Mark Edward during a panel discussion TAM 2013
|Born||Mark Edward Wilson
May 19, 1951
Los Angeles, CA USA
|Residence||San Pedro, California, USA|
|Education||Bachelor of Fine Arts 1974|
|Alma mater||California Institute of the Arts|
|Occupation||mentalist, magician, writer, skeptic, psychic entertainer|
Mark Edward (born Mark Edward Wilson, May 19, 1951, Los Angeles, CA) is an American psychic entertainer and mentalist, author of 14 books on mentalism, séance theory and production. Also a Steering Member of the Center for Inquiry's Independent Investigations Group (IIG) West and a noted critic of pseudoscience. Currently Mark Edward teaches magic to both private students and Adult School classes. Edward is also a member of the team for the network television pilot The Skeptologists. Edward's book, Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium was released by Feral House July 2012. He is not related to John Edward.
Mark Edward became interested in magic through his maternal grandfather George Schaeffer, who was a card player and amateur magician. Mark became his test subject for many close-up magic routines. By 11 he was performing magic shows for school, friends and family events.
From the ages of 14 to 18 he was involved in music in various Dada and performance art bands in and around South Los Angeles, including "ZaSu Pits and the Enema Dog Review - Featuring a Walk in the Closet", "Rat Salad" and "The Techno-Cats" (which later splintered into The Brainiacs, The Suburbs and Suburban Lawns). During a punk concert at LA's "Brave Dog" club where he was performing in the power trio Steak Sinatra, he was hit in the head with a half-full beer bottle at which point he decided to pursue a solo career in magic.
During this time he was also studying Post-Studio, Performance and Conceptual Art with mentor John Baldessari at CalArts. Baldessari greatly influenced his later work in magic and mentalism. These influences led to performances of juggling, fire-eating and magic in public places such as local laundromats and DMV waiting areas.
Finding he was near starvation as an artist and realizing he could return to his magic roots and make money, in 1974 he formed a street magic group with several other CalArts performance and theater arts majors. After working several years as a street magician at Magic Mountain and in sales at Hollywood Magic Company, he decided it was time to audition as a performing member of Hollywood's Magic Castle.
In 1975 when he became a performer at the Castle, famed magician of television's "Magic Land of Alakazam" Mark Wilson was on the Board of Directors. The younger Mark Wilson was advised if he wanted to perform he needed to change his name, which he did, deciding to use his middle name as his last name.
Bored with standard magic, he decided to pursue his interest in psychic and educated animal acts, studying under Ralph Helfer and later Ray Berwick at Universal Studios's Animal Actors Stage. This training led to his later performances with "Jim, Emperor of All Dogs" in a levitating dog act. According to the "Los Angeles Parkside Journal" Edward is quoted as saying, "My favorite kind of act is 'mental' magic".
In 1985 he took the job of Associate Resident Medium at the Magic Castle in The Houdini Séance Room. As his séance work progressed he became more involved with the skeptical movement. In 1991 he met Michael Shermer and began giving lectures on psychic matters to the Skeptics Society. The next year he accepted a position on the Editorial Board of Skeptic magazine. In 1998 he became a member of the Psychic Entertainers Association. He left the Magic Castle in 1999, after 25 years, 14 of which were spent in The Houdini Séance Room.
Years as a "professional psychic"
In 1990 Mark began working for the Psychic Friends Network. Highly influenced by 1930 movies about mediums and psychic scams and later the 1948 film Nightmare Alley, Edward decided to climb as high as he could in the growing psychic / New Age market. Magician Penn Jillette referred to Mark Edward as a reformed con-artist on the pilot of their Showtime television series Bullshit! a claim that Edward refutes. "I've always been a skeptic because I'm a magician. When I see something in this hand (points to right hand) I automatically want to know what the other hand is doing".
During this time Edward also worked on radio talk shows in Hollywood and Hawaii, gaining notoriety that eventually led to being chosen out of 160 other psychics to be second in line and backup Master Psychic for the ill-fated Psychic Friends Radio Network. Finally, he did a late night psychic infomercial for The Psychic Revival Network. This caused much controversy which angered magicians and skeptics alike.
In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Edward recounts his years as a professional psychic working the 900 lines. Reporter Eric Noll quotes Mark "The psychic business is built on lies. There is no supernatural power. You can't see the future", Edward says. "We're in the golden age of the con. There are people coming out of the woodwork that would love to separate you from your money. But people just want someone to talk to. That's the bottom line".
