Mike, a muscular high school custodian, will assume the flamboyant persona of Richard Simmons before he plays the drums in a famous rock band.
While the song “Rawhide” plays over the loudspeakers, the group of hypnotized volunteers will ride galloping horses in a rodeo, waving imaginary cowboy hats and lassoing unsuspecting farm animals.
The popularity of the Spencer Comedy Hypnosis Show has ensured monthly returns to the Carlsbad Theatre, where folks can participate or watch the outrageous antics on Saturday, June 23, July 28 or Aug. 25.
At the beginning of every performance, Spencer explains how we are often in a self-hypnotic or trance-like state. It's the moment that lingers before sleep, or a time when you are driving down the freeway and speed past the exit, even though you have traveled the same way hundreds of times before.
Though he can make audiences scream with laughter, Spencer takes hypnosis seriously.
“From my point of view, everyone is in a trance,” said the hypnotist, who looks a bit Svengali-like with long black hair, piercing blue eyes and black shirt and pants. “We are all locked into something, whether it's the conviction that 'I can't lose weight,' 'I can't spell' or 'I can't stop smoking.' I take people from their limited belief about themselves to knowing it's possible to change.”
Spencer, now in his 50s, was interested in psychology 20 years ago and studied at Palomar College. But in 1986, when he saw an ad that offered a course in hypnotherapy, he found his niche and never looked back.
At the end of every show, Spencer tells volunteers to find one thing they want to change and he will facilitate that process as a reward for their participation.
“Hypnosis has to do with our ability to be influenced,” Spencer said. “Change occurs on an emotional level. In the military, for instance, they train your mind to think and act differently and kids are often changed for the better. As much fun as I have entertaining, I love it when I look into people's eyes and I see light bulbs go off. They think, 'If he can make people do something so outrageous, what am I doing in my own life that I can change by hypnosis?' That's what I hope to convey and for me, that's the most exciting part.”
Marcia Manna covers North County arts and entertainment for the Union-Tribune.
Lake City's Finest Entertainer"
Hypnotist Uses a Macintosh
VOTED THE BEST OF THE BEST!
BOOK A SHOW NOW
Marsha Barber, Special to the Tribune
Reprint Courtesy Salt Lake
People Willing to Give Hypnosis a Try
are getting ve-r-r-y sle-e-e-e-py..."
That phrase, repeated in an ominous monotone and accompanied by a swinging
pocket watch, is what the word "hypnosis" conjures up for
many people. And whether its that aura of slightly sinister mystery,
a search for healing and inner peace or a quest for fun, the ancient
art of hypnosis is enjoying unprecedented popularity. People seek hypnotherapy
to help them stop smoking, lose weight and deal with stress. They take
hypnotist classes and frequent stage show where they might
find themselves barking like dogs. Droves of eager people, mostly in
their teens and early 20s, come out every Saturday night and plunk
down about $$$ to see Spencer
the Worlds Fastest Hypnotist.
Each week, volunteers crawl on the floor searching
for their belly buttons, leap and yowl like Tarzan, sing and dance a
la Madonna and engage in other suspect behaviors. They also spend a
fair amount of time seemingly "asleep."
Ready to Rock: At the Avalon, Spencer is nowhere to be seen pre-show in the lobby. Inside, the lights are
down and rocknroll blasts: Michael Jacksons "Black
or White," Pink Floyds "Comfortably Numb." As the
music blares, the stage fills with heavy smoke and psychedelic strobe
light hats flash. Suddenly, looking for all the world like a rock star
with his long, flowing hair, Spencer appears wearing a black T-shirt, black pants and a flamboyant green
"Im gonna be messing with you tonight," he says.
There are no golden ropes on Spencers stage. He asks the audience to lock their hands above their heads. He
speaks softly, chanting "SleepNow, sleep, way down." Those
whose hands will not unlock when he counts to three are invited to become
part of the show.
The Great Entrancement
Spencers show is edgy and bizarre. He alludes to
black magic. He shouts about miracles and healing's. He produces a voodoo
doll, suggesting, "You will do what the doll does, feel what the
doll feels." As he pulls the dolls arms and legs akimbo,
everyone on-stage ends up in mirrored configurations. When he sticks
the dolls foot with a straight pin, there are cries of "Ouch!" and wild flailing of feet.
