I emerged from the elevators at the lobby level just before six and came face to face with myself. Someone had been very busy, it seemed - the wall opposite the elevators held a life size cardboard cutout of me in my performance tux. Behind me was a crowd of people slumped into chairs, a cleverly made compilation of the volunteers from both shows so far. Above our heads floated words:
JACK TRANCER, Master Hypnotist
Last Show This Season, TONIGHT
A short, stocky man in Bermuda shorts was making his way toward me with an excited look on his face. It took me a moment to recognize him. "Marv?"
"Damn straight, old buddy," he confirmed, pumping my hand with the enthusiasm of an overzealous salesman. "You didn't think I'd miss your grand finale, did you? You should hear some of the things people are saying, Jack. They love you!"
I shrugged. "It's nice to be appreciated."
Levy chortled and smacked me on the shoulder. "That's a good one," he said. "From what I hear, you're getting lots of appreciation from a couple of very hot little groupies." I started to object, but he cut me off. "Don't sweat it, Jack; we didn't ask you to sign a contract so there's no hands-off-the-guests clause. You just gotta watch your ass, if you know what I mean."
I didn't -- not fully, anyway -- so I opted to change subjects. "I take it this was your idea?" I said, motioning to the cardboard cutout and the pictures.
"You got it. Nothing's too good for the guy who bailed me out." He glanced at his watch. "Look, Jack, I need to go do some stuff, but I gotta thank you for this. You really saved my ass."
The look on his face was so sincere that it moved me. "You're welcome, Marv. It's been a fun week."
He grinned. "Glad to hear it, buddy. Don't leave the island tomorrow without talking to me first, okay? Break a leg!"
The lobby was thick with people waiting to get into the dining room. Every table in the place was occupied. As I wove my way through the crowd I could see house staff hastily arranging chairs along the walls and setting up folding tables where they could find room.
Claire and Monica were already in place at our table, but as I drew closer I noticed that my seat was also occupied. From a distance all I could make out was a pair of beautifully shaped and tanned shoulders and a mass of flowing honey-colored hair. What the hell was she doing there?
Monica spotted me first just as I got within earshot. All three women turned and waved to me. "Can you believe this crowd?" Claire said, waving her hand at the room.
"It's impressive," I allowed. There were only three chairs at the table, so I stood in the space between Claire's seat and Monica's. "Good evening," I said to Ann. Her answering smile had a smug quality to it that made me just a little uneasy.
"We rescued Mistress Ann from the throng in the lobby," Monica explained. "Since you two know each other, we thought you wouldn't mind."
At that moment a hostess appeared with a fourth chair for me. I thanked her and sat down. "Not a bit," I confirmed. "I didn't realize you all knew each other."
"We didn't," Claire offered. "Not until this afternoon at the pool, anyway. But we're making up for lost time, aren't we?" The other two women concurred, and now all three had that knowing look on their faces.
So be it. I decided to ignore the look and see if the secret would surface on its own. The women dominated the conversation throughout dinner but kept the topics constrained to innocent things. In the end I had to leave the table no wiser than when I'd first sat down. Pushing the mystery to the back of my mind, I excused myself and headed for the green room.
One of Redman's techies spotted me as soon as I slipped through the first doorway. "Stu needs to talk to you, like, now," he said, pointing down the hall toward Redman's office.
That didn't sound good. I found Redman's office just in time to encounter Regan, the camera girl, and two other techs I didn't know filing out. She acknowledged me with a bashful nod.
"Houston," Redman said wryly as he waved me in, "we have a problem."
I sat down and waited for him to explain.
"The biggest problem with this place," he began, "is that it's got enough space in the house to seat 700 people comfortably for a show but usually has closer to a thousand people actually staying here on any given night. Tonight there's about 1200 people in residence and two thirds of them at least are trying to get seats for the show."
"A nice problem to have, in some ways," I noted.
"Yeah," he agreed, "but most times it's a pain in the ass. Tonight I have to pull out all the stops. The food service crew is folding back leaves to make the tables smaller so they can cram more into the space and lining the walls with extra chairs. When they've packed every body they can into the room the staff is going to take room service orders for everyone else and send them back upstairs. My crew will have to pipe the show into the closed-circuit system so those people can watch it on TV."
I was starting to understand. "That changes things a bit."
"Yeah, I thought it might. I know you tend to talk to the stage people specifically and the audience specifically, so you'd better know there's going to be a third group of people watching and listening as well."
I thought about my hypnotic spiral and induction patter getting piped into rooms all over the hotel. The user imagined people staring into the TV, relaxing, letting go ... and enjoyed that image a little too much.
"Let's give the spiral a rest tonight," I suggested. "I'll do a different kind of induction."
Redman looked surprised. "Okay. What do you need?"
"Nothing. Just make sure there's enough walking room for people to get to and from the stage steps safely."
Rudi was waiting for me in the green room with my lavaliere and hand mic. As usual, I lifted my shirt while she taped the wire to my skin. Partway through that process I heard the door open, followed by a lilting female voice. "I knew security in this place was tough, but nobody said anything about a strip search!"
The speaker was a young brunette with sparkling blue eyes and a slightly goofy expression. She wore a red sequined gown that clung tightly enough to her curves that I doubted she could hide anything under it. The overall look was classy, though. "It's a new policy," I deadpanned. "All performers are now wired with these remote electro shock systems. If you make an off-color joke, the stage manager presses a button and you get 5000 volts of immediate feedback."
She looked crestfallen. "There goes my whole act, then. I guess I'll just stand on stage having convulsions for fifteen minutes."
"In that dress," I retorted with a wink, "you'd still get great reviews."
"Well aren't you sweet?" she replied, her face expressing innocent pleasure. "I mean, in a lecherous sort of way."
