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Tom DeLuca hypnotizes at LaFortune

Kevin Noonan | Sunday, November 18, 2012


Last Friday, hypnotist Tom DeLuca visited Notre Dame’s campus for a night of mystifying performance. Scene Editor Kevin Noonan had the chance to talk with him before the show. 

Kevin Noonan: What do you do? What does a professional hypnotist do?

Tom DeLuca: What I’m doing tonight, and what I’ve been doing for most of my career, is go around to businesses and universities, that’s about 95 percent of what I do are corporations, associations and universities, and I put on these big, interactive performances where I take volunteers from the audience and I hypnotize people. These kinds of shows are basically fun and hopefully creative, depends on who I get up there. It’s peachy, I don’t make people bark like a dog or anything, it’s not a fair or a Vegas lounge act. I think it’s at little higher level. But it’s still silly, it’s still goofy and hopefully it’ll be good.

KN: How did you get into this?

TD: I got into this when I was in college, I had a professor who was a clinical psychologist and he trained me to hypnotize people in his clinic. I actually put myself through graduate school by hypnotizing people to like lose weight and quit smoking and stuff like that. When I was doing that I started doing a show at the Sheraton Inn in the town that I lived in on Wednesday nights and it really got to be popular. People would see it and ask me to come to their college, and then I started traveling and then it got really big, and I’ve been doing it ever since.

KN: What did you get your master’s degree in?

TD: Psychology.

KN: So this comes out of psychology study, sort of?

TD: Yes and no. A guy trained me to hypnotize people. I took courses in college that interested me, but I didn’t take like hypnosis courses or anything like that. It was all like experiential one-on-one stuff. I hypnotize a lot of people for different things. Ninety-five percent lose weight and quit smoking and the commercial venue to make money, but I saw tons of different reactions and got really good experience doing it.

KN: So you do mostly businesses and colleges, do you have a preference for one of the two?

TD: It depends. I like doing the colleges, and I like coming here because the kids are smart and that makes the show creative. I give them the suggestion but they go with it. Some colleges I really enjoy doing it. I’d say two-thirds I really enjoy doing it. It depends on how many people are at the venue. If you have a couple hundred people it’ll be fun, if you only have 50 people it won’t be as good because there’ll be a hollowness to the room, and it also inhibits the audience on a psychological level from getting involved. But we generally have good crowds here, so hopefully it’ll be good.

KN: Do you see a difference when you hypnotize corporate people versus college kids?

TD: Oh God yes, night and day. First of all you’re not going to have twenty people raising their hands going “Pick me! Pick Me!” like I’m assuming I’m going to have tonight, at colleges I don’t have any problem getting volunteer to come up on stage. In a corporate setting they’re in suits and jackets, their bosses are there, their coworkers are there, they’re in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s and so they’re a lot more reserved. ‘What’s this guy going to make me do? What am I going to say about the company? What if I’m going to quit my job next week and it comes out?’ It’s that kind of thing, so you have to really seduce them to get them up there. It’s a lot harder, but they pay more. They’re both exciting, I think that’s why I do it, and I know it and I really take it seriously. I also do it because it’s hard, it’s a challenge, so I have to get myself really focused and really up for every show. To do a good show for these folks, I have to sustain for an hour and a half. I can’t just hypnotize someone and then the show is over. It’s got to build.

KN: So what are you doing when you hypnotize people? What happens to people?

TD: What happens basically is you go bypass the critical facility and put suggestions directly into the imagination and subconscious. You’re basically putting a suggestion directly into the subconscious, and they’re not analyzing it. It’s real to them. There are levels to it, there’s light, medium and deep, and for this you want medium or deep because the suggestions are so weird. The light stage most people won’t do it. The medium or deep levels suggestions are more of a reality to them, and the real deep levels whatever you tell them, they’ll see it or do it. They hallucinate.

KN: So do you wave a gold watch?

TD: No. There’s a lot going on. Voice, cadence, reaction to them as they observe how I’m doing things. I’m reacting to a lot of things, the way they sit, just the way they perceive the suggestions. Some people will take it right away, some people will more slide into it, so I have to adjust to that. It’s a very tiring show by the way.

KN: What are some of your favorite suggestions for people?

TD: I have one I do here normally where I make somebody think that fruit have feelings and he’s the friend of fruit. I bring out an apple and take a bite and they’re like, ‘Ahh! Don’t eat that!’ That’s a good one. You can never tell. If you get the right person it’s really fun, if you get the wrong person it’s not so much fun. I’m just judging the whole time I’m up there which suggestion is going to work best with each person. That’s a big part of it. I do one where I tell one person, usually a male because they get really tense, although sometimes a woman, any time I say the word ‘blue’ you’re going to think this whole show was a fake and a scam. But any time I snap my fingers twice you’re going to think it was great. So I say ‘blue’ and they get up on the microphone and they’re like, ‘This show [stinks]. You stink, what a rip-off.’ And I snap my fingers and it’s, ‘I love you.’ That’s a really good one that I’ve been doing for a long time. Sometimes I make a woman think she’s the fun police and that the audience is having too much fun. I do one that I do here because these kids are really, really smart, and I hope I’m not overselling this.

KN: No, I think you’re all right telling Notre Dame kids we’re smart, go ahead.

TD: Yeah I believe it. I make one of the kids Notre Dame’s top cheerleader, so every time I say a word it’s fun to see what happens.

KN: Do you have any good stories from your career that stand out in your memory?

TD: I’m sure I have a lot of stories. Here’s the deal, for me it’s not just a matter of hypnotizing people and making them do silly stuff. It’s seeing who they are, that’s the magic of it. It’s seeing a person reveal who they are. You see how their inner imagination works. You see their personality. Even if they’re not conscious of it and a lot of people aren’t really conscious of it, you see how they identify. Those are the little cool things that I think make it a good show. At least that’s what I see, there’s always like one or two that are just cool as hell. 

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