But the piece de resistance of Spencers show is when he stands on a persons stomach, a person whose body
is suspended rigidly between two chairs. In a whirl of fog and flashing
lights in the darkened theater, he chooses someone and begins chanting "Your body is stiff and rigid," over and over until,
with his assistants, he places the by-now rigor-mortis-like person across
the chairs and hops onto the torso.
Get Real: Oh, sure, youre probably
saying. These are actors or audience plants. Who, in his right mind,
would risk losing control in front of a theater full of people? Make
that conscious mind. The bottom line in hypnosis is bypassing the conscious
mind(or critical authority, in hypno-lingo) and tapping into the subconscious. "With hypnosis, you move directly into the subconscious mind,
which is quite literal and illogical. so, unless theres a deeply
rooted ethical or moral reason not to do something, you just do it."
What exactly induces a hypnotic trance? There are as many answers
as willing participants at stage shows. Whatever is expected tends to
be realized, is Spencers explanation. In other words, if you expect
to be hypnotized by staring at a candle flame, chances are you will
be. In a workbook Spencer wrote for the hypnosis classes he teaches,
he lists everything from fixed gaze on an object to rhythmic drumming
to head stroking to voice commands to attain a hypnotic state.
The most common misconception about hypnosis seem to be that someone
else will control your mind and that you might never come out of a hypnotic
trance. "If you dont have a propensity to do something,
on either a conscious or subconscious level, a hypnotist cant
make you do it,"
Spencer said. "Thats the bottom line." Are hypnotists born
or made? Do they have spooky supernatural powers? Or are they trained
professionals, not different from computer technicians or legal assistants?
Spencers first hypnotic experience was at age 12. "I had a girlfriend
whose father used to hypnotize people, including her. So she taught
me how, in a funny sort of way. Shed have me rub her temples and
count backwards from 100. Then Id tell her things to do, like
stand up, laugh, whatever, and shed do them." But he
could not shake his experiences as a 12-year-old amateur hypnotist.
That combined with an interest in the human psyche, led him to hypnosis
classes. He intended to use his skills in a strictly therapeutic setting,
and did for several years. But his sense of showmanship got the best
of him. "I was always sort of a natural actor," he
said."Even with the chimney sweep stuff, I had to put on a show
for people because they expected me to be dramatic." Doing
hypnosis stage shows was a natural progression. He performed in Southern
California and Idaho before setting in Salt Lakes Capitol Hill
Entertainer: The entertainment
and therapeutic aspects of hypnosis are really not that far removed
from each other. Hypnotherapy helps people break unhealthy habits and
deal with childhood traumas. "Hypnosis is simply a tool. Are
you going to use it for entertainment or are you going to use it to
empower a person? And actually, entertainment can be empowering, too,
because it helps people to realize they can just let go. And thats
the same thing were doing in therapyteaching people that
they can be what they know deep inside they have the ability to be.
Stage hypnotism is what keeps the whole area of hypnosis open. As people
come out, see the show, become interested, lose their fear, they will
likely be more willing to delve deeper and learn to help themselves
through hypnotherapy or self-hypnosis."
From the looks of things in Salt Lake, a lot of people might be delving
deeper. As a stage show enthusiast standing in line at the theater said, "Its like a legal drug. You can let go of your inhibitions
without getting addicted to something."
Spencer, World's Fastest Hypnotist
Jennifer Gordon Gray
It's Saturday night at the Avalon Theater in Salt Lake City, and all
hell is breaking loose. It's 9 p.m. and Spencer,
Master Hypnotist, is his own "World's Fastest Stage Crew." There is only half an hour to set up between a name-brand movie and
the greatest show in Utah. It's not quite panic, but it's close.
Pulsating rock and roll music fuels the pre-show energy level. Equipment
doesn't appear in place by magic - more like it's thrust into place.
Electric cords fly across the grey-painted stage, and metal chairs are
arranged into two neat rows. The tension gradually ebbs as Spencer and his sound man Scott find their rhythm. It's just another Saturday
night at the Avalon.
"Testing One. Two. Three." Voices chant along with
the music as Scott makes sure this hypnotist can be heard perfectly
- no doubt he will sometime be heard across America, as is his goal. Spencer's stage presence
make the modern-day microphone obsolete.
