Gabriel Dye will be taking to the stage, hoping some brave souls in the audience will join him in what he says will be a mix of intrigue and entertainment.
“Someone who just wants to be entertained will enjoy the hell out of it and someone who wants something to think about for the next couple of weeks will definitely find that,” he said.
Part of the show will be about breaking misconceptions Dye says surrounded hypnotism, albeit in an entertaining way, one being the idea that hypnotism is just people playing along.
“I’ve worked quite hard on the structure and the flow of the show,” he said. “I want people to know that this isn’t just people playing along. It’s an actual psychological phenomenon happening in front of them.
“If someone’s hand is stuck to their head you see this battle between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind being acted out in front of you, and it is convincing to the subject and the audience.”
Dye first tried hypnotism in high school, practicing on his brother, but really got into it after seeing a hypnotist in college.
“I went to the library to read all the books on medical hypnosis that they had and started practicing on anyone who would listen. And so we did (hypnotism performances) all throughout college.”
Dye said he stopped hypnotism when he moved to Korea eight years ago, but recently got back into it in the last year, during which he also switched careers to work as a freelance model, actor and musician.
He said that the techniques for stage and medical hypnosis were very similar, with the main difference being the element of show and the purpose of the activity.
So using hypnotherapy for anesthesia, a therapist might simply hammer home the idea of not feeling pain, but Dye says his approach is less “dry” -― and much more entertaining.
He says he likes to ask the subjects how they are feeling when they are showing phenomena.
“You get a whole bunch of responses. Sometimes it’s very sincere: ‘I don‘t know what’s going on but my hand won’t move away from my head.’ Which can be more interesting than 10 people dancing to ballet music, and just as entertaining.”
Another trick that is common is to create hallucinations, or the inability to see certain things ― including the hypnotist himself.
“Some people will report that ‘I kind of knew you were there but just couldn’t look at you’ and others tell you literally ‘I couldn’t see you,’” he said.
“So then you can pick up objects and people freak out because they see things floating around the room.”
“I have had a few people who were genuinely scared and we had to stop the experiment to make sure they were OK. They were obviously on the more extreme end of the (susceptibility) spectrum.”
Not everyone is so susceptible, and people have to be willing for the hypnotism to work, said Dye.
He said people varied in how receptive they were to hypnosis, with about half susceptible enough for him to work with in an entertaining way. To identify them, he runs simple tests early on in the show to gauge how open each audience member is.
But while he hopes to have some people who are very open, he promises not to indulge in the kind of embarrassment-inducing stunts some hypnotist shows are known for.
“We are not going for them dancing around making fools of themselves, I am going for more of a mix of fascination and hilarity,” he said.
The show will run on July 19 at 7 p.m. at the Bull and Barrel in Itaewon. Entry is 5,000 won.
By Paul Kerry (firstname.lastname@example.org)