Bad Boys of Hypnosis celebrate 2000th show

Oct 27th, 2008 | Category: In the Press, Interviews
By Robin Leach from Las Vegas Weekly
Read Original Article

The self-described “bad boys of hypnosis,” Michael Johns and Terry Stokes, celebrate a milestone tonight (Thursday) with their 2,000th show — now the longest continually running hypnosis production in Vegas. And for the first time ever, they will put each other “under!” Since landing here in early 2001, Terry and Michael have bounced around at five different venues — but never skipped a night or a show of their Dirty Hypnosis Unleashed.

They began at the Bourbon Street, moved onto the Tuscany Suites & Casino, then the Empire Ballroom, onto the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, then the Stardust before it was blown up, and finally –- and permanently — at the Harmon Theater alongside Planet Hollywood’s Miracle Mile. Now that’s a journey!

Michael told me: “We have been very fortunate to have had such a long and successful run even with all the different showrooms. Now we’re looking forward to another 2,000 shows. Since we’ve been in Vegas, there have been nine other hypnotists over seven years and we’ve outlasted them all! The Harmon Theater is reminiscent of Old Vegas. It’s an intimate theater that lets the audience be a huge part of the show.”

Terry added: “We’re the only dueling hypnotists show in the world and for the first time tonight we will both hypnotize each other. We’ve never done that before so it will be very interesting to see what happens tonight!” Their show mixes mind-blowing hypnotic antics coupled with hilarious comedy — and the extraordinary and surprising behavior of the real-life audience volunteers who perform some of the wildest — and naughtiest — hi-jinx imaginable.

Here’s our conversation, “before they put me to sleep!”:

Michael & Terry: Everyone can be hypnotized but not always during a stage show. People become hypnotized every day of their lives. They don’t realize it, but they do it when they’re watching a TV show or reading a book. Ever been watching a TV show and someone walks into the room and asks you a question and you answer it, five minutes later after the show ended you say, “Did you say something to me?” A lot of folks call that marriage. But if you think about it part of your mind heard a question, analyzed it, thought up an answer, delivered the answer and you didn’t even have a clear memory of doing it. So everyone can be hypnotized, but during a stage show, no you can’t, we usually get about 80 percent of the audience who can be put right out.

Robin Leach: Looking back over 2,000 shows, and I want to come to the funny bits and the heart break bits in a minute, have you used different methods of hypnosis I think of the man with the dangling watch or stare into my eyes routine. How do you hypnotize somebody?

Michael: You talk to them, Robin; it’s a focused concentration. And to get them to focus enough on just what you’re saying, again going back to the analogy of the TV show, when you’re so focused on one thing that you don’t hear that, surrounding things don’t bother you so the dangling watch is the focal point but basically if you’re standing in front of them and you’re doing it properly you’re their focus point, you are the dangling watch. We don’t have to lower our voices or deliver the words in a softer or more monotone way. It’s just regular conversation.

RL: Is it a miracle to achieve 2,000 continuous shows in Vegas?

Terry: I think so, we’ve been very fortunate, we’ve had some great showrooms and we’ve had a great following for a long, long time. So yeah, I think it’s kind of a miracle and we’re lucky to be where we are.

We’ve also been very careful, you know a lot of shows come into town and they say, you have to have a half a million dollars to get your show launched and well, we didn’t know all that so we went ahead and made a profit our first week. We had not been told to spend this much money. We waited and when we had enough money to buy a billboard, we bought a billboard and so we have never been in panic mode. The shows have always been good and the crowds have always been good. But I see so many shows coming in and they ask, don’t you have to have hundreds of thousands of dollars to do a show, well that’s one way to do it, but for me it’s not the smart way to do it.

RL: You must have had really funny moments, strange moments and even heartbreaking moments?

Michael: I was a standup comic and went for hypnosis to make the act better. But once I’d been helped I saw it as the only form of entertainment I wanted to perform. I used to do fairs and travel all over the country and I had a bit that was basically the talking teddy bear and it’s cute, everybody liked it. I had the prop up on stage one night and decided to try something a little different with it and Robin, it became my signature bit, and the guy would wake up and there would be this teddy bear next to him and he thinks it’s a cute bear and when he looks over a few minutes later the bear is looking up at him, smiling and then the guy who happens to be an expert on the subject of sex decides to instruct the bear in the proper ways to do it. It’s a sick moment but we also average about eight people a night howling on the floor from laughing so hard.

Terry: We had one regular lady come to see she and then us stopped. She was away for a while having heart surgery. She came back to us nightly just to laugh to make her feel better. Her daughter wrote us a beautiful letter saying that her mother had died after being taken ill at one of our shows -– but she died doing exactly what she wanted to do -– laughing and being happy.”

RL: Is it safe to say that the people who come are totally skeptics or are they in the zone to be hypnotized?

Terry: It totally depends on your crowd, but you do get a lot of skeptics up there that say, “I’m going to get up there and I don’t think this is going to work but I’m going to give it a shot.” And they turn out to be the stars of your show 100 percent of the time.

Michael: The people who say they can’t do it, they’re my favorites because a lot of people will come back three and four times to see if you’ve got the same people on stage or if you’re using plants.

RL: So there’s no green house effect on your show with plants?

Michael: People will come back night after night and finally they will say, “Well, hell, if these guys are making enough money that they can hire actors every night, or is it for real, and they end up being the funniest, stars of the show.

Terry: I was a skeptic before I got into this business. I saw a hypnotist on my Spring Break and said he couldn’t be real; so I went onstage and he turned me into a stripper on a pool table. I even made $20, and when I knew it was for real I changed my major to “behavior modification” studies. Now we can use it for entertainment and for teaching. We’ve hypnotized people very successfully and given them good advice to stop smoking, get weight under control and motivate them for success and relieve their stress. So that’s all good.