I knew you were going to ask me to preview this show.
OK, not really. But Tessa Evason certainly knew. For over three decades, she and her husband Jeff have entertained astonished audiences around the world with uncanny skills in extra sensory perception (ESP) and mental telepathy. This Friday they make their Maryland premiere at 8 p.m. at Creative Alliance. Comedy juggler Michael DuBois is also slated to appear that night.
Blindfolded, and from a distance, Tessa Evason can tell you the serial number on a dollar bill in your pocket or the name of the first person you ever kissed. But her telepathic gift goes well beyond a carnival charade and long preceded her stage act.
“I had dreams and visions as a child,” recalls Tessa, “but the adults around me would dismiss them, saying, ‘Well, all children have vivid imaginations.’ Eventually, I was just overwhelmed and found I couldn’t remember any of my dreams. That all changed some years later, when I had a dream where a relative came to me and asked if I would look after her son. I found out the next day this relative had died the night before, both suddenly and unexpectedly.”
Though obviously gifted, Tessa did not initially seek a career reading minds on stage. Instead, she studied dancing, drama and modeling. It was while working as a model that she first met Jeff. He was a radio personality hired to emcee an event where Tessa was appearing. The pair discovered they both had aspirations to be in show business. Together they worked up a stage act, wholly unrelated to ESP, which they would perform on cruise ships. They also became a romantic couple while working on a cruise. “Our own Love Boat story”, recalls Jeff. And somewhere along the way, Jeff noticed that Tessa seemed to be reading his mind.
“It’s gotten to a point now that I can think of a date or a name or a place and Tessa knows exactly what’s on my mind,” Jeff told one interviewer. “Fortunately, it only works when we both agree to make it happen. It’s not as though Tessa can just walk into a room full of strangers at a party and know what people are thinking.”
Tessa and Jeff perform together on stage as The Evasons – Mentalist Duo. They have performed on television, in theaters and even at private parties for royalty. They maintain there are no hidden cameras or microphones and nothing is rehearsed with the audience prior to the show. The Evasons even go so far as to offer one hundred thousand dollars to anybody who can prove otherwise.
The Evasons told The Baltimore Post-Examiner their Friday night show will feature demonstrations, not only of ESP, but also of Thoughtography – a phenomenon where Polaroid pictures taken with the lens against a subject’s forehead produce images from their imagination. Thoughtography was first made popular by the late Ted Serios and eventually endorsed by psychiatrist, Jule Eisenbud.
Jeff says the couple are spiritual people but not necessarily in the traditional sense of the word. And he acknowledges that odd, other-worldly things happen at almost every show. Things like objects unexpectedly falling over on stage or people feeling an eerie presence. Yet audience members are often deeply touched when they hear details of lost loved ones, and they see Tessa’s gift as a blessing from the divine. Tessa admits she will get visions and information during a show but says she has no idea where they come from.
Because of the nature of their show, the Evasons attract a diverse audience. Most are either eager to participate or to just sit back and be entertained. Some, on the other hand, are hostile and simply want to debunk the duo. On a few occasions, The Evasons have encountered someone suffering from mental illness. The compassionate duo always encourage such people to seek medical help.
The odd occurrences in the Evasons’ life are not relegated exclusively to the stage. Jeff says when the couple moved into their first apartment in Toronto, he called his mom in Montreal to tell her about it. As he described the location, his mother ascertained an unexplainable connection. They realized the apartment was the exact same one Jeff’s parents had lived in up till the time he was 3 months old.
After almost twenty years in Toronto, in 2001 the couple relocated to Annapolis, Maryland, moving onto their 38-foot sailboat Inamorata on the Chesapeake Bay. Initially, they had chosen Florida, but the events of September 11 changed that plan.
“For months after September 11,” explained Tessa, “travel by air was a challenge. Living in Florida would have meant constantly traveling by air. If we got a booking within a seven-hour drive from Annapolis, we’d drive rather than fly.”
They soon realized how much they both loved living in Maryland and sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. Now that they are permanent residents of Annapolis, they plan to work near home more often.
When asked if they have any favorite memories of performing their mentalist act, both Jeff and Tessa were quick to respond. Jeff recalled the night an older man handed Jeff a card at a show which read, “I have a terminal disease. Please do not resuscitate”.
“I wasn’t sure this was something we could share with the audience, but then I realized he just wanted to talk with Tessa.”
Another time, a man appeared, holding his gut, and wondered what Tessa could tell him about his condition. Tessa pictured a bullet, long ago lodged in the man’s abdomen, and then described the incident which had led to the shooting.
More recently, Jeff remembers one evening on a Holland America cruise. “A woman held up a little brass and gold case. Tessa asked if there was something medical in the case? The woman answered no, so Tessa continued, saying, ‘I see money, black cigarettes and a purple lighter.’ The woman opened the case and it did in fact contain the three objects Tessa had seen. But the next day, the woman approached Tessa and said the unusual black cigarettes were actually prescribed by her doctor as an aid to counter the discomfort of Crohn’s disease.
Tessa’s favorite memory from her time as a performer happened about five years ago when the couple was doing a show in Jordan. They were informed by their hosts that members of the royal family would be attending the show and were advised not to come near the royals or ask any of them to participate. But while Tessa was blindfolded, the princess approached Jeff. Tessa could sense her presence and started to discern things about the princess. So impressed was the young royal, she and Tessa have since become close friends.
From royalty to rooms full of the curious and the convinced, the Evasons have entertained and enlightened a generation. And they’ve traveled the world but are content that they can now call Maryland home. Their memories are many, but none quite as salient as the night a stranger approached them in a casino in Egypt. The man just wanted to see what Tessa could do with twenty thousand dollars. A few spins of the roulette wheel later, all of the money was gone.
“ESP is a gift,” remarked a reflective Jeff Evason. “Just don’t bet on it.”
Creative Alliance presents Surreal Spring featuring Mind Reading Duo – The Evasons along with Michael DuBois – Comedy Juggler Friday May 3 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets and other information may be found here.