How and when did you develop an interest in illusions and tricks?
A. I started very young. At the age of four, after having seen a magician perform at a circus, I was totally impressed and thought I would love to do this myself. I always wanted to “wow” the people, and I realised that mental magic amazes people more. So that’s how I did it.
Q. What exactly is a “mentalist”, and how is he different from a magician or an illusionist?
A. A mentalist does not pull white rabbits out of top hats and does not saw women in half but reads minds and influences people.
A mentalist will never ask you to pick a card but just to think of one. Besides magical principles the mentalist uses psychological tricks and principles as well as the power of suggestion. With these methods he can hack people’s minds and apparently read their thoughts or even influence them. Many aspects of this knowledge about how the human mind works can be used and applied to our daily life.
Q. Could you tell us about your early influences?
A. I was a big fan of the Star Wars movies and actually wanted to become a Jedi. After I realised this may be difficult, I decided to come at least close to it [laughs] by becoming a magician.
Q. How hard was this magical journey?
A. It wasn’t hard for me because I loved to do it. What I do with my mental magic is that I can inject thoughts in someone’s head, read minds, move objects so, I came close to being a Jedi. It all starts with being a magician.
Q. Where does one start to be a mentalist?
A. Most mentalists I know have started by being magicians. A magician knows a lot about psychology and if you want to be a mentalist you need to know about it, you must know how attention works, how the human mind works. So, you start reading about hypnosis, the power of suggestion, psychology. Besides knowledge, you also need a lot of experience and you need to gain confidence most of all.
Q. What role does the audience play in your performances? Also, is it challenging in a way to have different audiences as you perform globally?
A. The audience plays the main role. They are an essential part of the performance!
Though there are cultural differences, all humans are a bit similar and I have travelled a lot to make sure I get along with most types of
Q. Does hypnosis have a part to play in your performances, because this word is often associated with such acts?
A. I do not use hypnotism but I use the power of suggestion. This means I do not need to get my spectators in a trance-like state to influence or implant a thought into their heads.
Q. How is like performing for the Indian audiences, since you have performed here earlier?
A. I enjoy it very much! I very much like the spiritual aspect of Indian culture. Most Indians have a great sense of wonder and are very curious and open-minded and like to be amazed. This serves as an inspiration for me besides the fabulous Indian cuisine which I always love to enjoy!
Q. What new can the audiences expect from your upcoming show in Gurugram?
A. I promise an unforgettable experience with the “wow factor”. My show is a unique mixture of visual illusions and mind-blowing mental magical experiments. The audiences will not only watch the show but become part of it. Besides the demonstration of lie detection or reading body language, I will give some insights into how to apply this knowledge in everyday life.
But be aware: secret thoughts may be revealed so please be careful about what you are thinking!
Q. Does technology play an important part in your performances?
A. I am not like an i Pad magician who uses technology to impress my audiences. I like to get along without big lighting or show, and try to impress my audiences more with my comedy and personality.
Q. What has been your most memorable performance till now?
A. I predicted the outcome of a Formula 1 race and later spent the evening with Michael Schumacher who won the race. This moment I will never forget!
Q. You even managed to impress the legendary David Copperfield, who then bought the exclusive TV rights to one of your shows. What was the experience like?
A. It was truly amazing. I still remember his phone call, “Hi this is David Copperfield”, I felt totally flattered and it was a huge honor that he wanted to perform my creation.
Q. Do you perform classics or only your own creations?
A. It’s a mix usually. If I choose to perform a classic, I change it to add my own professional touch.
Q. How long do you take to come up with your own performance pieces?
A. It all depends on your inspiration. It’s a very long journey if you want to make something new. Sometimes, it may even take a few years.
Nicolai Friedrich performs at the Orana Conventions, India Culture Centre in Gurugram on Sunday, 26 November