Mind to mind – the power of a mentalist

Three times during live TV broadcasts, Salomon predicted the results of the Israeli elections.

ASSAF SALOMON: Breaking the glass at his wedding with the power of his mind (photo credit: URIEL BAREL)
ASSAF SALOMON: Breaking the glass at his wedding with the power of his mind
(photo credit: URIEL BAREL)
Assaf Salomon – mentalist, telepathy artist and magician – became known in Israel after breaking the glass at his 2012 wedding with the power of his thoughts. During his telepathy shows, Salomon reveals unknown personal details about people from the audience, guesses phone numbers (including his future wife’s), bends metals, moves objects by the power of thought and predicts the future.
During our Skype interview for the Magazine, although he did not guess my first question, Assaf showed me on his watch the hour I was born and bent a wineglass just by looking at it. Did he use the seconds of my distraction and/or lack of attention – or indeed do magic? It will be a mystery forever, but even for a skeptical person, it felt unreal.
Three times during live TV broadcasts, Salomon predicted the results of the Israeli elections, the day before each of them. Still, Assaf Salomon claims he doesn’t have a superpower, just knowledge and talent. He explains why he decided to dedicate his life to magic and to become a mentalist, and if, for a religious man, this is not stepping into the God’s shoes.
Before meeting you, I wrote my first question in my notebook. What is it?
“What is a mentalist?”
No, that would be too obvious, I wrote: “Does what you do conflict with Judaism?”
ASSAF SALOMON: Bending a wineglass with the power of thought. (Shay Barel)
Does it? You are religiously observant.
Yes, I am shomer Shabbat. I wear a kippah. I grew up in Bnei Brak, in a dati leumi traditional family. But I don’t do anything against Judaism. Everything in my performances is based on knowledge, not on a supernatural force.
What kind of knowledge?
Psychology, mind reading, body language, subconscious, suggestion and guided imagination. I don’t have supernatural capabilities. I learned it all and I combine it all. Sometimes people prefer to believe in supernatural powers, especially when I do things like predictions, bending spoons and figuring out peoples’ secret credit card codes... But everything I do in my performances is based on techniques I learned.
Is psychology your formal education?
No, I studied economics, and I worked in that field for a couple of years, but then I decided to dedicate myself to magic, and later on mentalism. Something I love.
What do you love about it?
I like to see the effect of surprise on the faces of my audience. And I like to entertain people.
Why do adults need magic?
First of all, I think that every child thinks at some point in his life about being a magician or mentalist (I guess I just never grew up). As for your question, children always enjoy magic tricks, and every adult has something of that child inside of them. For children, the enjoyment is momentary, pure fun. For adults, who are often worried about health, finances and other problems, magic takes their worries off their minds, for at least an hour of the show. Especially now, during the pandemic.
A few times a year, I do [pro-bono] shows in various hospitals. I perform for young cancer patients, and I see all of their difficulties. The smile I get from a hospitalized child when I read their thoughts or perform a card trick is really worth everything! Now, during the pandemic, [I do this] on Zoom.
Like the mission of the Dr. Clown Foundation, in this case. But I need to clarify the terminology, because you use different terms. What is the difference between mentalist and illusionist or magician?
As a mentalist, I use my five senses to create the sixth sense, the sense of telepathy; which helps me to read thoughts. An illusionist is like a magician who takes a white rabbit out of his hat. A magician works more with props, physical objects; a mentalist uses his mind and telepathy instead. Reads mind-to-mind. I don’t use many props in my shows. I will try something with you, now [takes out his watch]: Think about the hour you were born.
[I think about it and Assaf Salomon shows me on his watch, with the exact hour I thought of.]
How did you do it?
If I tell you, I will have to kill you [laughs].
Did this ability or talent come to you naturally when you were a child? Did anyone in the family have similar abilities?
No, my father is a lawyer and my mother a school principal. It has nothing to do with magic. I started getting interested in magic as a teenager. I did my first shows for children when I finished the army. But, as I say, I learned it.
Is telepathy something people can learn?
Yes, of course. I always say at the beginning of my show that I wasn’t born with something other people don’t have. But I managed to develop and train it.
But you cannot read a number or an hour from my body movement.
Maybe yes, maybe no… [smiles]. I never say I can read your mind, but I can understand how your mind works.
Some 20 years ago I started my career as a magician, with a rabbit and hat. Only later on, I wanted to understand how the human mind works. There was no school for magicians in Israel, and this required a lot of studying, so I studied from the Internet at first. What I do is hard work and of course, talent. This is like learning to play the piano. Everyone can learn how to play, but not everyone is Mozart.
Are you saying that you are Mozart among mentalists?
Yes. And I keep learning and practicing new things all the time, guessing what people think.
So why didn’t you guess my first question?
It is harder online than in a normal meeting. During coronavirus times, all my shows are on Zoom, and it is much harder to read the human’s mind via Internet. I need to feel the audience, so it is very difficult. But unlike my friends who are mentalists and magicians, who stopped perform during COVID-19, I thought a bit out of the box, and I thought about how to entertain people and give them some fun on Zoom, also during this hard time… and I managed to do it.
Is it different to perform in Israel and abroad?
