Master of the mind Kreskin has had one hell of a career. He changed the way the world looked at hypnosis and had a five-year run on TV. He’s been on Carson. And Leno. And Letterman. And Fallon. And many more.
Believe it or not, the 79-year-old, who was born George Joseph Kresge, is far from being done. I had a chance to chat with The Amazing Kreskin as he prepares for the future, which includes a Kickstarter campaign for a two-hour Off-Broadway show called “Milestones” to celebrate the big 8-0 next year.
Ricky Dunlop: You’re now in your seventh decade of performing. Back when you were first starting out, did you think that your career as a mentalist would have such longevity, or is this something not even you could predict?
The Amazing Kreskin: You know, Ricky? I gotta tell ya, I had an idea of what I wanted to do when I was 5 years old. By the time I was 9 years old, I was starting to do some smaller performances. I was getting paid. Can you believe this? When I was 11 or 12 years old, I was getting paid $5 a show, which was big money in those days. It’s really been a lifestyle. I’m often asked by college students, because I’ve done over a thousand college shows in this country, “You know what you wanted to do since you were 9? I’m a junior (or I’m a senior), and I still don’t know what I want to do.” To all the college students, I will tell you my answer: That’s good. That’s great. You don’t know what you want to do? This is not critical. Sample. Sample everything you can find in life, because when you come upon the thing that clicks with you, you will have more than you got out of college. You will have experience in many, many areas.
So, you’ve had more than 25,000 performances in your lifetime?
Oh, way over! It’s estimated that I’ve flown a little over three million miles. Last year — this is 2013 — I did exactly 364 appearances around the world.
You’ve been on a lot of late-night shows. Do you have a particular favorite or a favorite host?
Well, many of them have been very good to me. I have a very special warm spot. Two years ago, the Daily News did a full-page story of my comments about Jimmy Fallon, because I said, “He’ll take over ‘The Tonight Show,’ and he’ll go on for at least 20-25 years. He is a very genuinely natural person. You can’t always say that about everyone in the business. But I can’t overlook a person who, of course, played a pivotal role in my life, and that’s Johnny Carson, because I did 88 shows with Carson. He was very protective of my career.
I have to tell you, I never intended to use the word “Amazing” (before Kreskin) but, years ago, Carson was on the air and so forth. I’d be getting off of airplanes or going on a plane and people would wave, “Hi, Amazing!” I thought, “Gee, they probably saw me on Johnny Carson or Merv Griffin.” And then I found out that Carson had a routine with Ed McMahon. He would say, “Ed, we had Kreskin on a few weeks ago. He was only 90 percent amazing,” and Ed would say, “No, Johnny, he was 92 percent amazing.” They went back and forth every time, and it caught on. Now, if you look at my credit cards, all my credit cards say “TA Kreskin.”
Do you consider yourself a workaholic?
You know, that’s a damn good question because I’m only home four days a month; I’m on the road most of the time. I will tell you, no I do not. I have a passion for what I do. If people had said to me, “Kreskin, what would you have done if you didn’t go into show business?” To be honest, I probably would have done this on the streets, gathering coins. This is me. I guess I’ve never known any other part of my life.
Tell me about your Kickstarter campaign.
I’m giving people special gifts who invest in it. There are a number of movie producers who are doing that now, rather than going into Hollywood and producing it themselves. It’ll go Off-Broadway for six weeks, and then continue around the world after that. It’s basically going to be one of the special moments in my life because it’s in celebration (next year) of my 80th birthday. By the way, when I say a performance, understand that this performance is not me being a part of a program. It’ll be a one-man show. An integral part of it will be my reading the thoughts of members of the audience.
Is the idea of Kickstarter to keep creative control, update yourself or something else?
It’s going to be the way I’ve worked all my life. I have total control of what I’m doing. There’s not someone behind the scenes or a group that says, “You’re gonna have to promote this” or “Work this way.” I want everyone to know: You folks who have followed me through the years with Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin, Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Jimmy Fallon and all these people — they understood me well enough. There was never anything rigged. Nothing was pre-planned to work the way somebody wanted it. They knew when I walked on, I would do things the way I work. It turns out, if I even failed, you saw it on the air, because this is not a magic act — it is working with the mind, and that’s the integrity which I will let nobody tarnish.
You can find The Amazing Kreskin’s Kickstarter campaign by clicking HERE.
Ricky Dunlop is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine and a writer, actor and comedian residing in New York City.