Media as a "professional psychic"
- Foretold, March 1997, "Astrological Forecast for March, By Master Psychic Mark, Ext. 7408" by Mark Edward
- Foretold, October 1993, "This Ghost for Rent" by Mark Edward
- Foretold, September 1993, "A True Ghost Story - In the Heat of Summer" by Mark Edward
- Foretold, June 1993, "Featured Psychic: Mark Edward"
- Foretold, May 1993, "A True Ghost Story: Little Girl Lost" & "Academy Award Winners - Predictions of the Stars" by Mark Edward
- Foretold, March 1993, "Elvis Sightings...Is the King Dead?" by Mark Edward
- Easy Week, November 5, 1992, "Medium Rare" by Geri Robalik-Fitchett
TV critic for the Los Angeles Times, in 1994 Howard Rosenberg interviews Michael Shermer, James Randi and Mark Edward about his recent interview with James Van Praagh. His positive review of Van Praagh "connecting" with his dead step-father and mentioning Oregon (which Rosenberg took as a hit because his soon to be son-in-law was working in Oregon at the time) received criticism from his readers, calling him "naive". About the Oregon "hit" Dr. Shermer says "Sometimes you get lucky". At Caltech Mark Edward guessed a woman's birthday which was also my wife's birthday. When asked how he knew that he said, "it was pure luck...you always take credit for lucky guesses".
During the interview, Edward stated "I'm not as skeptical as Michael is. I believe that there are people who are sensitive and there are people who are clever manipulators of information...There is so much information available to computer programs that you have no privacy at all...with your social security number, I can tell you the first car you bought and what color". After telling Edward the Oregon story...are you "implying that phone records..." "I have no idea" Edward interrupts, "All I'm saying is that the information highway has a lot of lanes on it".
Speaking at SkeptiCamp: Fort Collins on Feb. 26, 2011 Mark Edward lectures about his views on guerilla skepticism. "Phil Plait talks about not being a dick when it comes to skepticism...I would say there is something to that...however there's a whole branch of whats going out in the world and I take exception to that. I'll be the biggest dick I can be to people like Sylvia Browne, John Edward and James Van Praagh, people who are predatory and know what they are doing is wrong...the list grows every day...we are in what I like to call the Golden Age of the Con. We need to fight fire with fire...do you think John Edward and Sylvia Browne care about being tolerant? They don't care, so why should we? What I try to do is get out in the street, get in people's faces and cause a commotion. And if people don't like it that's fine, they can say that's a branch of skepticism I don't agree with...there's room for everything on the spectrum".
Mark Edward writes on Skepticblog the official blog for "The Skeptologists" (renamed "The Edge" in 2010). As a member of this team Edward repetitively calls for action against "the con-artists" and for skeptics to act out against them in what he calls guerrilla skepticism.
Writing for the IIG's coincidence website The Odds Must Be Crazy, Edward recounts two stories, one concerning the Bradbury Building, his friendship with Ray Bradbury and the movie The Artist. In the other instance, he writes about a night at The Comedy & Magic Club and Jay Leno where the playing card the Nine of Spades played a reoccurring role. Edwards states, I’m interested in investigating verifiable situations where a “coincidence” happens this way... When the odds seem incalculable... and the specific information repeats itself again and again in a short time frame, the “coincidence” becomes something altogether different from the norm.
Interviewed by France 24 Edward is asked about paranormal groups that charge money for ghost tours, '"If there was a real ghost over there, they wouldn't have to charge anything (20 dollars), they would have the greatest scientific achievement in history'".
After the release of his 2012 book Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium, the New York Times interviewed Edwards and described him as a member of "a long tradition of magicians who believe that it is their duty to inculcate skepticism in the audience".
Media as a skeptic
- In Voices to Visions magazine, Edward states that "common sense should tell us what these charlatans (psychics) do is an act and nothing more; otherwise, they would be ruling the planet". Concerning the ghost hunting shows, Edward thinks that there would be more interest in finding out what is really making noises in these homes but first they need to "turn the f****ing lights on...and (stop) promulgating obvious storytelling".
- The IIG's John Rael interviewed Edward outside Hollywood's Magic Castle asking him about his work with the Independent Investigation Group. Edward states "over the years I've been looking for a real psychic or paranormal event...its been over 30 years and I'm still looking".
