HUMANS WE HEART: MIND READER VINNY DEPONTO
It’s no illusion: Vinny DePonto is a man of many unusual talents. We caught up with the Brooklyn-based mentalist—who’s been reading (and blowing) minds since middle school—about working on the weekend, his dream collaboration and a particularly memorable audience member.
Hi Vinny! Tell us about yourself—what do you do, where do you live?
Hi Madewell! I’m a mentalist, theatre-maker and actor living in Brooklyn.
Let’s start with the basics. What’s your go-to…
Golden milk latte. It makes me feel somewhat healthy and balanced while consuming caffeine. And as a bonus, it turns your tongue yellow.
I do a lot of corporate and private events on the weekends, so my “weekends” are mostly during the week. To start the day I’ll retreat to a coffee shop and write or go upstate for a hike. In the evenings, I like to catch up with friends, see a show or just cook dinner at home.
So how did you first get interested in mentalism?
From a young age, I’ve been captivated by the performing arts—puppetry, theatre and magic. I really found myself drawn towards mentalism in college, so a few of my psychology professors suggested I incorporate the human mind into my shows. It was and continues to be a developing craft.
When did you realize you could make a career out of it?
I built my early career by performing as much as I could in as many different situations as possible—I started putting up flyers around my hometown when I was 12. Since then, I’ve never stopped doing shows. I still perform quite often, but my career has also gone in some unexpected directions: I design and consult on illusions for various live theatre, immersive and experiential marketing productions.
Are you working on any other projects?
I’ve been writing a lot lately and am working on a new live solo show and a scripted TV pilot. I also love making mixed media collages, which I’ve been doing for 12 years now. Since I’m in front of an audience so often, it’s nice spending time on activities that don’t require one.
What’s a really memorable work-related experience you can share?
Once an audience member mistook something I said to be a prediction about their life, specifically, so they furiously flagged down my stage manager and demanded to speak to me. After a while, they finally understood that it was a scripted line I’d been reciting every night. Since then, they’ve remained in a deep state of hypnosis, never to awake... Kidding, they’re fine—and they left slightly less perturbed.
Ha! OK, to wrap things up… Let’s hear about a person you find inspiring.
So many to choose from, but I’ve always found musician Andrew Bird incredibly inspiring. I saw a concert of his many, many years ago and it was life-changing—I often write and rehearse with his music on repeat in the background. I’d love to collaborate on a live experience with him in some way.
Now that’s a collab we wouldn’t *mind* seeing—thanks, Vinny! Get to know more of our friends in past interviews.