Q&A Session with Mentalist Doug Kevilus

You'll be asking yourself just that this weekend after you meet our headliner Doug Kevilus. This mentalist is a club favorite, and you won't want to miss it. We stole a moment of his time for a few questions about himself and his love for the art of mentalism.

Tell us a bit about yourself? I’ve always enjoyed watching magic ever since I was a young boy. Whether it was watching my father perform magic or watching David Copperfield on television, I couldn’t get enough of it. As a teenager I joined the Society of American Magicians with my father and there my education in the world of magic took off. Now I enjoy performing for audiences just as much as I enjoyed watching it as a kid. Getting to see people light up and laugh when they experience something unexplainable feels great. I’m thankful that I’m able to bring some wonder and mystery into the lives of those that watch me perform.

What is mentalism? Mentalism is a branch of magic which deals with mysteries apparently produced by using the powers of the mind. Unlike a lot of traditional magic performances where the audience sits and watches, mentalism is very dependent on audience participation. Performances may include feats of telepathy, clairvoyance, divination, precognition, psychokinesis, mediumship, mind control, memory feats and rapid mathematics.

How do magic and mentalism relate? While Mentalism is a branch of magic, it has its own special appeal. Mentalism represents a power or ability that has universal appeal with untold ramifications. Everyone has had a moment in their life when they thought that having the ability to read minds would be a life-changing force. When people watch magic, no one really believes that what they are seeing is real. They know there is a trick to it; they just don’t know how it was done. They know that the magician is only pretending to do real magic. When they watch a good mentalist perform the question they ask themselves is, “Did he really do it?” They don’t wonder about “how” of it, they just appreciate the power of it.

Do you think mentalism is performed differently today? Historically, I think mentalism was performed in a manner that was a bit on the dull side, almost like attending a lecture at a university. The performer would act as the “professor” and demonstrate these unbelievable feats of mind power. The time audiences would accept a performance like that has passed, and will not hold the attention of today’s audiences. Now audiences want to be entertained and intrigued, not just listen to someone speak. Most importantly the show has to be about the audience and making them the stars of the show. When you are able to impact your audience on a personal and emotional level you leave them with something that they will never forget.

What's the ideal atmosphere for seeing mentalism performed? Because mentalism has so much audience interaction you need to have an atmosphere where there are not a lot of distractions. At the same time people in the audience should be relaxed and feel like they can participate in the show without fear of embarrassment.

Have anything to say to the “I'm-not-convinced” readers? I would invite them to come see for themselves what can happen. I actually encourage people to be skeptical and to use their critical thinking skills when looking at any situation. I myself announce at the beginning of my show that what I do is not supernatural, but rather the result of years of practicing skills that anyone can develop. I don't try and change anyone's opinions, I just want to them to be entertained.

Who is your favorite mentalist or magician? How have they influenced you? My favorite mentalist would be Banachek. I have been fortunate to meet with him twice, and attend one of his lectures. Watching and learning from him has certainly made a change in how I perform in my show. He is one of the best performers I have had the privilege to watch and learn from.

Do you have a favorite Cal Magic memory? I think getting to know the members of the audience more intimately at Cal Magic than in other places I’ve performed make up many of my favorite memories. The very nature of Cal Magic allows the guests to meet with the performers in a way that isn’t always available. I remember one guest in particular even asking me to predict her upcoming due date.

Gerry Griffin