I am quite susceptible to hypnosis. This trait may run in the family. My mother, a smoker for more than twenty-five years, quit cold turkey after one hypnosis session.
I discovered my susceptibility to hypnosis after attending hypnosis shows twice in my life. Both times I have been brought on stage, successfully placed under hypnosis and made to be a major part of the show.
The first time was in 1990. The late Frank Santos, well known comic and hypnosis expert, was performing in a nightclub in Attleboro, Massachusetts. I took my girlfriend, Kelly, to the show, unaware that I would soon become main attraction.
When Santos asked for volunteers, I approached the stage. I had no idea if I was capable of being hypnotized (and doubted it’s legitimacy), but I wanted to give it a shot. Santos performed a series of quick tests on each prospective volunteer, including a trust-fall, and I passed. He asked me to assume a seat on the stage.
This is the last thing that I definitively remember. Everything from here on consists of memories that came back to me well after the show, in addition to what Santos, my girlfriend, and the audience members would later tell me.
I was hypnotized almost immediately. As volunteers failed to become hypnotized or quickly fell out of hypnosis, our ranks were thinned until four of us remained on the stage for the majority of the show.
In no specific order, I was told to do the following things onstage:
Santos told me that I was Mick Jagger and told me to perform Satisfaction for the audience. The DJ played a karaoke version of the song and I performed the entire song, singing and dancing and doing my best Jagger impression. This memory, and the absolute belief that I was Mick Jagger, returned months later when I was driving in my car and the song came on the radio. Like a ton of bricks, the entire recollection dumped into my head, forcing me to pull over.
In a way I cannot describe, I truly believed that I was Mick Jagger, and in my memory, the audience loved me.
I was told that the floor was quicksand and that I was sinking. I quickly grabbed the guy sitting next to me, forcing him to the ground and climbing atop him in order to save myself.
A peek at my true colors, perhaps. My unrelenting survival instinct. I don’t remember this at all.
With the permission of my girlfriend, I was told to make out with the hypnotized girl sitting next to me. Apparently this went on for some time, and other, more colorful action was added to the moment. A vague memory of this came back to me several nights later after kissing my girlfriend, and I remember my initial thought was that I had secretly cheated on her.
I recall panicking for a second before the reality of the situation reached me.
But the moment that was remembered most was when Santos handed me a one-piece, unitard-like Superman costume and asked me to put it on. He told me that I was Superman and that I needed to save the world.
Santos later told me, “In all my years of doing this, every volunteer has taken that costume and run to the men’s room.”
I did not. Santos turned his back, thinking I had left the stage, and began working with another volunteer. As he did, I removed all of my clothing and donned the costume. My girlfriend later told me that I was fully naked onstage for at least ten seconds before finally managing to pulling the costume up my legs and over my waist.
When Santos finally turned back and saw the pile of clothing and my half-naked body, he realized that he had made a mistake. But with no way to correct it, and unaware until after the show of how exposed I had really been, we went on with the show. In my red and blue unitard, I proceeded to save several women in the audience from imaginary disasters before he specifically told me to go to the men’s room to change back into my regular clothing.
I can recall saving a woman from an imaginary safe falling on her head (though in my memory the safe is real and incredibly heavy) and jumping over an electrified fence in order to rescue a woman from a pit of snakes (apparently I lifted her right out of her seat and carried her across the room, finally depositing her on a table).
Thankfully, I do not recall my moment of nakedness onstage.
There were many other things that I was asked to do that night, but these were the ones that I am unable to recall in any way. Needless to say I did not pay for a single drink for the rest of the night and was patted on the back and thanked effusively by the audience members who remained after the show to drink and dance.
Years later I would be hypnotized onstage again at the Eastern States Exposition, and this time the show was videotaped. Once again I became the featured attraction. Though I have little memory of that show, I purchased the videotape to see exactly what happened onstage.
It was uncomfortable to watch, like watching someone who had taken over my body. Though my friends have watched the tape and laughed at my antics, I can no longer be in the same room while it is playing, and I have tucked it safely away lest someone accidentally find it and slip it into one of a the few VCRs still functioning.
Perhaps I should just burn it.