by Abi Hernandez
As the volunteers sit quietly in their chairs in a trance on the stage, Tom De Luca tells them their orders to do after he snaps his fingers as the audience watches.
He snaps his fingers and the stage comes to life as the volunteers do as they were told mindlessly. The audience claps and cheers.
De Luca took a three-hour plane ride to perform on Sept. 16 in the P.E. Complex on the Levelland campus of South Plains College.
De Luca has performed in various places for all kinds of people. He was born in Illinois and now lives in Orlando, Florida. De Luca then attended the University of Illinois, where he first began to explore “the Hypno-business.”
“I learned how to deal with difficult situations,” said De Luca. “I also learned it is harder to get an adult volunteer.”
De Luca’s psychology professor is the one who first introduced him to hypnosis. De Luca then hypnotized a guy and found he had a gift. One of his first shows was at a hotel.
“The crowd was tough and called me fake,” he recalled.
His next gig was at a night club every Wednesday, once a week, and sometimes once a month. He has traveled to 13 different states to do a countless number of shows.
De Luca said he has performed in North Carolina, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Virginia, Georgia, Texas, Alaska, and Kansas. He said he usually does any show where they want him. A lot of colleges call him to ask if he will perform for back-to-school events. So on average, he goes to 13 states a year. When he traveled to Alpine, Texas, he said it was the longest drive “because you feel like your driving forever.”
The most interesting event De Luca performed was at the University of Tennessee during the half-time of a basketball game in front of 22,000 people. He picked out 12 volunteers from the crowd in the stands and hypnotized them. After the show, they hung out with him.
“ It was extremely intense and very scary to perform in front of all those people,” said De Luca.
During his many adventures, De Luca performed for the former president’s daughter and family members. He also did a show at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, and he did show for a lot of CEO’s at their own homes. He also has performed in Anchorage, Alaska and Fairbanks, Alaska, where they have only three hours of daylight each day.
Throughout his career, De Luca has learned that he has to keep adjusting all of his performances to fit the different audiences. He has also observed that as the years have passed, the attention span of people has decreased tremendously and is still decreasing. In saying that, he tries to keep the pace of his performances steady and interactive so the audiences won’t get bored.
“ People are more easily offended nowadays, so I have to watch what I say sometimes,” said De Luca.
The more he performs shows, the more De Luca says he learns about human nature and behavior. The older the audience members are, the less likely they would volunteer to participate in any of the shows.
“It’s been rough, but it has been worth it,” De Luca said. “I have met some pretty interesting people.”