What's on your mind?
The Amazing Kreskin has read the minds in his audiences for nearly 60 years. In junior high and high school, he delighted his teachers and classmates by guessing what movies they'd seen, the names of their favorite pets or sweethearts and where they stashed their money.
"I always had fun with it," says Kreskin.
The Amazing Kreskin will perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7, at the Craterian Ginger Rogers Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.
Born George Joseph Kresge in 1935, Kreskin discovered he had the power to read thoughts when he was 9.
"My third-grade teacher started a game of 'hot and cold' one day in our classroom," says Kreskin. "I was so disappointed when I wasn't called on to play that I went home after school and asked my little brother to hide a penny for me. I went straight to the spot it was hidden, and then it occurred to me that I hadn't asked my brother to say anything."
Later, Kreskin noticed, he knew who was calling when the phone rang — before the days of caller identification.
Now 72, Kreskin presented his first show — a benefit for his school — when he was in his teens. He received $5 for the show.
"I was finding my way," he says. "It was a way of evolving as a mentalist."
Kreskin was inspired by the Lee Falk comic strip "Mandrake the Magician" that, beginning in 1934, chronicled a stage magician and crime fighter, according to Wikipedia. He legally changed his name to The Amazing Kreskin and, in the '70s, became popular on North American television.
Over the years, Kreskin has had a board game named after him, a television series — "The Amazing World of Kreskin" — that aired from '71 to '75 in Canada, hundreds of appearances on nearly every talk show in show business — including Carson, Letterman and Stern — and a film, "The Great Buck Howard," starring John Malkovich, written about his life.
"John Malkovich studied my live appearances for three days," says Kreskin. "I'm a very animated person. Once Regis Philbin said my handshake is a chiropractor's dream. There's nothing stiff about it. The film's writer and director (Sean McGinly) said the problem was that Malkovich shook hands like I do for days afterwards. He said 'only Kreskin should be allowed to shake hands like that.' "
McGinly worked briefly as a road manager for Kreskin.
Kreskin says he is a voracious reader and sometimes reads four books a night. He's also a prolific writer. His 19th book, "Conversations With Kreskin," will be released next month. The book's introduction is written by President Roger Ailes of Fox News. Another of his books, "Kreskin's Mind Power," has been printed in Russian.
"I read somewhere that the most successful people come out of disastrous lives," says Kreskin. "But my childhood was happy, and I'm doing something that I love. I've been blessed. It's been an adventure."
Kreskin ends his two-hour program with his signature piece. He asks members of the audience to hide his check while he is out of the theater. If he cannot find it when he returns, he forfeits his fee. Nine times in his career he's been unable to find it, and he offers $50,000 to anyone who can prove he uses paid assistants in any phase of his show.
"I've found the check in some of the craziest places," says Kreskin. "Once it was in the barrel of a gun that belonged to a plainclothes detective. When I entertained at a dinner in honor of Bob Hope, I found the check stuffed inside a roast turkey. At another show at the University of Illinois, I found it in a man's upper denture plate."
There's something new at each of Kreskin's shows because the audience participates.
"They don't come to watch," says Kreskin. "The come to be part of the show. I don't use props. I'm reading the thoughts of people I've never met before."
All tickets to the show at the Craterian Theater cost $18. Call 541-779-3000 or see www.craterian.org.