By Sara E. Martin, Army Flier Staff WriterAugust 2, 2012
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (August 2, 2012) -- A meet and greet with illusionist and mentalist Wayne Hoffman and Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 11th Aviation Regiment, cadre and students from the NCO Academy and the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group went magically July 27 at the academy.
Hoffman wanted to meet with Soldiers, not to promote sales, said Brian Jackson, the recreation delivery systems program manager for the Directorate of Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation, but to provide a good time and a close encounter for Soldiers to enjoy.
"The Soldiers deserve it because they are working so hard with physical training and their regular duties, now they have a chance to have an hour of fun with a celebrity," said Jackson.
Hoffman, who has been performing professionally for the past 15 years, gave a selected few a taste of his mental experiments by asking them to participate in a few stunts. He took two personally signed playing cards and fused them together, bent a quarter held inside a Soldiers hand and guessed the name of another Soldier's wife.
The meet and greet, called "roving," is a casual encounter between small groups of people where he entertains on a small scale, with no audio or visual effects.
Hoffman said that metaphysics has nothing to do with being an illusionist or a mentalist.
"What I do is purely based on psychology. It doesn't involve spirits, auras or Reiki. It's all based on science. Though I have studied those areas, everything I do is based on human behavior, hypnotism and psychology. Things you can study and learn."
He added that he had to practice and train to do what he does, that he didn't "wake up one day and realize [he] had a gift."
The participants enjoyed what they experienced and many bought tickets for the full show after his performance. They were "sold" by Hoffman's personality and "awesome" stunts, said a few Soldiers.
"It was great. It's crazy. There is no way that he could have known someone's phone number ahead of time," said 1st Sgt. Gabriel Gonzalez, cadre at the NCO Academy. "It was ridiculously awesome."
Hoffman stated that his show has taken him all over the world and that he couldn't pick a favorite location, but said that "American college students seem to be the best audiences."
Many Soldiers also said that they would see Hoffman if he performed again at Fort Rucker or at another base.
"I really liked the quarter trick. I would definitely see him at a different duty station. It was amazing. It was unbelievable. I'm just mind boggled. I am in shock," said Staff Sgt. George Lambert, NCOA cadre.
Hoffman, who is ranked as one of the top 10 mentalists in the world, said he has had many extraordinary experiences, even for him.
"On the radio once, a man called me saying that his bus had broken down while he was listening to my show. When I said "Things are going to happen, now," his bus quit on him. He said he had been sitting there for over 20 minutes trying to get it to start when he decided to call the studio. Well, he asked me if I could start it back up. When I told him to try it out on my mark, he did and it started right up," said Hoffman.
"On another day," he added, "during a live performance I had a girl think of her phone number. I often do a stunt where I call someone in the audience. I read their mind and call them and their phone will ring. This time I picked out a girl and read a phone number from her head, and when I dialed it, it began to ring over the phone, though her phone didn't ring. But, when the voicemail came on she started freaking out because it was actually her best friend's phone. Instead of getting the actual girl's number I had gotten her friend's. It was kinda weird because even I was surprised."
Hoffman had two performances on July 27 and Jackson said attendees could feel Hoffman's personality radiate off the stage.
"It feels really genuine when you're with him. He feels like one of your friends almost," said Jackson, adding that most participants enjoyed his fun, easygoing attitude.
Hoffman confirmed this when he explained that his favorite ability was reading a phone number out of a girl's mind because it helps him in his social life, as well as in his signature line, "Can I have that back? I'm on a budget."
Hoffman has been on NBC as well as the Ellen DeGeneres and Howard Stern shows.
"Before anything I am an entertainer. For what I do particularly, my skills are 50 percent entertainer and 50 percent technique. I have to do something amazing or I don't have a show, but you have to have both," Hoffman said.
The illusionist enjoyed his stay on base even though it was short. He remarked how southern hospitality was making a difference during his visit.
"Everyone is appreciating what I do. They are extremely nice and very accommodating. You can't ask for anything more than that," he said.
Hoffman has a Facebook page, an Internet site and even an app.
"If you want your mind read as a reader you can go to waynehoffman.com and under For the Fans there is a link called 'interact' and you can have your mind read over the computer," said Hoffman.
Other Soldiers recognized the importance of those who played behind the scenes to get Hoffman here to Fort Rucker and appreciated their hard work.
"I liked everything. Everything," said Sgt. 1st Class Edgardo Hernandez NCOA cadre, who also bought a ticket. "I think MWR is providing a good service at a great price."
Jackson hoped that people would request to see Hoffman again and would provide comments so DFMWR could continue bringing performers to Fort Rucker that Soldiers and their Families will enjoy.
"It's nice to get feedback from the Rucker community so we know what people want to see and what kind of events they want to go to," said Jackson.
For more information on the mentalist and illusionist, visit waynehoffman.com.