I was starting to like this lady. "You humble me with your extravagant praise," I said with a mock bow. Then I offered my hand. "I'm Jack Torrance."
She took my hand a little doubtfully. "Janey Matullo. I'm opening for you. You're not going to break down my door with a hatchet later, are you?"
"Wasn't planning on it. But it's early yet; the ghosts don't usually start speaking to me until after the show."
"That's all right, then." Before she could get out another line, Rudi handed her a cordless mic and pointed to the clock. "I have to go," Janey said. "But it was really nice bantering with you, Jack."
"Same here," I replied with a wink. "See you on stage."
I listened to most of Janey Matullo's act from the left wing. She was very good. Her voice had an innocent, sing-song quality to it that almost, but not quite, masked the humor in her words. People would hear her, then realize that what she'd said was not quite normal, and burst out laughing.
"There's a yellow light flashing at me from back there," she said, pointing to the light booth at the rear of the house. "That means I'm almost out of time. Either that, or something very large is about to turn left."
She let the laughter subside, then continued. "If you can read English, you already know that the main act tonight is that hypnotist fellow. Hypnotists are very interesting people. I dated a hypnotist once. At least, I think I only dated him once. There are a lot of nights after that I don't remember too well." She paused for the audience to quiet down again. "I met Jack backstage before the show tonight, so I can tell you truthfully that he's a very nice guy. He introduced himself, and we shook hands, and then I gave him my wallet, my hotel key, and my unlisted home phone number."
Janey stood stock still while the audience cheered and laughed. On the backstage monitor I could see that she was staring into the crowd. She let them fall silent and stared for another beat or two, her face showing total confusion. "Why was that funny?"
That sent them off again with an even louder roar. Janey broke into a sweet smile and giggled a little herself. "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Jack Trancer!"
The applause drowned out Rudi's transition music. I broke into a trot to catch Janey before she retreated so I'd have a chance to applaud her myself. She took her bow then waved at the crowd as she left the stage.
I could tell this bunch was ready to have fun, so I shortened my opening to just a few quick jokes and launched into my usual caveats about volunteering. "Having said all that," I concluded, "by show of hands, how many think they would like to be part of the show tonight?"
Hands shot up all over the room from a good two thirds of the audience. "Wow," I told them, "that's amazing. I'm humbled that so many of you want to participate tonight. As you can see behind me, though, I only have about eighteen chairs. So rather than have a mad dash for the few chairs I have to offer, let's have everyone try a little exercise first. I'd like to ask everyone right now, whether you intend to come up here tonight or not, to participate in this. Yes, even you skeptics. If we all do it together, then nobody looks more foolish than anybody else." I let them chuckle and shift for a moment.
"Now I'd like everyone to please put both of your hands straight out in front of you like this." I extended my arms to show them. "Turn your left hand so that the palm faces up and your right hand so the palm faces down. Now everyone close your eyes and take a nice, deep, slow breath. Breathe in all the way. That's it. Hold it. And now breathe out, easily and slowly, and feel how your body relaxes a little as you do. That's great.
"Now I want you to imagine that with your left hand you are holding the handle of an empty bucket. Feel the texture of the handle in your hand. Notice the size of the bucket, the weight of the empty bucket, maybe what the bucket is made of. And as you focus your attention completely on that bucket, imagine that I dump into the bucket a big handful of lead fishing weights, enough weights to cover the bottom of the bucket and make it suddenly feel heavier in your hand. Now I drop another big handful of lead weights into your bucket, making it heavier.
"And as you feel the weight increasing in the bucket, I'd like you to turn your attention to your right hand. Imagine that I'm placing a loop of string around your right hand, and that the string is tied to a big, bright, round, helium balloon. This balloon is huge; at least a foot or two in diameter, and it's in your favorite color. The helium in the balloon makes it tug at your hand because it wants to float up and fly away. Feel it pulling and lifting, the string firmly looped around your hand, holding it."
The house lights came up a little bit to let me see more clearly. All over the dining area I had people showing at least a little bit of sag in their left hands and rise in their right. A good number of them were responding well, with a couple of inches of change. Over the next minute or so I added more balloons to the right side and more weights to the left, encouraging them to feel the weight, feel the pulling and tugging and lifting, imagine it fully. As I talked to them, I saw arms rising into the air and sinking down to the floor. Soon I had somewhere approaching a hundred people with their arms pointing almost straight up and down -- including, I was amused to note, all three of the women at my table.
"All right, everyone, now I'd like you to open your eyes and see how powerful your minds really are." There was a pause as people looked around at each other, then a slowly building wave of applause. Still a good number of hands remained in the air. "If your hands feel like they're still holding the bucket and balloons, it's okay to just let go. The bucket will fall away and the balloon string will slide right off your hand right now." All hands went down and there was another round of applause.
"That was a very well-known test of hypnotic ability," I explained. "Notice that I said 'ability,' not 'susceptibility.' Going into hypnosis is a skill that you have, something that your mind can do, not something that I do to you. If you're willing and open to the experience, we can have a lot of fun together exploring what your mind can do. If you're not, you can still have fun watching those who do come up and that's perfectly fine, too.
"I noticed that at the end of that exercise a lot of you had your arms like this." I put one arm straight up and the other straight down to demonstrate. "You are the people that truly make this show work, and you are the kind of people I need up here. So now I'm going to ask those of you who responded well to the first test, those whose arms were separated by at least a foot," again I demonstrated, "to try a second exercise.
