By Ms Jennifer M Caprioli (Drum)December 21, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- Eleven brave volunteers took the stage of the Multipurpose Auditorium on Friday with the intention of opening their minds and releasing any inhibition they might have about being susceptible to a hypnotic trance.
Michael Blaine, a stage hypnotist, performed two shows for Fort Drum Soldiers and Families on Friday -- one show was geared toward Families and the other was intended for an adult audience.
Blaine recently reached out to USO Fort Drum, asking if he could perform for Soldiers and their Families to help spread some special holiday cheer. He said he wanted to take Families away from the hustle and bustle of everyday Army life for one night so they could enjoy his show.
During the earlier show, Blaine tapped into the inner child of his subjects, giving a performance that could make even the skeptics believe the power of persuasion.
After doing some audience hypnosis, Blaine called for volunteers to take the stage.
While in their altered state of consciousness, Blaine told his subjects they were watching "the funniest movie ever."
After a giggle session from the participants, Blaine told them they were watching a show that featured Barney, the purple dinosaur. He told them the show was almost over, except for the final song. As he played the music to the "I love you" Barney song, every single participant on stage -- young and old -- joined in.
During the evening performance, Blaine noted that the entertainment level of the show depends on the quality of the volunteer.
"If a person doesn't have focus, it's difficult to hypnotize them," Blaine said.
"I really didn't think I could be hypnotized," admitted Angie Robinson, wife of Sgt. Torrance Robinson, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. She said she just kept an open mind during the performance.
"I could hear what was going on and wanted to laugh, but I couldn't react," she noted.
At one point when Blaine's subjects' eyelids were shut, he gave the direction to open them. Try as they might, they could not open their eyes.
Robinson said she tried very hard to open her eyes, but she could not lift her lids.
During another portion of the show, Blaine instructed his subjects to get up and dance. Although their eyes were open as they boogied onstage, Robinson said she did not remember getting up from her chair and dancing.
At the end of the show, before sending his subjects offstage, Blaine provided each of them with a word or phrase such as "Fort Drum USO," "hypnosis" or "Michael Blaine," instructing them that when they heard their word, they would do something wacky.
When one participant heard his appointed word, he rose from his chair, ran around the audience and onstage, believing he was the famous boxer, Rocky Balboa.
Another participant, upon hearing his word, yelled to the audience "I'm wearing women's underwear," to which the audience roared with laughter.
A different subject was instructed to believe he was an NFL quarterback when he heard his word, and he ran around the stage with a football cradled in his arm.
Each time, when Blaine would snap his fingers, removing his subjects from the trance, they would look around, disoriented and unable to explain what they were doing.
At the end of each performance, audience members -- young and old -- laughed at the antics of the participants.
Sarah Freeburg, wife of Capt. Matthew Freeburg, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, decided to bring her Family to the show because she has seen a hypnotist before and she wanted her children to see a show.
"I think it's great that the USO offers these events for Families," Freeburg said, noting her Family tries to attend the events when possible.
"They bring a variety of events to Fort Drum," she added.
This is the first time Blaine has partnered with the USO, and he hopes to partner with them in the future.
When he's not hypnotizing subjects at fairs and festivals across the country, Blaine, a native of Plattsburgh, works as a New York state corrections lieutenant.
For more information about Blaine, visit www.michaelblaine.com.