Uri Geller: Spoon Bender

[Uri Geller via The Guardian]

Uri Geller. Illusionist, Magician, Icon. There’s been many more terms hurled his way, but let’s stick with those. For the uninitiated, Uri Geller rose to fame in the UK in the 1970s, where his supernatural and psychic claims entranced the nation. He claimed to possess the power of telekinesis, dowsing (finding water and minerals), the ability to make watches stop and restart and, most famously, the ability to bend metal. Well, spoons. Mainly spoons.

Geller is an Israeli-British citizen, and currently lives in Tel Aviv, where he’s laid some distinctly spoon-shaped roots that we’ll discuss shortly.

Geller is known as much for his strange psychic feats and claims as much as he is for the company he keeps and his litigious nature. In 2001, when renewing his vows, none other than Michael Jackson played the role of best man. Shortly thereafter, Uri was ‘blacklisted’ by Jackson, in part due to his negotiation of the now infamous Martin Bashir interview. However, for all of Geller’s wild tv claims of psychic prowess and charged ‘energy crystals’ that lead second-division football club Exeter City to victory (spoiler: they lost), there are so many strange and wonderful Geller claims, cases and reports that have slid under the public’s radar. So, in lieu of an exhaustive list of increasingly bizarre court cases, I’d like to introduce a selection of the world’s most famous psychic’s weirdest feats.

[The Ever Given – Image via cnbc]

Boat Bender

On March 23rd 2021, the Ever Given container ship became wedged diagonally in the Suez Canal, stopping world trade and causing the local economy to lose millions by the hour. Naturally, being a metal ship, Geller came to the rescue; not with the world’s largest tug boat, but with his mind. In a video sitting in front of his car, he urged viewers to band together at 11.11 (a number of spiritual significance in numerology) every night, using our combined psychic powers to bend and shift the boat.

“Billions of dollars are lost every day from other ships trying to cross, we are going to believe in ourselves, we will try this. I believe in your powers. We are going to try to move it with our minds.”

When the boat finally moved after the removal of 20,000 tonnes of sand, Uri was vindicated. Tweeting on March 27th, Geller said ‘My dear friends! Say what you want! We moved the ship!!!!!! A bit, but she moved! It’s breaking news! I believe in my powers and I believe in yours!!!!’

Global trade thanks you , Uri.

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Massive Spoon

In May 2019, Geller unveiled an 11 ton spoon in Jaffa, Tel Aviv. For many years, Geller had been talking about obtaining the Guinness World Record for the world’s largest spoon, wanting it to measure in at 60ft. However, at long last, Uri’s massive bendy spoon was unveiled to general bafflement. Introducing the spoon to AP News, he said:

“What you’re seeing behind me here is the largest bent spoon in the world – bent or not bent, it’s still the largest. Its 18.5 metres in length and it weighs 11 tonnes.”

Inside the spoon, even more bizarrely is a time capsule of sorts. Explaining the spoon’s many purposes, he said: “I have – or I had – Albert Einstein’s rock crystal, so I made a time capsule with Albert Einstein’s crystal, some books about my life, some videos… so one day, a thousand years from now, they will open it.’[1]

Uri believes that the spoon will play host to many weddings, and also hoped that NASA would take an interest and ‘photograph the spoon from space.’ The spoon was to be a centrepiece to the Uri Geller museum; a space said to include everything from ‘Uri Geller’s 1963 Vespa, sculptures by Salvador Dali, items from David Bowie, John Lennon, Michael Jackson, Picasso, Andy Warhol, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell and many more items connected to Uri Geller.’[2] All housed in an Ottoman-era soap factory. Opening appears to have been repeatedly pushed back, but I for one, can’t wait to go.

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[Screenshot of Ideas Winter 98 Catalogue – taken from Archive.org]

IKEA

In 1999, Uri considered a lawsuit against Swedish flatpack monolith, IKEA. The furniture company had produced a stool featuring distinct bent legs, named the ‘Uri’ line.
Although there seems to have been no lengthy court case, Uri’s historic threat of litigation occasionally gets brought up on social media, to which Uri has responded ‘sending you love and light and much energy.’ And ‘I am glad this stuck in your mind! Skeptics built my career and I am grateful for them they were my best unpaid PR agents.’

Although Uri has never confirmed if his house is furnished with the IKEA stools, we can only hope his personal bar is stocked with endless bent-legged seats.

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Uri Geller’s car is terrifying and hilarious in equal measure. Uri’s commitment to his spoon-bending enterprise knows no bounds, and his car is an automotive sleep paralysis demon of all his cutlery achievements.

Uri’s car is a customised 1976 Cadillac, with around 2000 pieces of cutlery welded and riveted to the chassis. As with all of Geller’s works, there’s something a little special about this project. Many of the spoons are encrusted with jewels and crystals, with the car’s mascot being a rock crystal globe once owned by Salvador Dali. Some items are arranged to make religious symbols, with peace being the most prominent of all on his ‘Geller Effect’ car, taking the form of the symbol and the word in several languages.

