Fresh off a recent appearance at the Maui County Fair, Vegas hypnotist Scott Lewis is staging a pair of shows this weekend at the Maui Beach Hotel. The first, on Saturday, is a Vegas style, “anything goes” performance; the second, on Sunday, will be family friendly.
We chatted with Scott about hypnosis skeptics, the temptation to abuse his power and whether waving pocket watches in front of people’s faces really works.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a hypnotist?
I was going to school in San Diego and there was a hypnotist who had a regular show downtown on Friday and Saturday nights. I used to go and volunteer. The hypnotist was very pompous, wore a horrible ruffled tuxedo and had a very bad toupee—yet people loved him and his show. It was the most amazing thing I had ever seen and I knew instantly that was what I wanted to do.
Is hypnosis something you can learn, or is it an inherited ability?
I think it’s a little of both. You can definitely learn to do hypnosis but to be entertaining and command a show, you need to have stage presence, which can be developed, but I think some people are more suited to it than others.
Why did you choose hypnotizing for entertainment rather than, say, to get people to quit smoking?
I actually do both. I’m a chiropractor by profession and started doing hypnosis to help people lose weight. In fact, I’ll be doing a group hypnosis session [on Sunday]. Anybody wanting to lose weight and/or quit smoking is invited. They don’t need to be afraid; nobody will be shaking their booty or thinking that they’re Michael Jackson. I [also] love using hypnosis for entertainment. The shows are unlike any other shows you’ll ever see—you get to witness people letting go and being more confident, creative and imaginative than you’ve ever seen them. I also love the fact that all I need to make the “magic” happen is 20 or so chairs and my volunteers. I also like that these are the types of shows people talk about for a long time.
Can you hypnotize someone who doesn’t believe it’s possible?
For my stage shows, they need to volunteer with an open attitude. They can be a little nervous but as long as they have the desire to be hypnotized, they’ll do great. On the other hand, I cannot hypnotize anybody who doesn’t want to be hypnotized. You always have complete control and I can never make anybody do anything they don’t want to do.
You performed at the Maui County Fair. What’s different about hypnotizing Mauians?
My shows in Hawaii and especially Maui have been the most fun. I’ve performed all over the world and found that the people of Maui have been some of the best subjects I’ve ever had. Maybe it’s the carefree attitude or the fact that you’re already living in paradise so there’s nothing to be unhappy about; Mauians love to have a great time. It’s also true that the smarter you are, the better volunteer you’ll be so I guess there’s a lot of really smart people in Maui.
Have you ever been tempted to abuse your power? Is there a “hypnotist code of ethics”?
I think every hypnotist has been tempted. Personally, I’ve never abused any power I may have as I respect it too much as a valuable tool people can use to improve their lives. There is a hypnotist code of ethics: Don’t make anybody bark too loud; make sure that your clucking chickens don’t cluck after the show is over; make sure the guys you turn into Chippendale Dancers don’t take off their pants—unless it’s in Vegas.
What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened in one of your shows?
I’ve had a woman who I told lost her clothes run out of the showroom and into the casino screaming that she was naked and everybody could see her “ta-tas.” [During] one show I did in Maui last year I had one of my “Chippendale dancers” climbing the pole in the tent, swinging his shirt over his head and screaming “I’m so sexy” over and over.
Do any hypnotists actually wave a pocket watch back and forth in front of people’s faces?
Only the cheesy ones who still wear polyester suits. MTW