Who Is The Mentalist Wowing NFL Teams All Over The Country?

For a moment, try and imagine the sense of wonder you felt the first time you saw a magic trick. Maybe it was a simple "pick a card, any card" trick, maybe it was some "coin behind the ear" thing, or a vanishing object under a cup. Now imagine you're an adult, and you come across a magician who can evoke that same sense of wonder. How far above and beyond would such a person have to go? The magic isn't about cards, balls, or coins, though — it's about you. Some guy comes up to you on the street and tells you things about yourself you've never spoken. He knows where you went on vacation 20 years ago, and with whom. He asks you to take out your cell phone, and he tells you your passcode. He asks you to think of your favorite movie, and he knows it. This person isn't a psychic, though; he's just really, really good at reading people and suggesting answers. He's what we call a "mentalist."

Far from being a fictional person, this individual actually exists: Oz (pronounced "Ohs") Pearlman. He's been on "America's Got Talent" (on YouTube), "The Today Show," "ESPN" (also on YouTube), "NBC's New York Live" (on YouTube as well), and tons of other shows. Everywhere he goes he blows the minds of people from all walks of life. He's got a preternatural, uncanny ability to predict human behavior and entertain folks. He's also been popping up at NFL team meetings around the U.S.

A magician of the mind

As Pearlman told the hosts of the "The Today Show" back in 2016, he was the little kid "walking around freaking everybody out," plus 20 years of experience. In that interview, he had hosts Al Roker and Dylan Dreyer shake hands while he touched Roker's chin with a piece of paper. Dreyer felt it, too. On "America's Got Talent" (on YouTube) he told Howard Stern to think of a celebrity, and then Pearlman cut a piece of paper into the shape of Oprah Winfrey's face, Stern's imagined celebrity. The Seattle Seahawks (YouTube here), the Baltimore Ravens (also YouTube), the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (YouTube, too): Oz Pearlman has shocked and stunned them all.

But who is Pearlman? Talent agencies – Eagles Talent Speakers Bureau, Executive Speakers, All American Speakers, and Premiere Speakers Bureau among them – say that Pearlman took to magic from a young age, and worked in Wall Street before switching over to entertainment. An interview with his alma mater, the University of Michigan, says that Pearlman was born in Israel and moved to Michigan when he was 3. He was a math whiz, and at the age of 13 he was "blown away" by a magician on a bar mitzvah cruise. He couldn't stop consuming books about magic, and as an adult performed every night as a second job. As a "magician of the mind," Pearlman compares his work to engineering, and incorporates "the art of suggestion, subliminal messaging, body language reading, statistical analysis, and neurolinguistic programming" into his act. 

Wowing crowds for decades

Pearlman didn't just appear overnight — he's been hard at work for years. The 2008 DVD special "Into the Abyss" shows him demonstrating his craft amid business offices, conference tables, and event venues very much like he does nowadays. Some tricks that he repeated on "America's Got Talent" seven years later in 2015, such as stapling shut an envelope containing a prediction, were on display even back then. Now, sites like Speakers Inc. charge a $30,000 to $50,000 appearance fee if anyone is interested in booking Pearlman in person.

Pearlman has, here and there, talked about the misdirection, suggestion, and analysis that fuel his act. On "The Today Show," for instance, Pearlman discusses how he implanted the idea for Al Roker to answer, "Taylor Swift," when asked to mention anybody in the world. Pearlman describes how he faked making a mistake during taping for the show, and said, "let's shake it off" to implant the idea. Pearlman also wore a Taylor Swift t-shirt that he'd made days prior.

In the end, Pearlman describes his work in very practical, down-to-Earth terms. In the University of Michigan interview he said, "If I had never gone to Michigan I would never be where I am today. That [electrical engineering] degree says that you know how to multitask, you know how to focus, you know how to problem solve, you know how to interact ... That's the real world."