Part Two by Uri Geller
This is Mexico
The porter had already started to take our luggage out to the
taxi that was waiting to drive us to the airport. A few minutes
later, Shipi and I should have checked out of the Camino Real
Hotel in Mexico City and been on our way back to New York after
an extensive book promotion tour for the Spanish-language edition
of My Story. I was having a final check through the drawers
and wardrobes in my room when the telephone rang.
The caller was Raul Astor, the head of Televisa, the television
company for which I had done a major broadcast the previous evening.
'Uri,' he began, 'I'm calling you to tell you something very important.'
I looked at my watch. 'Well, you'd better tell me very quickly,'
I replied, 'or I'll miss my flight.'
'Please,' he went on, 'don't leave the hotel, because there is
a very important person coming to see you.'
'Look, Raul,' I said, 'I'm sorry, but I can't wait for anybody.
I can't cancel my flight now.'
'Uri, listen to me very carefully. You have to do what I tell
you. This is a serious matter.' I wondered what on earth he was
talking about. 'The wife of the president-elect of Mexico saw
you on our programme, and one of her aides just called me to say
that she would like to meet you.'
I made some hasty excuse or other, but he would have none of it.
'You'd better stay,' he interrupted sternly. 'This is Mexico.'
He went on to explain that in his country it was the president,
and the president's wife, who made the decisions. A president-elect
was equally important, and you did whatever he - or his wife -
Shipi and I had the fastest conference of our lives. He quickly
checked the diary, and found that my next engagement was not for
'Look,' he said, 'we'll meet her and we'll take a flight tomorrow.
So we stay another day - what's the big deal?'
I had loved my first trip to Mexico. There was a nice swimming
pool at the hotel, and I had developed a taste for tortillas and
guacamole. (I was not a vegetarian in those days.) I had visions
of what might happen if I disobeyed Raul's order. I decided to
agree with him. I had better stay.
Almost as soon as Raul hung up, the telephone rang again, and
a voice told me in broken English that Senora de Lopez Portillo
was in the hotel, and was on her way to see me.
It had all happened so quickly that I had still not fully realized
who my unexpected visitor was when I heard the rhythmic thump
of feet - whoomp, whoomp, whoomp in the corridor. I peered
round the door, and saw what looked like a military parade heading
for me. It was a solid mass of army and police uniforms, crash
helmets and walkie-talkies. There must have been at least twenty
They marched up to my room and halted. Then they stood aside,
like the Red Sea being parted by Moses, to leave me face to face
with Senora Carmen Romano de Lopez Portillo.
She was not at all what I had been expecting. I had seen her husband's
photograph on enormous posters all over the city put up by the
Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the party that had
effectively run Mexico and chosen its presidents for nearly fifty
years. I expected the wife of this distinguished and intelligent-looking
man to be elderly, grey-haired and discreetly dressed. Instead,
I saw a very exotic and beautiful woman.
With her curly black hair, huge green cat's eyes and dazzling
smile, she might have been a mature but well-preserved actress.
She wore a very colourful and sexy dress, with high-heeled shoes
and plenty of make-up. She held out her hand towards me, and only
then, after all the commotion of this military-style invasion,
did it dawn on me just who she was and what she represented.
We shook hands, and she came into my room. To my surprise, one
of the men promptly stepped forward and closed the door behind
her, leaving her alone with Shipi and me. Through the window,
I could see that the area around the pool was already swarming
with yet more uniformed men. We were surrounded.
She ignored the chair I offered her, planted herself on my bed,
and lost no time in letting me know why she had come to see me.
'I saw your television show,' she began excitedly, in good English.
'It was incredible! You know, I was holding my watch and it started
working, and my son - his spoon bent - and oh, you were fantastico!
My God, all my life I've wanted to meet somebody like you.
I'm so interested in these things, and I believe in them. You
must stay in Mexico!' It was an order, not an invitation.
We talked for two hours. She wanted to know everything about me,
and she wanted me to know all about her, her family, her background,
and her feelings about God, religion and just about all the mysteries
of life from flying saucers to bent spoons.
At last, she got up. I expected her to say goodbye and leave,
but instead she gave me another order.
'You come to my house. Now.'
Driving through the streets of Mexico City with the wife of the
president-elect was an experience unlike any I had previously
had. We tore through the traffic, surrounded by motorcycles with
sirens wailing, while she sat back calmly with her walkie-talkie,
constantly sending out messages, firmly in command of her entourage.