Props wait in plastic trunks. Silver strobes and multicolored stage
lights pierce the dimness of the some 500-seat theater. The Avalon itself
has seen better days, yet it maintains a tinge of its old dignity -
gold velveteen stage curtains, red fold up seats in frayed cord fabric,
a chipped gray concrete floor. It's even said to be haunted, this Avalon
Theater. But right now, any ghost in his right mind would be hiding
behind the curtain at stage right, staying safely out of the way.
Spencer does an impromptu tap dance, boot heels pounding the wooden stage deck.
Through a handless, cordless microphone clipped to his ear, he tells
theater owner Art, hovering around the lobby door, that the show will
start at 9:30 "on the dot" - even if late comers are still
standing in line in the chilly Utah evening. "They have to learn
to come on time," he firmly insists.
Spencer is in charge.
Everything is finally set and the audience is let in. They mill around
seeking their assigned seats, and then the house lights suddenly die,
leaving some audience members stranded in the aisles. Their dark forms
hover uncomfortably over those fortunate enough to be seated on the
A good bit of Spencer's audience is repeat business. They know what to expect. Newcomers, though,
have the pleasure of seeing Spencer's show for the first time.
With a burst of silver strobes and a dash of smoke, the man they've
come to adore takes the stage. Not much can be seen - the house lights
are still black - but it only adds to the mystery. After all, it's nearly
"Clasp your hands over your heads," he yells as the crowd
raises its arms. He is a dim figure in black leather pants and a knee-length
satin brocade coat, maroon. His hair streams black and long over his
shoulders. He's in his element; it's his show.
He tells the audience that their hands are still glued together. They
can't separate them no matter how hard they try. Some, though, are unbelievers.
Their hands break apart, and are rejoined in futility. They won't be
among the lucky ones, chosen to be Spencer's partners in this evenings entertainment.
He calls the willing to the front of the stage, "Come quickly,
as fast as you can," he encourages, and about 20 race through
the aisles, hands still in their uncomfortable embrace. One by one,
he takes his victims up on stage and with a shouted "Sleep," they collapse like rag dolls to the floor. He gently makes sure
none will hit their heads as they fall. When he's finished with the
last one, this group lies slumbering serenely, like kindergarten students
on nap mats. He surveys his work with pride. "This is what I like
to see," he confides to the rest of us, still awake.
Spencer loves his job,
and it shows. He works both the hypnotized and the audience, and has
us right where he wants us. Not a large man in stature, he still commands
attention better than most. There can be nobody else like him.
That is a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by certain female persons
up on the stage. He has implanted a suggestion that those on stage slap
their faces whenever they have a "dirty" thought. One
young woman, staring at him in obvious lust, slaps herself repeatedly
throughout the two-hour show. Her eyes never leave him.
Not just the girl, but all those on stage are willing to do whatever Spencer tells them. They
play like puppies, the men waltz with each other, one believes he is
invisible. The audience is really digging the whole thing; one blonde
woman straight out of Betty Crocker College laughs so hard that she
has tears running down her face. Perhaps some are offended by some of
the antics and walk out, but the majority don't take life so seriously
- they came to have fun, and that is precisely what Spencer is furnishing.
showman's coup de grace comes near the end of his show, and this night
involves the young woman, whose face will surely hurt the next day after
so much self-slapping. He convinces her that her body is stiff and rigid,
and no matter how hard she tries to relax, it is impossible. When he's
sure she's ready, Spencer takes her head
and shoulders while a helper takes her feet. They suspend her over two
black sawhorses, and she lays unmoving, like an ancient mummy. A cloth
is placed over her stomach -
Spencer mounts a chair and clambers aboard. His arms reach out
to embrace the audience, and his eyes blaze with the thrill of it all.
When she awakens, the girl will remember none of it. But the audience
will. They'll be back time and time again, to live in Spencer's magic
for just a moment more.
It hasn't always been glamour and glitter for Spencer.
At one time, he made his living from hypnosis therapy and teaching.
He still offers classes on occasion, and has written numerous on the
subject. But it's the stage action he craves now, and the audience that
When most shows end, spectators usually rise and leave. Not so at the
Avalon. When this show concludes, Spencer'S fans surge toward the stage, eager to speak to the master. He patiently
greets each person, but those who know him can see the exhaustion in
his face. He pours his heart out to his audience, and when he's through, Spencer is spent. It takes him a day or so to recover, he says.
