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Banachek predicts Toronto Newspaper Headlines

Posted in: Latest News, Uncategorized ♦ Monday, June 11th, 2012, 5:59 am ♦ Comments Off
Mentalist Banachek poses for a photo with his revealed written prediction sheet. The renowned U.K. mentalist wrote down a few predictions of what he believed would appear as headlines on the front page of the Saturday Star on June 9 and sealed them in a glass box on display in the front window of Kiehl's, a cosmetics store at 407 Queen St. W.
Mentalist Banachek poses for a photo with his revealed written prediction sheet. The renowned U.K. mentalist wrote down a few predictions of what he believed would appear as headlines on the front page of the Saturday Star on June 9 and sealed them in a glass box on display in the front window of Kiehl’s, a cosmetics store at 407 Queen St. W. 


Wendy GillisStaff Reporter


The surprise retirement of I’ll Have Another was there. The out-of-the-blue bid for the 2024 Olympics was there. The story on gang violence? There. He even had the feature article on Australian Aboriginals.

In a feat of unbelievable (no, really) news forecasting, U.K. mentalist Banachek seems to have accurately predicted the front page of Saturday’s Star 10 days in advance.

The professional magician, who’s worked as a consultant for Penn & Teller, David Blaine and Criss Angel, says he scribbled a mock-up of the June 9 front page on May 30.

On June 1, at a public event held at Kiehl’s — a makeup store and, perhaps fittingly, Banachek’s partner-in-illusion — the prediction was folded, taped, and put in numerous envelopes. Customer Diedra Wandel even sealed and signed every envelope that day, eventually placing the package in a glass box in the store’s window, where it supposedly sat untouched for more than a week.

Wandel was on hand again Saturday when the predictions were unveiled in-store to a small crowd of surprisingly unskeptical viewers, exclaiming “wow” and “Oh, my Lord” when Banachek read out his headlines while a volunteer held up a copy of the Star.

“I’m confused,” said Wandel, who had reopened the package, checking to see that her original signatures were still on the envelopes and that another package had not been put in its place. “I just don’t get it.”

Kiehl’s employee Sabrina Pallotta “couldn’t believe it,” swearing that the box in the store window hadn’t been tampered with.

Give or take phrasing and a few words, Banachek guessed mostly right on the headlines. While the Star had “They don’t tell white people how to spend their money,” Banachek had “White people are not told how to spend their money.” His version of the Star’s main news story, “A gang at war with itself,” was written as “Internal Gang Wars (shootings create more killings).”

Curiously, he was also spot-on with the placement of every story on the page, even going so far as to draw the reins on I’ll Have Another’s head, prominent in the Star’s cover photo.

“I’ll Have Another — I wasn’t sure what that exactly was,” Banachek said. “But I got a picture of a horse, and then I realized what it was a few weeks ago, because this one came to me before that.”


Like any trickster, Banachek doesn’t dare break the magician’s code. “If I tell you too much, then you’ll be able to do it,” he said.

But he has performed the trick before, getting “pretty accurate” results, and will reveal — get ready — that he looks at the news and thinks about where things could go.

“Sometimes you can be a little more accurate than normal, which I was today.”

Alison Uncles, associate editor, weekends and features, said normally the Saturday Star front is planned out during the week (always with the possibility that news will break). But there were a few factors — the gang investigation, and the sudden retirement of I’ll Have Another — that meant the page was assembled later than usual.

“For him to have forecasted not only that the horse would announce its retirement, but also that it would be main art is almost inconceivable to me,” she said.

She adds, “I want to believe this is true; I think it would be so freakishly amazing.”

Banachek’s description of his brand of magic may be the best explanation of how he pulled it off.

“I create effects that look like they could be real.”

Banachek, whose real name is Steve Shaw, is in town for the world premiere of his show, The Alpha Project, which is part of Luminato. It showcases his mentalist skills, including psychokinesis, telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, hypnotism and séances.


Banachek takes Toronto by storm

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Monday, June 11th, 2012, 5:54 am ♦ Comments Off

Luminato 2012: Have Your Mind Blown by Banachek’s The Alpha Project

If you’re hoping to be driven crazy with curiosity this weekend, this British mentalist has got the show for you.


Banachek (centre) performs one of his baffling mindtricks on a couple of unsuspecting audience volunteers.

The Alpha Project—Banachek
Fleck Dance Theatre (207 Queens Quay West)
June 8–9, 8 p.m.; June 10, 2 p.m.

