Hypnotist Tom DeLuca — a University tradition
First-year welcome weekend highlight returns again
First-years are bombarded with a barrage of monotonous welcome packets, information sessions and orientation activities once they arrive on Grounds. But one event during move-in weekend is not like the other: Tom DeLuca’s hypnotist show.
A one-on-one hypnotist turned entertainer, DeLuca travels the country to perform hypnosis shows and conduct workshops for colleges and business corporations. With several entertainment awards under his belt, DeLuca is a nationwide icon in his industry.
DeLuca’s interest in hypnotism piqued when a professor inspired him to pursue a future in the industry while he was earning a master’s in psychology from the University of Illinois.
“When I started out in college, one of my professors helped me get involved in hypnotizing people for things like losing weight and quitting smoking,” DeLuca said. “That’s how I got into it. I was fascinated with it.”
After performing in hotels and nightclubs in New York City, DeLuca realized his niche was on college campuses. Visiting a laundry list of schools including Elon, Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech, Tulane, William & Mary and Dartmouth, DeLuca spends the fall on a whirlwind with America’s college freshmen.
“Students are interesting and creative,” DeLuca said. “I felt there was more of a challenge and more of a risk doing the colleges and corporations because if they don’t like you, they won’t ask you back.”
Though performing night after night can be exhausting, with a crowd as large as the University, DeLuca says it is easy to stay energized.
“I get so wired for the U.Va. show [because] it is outdoors [and] the crowd is huge with big signs,” DeLuca said. “Those shows you just get so pumped for, but when you’re tired, you really just have to get yourself really focused. I try and get into a position before the show where I concentrate on what I’m going to do. Coffee helps too.”
DeLuca’s hypnosis show allows new first-years and new friends to bond over a common event. Asked back year after year by University Programs Council and other select organizations on Grounds, DeLuca’s show brings about a collaboration among University organizations.
“I think Tom DeLuca is one of our most successful events because it’s an unspoken collaboration with a lot of other organizations on Grounds,” said UPC chair Elly Roller, a fourth-year College student.
DeLuca is a University tradition — even commemorated on the University’s “Things To Do Before We Graduate” list.
“The show is a big camaraderie builder, a real bonding experience,” DeLuca said. “It’s magical; people talk about it as long as it’s something special. Especially at the alumni events, former students [tell] me they have never forgotten the event [where] they met their friends.”