But it's also worth it. By next Saturday, Spencer will return in fine fettle to the Avalon Theater.
It's what he has to do.
BOOK A SHOW NOW
a few years in college pursuing a degree in psychology, I dropped out
to study an alternative way of helping people," he said.
For more than 10 years Spencer worked as a hypnotherapist to help his
patients stop smoking, lose weight, rediscover suppressed memory and
even improve sports performance. "Through hypnosis I helped people
change their trance states," Spencer said. By helping people change
their trance states, a condition most are not even aware of, Spencer
helped his patients change their mind set about a certain behavior.
The problem for people who smoke or are overweight or, for athletes,
who just can't seem to get out of a performance rut, is that they believe
in these roles so much that their attitude has become a part of their
subconscious. Through hypnosis, I helped people access a trance state
that worked better for them," he said.
Hypnotic Attraction: Local Hypnotists
Spencer and Vandermeide Bewitch the Crowds on Saturday Nights
By Jeff Vice, Staff Writer
Deseret News , 28 February 1997
It's not a post-hypnotic suggestion that keeps bringing Utah audiences back to Spencer and Benjamin Van Der Meide's shows - at least not to their knowledge. And if the local hypnotist is resorting to that kind of chicanery, he's definitely not telling.
``That probably wouldn't be very ethical of me, would it? And to be honest, I hadn't even thought of doing that before now,'' he said with a laugh.Under the name Vandermeide, he has been performing as a hypnotist for more than 30 years, both in Europe and the United States. And for the past four years, he has been inducing trances in Utah - both at the Avalon Theater and at the nearby Murray Theater, his current stage home - making his comical hypnotism lectures/performances the Beehive State's equivalent of the long-running ``Cats'' musical.
And like ``Cats,'' Vandermeide continues to sell out his shows, which start every Saturday at 9:15 p.m. In fact, ticket sales for his shows actually begin each Monday to keep up with demand.
``We have a lot of repeat business for Vandermeide,'' said Tom Henderson, the delighted operator of the Murray Theater. ``And the people who come back bring two or three friends with them, who then bring two or three more people.''
The hypnotist himself is at no loss for words while explaining his popularity.
``It's the way I do my show,'' he said, simply. ``It's a clean show that you can bring your kids, your grandkids or even your grandparents to. You can feel relaxed because there's nothing offensive about it.''
During his two-hour show, Vandermeide actually lets his hypnotized subjects do most of the performing - whether they're performing piano concertos or describing the inside of a haunted castle.
He also tries not to change the content too much, since audiences have come to expect to see one of them clucking and strutting like a chicken or seeing another one ``rock out.''
By comparison, Vandermeide's new competitor, Don Spencer, is much flashier. (Like Vandermeide, Spencer performs Saturdays, though his show starts at 9:30 p.m. at the Avalon Theater.)
In his two-hour show, Spencer also practices quick induction - wherein subjects enter a trance as soon as the hypnotist gives them a spoken suggestion, such as ``sleep!'' But he also ends it with one particularly spectacular feat - he stands on the stomach of one of his subjects, usually female, who is suspended only by sawhorses.
As of late, Spencer has also taken to post-show, question-and-answer sessions, as well as audience surveys. He also has his own web page ( http://www.sleepnow.com ) for questions and comments.
``My show is very '90s, very upbeat. I also try to make it very exciting, in a rock 'n' roll sort of way,'' said Spencer, who enters the stage mysteriously, with smoke obscuring the audience's first view of him.
Spencer's crowds have been slowly but surely increasing since he began performing at the Avalon a year ago and the theater is nearing capacities most Saturday nights.
``He brings in a much younger crowd than Vandermeide, but he's starting to get pretty popular with the kids,'' said Art Proctor, owner/operator of the Avalon Theater, also known as ``Salt Lake's first house of hypnotism.'' Proctor has been featuring hypnotism at the Avalon for more than 30 years, and had Vandermeide for three years before he moved on to a bigger theater.
``It's another way to use the theater, and it's worked pretty good for us so far,'' said Proctor, who has also welcomed concerts and magicians in his theater.
Diane Bradshaw, director of the Utah School of Hypnosis, said she is slightly surprised that Utahns have taken so well to Vandermeide and Spencer's acts, since hypnotism has a certain stigma in some Utah circles.