- Interviewed on Christopher Brown's "Meet the Skeptics!" podcast, Mark Edward states "When people want answers, there's always someone willing to sell them one".
- Harold Camping's intensely media driven rapture prediction inventively gave atheist and skeptic groups a platform to get their message that end-of-the-world predictions are fodder for ridicule. Groups such as American Atheists and IIG gathered across the country with counter-protest signs attracting attention away from Camping's followers who were in seclusion. "The issue is the Bible is mythology", said Larry Hicok, state director of the American Atheists, bluntly laying out his case".
- Seth and Jeff from the Leaders in Free Thought Podcast discuss cold-reading and mentalism with Edward.
- Skeptic/mentalist Mark Edward interviews paranormal claims investigators Bryan & Baxter about how they differ from the television ghost hunters like TAPS. Bryan Bonner, Logan & Matthew Baxter show Edward how they investigate by using the equipment correctly, spending long hours in silence and looking for non-paranormal explanations for "ghostly activity".
- Mark Edward meets in Monterey, California with other skeptics to take the 10:23 Homeopathy Overdose Challenge by taking an entire bottle of Phosphorus.
- At the Gibson Amphitheater, Universal Studios, Los Angeles, on December 29, 2009 Skeptic/Mentalist Mark Edward approached the microphone during the question portion of Sylvia Browne's show and said he had been hearing voices in his head, they were giving him the names...Opal Jo Jennings...Terrence Farrell...Holly Krewson and the Sego Miners. Browne could not tell he was lying and explained the voices were his spirit guides.
- "The Truth About Psychic Hotlines" Mark Edward, a former psychic hotline employee, tells all on an appearance on ABC's Good Morning America, 05/08/2010.
- Mark Edward IIG member discusses the $50,000 IIG Challenge on Para Quest Radio Network at SoCalParaCon, October 2, 2010.
- Jim Underdown IIG and Mentalist Mark Edward are featured on this Discovery Channel episode of Weird or What? "Mind Control War".
- Warning: Radio interviews Mark Edward June 15, 2009 about his career and guerilla skepticism.
- During The Amazing Adventure 5 JREF, Jeff Wagg from Rational Alchemy Radio Podcast March led a discussion with panelists Dr. Jennifer Newport, Alvin Phua, Myk Dowling, and Mark Edward.
- At The Amazing Meeting 7 in June 2009, the cast of The Skeptic's Guide to the Universe interviews Mark Edward about his career, during which Mark holds an impromptu séance for Michael Jackson.
- Warning: Radio interviews Mark Edward August 17, 2009.
- Mentalist Mark Edward appeared on the "Talking to the Dead" episode of Penn & Teller: Bullshit! explaining the techniques mediums use to appear to be contacting our dead loved ones. Also featured on this episode was medium Rosemary Altea.
- A & E's Biography: "Houdini: The Great Escape"
- The Discovery Channel: "Exploring the Unknown"
- The Learning Channel: "Mystery, Magic and Miracles"
- NBC: The Other Side
- NBC: Secrets of the Psychics Revealed
- The Sci-Fi Channel: Mysterious Forces Beyond
- Edward worked with UK artist, magician and hoaxer Doc Shiels to fake believers into accepting an upcoming inter-species communication breakthrough between aliens, cetaceans and mankind for Fate Magazine.
- Fortean Times Magazine 1997-98 "The Case" Mark Edward and Doc Shiels continued to work together "to create the Mother of all Conspiracies". This entailed code names and participation by others throughout the world by mail.
- The 1992 Halloween Houdini Séance at CALTECH.
Media from the world of magic
- Paul Romhany & T.C. Tahoe (Ed.) (2008). Lunch is Served. Limelight Press, "It's All in Your Mind" Mark Edward pps. 125-129
- A unique way of using fortune cookies in the séance room is described by Edward in this article.
- Jack Kent Tiller (Ed.) (2007). The Blister Book. Learn-Rite Press, "Blistering" Mark Edward pps. 23-28
- An article written by Edward about a séance routine that appears in his book "Sense and Séance". A full and detailed séance for the novice mentalist.
- In the book "The Dark Waltz" author Michael Fraughton says of Edward, "I was privileged to see some of his closeup material...was utterly amazed at his ability to engage the audience...he was one of the finest bizarre magic performers I had ever seen. I found an entertainer who had earned my respect".
