Keith Karkut brought his traveling hypnotist show to Eastern for new students. (Sarah Stewart)

By Seth Litrell

On Thursday, Sept. 9, hypnotist Keith Karkut came to Eastern for one purpose and one purpose only: to get a group of freshmen drunk on stage in front of all of the new students on campus. However, there’s a trick to Karkut’s method: he uses only water and the minds of his volunteers to achieve his goal. There is not a single drop of alcohol present at Karkut’s event.Karkut began his show by giving some basic information on the dangers of drinking alcohol. He quizzed the audience on things like the cure for drunkenness, how long it takes alcohol to move through the bloodstream and the different characteristics of various blood alcohol contents.

While being legally drunk is a blood alcohol content of .08, at .06 people begin to lose rational thought and experience mood changes. At .20, a person can’t feel pain and has diminished reflexes.

“If you reach a blood alcohol level of .40, you have a 50/50 chance of life and death,” Karkut said.

Karkut then explained his event to the crowd. Anyone who wants to be hypnotized may come onto the stage and try it. From that group, people who are not good subjects for hypnosis will be sent down back into the audience. The remaining group then was put into a hypnotic state and were given bottles of water to get “drunk” off.

“We’re gonna drink that water, and you’re gonna think you’re drunk,” Karkut said, motioning to the packages of bottled water stacked off to the side of the stage.

Karkut then began a series of hypnosis tests for the audience to see who would be a good candidate to come on stage. The tests seemed a little odd at first.

Students were asked to touch their nose and pat their head three times, then clasp their hands together with index fingers pointing outward. If their fingers drew together as if they were magnetized, they were good candidates for hypnosis.

Those who passed the first test were then asked to stand up, and told that their leg was stuck to the ground. They were told to move their legs, and the ones who couldn’t do so passed the second test. These students were asked to come up on stage, where Karkut tried even deeper hypnosis.

Karkut spent remainder of his show narrowing down the students on stage, which was full, to find about 20 or 30 who were the best candidates for hypnotic intoxication.

He would put the entire stage of volunteers to sleep, and then give each one a different identity they would then act out upon waking up.

One student was Godzilla, who listed his family members as Toyota, Kia and Mitsubishi. Another student was Tarzan, who ran into the audience searching frantically for Jane, until Karkut snapped him out of it. The crowd favorite seemed to be the four guys who thought they were N’Sync and the Backstreet Boys. Chris Johnson, a freshman who was on stage until about halfway through the program, said he doesn’t remember exactly what he did.

“It was more of a reaction than I thought,” he said, describing what he could recollect from being on stage.

Once Karkut had significantly shrunk the crowd on stage, he sat them down and put them to sleep once more. Then he placed a bottle of water in front of each of them and told them they were at a party, and that they were drinking. He woke them up with loud party music, and immediately the students began partying like there was no tomorrow.

The fun was cut short when within only a few minutes of drinking, a student collapsed on the floor. Karkut then stopped the music and snapped his fingers to wake the partying students up.

As the students sat back down, Karkut asked if anybody had seen the student fall. Nobody on stage had, and only a few in the audience had.

It was then that Karkut’s message seemed to hit home with the audience. Karkut took a few moments to reiterate his message.

“I’m not here to tell you not to drink,” he said. “We’re all adults here.”

The stunned crowd listened intently as he reinforced his message of personal responsibility when around alcohol. Karkut ended his show with a sobering statistic.

“Two to three percent of college students will not live to see their graduation, due to alcohol,” he said.

The freshmen watching Karkut took his message to heart. Kimberly Greer said it definitely made her think about how she was going to act around alcohol.

“I’m still a little freaked out by it,” she said.