Hypnosis Unleashed plays at the Tropicana in Las Vegas at 9:30 PM, seven days a week. The ticket prices are $43.95 for general admission, and $65.95 for VIP seats, both including tax. There are 2 for 1 coupons to be found somewhere, as I saw a used one on the Tropicana box office desk, and the attendant working the counter was kind enough to just give me one when I asked. I saw the show on a Thursday evening, October 1, 2009.
This was the seventh hypnosis show I have seen. I volunteered in one of them almost 20 years ago. Let me say up front that I'm skeptical about hypnotism. I think a majority of the subjects are, at least partially, faking it. I think it comes down to the placebo effect. If somebody believes that it works, wants it to work, and the conditions are good, then it probably will. I think hypnotism works for the same reason religion does. If religion did not, at least partially, rely on the placebo effect, then why would so many different religions have millions of followers, when they all state that all the others are false?
The show I volunteered for was in a nightclub in Los Angeles, back around 1989. I don't remember the hypnotist's name, but he looked like Bob Saget, and came out to the music from 2001 -- A Space Odyssey. I had seen his show in Long Beach previously, and knew he wouldn't embarrass me too much. At that time in my life I was more opened minded, some might say gullible, than I am today. So I went up there, and the "induction" seemed to go fine. Early in the show, I remember he said our shoes were hot, so all the volunteers ripped them off. Then he said they were puppies, and we all started petting them. Sitting there, petting my shoe, I knew it was a shoe. Still, I felt like a puppet, and the hypnotist was pulling the strings. As the show went on, I think that I was over-thinking it, or trying too hard, and about half way through I basically came out of it. Not wanting to ruin the show, I pretty much just faked it the rest of the time. At one point he told me I was a male stripper, and they played that stripper music, but I refused, so he shook my arm, which was the cue to fall asleep. After that point, he mostly ignored me.
To get to the review, Hypnosis Unleashed is done in the raunchy mold of Anthony Cools. I've seen Anthony's show, and Hypnosis Unleashed was about equally as good...or bad. The show bills itself as having two hosts, Terry Stokes and Michael Johns, but only Michael Johns was there that evening, unless Terry Stokes was the stage hand. Michael Johns is the shorter one on the poster, sipping grey goose out of the bottle with a straw.
The show got off to a bad start when an audience member said he was only there because the magic show was cancelled. Johns really went off on the guy, and then the entire right side of the room, which I was in. Eventually he turned on the entire audience. He expected the audience to be laughing and clapping the entire time. Whenever there was a lull, Johns made a remark about just being there for the money, or asking why the audience paid to see a show they obviously didn't want to go to.
About the hypnotism, it took a while to get enough volunteers to the stage. He made many comments during the show that he had to rush to make up for the time. The "induction" was pretty standard, and went fast. He only sent one volunteer back to the audience. I find it hard to believe that out of about 10 volunteers, 9 were successfully hypnotized. At other shows I have seen, the hypnotist sent about half the volunteers back.
The first significant "bit" was he put balloon statues, like the kind clowns make, in front of the volunteers, while their eyes were closed. Then each person picked one up. He said that they were inventors of sex toys, and asked them to describe what their inventions did. It was funny when the first person said some kind of glorified dildo, but not so much when every subsequent volunteer pretty stuck with variations of the same.
Another bit I recall was that the volunteers were "sexual psychics," and could read the thoughts of audience members. I won't state any more specific bits, lest I give away the whole show. The two I mentioned are representative of the entire show. At no time were the volunteers embarrassed in a physical way, like humping a chair. It was a verbally-based show.
In my opinion, the pacing of the show was rushed. Perhaps it would have been better if it were a little longer, they cut out some material, or had fewer volunteers, to delve deeper into each volunteer. My favorite bit I ever saw in a hypnosis show (not this one) was when the volunteers were told to do a painting. The hypnotist then simply asked each person what they were painting. That kind of response I think says a lot about the subject.
The volunteers seemed pretty inhibited, and I think at least half were knowingly faking it. I had a chuckle here and there, but never a single good belly-laugh. It got annoying and tiring to be prodded to constant clap and laugh by the host. Perhaps I was just there on a bad night. I don't know if the host always does this, but he certainly made plenty of remarks about it being a terrible audience. Anyway, this will probably be the last hypnosis show I plan to attend for a long time. I predict that form of entertainment will decline anyway.