"Advertising is like sex," says Haddonfield, N.J., native Chris Colameco. "Only losers pay for it."

Colameco, who describes himself as a professional mind reader and psychic entertainer, hits the streets before every performance to hang posters and performing impromptu for people he thinks "look bored." These are usually the people who come to see his mind-reading show, which is part psychic exercise and part stand-up comedy.

Last Thursday morning, while handing out flyers for that night's show, he approached Candace Yarde and two friends gathered on their block in the Queen Village neighborhood of Philadelphia and asked them if they wanted "to see something awesome."

Yarde, who describes herself as an absolute skeptic, says her first thought was, "We're gonna show this kid."

Skepticism dashed

At his show that night, at Pietro's Pizza on South Street, Colameco asked Yarde to write down any piece of personal information she wished on a scrap of paper, fold it up and place it into her pocket. After some hemming and hawing, Colameco told her the name of a childhood friend she'd written down.

Yarde was in disbelief. "If I had seen it on television, I'd have been like, 'That's crap!'" she said.

Colameco says his main purpose in life is to perform. As a kid, he says he would use "any excuse I could to get on stage" — whether reading jokes from a book or acting out Three Stooges bits with friends. 

"What I do is strictly for entertainment purposes," the 19-year-old said. "I do not tell people I can speak to their dead relatives or predict their futures. I like to do my show and entertain people, make their lives a little happier, distract them from anything that might be going on and bring some joy to people's lives."

He is not alone

Colameco told his eight-person audience during the first few minutes of the show that anyone is capable of doing what he does. He believes that we are all connected.

"While our conscious, rational thinking minds are separate," he said, "I think that our subconscious minds are inlet into one big ocean."

To warm up, he began by throwing a deck of cards to someone, telling that person to look at the corner of a card and toss the deck to another person to do the same. It took a few minutes, but Colameco eventually named the correct cards.

Other exercises included correctly guessing a random page number, line number and word number in a text book, chosen by the audience, and naming a place in someone's mind that they'd visited.

Everyone then wrote down bits of personal information like phone numbers, friends' names and computer passwords onto paper scraps and sealed them in envelopes. Holding them to his head, Colameco could usually reveal the information inside, but he shocked Mary Ann Scott of Queen Village with something that she hadn't written down.

"Hold on, I'm having a psychic attack," he told the amused audience. "When you were younger — I'm getting an anxiety — did you ... shoplift something small?"

"How did you do that?" squealed Scott. "I must have been eight years old, and now I'm 61!"

Audience reaction

After the show, six of the eight audience members said they believed that Colameco was a real mind reader. South Philadelphian Lena Ruiz said she wants to hire the performer for a private party sometime in the future and said she believed he has "a gift."

Mary Ann Scott, Candace Yarde and Ann Maxwell thought he was "absolutely incredible." After the show, they shared their remaining slices of mushroom pizza with Colameco.

While Harry Rubenstein enjoyed the show, he said he was not convinced that Colameco possesses any real psychic ability. Although he thought the entertainer certainly could have peeked at the various props involved in the show, he also said he'd seen mind readers perform in Las Vegas and New York that he was definitely impressed by.

"This kid is only 19," Rubenstein said. "He's just getting warmed up."

Chris Colameco's next mind reading show is at the M-Room at 15 West Girard in Philadelphia on Thursday, Oct. 25 at 8 p.m. Admission is free.