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Setting the record straight on hypnosis

Hypnotist Gavin Hooper explains his performance ahead of WSS fundraiser show on Thursday, Feb. 22



Gavin Hooper wants to clear up some misconceptions about hypnosis.

First, you're completely in control. Second, for it to work, you just need an open mind. And third, you don't need to watch someone get humiliated to have some good, clean fun.

"It's magnified concentration," Hooper, a Kelowna-based hypnotist, says. "The more you focus on something, the deeper the state you go in. You do it all the time. At work, if you're working on a project you're interested in, time goes by quickly because you're so into it. Or you see kids — or adults — lost for hours playing video games. That's magnified concentration. Wherever your focus goes, that's where your energy goes."

It's in that state where you're open to suggestions — like becoming superman or catching an imaginary fish or turning into a rockstar. "I say this loosely, but (hypnosis) is like being drunk without the nasty side effects," he says. "Your inhibitions are gone, but I cannot make you do anything against your beliefs, or anything you don't want to do. All the other stuff you see is on TV."

Hooper first became interested in hypnosis over 25 years ago, after his sister finished training as a "master of hypnosis."

"She would run seminars and I would sit in on them," he says. "When I saw how quickly she created change in people I thought, 'that's amazing, I have to do it.'"

He wound up convincing her instructor — who had recently retired — to train him. "I had two years of training with one of the best in the world," he adds.

After performing at a few nightclubs, Hooper quickly learned that those crowds expected lewd, R-rated shows — which wasn't for him. "I avoid anything that might be humiliating," he says. "I look at it from a perspective of 'Would I want to be that person onstage?' It's fun, it's clean, it's reasonably fast-paced because I get bored going too slow."

Hooper will be returning to Whistler to perform as part of a fundraiser for Whistler Secondary School's graduating class on Thursday, Feb. 22. "It's a fundraiser — normally I say (I won't hypnotize) anyone under 16 — but I say 15. Younger than that and it's sometimes hard to keep their attention. I'm good at what I do, but I'm not Twitter or Snapchat," he says.

Aside from performing in Whistler on a few occasions, Hooper's work has taken him all over the globe — with performances on cruise ships and for various corporations, on top of fundraisers. He admits certain audiences are keener to volunteer to be onstage than others. "I've done shows for accountants, things like that, and it's a little tough," he says, with a laugh. "(But) it's a great time and everyone should experience hypnosis once in their life."

Gavin Hooper will perform at Whistler Secondary School. The show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 and available at eventbrite.com (search Whistler events at "Gavin Hooper").