I still recall vividly one of my dad’s company picnics in the late ‘60s, where I first heard a live local band covering “Purple Haze” and witnessed the feats of Harry Lorayne, a regular on the Carson show and the grand master of memory (who, at age 96, is still working, btw), famously able to recall the names and faces of every member of audiences of over 1,500 people. In my tween brain the show planted the understanding that the human mind is capable of so much more than we’re aware of in the day-to-day. Andy Hofer’s skills promise the same kind of amazement, coming from a different angle.
Hofer is what’s known as a mentalist. “I have long been fascinated by the amazing powers of the human mind,” he writes. “I had always been a skeptic about these sorts of reports, but I do know that the mind can be trained to capabilities beyond what many people think is possible for themselves. A powerful memory and calculation abilities can be developed with the right training, and even so-called psychic abilities may be more common than most people realize, and I enjoy demonstrating them to audiences.”
In the decades since my picnic experience and the frequent TV appearances of The Amazing Kreskin, the opportunities to experience this sort of show waned considerably, but, Hofer says, “Mentalist performances are much more popular in this country since the advent of America's Got Talent” and the long-running TV show The Mentalist. “Audiences are better acquainted with mentalism now, with younger performers coming up.”
Retiring to our area in 2017 from a career as a software developer in Ossining, New York, Hofer says he started young on the road to the stage. “As a kid I had interest in magic, and in the ‘90s I discovered mentalism. In talking with people involved, I was able to find some great mentors.” With dedicated study and practice, he found he could produce results that had a “strong impact” on audiences. Success with performances for family and company events fed the bug, friends encouraged him to go further, and once he retired he decided to pursue it more professionally.
Hofer emphasizes that he makes no paranormal claims. But by applying psychological principles and intuition, he says he sees things happen that he can't predict in advance. “I’m always wondering how much amazement will come up. It’s kinda mind-blowing.”
“The act involves continuous audience participation,” he writes, “and many spectators will be given the impression that they may have the ability to send and receive thoughts or make impossible predictions themselves. All audience interaction is aimed to elicit their help in ‘making the magic happen,’ and volunteers will receive the applause of their colleagues when they are successful — which they will be — in demonstrations of magic, ESP and other mental phenomena.”
“Not everything works at 100%, but it tends to amaze even me. I believe there are undercurrents of connection between people on a level we’re not aware of. People are reading each other's minds all the time,” as with couples who finish each other’s sentences, body language and other non-verbal communication. In the shows, “things happen that I don't expect myself,” and while that might get a little spooky, he says, “It's also really funny.”
Hofer began performing in Sedona resorts in 2019 and 2020, and opened for Jim Kellner at the Elks earlier this year, leading to a sold-out show to benefit the facility in June. He also has a developing interest in music as a guitar player, and has been going to our local open mics.
This month he will be doing another performance at the Elks to benefit the Northland Cares HIV clinic. “I’ve always been interested in doing service work,” he says, and welcomes a chance to give back to the community. He promises his audience “memories that they'll carry with them for the rest of their lives.”
Andy Hofer will headline the Northland Cares benefit on August 27, 7pm in the Elks Crystal Ballroom, third floor of the Elks Theatre Building, 117 E. Gurley Street in Prescott. For tickets and more info, visit PrescottElksTheatre.org or call 928-756-2844. For more on Andy Hofer, visit mind-traveler.com.