This week, mind-reader Kennedy will become the first showman to perform at Newcastle’s Castle Keep since 1773. Daniel Thomson talks to the self-styled psychological magician about his rare talent.
THERE is a fork on my desk that will never be the same again following my mind-bending encounter with the man known only as Kennedy.
The 23-year-old mind-reader and psychological magician produced it from his pin-striped suit and asked me to check it was genuine before reducing it to a twisted explosion of stainless steel before my eyes.
And this was just the beginning.
The Cramlington-born performer (so mysterious he only needs one name) was taking a break from rehearsing his new show at Newcastle’s Castle Keep to talk to me about his innovative act, which has included much more dangerous activities.
“I’ve done Russian Roulette before,” Kennedy says. “I used five revolvers and a blindfold. Four of the guns were empty and one was filled with blanks, which would still have killed me from the pressure if I’d made a mistake.”
The young entertainer is clearly confident – he is willing to risk his own money during his Castle Keep show, Peer 6: Mind Reading, Can You Hide? .
“At some point in the new show I will randomly select a member of the audience to choose from two envelopes. One will be empty and the other will have a cheque inside for £1,000.
“I will try to influence them away from choosing the one containing the money, but if they pick that one they get to keep it.”
When Kennedy performs at the keep this week he will be the first showman to do so since a flying donkey in 1773.
According to the story, a travelling showman who had drawn a huge audience to see him fly, strapped wings to the donkey and threw it from the tower to test his act.
The donkey fell 100ft into the crowd and killed an unlucky spectator, but survived. The showman was run out of town by a mob.
But Kennedy isn’t worried. “I think the Castle Keep’s unique history makes it the perfect setting for my show,” Kennedy says.
Posters advertising the show depict him as a rather intense (even scary) individual, but in the flesh he is a quick-witted, likeable and energetic personality.
He is also undoubtedly a natural performer and cannot resist the urge to impress me (which he does) by bending the aforementioned fork and correctly guessing the name of a former primary school teacher.
“I was doing a tarot reading for my aunty when I was 15 when I first realised I could do something I couldn’t explain.
“Without thinking about what I was going to say I told her about a letter she kept folded up in a drawer at her house, which no one else knew about. She couldn’t believe it and wanted to know how I knew it was there, but I couldn’t explain it.”
Kennedy had demonstrated his extraordinary skills at the age of seven – he moved his mother to tears by describing the living room of a cottage she had lived in 12 years earlier.
“I lost a lot of sleep over it initially and even now I still don’t really understand how I can do it,” he adds. “I just can.”
When asked if the name Kennedy comes from them he gives a wry smile.
“Actually, it’s my Uncle Ray’s name. He’s terminally ill, so it’s kind of a tribute to him. I’m planning on getting it changed legally because I hate my real name.”
A Northumbria University drama graduate and Cramlington High School pupil, Kennedy turned professional five years ago and has toured the UK and Europe. He is a member of Newcastle’s Magic Circle, but says: “When you go to see a magician and see something impressive you might say ‘wow’, but that will probably be the only reaction you have.
“I want to make my audiences go through a whole range of emotions from laughter one minute to terror the next.
“All my shows are themed and the last one, Headliner, was all about how our decisions are influenced subconsciously. The idea was to get the audience to question whether we really make any decisions for ourselves.
“The current show, which blends mind-influencing with body language reading, almost starts off like a serious lecture about extra sensory perception, but there is also lots of comedy as I teach the audience to use their intuition to read each other’s minds.
“One of my trademarks is called synchronisation, where I influence two randomly picked audience members to draw the same picture as each other despite being blindfolded and at opposite ends of the stage.
“Another sees me guess the personal belonging an audience member is holding over my head despite being blindfolded with gaffer tape. I’ll do this one if I only have 10 minutes to impress a crowd because it just blows them away.
“I like to lull the audience into thinking they understand what’s happening and then completely pull the rug out.”
As well as his public shows, Kennedy tours schools where he gives inspiration talks to young people about how to achieve their dreams. He also performs at corporate events and weddings.
Peer 6; Mind Reading, Can You Hide? is at Newcastle’s Castle Keep on Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are £10 to £20 online at www.mindofkennedy.com or by ringing (08700) 600 100.