Her Ford LTD had been fitted with all kinds of special compartments
for radios, tape recorders, music cassettes, notepads, pens and
pencils and make-up boxes, many of which were also strewn over
the rear window-ledge. When I got my custom-built Cadillac later,
I had it refitted in the same way, to remind me of hers.
Our presidential motorcade swept out of town and into the suburbs,
finally pulling up at a modern art-deco villa standing in about
an acre of land and surrounded by a high fence. Several police
cars were parked by the gate.
When she led me into her living-room, all I could see at first
was a mass of pianos, of all shapes and sizes, modern and antique.
There were more of them all over the house, and later I counted
at least twelve. She was a pianist, she told me, and had studied
with a well-known American.
I told her that my best friend was the distinguished American
concert pianist Byron Janis, who had studied with the great Horowitz.
Her gorgeous cat's eyes lit up. 'Oh,' she exclaimed, 'you know
Byron Janis? He must come and play for Mexico, at the Bellas Artes.'
She showed me around the whole house, and introduced me to her
mother, a most lovable lady who received me very graciously. Then
she showed me her husband's private study, which was crammed with
books. He was not at home, but at his office where he was serving
the outgoing president, Luiz Echeverria, as minister of finance.
Although I stayed with her all afternoon, we had little opportunity
for more than polite conversation, for we were constantly interrupted
as officials and servants hurried in and out with papers and documents.
Eventually, she announced that we were to go out to dinner with
some of her friends.
As we walked into the restaurant, the clatter of cutlery stopped
and there was dead silence. To describe Senora de Lopez Portillo
as having a strong personality would be an understatement. It
was not that she was the wife of the president-to-be; she simply
had that kind of power. As I already knew, whatever she wanted,
Before the end of that long and bewildering day, I learned that
she had plans for me and, looking back today on what they led
to, I realize how lucky I was to have missed that flight to New
Some Latin Americans forget their promises the day after they
make them, but she was not one of them, and the following day
she duly introduced me to her three children: her teenage daughters
Carmen and Paulina and her son Jose Ramon - known to his family
and friends as Pepito. He was a very bright and intelligent young
fellow in his early twenties, an amateur astronomer with a keen
interest in the scientific research that had already been done
into my abilities.
Arrangements were promptly made for me to visit the president-elect.
Jose Lopez Portillo, then aged fifty-five, had had a distinguished
career as a lawyer and professor of political science at Mexico's
National University before taking charge of the country's finances.
Despite his age, he kept in good shape by running a mile a day,
swimming, and battering his punch-bag. As Pepito took me into
his office, I was struck by the contrast between his elaborate
security system, with guards and policemen all over the place,
and the simplicity of both his personal appearance and his furniture.
He was sitting at an ordinary table, wearing a typical Mexican
embroidered white shirt, with no tie.
'Don't bend anything in this office,' he said with a laugh as
we shook hands. We made polite conversation for a few minutes
with Pepito, whose English was perfect, occasionally helping his
father to find the right word. Senor Lopez Portillo said he was
very pleased that I was in Mexico; he had not seen my television
show himself, but he had heard a lot about it and gathered that
it had made quite an impression on a number of people in addition
to his own family. He hoped we would meet again, he added, but
in his home rather than here.
Despite his initial order to me not to bend anything, I had a
feeling that this was what he rather hoped I would do, and when
I offered to give him a demonstration there and then, he promptly
sent for a spoon. Secretaries and bodyguards then crowded into
the office for a little light relief from the cares of state.
I held the spoon and stroked it, just as I always do, and before
long it started to bend, much to everybody's surprise and pleasure.
The president-elect sat and stared. Then he told somebody to go
and fetch another spoon.
I wanted to explain to him that I could not bend one after the
other, just like that. Once I have done one, I am not in the right
psychological state to do another. I believe that the physical
and mental energies that I need are stored, and I use up nearly
all of them every time I bend something. It takes at least half
an hour for me to refill my energy pool. On the rare occasions
when I had been obliged to bend several things in a short time,
I had noticed that the first one would go to ninety degrees as
usual, but the second would only go to sixty, the third to thirty,
and the fourth would not bend at all. With me, a bent spoon is
a kind of visiting card or proof of identity, and normally I produce
it only once.
'Excuse me, Senor Presidente,' I began, 'but I cannot . . .'
'No, no, no,' he interrupted. 'I will do it!'
I have noticed several interesting things in connection with my
spoon-bending. If there are negatively-minded people around, I
often fail to oblige - not because I cannot, but simply because
I feel I do not have to prove anything to anybody. Even if they
do not tell me they are sceptical I seem to pick it up telepathically,
and then usually nothing happens. If it does, sometimes one of
them will take the spoon and immediately bend it back into shape
by normal means, as if trying to pretend that it never happened.
