Senehi believes in psychic phenomena. In fact, he's been obsessed with the supernatural ever since he was 10, when his friends were drawing cards from a deck and he was able to predict four in a row. Senehi readily admits that this experience-and all psychic experiences he's had since-can be chalked up to coincidence. "But if you put your attention there, you're more likely to experience it," he says. "That doesn't necessarily mean its real, but if I had to take a position, I'd say it is." Senehi was born in Paris in 1959, the child of two Iranian émigrés. When he was only 1, his father died, and he was sent to Switzerland to live with a governess in the same town where his sister had been sent to boarding school-at age 4. When Senehi himself turned 4, he too attended the school, and he remained there until his adolescence. He came to the United States at age 12, already fluent in two languages and proficient in four more. Experimentalist, Mentalist Like most future conjurers, he was a secretive teen who spent hours locked in his room, poring over magic books, practicing tricks with cards and coins. "And I was fascinated, really fascinated, by things I couldn't understand," says Senehi. "Whether it was a mathematical puzzle, the workings of a watch, the universe, the stars. If I had been more intelligent, I would have been a scientist."
As a college student at Amherst, Senehi continued to entertain people with magic tricks, but he hardly considered it the basis for a career.
And belief systems. Though Senehi never articulates his own faith in psychic phenomena (unless he's prompted), it informs his whole performing persona, not only by giving him a vague tinge of the mysterious but by enabling him to take whimsical risks during his performances. "There's a small percentage of things I do in my shows that involve no skill whatsoever," he says. "You could call it intuition, definitely. Or maybe guesswork. But there are things that happen that I can't explain."
Senehi pulls out a deck of cards and lingers in front of Dimple for a moment. Then, in a grand, deliberate motion, he throws a card face-down on the table.
"I want you to try to name that card." Dim looks up at Senehi and then back at the card.
"Name it. Don't think. Just name it." Dim defiantly takes his time.
Then he looks Senehi in the eye. "Three of clubs."
"Turn it over."
"Turn it over."
It's the three of clubs.
"No way. No way, no way, no way." Senehi is giggling helplessly.
"How'd you do that?" Dim asks.
Senehi shakes his head. "I'm not sure."