A day that started in Los Angeles ended in Kitchener as Wayne Hoffman, mentalist and illusionist, flew in and performed in the Sanctuary at Conestoga College March 14. With a 6 a.m. flight to Miami, Hoffman leads quite a life.
Born in a rural town outside of Reading, Penn., Hoffman had a dream, to be a magician and tour the world. Everyone told him he was crazy. His father, now his biggest fan, told him he needed to get a real job. Conestoga is just one of those crazy places he would have never visited, had he listened.
You might ask yourself, what is a mentalist? The closest reference people have is the TV show, The Mentalist. According to Hoffman, a mentalist is someone who uses psychology and human behaviour for entertainment. They manipulate the mind and do demonstrations that appear to be psychic, using Nero linguistic programming along with a bit of hypnotism and reading body language.
Although he barely appears more than 25, Hoffman has been performing for over 23 years. His first paid show was at the age of 15 and he has been performing professionally for 16 years. It’s the only job he’s ever had.
Hoffman started as a sleight of hand artist and then an Illusionist. At the age of 18 he went to university to study psychology. This sparked his interest in mentalism.
“The downfall is, there isn’t a mentalism 101 course, so you really have to do your own self studies. I left school to do my own research,” Hoffman said.
He claims not to have any psychic ability, but rather highly tuned senses. Because of what he knows, Hoffman is skeptical of anyone who claims to have psychic ability.
“I can reproduce anything that a psychic claims to be able to do, without supernatural powers.”
During his Conestoga performance, Hoffman had two siblings stand on stage with their eyes closed. When he tapped one on the back, they both felt his touch. He also used a Sharpie marker to make an X on the one sister’s arm, only to have it appear on the other’s.
For his final trick, Hoffman, uncrumpled, refilled and resealed a can of pop he had originally opened and drank from throughout his performance, all while the audience watched.
Audience member and recipient of the can of pop, Steph Roman, a first-year public relations student, said, “Amazing, mind freak over here. I’ve seen an illusionist before, but never like this.”
For Hoffman, the most amazing part of what he does is getting to meet all kinds of people from all over the world. To date, he has performed in 44 countries and is about to embark to his 45th – American Samoa, a country he didn’t even know existed. The best part he says is watching people’s reactions, watching people freak out after seeing him perform.
He has appeared on a number of shows such as, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Phenomenon and The Howard Stern Show, and has written a book.
What does the future hold for Hoffman?
“Wow, I’ll have a family, a home and I’ll still be performing. I’ll still be performing till I can’t physically move anymore,” he said.