5.12 Mysterion the Mindreader


Mysterion the Mindreader pulled a fast one on me. Wrote a blog about interviewing him last week, it was a good entry, one I was actually happy with, which was rare for me. Went yesterday morning to post it and the file was gone. It disappeared from the cloud. It just wasn’t there. Somewhere deep in his lair or wherever he lives, Mysterion conjured the spirit of his deceased twin brother, sent him into the ether of the internet and made my document evaporate. Or at least that’s the way I’m looking at it. So let’s try this again.

The first time I met Mysterion was several years ago at a fundraiser for a theatre project. It was a burlesque show - he read some minds, laid on his bed of nails while his vampire assistant walked on his chest, bent spoons. You know, a usual night’s work for a mentalist. Afterwards, we had a few drinks with him and he did card tricks. At the end of the night, he asked if we could help him get a taxi. There we were walking down Yonge Street - a motley crew if there was one. Mysterion in his cape leading the way, my friend and I carrying the bed of nails and the vampire assistant behind us. Needless to say, it was difficult flagging down a cab.

A local fixture in the mentalist scene, Mysterion has a PhD in ESP. He performs over three hundred shows a year, from corporate events to burlesque shows. Mysterion seemed to be haunting me as we’ve crossed paths a few times over the years, so I finally contacted him and requested an interview. I tell you, I turned into a little kid as he performed magic tricks on me. You see, I want magic to be real, I want to believe that someone can reach into our minds and pull out what’s inside. There was no trying to figure out how he performed his tricks, didn’t matter, what mattered was his ability to transport me to a time in my life when I believed magic to be real. Why do we stop believing?

Embedded in the interview was something else, something inspiring, which I frankly did not expect from a conjuror of the dark arts. When asked how he transitioned from being a kid fascinated by magic into a full blown career, he talked about how he went to school to train as a chef, but just couldn’t ignore his calling. So, he went all in. Mysterion is outside of the mainstream, yet he is welcomed at corporate events, he channels the darker side of humanity and pulls it out of the closet for all to see. He allows people to step out of their safe lives and live in that dark space for a time. Once he committed, he started wearing his vampire outfit while grocery shopping, not only challenging society’s norms on stage, but bringing it to the produce aisle.

So, I want to veer off here a bit and talk about myself. Surprised? Years ago, I started writing a book called The Walking Man, which you all know about now and I’m sure are already sick and damn tired of me talking about it. Get used to it. In doing some research into my family history, I discovered that a great uncle of mine fought and died in World War I, leaving behind a diary of his experiences. This diary was published in a book and does quite a remarkable job of describing the unremarkable. Yes, there’s lots of documentation of the great battles of any given war, but my great uncle’s account was of the day to day operations. The mundane. At one point in the book, he met an exiled German professor named Dr. Wilf Hamburger. Hamburger would go on to become quite a famous urbanologist, building on the ideas of the original flaneur’s of France. He wrote about the development of cities and split them into two camps: grid and lucid. Toronto is a grid city, all straight lines and very difficult to get lost. Paris is a lucid city, a place where one got lost in order to find oneself. My great uncle wrote that the last thing Hamburger said to him was, Werde Licht! Werde Licht! Translation: Be Light! Be Light! What he meant was to be light on your feet, go and get lost.

Borrowed this for my book. The saying kept evolving. Another part of the book, I wrote about my experiences in New York. Had gone the previous year with my girlfriend, now ex-girlfriend, and so naturally there were triggers as soon as I got to the airport. Feeling crappy stepping off that plane, as I exited the airport, passed an employee who looked me up and down, whistled (actually whistled) and yelled at me, “You ARE smooth!” This snapped me out of my fog of triggers, turned and shouted back (something I would not normally do), “I AM smooth!” This got added to the saying: Be Light! Be Smooth!

The trip went up from there. Upon returning home, I became more social and whenever going out, started to tell myself to be open to new experiences and new people. The saying grew: Be Light! Be Smooth! Be Open!

Here’s where I bring it around and your wonderings of what in the hell my point is and what it has to do with Mysterion is all pulled together. After my interview with him, I felt him to be an energetic and just plain happy guy, happier than I thought he would be. I wonder if it’s because he’s embraced who he is, hung it outside for everyone to see, disregards any sense of what judgments people might have, doesn’t care about judgments, in fact, seems to get off on throwing people off balance. He embraced his inner weirdness. I rarely use the pronoun ‘we’, but in this case, I’m not too afraid. We’re all a bit crazy, all have something inside that’s a bit darker, all have a bit of a weird side. Kids are weird, they say weird things and do weird things. At some point, when we grow into adults, this goes away for most of us, but I’d like to go back to the sandbox sometimes and just get lost in it. Take the weirdness inside of me, showcase it, embrace it and realize it’s probably not all that weird. Maybe I could find some of the happiness that Mysterion seems to have found. In fact, I think this entry is better than the one I lost. Maybe Mysterion wasn’t playing a trick on me, but by evaporating the original document, he was trying to help.

As they say in Germany: Werde Licht! Glatt Sein! Werde Offen! Komisch Sein!

Be Light! Be Smooth! Be Open! Be Weird!