TABLE TILTING WITH THE AMAZING KRESKIN
Covered by Karin Crighton
An eclectic group of participants arrived at the Buffalo Wild Wings just off Times Square on October 31, 2016. From the lobby they descended in the elevator to the Party Room in the basement, curious and perhaps apprehensive about what they had come to witness: A séance.
The Daily Mail had arranged for the Amazing Kreskin to replicate one of his most popular phenomena, called "table tilting", where, he claims, the power of energy of a group of four strangers seated around a folding metal card table would cause the it to vibrate, levitate, slide, and even fly. Daily Mail planned to film the chaos and stream it live to their Facebook page to celebrate Halloween. Even if the internet doesn't believe him, he probably won't care; his roster of performances on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Howard Stern Show, and across Las Vegas have padded his bank account and his ego.
Kreskin began by forgoing a hello and introduction to immediately demand everyone move their coats and bags out of the staging area. He quickly made himself archaic by asking a young (non-white) man if he spoke English, was from this country, or even this planet for wearing his Halloween costume. The thin, strained laugh of the young man did not alleviate the discomfort of the group, so Kreskin then attempted to lighten the mood by claiming if someone had a cellphone on them during a séance, or even more than 100 Facebook friends, they have a sexual problem. That's not an exaggeration, I promise you. He said it.
He continued his campaign against being likable by asking his (or the Daily Mail's) assistant to help him weed out people who couldn't follow his directions immediately, nearly including the poor man who was a fan of Kreskin's and had come to another show, because he took a moment to make certain his cell phone was silent and Kreskin saw the offensive item in his hand.
After arranging the group into parties of four strangers, he began by explaining exactly how the hands must be placed on the card tables – without touching – with our wrists hanging off the edge. He advised that within a few minutes we'd feel movement, vibration, and energy under our fingertips and palms. When we did, we were to stand and call his name so he could further direct us; that is, as long as we didn't ask any questions. The table that was the first to move began to spin in a lazy circle. Not surprisingly, its inhabitants included a man who had been holding his hands in prayer formation while he waited for the séance to begin. With my arms bent at the elbow and hands bent at the wrist, my hands tingled before I felt anything else. My table began to move shortly after, much to my Scully-rock-hard skepticism. The retiree across from me called out to Kreskin and we stood, our chairs were cleared away, and we followed the table as it slid across the floor.
Once four tables were up and moving, Kreskin ejected the unmoving tables from the staging floor. The four remaining tables were rearranged with more room and the Daily Mail got ready to stream live. This is when Kreskin decided to advise us that political correctness is killing America. He railed against universities for censoring comedians, a topic completely unrelated to a séance, but apparently necessary to mention right then. He plugged his appearances on television and told us we'd see more table movement when we'd watched them. As the Mail producers struggled with a faulty camera, he told the participants more than once he was going to start even when they weren't ready. As the camerawoman and producer advised him which mic to use and how the camera would follow him, he told them he couldn't do that, he needed to move around to the tables. She patiently explained that he had to if he wanted to be heard. For a man who has many years of performance experience, he seemed completely clueless and repulsed by the technology that was supposed to promote his act to thousands of viewers.
When all was mended, the live stream began and Kreskin dove in. Our hands were again contorted to rest on the tables, the pins and needles returned, and the table began its journey across the floor. It was when the table was pinned against the wall that I noticed the fabric buckling under the palms of the retiree across from me. Rather than pulling as though her hands were following the table, the vinyl table cover bunched behind her palms. It's no scientific proof, but no one else at the table seemed to be affecting the cloth in any other way. Deductive reasoning, we'll call it. It also explains why our hands couldn't touch.
The seance was over after a few minutes, and Kreskin congratulated the affected participants slightly less than he had congratulated himself over the afternoon. Some people were relieved, some were energized. The show was over, Kreskin's team quickly set up a table where guests, reeling from whatever they experienced, could buy his book and get a photo.
All in all, the most impressive performance does belong to the Daily Mail team for maintaining a sterling poker face while Kreskin insulted and berated the production crew. Ever professional and efficient, they didn't bat an eye at his outrageous antics.
The real supernatural phenomenon here is a human being's willingness to forgo our concrete knowledge of life and death to hope for something more. Our brains have an amazing capacity for optimism; it may seem foolish, but I prefer to take it for hope in the face of hopelessness. How many among us wouldn't trade looking silly around a table for an hour for a chance to talk to a lost loved one just one more time?
The tragedy of that is if anyone came to today's séance looking for hope only to find Kreskin's bullying and self-aggrandizing con show.
As we left Buffalo Wild Wings, I was in the elevator with a young man and woman. I asked both of them what they thought. The young woman said she was curious; it was interesting but she wasn't sure. The young man said he was fairly certain there was physical influence from those seated at the tables.
But one thing we could all three agree on is that Kreskin acted like a jerk.
[You can watch the entire piece here. -Ed]
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