Now, 'da news and hopefully the last word on the Geller business.
Had dinner a few weeks ago with Uri Segal (no, you read that right and it's not a misprint, Uri Segal — not Geller). An Israeli paratrooper and war veteran, amateur magician and hypnotist; he also happened to serve in the same Army unit as Geller (Unit 35), and was able to describe Geller's complete show and methods to me. It is with Mr. Segal's kind permission that the following TRUE Geller "expose" appears. I have attempted to use as many specific names and dates as possible (as best Segal could remember them) to give the needed authenticity to what hopefully will be the final word (and workings) of Uri Geller. Well, here goes.
Segal first met Geller in 1965 or '66, both being stationed in the same army unit (35) of paratroopers. Geller wasn't a very good soldier, just a nice guy. According to Segal (after getting to know Geller), Geller had been a rather brilliant student in school who failed to get good grades. The reason? Geller didn't study for one reason or another.
Well, the 1967 six-day-war passed in Israel, and both Segal and Geller finally received their walking papers. And about a year later we find Segal working at the Kfar Aza Kibbutz (an Israeli collective farm) located near the Gaza strip. And Geller turns up again.
This time Geller approaches the Kibbutz and offers to put on a show of his parapsychological and psychic powers for them. The price tag $700.00. The Kfar Aza people couldn't afford the show on their own, but went in with a neighbouring Kibbutz (Segal forgot the name) to sponsor the programme. Geller received his $700.00, and put on about an hour show consisting roughly as follows.
The programme was preceded by a blindfolded jeep drive (by Geller), who had a handkerchief tied around his eyes (after assisting spectators verifying in fact that the material was opaque). Two people accompanied Geller on the trip, both sitting in the front seat of the jeep with Geller. Segal was one of the passengers. During the ride Geller occasionally went off the road, narrowly avoiding ditches, road signs, etc.. But more on this later.
On to the show. Geller began his programme by talking about himself, and how strong his wonderful power was. He claimed he could see and feel things with his mind, like an X-ray looking behind objects. He spoke of an ability to transmit radar-like thought waves, and then to receive them back.
Then Geller started off with some standard card magic (Segal didn't remember what exactly, but said it was all very standard "mental" card stuff). Following this, Geller turned his back (or left the stage — Segal wasn't sure), and had a spectator in the audience hold up an object for everyone to look at and concentrate upon for a few seconds. Facing front again, Geller took up a pad and drew a likeness to a package of cigarettes. He was correct. And the same test was repeated a few more times with other objects from the audience.
Geller then had various individuals sketch drawings on a large pad on the stage, (while his back was turned), and then proceded to duplicate them for the crowd. His success rate was not 100%, but enough to impress everyone of his fantastic powers.
Geller was then blindfolded (in the same manner as for the blindfold drive), and traced over other sketches made by the audience; completing a circle, etc. — ala Kuda Bux or whomever.
He then moved into the final part of his programme, borrowing a number of watches from the audience, some that were working and others that had not been running well. He literally stopped and broke a number of the running watches by simply passing his hands over them, and a few watches which had not been running began to tick again in his hands, at least for a few seconds. After breaking a number of watches, Geller got a good laugh by asking if there was anybody else who wanted to lend him a watch.
He then proceeded to borrow some silverware (knives, forks and spoons) from the Kibbutz, and by passing his hands over the objects a number of the forks bent, and some actually broke in two — after a bit of difficulty and requesting the audience to concentrate harder, etc. Geller then borrowed a golden wedding ring, which literally twisted apart at his fingertips! He made a few "announcements" about people in other cities ("If you call this number, Mrs. Smith will answer and you will find her
at home in the kitchen" — etc.), what they were doing; and then closed his programme by saying it was 10.00 and that he had to make a private and very important telephone call to the Defense Minister.
O.K. So that's what Geller did. How did he do it? Well, thanks to Uri Segal (an amateur magician remember), and a friend of his (a student) in Jerusalem who stopped by the Kibbutz a few months later; a complete exposé will shortly follow. But first a little more background.
After the Geller show, the Kibbutz was literally divided into two factions : those who believed in Geller's powers, and a faction (headed by Segal) of those who didn't. As a matter of fact, there was almost a divorce over the "Geller issue".
Here's what Segal was able to reconstruct and prove. (Like I said, the clincher arrived a few months later from Jerusalem, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyways.)
The blindfold (drive) was straight out of Anneman. Segal sat next to Geller as he prepared the handkerchief to be tied around his eyes. He used the method of pleating the cloth in from opposite-diagonal corners, leaving a single thickness of cloth in the centre. (Segal did it for me with his napkin.) Geller also instructed Segal to tie the blindfold on him very tightly (" the tighter the better "), of course making it even easier to see through the single thickness of cloth. So much for the blindfold drive and blindfold drawing on stage. (An interesting sidelight is that Segal mentioned that Geller, by packing people in the front seat of the jeep right up next to him, was able to use their " body language and subconscious leaning" to help him during the drive if he ever had any trouble seeing anything through the blindfold.) And on top of this all, Segal said he remembered that Geller was a lousy driver anyways, even when he could see! But on with the show.
