The Masters Ultimate Stage Hypnosis Seminar
Reported by Paul Maverick
17th - 20th June, 2004
There are many reasons for going to Las Vegas, the gambling, the women, the all you can eat buffets... the Star Trek experience at The Las Vegas Hilton…but chief amongst these must be The Masters’ Ultimate Stage Hypnosis Seminar (and optional magic day), from which I have just returned.
Presented by the doyens of American stage hypnosis Jerry Valley and Ormond McGill and featuring Tommy Vee, Chuck Mignosa and Christina Kaya, this annual event provides the most comprehensive training of its kind available anywhere in The US. In fact, one look at the backgrounds of its hosts says it all:
Known worldwide as “The Dean of American Hypnotists”, Ormond McGill’s status is nothing short of legendary. Now 91 years young (he celebrated his 91st birthday in the middle of the seminar), Dr. McGill started performing stage hypnosis in the 1930s, pioneered its presentation on television and has written over 40 books about hypnosis, magic, meditation, mysticism, etc. He is also a certified clinical hypnotherapist, is on The Board of Advisors of The American Council of Hypnotist Examiners, an instructor with The Hypnotherapy Training institute, holder of an honorary doctorate in Hypnosis from St. Jobals University and has been honoured by The National Guild of Hypnotists who declared 1996 “The Year of McGill”.
Billed as “America’s most captivating hypnotist”, Jerry Valley has been featured on ABC’s award winning network television show 20/20, has been the featured hypnotist on various cruise ships including the QE2, appearing alongside Hollywood starts such as Steve Allen, Phyllis Diller and Robert Vaughn, has appeared in several films and is a regular guest at various state fairs (like our fairs but occurring on a state wide basis with tens of thousands of attendees). A certified hypnotherapist holding a Master's Degree in Psychology and Hypnotherapy, he has received a number of prestigious and honorary awards from The National Guild of Hypnotists.
With these two at the helm, my expectations were, of course, very high. I am pleased to report that I was not disappointed! Neither were the participants, some of whom had traveled all the way from The UK (as well as Canada and all over The US). In fact some of these participants are already successful stage hypnotists (as a result of having taken this course previously) and were repeating this seminar simply because they enjoyed it so much the first time. Present too were magicians, mentalists, hypnotherapists, NLP practitioners and even those with no prior experience of either hypnosis or stage performing. However, despite the somewhat diverse backgrounds of the participants, from the outset, the five presenters worked hard to create a sense of commonality, community, family and friendship, that continued to grow throughout the seminar.
Interweaving presentations with practical demonstrations and supervised group practice sessions, the topics covered included how to get audience members to volunteer, what makes a good hypnotic subject, suggestibility tests, hypnotic inductions, how to judge a subject’s responsiveness, trance deepening techniques, hypnotic show routines, stage presence, creating a stage persona, mic technique, how to deal with hecklers, how to market a show, creating promotional videos, how to get and use testimonials, generating publicity, how to deal with agents…even Stanislavski received a mention (though thankfully Lee Strasberg did not).
But this wasn’t all….half way through the seminar, secret weapon Chrstina Kaya was wheeled out to teach presentation skills and vocal technique and with a background in performing arts, business, psychology and NLP, and a corporate client list that includes Dell, DuPont & Cisco Systems, one can see why.
There was even a lecture on the physics of sound by Chuck Mignosa just to ensure that participants knew everything (and I do mean everything) about mics, PA systems and how to record live shows.
Each evening a complete stage hypnosis show was performed by one of the presenters, which was then discussed at length the following morning (these shows were open to everyone, not just seminar attendees). The first night it was the turn of the hilarious Tommy Vee. A certified hypnotherapist and NGH member, he regularly performs at universities and colleges on the US student circuit and has been nominated for The International Hypnosis Hall of Fame.
The second night Ormond McGill performed a totally improvised show, the likes of which he has only ever performed once before. Throwing in a little mentalism for good measure, he actually taught whilst performing and trying out various hypnotic experiments with his volunteers.
The third night…after a gala dinner (included in the price along with breakfasts), Jerry Valley performed his superlative show, proving there is indeed a place for classic entertainment in the 21st century.
On the final day of this four day intensive, students got to put on their own hypnosis show and everyone who wished to, had the opportunity to try out a routine or two on stage, with a selection of volunteers…..after the exam.
Yes I did say exam. One of my great concerns about stage hypnosis, has always been the contingent of small men, with small endowments, big goatees and massive egos, dressed in black from head to foot, who behave irresponsibly on stage, humiliate their volunteers and give hypnosis and hypnotherapy a bad name. Thankfully such individuals couldn’t be further removed from the Masters of Stage Hypnosis, all of whom, in addition to being successful stage performers, are highly ethical hypnotherapists and who accordingly presented this seminar with total integrity, teaching how to perform highly responsible (yet extremely amusing) shows while instilling attitudes of total respect at all times for the dignity and safety of one’s volunteers.
Hence the exam. This is a certified course, recognized by The National Guild of Hypnotists who actually award professional credits for those who successfully complete. Everyone passed the exam by the way, the lowest score being 85% and the highest being 100%!
Clearly everyone had a great time, so much so that two thirds of the class stayed for the optional magic day taught by Ormond McGill and Chuck Mignosa. The latter of whom incidentally, is a certified hypnotherapist, NLP Master Practitioner, Time Line Therapist and Reiki Master Sensei, has been lecturing and performing with Ormond McGill since 1976, lectures at colleges and universities on “The Psychology of Magic and “illusion vs. Reality; or Why Most People are Fooled Most of the Time!”, performs magic and hypnosis shows, is a member of The NGH, The American Institute of Hypnotherapy and The Academy of Magical Arts and who has been a past president of several American magicians associations.
Dealing with the psychology of magic, both for stage shows and presentations, this seminar covered patter, showmanship and misdirection and served as a great introduction to rope card paper and thumb tip effects, sleight of hand and mentalism.
Altogether, these five days made up a great package, as did all of the books, DVDs and the magic kit that were thrown in as part of the bargain. So whether this is the first time that you are thinking about becoming a stage hypnotist / magician or you already know that this is something you want to do, I would thoroughly recommend that you book for the next event.
A seminar is currently being planned for London and you can get more information about this and the next Vegas event by contacting Jerry Valley direct by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone: 001-978-688-6657
Of course, if you like me, decide to do the Vegas seminar, you’ll also get the chance to eat as much as you can at the famous Bellagio Buffet, visit the Star Trek Experience at The Las Vegas Hilton (illusion at its best) and get Sky Dive Las Vegas to fly you up to 15,000 feet so that you can tandem jump from an airplane and see four different states on your way down, all of which comes highly recommended. You’ll also be able to take your pick of magic, hypnosis and comedy shows (David Copperfield, Lance Burton, Mac King, Penn & Teller, Ron Lucas and a dozen different hypnosis shows were on while I was in town)… but London is nice too.
© Paul Maverick, June 2004