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Is it really magic?

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Guy Bavli

Guy Bavli bills himself as the Master of the Mind. The Israeli-born mentalist and public speaker may not be a superhero, but he amazes audiences around the world with his seemingly magical performances.

In mid-June, Bavli was in Toronto for Moses Znaimer’s Ideacity Conference at Koerner Hall. He credits his friend and fellow mentalist, Haim Goldenberg, with bringing him to this three-day “meeting of the minds” that featured 50 speakers from around the world, including Canadians Nikki Yanofsky and the two guys behind YidLife Crisis, Jamie Elman and Eli Batalion.

Bavli hit the stage for just under 20 minutes and talked about the elusive sixth sense that guides much of his work. “The sixth sense is basically the connection and the love that we have inside,” he said in a phone interview.

At Ideacity, he demonstrated, with audience participation, how to use that sixth sense. He correctly guessed what colour one woman was thinking of and brought a married couple onstage to showcase their mental and emotional bond.

He says he works his magic by using all five of his senses to guide his intuition and his first impressions. “I don’t know what you’re thinking,” Bavli explains, “I know how you’re thinking.”

Bavli, who’s now based in Florida, got his first taste of magic at about five or six years of age while visiting a bazaar with his mother. That’s where he picked up his first trick, and he’s been hooked ever since. He says he was an obese child, and performing helped him impress his schoolmates in his hometown of Givatayim, near Tel Aviv.

He eventually became an entertainer for the Israeli air force and started turning toward psychological magic, or what he calls magic of the mind, by studying a slew of subjects, including psychology, physiology and hypnotherapy.

And yes, in his performances he seems to read minds and presents feats of telekinesis. He even appeared on Stan Lee’s History channel program Superhumans.

“Although I never claimed to be real or anything, they really pushed me to be a part of this show,” Bavli says.

Instead of saying he has supernatural powers, he attributes his success to his passion for this art form. At his talks, like the one he gave at Ideacity, he combines information with entertainment in order to make his points stick.

And along with these types of presentations, he does corporate seminars as well as shows at casinos and concert halls around the world – he says he’s performed in more than 50 different countries.

And wherever he goes, he lets his audience know where his accent is from – he’s proud of his Israeli heritage. He’s also keenly aware that he’s part of an esteemed line of Jewish magicians and mentalists.

“Around the world, the best mentalists out there are Jewish. You know, when you think about it, all the really, really famous performers or even magicians, the most famous ones are Jewish,” he says, citing Harry Houdini, David Copperfield, Uri Geller and David Blaine as just a few examples.

“Why? I think it’s more than a coincidence,” he says. “It’s a mystery.”