Justin James has hypnotized a million people, more or less.
You could be next.
James of Ocean Shores will show his hypnotism and comedy chops at Saturday’s Lacey in Tune, where he’ll lead a group of volunteers through dancing, karaoke, barking like dogs and other goofiness.
This is the first time Lacey Parks & Recreation has chosen a non-musician to headline one of its Saturday summer events.
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“He’s just very entertaining,” said Jeannette Sieler, who got hypnotized herself when James entertained at a city event earlier this year. “I think people will get a kick out of either being in the show or watching the show.”
At his rock-fueled shows, which he describes as “wild and crazy and fast and fun,” James typically hypnotizes 30-40 volunteers. (That’s part of the reason he estimates he’s hypnotized close to a million people over the years.)
Not only does he get the volunteers to do goofy things, James gets his 6-year-old daughter Serrafina involved, too, referring to her as the world’s youngest hypnotist.
And he doesn’t just make people laugh. He’s also a licensed hypnotherapist, who’ll offer two group sessions Saturday for people who want to lose weight or stop smoking.
In between “bouncing around all over the country” doing shows, James talked with The Olympian about hypnosis, movies and more.
Q. Can you offer potential volunteers some reassurance?
A. No one is going to walk out of there embarrassed. We aren’t going to do anything inappropriate. I was hired by the City of Lacey to do an annual event for the city bigwigs, and people still like me.
Q. How did you become a hypnotist?
A. There’s a lot of reasons I ended up being a hypnotist. I’ve been in entertainment since I was a kid — anything from dance to doing all sorts of goofy stuff.
I always found hypnosis fascinating. I saw a guy at the fair hypnotize everybody when I was 8 years old, and I had to figure out how he did it. I looked behind the stage to see how he was doing it. Was he paying them off and could I get in on it? He wasn’t, which drove me nuts. I ended up studying it and reading about it. I’ve been messing around with it since I was a teenager.
Today, I get to do shows all over the country, and the other part of it is that I’ve been a registered hypnotherapist in the State of Washington since 1999. I teach and I’m the head of the safety board for the industry.
Q. Do you use the same techniques for hypnotherapy and for the stage?
A. Not necessarily. There are many different techniques that can be used to hypnotize people, and it really depends on the person involved and what you need to take care of your client. Not everything works for everybody.
It’s the difference between driving a racecar and threading a needle. They’re not the same thing, but at the same time, you’ve got to go a direction. … You’ve got to get from point A to point B. With a racecar you have a big, loud engine; you’re going 900 miles an hour. With a needle, you take your time and go very slowly and you’re very careful.
Q. Are some people more suggestible than others?
A. Everyone is hypnotizable. Some people take a different approach than others. I’m pretty well known for hypnotizing almost everyone every time. I rarely have anybody who just sits there and looks at me, but if I do a seminar and say “sit back and relax and close your eyes” and somebody stands up, stares at me and crosses their arms, that’s a problem. You have to be willing to follow directions.
That’s a hard concept to get across because we’re inundated by Hollywood: “Captain Underpants,” “The Incredibles 2,” “Get Out,” “CSI,” all of these movies and TV shows — never mind all the Dracula stories and the rest of it where you wave the magic wand or glance in their eyes and all of the sudden they’re your puppet, none of that’s real.
Q. Have you seen a movie or TV show that shows hypnosis reasonably accurately?
A. Absolutely not. But my favorite movie of all time has to be “Office Space,” because it’s a very cynical outlook on hypnosis and life. This guy and his girlfriend are going to a therapist who decides to try hypnosis on him. He goes through the induction and the hypnotist says, “You just won’t care about anything,” and then dies.
It’s a hilariously stupid movie.
What: James will hypnotize volunteers and lead them through goofy antics at Saturday’s Lacey in Tune. After the show, there’ll be a screening of the 2017 action fantasy “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” (PG-13).
When: 7 p.m. Saturday, July 21
Where: Huntamer Park, 618 Woodland Square Loop SE, Lacey
More information: 360-491-0857, ci.lacey.wa.us/laceyintune/
Watch: See James in action at the Kittitas County Fair at vimeo.com/232423709.
What: James will offer two group sessions, one for people who want to lose weight and another for those who want to stop smoking.
When: Lose Weight With Hypnosis 10-11:30 a.m. Saturday, July 21, and Stop Smoking With Hypnosis 12:30-2 p.m. Saturday, July 21
Where: Lacey Community Center, 6729 Pacific Ave. SE, Olympia
Cost: $49 per session if you register by 5 p.m. Friday, $59 at the door
More information: 360-491-0857