On the other hand, every time I have bent a spoon in front of
people who are at the top of their professions, whether they are
presidents, prime ministers, generals or chairmen of boards, their
reaction is quite different. They always want to do the same themselves
straight away. I'm the top man around here, they seem to be thinking,
so why can't I do this too?
Lopez Portillo was no more successful than any of the others.
He kept stroking his spoon for several minutes until he gave up,
with a good-natured laugh. I think he really wanted that spoon
* * *
I was duly invited to his home for the second time in as many
days, and on this occasion my new friend Muncy, as she asked me
to call her, made two more promises. One was to send me an invitation
to her husband's inauguration, on 1 December 1976, which she subsequently
did; and the other was to introduce me to President Echeverria.
So before I had fully recovered from my surprise at being taken
to meet a man who was to be head of a major state, here I was
on my way to meet a man who already was one.
I was treated once again to one of those hair-raising motorcades,
and this time my destination was Los Pinos, the Mexican White
House. I was shown into the huge and spotlessly clean vestibule
of this magnificent building, with its shining floor and elegant
but unpretentious Mexican furniture and decor. It was absolutely
silent, which was a welcome contrast to the noise of the journey.
Suddenly, I began to feel a bit under-decorated myself, realizing
that I probably ought to be wearing a tie. Like most Israelis,
I am an anti-tie person, and at that time I do not think I even
had one. I did not even own a suit. Well, I thought, Lopez Portillo
had been wearing an open shirt, so perhaps this was considered
an acceptable form of dress even in the presence of the head of
state? I hoped so.
The silence was broken as the huge wooden door swung open, and
I was ushered into the presidential office. There, I had another
uneasy moment. There were several men sitting around, but none
of them sat behind what looked like the presidential desk. I had
never seen a photograph of Echeverria, and had simply no idea
which of them he was.
Okay, Geller, I said to myself hurriedly, use your psychic powers,
and for heaven's sake go up to the right man. This seemed to work,
for I did manage to get it right, telling the president through
his interpreter how honoured I was to be invited to see him, and
how much I had come to like his country in the short time I had
been there. I expected some equally formal reply, but the first
thing he said to me was, 'Could you find oil for us?'
He said it with a smile, and I thought he must be joking. He probably
thought I was also joking when I replied, 'Of course, Mr President.
At least, I can try, though I can't guarantee anything.' As I
will explain later, neither of us was in fact joking.
I spent about twenty-five minutes in the president's office, during
which time I managed to bend a spoon, demonstrate some telepathy,
and also perform an unexpected service for him. At one point,
he suddenly handed me an old watch, telling me that it had not
worked for ages and asking if I could make it tick. I managed
to do so, and left him and his colleagues with plenty to think
about after my brief audience.
Shortly after this, I was contacted by Rene Leon, one of Mexico's
top impresarios, who arranged for me to do a show at very short
notice in the largest theatre in town.
On the morning of the day the show was to take place, there was
an unpleasant incident of a kind that people who become well known
have to learn to live with. Somebody telephoned me at my hotel
and spoke in rapid Spanish, ignoring my protests that I hardly
knew a word of the language. I promptly called Muncy, who sent
a couple of her security guards over straight away with strict
orders to look after me. When I repeated the few words I had been
able to catch, including brigada and bomba, they
turned rather pale.
Anyway, they obeyed their orders. The show went ahead as planned,
but when I walked on to the stage all I could see at first was
a mass of blue uniforms. There must have been two or three policemen
for every member of the public, and there was even a line of them
in front of the stage, facing the audience and holding their machine-guns
in a way that suggested they were quite prepared to use them.
I was later told that there were even light tanks patrolling the
streets outside while I was giving my show, which I managed to
do successfully in spite of the heavy police presence for which
Muncy had been responsible.
She was delighted by the show, and soon afterwards she made it
clear to me that she would like me to settle in Mexico for good.
I told her I was honoured and grateful to her, for I already felt
at home in her country and would like to spend as much time there
as I could, but there were problems. I had several commitments,
for my book was due to be published in a dozen languages, and
promotion tours in a number of countries had already been arranged.
Moreover, although I would come back to Mexico as soon as I could,
I could not yet afford to hop on a plane every time I felt like
it. I was making a reasonable living with my demonstration-lectures
and television shows, and my book was selling well, but I was
no millionaire, as yet.
