Last weekend, Kevin Lepine celebrated World Hypnosis Day (who knew?) by offering a free session to help people stick to their New Year’s resolutions.
So that’s once a year. The rest of the time?
“I use my powers for evil instead of good,” he jokes to his audience at “Hypnosis Unleashed.”
In this case it’s good that evil usually triumphs on the Strip. Especially in hypnosis shows, which depend on turning dudes into Britney Spears, or imagining the hypnotist to be naked and extremely well-endowed.
Lepine recently celebrated a year in the cozy showroom at Hooters Hotel, no small achievement at a place that’s faced its larger struggles and hasn’t been able to offer him much support.
The youthful, animated Lepine (rhymes with “pine” tree) even makes a joke of asking who in his audience ended up at Hooters because they asked their ticket broker, “What’s the cheapest (expletive) thing to do tonight?”
By the standards of such low expectations, Lepine is a solid investment. If you’ve never seen a hypnotist, he’s a solid introduction. If you have seen one of the more established and entertaining ones in Las Vegas — Anthony Cools or Marc Savard — it’s a little trickier.
The good news is Lepine doesn’t repeat any routines the other two do, while their shows are similar to one another in structure. The bad news is that he isn’t as funny as either of them, so the results are a little more variable.
The dirty little secret of Cools and Savard is their pacing and joke-per-minute count has ironed out most of the inconsistency, to the point where it doesn’t much matter how the hypnotized people perform.
Lepine is more what hypnotism used to be before those guys came on the scene: a craps shoot that depends more on the quality of the subjects who volunteer.
On this night, 11 people went up to the stage, and he ended up keeping seven. A couple of them kept “waking up” to the point of distraction when they wouldn’t play along with the suggestions, and only two ended up being the “performers” who saved the show.
One problem was that most of the subjects stayed glued to their seats. Literally, at one point, when Lepine told them they could not get up to grab the scattered napkins he had turned into $100 bills for them.
That lack of physical slapstick was compounded by him internalizing many of the routines. It must have been really interesting for the hypnotized people to imagine what he looked like without pants, but it’s not that fascinating for us to watch them.
Still, as you can imagine with someone who survives at Hooters, Lepine does a lot with a little.
When he found out his most deeply hypnotized and animated subject of the evening had been married 30 years, he called her husband up to the stage and sat him in a chair. Lepine had her first kiss him with all the memories of their most romantic moments together, then be intensely angry with him.
In both cases, you could read all 30 years on her face.
At the end of it though, all seven subjects were made to fly with angel’s wings, and told “You are beautiful. You’re perfect. You’re everything you ever wanted to be.”
Ah, so this Lepine guy isn’t as evil as he pretends. Maybe the good guys can win after all.
Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0288.