Illusionist, television personality, CIA consultant and self-proclaimed psychic, we speak to controversial figure Uri Geller about celebrity, telekinesis and the unlimited potential of the human mind.


(The images above are plots of Geller’s fingerprints taken during CIA telekinesis research)

 

Shrouded in controversy, Uri Geller has long been an enigmatic character who walks a fine line between the glittering world of show business and the mysterious realms of the paranormal. Captivating the attention of superstars and politicians alike, Geller is a man that has inspired equal measures of both wonder and skepticism over the decades.

His signature spoon bending making him a star in his native Israel, Geller’s profile grew internationally. In the 1970’s and 80’s, Geller dominated TV shows across the world, captivating politicians, celebrities and royalty alike with his uncanny telekinetic abilities. Musicians sung about him, Prime Minister’s fawned at his abilities and his image was strewn tabloid front covers. But recent declassification of CIA documents reveal an astonishing aspect to Geller’s story. From the private rooms of world leaders and glitterati, to the hermetically sealed chambers of the CIA, Geller’s powers abilities were more than party tricks, and could be utilised on a greater scale. Part of what the  CIA called “psychic warriors”, Geller was recruited to the US government’s aptly named ‘Stargate’ programme that aimed to weaponize his clairvoyant abilities.

In a story that is both intriguing as it is bizarre, we speak to the man himself about his life and the power of experience to illuminate unknown passages of the human mind.

TBE: Can you describe your journey so far?

 

Uri Geller: I was born in Tel Aviv and I discovered my powers when I was about 5 years old. I was eating soup, the spoon bent, but at the time I didn’t understand what it was. Children in school were amazed, teachers were baffled. It was then that I realised that there is some kind of energy that my mind emits that bends metal. It didn’t stop there, I could fix clocks, watches, I could move the hands of watches, so I realised I must have some type of superhuman energy. My mother was not surprised because she’s related to Sigmund Freud, my name is actually Uri Geller Freud. She’s from Vienna.

I grew up with this power, then I started to become well known in Israel. The Israeli secret service, the Mossad, recruited me to help. They didn’t understand how I could do what I did. They asked the CIA to test me, so in 1972 the CIA took me to the States. They tested me at Langley Virginia and Palo Alto California. Then MI5 got involved, they wanted to test me but I wanted show business. I wanted to do the big TV shows and not be a guinea pig anymore. And then basically, I might sound boasty or showing off, but I became world famous in a very short amount of time. 

(Image: Uri with his mother age 4 when he started to discover his powers.)

Uri Geller

I wanted to do the big TV shows and not be a guinea pig anymore.  

Do you believe people are born with these supernatural powers or is this something that people can cultivate?

I believe that we all, all humans and animals, have telepathic abilities. There is no doubt in my mind, that we are evolving, and developing our minds. I believe that the brain is the most powerful computer in the universe. And in the future, I think people will be able to move objects, dematerialise things, able to communicate telepathically, and time travel. It’s all in the near future in the next 50,000 years.

Uri Geller

I would say my entire life shaped my consciousness, my ability to think much deeper and further into inner space and outer space.  

Did any externalities influence your psychic abilities?

I faced quite a few traumas, I’ll never forget the first bullet that hit my living room, where my mother had placed me in a pram. The glass shattering on my face, it’s hard to believe but I remember that. This soldier shot a bullet right through our window. It was Palestine then, not Israel.

Then I lived in Cyprus from 10 to 16, where I witnessed British soldiers being killed, Greeks were being killed, Greeks were killing the Turks, the Turks were killing the Greeks. Then the trauma of growing up in a family that were fighting all the time, my parents divorced. I’m an only child, my mother was forced to go through 8 abortions before me.

So if you look at that side of my life, the traumas that I suffered there is no doubt that they shape your psychological make up. They shape your way of thinking, they trigger your imagination. Trigger your belief system about certain things.

I would say my entire life shaped my consciousness, my ability to think much deeper and further into inner space and outer space.  

a man in the 70s wearing a headset
Uri being tested at Foch hospital in Suren, France

Could you describe a little about the tests you experienced with the CIA, MI5 and Mossad?

The CIA wanted to test me under total laboratory controlled conditions, which means, they locked me in shielded rooms. They did drawings in Langley Virginia, where the CIA headquarters is situated, and I had to read their minds while I was locked in a clarity cage – in a shielded metal room. I delivered every drawing they drew and more. I worked for them for 4 years. I did a battery of tests, not only for the CIA but also for the NSA, National Security Agency. They wanted to see if my mind could trigger a nuclear weapon. So I was taken to the radiation labs, that’s where they build nuclear bombs, from there I was taken to the American Naval Service Weapon Center. They really wanted to see if they could more Uri Geller’s to help their secret intelligence arms.