``Hypnotism looks very magical, but it's not. Nonetheless, a lot of people look it at it like it's something dark and mystical or like it's faked,'' said Bradshaw, a licensed hypnotherapist who also performs hypnotism on stage from time to time.
Both Bradshaw and Spencer actually use their hypnotic skills for therapy - including correcting behaviors like smoking and overeating - or teach to others the art of self-hypnosis. They're also working on hypnotism's image, locally.
``Contrary to popular belief, you can't get `stuck' in a hypnotic trance, nor can you force someone to divulge their deep, dark secrets while they're hypnotized. Some people are afraid that if they're hypnotized they'll lose control,'' Spencer said. ``Obviously that's not true.''
Despite healthy crowds for Vandermeide and Spencer's shows, Salt Lake still isn't big enough for three hypnotism shows, however. ``Hypno-Mania,'' the Tower Theater's Friday night hypnotism show (which featured Bradshaw, among other local hypnotists), lasted only a few weeks before it was canceled due to lack of interest.
``Two's company, but three was definitely a crowd. Unfortunately we were the odd man out,'' said Greg Tanner, the Tower's owner/operator.``Either that, or it could have been the night we had it on. Maybe hypnotism's supposed to be only on Saturdays.''
Spencer, the World's Fastest Hypnotist is still working his hypnotic charm every Saturday night.
that's the way it's supposed to be.
SPENCER PERFORMED AN AMAZING 320 STRAIGHT
WEEKS AT THE THEATER
TO SELL-OUT CROWDS. He now travels with the show.
100 consecutive weeks of sellouts at the Avalon Theater in Salt Lake
City, a clinical hypnotherapist and natural-born showman will bring
his comedic hypnotist routine to Orem.
a decade of using hypnosis to help people overcome smoking, childhood
trauma, stress and weight problems, Spencer, as he is now known, has taken his flair for the dramatic on the road.
will host Spencer's Utah County debut in its new Show house on Feb.
20 and 27, March 6 and 13 at 9:30m.
is $7 and tickets may be purchased in advance and at the door.
Spencer says there is nothing magical or mystical about hypnosis. "Hypnosis
is based upon the power of suggestion with the addition of relaxation
and concentration," he said. "Most people can be hypnotized
in less that one second.:"
In Spencer's stage show, he asks the audience
to lock their hands above their heads and tells them softly that they
"sleep now, sleep, way down.
Those whose hands will not unlock when he counts to three are invited
to become part of the show.
McGill, the dean of American Hypnotists and the author of the
Encyclopedia of Stage Hypnotism said, "I've never seen anyone hypnotize
a group of people as fast as Spencer.
He is spectacular!"
Spencer was born and raised in Los Angeles.
He has appeared in television, commercials and hosted a radio talk show.
Most notable, however, is his professional experience - he has trained
more than 20,000 people in hypnotism, given lectures throughout the
United States and operated two schools of hypnotherapy.
with my stage show, he said, "I've taken my hypnotic talent to
the arena of family and youth, where I can educate the audience about
hypnotism and keep them laughing at the same time."
the lights, sound and music give his stage show its energetic atmosphere,
audience participation is what makes every show different and exciting.
"With no one personality being the same, the only consistent thing
is that a good time is always had by all," he added.
volunteers may be seen crawling on the floor, searching for their belly
buttons, yowling like Tarzan, acting like a martial arts secret agent,
pretending to be an opera singer or attempting to fly like a bird.
it's hilarious entertainment, but it also helps people realize that
sometimes it's OK to just let go, that it's OK to be silly, and it's
OK to be an individual," Spencer said.
Spencer ends his show by standing on the stomach of a person suspended between
finale uses an audience member hypnotized to be stiff and rigid like
One of the misconceptions of hypnosis is that the participation
has lost control. "Not true," said Spencer. A hypnotist can't
make you do anything that is against your ethical or moral standards.
It just helps you lose your fear by bypassing The conscious mind."
performed at colleges and universities throughout the intermountain
region, as well as numerous county and state fairs, corporate parties
hotels, casinos and nightclubs.
