Felicia Hardesty's Stage Show Program

Countess Camilla d'Sangre

This is a sample of Felicia's stage program when performing as the Countess. She varies it from performance to performance, but also personalizes it when she can. She works her act only during the college fall and spring semesters. She will work clubs in the Los Angeles and Las Vegas area during the "off" season under her own name, to maintain its visibility. What any true vampire has to say about her performance, she has yet to learn.

Felicia arranges these performances for small theaters and stages: she likes the intimate atmosphere and the small audiences. (She is forced to do more appearances to make up for the small audience, usually three or four a week, but she doesn't mind.) Promotional material hits the media a couple of weeks ahead of time.

On the day of the performance, her coffin will be on display all day in a store or college building (and once at a funeral parlor on Halloween) near the theater. (She hasn't had a problem with it being stolen as a prank, since she usually bribes a contingent of local fraternity boys with a small donation and a handful of free tickets to stand guard over it.) It will be heavily locked and sealed. Signs around it warn that the vampiress Countess d'Sangre lies within, waiting for darkness when she will to walk again among the living: come and watch if you can, come prepared to see her magick up close if you are brave, come prepared to satisfy her thirst if you dare.

At seven o'clock the coffin is carried by the guards to the theater. It is taken directly up to the stage and placed upright. It is left alone but in full visibility of everyone.

(Actually, Felicia will not be within, although the coffin is weighted to give the appearance that the coffin is occupied. It would have been placed on display before the building opened, and she will not appear in public the whole day: she will spend the time arranging her illusions, etc. That night, after the coffin has been placed in position, she will sneak in through a panel in the bottom. The whole object is to give the impression that she has spent the entire day within.)

At seven-thirty, the lights are dimmed. A spotlight strikes the coffin. The locks on the coffin, one by one, spring open. A wave of fog engulfs the stage, as the lid opens, revealing the Countess d'Sangre, lying as she were asleep, arms folded across her breasts. A crash of music and thunder, and her eyes open. She steps dramatically out on to the stage and stretches languorously, then looks out over the crowd under half-lidded eyes and visibly runs her tongue over her red lips. A pair of fangs are sharply visible just over her lower lip.

"I am Countess Camilla d'Sangre: welcome."

After a few minutes of patter and dark humor, she begins putting the audience through a simple series of suggestability tests, all the while examining the audience's reactions for possible subjects for her hypnotism. She will then ask whomever has responded to her suggestions and whomever is interested to raise their hands, then specifically invite anywhere from three to six individuals on stage: chairs are arranged for them facing the audience. For some reason men are most likely to volunteer.

She will pick one of the individuals to hypnotize directly, the one that seems most susceptible, usually a man, to stand facing her, at right angles between the audience and the others. She will commonly make use of the vampiric legends and use an eye fixation induction, with some mesmeric passes thrown in. As her first subject falls into a trance she turns to the others on stage, staring directly at them, passing her hand before her, and commanding "Sleep, sleep, sleep." If anyone resists she will approach them, gaze into their eyes, and repeat the induction. If that fails she will thank them and send them back to their seat: this rarely happens. The first subject is then used for a couple of simple demonstrations of catalepsy before being sent to one of the seats.

Felicia alternates hypnosis and illusions in her act. Her limited hypnotic skit repetroire tends towards the erotic and exotic, while the illusions are designed to demonstrate a legendary aspect of a vampire's powers.

To begin, the volunteers are told that they are first cold, then hot: they are told to huddle together to warm themselves, then to loosen their clothing. (Felicia will stop any volunteer just before they begin to remove too much clothing.) They are then told to watch a movie: first a funny cartoon, then a scary monster movie.

For her first illusion, Felicia selects two of the volunteers, a man and a woman, preferably, and awakens them. Taking up a small, ornate box and some lengths of silk, she will step into the box and slip the ribbons around her body and through openings in the box. She will have the volunteers hold the ends of the silks tightly. She will ask them repeatedly to do so, then step out of the box, leaving the silks still tightly clutched in her volunteers' hands.

Her two volunteers will be the subjects for her next hypnotism segment. Passing her hands across their eyes, she will entrance them, then instruct them that when they open their eyes, they will be looking into a mirror, and the person they see before them is their reflection. If they are not opposite sexes, Felicia will suggest that they have been transformed into the opposite sex. If one responds well to this scenario, they will be told to walk along the front of the stage, checking out the audience. Felicia will ask them which of the audience is the most attractive to them. The volunteer will be returned to full consciousness, then used for the next trick.

For her next illusion, Felicia will produce a glittering mirrored ball that will float around at her command, first from behind a black satin cloth, then before her, in full view of the audience. It will eventually be set spinning before the volunteer's eyes; as the light reflecting from it flickers in their eyes, they will be hypnotized and sent back to their seat on stage.