For someone who makes his living performing feats of mentalism (telepathy, psychokinesis, hypnotism, seances, and dermaoptics, a.k.a. “the magic of sensing without sight”), British-born performer Banachek’s entire backstory is pretty unique. And given that the audience at last night’s opening night show was not short on skeptics—a handful of whom we spoke to during intermission, or casually eavesdropped on, and a number of whom were volunteers on the stage itself—it is the highest praise to say the entire audience left looking absolutely baffled, but also delighted.

The thing is (spoiler alert) Banachek makes no bones about the fact that though he’s been practicing this art for most of his life, none of it is real. If his story itself is to be believed, when he was a teenager the entertainer spent four years being studied by scientists at Washington University. Throughout this ongoing study, which was funded by a half-million-dollar grant, Banachek managed to convince the men he had genuine psychic abilities. “But everything we had done was a trick. We had fooled the scientists,” he explains during his show.

This knowledge didn’t hinder our enjoyment of the performance; not in the least. In the first half of the show, Banachek invites two volunteers onto the stage; each of them is asked to look at the back cover of a paperback book held up by Banachek, and to choose a random word from that book. And lo and behold, he is able to guess first the individual letters, then the entire words they were thinking of (“China” and “colour,” in case you’re comparing notes from a subsequent performance).

Now, a skeptic would assume that perhaps these volunteers were fakes, planted in the audience before the show. But one of Banachek’s assets is that throughout the two-hour performance, he gives a high number of audience members the chance to see him perform up close—and as luck would have it, one of those volunteers was us. After we approached the stage and dutifully tugged at and knocked on the metal blindfold he prepared to put on—over the layers of duct tape also covering his eyes—we entered the audience to select three objects at random from complete strangers. And then, with us holding each object over his head, he guessed exactly what each one was with alarming specificity (for example, not only that we were holding plastic sunglasses, but blue and yellow plastic sunglasses). Considering that we were standing close enough to check his ears for tiny microphones, this was impressive trickery indeed.

You can strain your neck and edge as far off your seat as you want, but there’s no question that Banachek is a master of his craft—there’s a reason he counts Penn & Teller, David Blaine, and Criss Angel among the acts he’s consulted for. Even after he tells you it’s not real, every trick is followed by a single question, rippling through the crowd: “How did he do that?” It may not be magic, but that’s okay—it’s still mystery, suspense, and high entertainment.


Mentalist ready to read your thoughts at Daytona Festival of Magic

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Tuesday, November 8th, 2011, 5:09 pm ♦ Comments Off
BY RICK DE YAMPERT, ENTERTAINMENT WRITER send an email to rick.deyampert@news-jrnl.com
November 1, 2011 12:05 AM
Mentalist Banachek will be performing Saturday night at the Daytona Festival of Magic at the Daytona Beach Resort and Conference Center.

“A Night of Magic,” 8 p.m. Saturday featuring mentalist Banachek, $30.

Banachek swears he isn’t a psychic.

Yes, the mentalist and former consultant for the TV series “Criss Angel Mindfreak” can seemingly bend spoons with his thoughts.

Yes, Banachek (who took his stage name from that old George Peppard TV series) can guess your pet’s name or, ahem, that secret fetish you keep buried deep in your gray matter.

Yes, patrons who witness the entertainer’s performance this weekend at the Daytona Festival of Magic may come away believing Banachek possesses supernatural powers.

However, the English-born mentalist says, he’s merely using his five ordinary senses — the same ones you and I have — to create “the illusion of a sixth sense.”

But don’t feel bad if you’re fooled. Among stage magician and mentalist circles, Banachek is famous for his role in Project Alpha, a serious parapsychology research study conducted at Washington University in St. Louis from 1979 to ’81. Working in league with stage magician and skeptic James Randi, a teenaged Banachek (real name Steve Shaw) and another teen were determined by researchers to possess genuine psychic powers — that is, until Randi revealed the hoax.

Banachek, who has long made his home in America and now lives in Houston, talked about the difference between reading minds and reading thoughts during an interview before a Las Vegas show.

So, you’re not a psychic and you say that you don’t read minds but, rather, that you are a mentalist who reads thoughts. Please explain.

If a husband and wife are sitting on a park bench, a pretty woman jogs by. Man turns to look. Wife slaps the husband in the face. We know something about the dynamics of these two people. We have not read their minds — we have read their thoughts.

