HARRINGTON — It didn’t take long for Skip Isaac, 62, to fall under the spell of hypnotist Catherine Hickland during a Friday night performance at the Delaware State Fair. In fact, he seemed to be completely infatuated with her.
“I think we were made for each other,” he could be heard saying on stage as the song “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love Baby,” by Barry White, played in the background.
It’s no spell though, according to Ms. Hickland, whose recorded introduction prior to the show calls her performance a “mind-altering phenomenon.”
“It’s not magic. It’s not voodoo. It’s not witchcraft. It’s a natural dream state,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s something bad, but it’s not.”
Eugene Moore, 72, was one participant who held such a belief. Although he volunteered to be hypnotized, he was asked to leave the stage before the show was over because his mind wasn’t open enough for the evening, according to Ms. Hickland.
“I’m a reverend,” Mr. Moore reasoned. “It’s a lot of bull. You can’t put someone to sleep; it’s a gimmick they’re pulling.”
Others in the crowd, like Mr. Isaac, went from skeptics to believers with each finger snap of the hypnotist.
The audience howled with laughter as they watched volunteers “go to the movies” with Ms. Hickland.
First, an unseen comedy followed by a sad story of a lost dog who was soon returned to its family. Hypnotized volunteers even screamed and clung to their neighbors during a scary scene.
She released her now “revived, refreshed, awake and alive” volunteers from their hypnotized stupor as the show came to a close, but not before giving them one last set of instructions.
“I want you to know that you were born for great things whatever that means for you. We should never ever let anyone define what we are for us,” Ms. Hickland told the group, adding that everyone present is unique and blessed.
Those words, she said, are important as not everyone has heard them before and she hopes audience members can see it as a chance to change something in their own lives.
“That’s the whole point of life is to have fun,” she said. “You can’t do that if someone is holding you back.”
To Ms. Hickland, individually understanding how the mind, spirit and God works is paramount to living a happy, successful life.
She first watched a hypnotist perform while she was young and turning to the craft herself just seemed like just the right change for the Las Vegas resident after retiring from her 35-year acting career.
The former “One Life To Live,” “Knight Rider” and Broadway actress is also now a co-author of a new 600-page Christian daily devotional book, which she promoted during the show.
Audience members commented how she seemed to enjoy the stage, and she agreed.
“I really love it. The people make me love the fair. They make it a great experience for me. I always say these fairs are the last slice of Americana,” Ms. Hickland said.
She expects to hypnotize around 600 participants during the 10-day Delaware State Fair while offering up two shows a night in the Free Entertainment Tent.
She also plans to visit with nearby family residing in Milford, including her 102-year-old aunt, when she’s not transforming attendees into emphatic lifeguards.
Many of the volunteers during Friday’s early Catherine Hickland Comedy Hypnosis show didn’t remember much of what happened, but were pleased with their experience including Mr. Isaac and his wife, who enjoyed watching her husband flirt under hypnosis with the stranger on stage.
“He was skeptical at first. He didn’t think he would fall under because he has such a strong mind,” Karen Isaac said.
But he did, and remembers enjoying a dance or two.
“I was good,” he said. “I was always good at dancing.”