LUKE Jermay cuts a striking figure. His black beard, mosaic of tattoos and dark eyes emit a palpable sense of mystery, with just a hint of threat. And you get the impression that’s just how the 28-year-old likes it.
In the world of mentalism, Jermay is something special. For a time he was Derren Brown’s writer and creative coach, and his admirers include Penn & Teller and magician impossible Dynamo. Not surprising, then, than that Jermay is probably the most incredible psychological illusionist you have never heard of. That’s all about to change.
A highlight of the Capital’s International Magic Festival, Jermay brings his new show, Sixth Sense, to the Scottish Storytelling Centre tomorrow for a week-long run, and he promises “You won’t believe your eyes and ears”.
You see, Jermay knows your past, present and future better than you do. From your favourite schoolteacher, childhood pet, even the colour of your underwear, he sees all and tells (almost) all. But how does he do it? Mind-reading? Hypnosis? Psychic powers?
Dubbed ‘The Real Mentalist’ in the United States, Jermay’s biggest claim to fame is his work as a consultant on the hit US TV series The Mentalist. In his live performances, he demonstrates the amazing feats Patrick Jane could only pretend to do.
“Being a consultant on The Mentalist sounds very glamorous,” he laughs, “but normally all it involved was explaining how a mentalist would say something or how they would move in a specific situation.
“I was fact-checker really. CBS would come to me with ideas for the demonstrations they would like to see, and I’d help them put those demonstrations together.”
If that all seems a bit backroom, then fear not, from tomorrow the spotlight will be firmly on Jermay himself.
“I’ve never not performed, it’s just that the majority of my performance career has been outwith the UK, and that was purely through circumstance. Time has a habit of catching up with you. Suddenly it’s been ten years so, two years ago, I decided to leave America and begin performing in the UK again. I still work heavily with other performers, just this morning I was with Dynamo on his Capital Radio Challenge, but it’s an issue of balance, and that is shifting to performing more and more.”
Which is what he’ll be doing at the Storytelling Centre.
“Nothing of what I do involves body language, there are no tricks, it’s not smoke and mirrors, even though I had deep connection with world of magic and illusion, that is not what I am about when I’m performing,” he explains. “I do Tarot Cards, palm-reading... I also believe there is something to intuition and psychic power, so you will see psychic demonstrations. It’s a psychic-flavoured performance but my show is a mixture of everything, very theatrical and, I hope, interesting and modern.”
Jermay came to mind-reading through an atypical journey. He grew up as a child in the home of a believer; his mother believed in Tarot Cards and spiritualists.
“Through that I was introduced to traditional theatrical magic, but now I find myself right back at the beginning, being drawn towards ancient and traditional forms of magic. We can learn a lot by looking back at the traditions of the paranormal and the occult, and all those things, as long as we maintain a level head and don’t end up with the fairies - for example; I don’t believe that there is any kind of supernatural power in a pack of Tarot Cards, but do think they can do things that are far more amazing that the superstition that surrounds them.”
For Jermay his return to the Capital also holds great memories. He made his Fringe debut here at the age of 17, thanks to Jerry Sadowitz.
“I started doing mind-reading shows when I was 15 and two years later went to Edinburgh to perform at the Festival in a show produced by Jerry Sadowitz. That’s where I cut my teeth and I am super excited to be back. I remember Edinburgh through the blurry eyes of a teenager who had never seen anything like it, and I’m looking forward to the fact that, this time, I‘ll be able to walk around and revisit places I only half remember but without all the madness of the Fringe.”
Luke Jermay: Sixth Sense, The Scottish Storytelling Centre, tomorrow-Friday (not Monday), 8.30pm, £12, 0131-473 2000