"This one you can do with your eyes open. I'd like you to extend your arms in front of you again like this, with your palms facing each other about a foot apart. Watch your hands closely. Focus on the sensations you're feeling in your palms right now. Imagine that right now, you can feel a sort of suction forming in the space between your palms. Feel that suction pulling at your palms, pulling your hands together. Imagine that suction drawing your hands together, getting stronger and stronger, pulling, stronger and stronger, your hands getting closer and closer together. As your hands get closer together the suction gets stronger and stronger. Stronger and stronger, closer and closer, until suddenly the pulling is so powerful that your hands just come together right now."
About half of my good-responder group were now sitting in the audience with their hands clasped together, many of them looking very surprised. "And now imagine that the powerful suction locks your hands together. Locks them together so tightly that it is impossible to pull them apart. No matter how hard you try to pull your hands apart they stay locked together, stuck together. The harder you try to pull them apart the more they are locked together. Try now to pull them apart and feel them lock together even more tightly." All over the room I saw shoulders and elbows twitching as people tried unsuccessfully to separate their hands. "Stop trying now. Stop trying and let your hands stay locked together."
I had plenty of excellent prospects to work with. "Now," I announced, "I'm going to need two guys with good reflexes and strong arms. Preferably from near the front so you can get up here quickly. Do I have any volunteers?" A bunch of hands went up, some singly and some clasped in pairs. I selected two guys whose hands were clasped together and asked them to join me on stage. After separating their hands, I learned that their names were Gary and Steve.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Gary and Steve are going to help me select volunteers. Right now, if your hands are still locked together; if you're okay with participating in nudity and adult content; if you're sober and have a good sense of humor; if you have an open mind and want to be part of the show tonight, then please make your way carefully and safely to the stairs on this side of the stage."
While the line formed, I muted the lavaliere and gave Gary and Steve their instructions. "For this to work best, I want people whose hands are really solidly locked together. Go ahead and test them; take their forearms gently and try to pull their hands apart. If they budge a little and then resist, or if they separate, thank the person for coming up and tell them to go back to their seat. If their arms don't move, bring them up to me. I'll do an instant induction and drop them into a deep trance. You might have to catch them, so be ready. Once you have them, guide them to a chair and make sure they're seated safely, then go back to the line and test the next person. Try to alternate men and women as much as possible. Got it?" Both men nodded their assent.
Gary brought me my first volunteer, a pretty brunette in a low-cut black sheath dress. "Look right here," I ordered, pointing to my eyes. My right hand lifted her clasped hands high while my left took a ready position near her elbow. "Let your eyes become heavy, droopy, drowsy. Heavier and heavier." She began to blink heavily and lose focus. "When I count to three your hands will separate and drop to your sides. One, two, three -- sleep!" At three I pulled her sharply forward and down with my right hand. She tipped forward and went limp as I caught her.
"That's great," I said, "Relaxing completely. Able to stand straight and tall, straight and tall, while your mind goes deeper and deeper." I stood her up and she managed to stay that way. "Now in a moment you're going to feel my assistant Gary take your right arm. When he touches your arm I want you to open your eyes and let Gary lead you to a chair. Once you sit in the chair your eyes can close and you can go a thousand times deeper." I gestured to Gary. He came forward and shepherded the woman to a seat.
Steve brought up the next prospect, a bookish-looking guy in a Hawaiian shirt. I repeated the process on him and sent him with Steve. Things went smoothly as we filled the seats, until Gary brought up volunteer number fifteen. I froze for a second when I came face to face with Monica.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" I asked, suddenly nervous.
Her eyes captured mine. "I'm sure. Go ahead."
There really wasn't time to discuss it. Putting my nerves aside, I dropped Monica the same way as the others and finished the rest of the inductions.
"For all of the people on stage now," I said after dismissing the rest of the line. "I'm going to talk to the audience for a few minutes. As I do that, I want you to just let yourselves relax even more. Let your minds drift and let any thoughts that wander into your mind just slip right out again, easily and naturally. Each breath you take relaxes you more and sends you deeper into hypnosis. When you hear the audience applaud you will know they are applauding for you, and that knowledge will send you even deeper.
"Now for all of you in the audience who still have your hands stuck together, in a moment I'm going to count to three. When I reach the count of three your hands will separate all by themselves and become completely normal again. You can then give a round of applause for our volunteers on stage, and for Gary and Steve for helping to get them there. One, two, three."
The beginning of the show is still something of a blur. It felt as if a couple of years went by while I stood there, half listening to the crowd applauding my volunteers, half wondering what the hell Monica had in her mind. The user was going nuts with the possibilities, knowing what a star Monica could be. Then the teacher came forward, wanting to second- and third-guess every idea that came up. The crowd went silent and, ready or not, I had to get moving.
As I took my subjects through the preliminaries, which were aimed at fractionating them into deeper trance state as much as assessing their abilities, I felt the teacher and the user coming to an accord. Monica wanted to challenge us, did she? Fine – we could handle it.
“And now,” I said, “I want you all to imagine that you are not on stage or in the audience anymore, but rather that you are on the beach. Really imagine that, make it as real in your mind as possible. Feel the ocean breeze against your skin. Hear the surf in the distance. Notice the warmth that seeps into your body from the sun and sand and let that warmth relax you even more.
“And now, as you enjoy the rays of the sun, you can open your eyes and really see the beach and the ocean stretching out before you. The sun is strong and you realize that you need to apply some more sunblock to avoid getting a sunburn. Notice now that there's a bottle of sunblock in one of your hands and go ahead and apply that to your body.”
Visual hallucinations are difficult for a lot of people. Normally I’d never try something that advanced so early in the show, but I already knew that these people were among the most responsive in the entire audience because they had been tested before they ever came on stage. The spotlights helped to reinforce the idea of a strong sun, which also added some believability to the illusion. Sure enough, all but a couple of them discovered imaginary bottles of lotion and began to smear it on themselves. “That's right,” I continued, “make sure you apply it everywhere, even where you don't think the sun can reach right now. Cover your arms, your legs, your chest and stomach ... everywhere. If your bathing suit is in the way you can just reach inside it or let the lotion soak in through it.”
