New York Magazine Magazine

This cover article was printed in the April 21, 2003 issue of NY Magazine: "Psychic New York – the city’s supernatural superstars."

The Mystery Man

With his bedroom eyes and untraceable accent, Gerard Senehi is perhaps the city's most alluring mentalist, and his act bending wineglasses, making cigarettes float, makes even jaded New Yorkers jump. Is he really psychic, or is it just magic? You be the judge.

by Jennifer Senior pages   1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

If a man combines alchemy, soothsaying, and a cheerful disregard for gravity in his act, he can't expect to be left alone when the show's over. Invariably, someone is going to buttonhole him and insist he repeat some trick or another. This evening at the Waldorf-Astoria is no exception.

"I'm a cynic and a skeptic," booms Bruce Allen, a barrel-chested advertising man from Indiana. "I really need to see you bend that wineglass again."

Gerard Senehi calls himself the Experimentalist. He makes pens and eyeglasses and long-stem roses jump, seemingly of their own accord, out of people's hands; he changes the times on their watches; he bends keys and coins while they're still in their owner's suspicious grip. And in almost every performance, he can be counted on to bum a cigarette from someone in the audience, light it, and then... let it go, leaving it hanging in midair before it sails back and forth between his outstretched hands. (As a grand finale, he grabs it with his teeth and takes a puff.) "Didn't you see the show?" Senehi asks.

"Yes, I saw the show!" says Allen. "But that bent wine stem just killed me. I'd love to see that one more time."

The wine stem's nice, but me, I prefer the quieter, minimalist stuff Senehi does, the stuff involving almost no props at all, suggesting he has full visibility into our thoughts. He guesses the words we're thinking; he guesses phrases we're staring at from books off our own shelves.

Senehi stares at Allen's watch. "How long have you had that?"

"Since Christmas."

"Take a deep breath. Blow on it. Notice anything?" Allen consults. "It stopped. That's impossible."

Senehi nods. "Take another deep breath. Quick. Blow on it again."

The watch is now ticking. Allen laughs, then gets over it. "That's nice," he says. "But Gerard... what about the glass?"

Ah, that glass, that glass, that glass: It's Senehi's signature piece (though he borrowed the principle from a German magician, Ted Lesley). The volunteer holds the stem of his or her wineglass very tightly, releases it, and whiz-bang, presto, it has bent like a bolt of lightning.

Senehi refuses to repeat the trick. Instead, he picks a fork up off the table, grips the handle with his left hand, and, with his right, gives a hoodooish wave. The neck twists 360 degrees, forming a perfect corkscrew. "Oooooh, that's great," marvels Allen. "Just great."

Mary Falvey, a senior vice-president at Resort Condominiums International and the woman who hired Senehi for the evening, wanders over. "Look at that!" Allen exclaims, waving his coiled prize. "Look at that! Look at that!"

"Whoa," she says. She stares at Senehi. "So... is it real, or is it magic?" Senehi beams with pleasure. "Ah! Perfect! Exactly!" he says, giving her a seductive smile. "You're in just the right place."

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