COLUMBIA — Visitors to the Boone County Fair took a trip to Hawaii on Wednesday, and became surfers, hula dancers and rock stars.
Well they thought they did, anyway.
They were under the spell of Ray Thompson, hypnotist and magician, who placed nine teenagers under hypnosis as part of his magic act, set to repeat at 5:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Thompson stepped in for Linda Dietz, hypnotist at the fair last year. He said his show is different because he adds magic to the mentalism. He said every performance was unique because there is no way to predict how participants will act.
"The show is about the members of the audience, not me," Thompson said. "My job is to make them look good."
On Wednesday night, Thompson asked each participant to relax, take deep breaths and to focus on his voice.
"You will not be asleep," Thompson told the participants. "You will not be unconscious but using your subconscious."
As participants sat with eyes closed and their arms to their sides, Thompson counted down from 10.
"You will go into a deep sleep," he said.
Once the participants started drooping their heads, the real show began.
Fairgoer Joe Walls was asked by Thompson to stand up and forget his name as he was introduced to Miss Hawaii. Walls stuttered to say hello.
Chelsea Diehls sang Beyonce's song "Single Ladies." Carly Lancaster could not pull up her "superglued" sandal from the ground.
Concentration and a strong creative imagination are needed for hypnosis to work, Thompson said.
"All (the participants) have to do is pay attention and focus on what I am saying," he said. "You are going to be foolish, but not a fool."
Each participant's perception of reality is temporarily altered for those under a hypnotic state, said Thompson. He said the only power he has over the participant is the power of knowledge to put them into a hypnotic state.
The participant always knows what's going on, Thompson said, and will remember it afterward.
"The power is in the person," he said. "It is not about mind control. You are more in control and focused."
Joey Smith, who said he didn't believe in hypnosis before the show, knew what he was doing, but felt he didn't have control. Thompson made him surf.
"It was weird," Smith said. "I was tingling."
Carly Lancaster said she felt like she was going down a tunnel whenever Thompson would tell them to go into a deeper sleep.
A participant can refuse to do something if they choose. Thompson said he had one woman refuse to play music with Elvis.
"She hated Elvis," he said. "Enough to not want to be in his band."
Lancaster refused to be pulled back by Thompson's invisible rope, mime-style, when she was in a hypnotic state. Thompson reminded the participants that he could not make them do anything.
A hypnotic trance is is not uncommon. Thompson said he calls a common trance "highway hypnosis."
"Everybody who's ever driven down a road and forgot where they were going or missed a turn was in a hypnotic trance," said Thompson. "They do accidentally what I am trained to do on purpose."
In addition to Thompson's shows on Saturday, Sydney Storm and Jess Rios, graduates of Midwest School of Hypnosis in Des Moines, Iowa, will also perform 5:30 and 8 p.m. shows this week. Storm will perform Thursday, and Rios on Friday.