The Amaz!ng Meeting 2003

Electric Monk - Mystery Guest

After a short preparatory break, it was time to introduce the Mystery Guest. Speculation was running high, but nobody that I know was able to correctly divine his identity.

Mystery guest
Our Mystery Guest Arrives

We were instructed, reminded, cajoled, and finally called by name in order to fill the front rows prior to the presentation, so as to leave no seat unfilled. This caused some lighthearted speculation that our mystery guest might turn out to be "Gallagher?", and subsequent calls for plastic sheeting.

It's 'Carlos'! ...

Well, the moment arrived, and our Mystery Guest was revealed to be... "Carlos"! (aka Jose Alvarez). "Carlos" was the character created by Randi and perfomance artist Alvarez to see how easy it was to manufacture a Mystical Guru from scratch, and to attract hordes of followers in Australia.

Jose Alvarez
... AKA Jose Alvarez

The presentation began with Alvarez introducing himself as "Carlos", with Dan Garvin in the role of an assistant to the great guru, followed by a clip from "60 Minutes" showing Carlos' appearances in Austrailia, and revealing the hoax.

Questions for the guru
Jose Alvarez and Carlos Answer Questions, Ambiguously at First

Alvarez stayed in character as Carlos, explaining his philosophy of sowing ambiguity to make people think, and introducing the next video. The film is one made by Alvarez which follows a very "mysterious" new-agey semi-documentary style that certainly lives up to the claims of "ambiguity".

Finally, "Carlos" answered questions from the skeptical audience, which showed a lot of confusion regarding his performance. I think that Alvarez reached his stated objective here of making the audience part of the performance with their reactions to the ambiguity of his answers. The whole presentation reacted strongly with the typical skeptical desire for clear, factual statements intended to resolve ambiguity, and left a lot of audience members unsatisfied.

Toward the end, Alvarez gave us a bit of a break, and started answering questions a little more directly. Ah, the perils of the perfomance artist. Despite my own feelings of confusion, I enjoyed the performance, and the reaction provoked in the audience.

The entire "Carlos" appearance was filmed extensively, presumably to be used as part of Alvarez's ongoing "Carlos" film projects. Several times I saw Andrew Harter pointing his camera in my direction. I wonder if the "Amaz!ng Meeting" t-shirt that I was wearing will be edited out of the final video...

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