Next Felicia will select two more volunteers to assist her with her next illusion. A plate of metal, mirror bright, in a metal frame is produced, and the two volunteers hold either side. Felicia will remark about the vampire's ability to become a mist and to pass through objects. She will then stand behind the seemingly-impervious metal plate and slowly walk through it. The plate can (and will) be examined by the volunteers but will reveal nothing.

The two volunteers are entranced and told they are strip-tease dancers and to begin dancing. If possible, the appropriate music will be played in the background.

Her volunteers are finally returned to their chairs on stage, and all the volunteers are used for the next segment. They are variously told that parts of their bodies have been stolen by the person next to them, or that parts of their body are growing or shrinking or multiplying. After this, they are variously told to forget their names, ages, sex, how to read, how to tie their shoelaces, etc. She will then question each in turn about what they have forgotten. Once the segment is over they will all be put back under a trance.

One of the volunteers will be used as a spirit medium for the next illusion. Felicia will state that as the strongest of the undead, vampires can command spirits and the spirit world. The volunteer, still entranced, in set within a spirit box cabinet, bound around the chest and legs with ropes, along with a bell and a slate and a piece of chalk. Felicia will then call the spirits to come and answer her. The bell will ring, showing the spirits are present. She will question them, taking questions from the audience, and the volunteer will hold out the slate with the answers written on them. At the end of the trick, several ghostly sheets will emerge from the cabinet and rocket into the rafters as the cabinet collapses. The volunteer will be found untied.

The volunteers are all given X-Ray glasses, which will work on everyone except Felicia: whether they work on each other is up to her to decide. When this has ceased being funny, they are told to take off the glasses and that they are watching an X-rated movie. After a few moments, they are told the sound has failed and for them to supply the movie's sound effects.

Her last big illusion is the combined levitation / flaming disappearance illusion. All but three volunteers are returned to their seats. The most suggestible is used for the illusion, while the other two assist Felicia. The one volunteer is entranced dramatically, turned rigid by suggestion, then lifted onto the supports above a cabinet by the other two volunteers. They are then also returned to their seats. Felicia will then step upon the volunteer's stomach, demonstrating their total rigididy. Standing behind the entranced volunteer, Felicia will then levitate them with several mystic passes above them, lifting them off the supports. Felicia will move the supports away, and allow the volunteer to descend into the cabinet. She will then close the cabinet, stand off to the side, and command it to burst into flame. After several seconds, the cabinet will burst open, revealing it to be empty. After the applause has died down, Felicia will produce a large cloth, drape it over the empty cabinet, and withdraw it, revealing her volunteer. She will then command them to sit up, and awaken them with a loud snap of her fingers.

The finalé is when she has returned her entranced subjects to their seats in the audience, having been instructed to forget their part of the show (until after it was over). One in particular would be very vocal about her being a fake, until they become so vociferous that Felicia will call for a spotlight to outline the subject. With a sly grin, Felicia will stare at the vociferous subject, commandingly extend her arm towards them, and say "Come here." They will then be compelled by a post-hypnotic suggestion to fall into a trance and slowly, almost-zombie-like, to return to the stage as all the while Felicia continues to make a series of enticing and compelling gestures, coaxing them up to the stage.

When the subject has stepped on the stage and before Felicia, she will gaze into their eyes, pass her hand before them, and command "Sleep". She will then take the subject into her embrace, smiling at the audience to fully reveal her vampiric fangs. (She only selects men whom she can effectively do this to: men only as tall as herself. She rarely does women.) She will act as though she bites the subject on the neck, using a blood capsule hidden in her mouth to make it seem all the more realistic. With a low chuckle and a snap of her fingers she will awaken her subject and send them back to their seat.

Having "fed", the Countess d'Sangre is then ready to retire for the night. But, as she reminds her audience as she steps into her coffin, the darkness of the night will always be around them, and in that darkness, their worst fears. Now that they have seen her, they have a face to their fears.

The coffin lid slams shut, untouched. The locks snap into place. As the house lights rise, low, mocking laughter rises from the speakers, her laughter.

The stage hypnosis routines are largely taken from Ormond McGill's book Professional Stage Hypnotism: McGill is one of the best stage hypnotists in the business, probably the best. The only real difference is that few stage hypnotists today stretch a subject out and stand on them (except in certain circumstances where they can get a signed release ahead of time.)

The illusions described herein are standard stage magic illusions, some decades old, and were taken from my collection of magic illusion catalogs. The silk pass-through and floating ball are standard illusions. David Copperfield has performed the walk through illusion and does a variation of the spirit cabinet illusion in his current (1995) act. The levitation illusion is as old (and older) as the famous stage magician Thurston, who would make the floating figure rise up above the audience and then make it disappear. I added the fire cabinet escape illusion to the mix but I suspect someone has already done so professionally.

Copyright © 1998 Terry O'Brien {dragonmage@sprynet}