Urii Geller’s car by Glyn Ridgers

Spoon Car, Car Spoon

Some of the spoons were bent by Geller himself, but the majority were worked by Israeli sculptor ‘Avi Pines’ who used ‘physical technical means’, rather than supernatural powers, to bend the metal. The collection of cutlery is vast and varied in origin, with some being ‘famous’ spoons from Uri’s long career, and 1000 more donated from British, Israeli, Arabic and Indian children. Most interesting of all (sorry, kids) are the celebrity spoons. There’s an exhaustive list on Uri’s own website, but some of my favourite spoon-givers include:

– ABBA

– Antonio Banderas

– Barbara Streisand

– Charlie Chaplin

– David Bowie

– Destiny’s Child

– James Dean

– Rasputin

– Houdini

– A spoon from the Titanic

– Leonid Brezhnev

– Mother Teresa

– N*Sync

– Princess Diana

– Quincy Jones

– Sadam Hussein

– Shaggy

– Whoopi Goldberg

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Photo, my own.

Uri Geller’s Strike

In 1986, fans of Uri’s work could pop down to their local toy shop and bring a piece of his psychic prowess home, spending an evening with family and friends, pretending to mine minerals from across Europe. ‘Uri Geller’s Strike’ was made by Matchbox and holds a somewhat Orwellian vibe, thanks to the disconcerting box art. In an incredibly bizarre (but presumably lucrative) career move, players aged 10 and up could move their ‘Sensotrons’ around Europe, hunting down the secret location of shipwrecks, treasure and minerals.

Sensotrons. Photo: My Own.

To play, you roll the dice, move across the board and answer a question from the pack. If you answer correctly, you can move again. When your Sensotron – which definitely sounds like a sexy Transformer – finds treasure, you have to answer another question to obtain gold bars. Answer incorrectly and you are presented with a bent spoon.

The player with the most gold bars at the end of the game, wins! The player with the most bent spoons gets melted down and reformed as low-cost dinnerware. I imagine.

I have also bought a copy of Strike on eBay, as the image of Sensotrons was too much to leave unquestioned. My thorough, and unnecessary review will be up shortly.

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[Yes, I am an artist, thanks.]

Lassie, Phone Home

In 1971, parapsychologist Andrija Pucharich met with Geller and publicly deemed Geller to be a legitimate psychic, writing a 1974 biography of Geller in his favour. During these investigations, Geller underwent hypnosis or a related regression therapy and claimed to have been sent to earth by an alien spaceship, situated around 53,000 light years away.  In the same report, Pucharich confirmed that Geller had teleported a dog through the walls of his house. The origin or location of the dog is unclear, but either way, the study was generally dismissed, with Geller himself saying that he probably wasn’t an alien, but that his powers may indeed have some ‘extra-terrestrial origin.’

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Kadabra Used Confusion! It’s Super Effective

In November 2000, Uri Geller landed Nintendo with a £60 million lawsuit over the unauthorised use of his likeness and name in the Pokémon character, Kadabra. The Pokémon in question is a psychic type, carries a spoon and whose Japanese name is a transliteration of Geller’s own (Yungerer = Young Geller). It seems that Uri, for all of his other litigious efforts, had a point this time. Geller also argued that the star on the creature’s forehead and the lightening marks on his stomach were reminiscent of symbols used by the SS in Nazi Germany. Geller said that “Nintendo turned me into an evil, occult Pokémon character. Nintendo stole my identity by using my name and my signature image.”[3]

Uri’s rage stood fast and Pokémon anime director Masamitsu Hidaka told the world press that Kadabra would not appear on any trading cards until an agreement had been achieved. As such, Kadabra’s last appearance on cards was in 2003.

Suddenly, in 2020, Uri relented, tweeting:

I am truly sorry for what I did 20 years ago. Kids and grownups I am releasing the ban. It’s now all up to #Nintendoto bring my #kadabra#pokemoncard back. It will probably be one of the rarest cards now! Much energy and love to all! http://urigellermuseum.com

And, at last, Kadabra was free to roam the world once more.

Although I’d be inclined to carry on my exploration into Uri’s weird and wonderful world for several more pages, for our combined sanity, the freeing of a spoon-wielding Pokémon seems to be an apt time to stop.

If you’re itching for more Geller content, do check out his website, the wealth of old interviews and tv features on YouTube, or most infamously, the late great James Randi’s work. The Amazing Randi was a famous magician, debunker and wit who spent decades in a sparring match with Uri, explaining Geller’s feats and claims using his own close-up magic techniques. He also said to the New York Times that upon his death, “I want to be cremated,” he said. “And I want my ashes blown in Uri Geller’s eyes.”[4]

Until next time, thanks for reading, and keep an eye on your cutlery drawer.

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Sources/Further Reading:

Big thanks to my friend Matt who shared his repressed memory of seeing a Uri Geller game in the Argos Catalogue.

https://www.jpost.com/middle-east/uri-geller-claims-ship-in-suez-canal-was-moved-by-mind-power-663448

https://archive.org/details/ikea-museum-catalogues/IKEA%20Museum%20-%20sv-1998/page/280/mode/2up

https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/17058/uri-gellers-strike

https://twitter.com/TheUriGeller/status/1332794451727691777

The Magic of Uri Geller (1982) – Randi, James – Book

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/obituaries/james-randi-dead.html

[1]https://www.urigeller.com/uri-geller-shows-off-giant-spoon-ap-news/

[2]https://urigellermuseum.com

[3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uri_Geller#cite_note-94

[4]https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/21/obituaries/james-randi-dead.html

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