He came, he stunned and won over both sceptics and believers. ‘Supernatural entertainer’ Lior Suchard performed recently in the city
Lior Suchard is being mobbed — rock star style. And clearly loving it.
As the crowd undulates around the young Israeli mentalist, he stares down, and ultimately bends a spoon. The whispering gallery is agog with his other feats in Chennai. How he asked someone to clutch a coin in her hand, waved his fingers over her fist, and then asked her to open it to display the coin, bent into two. How he stopped a watch. How he told someone the name of her first love.
Interestingly, despite his grand ‘Supernatural Entertainer’ title and much-touted credentials as a mind reader, off-stage he prefers to define himself as someone with special abilities, honed with practice, patience and discipline. Stating that he’s not a magician, he says he uses a combination of sensitive intuition, NLP, body language reading and “a little bit of sleigh of hand”.
Suchard’s an interesting test for sceptics. No matter how hard you try to rationalise his act, it’s a challenge to explain how he does what he does. The Internet is awash with sceptic-turned-believer stories from journalists determined to expose him, and then completely enamoured by his abilities and charm. What does emerge from my quick meeting is the fact that he’s a consummate marketing man. It’s past 11 p.m. when I finally get to say hello, and he’s been gushing charm for hours. (“Remember, I’m not just a mind reader, I’m a showman, and audience management is a very important part of the act…”) He’s been in three countries and three times zones in the last week alone. (“I’ve had worse,” he says, “Six countries in one week!”) After his fatiguing act at Sheraton Park Hotel and Towers, he interacted with fans, who crushed around him with such enthusiasm that four beefy bodyguards had to step in and form a cordon to whisk him away.
Yet, when I’m introduced, he’s rapidly answering e-mails on his Blackberry, watched by a ring of people, all being held back by his bodyguards. Unmoved by the attention, he says hello, while (in a slick orchestrated move) his manager swoops in bearing a DVD of his shows, and visiting cards. He gets down to business quickly. “1) Do you have questions? (Yes) 2) Can you email me your story as soon as it’s done, and I’ll check it and then send it back before you publish. (No) 3) Make sure you put in my Twitter ID. (@LiorSuchard) 4) And say I’m on Facebook.”
Once I’m home I email him a set of questions at midnight. I get an “On it.” reply in a minute. Twenty minutes later, I have my answers.
The only thing more unnerving than Suchard’s mentalist skills is his single-minded determination to succeed, and succeed with spectacular speed. It’s this aggressive, no-holds-barred attitude that is taking him to the top.
Earlier that evening, he had slid into the hotel’s ballroom 30 minutes before the show began, to lay the groundwork — meeting people, and shaking hands. On stage, his slick well-rehearsed act fuelled by seemingly self-deprecatory humour, had the audience hooked in minutes. “I’m sorry about my bad English,” he smiled, “But my accent is great!” He then asked the question on everybody’s mind — Is it really possible to get into somebody’s head? Cue for a blast of Noa’s Eye In The Sky song: “I am the eye in the sky/ looking at you/ I can read your mind.” Suchard delightedly mouthed the words, lifting his arms above his head in formulaic miracle worker style. The song faded out. (Just in time. Ironically the next verse is “I am the maker of rules/ dealing with fools/ I can cheat you blind.”)
The show’s slick and well-packaged, abounding in patter about positive energy and lashings of humour. Suchard warmed up by naming a girl’s first love, startling her husband, in the audience. A drunk by the bar bellowed, “So what about your girlfriend?” Suchard smoothly replied, “I dumped her after one month because I caught her thinking of someone else.” Undeterred the drunk said, “So it’s dangerous to have you as a boyfriend.” Suchard grinned, “Not if you’re blonde.”
The show got more inexplicable. Two men stood with their backs to him, holding a dice, and he guessed the number on top correctly, five times in a row. He then asked a man to think of one number, and once he did, Suchard drew a box with nine blocks, filling each with numbers in 15 seconds. The man announced his number: 75. And Suchard demonstrated how every diagonal, horizontal and vertical combination of numbers in that box added up to 75. An eerie silence. He shrugged and said, “People say, ‘Lior, why don’t you go to the casino and win money.’ I go sometimes. Sometimes I win. Sometimes the casino loses.”