Steven Spellmaster has been enthralling audiences world-wide with his hypnotic skills for years. He’s back, larger than life, to perform at various venues throughout the Port Macquarie-Hastings in December and January …
How did you first become interested in hypnosis?
My aunty was hypnotised by a clinical hypnotherapist when I was a teenager. When she told me she was going to a hypnotist to give up smoking, I felt like most people … how could a hypnotist talk to you, and tell you to give up smoking, and you come back and not smoke?
I thought she was a lunatic! She was wasting her money and being ripped off. She went to this hypnotist, and six months later she still hadn’t had a cigarette.
She went to the same hypnotist again for weight reduction. Six months later, she reached her goal weight! Straight away, I thought, “Maybe hypnosis is real!” So I booked a session with this clinical hypnotherapist for various reasons and couldn’t believe the results.
I was hooked on hypnosis straight away. I started studying hypnosis – every book I could find I was reading; every bit of information I could find, I was reading as well. And then I found a course – I did a Diploma in Clinical Hypnotherapy, a Diploma in Counselling, a Diploma in Regression and started the show.
So basically, I got hooked on hypnosis when I realised that everything my aunty went for, seemed to work.
Your career has been so diverse, with live stage shows, TV performances, commercials … how did this all unfold?
When I was younger, I used to teach aerobics in my teenage years. I was compering different shows at nightclubs in the Newcastle area, so I always had a passion for stage and entertainment.
From there, I started getting television commercials on local television stations, and then went into karaoke sing-along shows, hypnotist shows. When I started doing the hypnotist show, I started getting television work like The Footy Show and Midday with Kerri-Anne.
I suppose from that publicity and from touring so often, all the regional markets, I seemed to get myself on television commercials. I’ve had commercials when I was presenting in Dubbo – like Dubbo RSL, Kayes Electrical. Then it started up in Tamworth, Victoria – in Gippsland – in Wagga, for Flex it Gym. I think once my head was seen on TV, I started picking up commercials wherever I went!
You’ve been very fortunate – kind of like being in the right place at the right time!
(Laughs.) Yes – it’s good value!
What are some of the most interesting places you’ve visited while touring?
We’ve toured everywhere. Probably the most interesting was New Guinea. At that time, no one even knew what a hypnotist was. We turned up in this local hotel, which had a massive room – and 400 locals turned up. They had no idea what to expect. There were a few Italian and Chinese people in the audience as well.
When I started the show, I walked out on stage – and you know how you hear people say “It was packed to the rafters”? Well, honestly – there were people up in the ceiling, sitting in the rafters. It was packed to the rafters! I wondered how they’d gotten up there – they must have climbed the walls and were hanging off the ceiling. It was unbelievable!
When I walked out, I got four volunteers on stage – two New Guinea people, one Chinese, and one Italian. I did a full two-hour show with these people, just doing what we do under hypnosis. It was a silent audience. They didn’t understand why these people were doing as they were told to do. They were just looking at these guys and thinking, “Are these guys crazy?” So, for two hours – it was just silence!
Normally it’s a high-energy show, and the audience is laughing – but I couldn’t get any laughter, because no-one understood what was happening!
How much do your audience reactions vary according to where you’re performing?
I find that wherever I usually work, the reaction is the same. From the moment the comedy starts, until the finish – it’s a high-paced show. I like to keep it very high-energy, and if I see people not laughing, I change material straight away.
I like to keep people on the edge of their seats, laughing non-stop. So everywhere else I’ve worked, from five minutes in, to the end of the show, it’s a laugh a minute.
What’s the funniest moment you can remember happening during one of your shows?
I’ve had so many funny moments. Always a good one is when you see guys give birth to a baby. The guys imagine they’re giving birth, they pull their legs back around their ears, they puff, they pant, they scream out in pain, they reach for the gas, they scream out to their wives to hold their hands … you can see the wives’ reactions in the audience. It’s always highly comical and always a good part of the show.
I also get guys to imagine they’re from Manpower Australia, and they’re dancing around the audience. To see the girls’ reactions … as you can probably imagine, there are all different shapes and sizes on stage! Some of these guys never get on the dance floor, and the girlfriends would come up to me afterwards and say, “You know, I never even knew my husband could dance!” They strut around, looking like they’ve been on a dance floor all their lives.
I bet that all comes as a bit of a shock!
It does. I always instruct them, too, that when they’re from Manpower, they need to imagine they’re all wearing a G-string, so there’s no stripping at the show!
For those people who haven’t been to one of your shows, what can they expect?
What normally happens, is people come in groups – especially in holiday areas. So normally, by the time the show starts, people have had a couple of drinks to relax – and someone from nearly every group gets up! You nearly always know someone on stage.
Even if it’s not someone from your group, it’s someone from your caravan park, or motel, so you get to know the characters. You realise that what you’re seeing is not what you normally get to see in real life … all their personalities are ten-fold; all their movements are ten-fold.
Their facial expressions are unbelievable; you get to see a totally different personality. It’s like their inner personality comes out, and it’s much bigger than their outer personality!
How many years have you been doing this for now, Steve?
So what keeps you doing this gig after so long?
I just love it. It’s a great lifestyle. Every show’s different; I get genuine belly laughs every single night I do the show, and I’ve done over 2,000 shows now. I’ve tended to thousands of people now, and I still love it. I’ve always said that the minute I stop loving it, is when I stop doing it.
I’m not someone who can do it just for money; I do it for passion. If I’m not passionate about it, I’ll find a different passion.
Do you have anything new up your sleeve for your upcoming performances locally?
I’ve definitely got some new material. I won’t say too much about it, but I’ve got some new stuff guaranteed to get people falling off their chairs in laughter.
All the best, Steve. We hope your tour goes well …
Thanks very much.
Steven will be appearing at Port City Bowling Club on December 30 at 8pm, ph 6583 1133 and North Haven Bowling Club on January 4 at 8pm, ph 6559 9150.
Please contact the relevant club for details /tickets.
Interview by Jo Atkins.