BOSTON — Yes, he made use of his mind-reading abilities while serving in the Israel Defense Forces. And no, he cannot tell you about it — not at all.
As a mentalist, 34-year-old Lior Suchard travels the world reading people’s minds, often on television and for famous people. In a change of pace this month, Suchard joined legendary performer Barbra Streisand on her nine-city North American tour, during which his abilities made for a unique halftime show.
Opening for Streisand’s second act in Boston last week, Suchard called on audience members to let him guess things like the names of first loves and words they scribbled on paper. Running into and around the high-end floor rows, Suchard displayed his quick wit and seeming ability to read minds. In other words, the Israeli looked into people’s misty water-colored mem’ries to see who does, or does not, bring them flowers anymore.
“There really are things which defy explanation,” said Streisand about Suchard in a tour press release. “When I first experienced Lior’s mental gifts, I knew I was in the presence of someone extraordinary. Each time our paths cross, I’m more and more fascinated by how he does what he does,” said the 74-year-old megastar.
‘There really are things which defy explanation’
Streisand met Suchard five years ago, when he performed at a charity event she attended, he told The Times of Israel in an interview this week.
“I asked her to think of any song in the world and I guessed it correctly,” said Suchard. “She was amazed, so we started talking about the power of the mind and my abilities to understand how people are thinking,” he said.
Several weeks after meeting Streisand, the mentalist received a call from Marty Erlichman, the singer’s long-time manager, asking him to perform at her surprise 70th birthday party in Los Angeles. During that visit, said Suchard, he and Streisand became friends.
‘A mentalist is a person who uses his five senses in a special way to create the experience of a sixth sense’
“I love her very much,” said Suchard. “She is very nice and kind and acts totally respectfully to everyone around her. I always loved her music, and now I love the person as well,” he said.
Suchard makes haste to explain he is not a prophet, a psychic or a magician. Instead, he relies on skills that people can be unaware they have access to, he said.
“A mentalist is a person who uses his five senses in a special way to create the experience of a sixth sense,” said Suchard. “I use elements from psychology, non-verbal communication, body-language reading, intuition and influencing to create an all-around entertaining adventure for my audience,” he said.
Born in Tel Aviv, Suchard said he studied a form of neuro-linguistic programming (NLP). Sometimes used by hypnotherapists and at corporate retreats, NLP uses verbal and non-verbal cues to make predictions about and influence the recipient’s behavior. Widely discredited scientifically, NLP continues to attract adherents.
For having all of these mental powers, by the way, Suchard is banned from casinos everywhere.
‘It’s not that I know what you’re thinking, it’s that I know how you’re thinking’
Through working with Israel’s original top psychic and spoon-bender, Uri Geller, Suchard learned to raise his game and his profile. He competed on an Israeli “Apprentice”-style show for mentalists, after which Geller chose Suchard to succeed him in mind-reading glory.
“The biggest misconception is that sometimes people think I am a psychic that can talk to ghosts,” said the performer. “I’m not a magician. I don’t pull rabbits out of the hat or saw women in half,” he said.
The art of mind-reading has more to do with context than it does with what people consider to be magic, he said.
“It’s not that I know what you’re thinking,” he said. “It’s that I know how you’re thinking and by knowing this I can create this unbelievable experience for you and my audience,” said the performer.
Since the 2007 (mental) torch passing with Geller, Suchard has appeared on television to — for instance — read the mind of Kim Kardashian on “The Tonight Show,” and astound former “The View” co-host Barbara Walters. He is also a fixture on the Fortune 500 convention circuit, where his “infotainment” seminars help executives like Warren Buffett reinforce company goals.
“I’m a small boutique artist and there are not many mentalists in the world,” said Suchard. “In my show it’s not about the spectacle, it’s about the experience and the interaction with the audience. I love to be involved and give my touch on everything, so working on this huge production with Barbra has fit my needs,” he said.
The mentalist said he occasionally discusses Israel with Streisand, who performed in Tel Aviv three summers ago.
“We were just talking about how I think that Israel is the safest place in the world right now with everything happening all over the world,” he said.
That’s good for Suchard’s latest project, an ambitious attraction set to open in Tel Aviv next month.
The sprawling “Escape City” complex will have 10 “amazing high-end” escape rooms, where groups of people will use teamwork to flee and bond with each other. Two karaoke rooms and what Suchard called “the coolest bar ever” will add to the fun.
“The escape room concept is growing all over the world,” said Suchard. “My friends and I wanted to take it to the next level for everyone who wants to experience the best ones imaginable.”