Friday, April 11, 2014 by Danielle Morrone
On the first of April, comic hypnotist Michael Ray stood before an auditorium of students and staff of Saratoga Springs High School and hypnotized several novices. Primarily seniors chosen randomly in a raffle, a couple of were other pupils that fell under his influence from their seats in the crowd. These students, during the two hours of the show, impersonated a variety of things, from dancing hamsters to small children. One of these students was Meghan Hampton, a senior. Co-starring with another student at the end of the show as the roadrunner, Meghan Hampton divulged how the other side of the stage felt.
Hampton said she had a great time, despite the headache she suffered afterward. Hypnotism, she said, kept her from doing anything she wasn’t told to do. She was aware that she was being hypnotized, but doesn’t remember much. The commands given to her by Ray expressed themselves as an impulse; one she just had to obey. Hampton deemed the show fantastic every year, and truly amusing, from either the perspective of the audience or the subject of hypnotism.
“It will probably never happen again and it’s a pretty cool thing to say I have tried,” she added.
Ray had been practicing magic tricks since age nine, and had always loved the art of performing, with a desire to work the big stage.
“Everyone has their trouble in the world; when I’m on stage…nothing else matters,” he said. In college he himself had been hypnotized, and realized that he had finally come across a show skill that he could use without spending a fortune on equipment and assistants. So, using the books he found in his college library, he mastered the art of hypnotism.
It was sixteen years ago that he first arrived in Saratoga Springs. He sent out postcards to different schools, looking for somewhere to perform; however the first two years he performed in a lecture hall, the second year finding that his audience was packed. The third year he met Michael Miller, a teacher at Saratoga Springs High School, and so began his annual rendezvous in the Loewenberg Auditorium.
From day one, Ray said, he loved Saratoga Springs High School, feeling a strong connection with his audience and those he hypnotized. He loved the strong reaction he continually got from those who watched his performance, though there was no drastic change to his show each year. With a basic outline that he uses each year, if he were to compile all of his skills into one show, it would be three hours long. At least that is if he were to move quickly. Allotting for time for the audience to truly enjoy and react to each segment, the show would take longer. Even if he had the exact same audience and the exact same subjects to hypnotize, Ray said, there would be some parts—the minute details of his performance and the reactions—which would change.
“Anything that can be thought of can be done,” Ray said.
However, his skills don’t end with hypnotism. Ray and his wife work together in a profession he refers to as dog psychology, or even dog whisperer. They go into homes and help a dog and its human to work on their communication, helping to improve many four-legged friends’ lives. The problem may not be the dog, according to Mr. Ray, but the dog’s communication with its owner. The couple teach the human(s) how to communicate effectively with their furry friend and how to be the “pack leader.”
When Ray performs, he not only can be himself on the stage, but can help out the school. The performance is, after all, a fundraiser for senior class activities. When he helps a dog and its human to communicate better, he aids these couples, improving their lives. Finding it tough to choose a favorite occupation, he said he finds each equally enjoyable in his life.
Ray said to those who came to see him on April Fools Day, “I love you, I thank you, and I hope to see you again.”
Danielle Morrone is a sophomore Lightning Rod staff reporter.