In the New York Nut Hall of Fame (located in Manhattan), you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone on par with Te’DeVan Rocketman Kurzweil. He’s already a healer, rapper, political activist, philosopher, burgeoning reality television staple, nomad and naked comedian. He’s also the star of his own indie biopic, Mindflank, which showed a month ago at Sundance (after Te’DeVan crashed the party with the help of two Austrians who flew him out of Chicago in a six-seater plane) and could be the next American Movie if it gets a chance.
"‘Mindflank’ is a word that was invented by my friend Smiley when he was really drunk one time," Te’DeVan explains, just returned from a self-promotion/healing jaunt to Park City, UT. "A mindflank is when you confuse the mind so it can expand afterwards. Like usually people say ‘Hi’ to each other, but instead of saying ‘Hi’ to people you start saying, ‘Sometimes it rains, sometimes it pours.’ Or you can go even more extreme, saying things like, ‘I’d like to have sex with my second cousin.’
"These are the types of things that people aren’t prepared to handle; they freeze up, and then that’s when you can take over. You mindflank them."
Te’DeVan’s mindflanking manifests in many ways. The one that has kept him housed and fed recently is faith healing, a talent he discovered in 2001.
"It happened three or four days after the World Trade Center, and basically I was sitting in the car and my friend was crying from an angina attack of the heart and I just didn’t like listening to her cry and I just instinctively reached out my hands—I didn’t touch her, but I just felt something and I kind of pulled it out. And she looks at me like ‘What the heck did you just do?’"
Te’DeVan now heals regularly.
"I heal people in Washington Square Park. I’m just carrying around a giant sign that says ‘I Can Heal. Will Heal Pain for Free. No Touching. I’m Serious. Real Deal.’ I don’t want money, but people end up paying me."
Mindflanking’s other main aspect is "naked comedy," which Te’DeVan started two years ago at Surf Reality on the Lower East Side. The oldsters told him he was like a nude Lenny Bruce, and the youngsters were fond of his showstopper: lighting a match in the head of his penis.
"I’m not really that into that now," he admits. "But I still do naked comedy and naked comedy is a mindflank. Actually I would always describe it as ‘a mindflank performed by Te’DeVan Rocketman Kurzweil.’"
Naked comedy got Te’DeVan on the Ricki Lake show; footage from that episode features heavily in Mindflank. "Nobody in the audience got naked, but they were loving it," he says. "I declared ‘Naked Time.’" (An appearance on Shipmates, which Te’DeVan secured after healing the neck of one of the show’s producers, should air soon.)
His appearance outside Sundance was highlighted by the guerilla Mindflank screening, and by his proximity to famous people.
"You literally couldn’t throw a stone without hitting a celebrity. It was like the most pretentious scene I had ever seen. I actually healed the Mom from Boy Meets World. Her neck was bothering her. And I ended up with thirteen hundred dollars in free stuff from parties."
Mindflank shows on Thurs., March 6,
at Void. 16 Mercer St. (Howard St.),
212-941-6492, 8 p.m., free.