BOOK A SHOW NOW
to Sleep, Fast
as the World's Fastest Hypnotist, Spencer will bring his Rock and Roll Comedy
Show to the Stateliner Lounge, Monday, March 6 at 7 p.m. Sponsored by the Stateline & Silver Smith and Peppermill
Rainbow Casinos, proceeds from the show will go to Wendover in Need. Fast
paced with lots of laughs, Spencer has proven a great
crowd pleaser and has performed on stages across America, Asia and the
Middle East. It's an unusual show, it is a laugh a minute show,and it is a show with
all proceeds going to charity.
Wins an Encore
curtains are only a start, says professional hypnotist Spencer, who
plans to reopen Kamas Theatre.
The long dormant Kamas Theatre may find a new life under the direction
of new manager.
(Photos by Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune)
THE SALT LAKE TRIBUNE KAMAS -- Framed by dark, tumbling
curls and punctuated with piercing eyes, his show-biz visage seems better
suited to Vegas than Kamas. But Spencer is in town, and he's here
This seasoned spellbinder has been a Utah performance staple for years,
providing mystique and intrigue at any number of corporate retreats
and company parties while sustaining a five-year run at the Avalon Theater
in South Salt Lake.
He has an international following of sorts, too, recently returning
from an engagement at the Hard Rock Cafe Manila, in the Philippines,
and a slate of private appearances for hypnotism enthusiasts in Saudi
he has moved to the country, taking up residence inside the Kamas Theatre,
an abandoned movie house that dates from 1940. "Videos did in the
movie business here," said Scott Anderson, proprietor of the nearby
Kamas Kafe, retelling a fable all too familiar to small-town motion-picture
Instead of heralding a feature film, for the last two years the Kamas
Theatre marquee has announced simply that the 283-seat building was
"Vacant." Then came Spencer, on the verge of taking a gig
at a hotel-casino in Las Vegas when he ambled through 1,300-resident
Kamas on a fly-fishing jaunt.
saw an ad -- 'Theater for Rent' -- and I said, 'This is it,' "
recounts Spencer, who was taken by the vision of a vaudevillian entertainment
venue for his unusual skills.
As he finishes remodeling the building this summer -- "expanding
its stage, installing lights and adding curtains and art for dramatic
effect" -- Spencer is promoting the theater as a Saturday-night
talent-search center and occasional playhouse.
"We'll have music, we'll have stand-up comedy, we'll have
plays. I'm even going to show old movies."
The high cost of exhibiting current-run films is prohibitive, Spencer
explains, but he said he believes the theater and Kamas are ripe for
variety shows that are hard to come by in a high-tech age.
Gary Russell, manager of the nearby Poison Creek Antiques, said he welcomes
the resurrection. "Good Lord, other than the pizza shop and the
Chevron station and the Texaco, there's nothing open in this town in
the evening," he said. "A little more culture can only help."
Russell, himself a songwriter and singer of some repute, said he especially
appreciates the promise of open-microphone nights.
Still, the main attraction may well be Spencer and his hypnotism routine.
Audience members lured onstage may be lulled subconsciously into bursting
into song or performing unusual feats of strength, behavior Spencer
insists is based less in enchantment than in self-realization.
Said the showman: "We all have latent abilities."
UPDATE: What a great
time at the Kamas. Fun people, great community, lots of laughs! We went,
we conquered, we moved on to more adventures. Look for us in your hometown! IF YOU DON'T SEE US.... ASK US TO COME!!!
BOOK A SHOW NOW
Opens Non-Smoking Comedy Club
Eureka, Montana January 31, 2009
Chad Price and Kurtis Proudfoot perform a finale dance while apparently hypnotised at the instruction of hypnotist Don Spencer Friday night in the LCHS auditorium.
By Krista Tincher
Of the Tobacco Valley News
The Lincoln County chip ‘n dale dancers had their debut Friday.
It came as a surprise to everyone - including the dancers. They appeared to be hypnotized. And they may be too embarrassed to talk about it today - if they remember exactly what happened.
But there was a lot more than dancing going on at the LCHS auditorium Friday. There was horse racing, and roller coasters, and an awful lot of... sleeping.
Under the soothing words of hypnotist Don Spencer, around 12 volunteers slumped over in their chairs under the stage lights in the auditorium packed with people.
“Breathe in, and breathe out,” he said to them as he positioned the volunteers, propping them up against one another.
