Good fortune brought us a lecture by nationally known and award winning psychic entertainer, Banachek. He was traveling, by car, from Texas to Connecticut and we arranged for his presentation during a one-night travel stop here in the Shenandoah Valley and to Ring #320 on March 8, 2012.
The 52 year old English-born entertainer has been in psychic magic since arriving in the United States at age 16. Banachek fooled scientists at Washington University into believing that his supposed psychic abilities were genuine during the Project Alpha hoax in the early 1980s.
He has been active with the James Randi Educational Foundation in exposing fraudulent paranormal claims. About psychic phenomena, he states that there is no scientific evidence, “it’s not science, it never has been science”. Yet, he is a leading national entertainer using psychological techniques and acting to convince audiences that they are witnessing the paranormal.
He has written and sold instructional books, notes and DVDs for other entertainers for over 20 years, first under his birth name, Steve Shaw, and then his stage name. He is based in Houston, Texas.
His lecture began by calling to have four people stand in the audience. They each called out a two digit number which was written down by a fifth volunteer on stage. The volunteer added the numbers together and actually made a math error which was detected by the audience. he corrected the error and arrived at a total. Banachek then pointed to a wallet which had been paying on a small table all the time. He opened the wallet and removed a folded slip of paper and written on it was the wrong number, crossed out, and the correct total! He said that he got the impression of what would happen that night on the way to the show and wrote it down.
He then showed large city white pages and had a spectator come forward. He had her select any page and slide his business card up and down on it. She stopped and then read out the number. he pointed to a large card which has been sitting backwards in full view all the time. He turned it around and the numbers matched the freely selected phone number.
He then passed out 5 halves of note cards and short pencils. He had the spectators write their full name, a thought or fact about themselves and a thought of a large number with at least 10 digits.
These were collected up in a small paper gift bag and placed on a table. He then opened a legal pad portfolio, so that he could not see anything inside and had a spectator remove the cards from the bag and place them face down on the partly opened portfolio. He went to great effort to assure that he could not see the face of the cards. Another female volunteer selected one of the cards and glimpsed at it and then gathered all the cards and put them back in the bag.
Standing back to back with her, he opened the portfolio and as she imagined in her mind the thoughts on the card he sketched them. It was a pet cat. At one point he asked her, “Did you forget to draw the mouth?” The shocked volunteer said, “Yes!” He revealed the cat and then wrote the name. Following this he then was able to reveal the names and thoughts on the other 4 cards which were still in the paper bag using his clever method of Questions and Answers.
After a short break, he came back with his “This or That” card trick. A spectator select a card at random from 4 cards and the others are “that” card and theirs was the “this” card.
He then went into his signature routine called PK Touches. A husband and wife volunteers and where brought up and seated in chairs about 6 feet apart. The closed their eyes and were told to relax. When Banachek tapped on the shoulder and back, the other felt it. He used no gimmicks at all.
Fork bending was next and in his and spectator’s hands, forks were mysteriously found to be bent and twisted and the prongs distorted. One fork was rubbed by a spectator and the metal melted and the end fell off and on the floor.
His last effect was a demonstration of a clever new way to use the old principle of having a matching word in the slot of a cover card. Instead of using a window in a business card, he used a PK magnetic Ring with a thin small metal disk (made from a coffee can) that can adhere to the finger ring filling the hole. On the disc is a copy of the forced word. Once the dirty work is done, the finger is inserted into the ring and the disc pops off and is palmed away. He has this demonstration on one of Kozmos’ “Real to Reel” DVDs.
Closing out the lecture was an extended and fun group of stories about working on the NBS Show “Phenomena”, meeting Uri Geller in England at Geller’s mansion where the much around the trees are piles of bent silverware! He also concluded with an important list of ethics for all magicians on how to act and conduct their business.
The secrets and methods of all of his effects were explained in detail. He made use of the old and seldom seen method of “pocket writing”. He sold a portfolio device for switching. The core of his successful demonstrations is that he relies of verbal and psychological techniques where the spectator is experiencing something and the audience hears something and believes something else. Referred to in some magic literature as “Wonder Words” it is basically deception using language. Banachek has made a successful act using few props and clever verbal techniques.