Performer and entertainer Tom DeLuca visited Virginia Tech this past weekend to kick off the year for incoming freshman and upperclassman. No newcomer to the area, DeLuca appeared on Blacksburg’s campus for the 18th time on Friday.
DeLuca attended the University of Illinois where he earned a masters degree in psychology. From there, he worked as a therapist and eventually began performing hypnosis shows throughout the nation.
CT: Did you plan on becoming a hypnotist? What got you into this field of work?
DeLuca: I was always extremely interested in people. I wondered why people did things and what motivated them to do what they do. So, I always thought I would be in a people field. When I got into this it felt good — it felt right. It was something I was pretty good at. I never thought when I was in college or in high school that I would be a hypnotist. I majored in psychology at the University of Illinois, but a professor got me interested (in hypnosis) when I was in graduate school. I started doing the show and people started asking me to perform in different places. Some people in the audience were college students and they liked what they saw; eventually I started coming to colleges.
CT: As a hypnotist and performer how do you modify your routines when you go to new places like Burruss Hall?
DeLuca: I do different routines depending on the size of the room. I can do a lot of things with a big room like Burruss. If I do small intimate stuff it’s not going to work as well. I have to do big stuff in that room. I like to do things that are high energy with really big crowds. I keep things physical and keep moving. It’s delicate. It’s not just the routine. You don’t want to just hypnotize people, you want it to be something that’s memorable — that people are talking about and want to go back to.
CT: What's the hardest thing about performing at your shows?
DeLuca: There’s a lot of figuring out what to do with who, how to do it and when to do it. The hardest part is being spontaneous — saying the right things and asking the right things at the right time. You kind of have to be in the zone with them. You have to make people really go on stage and bring out their special qualities. That’s hard; it’s the work.
CT: What keeps your routines fresh and exciting for you and the audience?
DeLuca: What keeps it fresh for me is having those people on stage who are just really creative and special. They go some place in their imagination and the audience really identifies with them. They go to those parts of the imagination that are really innovative. Someone has got something in his or her imagination that everybody laughs at and gets. They go, “Oh my God, I’m like that” or “I see where that came from.” It is those intricate little magical moments. They’re all different. Last year at Tech, I turned this one guy into a cheerleader. He was so funny and he took the show from really good to really, really good.
CT: What do you enjoy about performing here?
DeLuca: I know I’ve come to Tech for the last five years at least. I like Tech because students really appreciate what I do and the crowd loves it. When they enjoy it, I enjoy it. They’re charged up and they’re sharp too. They’ve got good heads. You can do a better show when people are creative. It makes shows special. There are a lot of creative kids out there in the audience so hopefully I get them on stage. I don’t know before I pick them. I pick them randomly from all over the audience and don’t know who is going to be good. But usually we get three or four people up there who are really sharp and creative at this school.