Yes, the audience in Israel is the most skeptical in the world. In the US the public is much more excited and trustful. Everything is “Wow” there; in Israel, it is “Eh…” When an American comes to a show, he comes to enjoy. After every segment, you hear applause. Israelis prefer to “catch you” in action. They won’t let anyone deceive them, even if it’s in a magic show. Therefore, I think that anyone who can successfully perform in front of Israelis can succeed anywhere.
How do you usually start your show?
Today, after years of experience, the first thing I do, I look at the crowd. I try to ascertain who is easily impressionable and who will be more challenging to convince. I do this based on body language and psychological techniques I’ve learned throughout the years. After I figure out who I would like to influence, I often ask the crowd to think of a color or an animal. While I count to three... Then I pick people who think are a bit different from everyone else (and many times they are the ones I noticed when I scanned the crowd before starting the show). I love the challenge of convincing the more skeptical audience, so I usually pick them. Furthermore, every performance is different and tailored to a specific audience.
How do you adjust the content of your shows to different audience?
A performance for a hi-tech company will be different from a bar mitzvah or any other family event. It is different if I perform for secular or religious people. For example, in a classroom, I ask a teacher to think of the name of a student, or I ask someone to open a book and think of a word. In the case of the religious audience, I ask to open a book of Torah and think of a sentence from parashat hashavua [the weekly Torah portion].
And is there never a question about whether what you do is against the religion? Sort of paganism?
No, because I never say I have a superpower.
On a TV morning show, on three occasions, one day before Israeli elections you have predicted the exact results. What you had predicted was shown afterward.
What I wrote was put in the safe box. And three times I was right.
And did you vote?
Does it make sense to vote if you know the results of elections ahead of time? You can change them if you don’t like them...
I cannot change them, but maybe I can influence them... Maybe.
Have any politicians contacted you since?
Can you say who or which party?
No [laughs], and I don’t work for any.
When will you know the results of the March elections?
I usually can predict who will win and how many mandates each political party will get about a week before elections.
And you claim you don’t have a superpower. Do people in general treat you as a wizard or a fairy?
I often get calls to ask if I can heal a person. Or once a mother of a 40-year-old single woman called, asking if I could bless her daughter to get married. I say no to such requests. What I do is only for fun and entertainment.
Do you use your skills in your private life? Do you give your wife the presents she wants? Do you know exactly what she wants without asking her?
Yes. And yes! I get her the presents she dreams of. I also knew before my wife did that she was expecting our children – twin girls, before she even took the pregnancy test. I just knew it and wrote it to myself. I showed her later on. By the way, I met my wife on one of my shows. I saw her in the audience, among maybe 2,000 people. She was sitting somewhere in the middle. I liked her and asked her if she would agree to go out with me if I could guess her phone number. So I guessed it and she did.
At our wedding I broke the glass with my mind, not touching it. It was shown on the news, both in Israel and the United States.
I saw the recording. Impressive! Do you also clean the apartment, wash the dishes with the power of your mind?
No [laughs]. But I can bend things, I also use telekinesis, I can move things with my mind.
Can you move my glass now? [I point at my coffee glass]
No, but I can break it.
Please don’t, I like it!
OK, I will not. In restaurants, where they know me, I often get plastic forks. The owners know already – I have bent too much of their silverware [laughs].
I am not sure you are a good guest to invite... But speaking seriously, you use your brain as a tool. Does it get tired after your shows?
Yes, especially if I have a show in the evening, it’s hard for me to fall asleep afterwards.
Generally, how long are your shows and how many shows a week or month are you physically capable of doing?
Each show is around 40 to 60 minutes; I usually do three or four shows a week. Before coronavirus I regularly performed at company and family events, like bar and bat mitzvahs. Many of my religious clients also had me entertain their guests on Shabbat because my performances require no electronics.
During the pandemic, as with many artists and performers, you had to change the way you work.
It was a challenge, certainly. When the pandemic started, I thought about what I could do to keep the mentalism alive, and I realized I must transfer my shows to Zoom. Today I perform all over the world while maintaining social distancing. It’s quite revolutionary, but people enjoy an hour of fun while they are at home.
For example, during Hanukkah, I performed for Chabad in the whole of Europe. There were 4,000 people on my Zoom show. During the pandemic I usually have two shows a week for private companies. Sometimes I still perform at small weddings, up to 20 people. Before COVID-19, weddings had a few hundred people…
What do you do at weddings? Do you tell the newly married couple what they think?
For example, I touch the nose of a bride, and the groom feels it. So I connect them.
Are people scared sometimes of you?
They are. Many people don’t want to participate in the show, because they are afraid. But I keep reminding people to take it easy. And people are curious. I used to be a regular on television, Channel 2, where I met with MKs, singers and media people and read their thoughts.
If you can read thoughts and predict the results of elections, did you see anything about the coronavirus coming?
No, I didn’t see it. I think no one did.
So, please, help me to understand. You did not see the future regarding pandemic and you could not guess my first question, yet you have correctly predicted the results of elections. How is it different?
With the elections, it takes a lot of observation. I watch interviews with politicians, what they say. It is the same as at my shows when I look into people’s eyes. There are some people whose minds I can read and some – I cannot.
But you are talking about people you see in person, or nowadays, online. In the case of voters, you don’t see them at all. So this is more of telling the future, not reading someone’s mind.
True, it is hard to explain. Maybe there is something even I don’t know, why I know it. But important, it worked three times.
Last question, will you get vaccinated?
Yes, there is nothing to lose.
For more info: www.kosemagic.com