By Jacqueline Monahan
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Hypnosis Unleashed celebrated its 2000th show on Thursday, October 23 at the Harmon Theater, located next to Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino.  Billed as the Bad Boys of Hypnosis, Mark Johns and Terry Stokes live up to their reputation and prove it, one after the other, in a risqué demonstration of the power of suggestion on the human mind.

If you’re under the impression that modern hypnosis involves a stage full of people imitating barnyard animals and partaking in questionable endeavors that compromise their dignity, you’re half right. You won’t hear animal sounds emanating from the volunteers; they’re too busy teaching stuffed animals to pleasure themselves or discovering that their genitals can talk.  Relaxed inhibitions venture into taboo territory easily and outrageously when polite introductions cease and civilized behavior is challenged.

Hypnotist/Comedian Michael Johns takes the stage first with an adult stand-up comedy routine/hypnosis explanation that will prepare you for the racy performance to follow.  The native Midwesterner and Army veteran is a fast-talking, rapid-fire joke machine.   F-bombs and crude language pepper his monologue, where the letters P and C have nothing to do with politically correct and everything to do with the names of sex organs.  It’s a 21+ show, after all, just the sort of wicked escapism that tourists come here to experience.  

The blonde “barrage” (my word for him) appears in a blingy T-shirt, denim jeans and black jacket ensemble that screamed, “I’m cool, don’t F*@% with me!”  Rest assured he’ll make no such promise to you.  Johns combines the pitbull-style comedy of Bobby Slayton and the wiseguy cynicism of Bill Maher to come up with an original persona that you’d do well not to piss off.  He’ll call you on it, then get you to rub your breasts as if it’s a spectator sport.

But first he needs volunteers.  Upon his urgent announcement, the stage is flooded by participants. Women in short skirts are covered from the waist down in a black sheet to prevent what would be called “an improper view” in polite circles.  Johns simply calls it “beaver shots.”  Eyeglasses are taken for safekeeping.  Chewing gum is removed from mouths. Perfect strangers sit next to each other in a long line of chairs on stage (11-15) like expectant school children, all willing participants in the spectacle.

Starting off innocently enough, Johns leads the group through very hot, then very cold temperature changes, necessitating contortions that get them very familiar with their neighbors in a hurry.  Women’s heads somehow end up on men’s laps and vice versa – emphasis on the “vice.”

Terry Stokes and Michael Johns

Johns takes his willing victims through pot-smoking, porn-watching, sex-toy naming, orgasmic fun.  Body parts are thought to expand and shrink, finally settling upon members of the opposite gender who look down in confusion before being instructed to relax once more.

With the participants nicely heated up, cooled down and seemingly in a sleep state, Johns turns the stage over to partner Terry Stokes, a Southern gentleman (Atlanta roots) who lapses into an Andy Griffith-like drawl every now and then, but don’t be fooled.  The degreed hypnotherapist and Associate Director of the Atlanta Hypnosis Institute can convince a macho volunteer that his name is Dickhead, and then make him announce it to the crowd.  You never know what his next suggestion might be, but you are pretty sure is won’t involve curtseys and teacups.

If Johns was racy, Stokes is downright diabolical.  A man is told his name is Cindy and promptly phones his grandmother to give her the news.  A woman feels the need to announce that her fiancé is not well-endowed – and she does not use polite words to yell it out.  Someone else announces that she’s horny and tries to hump a chair – and she does not use polite words to yell it out.

A man wears a large latex hat on his head that looks suspiciously like a condom.  Another thinks he’s Barack Obama whenever he hears applause.  Several have orgasms when they hear someone sneeze.  Someone sneezes because he hears the word “pepper.”  “Pepper” is said often because it’s the only word in one person’s vocabulary.  Thus, the suggestions keep coming in a domino effect, with hilarious results.

A bald head becomes the world’s most beautiful breast and a member of the group is its most ardent admirer.  Someone sings opera in a language they don’t know.  It doesn’t matter that they can’t sing as well.  Hypnosis demonstrates the power of the mind.  These folks think they can, so they do.  We just get to laugh at them doing it, and that’s the wicked fun.

Terry Stokes and Michael Johns

Audience reactions range from groans to screams of hilarity.  Parts of the show are quiet enough to hear a pin drop, while others are so noisy that the extended laughter rivals incoming jets at McCarran International Airport.  Hypnosis, it seems, is all about the extremes and Stokes delivers a singing/talking vagina with the best of them (we can’t hear it like the victim seems to).

The Johns/Stokes duo has been a team since 2004, and has reigned at the Harmon Theater since 2007.  Their partnership allows Hypnosis Unleashed to run seven nights a week on the Las Vegas Strip.  They’ve previously played the Tuscany Suites and Casino, The House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, The Stardust Hotel and Casino and the Empire Ballroom.  

Remember when you were told to mind your manners?  These two never got the memo.  Let them get their hands on your mind and manners disappear but you’ll be having so much fun, you won’t notice until you’re walking through a hotel screaming, “Sgt. Erection is ready for inspection!”

Anton Mesmer would have been so proud.   

For further information:
Hypnosis Unleashed
Harmon Theater
3663 S. Las Vegas Blvd.  #600
Las Vegas, Nevada 89119
(702) 836-0836
Runs seven nights a week at 9:00 p.m.
General admission: $39.95 plus tax
VIP: $49.95 plus tax