szeles interview

Beta, alpha, theta, delta are not just something to set your alarm by, but varying states of consciousness which bridge the unconscious mind.  James Szeles knows all about these altered states. He is a stage hypnotist; in the business for over 36 years.

“I started when I was 5,” he laughed. Originally from Detroit, Szeles’ first off-the-beaten-path interest was magic.

“My cousin was into magic (his cousin is the magician/comic The Amazing Johnathan) and he and a friend came over with a vanishing cane. I thought that was the coolest thing I ever saw in my life.”

In 1974, Szeles headed to Los Angeles and a job at a second floor magic shop on Hollywood Boulevard. He worked for Ralph Lane, an old vaudevillian magician whose shop was next store to the vampire museum.

“He had a picture of Harry Houdini on the wall and it was signed: “Ralph, I told you I’d come back! Harry.”

Szeles said he was interested in magic because he thought it was real. But he learned that performance magic is all sleight of hand. For Szeles, the real magic is the magic of the mind. Szeles, who some might remember as the “Rainmaker” at Pier 39 in its early days, decided in the late ’70s that he would branch into stand-up comedy. But back then he just wasn’t comfortable with it. Serendipitously, a friend gave Szeles an audio course on self-hypnosis and Szeles also happened to catch “The Hip” hypnotist Pat Collins on television. He thought, “Wow! I can do that.”

James picked up a book on hypnosis, studied it and then hypnotized his best friend. “I told him, when I wake you up, you will take your shoe off and walk outside,” said Szeles. “And so he did!”

After graduating from The Clement School of Hypnotherapy in San Francisco, Szeles began his career. And with his stage hypnotist career, came a natural affinity for comedy. From corporations, to colleges, high schools and comedy clubs and even to a City of Pacifica employee dinner, Szeles dazzles his clients into a state of relaxation.

“I walk into a group of victims, err, people, and give them a speech on hypnosis and how it works. Then I ask for 20 volunteers to come onstage and I do a group induction to see, who goes under and who doesn’t.  I’ll take the best out of the twenty and have them do funny little things like act like first graders and I’m their teacher.” It’s all harmless and done so as not to embarrass or humiliate anybody.

A visit to Szeles website reveals spectacular short clips of entertaining feats. In one short, Szeles convinces a female audience member that he is Brad Pitt and asks her to marry him. She says, “Yes!” and then runs to show the audience her stunning, and invisible, 5-carat diamond engagement ring. In another clip, Szeles gets a male member of the audience to call his mother and let her know that he has changed his name to “Jenny” because it’s a very pretty name and he just loves it.

Szeles explained that all hypnosis is essentially self-hypnosis. “Anybody who can hold a thought and use their imagination can be hypnotized,” said Szeles.

Source: Pacifica Tribune, Circa 2009

szeles close up

Performing stage hypnosis now for over thirty-eight years, SZELES has entertained a wide variety of clients from colleges, the USO, state fairs, comedy clubs, Las Vegas Casinos to corporate and private parties and other venues. He holds the distinct honor of being the first person to perform a live show at San Jose’s Winchester Mystery House on what other date but Friday the Thirteenth!  He recently returned from the United Kingdom where he performed several shows for a quaint local pub located in Nottingham, England, reputed to be the oldest pub in the county – known as “The Trip To Jerusalem” founded in 1189AD.  When he is not performing, SZELES sets aside several blocks of time throughout the year to teach others how to be stage successful hypnotists.

As it is with magicians, not all stage hypnosis shows are alike. There is the caliber of magician who performs for kids at birthday parties and then there are the ‘David Copperfields’ of magic whose talent and expertise give a memorable performance. How do you know from a web page that what you see is actually what you’ll get? Anyone can make claims and a little creative writing can make anyone sound great, but in reality they could have as little as three days of training and yours could be their very first performance! So how do you know you are getting a seasoned professional to perform for your event? Book SZELES, a seasoned professional, and take the guess-work out of the equation. Booking SZELES’ comedy stage performance will make you shine in the eyes of your peers, for there is nothing funnier than a tastefully executed comedy stage hypnosis show, while your co-workers will be thrilled and delighted you’ll receive the accolade of having the forethought to have booked such a unique and memorable entertainment that is guaranteed to be the topic of conversation for months after!

Can anyone be Hypnotized?

Yes! Anyone can be hypnotized!

Contrary to popular belief, the best hypnotic subjects possess vivid imaginations and creative minds

Will I remember being Hypnotized?

Upon awakening you will remember all of the suggestions given to you, unless you choose not to remember them

What does it feel like to be 'under'?

Profoundly relaxed and content. Upon awakening you’ll feel refreshed & energized, as though you have had a great night’s sleep

I don't want to cluck like a chicken!

Relax, your sub-conscious mind will not allow you to do or say anything that you feel is against your morals or ethics