- Review of the book Restless Plots by David Goodsell of M-U-M Magazine. Goodsell writes, "...his work (in a séance) is based on sound experience...Edwards not only writes well, he is well read...I like this one very much".
- An insider description of available séance and in-home "psychic" parties.
- An issue of The Altar Flame devoted to the bizarre magic of Mark Edward.
- A review by David Goodsell about The Altar Flame issue devoted to Mark Edward. Goodsell writes "This is fun stuff...bizarre magic is story magic".
- Magic effect showing proof of alien visitation.
- A psychological audience participation experiment for mentalists.
- Original séance routine using fortune cookies.
- A randomly chosen single word is predicted using dozens of newspaper columns.
- An short story excerpt from "Restless Plots" as an addendum to a book on how to throw knives. Elmer Putts. How to Throw Knives. The Lulu Hurst Society, Thomas Jogenson Proprietor "The Knife-Throwers Assistant: A Midsummer Memory" Mark Edward
- A Russian roulette style routine using beakers of deadly acid. Mark Edward (1994). The Acid Test. The Lulu Hurst Society, Thomas Jogenson Proprietor.
- A overview of Séance Techniques for Magicians.
- In this Special Bonus insert Edward discusses what he feels would be the ultimate type act for the modern-day psychic entertainer.
- In "Medium Rare: Interviews with Top Séance Entertainers" Edward states that anyone interested in putting on a "convincing performance to read lots of ghost stories...do your homework...stay in character..after a séance, the medium is exhaused and weak, not a socializer. The image of the spirit medium is a persona that demands a certain level of seriousness and discipline".
- A collection of quotes for psychic entertainers.
- Magic routine created by Edward for close-up mentalism.
- Restless Plots 1997
- Mediums, Well Done! 1997
- Psi-Lines 1998
- Sense and Séance 1999
- Confessions of a 900 Psychic 2000
- How to Increase Your Income with ESP 2000
- Silentium 2001
- Loose Ends 2002
- Bundles 2002
- Hand Springs 2003
- Top Ten Mentalism with Cards 2004
- Graphick 2005
- Psychic Blues: Confessions From a Happy Medium 2009
- Tenebrae 2010
- Psychic Blues: Confessions of a Conflicted Medium, foreword by James Randi, Feral House (August 7, 2012), trade paperback, 340 pages, ISBN 1936239272 ISBN 978-1936239276
- "TV SERIES".
- "Threading the Maze of Magik with Mark Edward". YouTube. 2010-08-19. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Walking with the Psychic Blues". Skepticality. 2012-07-03. Retrieved 2012-07-04.
- "Ross and Carrie Meet Mark". Oh No Ross and Carrie!. Retrieved July 4, 2012.
- "Force One". Skeptic Blog. 2009-08-22. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- The Signal., March 8, 1976, "Diet of Flame"
- Los Angeles Co Parkside Journal., Jan 9, 1980 "Area Magician Prefers Illusion"
- Larsen, Dante (July 1989). "Bagdad". Genii, The Conjurors' Magazine (Bill Larsen) 53 (1): 899.
- "Penn & Teller Bullshit! Season 1 Episode 1:Talking to the Dead (1/3) ". Penn & Teller: Bullshit!. 24. Retrieved 2012-06-15.
- "Mark Edward - Guerrilla Skepticism (part 1)". YouTube. 2011-08-03. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- "Mark Edward ~ SkeptiCamp Fort Collins, CO part 1 of 3". YouTube. 2011-02-27. Retrieved 2011-03-14.
- "Psychic Hot Line Secrets: Clairvoyance or Hoax?". ABC Good Morning America. May 9, 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
- Los Angeles Times, November 23, 1994, "Talking to the Dead, Part Two: the Skeptics"
- "The Bradbury Befuddlement". IIG. January 2, 2012. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- "The Nine of Spades by Guest Author, Mark Edward". IIG. July 16, 2011. Retrieved 2012-03-02.
- "Ghostbusters: is Hollywood a spiritual 'vortex'?". France 24. May 30, 2012. Retrieved June 3, 2012.
- Oppenheimer, Mark (August 31, 2012). "Pro Medium Repents for Life of Cons". New York Times. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- "Mark Edward". Voices to Visions Magazine. July 2011. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
- "Mark Edward Interview (Be Skeptical Episode 2)". IIG West. 2011-07-10. Retrieved 2011-07-23.
