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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Mentalist Banachek Wows Crowd

Banachek got students involved in the show by guessing what cards they were thinking of, their pets names and instraments they played.

Best known for his four-year stint writing magic for A&E’s Mindfreak, Banachek, a world-renowned mentalist, arrived at the Student Activities Center auditorium on Sept. 23 to pull students out of the crowd and up on stage for his experiments.

Before the show began, few in the audience knew what a mentalist show entailed, but students offered up guesses on what skills a mentalist may hold.

“A mentalist is someone who has a very strong mind and uses it to read minds,” said Karen Celis, senior.

Banachek doesn’t claim to be a “mind reader,” but instead says he uses his skills in verbal and nonverbal communication as a “thought reader.”

“I give the illusion of a sixth sense,” Banachek said, “but it’s all based on reading people and guiding their thoughts.”

Dressed in all black, with a bright blue tie, a dark jacket, light brown hair speckled with highlights and a goatee, Banachek rushed the stage, microphone clipped to his chest. Only seconds after his introduction was completed, he dove into the act, calling people on stage and yelling instructions in his fast-paced Australian accent.

In the course of an hour, Banachek correctly guessed what cards audience members were thinking by analyzing their body language, anticipated what phone number someone would choose from a phone book and knew exactly what the crowd would choose in a collective round of “What Fictional Character Would You Assassinate,” a game akin to Mad Libs.

He also attempted more mind-bending tricks, hypnotizing two students and helping another bend forks with her mind.

Not every trick went off without a hitch. “Sometimes I’m off,” Banachek said, without apology or hesitation, “but all you can do is move on.”

In between acts, Banachek filled the time with cheeky comment and vaguely dirty jokes, and used his talent to read the thoughts of audience members, finding everything from their pets’ names to instruments played and even secret fetishes.

The show ended with “The Banachek Death Test,” a game of knife roulette played with Banachek and five volunteers from the audience.

“Everyone must be very careful and listen to all the instructions,” Banachek warned, “because one mistake in this trick, and I’m dead.”

Five envelopes were sealed and folded, two containing real knives, and three with the blades retracted, making them unable to cause harm.

One by one, Banachek called the students over and asked them to stab the envelope into his chest. One by one, Banachek called the fake daggers correctly as nervous “ooohs” and “aaahs” echoed from the crowd. Banachek had beaten the roulette wheel once again, without surprise.

“It’s never failed,” Banachek said, crediting his talent for thought reading. “It’s all mind over matter.”

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