“Hypnotism is no more than me giving you a suggestion, and you responding to it,” he told the audience. “We do it every single day. How many times have you been reading a book, and you got so engaged in it that time just passed on?” Or watched a movie. Or been driving a car and daydreaming. “That’s a hypnotic state of mind,” said Spencer.
Eventually, Spencer told his row of slumped-over volunteers that they were driving a car. A row of arms flew in unison to each imagined steering wheel, eyes still gently shut, bodies relaxed. The cars picked up speed. The volunteers became animated as Spencer described what was happening to them. They raced, they braked... and they morphed into cowpokes swaying to the motion of their horses.
As the night went on, Spencer weeded out those that were less receptive to the hypnotism, sending them back to the audience.
For those that remained, waves of audience laughter followed each series of antics. Spencer gave his hypnotic volunteers directions, and they followed without question.
A few chosen young men - simply following Spencer’s directions - put on a spontaneous chip ‘n dale dancing show, ripping off their shirts and gyrating to the music, eyes still closed.
And in a blast to the past, the volunteers all became 6 years old again. Eureka elementary teacher Shelly Moen was an especially persnickety 6-year-old, making faces at Spencer when his back was turned.
Moen also - upon instruction - became convinced that her name was a random man’s name, and curiously forgot the number five. She had trouble counting her fingers and toes.
All of this, said Moen, she didn’t remember clearly after the show - until Spencer, sending her to “sleep” again, instructed her subconscious to remember after the show.
“After he woke me back up, I did remember,” said Moen. “It was really interesting.”
Moen said that when she first volunteered to be hypnotized, she didn’t think it would work on her.
“The next thing I was totally conscious of was standing up and bowing,” she said.
The time between - nearly two hours - was fuzzy in remembrance, dream-like. “I remembered, but I didn’t remember specifics,” she said.
She remembers pretending to ride a horse, she said - but she was surprised to find that she’d taken off her sweater when she woke up at the end of the show. Come to find out - she had been instructed that she had insects in her clothes, and had to throw off her sweater and shake them out.
And for everything Spencer told her to do, she said - she did it unquestioningly, without thinking. Subconsciously. “There was no desire to not do it,” she said. “I didn’t even think about it.”
Needless to say, she’s had a few students - and teachers - trying to help her with her counting skills this week. “I can count again,” she said with a chuckle. “I know my numbers now.” And her name isn’t Bill, or Bob.
Sarah Mossing, another volunteer and a student at LCHS, enjoyed her hypnotic experience. “It was fun,” she said.
For the first half, she didn’t think she was hypnotized, she said. She was just going along with everything, pretending. But then she began listening more carefully and focusing upon what Spencer was saying.
“It was kind of a dreamlike thing,” she said.
And in the end, she said, she felt refreshed - as if she’d slept. “I think it’s pretty cool,” she said.
“Hypnosis is a natural state of mind,” explained Spencer in an interview Monday. “Something that people experience every single day.”
Entertainers and writers are both hypnotists, he said - activating the imaginations of watchers and readers.
And parents, he noted, are the world’s greatest - and most important - hypnotists, at a stage of life when a child’s subconscious mind is still forming. “A child is raised and will become what they are taught,” he said. Whether raised in a wholesome environment, or in an abusive family - “You attract that which you believe to be true about you,” he said.
And what he does with hypnosis, he said, is teach the conscious mind to relax, putting aside preconceived notions and allowing the subconscious to shine through. “In a clinical sense, we us hypnosis to access memories that no longer serve a purpose,” he said, to root out subconscious blocks that effect unwanted behaviors.
And as far as the shows go - the purpose is twofold.
“I want them to have a good time,” said Spencer - just to come out and laugh.
And he also hopes that the audience and participants realize, through the show, “That they have a potential that’s really unlimited in nature,” said Spencer. “To give them the opportunity, no matter who they are or where they are at - ” to realize that they are free to be whomever they decide to be.
“People always think - ‘I’m stuck where I’m at,’” said Spencer. But in reality, that’s just a perception.
Friday’s show was a successful fund-raiser for the LCHS Technology Club as well, according to teacher Wade VanNess. The club finished the night with a profit that raised about 30 percent of the funds needed for the club’s trip to Seattle in April. The club boasts twenty one LCHS students this year.
“I think it was a tremendous success, and we had a good time,” added VanNess.
from 94.9 Tennessee