Chris Cox: Check out 'the mind reader who can't read minds'
Published: 18 Jan 2013 09:300 comments
With a slick, fun show fuelled by 'magic, psychology and b**sh**', an easy-going patter that would put most Victorian showmen to shame, and a good line in wide-eyed innocence, Chris zips through his tricks with style, leaving audiences open-mouthed and wondering just how he guessed (or sowed) that word in their minds or card in their hands.
I know this, because Chris did a card trick with me, and somehow managed to work out what I'd chosen from a well-shuffled pack...over the phone.
"I'm glad that worked, because I've only just started doing it," he admitted, adding that journalists are some of the hardest people to work such tricks on, because of their confidence and ability to find out what they want while giving little away. Lawyers and nurses are tough too, he added, because of the latter's helpful nature, which can actually be a hindrance, and the strong-mindedness of the former. Which didn't stop me grasping fruitlessly at psychological straws to work out just how he'd come up with my card (the five of diamonds, in case you're interested) from the 52 possibilities on offer.
Billing himself as 'the mind-reader who can't read minds', Chris, who began playing with magic tricks when he was a child, told me that he had never made a secret of the fact that his tricks are just that. "I realised quite early on that people would assume it to be real, or they thought that the psychology was 100% of how things were being done, or that I was actually psychic.
"But I think that, in essence, a lie is a lie and I despise that... I wanted to create something that was interesting but as truthful as possible. It's a weird dichotomy, saying 'none of this is real but I'm now going to go onstage and do it', which creates the intrigue and the interest. At the end of the show people come up to me and say, 'I think you can really read minds, there's no other explanation'. It's flattering if anything, that people are sold enough to think there's no other possible way."
Chris, who is bringing his fifth show, Fatal Distraction (which was 18 months in the making) to Bracknell's South Hill Park on Thursday, explained that it was more than a mishmash of tricks. "When a lot of people come to see me, they're trying to work it out and if you're trying to work it out you're not enjoying it. So this show is a play, with tricks; it's a way of getting people lost in the story.
"It's a lot of tricks that no one else has ever done before, so I had to work out how to do them," he added. "Those first shows were a nightmare. I did not know on the first previews how it was going to work. There are some bits that are completely open; 90% of the show, it's 100% it's going to work; 5% it might not but it should be all right; and 5% is who knows? And that becomes exciting.
"Magic history and magic heritage is very important for some people. For me, it's about ripping up that rulebook."
And has he ever used his skills of suggestion for more mischievous ends?
"I use them exclusively for evil. I have a plan for world domination," Chris joked, adding: "I do not overtly do it. One of the big questions I get along those lines is, do I use my skills to pick up girls? That's the idea of the starting point of this show.
"I flew back yesterday from holiday and got myself upgraded. I was not trying to, I was just doing what I normally do and it worked!"
Tickets cost £15 from www.southhillpark.org.uk or call 01344 484123.