“My audience energizes me,” says Kreskin, an old-fashioned performer with a modern-day knack for staying relevant and in the public eye. Every Dec. 31, CNN and several other TV and radio programs tap him for predictions about the upcoming year, not all of which pan out (like the one in 2009 about shepherd’s pie becoming increasingly popular in the U.S.). In the 2010 movie Dinner for Schmucks, Zach Galifianakis’ character, a mind reader, kept a signed photograph of the legendary mentalist on his desk. And recently, New York magazine wanted Kreskin to predict whether or not Facebook’s flagging IPO would be a success. (He prophesized it would recover but urged people to think long term.)
Kreskin’s latest prediction has yet to be revealed, and it’s the reason I’m sitting at a table in Patsy’s Italian Restaurant in New York City, a celebrity haunt made famous by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and other iconic crooners. Patsy’s is one of four locations across the country that hold Kreskin’s prediction for not only the winner of the 2012 presidential election but the Republican candidate leading up to the election as well. The names are secured in a lockbox on a shelf above the bar, between a half-empty bottle of Rémy Martin and a collection of Sinatra CDs.
“We’ve had that box for over a year,” says co-owner and chef Sal Scognamillo, whose grandfather opened the restaurant in 1944. “If it pans out, that would be something.”
A few minutes later, Kreskin strides into the restaurant, where he is a regular, wearing a crisp tan suit.
“How are you doing, buddy?” Sal asks.
“Sober,” Kreskin jokes, pumping Sal’s arm up and down with the exuberance of a used-car salesman.
Kreskin orders a cup of tea and then turns to me. “Do you like green tea? I just love green tea,” he says, his eyelashes fluttering behind huge glasses that frame an avuncular face, one he says has been posted on the watch list of every casino in Vegas.
But for a man supposedly in possession of the identity of the next leader of the free world, Kreskin is oddly nonplussed by the pressure. “People have tried to bribe me,” he whispers. “A tabloid came to me and said, ‘Kreskin, I have an envelope with $20,000 in it. I will give it to you for telling me the prediction.’ He even called me at home.”
Kreskin declined, saying he didn’t want to influence the outcome of the election or alienate fans of the opposite party.
“What’s dramatic to me is not who wins, but the Republican challenger,” he says. That’s because his prediction was made more than a year ago when there were at least 10 GOP contenders, including Herman Cain, Michele Bachman and Rick Perry. Lest you think he merely flipped a coin, Kreskin says he mulled his prediction in seclusion for 28 hours while reading everything he could about the candidates. The approach worked well for him last election, when he predicted that Barack Obama would win.
I’m not carrying a wad of cash, but I ask the $64,000 question anyway. “So who’s going to win?”
“I’m not going to tell you,” he says, explaining that Jimmy Fallon will unveil Kreskin’s forecast on an episode shortly after the November election. “But I think I’m right.” He smiles.