The Drunk Magician and her Flowering Hat TrickSubmitted by AllyJeans at 2007-09-05 11:59:52 EDT
Rating: 1.34 on 34 ratings (34 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
I’ve never given much credence to hypnotism. The ones who aren’t total frauds are completely delusional, in that they think what they are doing is real and beneficial, as opposed to absurd and dangerous. The ones who are total frauds piss me off because they know they are frauds, and, furthermore, don’t hide that fact. Stage shows abound with charlatans conducting hordes of people to bark like dogs or oink like pigs, and as soon as they stop playing the game they are told to leave the stage, with the hypnotist shrugging it off as an example of “strong will” or evidence of someone not concentrating enough. The bread and butter of the later sort are college students looking for a laugh and people nearing 30—those who need to laugh to keep from remembering how goddamn old they are becoming.
I’m 27. My friend, Candy, is 28. Since she is closer to 30, I’ll say it was her idea to go to see Freddy Gallows, the R-rated hypnotist. His performance was in the back of a comedy club in Faneuil Hall. At first I felt sorry for him, since he seemed to be getting low billing at an already meager comedy club; however, I quickly forgot this because Candy was talking at a blistering rate about things which seemed very important to her. With each point, she waved her arms around, gold bracelets sliding up and down her thin forearms like peripatetic hula hoops.
“…And David, remember David, David had this trick he could do with ice cream cones. Sucked them empty from the bottom, like he was a gay or something, only not, because he was so cool and had straight hands. I think I’m going to get him to ask me out.”
“I don’t understand. Straight hands?”
“Yeah, you know, gay guys have the longer ring finger; it’s how you tell.”
“—and don’t tell me you heard about that already, because I knew about it years ago.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Candy shook her head. “Jon Stewart had this gay guy on his show who was pushing some book about how to spot gays hands, and now everyone is like, “Oh, do you know about the hands—?” Like they are all now learned or something.”
“When did you get so hostile?”
We arrived early, so early I thought we had walked into the wrong place. The room was all but empty with only a yawning couple standing a few feet way, chatting by a pair of floor-to ceiling windows looking out onto Quincy Market; and a member of the prep crew arranging folding chairs at the back. The stage itself was bare, with the rear wall draped in black curtains and the floor covered with a wrinkled gray carpet. Chairs by the stage were grouped around two-person tables, big enough to hold a pair of 6-dollar beers and some tiny lamps, but little else. Candy and I took one of these at the front. We could see a FREDDY GALLOWS placard in the gap at stage left and a microphone just before us. From a sitting position, the stage floor was raised to just below our shoulders.
A waiter walked over and asked if we’d like any drinks while we waited (he said we were an hour early). I ordered a beer. Candy ordered a Sombrero. By the time she had finished (three gulps, tops), the waiter was bringing her second. I asked her if she’d rather walk around outside for a while, get some air; but she wouldn’t be put off—she said she was hitting her stride. She soon switched to Irish coffees, which she loved, then began a fleeting romance with Jack and cokes, whiskey shooters, and an old beau: Jägermeister. By the time people began strolling in, I was on my third Heineken. Candy was five drinks past shitfaced.
She giggled merrily as someone, presumable the hypnotist himself, spoke over a PA system introducing “the great, the magnificent—Freddy Gallows!” The room was full and the audience gave a warm cheer. Gallows walked out a few moments later wearing a purple tuxedo that fought with every stitch to hold in his great and magnificent belly. I laughed right away, thinking everything about the man looked ridiculous from his goofy smile to his spinning hypnotist’s wheel, which hung in the crook of his arm like a riding crop. Candy laughed too, only she did it because she thought the waiter had somehow transported himself to the stage so he could just reach over and pour the drinks right down her throat.
“WOO!” said Candy.
“Now—” The microphone whined. “Sorry.” He fiddled with it in the catch. “Now I will need some volunteers at the start of the night’s entertainment. Ten of you will do, any ten. Who’s interested?”
I had worried about this, so I kept my head down, frightened it would be like health class when the teacher made me stand up and point to my ovaries.
A couple people stood right away. I now think they were shills. They gave the best performances and were there to the end, even after the rest of us started filing out. Then others started popping up. Two guys. One girl. Another guy. People stopped volunteering so Gallows started picking people from the audience. “How about you? And you? Come on, no one has died yet!” Only at the last second did I realize that the hypnotist had caught Candy’s attention. I tried to grab her arm to save her, but it was no use. She had drunk strength and pulled easily out of my grip. “Let off!” Her drunk strength would be put to a greater test later in the evening.
Gallows took all the volunteers and led them backstage. I still held out hope that he’d see how inebriated Candy was and let her go back to her seat. He either didn’t see, or chose not to see, because five minutes later they all walked out single file, each holding his or her own wooden stool. Candy was third from the left. She tripped over herself twice then sat down. How she did it without sprawling on the floor I’ll never know.
She looked at me, winked obnoxiously, then waved. I laughed.
“Now I have put everyone one of these people in a preliminary trance, bolstered by my wheel, here.” He held the magic wheel which had cappuccino-like swirls that migrated from the edge down to the center. I looked at Candy who was miming a jerkoff gesture behind Gallow’s back. There were a few sprinkled laughs, mine hidden behind my hand; and Gallows turned around a little too late, missing her. She closed her eyes and swayed like the rest. Though she swayed for different reasons.
“Ok,” he said. He walked to the back and put his hand on the shoulder of one of the shills. He was skinny, had a stripped shirt, and khaki shorts. He looked about my age.
Gallows turned back to the crowd “Now they are all very impressionable in this state so I caution you against making any loud comments.”
