Pastor uses mentalism to raise money for children’s Washington trip

By Rebecca Fiedler

Blake Herridge, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Marlin, will attempt to meet the fundraising needs of history students from Marlin Middle School by doing something he does best — reading minds.

Herridge, under the stage name Blake Adams, will perform a mentalist show to raise money for the Marlin Middle School students’ field trip to Washington, D.C., at 7 p.m. today and on Saturday in the Palace Theatre in Marlin.

Tickets for adults are $8 and $5 for children under 12 years of age.

Amy Brown, the school’s counselor and the trip’s sponsor, said the students will travel to the nation’s capital to experience first-hand artifacts and monuments of American history that they learned about in their history classes.

To make this trip a reality, however, the students need funds. That’s where Herridge will come in, putting on a mentalist show to raise money for the students.

Brown said Marlin Middle School was looking for different ways to fundraise for the trip to Washington D.C., and Herridge presented them with his idea for the mentalist show.

Brown, along with trip leader and U.S. history teacher at the school Rhonda Milton, will attend the trip with the students. “It can be difficult for families to raise money for the field trip,” Brown said.

“We do fundraisers and things to help offset the cost. A lot of our students in our area and our schools — that’s very tough for the parents to come up with, more than other areas,” Brown said.

What Herridge calls “mentalism” is an act of using psychological tactics to try and guess what a person is thinking, focusing on how a person conducts themselves physically and making suggestions to the person being performed upon. Herridge compares it to what people do when playing poker, where some players can figure out what another player has in their deck by reading body language.

“Mentalism is considered the last secret art of magic,” Herridge said. He claims that magicians themselves can be astounded by the work of a mentalist, as mentalism is a completely different type of illusion.

For the shows he performs, Herridge gives a disclaimer that he has no supernatural powers, but is rather using the five human senses to create an illusion.

Some mentalists claim they have supernatural powers, Herridge said, and he sees this as a horrible thing to do, expressing that these performers give people false hope if they claim to be able to do something like talk to the dead.

Herridge says they’re abusing the skill.

Herridge first began practicing magic tricks when he was about ten or eleven and saw commercials on TV that taught viewers how to perform tricks.

He later became interested in mentalism.

“When I was a kid I got sent to the principal’s office because they thought I was practicing witchcraft,” Herridge said.

Herridge said he has never done a trick in a service at his church and never will.

“I’ve never been motivated correctly to be able to do a trick, and I felt like if I did a trick it’s just going to be about me, and it would have to be a trick that would really push the message.”

When deciding on his career, Herridge knew he loved performing but wanted to be a pastor.

Herridge considers being able to do his mentalist shows for fundraising to help people a ministry in itself.

“It’s taken me awhile to figure out how exactly to combine mentalism and that type of skill with my ministry,” Herridge said.

Herridge has done shows at Common Grounds, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, different companies, corporate events and the Mayborn Museum Complex.

Though Herridge can perform magic tricks, he said he doesn’t perform evangelizing magic trick shows, as some Christian performers do. Herridge he finds this to be cheesy.

Herridge a lot of Christian illusionists do more discredit to Christianity and magic because of their cheesiness.

“When I do a show for a church, it’s just to open up the idea that you can still experience wonder in this world, and that wonder points to something else,” he said.

Tickets for the Blake Herridge show can be purchased at the door on the nights of the show, or by contacting Herridge at 254-722-1187.