Luxe Life Blog
Anthony Cools to put Paris audiences under his spell through 2014
Amazing hypnotist Anthony Cools has just won a contract renewal that keeps him a headliner at the Paris through 2014. At every performance, audience volunteers “go under” and perform the most outrageous antics -- sometimes sexual -- at his command. Growing up in Calgary, Alberta, Anthony’s dream was always to be on the Strip, but first it meant traveling north of the border five times coast to coast and a four-year run at Grand Casino in Gulfport, Miss.
Anthony arrived here in 2003 and bounced between the old Stardust and the Excalibur before settling back at the Paris when Harrah’s (now Caesars Entertainment) took over and he was given a 250-seat theater. In addition to his own show, he produced several shows in town, including Bobby Slayton, Freaks and Mental and has plans for two in September. He’s also the mastermind behind the Strip mobile billboards and owns Hootie Pa Tootie graphics. Over three months starting in July, he’ll open a hair salon, bar and tattoo shop downtown.
“I love Vegas, the people and the opportunities this town has given me,” Anthony told me. But it’s the subconscious of his audience who shed all inhibitions during the 90-minute show, pushing the limits of mind and body, that fascinated me when I interviewed him.
Robin Leach: Do you ever sweat the fact that you might get people up onstage that you won’t be able to hypnotize?
Anthony Cools: It’s a little scary sometimes because you have a show that is based 100 percent on audience participation; there are different things that affect that. It’s still a numbers game, so if you get X amount of people in the room, you get X amount of volunteers, and thankfully we’re doing well on the numbers, so it hasn’t been an issue.
RL: How long does it take you to put them out? Or explain why they’re not really out, but they’ve lost all inhibition.
AC: In the show I’m doing at Paris, I do it in about 4 1/2 minutes, but when you’re up onstage, those 4 1/2 minutes feels more like 20 minutes. That is the minimum amount of time that I need to get the brain level, that part of right and wrong has to be at a deep enough state that it’s not going to interrupt my show.
RL: How do you answer back anybody who questions they must be plants?
AC: If you think of the logistics behind it, to get these people up onstage, to get them to swear to silence and what they would charge their friends and family to do the things they do. I mean, what would you charge me to strip in front of your friends and family? It’s ridiculous to even attempt to fake a show like that. To make it real is much more cost effective and much more fun. It’s also much more dangerous because you don’t know what you’re going to end up with.
RL: Do you like dicing with possible showbiz death every night?
AC: In all my interviews, in all the years that I’ve done this, nobody has ever described it as “dicing with death!” And, yes, I do like the thrill I get from it every night. I like that I get people coming back over and over again because they’re going to see something different.
RL: What is the definition of your hypnosis?
AC: Altered state of focus would be the best way I would describe it. I think people know exactly what they’re getting into. We market it so that people know by the time I hit the stage they’re not shocked about what’s going on.
RL: So it’s in those 4 1/2 minutes that you do “what” to them?
AC: It is an extended state of focus, that’s the best way to describe it. Most of the theatrics I use up onstage is exactly that, theatrics. I use ocean waves, I use blue light, I use cool music, but to be honest, none of that has to be there. You have to present it to the audience that they believe that something is going on. Hypnosis has been diluted by Hollywood; to be hypnotized, you’re in this zombie-like state. I can walk up to somebody and drop them in 15 seconds, but if I did that onstage, no matter how real it is, they won’t buy it.
RL: I was very reluctant to come see your show. There are a lot of people who feel the way I do, but you won me over once I got there. It’s great show business. How do you win over the people who are skeptics from the get go?
AC: I think there are certain people out there who no matter what will not buy it. They can’t prove it one way or another that it does or does not exist. So for those people, I won’t lose any sleep over. The people who are skeptical and then converted by the show, they start sending me emails wanting to know every detail about it. But now scientists are saying it is real, so hypnosis is now being used for therapy purposes.
RL: In addition to the show, you offer hypnosis for quitting smoking and other health benefits, right?
AC: I came up with these CDs that you can take home, and they hypnotize you, they’ll do the therapy with you. The CDs will help quit smoking, weight loss, superior memory, better golf, better sex, motivation, positive self-image and how to contain control.
RL: Who are some of the famous people you’ve put under?
AC: As far as celebrities I’ve hypnotized, I’ve done Mel B several times to help her with her dance moves and stuff for when she was in Peepshow. The second time was to help her with some anxiety. She is a good friend. I don’t charge for it, I never would charge for it for my friends. I was able to get John Cleese’s daughter Camilla to quit smoking. Laura Croft from Holly’s World acted as part of the show one night as a stage producer.
RL: Have you ever had to bring someone out of hypnosis because they were going too far over the line?
AC: No, most of my show, if you could watch it without the sound where your imagination can’t work, would be kind of boring. It’s when the sound is up and your imagination is up that the show is really quite dirty. For example making out with a chair -- they think they are auditioning for porn, a lot of people think that’s dirty, but it’s not, they have their clothes on. If you were to go watch any dance floor in Las Vegas, a lot dirtier things happen there than my show. It’s the imagination that makes the show dirty.
RL: Why do you think people behave this way when under hypnosis?
AC: Well the part of the brain where right and wrong occurs is asleep, so there is nothing to stop you from acting that way. It’s not like you want to act that way, but if I ask you to do something, there is no reason for you to say no.
When I went to see the show, I was in hysterics and laughing out loud at the vocal responses of the subjects while they were “out.” I could detail some of the other shocking tricks, but let’s just say that in the intimate performance space, you are very much into the wicked and very fun experience.
Anthony tossed away my skepticism and disbeliefs, and my only word of advice is don’t shake his hand once you’ve gone under. I took a lady friend with me who also was skeptical. She volunteered to prove that she couldn’t be hypnotized but went straight out. She couldn’t believe she did what she did afterwards, and she had the DVD of the show to prove it!
Anthony performs at 9 p.m. five days a week (dark Mondays and Wednesdays) at the Paris. He’ll have you under his spell, too.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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