World-famous, self-proclaimed mentalist Marc Salem will be jetting into town this month for a series of Mind Games shows. James Fryer tries to hide his own deep, dark thoughts as he finds out what Dubai’s audiences can expect.
What does the show involve?
An evening of mind-blowing entertainment and lots of fun.
What do people ask you when they find out what you do for a living?
They want to know if I always wanted to be a mentalist.
So, erm, did you always want to be a mentalist?
Hmm. Since I was a child I was fascinated and gifted by thought. I became a psychologist and later an entertainer.
You claim to use mind tools to detect when people are lying. What should I look for when asking my boss for a pay rise?
If he usually speaks slowly and now speeds up, or conversely, he normally speaks quickly and now slows down. Or he is usually static and now can’t stand still or vice versa... Look for deviations from the norm.
Have you ever been asked to be a lie-detector for the government?
Yes, by the secret service, CIA, FBI, and many local police and lawyers.
And did you ever take up their offer and bring down a criminal mastermind?
Seriously, I train the special services and let them bring down the bad guys combining the skills I taught them and the skills they bring to the table. I would never put a person at risk just based on my intuitions... There must always be more.
Are your friends and family scared to be around you for fear you’ll read their minds and unearth some deep, dark secret?
They are all honest folk, no prying there.
What am I thinking right now?
Now... or now... or now, or... right now? You keep changing time zones on me.
How much truth is there in the claim most communication is non-verbal?
Yes, it is true as I have said many times before. The art of reading people has many uses.
Ever thought about a career selling used cars?
Then I may as well be a politician.
Derren Brown has amazing mind control powers. Who would win between the two of you in a battle of the minds?
We are very different, so its like comparing apples and oranges. He is best at what he does – large stage settings and theatrical mood, and I at what I do – reading thoughts, having enormous fun and being nimble. I believe my show is more humorous and urbane and far less dark. In even the largest theatres there is the sense of intimacy and hilarity in what I do. Ultimately, my career as a psychologist and educator gives me the edge... or perhaps not.
Is your stage name of Marc Salem a deliberate referral to the US town where they held the infamous witch trials of 1692?
Actually it was my wife’s maiden name. It’s easy to remember – and it does resonate with an eerie quality.
Do you use tricks or special effects? How about picking someone out from the audience who’s been secretly working with you for 10 years?
I have a standing offer of $100,000 if anyone can supply evidence that I use hidden assistance or hidden electronics. The money is safe, because I don’t. No other performer of this ilk can make such a claim. I do use tricks of the advertiser, the psychologist, and of the grand mind manipulators. I am not psychic.
Marc Salem’s Mind Games, August 8 to 11. Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. Doors open at 7.30pm and the show starts at 8.30pm. Tickets are Dhs135. Tel: (04) 3666550.