This isn’t a spoiler alert. Consider it a warning.
If you frighten easily, and especially if you’re afraid of ghosts, do not, under any circumstances, shoot your hand into the air when The Amazing Kreskin asks for a bunch of volunteers to join him on stage.
Strange things always happen whenever Kreskin, one of the world’s great mentalists, steps into the spotlight. But when the New Jersey native, who still calls the Garden State home, performs at 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Golden Nugget Atlantic City, the 83-year-old entertainer will be in a celebratory mood with Halloween just around the corner.
Kreskin will add a ghostly element to his show, which he generally does when he’s booked around autumn’s spooky holiday.
“I remember doing this off-Broadway about eight or nine years ago, and one of the 20 or 30 volunteers I had on stage was afraid of ghosts, but she volunteered anyway,” Kreskin recalls.
Part of the routine — it’s not a “trick” or a “bit,” because Kreskin’s not a magician — involves Kreskin asking for volunteers. He seats them at tables on stage, which then begin to rock and move around the stage on their own. Kreskin swears he has nothing to do with it.
“During the (off-Broadway) show, one woman got so frightened about what she saw coming at her on stage that she escaped,” Kreskin says, trying his best to suppress a laugh. “She ran out of the theater, and they didn’t catch up to her until she was two blocks down Broadway.”
So what could the woman have seen that scared her so badly she bolted from the theater and into the Manhattan night?
Kreskin’s not saying. Although he’s not an illusionist or a magician or even a practitioner of the art of legerdemain — although he’s pretty darned good at manipulating coins and cards — he’s still the type of entertainer for whom secrecy is sacrosanct.
So Kreskin won’t say much about the ghost story portion of his Halloween show, other than to warn scaredy-cats to stay seated and not venture onto the stage as a volunteer.
This will be Kreskin’s third consecutive year headlining a Halloween show at the Golden Nugget, but the first time he’ll be conjuring up ghostly spirits.
Kreskin always relies on audience members to help him out on stage. Depending on the size of the stage and the audience, he’s been known to occasionally bring up more than 100 people to participate in the show.
While he keeps his secrets close to his vest, Kreskin will acknowledge that all of the rocking and shaking of the tables on stage wasn’t an illusion.
“I was creating (a situation) to influence peoples’ unconscious energies and reactions,” he says. “A few years ago people would misconstrue it as communication.”
And he’ll go out on a limb and predict that most if not all of the people who are on stage with him will see something they’ve probably never seen before.
“Using the techniques I’m going to exercise, what’s going to happen that evening is people are going to have a ghost sighting,” he says. “They’re going to see ghosts.”
Just don’t expect to communicate with the spirits. Kreskin says he doesn’t speak with those on the other side. He’s not a medium, clairvoyant or a psychic.
While they’re not exactly in vogue today, séances can be considered a form of entertainment, especially when your mental guide is someone like The Amazing Kreskin.
“If you read a lot of biographies of famous writers from the 18th or 19th Centuries, you’ll learn that many of them did have séances in their homes,” he explains. “People sat at tables and experienced something (other-worldly) together. There was no radio or TV, so up until the late 1930s, (séances) were a popular form of recreation, not just in the United States but in homes all over the world. People sat at tables and held hands to see if they could communicate (with the dead).”
The popularity of séances, Kreskin adds, was at its peak during a conservative period in American history.
“It happened during a time where (men) could sit around a table in a darkened room and hold hands with women that were around you” and not be accused of doing anything inappropriate.
Kreskin simply wants his audience to have fun and enjoy the unusual act he’s been performing around the world for over 50 years. But he did repeat his cautionary warning.
“I want to warn folks that if they’re planning to come to the show and they scare easily, then don’t volunteer to come on stage,” he says. “You’ll enjoy the show much better from your seat.”