The drawing duplication and sketching of objects held up in the audience had Segal stumped for a while, so he started doing a little discreet digging on his own. He turned up a bombshell.
Shaul Friedman, a member of the Kibbutz and a former jet pilot in the Israeli airforce, it turns out had been paid by Geller (and sworn to secrecy!) beforehand to act as his stooge in the audience. Friedman was simply given a set of elementary hand signals to transmit to Geller what drawings he was to make. For example. If Friedman "scratched his head", Geller was to draw a cigarette pack. If Friedman "rubbed his nose", Geller was to draw an object with a number of straight lines in it! Et cetera. Unfortunately Segal couldn't remember any more of the hand signals Geller had used, but he was satisfied in that he had solved the mystery of another of Geller's mysterious powers.
(Another interesting sidelight along these lines is that Segal said he spoke to a television camera man who had also been paid (bribed) by Geller to act as his accomplice during a television shot. With the cameraman's help, Geller was able to successfully duplicate drawings on T.V., etc. So if Geller has made a T.V. appearance in your area, and if you've got the inclination, might be worthwhile (for publicity reasons or whatever) to pay a visit to your local T.V. station and see what you can dig up. I don't particularly want to get into the old " Mentalist's Disclaimer " controversy here. Let me just state for the record that I believe any and all mind reading entertainment should be presented as just that, entertainment; without any claims to legitimate psychic powers, etc. I don't object to the entertainer (hell, I am one! ), but I'll do my darndest to expose any mentalist who claims he's genuine. (Kreskin does not, incidentally).
Why? The reason is twofold. First, it's a value judgement of mine, call it morals or whatever. And secondly, it's a source of some damn good publicity if you play it right. O.K. Nuff said. Spare me the nasty letters already.
Back to the Geller show.
Segal wasn't sure about the "watch trick", but he had an idea. He had noted that Geller himself wore a rather large wrist watch, with the dial of the watch on the inside of his wrist as is the fashion with some people. And Segal really didn't like the looks of that watch. So. He got hold of a rather strong magnet, and borrowed a few watches that hadn't been running lately. But first he tried it out on his own watch which had been in perfect running order. He passed the magnet over the watch, and it stopped dead. He had to take it to a jewellers to be repaired. And by passing the magnet over the non-working watches, a number of them started up to run again, if only for a few seconds. So much for Geller's watch trick. Segal was again satisfied.
But what about the silverware and ring bending? Segal noted that throughout this portion of the programme, Geller was constantly moving his hands and arms back and forth, and in and out of his pockets. He took out a handkerchief to wipe some sweat from his forehead, and talked about how he was trying very hard. Quick, jerky, strong movements; and Segal didn't like them. He also noted that the only metals Geller was able to bend were very soft ones, gold, aluminium and cheap silverware. So he wasn't sure of how, but suspected either some quick sleight of hand movements, or possibly something chemical in nature that Geller was getting out of his pocket. But he wasn't sure and couldn't prove it.
And finally, about Geller's "predictions of the future"or whatever, Segal felt they were all pretty much nonsense, and unsubstantiable. Geller was playing probabilities." If you light a fire, and put your finger in it, I seem to sense distinct vibrations that you will burn yourself".
So much for that.
Now for the clincher.
A few months after the Geller show, a fellow who was a friend of one of the Kibbutz members stopped by. His name, Segal believes, was Alon, or something like that. He dropped by, and free of charge, ended the Geller controvery by duplicating the entire Geller show. But this time with an explanation of how it had all been done (perpetrated). Segal had been right on his reconstruction of all the effects. And the metal bending? A combination of quick sleight of hand movement, and a chemical kept on a sponge in the pocket. (Unfortunately Segal could not remember what the chemical was; but he did verify the fact that Alon had some substance which was not terribly toxic or harmful to the hands, which made gold and other soft metals more susceptible to fracture.)
So with the duplication and expose of the Geller show, the controversy was ended. And Segal felt pretty good about his amateur reconstructions. He had been correct. In summing him up, Segal said : "I wasn't against Geller. He was a smart guy doing it for the money. And I found out his tricks. He was doing a lot of things, but doing them nicely".
And as an afternote -
Geller was just starting out in the days of his Kibbutz appearance at Kfar Aza. A few months later he was too big to play the Kibbutz circuit any more, and went "big time" in Jerusalem. He began to refuse to perform when he saw that people were watching him too closely. And about a year later, was forced to drop (by the government, Segal thought) any claims of the psychic or parapsychological from his advertising materials. His last show in Israel was publicised simply as "Uri Geller doing amazing things!", no mention of his strange E.S.P. powers, or whatever. Soon after, Geller and his business manager turned up in England, and the rest is common knowledge.
Finis. Requiescat in pace Uri Geller and your psychic powers, and thank you, Uri Segal, for a most entertaining, delightful, and informative evening....
© Bill Nagler. All rights reserved. - Reproduced with permission