Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, May 11, 2001

Hypnotist Leslie Reynolds.

Mind games

Hypnotherapy induces
gales of healing laughter

By Shawn 'Speedy' Lopes

Of the many uses for hypnotism -- as a means of losing weight, kicking the smoking bug and reducing chronic pain among them -- perhaps none work quite as well as the inducement of laughter. After all, as the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine.

Leslie Reynolds, "Mr. Hypnotist" to his fans, is quite familiar with the old adage. A well traveled "hypnocomedian," Reynolds has entertained audiences around the world and is currently splitting sides five nights a week at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel.

As the stage lights went up on a show last weekend, he materialized before a generally mild crowd of tourists of varying ages, and middle-aged locals.

Appearing in a dark, Victorian frock coat, Reynolds introduced himself as a certified hypnotherapist and entertainer.

Hypnotist Leslie Reynolds uses a calm voice and low
lights to put volunteers from the audience in an
unconscious state during his show at the
Sheraton Waikiki.

Within seconds of soliciting audience participation, two rows of seats onstage -- 24 in all -- are filled by some very game subjects. A quick explanation of hypnosis and what is about to occur follows as the lights fade to black. An exotic, new-agey soundtrack of didgeridoos and tablas rises in volume as Reynolds gives directives in calm, hushed tones. The participants oblige, palms on knees, fingers spread loosely. "Breathe deeply, exhale," he purrs. "Close your eyes and allow your head to fall forward. You're drifting ... falling.

"Just relax all the muscles in your body. You are totally relaxed. Just let go."

After several minutes of this, the lights go up and The Test commences. Reynolds grabs each subject's hands and initiates a rotating circular motion. Those heavily entranced comply easily and continue the action, while the remaining participants, obviously unaffected, look around sheepishly, unsure whether to go along with the program or bolt for their seats. Reynolds eventually gives them a pat on the head as if to say, "Thanks, you're excused."

Reynolds lays a doll at the feet of participant Joe
Constantino, of Chicago, who has been hypnotized
into believing he is the first male to give birth.

Soon, only a handful of subjects remain and the fun begins. Reynolds increases the temperature on stage through mere description. "Now, I don't know if it's the person next to you, but something's beginning to smell really bad," he continues. Noses wrinkle and a woman begins shielding her nose. The crowd breaks out in laughter.

He tells one man he will not be able to remember his name. "Where are you from?" Reynolds inquires.

"Phoenix, Ariz.," comes the reply, with nary a trace of hypnotic influence.

"Are you having a good time?"

"Yeah, absolutely."

"You know, you look a litle like Brendan Fraser, do you get that a lot?"

"Yeah, sometimes."

"What's your name?"

Silence. Then more laughter.

Skeptics who harbored suspicions of planted subjects on stage are soon convinced otherwise. Amy from Woodland, Calif., is told she cannot remember the number "7" and begins counting her fingers: "one, two, three, four, five, six, eight, eight, nine, ten." When asked to count them again, she nails it, no problem. "Ah, she remembered it," says a poised Reynolds, moving on to the next bit. Well now, who would be foolish enough to plant someone who won't go along with the show?

Other amusing scenarios follow, including a phone call from former President Bill Clinton ("What's he talking to you about?" "Sex." "With who?" "Not me!"), "The Jerry Springer Show" and Hollywood's sexiest movie stars.

Before dismissing the seven remaining participants to their seats, he suggests to three that no one in the audience is wearing any clothes.

There are videotaped copies of the evening's program, along with hypnotherapeutic recordings for sale outside, he says, as the show begins to wind down. Suddenly, shrieks of laughter erupt from a group of young women at a nearby table. Reynolds rushes off the stage, microphone in hand. "What's going on here?" he asks one of his subjects who has still not taken her chair.

"There's ... there's a naked man in my seat," she whispers, bewildered as much by the audience's obvious amusement as by the strange spectacle only she seems to see.

Mr. Hypnotist, Leslie Reynolds

Showtime: 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays
Place: Sheraton Waikiki Hotel (rooms vary)
Admission: $32 cocktail show, $62 dinner buffet
Call: 931-8100

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