Muncy, as I knew by now, had a unique way of solving problems.
On this occasion, she simply ordered me to go along to the offices
of Aeromexico, where I would be given a card entitling me to free
travel - first-class, of course - on any of their flights to anywhere
in the world.
I didn't believe it. Nor did the person I spoke to at the company's
headquarters. 'Only the chairman of the board has that kind of
card,' I was assured.
Muncy was not satisfied with that explanation. 'Come with me!'
she said. She got into her car and drove me back to the office,
where she expressed her wishes in eloquent Spanish, and I duly
received the precious card. In exchange, I signed a contract whereby
I was to promote the airline worldwide, which I did with the help
of T-shirts I had imprinted with the slogan 'Uri Geller Flies
Aeromexico' and later wore on several major television shows.
Mexico is a democratic country. Even so, as is the case in every
country I know of, democratic or not, it does help if you know
the right people.
Word soon spread around that I was a close friend of the Lopez
Portillo family, and this led to the opening of all kinds of doors.
For example, I was offered the free use of a really splendid triplex
penthouse in the plush Zona Rosa district, with swimming pool
and all. The owner, I believe, felt that by being nice to me he
was setting up a useful hot line to the president's ear. If I
was corrupt by nature, I could certainly have celebrated my thirtieth
birthday by retiring to a life of luxury, privilege and wealth.
Luckily, however, I did not, for I like to go to sleep with a
All the same, I seemed to have become a fairly influential person
in Mexico, without trying at all. In fact within a very short
time of my first arrival in the country I had things that some
people have to work all their lives to obtain, such as unlimited
air travel facilities and a free home, not to mention what to
almost any Mexican is the ultimate status symbol: direct access
to the First Family.
For some time to come, I was to shuttle back and forth between
my new home and my professional commitments in other countries,
and although I have never established permanent residence anywhere
since I left Israel in 1972, flying into Mexico City's Benito
Juarez airport came to feel like returning home. It was somewhat
different when I arrived in December 1976 for the inauguration
of President Lopez Portillo: on that occasion I was given the
full red-carpet treatment as soon as I stepped off the plane,
and I will never forget how I felt when Muncy spotted me in the
audience at the ceremony and waved at me from her seat beside
the man who was about to take over the country's highest office.
Shortly after the new president and his family moved into Los
Pinos, I was invited there again, to meet the entire cabinet and
give a demonstration of my abilities. So I came to know personally
everybody who was anybody in the top echelon of national government.
It soon became clear that, like Muncy, I was in a position to
get anything I might want.
One morning, I had a very disturbing dream. It was of a huge fire
breaking out somewhere, and I had the strong impression that Lopez
Portillo was nearby and was in danger. I telephoned Pepito right
away, told him about the dream, and begged him to ask his father
to take extra care. I do not think he took me very seriously,
although he did pass on the information. The very next day, a
major-fire did break out in a hall shortly before the president
was due to speak there. Pepito was more impressed by this episode,
I think, than by all my demonstrations of metal-bending and mind-reading.
On another occasion, I gave the president himself a spontaneous
demonstration of mind-power at work. One of his favourite ways
of relaxing was to shoot his bow and arrow on the lawn at Los
Pinos, and one day he asked me if I could direct an arrow into
the bull's eye by psychic means.
'I certainly can't do it any other way,' I replied truthfully,
for I had never fired a bow and arrow in my life and could not
even hold the thing properly. However, my attitude was much the
same as it always is when I am faced with a new challenge, such
as when ex-president Echeverria had asked me if I could find oil:
'I can try.'
I took the bow and arrow and tried, using all the power of concentration
I could manage. My mind went back to my school days in Israel,
when for a time I had become quite famous for my skill at basketball:
I was a terrible player, in spite of my height, but my speciality
was to throw the ball right into the net, time after time, from
the half-way mark. I could do this only if there was nobody near
me, though, so I was fairly useless as a team player.
Wham! The arrow slammed right into the centre of the target. I
was as amazed as the president was. Spontaneous incidents of this
kind have happened all my life, and still occur regularly today,
as they have done and do in the presence of most of my close friends.
They always make a more lasting impression than anything I do
in public or in a laboratory, where there always seems to be somebody
around who says (later) that I must have been cheating. I could
fill the rest of this book with accounts of these incidents, if
I could remember them all, and a selection of them will be mentioned
in due course.
