Friends left stunned after hypnotist’s strange death


Scott Lewis’ book wasn’t called “How to Get Rich in Las Vegas Show Business.” It was called “The Hypnosis Treatment Option.”

Yes, people hope to make money from books. And if you came to his Monday night hypnotism show at the Riviera, Lewis would be happy to sell you his self-hypnosis CDs or book “The Stress Vanisher.”

But everyone who knew Lewis knew how nice he was, and how performing came not altogether naturally to the chiropractor who discovered clinical hypnosis.

At this writing, investigators in Australia hadn’t reached any conclusions about why or how Lewis fell to his death from the 11th-floor balcony of an apartment building in Sydney.

They were looking into suicide or “misadventure.” Friends have extreme doubts about either scenario.

“We can’t even imagine he was out on the balcony, much less leaning over it. It’s such a mystery and it’s just so sad,” says Kellie Karl, a Las Vegas-based hypnotist who learned her act as Lewis’ assistant.

They do know “Dr. Scott,” as he was often called, would fall asleep at the oddest moments.

“Scott would be talking and he would just fall asleep in the middle of talking,” Karl remembers. “Or nod off standing there. He did have that, where he would be so tired he would just fall asleep.”

“The best way I could wrap my brain around it is to say that maybe he was really tired, he went out on the balcony, was leaning on the balcony thinking about the show he was going to do and he could have fallen asleep.”

But, she is quick to add, “this is all just me trying to wrap my brain around it and think, what could have happened?”

A close friend, comedy-magician Mark Kornhauser, says Lewis was “very stressed out” about his 20-minute role in “The Illusionists,” the packaged magic revue he was in Australia to perform. Speaking before any official conclusions, Kornhauser says it may turn out Lewis was disoriented by an anti-anxiety drug. “But he was not a prescription drug guy at all.”

In lieu of answers, friends remember Lewis as the guy who overcame his own shyness to launch a show in 2002. He kept it going until 2011, even as the Riviera ran out of momentum.

“That was a huge barrier for him to overcome because he was such a shy person,” Kornhauser says of Lewis doing “a lot of little side things on the fringe of show business before he forced himself to get up onstage.”

“He became, as time went on, a very fine performer,” Kornhauser adds.

I reviewed his show early on, but would see Lewis more at other shows or show-related gatherings. His death won’t alter the way I think of him: A guy who made his show business dream into reality, but whose book is less about him than the case studies of people he helped offstage.

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at mweatherford@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288.