at the Florida Theater.