As far as Muncy was concerned, I had no need to convince her of
anything. We became real friends, and she began to tell me about
her most intimate troubles and worries, of which despite her wealth
and position, she had her fair share. Like anybody else, she needed
somebody to confide in, and it is not surprising that rumours
gradually began to spread that I was something more than a family
I could hardly blame the rumour-mongers. I went around with her
quite openly all the time, and wherever she went she was surrounded
by official photographers working on behalf of the National Archives.
No relationship could have been less clandestine than ours, and
we were both fortunate that the Mexican press treats its public
figures with considerably more respect than is the case in most
When we went out to a restaurant, as we did regularly, she would
have her bodyguard ask the band to play one of those romantic
mariachi numbers, or our special private song which went
'That's the way - aha, aha - we like it'. As it did so, she would
sit and gaze at me as if trying to tell the world she was in love
with me. One evening, I felt she was overdoing it.
'Look, Muncy,' I said, 'if you want me around you've just got
to stop acting like this.' I had noticed more jaws dropping than
usual at nearby tables.
Her reply was typical of her. 'I don't care!' You did not argue
She knew where to draw the line, however, for she was too proud
of her family, her husband's position and her country to risk
a major scandal. After becoming First Lady, she tackled her responsibilities,
especially in the field of welfare, with her usual enthusiasm,
and as she saw it she had a right to enjoy herself in her own
way after a hard day's work. So she did.
One day, she invited Shipi and me to join her for a flight on
the presidential Sabreliner jet. I loved flying in those days,
and a trip on a Sabreliner is something few people get a chance
to enjoy. During the flight, I went forward to talk to the two
'You know,' the chief pilot remarked casually, after giving me
some technical details, 'these planes are built like fighters.
I've heard of American pilots making a slow barrel roll in them.'
I thought it would be fun to do one, but he said it was strictly
against aviation regulations. I went back to sit beside Muncy,
who was making notes on her pad for her next public speech, and
waited for her to pause and look at me.
'How would you like to make a slow barrel roll?' I asked her.
She looked puzzled, so I explained that it was a kind of 'wall
of death' routine in which we would be flying upside-down for
a time as the plane made a full rotation on its longitudinal axis.
Muncy also thought it sounded like fun. 'Let's do it!' she said
'Is that an order from you to the captain?' I asked.
'By all means,' she replied imperiously. I passed on the order,
which the chief pilot felt obliged to confirm personally, whereupon
he pulled up the nose and over went the twin-engine Sabreliner
on its back, which I am sure its manufacturers never intended
it to do. Muncy enjoyed the experience as much as I did, and when
we were flying the right way up again I noticed that one of the
pilots had taken the opportunity to give us a physics lesson:
before going into the roll, he calmly poured himself a glass of
water and held it in one hand throughout the operation without
spilling a drop.
Not all my experiences in that Sabreliner were as enjoyable as
this one. On another occasion, Muncy was away from home and decided
she wanted to see me right away. She called me and announced that
the plane was waiting for me.
Shipi came along for the ride, and during the flight we ran into
a sudden hailstorm. The plane began to leap up and down like a
leaf caught in a gust of wind, and then, to my total horror, lights
started flashing and alarm signals ringing. Two large red squares
lit up to show the words ENGINE INOP- that is, both engines had
become 'inoperable' and had stopped.
The pilots just sat there without saying a word.
I turned round. 'Shipi, we're going down,' I said. 'We're dead.'
I really believed it. For some reason I never understood, I tried
to put on my shoes, which I had taken off during the flight. I
closed my eyes and prayed as hard as I could. This is it, I said
to myself. God, help us!
It was all over as suddenly as it had started. We were out of
the storm, both engines came back to life and the pilots regained
control, apparently quite unaware of my state of panic. I will
never underestimate a Mexican pilot.
Inevitably, I saw less of Muncy after her husband's inauguration
than I had before it. She had become involved in a number of social
and welfare committees and projects that kept her fully occupied
during the daytime. We could only meet in the evenings, when she
liked to relax at the ballet or a concert or enjoy a slap-up meal
in a restaurant. This in turn meant that I was seen less often
with her, so the rumours surrounding our supposed relationship
began to die down, although, as I was to discover to my cost,
they did not die out altogether.
I was frequently out of the country on book promotion tours or
television engagements, and when I was back in Mexico I liked
to take things easy. My bank account was growing nicely, and I
did not have to work every day as I had during the first two or
three years of my career. So I began to slow down.
I suppose I was ready for a change, and although the local gossips
no longer seemed interested in my connections with the presidential
family, I was soon to learn that these had come to the attention
of at least one person who took a serious professional interest
So it was that, one sunny morning, Mike strolled into my life.
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