That is what I do — read thoughts not minds. If someone comes up to me after a show and punched me in the face, I would know what they thought about the show, same if they come up to me with a smile. That is nonverbal communication. It’s a form of thought-reading.

If someone says Dolly Parton, what two things come to mind? Right: singer-songwriter. Seriously though, the words influence the thoughts and that is part of what I use in my show, mixed with magic. But I use a lot of this sort of psychology to accomplish and enhance my mentalism trade.

You are known for telling your audiences you are not a psychic, yet you say some people still believe you have psychic powers. How do you explain that yearning to believe?

Ahhh, people always want to believe that there is more to life than just living and dying and we all want to feel special. If we had this type of abilities, then most people believe that we would be more than special. I particularly already think that humans are very special indeed. I do not need to take advantage of people’s belief systems to entertain.

It is why I am very open about the fact I use verbal and nonverbal communication, body language, lots of magic and perceptual manipulation in my show — all packaged neatly to create a show that looks like and feels like real mind reading.

The other thing is I am doing impossible things. People are born to see patterns. They yearn for information. These are survival instincts. As a result, most people will latch onto whatever makes the illogical seem logical and what puts the world in some sort of order for them.

So, as a result it is easy to convince someone you are psychic if they have no other explanation that makes the impossible possible in their world. The idea of it being “psychic” is an explanation in their mind, something most people need.

So, some people believe you have psychic powers. Is it more difficult to amaze other people these days? Have CGI effects in the movies, techno-computer feats and even David Copperfield’s mega illusions on television made it more difficult for stage performers to conjure a sense of wonder?

I don’t think it is harder to amaze an audience. Great magical and mental performers do it all the time. In fact one of the most common compliments I receive is “Wow, I saw it on TV and did not believe it. Now that I see you doing it, it really is different and amazing. You just changed the way I think about this stuff. I just thought it was all TV editing.”

As you can see, people are even more amazed when they see these things live. However, having said this, information is so much more available nowadays on the Internet, so if you are going to be a mystery entertainer, you better be good and you better be amazing. Or you just really need to be entertaining. A good comic has not been hurt by all the comedy on TV. A good magician should not be either.

Have you ever been tempted to pass yourself off as a psychic, and just run with it?

Only when I see the amount of money some of these fakes make, but I am quickly reminded I could not sleep at night if I took advantage of people like some of these scam artists do.

This is why James Randi put up his million-dollar prize for anyone with psychic abilities (offered to “anyone who can show, under proper observing conditions, evidence of any paranormal, supernatural or occult power or event,” according to the website randi.org).

I am the director of the One Million Dollar Paranormal Challenge. It also keeps me from such temptations as I am reminded every day what kind of horrible damage those type of scam artists do.

What routines will you be performing as part of your Daytona Festival of Magic show?

I probably will perform what I like to call the largest ESP experiment in the world, where the audience writes out thoughts, holds on to them and I try to guess their names, thoughts and even information they did not write down.

Usually I open with something quick like having the audience just think of playing cards in their mind, then without any real cards in existence I reveal three or four cards audience members are thinking of.

I like to close with something dramatic. Being the first mentalist in the world to perform a Russian roulette with knives, I may pull that one out on that night. I will make my final decision once I see the venue, the amount of people and realize what will work best in that environment.


Penn State Article

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Tuesday, October 11th, 2011, 8:35 pm ♦ Comments Off

From http://bit.ly/nPG33F

Mentalist Banachek surprises crowd at HUB

By Ryan Staudt
Collegian Staff Writer

Ali Moyer (senior-advertising) hold a cup above Mentalist Banachek's head while he attempts to guess what it is during his show in Heritage Hall on Friday evening.

The student stood on stage above the lounging mentalist-magician Banachek, holding a knife concealed within an envelope, just inches from the performer.

HUB-Robeson Center’s Heritage Hall was still, and any air that should have been moving throughout the room was being tightly held in the lungs of the large student audience inside the room watching Banachek’s performance.

As soon as Banachek gave the word, the student plunged the knife down into his stomach.

This performance marked the end of Banachek’s set, as he chose his self titled “Banachek’s Death Test” to be his final act of the show Friday.

“It was amazing. I thought he was going to die during the knife trick,” Herbert Rapley (junior-bioengineering) said.

Banachek, who was voted Best Campus Performer two years in a row, presented various tricks throughout the night — from correctly guessing three random objects taken from the crowd while blindfolded to seemingly reading the minds of students in the audience.

