Imagine you met a mind reader and he told you you could ask him one question about your present, past or your future. What would you ask; what would your question be?
Meet Mentalist Harry Lucas
This was Harry Lucas’ – mind reader and mentalist – grand opening line at this years TEDxVienna Event on October 22nd. You see, the thing is, Harry Lucas is no ordinary performer. He is one of the very few people who manage to make jaws drop in the audience, puzzle even the smartest minds and possibly make scientists question their world views. Harry Lucas can read minds.
Whether there are specifically designed tricks that back up his performance or whether it’s real, true magic, Harry Lucas’ impressive skills have even earned him the title of Austrian state champion in mental magic. Born in Vienna, he has performed in front of many audiences and regularly creates goose bumps throughout Austria and Germany. Guessing people’s names, telephone numbers and their favourite places on earth are only a few elements of his magic box. Before his TEDx Talk, we had the chance to have a chat with him.
How is it for you to be here today at TEDxVienna? Will this be your first TEDx Talk?
Harry: Yes, this is my first TEDx Talk and it’s really very exciting to be here at this great location. I’ve also seen what fantastic speakers will be talking today and I’m very much looking forward to listening to them. Actually, it is more interesting for me to see their talks than doing mine. I already know my topic (laughs).
Is there a particular speaker that you are looking forward to listening to?
Harry: I met Carrie Poppy, who deals with paranormal phenomena, at the final rehearsal. And I also look forward to hearing Holly Moyes, the anthropologist that investigates cave sites. Graham Shaw is also going to be very interesting, I think. He’s going to talk to the audience about how to memorize things better by using the act of drawing. I think that’s a really interesting concept. We all had a chance to meet before the event and chat a bit – they are all fantastic people.
Harry Lucas at TEDxVienna
Do you call yourself a “magician”?
Harry: I prefer the name “Mentalist”. That’s because people imagine different things when they hear the word “Magician”. They have a different picture in their heads, when you use that word. They usually think about a glitter suit or Siegfried and Roy in Las Vegas with tigers and big productions. That is a really different picture than what I try to project. I don’t work with big illusions but with people and that’s what I like most about it, because every time I do it it’s different.
If I would decide today that I wanted to try and learn about mind reading and become a Mentalist, what would you advise me to do? What would have to be my first step?
Harry: The first step is to be interested in other people. I was always interested in why people behave a certain way in certain situations. Are there behavior patterns that we display over and over again and if yes, can we predict them? Those were the questions that I asked myself. I started with magic and through that I learned a lot about psychology, awareness and concentration. As a mind reader you learn how we perceive the world around us and how we create reality. Or more the reality that we perceive, so to speak. Because there’s a reality where we often perceive certain things as being true in a very selective way. It’s just like with a camera. We only shoot the picture in one direction and focus there and the rest we can’t focus on so we just dismiss it. So the question I have to ask myself when reading another person’s mind is: What is this person’s point of interest and how is he focusing on it?
You probably get this question a lot, but how do you do it?
Harry: There are many things I look at, such as facial and eye movements. Mostly I pay attention to the entire body. I learnt this while studying hypnosis. Because when a person is being hypnotized, they don’t communicate verbally, but nonverbally. And so it is important to look at all the details because it’s quite fascinating how much we reveal about ourselves through our bodies without realizing it. How many thoughts actually influence our body. It took me many, many years to learn this.
Harry Lucas guessing a stranger’s telephone number
You started doing magic tricks when you were only five years old. What was your first magic trick that you demonstrated in front of people?
Harry: I remember my first trick that I performed very well. I got a magic wand when I was five years old and the first thing I did was that I let the magic wand slowly ascend out of a bottle. That was really fun.
You did that when you were only five years old?
Harry: Five, yes!
I would have loved to see that.
The theme of this year’s TEDxVienna event is “Out There”, which generally refers to ideas and concepts that are unusual or far-fetched. Is there something left in the world of magic that still stuns you?
Harry: That is a very good question. (thinks). There are several brilliant people that are still alive, that I find very exciting and that I have never seen live yet. Penn and Teller for example, who perform in Las Vegas. Teller has a trick where he makes a ball come to life. He communicates with this ball and it follows him around like a dog. Both are really wonderful and great performers. I was very lucky enough to meet David Berglas though, a great hero of mine. He just turned 90 years old and started doing magic in the 50s and 60s and was a big, big star in England. He is a wonderful man, a great gentleman and has an incredible mind! And then there are performers, also some that inspire me, that I can’t see because they are no longer alive. But a lot has been written about them.
What about you? If you met Harry Lucas and he told you you could ask him one question about yourself – what would your question be? While you think about it, take the time to watch Harry Lucas read the minds of attendees at TEDxVienna 2016.
If you would like to learn more about Harry Lucas or get tickets to his shows visit his website.
We would like to thank Harry Lucas for his time and for helping make TEDxVienna “Out There” a memorable and truly mind-boggling experience!
Title Photo by Daniel Willinger
Photo 2 by Thomas Suchanek
Photo 3 by Philipp Schwarz