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With Suzy Haner, you're entranced by a ‘snap'

March 06, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

With a "snap!" of Suzy Haner's fingers, a row of her "stars" slump in aluminum chairs.

Eyelids fall heavy. Heads loll. Shoulders melt.

Haner turns to face a standing room only audience at the California Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta.

She's made the turn a thousand times, snapped her fingers three times as many, but every time, at the fair or corporate event where she is performing, the reaction is the same — there's at least one slack-jawed person in the audience who wonders, "How'd she do that?"

Haner sat down after Tuesday's 5:30 show, dined on some fare from a next door concessionaire and explained.

Mind you, she didn't give away the farm, but she did discuss how hypnotism works, how she makes her shows fun for audiences and how hypnotism can help people cope with daily stress.

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Imperial Valley Press: Why do you tell people, "I can't make anyone do what they don't want to do" and "I cannot hypnotize any one who doesn't want to be hypnotized"?

Suzy Haner: All hypnosis is self-hypnosis. I'm just a coach. Some people think that it's mind control, but it's not. I'll give you an example. (She takes a stranger's hand in her own.) Relax. OK. (She lets go.) That's not relaxed. (Hand remains stiffly suspended in mid-air.) Just relax. (She tries again.) There. (Hand drops limply to side of chair.) See that. You have to do it yourself.

IVP: At one point in tonight's show, you dramatically tell a girl to sleep and it appears to the audience as if you have her totally under your spell.

SH: I just told her "I want you to sleep in slow motion" — that's what she did.

IVP: Do you sometimes find that hams will volunteer to be on stage just to cut up in front of a crowd?

SH: Yes, I do get those types, but I don't keep them in my show. The best people are shy subjects.

(She said a shy person's reaction to her suggestions on stage is always funnier than a huckster pretending to be hypnotized. Plus, Haner knows if a subject is faking).

SH: Their pulse is racing. Their eyes flutter. There's more … but that's what you have to learn in school.

(Haner graduated from the Hypnotism Training Institute of Los Angeles after a year of study. She is a licensed hypnotherapist. Last year, the Lakewood resident was on the road for more than 200 days, working corporate seminars, theme parks and fairs all over the country. This is her second year at the Mid-Winter Fair & Fiesta. In her downtime, she's working on a TV pilot and hanging with her rocker husband, Brian Haner, 5-year-old daughter and her stepson, Brian Jr.

Before she enrolled in hypnotism school she was the lead singer for Suzy and the Knockouts for 15 years. Her husband was the lead guitarist.)

IVP: You married a Knockout?

SH: Yeah! (smiles)

IVP: Did your experience on stage with the Knockouts help prepare you for working the hypnotism shows?

SH: Having a rapport with the audience makes doing the hypnotism shows easier but it's not as easy as singing. When I was singing I didn't have to have an audience. I was presenting something. With hypnotism, you don't know what they are going to do. I had this one guy stand up and start taking off his belt and I was like "Whoa."

IVP: All guys are looking for an opportunity to drop trou, huh?

SH: Yeah, I don't know why that is. You'll never see that with women. Sometimes I have them (guys) sit there and they'll be putting on makeup or talking to their girlfriend — another guy — or sometimes they'll call out to their girlfriend in the audience. "Hi Lupe." (laughs) One guy; I told him to "assume the position." (She meant raise his hand for a part in her act where hypnotized volunteers fall on each others' laps.) He got up like this; turned his back to the audience like he was going to get frisked! The thing is … they only do what they want to do.

At least one person a show … they sit there like a deer in the headlights. This might have been their first time on stage. They can't let go of the inhibitions.

I love it when an older guy will challenge me and say, "You can't hypnotize me." Bam! They're out.

IVP: With that power at your fingertips, why are you working two shows a night? Couldn't you hypnotize a bank teller and make off with enough cash to buy Aruba?

SH: If I could hypnotize anyone I wanted, I'd have 10 guys cleaning my bathroom, buck-naked.

IVP: How big is your bathroom?

SH: (laughs)

IVP: Here comes another stupid question. If you were a superhero would you be called Hypno-Girl …

SH: Hypno-chick!

IVP: … Hypno-Woman or Super Hypno-Girl?

SH: I can't be Hypno-chick?

IVP: No.

SH: (pouts)

IVP: Oh, all right. (Looks over long list of questions.) What celebrity would you really like to hypnotize?

SH: Can I make them do anything? Hmmm, I haven't really ever thought about that. OK. Bill Blair (fair manager). Get some lipstick on him. Oh, and someone from a Baskin-Robbins.

IVP: Did you know that Kevin Costner flew his personal hypnotist to Hawaii to cure his seasickness during the filming of "Waterworld"?

SH: No. I heard it was a terrible movie though. The other part … hypnotism can really be a big help. It allows you to let things go, not be stressed up. After Sept. 11, a lot of people were buying stress-reduction tapes because there was this fear of things that they couldn't control. Hypnotism allows you to not worry so much about the things you can't control. Like flying, for instance. A lot of people have a real fear of flying now.

IVP: If faced with a situation like Costner was faced with, though, wouldn't you have just taken some Dramamine instead of flying a personal hypnotist in?

SH: I would have done self-hypnosis. After listening to one of my tapes for 20-30 times anyone could do it. You just lay down and do it yourself. You have to let yourself be still. Just let yourself be alone for 10 minutes.

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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