“I’m an ethical hypnotist,” says Gavin Hooper by telephone from his Vancouver home.  That’s too bad, because the Whitehorse audience at the Yukon Convention Centre April 9 would love to see their bosses on stage, clucking like chickens.  But it will be fun, says Hooper of his stage show. “You might see Superman or a starlet, but people will definitely keep their clothes on.”

And, since he is an ethical hypnotist, he won’t be asking anyone to rob a bank for

him. Of course that might have more to do with him being a pragmatic hypnotist: “I can’t make people stop smoking unless they want to, it’s freedom of choice.  “As well, if you don’t want to be hypnotized, don’t come up on stage.” But, those who do, will “let go of daily tensions and do what we, as people, are meant to do … play.”

So, what is hypnosis?

Hooper pauses and starts to speak a couple of times before trying, “It’s magnified concentration …” He stops and then tries gain: “If I can get … the more someone concentrates or focuses on something … hypnosis is a single focus …”  Then he tries an example:  “It’s like you are watching a good movie and your spouse comes into the room and you can’t hear them talk.  One of the deepest forms of hypnosis is sex; they aren’t thinking about the phone bill.

It comes back to the strength of the mind to focus. In fact, it is a fallacy that only the weak-minded can be hypnotized.  When people come on stage and are lead through funny skits,

it is not because they are being forced … it is because they genuinely want to have fun. “Hypnosis is a mood, a state of mind, like being happy or sad, except when you’re in hypnosis you tap into the subconscious and become highly suggestible,” says Hooper.

Hypnosis is a skill that can be learned. Hooper says he has been a clinical hypnotist for 13 years and has added a stage performance eight years ago.  “How effective you are depends on your stage presence and, in a clinical setting, the rapport with the client.”

Hooper is at that point, now, where he can hypnotize up to 100 people at a time. There will be those who really don’t want to be hypnotized and they will take their seats again and then a couple of skips will draw out the “light sleepers” and he is left with those who will perform with him. “Then the fun stuff,” he says. After he visits Whitehorse, Hooper will attend a string of “Dry Grads” where he will teach a message on drugs, drinking and driving.

“You don’t scare the kids because that doesn’t work. I teach them the power of youth and that is a powerful tool.” He has also worked with teams to help them win more.  He builds up their self esteem and confidence and they go on to win more games than they had before. But, if  the skill isn’t there, hypnosis won’t guarantee success.  Hooper’s performance is preceded by dinner at 6:30 p.m. on April 9. Information is available at www.yukonshows.com.