We all hushed and Gallows whispered in the shill’s ear, perhaps confirming his hypnotic state. “You are noticing a terrible smell,” he said aloud. “Yes, it is very stinky.” Candy tittered. “It is coming from somewhere on this stage. Yes, it’s the woman next to you. She has the worst body odor you have ever smelt. It’s rotting garbage mixed with swamp gas. You can’t stand it. You have to get away….”
And while he said this, the shill’s nose wrinkled; and he passed surreptitious glances to his left. Then he started shifting his stool over and fanning his face with his hand, before finally rising and walking away. The smelly girl appeared oblivious to the whole thing, swaying slightly with her mind closed to the world.
The crowd appreciated the performance and Gallows clucked his approval. “Excellent, excellent.” He put his hand back on the gangly man’s narrow shoulder. “The smell is much better now, yes? In fact, she smells like daisies. You want to return to that previous spot to take in that wonderful aroma.” With this, the man scooted back over with his stool and took on a contented air. Candy, meanwhile, was getting bored and had begun swinging her leg next to her stool.
If anyone ever asked to be sent off it was her. Yet Gallows continued up and down the line, putting his hand on people’s shoulders and giving “r-rated” commands. He made one man lip sync to Backstreet Boys. A second had to do the running man, which I have to admit was pretty funny (M.C. Hammer, he was not). Candy was finally given a shot after an overweight woman drove her stool to the grocery store. Gallows broke out a group command: they all had to pretend they were balancing bicycles on the ends of their noses, and that the world depended on keeping them aloft.
Arms out, the volunteers wandered blindly around the stage, bumping into each other and drifting in stuttering semi-circles, their heads tilted up toward the stage lights. Candy must have had the heaviest bike, because no matter how hard she tried, she kept falling on her ass. After three minutes of this, they seated themselves again, Candy taking the wrong stool.
The show continued. People were embarrassed left and right—one woman started to remove her shirt after Gallows told her than the muzak on his CD player made her feel sexy. He stopped her from going too far and people laughed awkwardly. She blushed crimson.
Hesitating, Gallows finally approached Candy. He put his hand on her shoulder. I put my hands over my mouth.
“What is your name?”
“Candy,” she slurred. People laughed, probably at the name. Everyone was slurring.
“What do you do?”
“What do you do. For a living.”
Candy thought about this. “Retail.” That was the correct answer.
“No, Candy. You are Candressa, the Magician!”
“Yes. You are a wonderful magician. You give shows all around the world, and here you are, in Paris!”
I tried to think about what kind of shows Candy would give around the world, and I decided that Magic would be the least likely. However, she went with it, smiling brightly.
“Gaze at the crowd of Parisian dignitaries, Candressa! They are waiting! Stand up and perform.”
Candressa wobbled to her feet and looked around the room, then at me. “Give yourself away,” I thought out at her.
Instead she straightened her blouse, patted her jeans, and gathered her bracelets around her wrists. “Nothing up my sleeves. And why would there be?! I am Candressa!”
The crowd cheered.
“I am known to do acts of prestadickitation all around the world.” She was looking at me. I know she was. I was looking at the floor.
“I’m—I’m going to need a hat. Any fucking hat will do.” She pointed. “Yours!”
People laughed as a very tanned and broad-chested man, whose name had to be Rico or Jorge, tossed his bucket hat on the stage. She reached over, wobbled, and picked it up. Gallows looked on with big eyebrows and an interested expression.
“Perfect. Now this is a trick taught by an uncle of mine. He was never so great as the stupendous Candressa, but he knew many tricks. I call it my Flowering Hat Trick.
She held the hat up. It was beige with a ring of sweat stains that I could easily see from my vantage point.
“I need a volunteer.” She looked around. “You, sir. The one in the purple moo moo.”
Gallows colored a bit at the remark but responded bravely, stepping forward.
“For the purposes of the Flowering Hat trick, I will need your utmost attention.” (pronounced, a-ten-shun. Each syllable required great effort.)
“Of course. I am more than willing.”
“Good.” She took a deep breath and raised herself up. “Everyone watch closely. The trick is over very quickly, so if you blink you might miss it. Hmm. You see that the hat is just a hat. And the person is just a person. Right?” She poked Gallows to prove he was a person. “See?”
The crowd assented.
“All right. Now, sir, if you would face the other way please.” Gallows turned and faced right. Candy stood holding the hat out like a serving dish. “On the count of three then.” She held her finger over her mouth and hushed the audience.
On three, she took the hat and rammed it over Gallows head, covering his eyes. While he struggled to free himself, Candy wrapped her arms around his waist, drew close, and began humping him. Vigorously.
The room erupted. I couldn’t hear anything over the laughter. Candy continued to pound away at that ample backside while Gallows swayed and fought her grip. Desperate—the hat still low over his forehead—he bent over and raised her into the air.
Candy made a grunting noise. Her head was pressed tight against his back, facing the audience. She called out, “Of course, when my uncle taught me—“Gallows bucked and Candy wrapped her legs tighter around his waist. “—woops...whoa, boy... when uncle taught me, it was called the Deflowering Hat Trick!”
More laughter. The volunteers were laughing. I was laughing. Candy was humping. Gallows exposed mouth was cursing, asking for help. Finally, the skinny boy managed to pull her off him, her legs kicking in midair. After calm was restored, Gallows tried to chuckle the trauma away and sent Candy back to her seat.
The show didn’t last much longer—it was tough to top that last bit, after all. The shills remained. We left. Candy and I went to a bar because she wanted to have another Sombrero. And the hat, the hat returned to its beefy owner, who seemed to be counting in his head all the people he would show the trick to.
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