A chatty little Spanish boy once dreamed of mastering all the languages of the world-until he attempted one. You could say that parental influence prevailed: Carlos Martinez, incessantly warned by his papa, "­Callate!"-Shut up!-became a mime. "My father never believed in miracles,'' says the animated 41-year-old, "but when he saw me on the stage without saying a word for an hour, my father started believing!''

In 1987 Martinez realized at international conferences that his "language" was, in fact, the only one that did not require a translator. In effect, he achieved his dream of speaking all languages by skillfully employing just one. "Spain is the noisiest country in the world, so of course it's a complete paradox to be a Spanish mime," he says with a gargoyle's grimace. Nevertheless, the energetic professional has written two illustrated multilingual books on technique, runs an elite summer mime institute in Barcelona, and keeps to a rigorous performance schedule at rock tests, conferences, and television programs throughout Europe and Asia.

"Of course, the best way to control the tongue is by being a mime!" he explains. "But, in fact, you have to be even more careful when you control your tongue as a mime, because, in essence, your whole body becomes a tongue-the word really becomes flesh. Perhaps this is the best way to describe mime: it's transformational."

Growing up in a culture that generally shuns formal religion, Martinez's message would fall on "deaf ears," so to speak, if it were pretentious or preachy. Nevertheless, his performances so captivated one Baptist preacher that he |was recruited for several years as assistant pastor-against his protestations that he lacked any theological training or denominational ...

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