In fact, almost every feat performed by Banachek involved the audience’s participation.

Many students found themselves involved in different parts of the show throughout the evening.

The student involvement added some surprise elements to Banachek’s performance.

Ashley Calle was especially surprised about her involvement with the show.

“It was definitely mind blowing,” Calle (sophomore-interdisciplinary digital studio) said.

Calle said when she appeared to be bending spoons with her mind during her participation in the show, she felt as if she were “psychic.”

But Banachek said he is against performers who try to con audience members into believing in the paranormal.

Unlike many magicians and entertainers in his field, Banachek made a point in telling the crowd that there is nothing magicical or supernatural about what he performs.

“I take my five normal senses and I create the illusion of the sixth sense,” Banachek said.

He said he creates the illusion of a sixth sense by using different small cues throughout the performance.

He brought up some of the psychological verbal and nonverbal cues that he uses to influence people into making certain decisions, such as changing the volume of his voice to emphasize certain words and using various hand signals.

During part of his performance, while asking a student in the audience to pick a number between one and five, he flashed the number three on his fingers while gesturing, and said three louder when listing the student’s choices of numbers to choose from to try to get the student to pick the number three.

Sure enough, the student picked the number three.

“So many people go to the psychic explanation because they can’t explain [what they’re seeing on stage], but I like to assure people that it’s okay to not know,” Banachek said. “It’s just entertainment.”

Banachek on nightline this Wednesday

Posted in: Latest News, Uncategorized ♦ Monday, August 15th, 2011, 6:42 pm ♦ Comments Off

Beyond Belief:  Banachek on Nightline

One of the tests for nightline

For promo tape for this piece head to: http://abcnews.go.com/nightline/beyondbelief

Mentalist Banachek Wows Crowd @ StonyBrook

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Saturday, June 18th, 2011, 5:25 pm ♦ Comments Off

Bethany Onsgard

Banachek got students involved in the show by guessing what cards they were thinking of, their pets names and instruments they played.

Best known for his four-year stint writing magic for A&E’sMindfreak, Banachek, a world-renowned mentalist, arrived at the Student Activities Center auditorium  to pull students out of the crowd and up on stage for his experiments.

Before the show began, few in the audience knew what a mentalist show entailed, but students offered up guesses on what skills a mentalist may hold.

“A mentalist is someone who has a very strong mind and uses it to read minds,” said Karen Celis, senior.

Banachek doesn’t claim to be a “mind reader,” but instead says he uses his skills in verbal and nonverbal communication as a “thought reader.”

“I give the illusion of a sixth sense,” Banachek said, “but it’s all based on reading people and guiding their thoughts.”

Dressed in all black, with a bright blue tie, a dark jacket, light brown hair speckled with highlights and a goatee, Banachek rushed the stage, microphone clipped to his chest. Only seconds after his introduction was completed, he dove into the act, calling people on stage and yelling instructions in his fast-paced European accent.

In the course of an hour, Banachek correctly guessed what cards audience members were thinking by analyzing their body language, anticipated what phone number someone would choose from a phone book and knew exactly what the crowd would choose in a collective round of “What Fictional Character Would You Assassinate,” a game akin to Mad Libs.

He also attempted more mind-bending tricks, hypnotizing two students and helping another bend forks with her mind.

In between acts, Banachek filled the time with cheeky comment and  jokes, and used his talent to read the thoughts of audience members, finding everything from their pets’ names to instruments played and even secret fetishes.

The show ended with “The Banachek Death Test,” a game of knife roulette played with Banachek and five volunteers from the audience.

“Everyone must be very careful and listen to all the instructions,” Banachek warned, “because one mistake in this trick, and I’m dead.”

Five envelopes were sealed and folded, two containing real knives, and three with the blades retracted, making them unable to cause harm.

One by one, Banachek called the students over and asked them to stab the envelope into his chest. One by one, Banachek called the fake daggers correctly as nervous “ooohs” and “aaahs” echoed from the crowd. Banachek had beaten the roulette wheel once again, without surprise.

“It’s never failed,” Banachek said, crediting his talent for thought reading. “It’s all mind over matter.”

Filed UnderArts & Entertainment • Campus Scene • Television

Banachek introduces David Copperfield and questions David Berglas at IMX

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Friday, June 17th, 2011, 6:35 am ♦ Comments Off

How Did David Copperfield End Up At The IMX Convention?