- "MTS: Meet Mark Edward". Christopher Brown. 2011-06-22. Retrieved 2011-06-22.
- "Harold Camping 'flabbergasted'; rapture a no-show". SF Gate. May 22, 2011.
- "Best of SkeptiCamp Part 1: Mark Edward". Lift Podcast. 2010-03-17. Retrieved 2011-03-18.
- "Mark Edward Interviews Real Ghost Investigators". YouTube. 2011-02-28. Retrieved 2011-03-05.
- "Ten23 Homeopathy Challenge ~ Monterey, CA, USA". YouTube. 2011-02-06. Retrieved 2010-03-14.
- "Sylvia Browne Gets Punked". YouTube. 2010-10-02. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "The Truth About Psychic Hotlines |". ABC News. 2010-05-08. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "SoCal Para Con". YouTube. 2010-10-02. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Weird or What? "Mind Control War"". Discovery Channel. 2010-06-02. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Mark Edward and the County Coroner; Warning: Radio 06/15/2009". unknown. 2009-06-15. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Rational Alchemy | ipadio | Rational Alchemy 03/20/2010". ipadio. 2010-03-20. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Skeptic's Guide to the Universe; Skeptic's Guide to the Universe #219 09/28/2009". SGU. 2009-09-28. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Mark Edward and The Reluctant Celebrity; Warning: Radio 08/17/2009". unknown. 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- "Penn & Teller: Bullsh**!: Talking to the Dead Episode Summary on". Tv.com. Retrieved 2011-02-07.
- Mars, Luna (January 1999). "Undersea Messages - Whales May Carry Warnings of a Coming Invasion". Fate - True Reports of the Strange and Unknown (Llewellyn Publications) 51 (586): 42–43.
- Shermer, Michael (Winter 1992). "Skeptical News". Skeptic (Skeptic Magazine) 1 (4): 6–7.
- Edward, Mark (2008). "The Fortunate Cookie". Magician Magazine (James L. Clark) 1 (1): 41.
- Edward, Mark (January 2007). "The Doyle Dilemma". SM - The Ultimate Street Magic Magazine (James L. Clark) 1 (1): 46–47, 93.
- Michael Fraughton (2005). The Dark Waltz: A Text on the Fine Art of Bizarre Magic. Michael Fraughton
- Goodsell, David (September 1999). "Society of American Magicians - From our point of view". M-U-M (Society of American Magicians) 89 (4): 51.
- Abbott, Denise (Fall 1998). "Spirited Evening". Inside Events (Trio Communications): 8.
- Tomich, Mary (1996). "Mark Edward Issue". The Alter Flame - A Gramarye for Modern Practitioners (Thaumysta Publishing Company) 4 (3): 1–11.
- Goodsell, David (June 1996). "Society of American Magicians - From our point of view". M-U-M (Society of American Magicians) 86 (1): 41.
- Edward, Mark (July 1996). "Alien Encounter". The New Invocation - A Publication Devoted to Weerd and Bizarre Magick (Docc Hilford) 82: 985–990.
- Edward, Mark (1996). "Reigning Cats and Dogs". Syzygy - The Journal of Contemporary Mentalism (Lee Earle) 3 (8): 211.
- Edward, Mark (1995). "The Fortunate Cookie". Syzygy - The Journal of Contemporary Mentalism (Lee Earle) 1 (14): 61.
- Edward, Mark (1995). "Clear Cut Choice". Syzygy - The Journal of Contemporary Mentalism (Lee Earle) 2 (19): 91.
- Edward, Mark (October 1993). "Séance: A Different Kind of Magical Experience". Magic - An Independent Magazine for Magicians (Stan Allen & Associates) 3 (2): 38–42.
- Edward, Mark (August 1993). "Bare-Hand Bookings". Magick (Bascom Jones): 2467–2468.
- Davis, Scott (1992). "Mark Edward". Medium Rare - Interviews with top Seance Entertainers (James Saltarella and Scott Davis): 26–28.
- Bascom Jones (1992). Professional Patter for Working Mentalists. Magick Publications, quotes from Mark Edward pps. 77, 87, 90, 98, 109, 136, 151, 154
- Edward, Mark (Summer 1992). "The Nazca Stone". Magick (Bascom Jones) 475: 2373–2376.