Jan Bardi has performed for Lebanese, Egyptian, Turkish and Moroccan audiences,
but his trip to Holon this week marks his first visit to Israel.
tourist as much as I’m a mentalist,” says Bardi in an interview with The
Jerusalem Post ahead of his arrival. The Belgian self-coined “psychostunt”
performer specializes in predicting mass behavior, guessing spectator’s dreams
and forecasting future events, all without the use of magic, paranormal or
“I know that the basic explanation of what I’m doing
is just common, down-to-earth, ordinary applied psychology but I’m doing
everything I can to hide that fact from audiences,” he says. “I give the
impression that somehow I can enter in your head, maybe read your mind, maybe
see your destiny and into your future.”
Those oh-so basic psychological
principles he refuses to reveal.
“That must remain a secret because
that’s the way entertainment is maximized,” Bardi, 50, says
The Israeli Magicians’ Society invited him to perform at its
International Magicians’ Festival May 3- 8 at the Holon Theater in honor of its
30th anniversary, along with a host of Israeli and foreign magicians and
telepathy artists, including Israeli stars Nimrod Harel and Tomer Dudai, Korean
magician Yu Ho Jin, Andrew Wayne, an American magician who mentors top acts like
David Copperfield and David Blaine, American children’s magician Doug Scheer and
Japanese close-up wizard Shoot Ogawa.
Shows for the public take place May
3, featuring a late night cabaret for adults, a family show and the
international show of the featured magicians.
In his performances Bardi
plans to “crowd control” 800 people by putting them in a time-pressured
situation to perform a task in two minutes and then predict in detail the group
members’ behavior. He says a group’s behavior becomes so predictable to him that
he can forecast days in advance what the group will do at his
Bardi also plans on showing tarot cards to tell audience
members their futures.
Dahlia Pelled, one of the society’s founders and
the president since 2004, says the festival will not only showcase some of the
best talent to the public, but will also serve as an opportunity for magicians
to talk shop. The other days of the festival will be devoted to workshops and
seminars for the magicians.
“In order to be able to learn magic you need
to be able to meet other magicians,” says Pelled, arguing that learning from the
Internet is not enough.
Pelled, a magician in her own right and the
author of The Big Magic Book, says her show combines magic with
Bardi, who has appeared on television shows Phenomenon and
Masters of the Paranormal, got to know Israeli mystifer Uri Geller, magicians
Guy Bavli and Ehud Segev on the shows. He says in the festival he is especially
looking forward to learning from the Israeli talent, and about what separates
them from other artists around the world.
“I wish I knew more about
[Israeli magic] and one of the reasons why I’m coming is to find out not only
about mentalism, but also the other magic that Israel has. I’m really looking
forward to that.”
In turn, he believes he can provide guidance to younger
magicians at the festival, helping them to rediscover classic magic tricks and
reinterpret them, as well as learn to perform in different
“I think I can help Israeli magicians that may not have
bridged the gap between TV and live entertainment,” he says. “A well-rounded
mentalist knows both.”
The diverse group of magicians at the festival
specializes in a range of areas, for instance Jin is known for card manipulation
and sleight of hand, while Scheer works to make magic accessible in educational
“Everyone can find his cup of tea or his type of magic that he
likes doing,” Pelled says.
While Israel has a reputation for the caliber
of its mentalists, American magicians are considered the most skilled at “close
up” (magic performed close to the audience) and verbally interacting with the
audience, and the Asian magicians are especially skilled in slight of hand, she
It was around 1990 when Bardi says he came up with the term for his
specialty of psycho-stunts. In Western Europe at the time, mentalism, a
sub-field of magic, was all but unknown, he says. Rather than explain mentalism
repeatedly to audiences, who met his use of the term with blank stares, Bardi
chose another word to more accurately describe his work.
people by using psychological principles as a detainment,” says Bardi, who was
born in Leuven and studied engineering and economics before launching his act in
1985 by accurately predicting the outcome of his country’s elections. The stunt
garnered tremendous attention.
The Society boasts roughly 150 members and
as part of its regular activities mentors a group of young people ages 12-18
from across Israel interested in magic once a month. Despite the fact that even
younger audiences are becoming more sophisticated, the universal appeal of magic
and mental tricks will never die.
“It’s so creative it’s unbelievable,”
says Pelled.Ticket Purchase: http://www.eventim.co.il/magic or by
Telephone: *9066. Ticket prices range from NIS 80- 200.Family Show – May
3 at 6:30 - 8:30 p.m., Holon Theater large hall. Late Night Cabaret – May 3 at
10-11 p.m., Holon Theater intimate hall.