As the pocket watch slowly swings in front of you, you notice you're getting very sleepy. Your eyes blink shut as you become completely relaxed and the outside world spins away. Now wake up! Despite the fact that you're devoting your rapt attention to this story, we cannot hypnotize you through the pages of this paper (and besides, that ol' pocket-watch trick probably doesn't work anyway). Nor can we hypnotize you over the phone, but we know someone who can.
Very recent St. Louis ex-pat and eighteen-year veteran hypnotist Ricky Kalmon says, "You actually can [hypnotize people over the phone] -- it's probably not the smartest thing to do, because there's not much you can do. I mean, all you're going to do is really just relax.... I can't make you do anything strange or weird. Of course, you can't be hypnotized without you actually wanting to do it. In other words, just talking to me now, you're not going to go under."
Shoot, that would've made for an interesting interview (and compelling reading).
Anyway, besides hypnosis being used in various self-help forums, the relaxed state of mind can make for a great stage show. Just ask Kalmon. He compares "highway hypnosis" to what he does during his comedy shows: "I'm putting people in a very relaxed state of mind. They're not unconscious, and they're not asleep -- they're in a very relaxed state. I call it a controlled daydream. In other words, they're listening very attentively, their minds are believing, imagining, creating these situations by the suggestions I give them."
Being able to control people like that must be a bit of a power trip. Kalmon agrees: "If I walked away, they'd wake up within about 30 days." Just kidding! He says it would actually only take a few seconds. OK, so people are really relaxed during his show, but that doesn't really make for great entertainment. How about seeing eleven strangers, or your date, act like William Shatner, a sumo wrestler, Martha Stewart or Carson from Queer Eye? That should spice up your after-show conversations.
And if regular hypnosis shows are old hat to you, maybe you'd like Kalmon's little twist. He confesses, "I'm doing an R-rated version of the show.... It's like my version of Sex and the City meets hypnosis, and it is absolutely a blast." So instead of Shatner, maybe your date will reenact the infamous diner scene from When Harry Met Sally... or think he's lost his, er, "best friend," as Kalmon puts it. "The audience are the stars -- it's not about me, it's about them." Yeah, calling for your "Captain" will make you quite a star!
But can everyone be hypnotized? Kalmon thinks so, but he advises, "You have to be willing. If you come up on stage and you are willing and open-minded, there is a 99 percent chance you're going to go under...you've got to think about what you're doing and enjoy every moment, because that's the whole process, enjoying this deep state of relaxation and the escape of reality."
If you'd like to escape reality or just have some good, clean (or dirty) fun, head to the West Port Funny Bone Comedy Club (614 West Port Plaza, I-270 and Page Avenue, Maryland Heights; 314-469-6692) Wednesday through Sunday (June 22 through 26). Tickets cost $10 to $20; visit www.funnyboneusa.com for times (the special naughty show is at midnight on Saturday).