So far, so good. While the bulk of the group sat there “applying lotion” to themselves, I quietly dismissed the few who hadn’t taken the suggestion. With a stage full of good, creative minds I could afford to be extra picky.
“Very good, everyone. But now that you have your fronts well oiled, you realize that there's no protection on your backs. It's very hard to apply lotion to your own back, of course, so we'll use a little teamwork. When I count to three you can all stand up and begin applying sunblock to the back of the person to your right. If there's nobody on your right that's okay, you can just enjoy it for now and we'll deal with that later. One, two, three.”
My volunteers stood and, right on cue, began rubbing imaginary lotion into each other's backs. The sound of scuffling chairs and hushed giggles told me I had a few people in the audience participating in the illusion as well. “Be thorough,” I told them. “Make sure you get the sunblock everywhere. Really work it in to that person's skin so they won't get an uncomfortable burn. You'll have to touch them in places that maybe you might not normally, and you may feel someone touching you in places where you might not ordinarily permit it, but this is for your own benefit; relax and let it happen.”
Hawaiian shirt guy was really getting into it. His hands roamed all over the brunette's shoulders and spine, working their way inevitably downward. Monica was doing the same to him, though a little more slowly. When the guy behind her, an older guy in a business suit, grabbed a handful of her bottom she paused a moment but kept on going.
“Great,” I continued. “It feels so good to have someone caressing your body, rubbing that lotion into the places you can't easily reach. And as you relax more and really start to enjoy that feeling, you realize that there's something funny about this lotion. There's something in this lotion that makes your skin tingle in a very pleasant, sensuous way. In fact, as you notice that tingling feeling it spreads even through the front of your body. You find yourself becoming aroused by something in the lotion, something that's soaking into your skin even now and making you so aroused, so pleasantly aroused. You can't help but feel more and more turned on with each passing moment. Even if you don't have someone rubbing lotion onto you right now the lotion on your hands and on your front is soaking in through your skin and getting your incredibly aroused.”
My volunteers' hands slowed down. Instead of just applying lotion they were now caressing each other. A lot of them began breathing more heavily and a heard a few little sighs and purrs of arousal. Monica leaned backward into the busy hands of her businessman even as her hands cupped the cheeks of Hawaiian shirt guy and squeezed.
Since I had two people stage left who weren't getting the full treatment, I had everyone stop and then resume applying “lotion” to the person on the opposite side. Hawaiian shirt guy was in heaven, of course, with his hands on Monica and the brunette's hands on him. On the other end a blonde in a yellow tank and white shorts accepted the hands of a Japanese guy on her back and yet continued to apply 'lotion' to her own front.
I waited until the panting and purring got loud enough for the audience to hear easily, then continued. “And now you can stop applying the sunblock to the other person and sit down again in your seat. You can still feel the lotion arousing you, but as you sit down you also notice another strange effect: the skin underneath your swimsuit, where you put the lotion but the sun doesn't reach it, is becoming itchy. That's right, itchy and uncomfortable, getting more and more uncomfortable by the second. The skin that's exposed to the sun feels great, but any skin under clothing just feels as if something sticky and rough is rubbing up against it in a most uncomfortable way.”
The yellow tank was the first thing to come off. She wore no bra, which drew appreciative applause from the audience. When some of the others saw her lose the top and become obviously more comfortable they began to follow suit. The Japanese guy stood up long enough to drop his pants and reveal plain white boxers; Hawaiian shirt guy opened the shirt up and let it fall to the elbows but was reluctant to let it go. Monica, in a white sundress, resisted the urge to strip but did hike up the bottom of her dress to reveal plenty of leg and pulled at the top part to expose more of her chest to the air, though not necessarily to view.
It was too early in the show to have people getting completely naked, so I cut things off quickly. “And now a sudden light rain comes down and washes the itching away, leaving your skin feeling so cool and clean and fresh and comfortable. Let yourselves enjoy that feeling as you sit down safely in your seats and sleep.”
I gave those who had taken off clothing an opportunity to retrieve it and put it back on. That disappointed some onlookers, especially when the blond on the end retrieved her tank top, but it kept the user and the teacher in balance.
With everyone seated and back in trance, it was time to start getting to know my volunteers a little bit. Hawaiian shirt guy turned out to be a copier salesman named Jim. The brunette he'd been feeling up earlier was a writer named Yvonne. The businessman next to Monica was Barry, a real estate agent, and next to him was his wife and partner/broker Lacey.
At stage left, I learned that my uninhibited blond was named Traci and she had come up with her sister-in-law Jordan. The Japanese man was Yoshiro, a grad student. Another interesting find was Hector, a local who worked as a bartender at the resort. His fiancée Bianca was with him on stage and looked quite fetching in a red halter and tight black pants.
It was right about then that I realized I still had too many people on stage. I'd already forgotten some of their names, and coming up with enough ideas to give everyone fair time in the spotlight was going to be a challenge. As I rifled through the index card file in my mind, my eye fell on Yvonne and I had a flash of inspiration.
I had Yvonne stand up and quickly grabbed a spare chair I'd spotted just offstage. I set it down further up stage so that she could sit apart from the rest of the group and turned it to face upstage center. “In a few moments I'm going to count to three,” I told my volunteers. “When I reach three, I'd like you all to open your eyes and watch the stage in front of you. You'll remain deeply hypnotized and waiting for me to give you more suggestions.
