WCU students under the spell of ChrisJones

Hypnotist chrisjones (center, in white) poses with event organizers from WCU's Last Minute Productions. His stop in Cullowhee is part of a year-long college tour.

Hypnotist chrisjones (center, in white) poses with event organizers from WCU’s Last Minute Productions. His stop in Cullowhee is part of a year-long college tour.

Some minds were taken over; many more were simply blown.

Nationally-recognized hypnotist chrisjones (not a typo) brought his other-worldly abilities to Western Carolina University’s University Center on Oct.12.

Facing an enthusiastic, yet noticeably skeptical audience, he eased into the show, explaining first that hypnotism isn’t exactly what Hollywood makes it out to be.

“All I’m doing tonight is making suggestions to your mind so that it can hypnotize itself,” the former America’s Got Talent phenomenon declared. “Your mind will choose to follow those suggestions. Just completely take out the word ‘hypnosis’ and replace it with ‘suggestion’.”

Chicago native chrisjones has had a relationship with hypnosis for some time. Developing an interest for the art as an undergraduate, he spent seven years post-education living in college dorms mesmerizing unbiased audiences as he perfected his craft. Now Jones tours colleges and universities around the country, turning doubting audiences into believers.

WCU students witnessed the results of his hard work. Asking the audience to follow his instructions, Jones led shut-eyed participants through an extended mental exercise, pointing out repeatedly that the phrase “go to sleep” would render those with enough concentration and focus unresponsive to anything but his voice. Again and again he reiterated what results that phrase would bring, preparing the minds that would soon be powerless against his voice.

“And… go to sleep,” Jones finally commanded. On his cue, roughly ten heads across the U.C.’s Grand Room instantaneously slumped, some hanging straight down, some leaning on the person beside them. WCU student Kaylee Cuccia was one of the initial victims of Jones’ hypnotic talents.

“It’s like I could hear him (while asleep), but it was like he was talking to me through a long tunnel,” she said. “I didn’t have a choice but to obey him.”

See a video of Jones from America Got Talent 2015.

Friends of the entranced stared at their dozing counterparts, then at Jones, then back to the unresponsive minion that occupied where the person they came with originally sat.

“If anyone else wants to be hypnotized, please stand up,” Jones announced to a now-buzzing audience. Half the room stood. He chose ten and put them to sleep, too.

Over the next hour, a panel of glassy-eyed, often expressionless subjects obeyed Jones’ every instruction. They responded to his every whim, dancing to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” behind Jones’ lead, assuming alternate personalities, and of course, falling asleep on demand.

Stephanie Edwards, another spellbound Western student who sat down beside me per Jones’ instructions to sit beside a random audience member, apologized for her actions.

“Oh yeah, I remember sitting beside you,” Edwards said. “Sorry about sticking my wet finger in your ear.”

I won’t hold it against her. She was just following orders.

After the show, Jones seemed pleased with the outcome of the evening. Two of his female victims remained in front of the stage, adoringly watching his every move. He had hypnotized them, as well as the others, to think that he was the hip-hop artist Drake; admittedly, Jones does bear a striking resemblance.

“How is it possible?”, I asked him. Hypnosis is such a unique experience: is it an innate ability to manipulate minds? Is it a dark art? Or does the power lie within the mind of the hypnotized rather than the hypnotist? His vague answer came with a toothy grin.

“Hypnotizing is something I’ve worked on for a very long time,” Jones said. “I’ve just poured my heart and soul into it.”

Jones’ schedule is booked until March 2017 as he continues taking his uncanny skills from state to state, college to college.