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Mind-reading sword swallower Roderick Russell cuts through comfort zones

By CHRIS BIERI
Special to the Union Leader
October 03. 2018 1:00PM
Casting his hypnotic effect on audiences, Roderick Russell uses his magical powers of suggestion from stage shows to motivational programs. 
If you go...
WHO: Roderick Russell

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: The Sandwich Fair, 7 Wentworth Hill Road/Route 109 North, Center Sandwich

INFO: thesandwichfair.com

Roderick Russell likes to keep audiences on their edge of their seats.

He does so by pushing himself to the limit. A multidimensional performer, Russell delved into hypnotism, mind reading and even sword swallowing to find and, if possible, exceed his personal boundaries.

“All of the things I perform on stage come from my own personal interests and exploring my own limits as a human being,” Russell said. “My business and what I thrive on is performing in high leverage situations at the edge of my comfort zone.”

The first challenge that led Russell to the stage was a relatively benign activity.

“One of those things I found personally challenging was juggling,” he said. “I thought it was cool and a physical and mental challenge.”

He was asked to perform for a charity show and eventually expanded into more difficult and dangerous territory.

For Russell, pushing himself to the edge isn’t just a performance, it’s also the concept of his business, Remarkably Human LLC. Russell attempts to use the methods he’s tested and developed to help people with everything from overcoming anxiety to performing in tough situations.

“Whether one’s comfort zone is as big as doing something seemingly wild, like swallowing swords or jumping out of planes, or whether that edge is simply getting out of bed in the morning — we all have stressors and anxieties,” Russell said. “And when you’re on that edge, it feels the same regardless of how big or small it may be to others. And the mental skills to deal with it, and thrive in high-pressure situations, is exactly the same for everyone on that edge. I teach those skills.”

While his mentalist challenges often get the biggest oohs and ahhs, audiences are generally most wowed by the sword swallowing.

“There aren’t many of us left,” he said. “There are probably 50 of us performing professionally full time, maybe 70 of us performing in the world. It’s a great opportunity to see something they have only seen on TV.”

Still, one of the crowd favorites — even more than sword swallowing — is his “mind-reading” act, in which he talks the audience through his tactics.

“It’s more challenging to do as a performance piece,” he said. “I don’t claim to be psychic. I use logic and reason. I show my work as I do my work, so they can see the process and watch for the signs and signals. I always have to be alert and focused so I can make that illusion work.”

Not everything Russell tries translates into his performance.

“A lot of it is trial and error,” he said. “You come up with an idea, workshop it, block it out on stage, but then you have to see how it works out. Sometimes it flops.”

Although people often refer to Russell as a magician, he uses the term “mentalist” to describe what he does.

“People know magic isn’t real,” he said. “Mentalism is the last real magic in our world, the last real thing on the stage that is really magical. I’m delving into the audiences’ minds and pulling information out in a completely possible way. I’m giving them the information. It’s indicative of the potential of human beings.”


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