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Wednesday, 01 March 2006 00:00

Enter the mystery: World-famous extraordinist Craig Karges comes to Western Carolina University

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By Michael Beadle

OK, first things first — Craig Karges is not a comedian though he makes his audiences laugh. He’s not a magician, though he uses magic. And he’s not a psychic, though psychic happenings occur in his shows.

He likes to refer to himself as an “extraordinist” — someone who demonstrates extraordinary phenomena like floating tables, metal bending, and mind reading — and shows you just how amazing life can be if you’re willing to trust your intuition.

“If I’ve entertained you — great,” he explains. “Beyond entertainment, I do hope I get some of the audience members to open their minds to the possibility that there is much more to us as human beings than we normally take credit for. Ordinary people are capable of accomplishing the extraordinary.”

An award-winning entertainer and globetrotting performer, Karges is coming to Western Carolina University’s Fine and Performing Arts Center for one special night — 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 2. Tickets range from $5 to $20.

Over the past 25 years, Karges has made more than 4,000 appearances in all 50 states and 15 nations on four continents. He’s appeared on Larry King Live, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and numerous TV networks and news programs. With his unique brand of amazing illusions and feats of mind reading, he wows college audiences and gives corporate workshops and trade association presentations. The National Association for Campus Activities, the largest college campus organization for student events in the U.S., awarded Karges the Campus Entertainer of the Year six times and Variety Performer of the Year 12 straight years.

Part of the draw is simply the chance to see something you think is impossible.

“I love mystery,” Karges explained in an email interview. “I love getting the audience to feel that they are part of something special, something different.”

Born in Wheeling, W.Va., which he still calls home, Karges had a pretty normal childhood — with the exception of his great-uncle, Alain “Doc” DeLyle, who became a mentor in all things mystical and magical.

“I was interested in magic since I was 12,” Karges said. “I did some sleight-of-hand tricks with coins and cards.

“Then I got to know my uncle, and my entire world changed as well as my perception of what magic was and could be. ‘Doc’ (as everyone called him) knew a trick or two, but what he really knew was psychology. He had an unbelievable way of connecting with people. He performed on stage during the ‘20s and ‘30s, but when I knew him he was an intuitive consultant, kind of like a sophisticated fortune teller. I spent the better part of a year studying with Doc before he passed away.”

It wasn’t so much the magic tricks Karges learned from Doc as it was the psychology you use to create the illusion. Karges debuted with this kind of performance at 16 years old. After college, he struggled at first but stuck with it. He’s been going strong for 25 years.

He credits part of his success on his trusty travel agent and his wife, who runs the office affairs and makes contacts with booking agents. Though it gets hectic on the road, taking early morning flights and traveling from city to city, Karges likes to unwind with hiking and skiing. For his latest run to North Carolina, he’ll be driving to Cullowhee with his wife and their two cairn terriers — Dolittle and Connor P. McNasty.

“We’ll get to explore Western North Carolina a bit, which is always enjoyable,” he said. “A beautiful part of the country.”

A consummate entertainer, Karges has a special offer to those who think they can spot any smoke and mirrors behind the magic. If anyone can prove that special people are planted in the audience to enhance or manipulate the show, he’ll agree to pay $100,000 to charity. On top of that, he risks his own fee as part of one particular trick. The check for his fee is placed in one of three envelopes and pieces of paper are placed in the other envelopes.

“If the selected envelope doesn’t contain my check, the show is absolutely free to the sponsor,” Karges said.

In addition to doing shows, Karges is the author of Ignite Your Intuition, first published in 1999 and now in its seventh printing. It’s published by HCI, the same publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Karges also wrote The Wizard’s Legacy, a story about his apprenticeship with his uncle. He’s working on a third book about his experiences on the road and encounters with extraordinary people he’s met.

The world is full of wonder, and Karges likes to remind people it isn’t out there to be found — it’s within all of us.

“Your subconscious is a vast warehouse of experiences, ideas and knowledge, and if you tap into it, you can become much more insightful in your decision-making process,” he said. “Your life is a result of the decisions you make, and I think you owe it to yourself to use your entire mind in the decision-making process — not just the tip of the iceberg.”

For more information about the Craig Karges performance or to purchase tickets, call the Fine and Performing Arts Center box office at 828.227.2479 or go to the Web site http://fapac.wcu.edu/Performances.html.

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