Hypnotist hype: Mat LaVore, astonishment artist

Let’s get this straight: I’m pretty skeptical about this whole “magic” thing.

I grew up watching Penn & Teller, so I know a thing or two about what goes on behind the scenes of your standard street magician. You can imagine then, when I saw that Mat LaVore, ‘Astonishment Artist’ would be performing at UMKC, I wasn’t expecting to see anything I hadn’t seen before.

Boy was I wrong.

Right out of the gate, LaVore selected members of the audience to pick a card and remember it. He then individually guessed each person’s card, bewildering the audience.

The astonishment artist didn’t stop there, bringing audience members to the stage to read their minds. He correctly guessed a name one student had thought of in her head, a date another student was thinking of and even picked out a city on a map that someone else kept in their mind—all while cracking jokes. The tricks shocked the audience.

“The mind reading tricks were baffling,” said UMKC sophomore Elliott Voelkel.

Mind reading wasn’t the only trick up LaVore’s sleeve. He next brought out string and a set of needles, only to—wait for it—swallow both. The audience then watched in awe as he proceeded to cough out the string, now threaded through each of the needles.

That’s something I’d like to see Penn & Teller do.

LaVore continued with the next portion of his show: hypnosis. He picked members of the audience and one by one made each person fall asleep. He then managed, through hypnosis, to convince one student that his name was ‘Jennifer Lopez III’ and persuaded his to give him everything in his pockets.

“Apparently my name was ‘Jennifer Lopez III,’” hypnotized student Winston Bowles explained. “He took my wallet and my keys and my phone.”

His fusion of humor, magic and shock constantly left the audience wondering, “how?” In keeping with his name, LaVore provided a show that was truly astonishing.


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