Bedros Akkelian — better known as "Spidey" to his fans — is a recognized mentalist who has entertained millions on his North American tours and television appearances.
According to Spidey, mentalism is a branch of magic that, at its basis, is "trickery to which we add a bit of psychology and understanding our crowd, connecting, and rapport."
"So things like mindreading, predicting things, it feels a little bit more real than magic," Spidey told Fox News.
The Canadian-raised entertainer started out practicing magic tricks in front of family and friends, but once he hit his teenage years, his passion for magic started focusing more on mentalism.
"That was when the real spark hit, where I got really into the more mental stuff, the mind-reading," Spidey said. “I thought it was a really great way to connect with people, to break the ice with people and it’s something that I became just so passionate about."
To advance his craft, Spidey went on to get his degree in sociology and psychology, and then became a certified hypnotist.
“I don’t really like to make the distinction between the two; I say I’m a mentalist and then hypnotist falls under that bracket for me, because once you have this mastery of the mind you can kind of read minds and you can influence minds."
Mentalism has four subcategories, according to Spidey: prediction, or saying what will happen in the future; clairvoyance, or accessing information that nobody else knows yet; telekinesis, the ability to move objects with the mind; and telepathy, the reading of the mind.
But mind-reading is often not what people think, Spidey added.
"It’s not like we look at the person and we see or hear their thoughts. Through a combination of deductive reasoning, magic and psychology, we know what they’re thinking."
Using psychology to manipulate people's minds is not the same thing as being psychic. In fact, many seasoned mentalists try to debunk psychics and their worldly abilities. Spidey, too, is adamant about separating mentalism from psychic powers.
"When people see mentalism, their first guess typically is that it’s some sort of psychic ability, but it is not,” he said. “I think that even psychics are using trickery and deceptive methods. The only difference is what they claim it is. They say it’s real, and ‘I’m tapping into your energy, and I’m reading your mind, and I can see your aura,' whereas for us, it’s ‘I’m just entertaining you with this.’”
For aspiring mentalists, Spidey says practice makes perfect. He even used to attend parties and perform randomly for people at bars to perfect his mind reading skills.
"Because mentalism is so much about connecting with someone, the best way is just to get out there and do it as often as you can, for as many people as you can. And you’re going to mess up at first, it’s going to happen, but then, as you get more comfortable with it, you get better."