Hypnotist awes crowd

A body-building competition, Tarzan impersonation and the New York City Ballet performed by students who never imagined they had such talent drew big laughs at hypnotist Tom DeLuca’s Welcome Week performance Thursday night.

DeLuca welcomed the Lisner Auditorium audience by asking, “Are you ready for some mental gymnastics?”

He made students believe they were fishing, driving a Ferrari, eating ice cream or, in the case of freshman Trent Wilee, Jackie Chan’s younger brother.

Wilee jumped around on stage doing his best martial arts routine and then singled out a member of the audience saying, “You are a disgrace to your family. Your mother works in the circus.”

DeLuca also told Wilee when the hypnotist said the word `blue’ he would believe that the show was a fake and criticize DeLuca on stage, which he did by telling DeLuca to leave and to “have better luck at Georgetown.”

Afterwards, Wilee said he did not remember anything he did under hypnosis.

“My memory is a little splotchy,” he said. “At first I was in and out of consciousness, but after a while I was in pretty deep.”

Freshman James Brooks was also hypnotized on stage. DeLuca told him that whenever he was asked his name he would lose muscle control of his tongue.

Brooks also said he did not remember much of what happened, but felt very relaxed after coming out of hypnosis.

“I felt like I was napping and having several short dreams, each leading to the other, but they aren’t clear,” he said.

Other students were told that they had to hit their head with their left hand whenever they lied, and two students were told they would realize they had been dating for four years when they looked at each other.

An almost-packed Lisner Auditorium boomed with laughter as hypnotized students followed DeLuca’s every command. The show ended with students dancing to an Outkast song on cue.

Before the show, DeLuca pulled 20 students out of the audience to be hypnotized, and kept 13 who responded to his mental trickery.

“It was interesting how he was able to manipulate the people,” freshman Niki Lamba said.

Freshman Adam Perlish said he enjoyed the show.

“My favorite part was when the two guys were dancing ballet together,” he said.

Amy Riesner, special events coordinator for the Student Activities Center, which sponsored the event, said DeLuca is one of GW’s favorite acts.

“He’s a GW tradition,” she said. “Students keep coming back even though they’ve seen him before.” DeLuca has performed at GW several times, including during last year’s Winter Welcome Week, and shows in 1998 and 1999.

DeLuca, an Albany, N.Y. native, turned his interest in hypnosis into an occupation after college, working to help people lose weight and stop smoking at self-help clinics. DeLuca then took his act on the road to the college circuit.

In addition to his comedy act, DeLuca tours worldwide with his successful corporate consultant workshop called Power Napping. DeLuca uses his hypnosis skills to teach business people to move quickly into a deep sleep for a short period of time during the workday, making them more aware and efficient workers.

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