OK, perhaps Chris Cady, renowned Reno-area hypnotist, doesn’t use a swinging watch or a crystal ball. But he does know a thing or two about making audience members act like they are former President George W. Bush, pop princess Britney Spears or even the “governator” himself, Aah-nuld Schwarzeneg-ger.
“I get them to do a variety of fun things,” Cady said, with a laugh. “Every show is a different show.”
Different is perhaps an understatement. Cady, who has been practicing and performing hypnotic inductions for more than 20 years and has a January weekend series at the Pioneer Theater, got his start in a rather odd way.
In 1986, when Cady was working at a shopping mall in the Bay Area, a commercial airplane crashed into the main building, leaving Cady with significant post traumatic stress.
Several friends suggested he explore hypnosis as a form of therapy, which in the end helped with his stress. It also sparked an interest in hypnosis that Cady had harbored since he was young.
“The human brain is very complex,” Cady said of his fascination with the untapped power of the human mind. “(With hypnosis) you’re always learning.”
Having spent several years studying at hypnosis institutes and with individual teachers, Cady has built his own reputation around town, performing what he calls an “all-ages, family-friendly show.”
“My show is a combination of magic and comedy,” Cady said. “It’s sort of like an ‘American Idol’ meets with an audience-participation hypnosis show.”
Depending heavily on audience participation, Cady performs a variety of stage antics from celebrity impersonations (hopefully with a Gov. Sarah Palin stint coming soon, Cady said) to having men go into labor.
“It’s very funny,” Cady said, mentioning that male child-bearing is one of his favorite hypnotic inductions. “Sometimes when they give birth, they’ll cry and tell me how beautiful their baby is. They actually believe they gave birth.”
But just how does one man make another man believe he did something as painful as having a baby?
By tapping into the subconscious part of the brain, “which makes all this fun stuff happen,” Cady said. He uses a combination of certain words, sounds and motions to make his volunteer extremely relaxed.
Complete hypnotic induction can occur within anywhere from one second to 15 minutes. Hypnosis can affect everyone differently: the person might remember what he or she has just done or think it was all a dream.
And for the brave of heart or just those who want to test out the waters of hypnosis, Cady described his perfect volunteer as being open minded and ready for a good time.
But also be prepared to be amazed, Cady said.
Past volunteer experiences, Cady said, have left audience members and himself a little shaken up. He recalled one woman who after numerous shoulder surgeries, was still unable to use the full rotation of her arms. After volunteering at one of Cady’s shows, however, this woman, in true Pete Townshend style, played the electric guitar with full-arm swinging and all.
“She told me (after the show) that she felt she had the best physical therapy of her life,” Cady said. “She really tapped into the more powerful part of her brain and she healed herself.”
More often than not, Cady’s volunteers, who usually are doing something outlandish like Irish line dancing or giving a speech as President Barack Obama, typically are not the outgoing type.
“That’s part of the comedy,” Cady said, explaining he often gets comments after his show from friends of the volunteer saying that the volunteer is normally a reserved, quiet person. “This person is doing something so unusual for them.”
Unusual or not, Cady’s performance guarantees some laughter. And after all, who knows, perhaps your inner rock star/tango dancer/Gov. Jim Gibbons is calling?
For more information or to book your own hypnosis party, visit Chris Cady’s Web site at www.chriscady.com.
The Friday, Saturday and Sunday series begins each night at 8 p.m. Tickets for “Get Hypnotized!” are $25 and can be purchased online at www.pioneercenter.com.