“Yvonne, when you open your eyes you'll see a computer sitting on a desk in front of you and your favorite word processing software ready to go. You've been hired by the resort to write the pilot script for a new soap opera to be broadcast on the resort's premium adult TV channel. These other people on stage are the cast of the show and they are waiting for you to finish the script. To save time the producers have decided to have them rehearse the script as you write. So when I tell you to begin, you'll start writing and you'll speak the words aloud as you type them on the computer. This is just a first draft, so you don't have to worry about editing right now; we'll do that later. As you read the script the actors will follow your directions and act out the story for you. Sometimes I'll put my hand on your shoulder like this and say, 'Pause.' When I do that you can hold your thought until I touch you again, then continue exactly where you left off.
“Everyone else on stage, you are the actors in this show. From time to time I will ask you to come forward and take on a role, and if I do you'll follow my directions. Just let your mind relax and let your creativity come forward as you play the role Yvonne assigns you and follow Yvonne's suggestions.
“One more thing, for Yvonne and everyone else. This is a soap opera for an adult channel, so naturally it's going to be a lot racier than you'd normally see on television. The sexier you make the show the more likely it is to get picked up by a cable network, and that means long-term contracts for all of you.
“We'll start the show with Hector and Bianca on a dinner date. This is the night that Hector plans to propose to Bianca and he wants it to be special. One ... two ... three.”
Yvonne looked straight ahead as if into a computer screen. Her hands rose to keyboard level and began typing. “The scene: a fancy, romantic restaurant. Hector and Bianca are seated in a cozy corner booth by a nondescript host.”
“Pause,” I said while touching Yvonne on the shoulder. Knowing that the volunteers' chairs were secured for safety reasons I was going to have Hector and Bianca do the scene standing. But Redman's techies were on the job – by the time I had my volunteers on their feet a pair of chairs had appeared in the perfect spot and the stage hands vanished back into the wings. So I took the role of the host and escorted Hector and Bianca to their seats.
“Bianca,” Yvonne continued on cue, “is worried because this restaurant is clearly very expensive.”
“This place seems expensive,” Bianca echoed. “Are we celebrating something?”
Without missing a beat, Hector responded. “Yes, we are. Tonight is the third anniversary of the night we met.”
“What neither of them realizes,” Yvonne said and typed, “is that they are not alone. Bianca's jealous ex-boyfriend, Julio, has gotten a job behind the bar and is watching their every move. His plan for revenge is about to unfold.”
I grabbed Yoshiro and assigned him the role of Julio. “She thinks she can dump me and get away with it,” he sneered from the side of the stage. “I'll fix her. I'll show everyone what a slut she is.”
Yvonne typed some more. “Very carefully, Julio distracts the couple's waiter long enough to pour a tiny bit of clear liquid into the drink he knows is Bianca's favorite. Nobody sees him do it and the waiter delivers their drinks without any idea that Bianca's has been spiked.”
I played the waiter myself and mimed serving drinks.
“Bianca is nervous,” Yvonne continued, “so she takes a long sip of her drink. She makes a little bit of a face because the taste is just a bit off, but she's too distracted to pay any real attention.” It was great seeing Bianca play that out as Yvonne said it. “Hector is nervous as well. So nervous that his hands are beginning to sweat. He excuses himself to go to the restroom and get himself composed for the big moment.”
Again, using pre-tested volunteers paid off. Without my having to prompt him Hector got up and walked a few paces away and upstage. He made hand-washing motions at an imaginary sink and inspected himself using the mirror his mind provided.
“Meanwhile,” said Yvonne, “Bianca starts to feel the effects of the Spanish Fly that Julio slipped into her drink. She becomes flushed and aroused; with every passing moment she gets more and more hot as the drug takes over her system. Julio sees Bianca breathing heavily and knows that this is his chance to take advantage.”
Yoshiro took his cue and approached Bianca's chair. “You look hot, Bianca,” he said.
She certainly did. Bianca's cheeks had an extra glow and she was squirming in her seat. “Julio! What are you doing here?”
“I'm here for you,” Yoshiro said without skipping a beat. “You want me, Bianca. I can tell you want me. Your body is on fire right now with desire for me, isn't it?”
Bianca paused just for a moment, and Yvonne prompted her. “Bianca feels confused,” she said. “Her body is aching for a man – any man – and Julio is certainly that. But her heart belongs to Hector. She struggles to resist the urges of her body, but the drug is too powerful.”
“I don't ... love you,” Bianca said to Yoshiro. “Not anymore.”
“But you want me,” he countered. “Your lips yearn to kiss me. Your breasts are begging for my touch. Don't deny it, I can see how badly you want me to take you into the cloakroom and make you scream with pleasure. You can't resist.”
“I don't ... I can't ... “
“Bianca stammers,” Yvonne narrated, “but when Julio takes her hand her body gives in completely. She lets him lead her to the cloak room, the drug making her more and more eager to have Julio with every step.”
Yoshiro suited the deed to the word. He held out his hand and Bianca, with an air of reluctance took it. He led her to a spot near where he had started out. “Now, my little slut, you will give yourself to me.”
Yvonne picked up the narration. “Julio spins Bianca around and begins pawing her body roughly. He kisses her and feels her up, then --”
“Pause!” The user was enjoying this, but the teacher needed to make an adjustment to the story line. I bent over and whispered a suggestion into Yvonne's ear.
She continued: “Then, just as Julio is unfastening Bianca's top, the cloakroom door bursts open and Hector appears. He recognizes Julio and immediately realizes what has happened.”
Hector glared at Yoshiro with impressive menace. “Julio! I thought that was you skulking around. What did you put in her drink?”
“Spanish fly,” Yoshiro spit back. “She'll fuck every man in this restaurant and beg for more, starting with me.”