Banachek, David Copperfield and Richard Kaufman

Magic icon David Copperfield decided to do something very rare recently: attend a magic convention. Although based in Las Vegas, seeing Copperfield roam the halls of a convention is not a common occurrence. Which made it all the more odd when attendees to the IMX convention saw just that.

But how did he get there? We asked IMX organizer Craig Mitchell:

How did David Copperfield’s visit come together?

Copperfield had heard of the tribute that was being planned for Berglas as part of IMX 2011 and having enormous respect for Berglas’ contribution to the art of magic – was wanting to get involved. Berglas had worked extensively with Copperfield in the past with his unique floating table illusion and its clear that these two giants of magic share such a passion for the art.

Did you know how rare of an event DC coming out to a convention was?

We had worked on the details over many months with Copperfield’s production team who were so incredibly supportive of what we were wanting to achieve. David Copperfield has an insanely busy schedule but his level committment to magic is phenomenal.

Magic is all about standing on the shoulders of giants – acknowledging and celebrating those special people who have forever changed the performance landscape. And here we had David Copperfield – one of magic’s most influential performers ever – sitting in awe of David Berglas. These are living legends. Banachek said it best at IMX, “It takes one legend to to introduce another …” and I don’t think we could go any bigger than David Copperfield introducing David Berglas. I think for once someone managed to surprise the International Man of Mystery

What does a visit like that do for the burgeoning reputation of IMX?

IMX is all about promoting and growing the art of magic and the response was overwhelming. To have the support of David Copperfield at an inaugural event was simply phenomenal. To be able to feature a legend such as David Berglas – incredible. Add to that the support from such icons as Criss Angel, Jeff McBride, Banachek and so many others from across the globe means that IMX can only but get bigger, bolder and even more incredible. We have so many exciting things in store for the next IMX – we can’t wait! Stay tuned …

Berglas, Banachek, Copperfield, Richard Kaufman

Story first posted on itricks  @  http://bit.ly/kWsdXP

Banachek on Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable ABC1 Australia

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Thursday, June 16th, 2011, 5:32 pm ♦ Comments Off

Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable – The new adventures of intrepid sceptic and comic Lawrence Leung are revealed in a fascinating and fun series that investigates the unbelievable.

With his curious not so scientific research and real-life experiments, Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable pokes fun at our own misconceptions and tests the limits of our beliefs. It’s a six-part search for truth that you will have to see to believe.

In this first episode, Lawrence sets out to discover if psychic powers exist. Lawrence encounters Australia’s best psychic, an American who can drive a car blindfolded, and ultimately transforms himself into a psychic to try to win a million dollars. This is the second half of the show that includes the incredible Amazing Randi and Banachek reading minds, driving blindfolded and Project Alpha. Favorite part is the ending :-)

Aired on Wednesday, June 15 2011 (ABC1).

You should watch part Part 1 (previous): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uh7nhQ9h3Zw

Banachek Drives a car blindfolded on Australia ABC

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Tuesday, June 14th, 2011, 4:51 pm ♦ Comments Off

In a fascinating and funny new six-part ABC series, intrepid sceptic Lawrence Leung rides in a car driven by a man wearing a blindfold, just to see if he can do it.

“He had coins over his eye sockets covered by black gaffer tape,” Leung says. “I tested it out – it was pitch black – and I applied that blindfold to him myself. For about 20 or 30 minutes, he drove that car blindfolded through Las Vegas. The film crew and I were s….ing ourselves – he drove pretty fast – but he did it pretty well.”

Welcome to Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable, where the curious, quirky comic investigates not only the irrational and the impossible, but puts them to the test.

Like Mythbusters meets The X-Files, Leung travels the globe over six episodes to seek the truth about UFOs, ghosts, psychic powers, magic tricks and the manipulation that helps make us believe.

“I wasn’t sure how he did it,” the diminutive Melburnian says of the blindfolded driver, magician and mentalist Banachek, admitting it’s one of the creepier experiences of the series. “But I don’t believe he was psychic. It was some sort of trick or method that he wasn’t willing to say………..
For full story head to…. http://yhoo.it/mb7tdq

Lawrence Leung’s Unbelievable airs Wednesdays ay 9.30pm on ABC1.

Banachek appears on CBS Early News

Posted in: Latest News ♦ Saturday, May 14th, 2011, 3:38 am ♦ Comments Off

Banachek exposes the Power Bracelets