The Mind Doesn’t Matter
Mezmeron’s game-show hypnosis yields hilarious effects.
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Editor’s note: Weekly writers Stuart Thornton and Adam Joseph are at it again, daring to go where readers might flinch. Last time, they slipped into a singles convention to report from the inside. This time, they sought to better understand what it’s like to be hypnotized.
Then Thornton flinched – admitting he was afraid to surrender his volition to the great mustachioed man named Mezmeron. “I am afraid of pissing myself in public,” he said. That left Joseph to do the heavy lifting – or in this case, to fall under Mezmeron’s spell.
– Mark C. Anderson
‘The monkey stole my purse’
Along with four other volunteers I await the preliminary round of an unusual game show.
The goal: to be hypnotized. The stakes: a free pizza, a glow-in-the-dark bracelet and the existential bar experience of a lifetime (among other prizes).
We sit in the back room of English Ales, tucked away from the beer guzzling, Friday night happy-hour crowd.
Ron Berry – known as Mezmeron – sits dressed in an all-black David Copperfield ensemble and sports a light-gray coif and matching goatee.
The scene is reminiscent of a Yaqui Indian peyote ritual and Mezmeron’s tutelage feels like a bastardized version of the shaman guidance of Carlos Castaneda’s spiritual leader.
“It’s very simple – let your mind and body relax,” Mezmeron says.
He insists that upon awaking from a hypnotic state we will feel refreshed.
But an adrenaline cocktail showers my insides with a messy array of “what ifs.” “What if I am hypnotized forever?” “What if my memories are lost?” “What if Mezmeron makes me his slave?”
“Let your left arm hang as if it were weighed down,” he tells the first participant. “Let your right arm hang weightlessly. Imagine there is a seatbelt holding you into your chair.” After a couple head thrusts and fluttering fingers dangled in front of the participant’s face, Mezmeron is unsuccessful. The two following participants, however, easily succumb to the guru hypnotist’s spell and move on to the winner’s circle.
It’s my turn to venture into the unknown. I become fatigued, but that may be due to lack of sleep. My left eye begins to twitch like a dying sea bass. “You can only hear my voice,” Mezmeron insists, as the voices around me appear to become clearer than his.
He snaps and says I am asleep as he pulls my head down toward my lap.
I feel myself slip into the brink of darkness and then I hit a wall, and regress. I try holding on but it’s a colossal feat. I begin to perspire and lose my focus.
Mezmeron whispers faintly into my ear, “Let your body just relax. Drifting, floating and relaxing. Deeper and deeper and deeper.”
He continues his melodic mantra, millimeters from my earlobe, easing my head closer into my lap until the contorted position exceeds discomfort. I don’t feel hypnotized. Maybe this guy is so good that I won’t notice that I am actually hypnotized. Mezmeron continues, “Anytime you hear the word ‘kangaroo,’ you will jump up and shout out, ‘The monkey stole my purse.’ ”
I immediately forget my allotted phrase. I let Mezmeron know that our efforts were unsuccessful.
“It felt good but I don’t think it worked,” I say hesitantly. When I see what happens next, I am not terribly disappointed I didn’t qualify. [AJ]
‘It’s like a dream’
Alyson Hess, a young woman in a red-and-white striped shirt, stalks around the small bar interrogating patrons who she believes somehow have stolen her butt. “It’s kind of round,” she says to a speechless man.
A few feet behind her, Annette Kuhnert wildly swings both hands in front of her nose as she screams. Kuhnert is under the impression that a bug has landed on her nose.
Sitting in a chair, Jeff Scott sings the children’s song “Itsy, Bitsy Spider.” Scott, a middle-aged man, appears to get increasingly intoxicated when Mezmeron says “spider.”
People walking into Marina’s English Ales tonight might wonder if they accidentally entered a mental institution.
“They are going to compete to see who gets ‘mezzed up,’ ” Mezmeron announces to the crowd gleefully. “You get to vote. Whoever you think is the most mezzed up wins the prizes.”
When all three contestants return to their chairs, Mezmeron invites the contestants to fall asleep with a soothing voice. The trio suddenly passes out, slumped over like marionettes whose puppet masters have abandoned them. Then Kuhnert starts snoring loudly.
As the evening progresses, Mezmeron, who has also been a Pebble Beach caddy for 13 years, instructs the trio to act more and more ridiculous. Mezmeron gives Scott a pair of plastic clown glasses and tells him he will be able to look through women’s clothing. Scott puts the oversized glasses on and sizes up both female contestants admiringly. He then turns his stare toward a woman in the crowd.
“Holy shit,” he says as the woman he is staring at tries to shield herself.
Then, Scott turns his attention to the woman’s apparent boyfriend. “You lucky son of a bitch,” Scott says.
The most surreal segment of the evening comes when Mezmeron tells the hypnotized Scott he is pregnant. After each snap of Mezmeron’s fingers, the man, as programmed, appears to believe he has gone through another three months of pregnancy. After the third snap, Scott spreads his legs and starts breathing like a locomotive while delivering a nonexistent newborn. This spectacle secures Scott the top prize.
While the show proves entertaining, it’s impossible to tell if the contestants are unaware of what they’re doing.
According to the American Psychotherapy and Medical Hypnosis Association, hypnosis can vary within individuals from an altered state of consciousness to a “normal state of focused attention.” Scott, a Monterey resident who says he has been hypnotized before, says he remembers everything that happened while he was hypnotized.
Hess, who has also been hypnotized previously, says that while being under hypnosis, Mezmeron’s suggestions simply felt like the natural thing to do. “It’s like a dream,” she says, “but you know you are dreaming.” [ST]