Uri Geller

For me, controversy drove my career.

There has always been a lot of mystery surrounding what it is you actually do, why do you think it’s so controversial?

It’s important to understand that all my life I have been shrouded in controversy. Those who believe, those who don’t believe. Some magicians try to debunk me, others try to prove what I do is a trick. For me, controversy drove my career.

You know Oscar Wilde said a hundred years ago something very clever, he said “ there’s only one worse thing in life than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about”. So the controversy was fuel to my publicity. I never had agents, I never had managers, I never had image makers or PR people. The sheer controversy around me has always kept me in the headlines.

Uri Geller

When you have everything, you’re looking for something else.

Why do you think celebrities and show business was so attracted to you and embraced you so much?

When you’re a celebrity, you have everything, these celebrities were wealthy, they were famous. But when you have everything, you’re looking for something else. You’re looking for a different dimension, you’re looking for something that is out there in the ether that you can materialise for yourself.

You know John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Salvador Dali, dictators, Kings and Queens, Presidents and Prime Ministers, they have it all. They were all looking for something else. To touch something that is an enigma to them, something that is unknown, something that is supernatural. Something that somehow comes from the universe beyond. Something that is spiritual.

So those people, they wanted to meet me and that blew my mind. I couldn’t believe it. They wanted to touch something they believed was spiritual. Micheal Jackson came to see my show when he was 14, the usher told me he was sitting there, I couldn’t believe it, and then decades later, Michael wanted me to come to New York and meet him and that’s how it all started. He was very interested in spoon bending and telepathy. John Lennon was very interested in UFOs and extraterrestrials. I mean, it’s incredible how many of these mega celebrities from the sports world, tennis players, formula one drivers to singers, actors, politicians they all have something in their mind that makes them open minded. Presidents for instance, when I bend the spoon to a President, they slap the spoon out of my hand and try to do it. Their looking for power, they’re looking to do anything that I can do, they want to do it.

(Image: Uri with Michael Jackson)

Did you ever feel like an outsider?

I don’t think I felt like an outsider being so well known around the world, and doing thousands of TV shows, meeting unbelievable people. I’m going to drop names now but John Lennon, was close, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson. You probably know all this. I felt very accepted I never felt outside.

Also I’m bewildered how I managed to instill spoon bending into world culture. There are movies like The Matrix, where children teach Keanu Reeves to bend a spoon, Johnny Cash sings about spoon bending, George Clooney played me in a movie, Robert De Niro played me in a movie. It’s incredible if you think about it. Big rock bands sing about spoon bending and mention my name. So how can I feel like an outsider? When I’m blessed with so many positive happenings around my persona and character.

Uri Geller

I wanted to be the Elvis Presley of the psychic world.

Did your journey into show business ever change you?

Well the reason I was so close to these people was because I was on a massive ego trip in the 70s and 80s, all I wanted was fame and fortune. I was a poor, young man from Israel, with no money, so I had this drive to succeed. I wanted to emulate these people, I wanted to be the Elvis Presley of the physic world. So it’s really they changed me, because of my want, my fantasy to be like them, to be successful like them.  I opened the doors to the paranormal and spirituality, but they helped shape my career.

70s chat show sofa with guests
Uri on the Merv Griffin Show, July 19th, 1973

Uri Geller

I’ve proved myself scientifically, not dozens of times, but hundreds of times.

Of all the things you have involved yourself with in your career do you have any regrets?

No, there are no regrets, because I do things that are beneficial, positive, motivational, even my secret work for MI5, CIA, Mossad.  I always refused to do dark things. And believe me, I was asked to do them, but I said “no, no, no, give me positive tasks, that can bring world peace”. For instance the Americans asked me to bombard the Russians to sign the Nuclear Arms reduction treaty. I was taken to Geneva and I bombarded the Head of the Russian Nuclear Negotiations to sign the treaty,  and they signed. So I did some very, very big things. These are not open to the public because they are secret, and they will stay secret.

 

How do you seek to change people’s mind who are sceptical about your abilities?

I really don’t deal with people who are sceptical about my abilities. I actually ignore them, I’ve proved myself scientifically, not dozens of times, but hundreds of times. The list is incredible how many people tested me and who they are, so I have been tested and I have been validated. So if someone still doesn’t believe I tell them to take a walk.

BIOGRAPHY

Uri Geller is one of the world’s most investigated and celebrated mystifiers. He is now living and working in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he is working on a Uri Geller Museum within the Old Jaffa quarter.

To read more about Uri please visit his website here, or follow him on social here.

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