“Hector and Julio fight,” Yvonne said. I paused things long enough to remind the men that this is a show, and that actors don't actually hit each other. They put on a stage fight worthy of a no-budget schlock film until Yvonne spoke the conclusion. “Julio is staggered by Hector's blow,” she said, “and realizes he's beaten. He swears revenge and leaves.”
Yoshiro wiped the imaginary blood from his mouth. “You win this time, Hector,” he sneered, “but don't even think this is over.” He stalked off in the exact direction Hector had come from, taking the first empty seat he came to.
“Bianca's body is still aching for sex,” Yvonne continued. “She needs it now, and Hector is right there.”
“Hector,” Bianca panted, “I need you to make love to me right now.”
“I want to,” he replied. “Let me take you home.”
“There's no time for that,” she insisted. Bianca's halter was half untied already thanks to Yoshiro; she pulled the second tie and flung the whole thing aside. Her hands caressed her breasts as she locked eyes with Hector. “Take me now, Hector.”
“Hector looks at his love,” Yvonne narrated, “and realizes how much she needs him to do this for her. They kiss and make love on a pile of coats.”
I let Hector and Bianca embrace and kiss a few times, and the teacher even agreed to let them engage in a little R-rated foreplay. When they laid back on an imaginary pile of coats and Hector started to unzip Bianca's pants, though, I called an end to the scene and returned my actors to their seats. As the stage hands came out and removed the 'restaurant' chairs I picked up Bianca's discarded halter and laid it in her lap.
At my prompting, Yvonne started a new scene starring Traci and Jordan.
“Traci is in the locker room at the gym, getting changed for her workout ...”
Traci took her cue without my prompting. She stood and came forward, opened the door to an imaginary locker, and stripped off her tank to appreciative applause that got louder a moment later when her white shorts hit the stage floor to reveal the tiniest thong I'd ever seen.
“... when, quite unexpectedly, Jordan appears a few lockers down.”
Jordan paused just a moment before taking a position a few feet away from Traci. She faced the audience, unbuttoned her blouse, and put it in the 'locker' in front of her. Then the two women's faces turned toward each other.
“Traci is incensed,” Yvonne continued. “Just yesterday she'd caught Jordan in bed with Bob, Traci's husband. She can't believe that Jordan would have the nerve to show up here.”
“You ignorant whore!” Traci called out to her sister-in-law. “How dare you show your tramp face in here after what you did yesterday?”
“Jordan,” Yvonne said, “has always despised Traci and feels that Traci is the wrong woman for Bob. A cat fight seems inevitable.”
Jordan gave the slightest of nods and then glared at Traci. “You know what they say – a man doesn't stray if he's happy. Maybe if you'd wave those perky little tits at Bob a bit more often he wouldn't feel the need to upgrade.”
“Your sagging, floppy jugs have been seen by more guys than the last big action movie, Jordan. So why is it that none of them seem to stay interested after they've plowed your south forty a few times? I'll tell you why – it's because they can't stand your gold-digging, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately power games. You're not even an upgrade from a blow-up doll.” I heard some Oohs and Aahs from the audience.
“You mean like the one your husband keeps in his closet,” Jordan sneered back, “to keep him in blow jobs while he waits for you to deign to let him touch you once a month? It wouldn't surprise me if Bob was paying for it on the side.”
“You would know, Jordan. How much does he pay you?”
Jordan lunged at Traci with her hands out like claws. Again I took the precaution of pausing things to remind my actors to fake any punching or clawing they might want to do. Traci neatly sidestepped her attacker and tried to yank her backward by her bra strap. Jordan's bra, however, had not been built for that kind of stress – the front closure popped open and the bra ended up in Traci's hand while Jordan's impressive breasts bounced free. The user enjoyed the view; the teacher made a mental note to get Jordan a gift card for the resort's lingerie shop to replace one expensive-looking bra.
Traci and Jordan grappled each other and wound up rolling around on the floor. I let them do that for a few moments and then whispered another instruction to Yvonne.
“Just as the fight gets ugly,” she said, “the other women in the locker room rush over to separate the fighting pair.” Every woman on stage except Yvonne got up and descended on the melee. They separated Jordan from Traci and held them by the arms while the fighting women struggled to get free. “Traci and Jordan exchange murderous looks, but the fight is over. They grab their clothes and leave by separate doors.”
Traci picked up her tank and shorts and returned to her seat holding the bunched-up clothing against her chest. Jordan took a look at the bra and tossed it aside as if into an unseen garbage can, then slipped the blouse back on but didn't bother to button it. I gave them each a suggestion to cease acting out those roles and sleep.
Once the rest of my volunteers were seated I set up the next scene. “Now we cut to Bob talking about his infidelity with his close friend, Monica. Jim will play the role of Bob, and Monica will play his friend, who is also a marriage counselor.”
“Bob,” Yvonne began, “has come to the apartment of his friend Monica. They are sitting on the sofa having drinks while Bob confesses the details of his encounter with Jordan.”
The improvisational skills of Redman's crew seemed limitless. Yvonne had barely finished the word 'sofa' when one appeared, rolled in on silent casters by a fast-moving techie. The word 'drinks' produced a simple coffee table and a pair of empty highball glasses almost as quickly. A spotlight lit up the sofa as I positioned Monica and Jim on either end.
“I never meant for it to happen,” Jim confessed. “The last thing I'd ever want to do is to hurt Traci. But she's been away so much lately, between work and the gym. I was worried that something was wrong. And then Jordan came over, we had a drink, and she really seemed like she wanted to help. I talked, and she listened. It felt good to have someone who really wanted to listen, you know? Next thing I knew she was leaning in close, and her hand was on my leg, and it had been so long since Traci touched me that way that my body responded to her. We kissed, and somehow my hand slipped inside her shirt. Instead of stopping me she unzipped my fly and put her hand in there and after that ... well, it just happened. And Traci walked in on us and saw us both naked and Jordan on top of me, but I was so turned on I couldn't stop even then. It was like a nightmare.”
