Virtual Impossibilities: Interview with Mentalist Eric Walton
“Virtual Impossibilities” is a new one-man, interactive, multimedia, virtual performance of mind-reading and mentalism starring entertainment Eric Walton. This fully online show features Walton performing astonishing feats of mind-reading and mental acuity. Walton has developed entirely new routines that are tailored especially for this exciting live-streaming platform.
Walton’s fabulous showmanship has garnered accolades from the New York Times, London Times, Variety, Gothamist, and a host of other media outlets internationally.
Eric recently discussed this show and more via an exclusive interview.
Meagan Meehan (MM): How did you discover mentalism and what inspired you to go into the field?
Eric Walton (EW): Like a lot of mentalists, I was a magician first. I got started in magic about twenty years ago and began to focus on mentalism almost exclusively about seven years ago. I was inspired to take up magic as a hobby after I saw a live performance by a very talented magician named Michael Lee. I was blown away by what he did and wanted to know everything I could about it, so I bought the first magic I could get my hands on and have been hooked ever since.
MM: How long did it take you to hone your skills enough to go in front of a live audience?
EW: I presented my first solo stage show about two years after I began studying magic. I was an actor before becoming a magician, so I was already comfortable performing in front of people, which was (and continues to be) beneficial to me. Without my training and experience as an actor, it would have taken me much longer to develop the confidence to present magic for a paying audience.
MM: How much of a role does comedy play in your performances and do you find it difficult to work humor into your shows?
EW: I love humor and implement it into my act as much as I can without being gratuitous. There’s a delicate balance with mentalism and comedy. Too much humor (and, even worse, too many desperate attempts at humor) can easily undercut the drama of a mentalism routine, so I try to economize with it. I believe it was the famous magician and magic teacher, Eugene Berger, who said, “Not all laughs are good laughs.” I try to keep that advice in mind whenever I’m tempted to shoehorn a joke into a moment that doesn’t need one.
MM: What segments are your personal favorites to perform?
EW: There’s one routine in “Virtual Impossibilities” that I especially enjoy presenting. It’s framed as an experiment in Remote Viewing and involves an audience member doing what seems like an impossible feat of clairvoyance.
MM: How has performing virtually influenced your content creation and delivery?
EW: Before the pandemic, there was almost nothing in my live performance repertoire that was transferable to the virtual realm, so I had to do a lot of retrofitting of my existing material. I also came up with a few entirely new routines specifically for my virtual show, which was a fun challenge. And as far as delivery goes, I’d be lying if I said that for me, interacting with a digital simulacrum of an audience, as opposed to a real life, flesh and blood crowd, didn’t take some getting used to. It was very weird at first. But we’re an adaptable species and we can get used to a lot of things that at first seem difficult or alien.
MM: Do you think you will continue doing some virtual shows post-Covid?
EW: Absolutely. I think that virtual shows are going to be a permanent part of the entertainment landscape and I’ll keep doing them for as long as there’s a demand.
MM: I’ve got to ask, what have been the most memorable reactions you’ve gotten from audience members who you have called forth to serve as participants?
EW: I’ve had people cry while on stage with me, which is always powerful. And sometimes, people just can’t handle what they’re seeing and walk off the stage because it’s too much for them. That’s happened to me a few times and it’s an interesting coping mechanism to witness.
MM: What projects are coming up for you soon and is there anything else that you would like to mention?
EW: My biggest project at the moment is “Virtual Impossibilities.” Once the run at Wild Project is over, I’ll be devoting a lot of my time to making refinements to the show in preparation for the next iteration of it.
Performances will be streamed live from Manhattan’s wild project December 16–20 at 8pm EST / 5pm PST. Running time is 60 minutes. Tickets are $20 per household at thewildproject.org. For more info visit ericwalton.com and VirtualImpossibilities.com