ITHACA, NY – Hypnotist and mentalist Michael C. Anthony, called the “best stage hypnotist in the world” by VH-1, will be performing at the State Theatre on Saturday. We talked with him this morning to ask a few questions about how he got his start and what keeps his show fresh and exciting.
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1 – How did Anthony get interested in hypnotism and mentalism?
“I got interested in mentalism when I was really young because my great uncle, Joe Lamonica, was a professional hypnotist, mentalist and stage pickpocket. I got fascinated with it when I was a kid, and over time it turned it to my real job, which keeps me from having to work for a living!,” Anthony said.
It didn’t come naturally though – Anthony mastering the craft took a lot of work and schooling. He is a board-certified hypnotherapist and has worked one-on-one with people as well as performing.
2 – How did Anthony get started in the entertainment world?
“I’m kind of a born entertainer, if you will, just came out of the womb loving to be front of the audience,” Anthony said. “I never planned on it being my livelihood, though. Before this, I worked for General Motors for awhile, but I got so busy doing entertainment work part time about 20 years ago, I quit GM and started doing this.”
Anthony said that he got his first gig after performing some card tricks for a friend. The friend put him in touch with a woman who booked shows for a college.
Although it was card tricks that opened the door, Anthony knew his show was going to based on hypnosis. “The show was all on paper. I’d been practicing it for years, but had never done it on stage.” He said his first show was for a college crowd of about 250 people, and he received a standing ovation after his debut.
After that, things kept moving forward, Anthony began booking more shows and working with agents until ultimately he could pursue his entertainment career full time.
3 – Is Anthony ever caught off-guard or surprised by what happens during his shows?
“You never know exactly what’s going to happen. That’s the appeal. Even though I’ve seen the show 2000 times, it’s never the same show,” Anthony said. “For example, a little while ago in California, I put a guy into a trance and made him think a broom is a beautiful girl. So he came up, music starts playing, he starts dancing with the broom.”
“I didn’t realize it at the time but his girlfriend was also on the stage, hypnotized. So, I see her walking over slowly toward the guy dancing with the broom, and I’m thinking “What’s happening here?”
Turns out that being hypnotized doesn’t make one immune to jealousy. Anthony explained how the girlfriend proceeded to grab the broom from her boyfriend’s arms, toss it on the ground and hurl insults at it.
4 – How does Anthony approach skeptics?
“There’s always skeptics,” Anthony says, noting that he had some just the night before in Ohio. “These guys came to me and said ‘This is nonsense, I would never volunteer for this.’”
Anthony says that his goal is always to make the process sound so fun and interesting that anyone would want to be a part of it. Turns out it worked on that group skeptics. “Every one of those skeptics came on stage and four of them were really good subjects. I ended up doing the base of the show with them.”
Anthony says that anyone can be hypnotized, no matter how skeptical. “If you open yourself up to it, then you’ll definitely be hypnotized. It works on anyone who can concentrate.”
5 – What’s the biggest challenge Anthony has dealt with while performing?
As more proof to his assertion that anyone can be hypnotized, Anthony shared a story where he managed to hypnotize a group of people who couldn’t even hear his voice.
He was performing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, which, he didn’t realize at the time, had a school for the deaf. Before the show, someone came to him and told him they’d be signing the show for the deaf students.
“Hypnosis can work on anyone in the way in which they communicate,” Anthony said. About five or six deaf students joined the group of about 30 audience participants.
Anthony told the deaf participants to keep their eyes on the signer at all times, even when others were closing their eyes.
“When I got into the induction and people were falling on the floor and everything, all of the deaf people did the exact same, but were keeping their eyes open even while in a hypnotic trance,” Anthony said. “I was as amazed as anyone else!”
See for yourself?
Michael C. Anthony is performing at the State Theatre tomorrow at 5 p.m. Check out a teaser of the show below.
Disclosure: The Ithaca Voice is a media sponsor of this event.
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