Freedom Festival: How Doug Segal guessed my pin number
'Psychological entertainer' Doug Segal tells Ian Midgley why he decided reading minds was better than 'selling his soul' for a living ...
Staring intently into my eyes, he says: "Your PIN number is 2 ... 7 ... 4 ... 3. Am I right?". And, rather unnervingly, he is.
"Psychological entertainer" Doug Segal is sitting across the table in the pub and – purely by reading small fluctuations in my face and feeling my hand twitch on top of his – he's just worked out, in a matter of seconds, my secret PIN code and how to get cash out of my bank account.
Unluckily for him, there's no cash in it and – with one hasty trip to the ATM after our meet – the number is hastily swapped or another. Honest.
Our transparent fixed sales fees set us aside from the competition, offering full Estate Agency Service for a fixed fee regardless of the value of your home.
Contact: 01482 423365
Valid until: Saturday, June 01 2013
Still, it's an impressive feat of clairvoyance from the man who's made his recent career out of reading minds, implanting suggestions and bending minds to make the impossible probable.
He's not a magician, he says, but uses a mixture of psychological tricks, persuasion and techniques garnered from a previous life in the advertising industry to make his incredible predictions.
Plus, he's happy to admit, there'll be a fair amount of lying and cheating – key tools of the advertiser's dark art – when he performs two shows at Freedom, this Friday and Saturday.
He's been described as "Derren Brown with a sense of humour", a comparison he describes as "lazy" – not to mention unfair on goatee-spouting Brown – but does admit to being one of the new breed of psychological illusionists who've picked up the baton where the old-style magicians fell by the wayside.
MORE ON THE FREEDOM FESTIVAL
On stage, wearing black eyeliner and sporting a jet-black shock of unruly fringe, he looks like a cross between a vaudeville entertainer and a Whitby Goth vampire.
But it wasn't always so.
It wasn't too long ago that the psychology graduate was a partner in a high-flying London advertising agency, living the high life and working himself into a early grave.
"I was working 24/7 and basically living to work", says the man who now uses his powers (his website says) for "good instead of evil – employing his skills of persuasion to entertain rather than sell beans."
"The financial rewards were great, we had a flat on the river and lots of money, but it was soulless," he shudders. "I was living just to work, you know? Apparently it's true – money doesn't buy you happiness."
"I would do little tricks for my friends as my party piece, but it didn't go any further than that.
"Then one of my clients, who was one of the biggest car manufacturers in Germany and knew I did this as a sideline, invited me over to Munich to do a show. It was incredibly scary but I did it. It was such a thrill that I thought, 'I can do this for a living. Why am I'm killing myself and not enjoying life?'
"So I set about creating this act and I haven't looked back. I felt a like I was buying my soul back from a Faustian pact I'd made."
Segal is on a roll at the moment.
As well as correctly predicting the amount of medals Team GB would win at the Olympics, the Edinburgh Fringe show he's bringing to Hull Marina this week has also picked up a plethora of four and five-star reviews. Rumours of a TV show abound.
"Yeah, life's good," he grins. "Reading minds is so much better than selling your soul for a living."
• Friday (September 7), 7.30pm, and Saturday, September 8, 5.45pm, Spiegeltent, Wellington Street, Hull Marina. Tickets: £5.50/£4concs. Call: 0871 2200260.