review and photos by janet i. martineau
|Richard Osterlind and a spoon he has twisted|
“Fascinating”..... as one pointy-eared television/movie character is fond of saying.
His “Star Trek” crew character being of a skeptical and science-driven mind.
Likewise my close encounter with Richard Osterlind, a mentalist/magician/hypnotist who was the speaker at a recent Horizons Town Talk offering at the Horizons Conference Center in Saginaw Township.
Told him straight up, in an interview before his presentation, I did not buy into this mind reading stuff...and besides, doesn’t the television series “The Mentalist” trash the whole idea with the title character of that show just being gifted in knowing how to read and/or trick people very, very well.
Osterlind was polite and patient.
“Yes, the show implies everything he does is based on reading body language,” he said. “But mine is based on ESP (extra sensory perception). I pick up people’s thoughts.
“I use abilities we all have. I have just refined them. And everyone has it (ESP) to some degree. They just don’t use it.”
He was also apparently reading that I was thinking “ya, right buddy” and asked me to pick a number between 1 and 100, took a piece of paper, wrote on it and folded it. Then he asked what I was thinking and I said 56. He held up the paper and on it was written “you are thinking 56.”
Some hairs stood up on my neck...then I though in that moment I said the number I had looked away a second before he held up his paper. Just enough time to quickly write what I had just said?
Told him so.
He sighed...and asked me to think of the first name of a close friend. I told him I was going to watch him like a hawk, maybe not even blink my eyes, during the process. And I did.
Out of his mouth next. “You are thinking of two people.” OMG, I was. “Concentrate on just one.” I did. And then he wrote on a piece of paper, “Susan.”
Not Sue -- she hates that.
The hairs were really standing up on my neck now....and then he bent and twisted a spoon as I watched.
This was a mere warmup to the Horizons Town Talk show before 1,000 or so people -- during which he fiddled with playing cards and time, bent some more spoons, and picked up random thoughts among the audience members. None of us had met him before.
|Ostetlind looking more relaxed|
There were some telling comments. “I create my stunts when I am on the road,” he told his audience. His bio program referred to skills in magic and in creating inventions which are now a part of the arsenal of mentalists everywhere . Both imply fakery.
But he also pointed out in Saginaw he uses no assistants roaming in the audience with microphones, to pick up on what people are saying and then relaying them back to him in some way. No mirrors --- besides 56 and Susan were not reflecting anywhere; they were only inside my mind.
With the 1,000 in the Horizons Town Talk audience he had them write special dates, places they had been, family members or pet names on a piece of paper, and then place them in an envelope on each table. “Mix up the categories you write down.”
He did not collect the envelopes or even go near them.
“Feb. 7, 1969 ...” he said and a hand went up. OK, lucky guess. But then he proceeded to tell the person her husband’s first name and the first names of her daughter and son.
Over and over he did this with other members of the audience, with 100 percent accuracy on names, hometown, pets. “You have these messages in your head and I pick up thoughts like a radio picks up signals.”
In the interview the 64-year-old said he has been doing this professionally for nearly 40 years -- starting for just fun when he was a child growing up in P.T. Barnum’s home town of Bridgeport, Conn.
“My dad used to take me to the (Barnum and Bailey) circus. I loved the side shows. The fortune tellers, the magicians. I was interested in the mystery of it.”
He took a deck of cards early on, he claimed, asked some childhood friends to pull some out, and then told them what they were holding. His parents wanted to know where he had learned that card “trick.” What trick, he asked. He just knew what they were holding, And a career began.
Now he performs worldwide, for major corporate meetings and town halls. Before Gerald and Betty Ford, where he told the president the name of a childhood dog he had 60 years ago. Before 600 Chinese in Beijing. On Fox and Friends in the U.S. and on “Good Morning Helsinki.”
He is, however, banned in casinos if he he recognized. But he did “drive a car blindfolded in Japan” since he could “see” where he was going.
“You know there is no more wonder and mystery in the world today,” he said in talking to me. “When I was a kid I could imagine there were some places in Africa where dinosaurs still existed. Now kids can Google it and see there are no dinosaurs in Africa.”
But apparently there are mind readers in America? Google Osterlind and it is impressive. He ranks among the best. But the articles about him and his ilk are always kind of cloudy on the uses of magic vs. real ESP.
I started doubting again.
Then I thought of the two times in my life when I woke up in the dead of night, got up and stood next to the phone in the kitchen because I knew it was doing to ring with bad news, and both times it did. Within a minute or less.
Both callers remarked that it sounded like I was wide awake when they called.
“I use abilities we all have,” Osterlind had said. “I have just refined them. And everyone has it (ESP) to some degree. They just don’t use it.”
So is he the mystery in our world ....or its magic...or maybe a little bit of both?