- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Magician Alain Nu doesn’t rely on nubile assistants or massive props to wow his audiences. He keeps them focused with his mind.

Viewers can see for themselves when “The Mysterious World of Alain Nu” — the first of two new TLC specials featuring the magic man’s handiwork — airs tonight at 9. A second installment follows at 10.

The spoon-bender calls himself a hybrid of a magician and mind-power enthusiast, and tonight’s shows focus on both sides of his performing personality.

You can watch Mr. Nu catch a speeding dart heading for his forehead one moment and then, within seconds, see him guess a video-store customer’s favorite movie with nary a clue.

It’s all part of the Silver Spring resident’s repertoire, an act he has cultivated nearly 20 years.

TLC’s tight production schedule for each segment curtailed the time he generally takes to prepare the illusions for his live performances. Still, the approach works well with his material.

He may have grown up watching glitzy performers such as Doug Henning and David Copperfield, but his feats remain grounded in reality.

“My work, when I’m performing in the real world, has a kind of natural and organic feel,” Mr. Nu says. “I try to keep it all about the mind and the imagination and mind power. My props are no more than a pen and a sketch pad.”

However, he acknowledges the influence of the two famous magicians.

“I learned how to get a crowd to like you and to communicate my thoughts,” Mr. Nu says. “The basic foundation for all magic is that it’s about communication and connecting with an audience.”

The mind portion of his act, he says, begins with simple memorization.

“Once you establish an understanding of your memory that’s high enough, you can start to explore what your mind does when you’re not so analytical,” Mr. Nu says, mentioning stress reduction and weight loss as potential benefits from this sort of mind discipline.

He needs that kind of resolve when attempting some of his more provocative tricks — especially when he takes a knife and stabs around his outstretched fingers at a speedy pace.

Oh, and did we mention he does it blindfolded?

“I never practiced with a knife until the actual shoot,” Mr. Nu says, noting that he tried it a few times using the eraser side of a pencil before the cameras rolled.

Looking back, he feels a bit uneasy about the stunt.

“In retrospect,” he says, “I was crazy for ever really trying that. My hands are very important to me.”

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