“Monica listens to Bob's story,” Yvonne continued, “and feels herself getting increasingly turned on. She's wanted for years to seduce Bob, but always figured he would never give in because of his love for Traci. Now, though, with Bob feeling so vulnerable and ashamed, this was an opportunity Monica couldn't resist.”
Monica didn't miss a beat. She scooted up close to Jim, took his hand in hers, and caressed it. “It's okay, Bob,” she told him. “It's not your fault. The body wants what it wants, and sometimes we just have to relax and let go, Bob, and let the body have what it wants.”
The teacher admired the smoothness with which Monica had embedded the suggestion. The user watched with eager excitement as Monica's intentions became clear. “I can take the hurt away for you, Bob,” she said, her voice growing smooth and soft. “All you have to do is trust me and let go.”
Monica gestured with two fingers toward her eyes. “Focus on my eyes,” she directed him. “Let all of your thought and energies concentrate just on my eyes. Let your field of vision narrow so that all you see, all you can focus on, are my eyes. You don't have to do anything; you don't have to say anything; you don't even have to consciously listen to my voice. Clear your mind and as you stare deeply into my eyes, allow yourself to take a long, slow, deep breath ... that's right ... and as you let it out slowly, staying so focused on my eyes that you may not even notice just how deeply your body is relaxing.”
Jim didn't stand a chance. His eyes locked on Monica's and I could see him visibly sagging.
“That's right,” she continued, “just keep focusing completely on my eyes ... so focused now that even if you try to look away, you find that your eyes cannot move from mine. Go ahead and prove that you are so focused, your eyes can't look away from mine no matter how hard you try.”
I was close enough to see the muscles around Jim's eyes twitch with the effort of trying, and failing, to look away. Then, to the user's delight, Monica's hand went to the buttons on the front of her dress and slowly opened them, spreading the fabric apart as she went. “See? No matter how much you may want to look away, you can't do it. In fact, you are so focused on my eyes right now that you probably haven't even noticed that I've unbuttoned my dress. My breasts are out in the open, right in front of you. You'd like to look at my breasts, wouldn't you? I know you want to, but you're eyes are still locked onto mine. You can try to look down, try to look at my breasts, but the more you try the more you find that instead your eyes become heavy and sleepy ... droopy and drowsy ... and still completely unable to look away from mine. As I count down from five to one, keep trying to look at my breasts, but the more you try the sleepier and sleepier you become and the more impossible it is for you to look away from my eyes. Five ... wanting so much to see my body ... four, your eyelids becoming so heavy, so hard to keep them open ... three, struggling now just to keep my eyes in focus as the heaviness spreads through your whole body ... two, so hard now, you're so hard, and you're trying so hard to look at my breasts but your eyes just won't do it, and they become so sleepy it's just impossible to keep them open any longer as I reach ... one. Your eyes close, and you can just relax and let go.”
But my student wasn't finished. She took Jim through a short deepener and then revealed to all of us her plan. “I want to help you,” she assured him. “Allow my voice to penetrate deeply into your inner mind, until it becomes natural and automatic for you to follow my suggestions. Follow my suggestions exactly and you can be free of the guilt you were feeling a few minutes ago.”
This sounded interesting.
“The guilt that was bothering you so comes from the memory of having betrayed Traci. To eliminate the guilt, we are going to replace that memory with a pleasant one ... a happy one ... a memory that you can keep without any guilt or shame because it will be right and wonderful for you. When you're ready to follow my suggestions completely and be free of the guilt, just ask me to free you.”
It took maybe three seconds for Jim to respond through barely moving lips. “Free me.”
Monica took Jim's hand again and caressed it. “I want you to go back in your mind to your encounter with Jordan. Be there again, make it as real as possible, except for one thing: instead of Jordan, you are now with Traci. Keep your eyes closed, and let your every thought and wish and feeling confirm to your mind that you are with Traci.” She slipped his hand inside her open dress. “Let this be Traci's breast that you're feeling, and notice how warm and soft it is.” With her other hand she pulled down Jim's zipper and snaked her hand inside. “Let this be Traci's hand reaching inside your pants, making you so hard, so eager to make love to her. Let the lips you kiss now be hers, and give yourself to her now.”
Still holding his hand against her breast and her own inside his pants, Monica closed the distance between their faces and planted a long, open-mouthed kiss on her costar. Jim returned it and then some, and his hand grew ever bolder in exploring Monica's chest while she stroked his hard-on.
That was enough for me. I put a hand on each of them and commanded, “Sleep!” Monica flopped on top of Jim and I held her just long enough to make sure she wouldn't roll off, then did the same for Yvonne and called the scene over.
The applause while I extricated Monica and took her back to her seat was deafening. She slumped down in her chair, dress still gaping open but showing only a very generous amount of cleavage from a straight-on viewing angle. Yvonne also drew accolades from the crowd as I led her back to her chair. Jim, I suspected, was the envy of every straight guy in the room.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” I announced, moving into the next bit, “those of you who saw my show last Tuesday may recall that we put on our own version of The Dating Game.” A healthy round of applause told me that a good percentage of the crowd had seen it, or at least heard about it. “Our lucky contestant that night was a guy named Warren. In the interest of fairness, I'm thinking that tonight we should find a date for one of the young ladies up here on stage. Let's see now, who shall it be?”
