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Tricks of the trade

Mentalist Riggs wows visitors
at Broadway Hotel & Tavern

He performs cards tricks and sleight-of-hand

By Amy Casebier
Contributing Writer

(December 2007) – Mentalist Joe Riggs can go through 30 to 40 forks at the Broadway Hotel & Tavern in one night. As a part of his performance, he bends and twists a fork in front of a customer by twirling it in the air and seemingly with only the power of his mind.

Joe Riggs

Photo by Amy Casebier

Mentalist Joe Riggs mesmerizes
customers with sleight of hand – and
mind. In this trick, Riggs makes the
card levitate for Kathie Petkovic.

“I let them have it,” said Riggs, 28. “Hundreds of people say, ‘I still have your fork.’ ”
Riggs performs at the Broadway every Thursday from 5 p.m. until closing, and every Friday and Saturday from 7 p.m. until closing. In addition to being exclusive to the Broadway, Riggs performs at corporate events, weddings and private parties in area homes, he said.
“My phone’s been ringing off the hook,” he said. “People come from Ohio and Chicago who have heard about me.”
Riggs mixes features from both magic and mentalism to create his own unique brand of entertainment.
A magician uses sleight of hand and misdirection with cards, coins and other props to entertain. However, a mentalist specializes in the human mind.
Riggs performs “psychokinesis,” which is “any form of mind over matter through invisible means,” he said.
“Mentalism is almost like real magic,” he added. “Most people freak out when they see it. It’s really something you have to see in person.”
When Riggs was 9 years old, he saw a magician up close and immediately became obsessed with magic.
“I became a magician to do tricks for friends,” he said. “I never considered doing it full time. It was a hobby.”
However, following a surgery in 2002, Riggs became dependent on the Vicodin prescribed to him for the pain.
“I got badly addicted,” he said. “I was taking 20 to 30 a day.”
After he lost everything, Riggs moved to Florida and checked himself into a six-month rehabilitation program. Riggs discovered he had an aptitude for mentalism during his stay there. He was reading a book from the center’s library by famous mentalist Uri Geller when he came across an instructional chapter for bending flatware. When he completed the directions, Riggs was surprised to find that his fork had bent a little.
Riggs moved to Las Vegas after he successfully completed the rehabilitation program. There, he found some mentalists and studied under them for two years.
Originally from Indianapolis, Riggs moved to Madison, Ind., in December of 2006 to take custody of his daughter, Raven, 7.
“I’m here for her,” he said. “I didn’t want to take her out of school.”
Riggs began working as a mentalist in August of this year. An added bonus of living in Madison is that it gives Riggs access to Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky.
“It’s something you’ve never seen up close,” he said. “It’s something they’ll remember forever.”
Although Riggs mixes in classic magic with his mentalism, the magic portions are advanced and unusual.

Joe Riggs

Photo by Amy Casebier

Joe Riggs has practiced
magic since age 9.

“It really ends up being a strong form of entertainment,” he said.
Many people keep coming back to the Broadway for more, Riggs added.
“I’m practicing nonstop,” he said. “I want to always have fresh illusions. People have requests. Things that I do have become signature, like levitation.”
Riggs has about nine and a half hours of material he has developed over time, he said.
His favorite part of the job is “giving people something I know they will never forget,” Riggs said. “Just interacting with people all night and making an impression that’ll last.”
As to whether people seem to enjoy magic or mentalism more, it is hard to say.
“Magic makes them happiest,” Riggs said. “Mentalism makes a bigger impact. Mentalism keeps them coming back. People can remember mentalism exactly as it happened.”
Riverboat Inn owner Kathie Petkovic can recall a particular trick that Riggs performed for her one time. He asked her to write the names of different relatives on separate pieces of paper and then put them in a glass. Riggs then said that he would remove the piece of paper with Petkovic’s grandfather’s name on it. As he proposed it, the correct piece of paper rose from the glass.
“He blows my mind; I just love it,” she said. “I highly recommend it to anyone. I tell all our guests to go. They all come back mesmerized.”

• For more information about mentalist Joe Riggs, including video clips of some of his performances, visit his website at: www.myspace.com/defythemind.

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