I had actually intended to pick someone from the back row who hadn't been in the last bit, but the audience mistook my musing for an actual question. “Traci!” a bunch of them called out. I also heard loud cries for Monica and for Jordan. Flashing skin buys instant popularity, it seemed. I figured, why not? I brought Traci, Monica and Jordan to the front and took an applause poll. It was close but Monica just won out over Traci, with Jordan taking third.
“Okay, then, our contestant tonight will be Monica. But rather than go through the ritual of asking a lot of questions, I think we should just focus on the really important thing: who deserves that dream date with Monica?”
I had four guys come forward and line up: Hector and Barry, plus two guys from the back row that had sat out the soap opera bit, Eugene and Lou. “Gentlemen, you have been chosen to compete for the honor of a dream date with Monica. You all saw how she handled Jim earlier, so you know she's a hot-blooded woman who knows what she likes in a man. Rather than ask you a bunch of questions, then, it's going to be up to you guys to prove who is the most worthy of her affection. That's right, gentlemen, this competition is going to be decided on one factor only: machismo. Allow yourselves right now to become the most macho of all men. You think macho, you walk macho, you talk macho. Everything you say will be intended to impress Monica with how macho you are, and everything you hear your competitors say will only convince you even more that you must prove your superior machismo. You can say and do anything that comes to mind to make your case except that you cannot touch each other and you cannot leave your place on stage. In the end, Monica will choose the most macho man to be hers.”
I turned to the audience. “But what does it mean to be macho? I think there are three basic qualities that define machismo. First of these is strength. Let's find out from our macho men how strong they think they are.”
Mic in hand, I walked over to Hector, my first in line. “Hector, tell us something that will impress Monica with your strength.”
Hector pushed up a shirt sleeve and displayed a very impressive bicep. “See this? I am the arm-wrestling champion of the resort.” He drew a round of applause as he flexed his arm to show off the muscle.
Barry did not have an impressive physique, but the way he looked at Monica (who still hadn't buttoned her dress) spoke volumes about his desire. “Strong muscles are nothing without endurance,” he said. “These arms are not made to play games; instead, they are built to sweep you into them, carry you to my room, and make love to you until dawn. That is my strength.”
Eugene was not impressed. “Strongest thing about this dude is his after shave,” he sneered. “I'm a personal trainer, Monica. My body is my living. Every muscle I have is conditioned for strength and endurance ... and I do mean, every muscle.” The pelvic thrust with which he punctuated that statement was clearly unnecessary, but the audience enjoyed it.
“Muscles are easy,” Lou said on his turn. “Real strength is about more than just what you can lift; it's what you can handle. I face rejection, hostility, and indifference every single day in the car business, and every day I find the strength to get out there and face it some more. It never gets to me because I'm strong enough to believe in myself. And I believe that I'm the guy who can rock your world tonight.” Not a bad try from a guy with an obvious spare tire.
“All right,” I continued after the applause died down, “we've established that these men are strong. But to be macho, a man must also have poise and grace. I can't think of a better way for these men to demonstrate their poise and grace than to put on a macho posing exhibition. Gentlemen, on the count of three you will all strip off your shirts and put on an exhibition of posing that will show off your muscles and grace and form. One, two, three.”
Redman's techies impressed me again. From the speaker system came the hard thrashing sounds of an old heavy metal song:
“He's pumping iron; everywhere rock haaaaaaard ...”
My contestants tossed their shirts behind them and began doing their best imitations of body builders in competition. Barry struck a fierce post to show off his chest and shoulders; Hector did the classic Atlas pose, with arms up as if holding up the world. Eugene and Lou got into it as well. Every few seconds the guys changed poses, their eyes constantly looking towards Monica. She watched them all and gave encouraging looks to each in turn.
“And as the music continues,” I suggested, “your poses get increasingly outrageous and unorthodox.” Hector dropped his pants and did buttock clenches in Monica's direction through his gold silk boxers. Barry put on a unique exhibition of facial poses while his right arm went to his chest in the movie gladiator salute. I spied Lou, also sans pants, doing pelvic thrusts in time to the music at a woman in the front row and Eugene, possibly the best in the group, turning his back to the audience and doing the classic 'making out' pose with an imaginary girlfriend. The music wound down and the posing ended.
“Well,” I said to the audience, “we have certainly seen some unusual interpretations of poise tonight.” I let them chuckle. “Now, let's see if our men have that third vital quality of the truly macho man: passion. Monica, on the count of three I want you to come over here and, one at a time, kiss each of these men. After each kiss you can tell us how passionate and macho that man's kiss was.”
On my three count Monica walked up to Hector, looked briefly into his eyes, and kissed him. Hector stood still, perhaps aware in his subconscious that his fiancee was on stage. Monica broke off shortly. “Too timid,” she assessed, in a fake accent that reminded me vaguely of Anita de los Santos. “He kissed me like I was his sister. This is not macho.”
She approached Barry. He lifted his hands to her face and guided her mouth to his. This kiss lasted longer and included some head movement. “Very nice,” Monica said. “But a bit chaste. I didn't feel the desire in his touch. Better, but still not macho.”
Eugene could barely hold still while she approached him. His arms went around Monica immediately and pulled her body into his. One hand went immediately down to her bottom and grabbed at her. She pushed back hard and almost fell over, but I was on hand to steady her. “No!” she complained. “Too much grabbing, too much pressing. It's a kiss, not mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Very not macho.”
The crowd's reaction was mixed. I heard a lot of male voices groaning, and a lot of female voices cheering. Then they fell silent for Lou's turn. He opened his arms and embraced Monica, but gently and without the blatant groping that had come from Eugene. “That was the best so far,” she told us all. “He has confidence. Confidence is mui macho.”
The audience cheered and I heard a couple of men’s voices calling out, “Come here, try me!” Monica took her seat and the crowd fell quiet.
“Ladies and gentlemen, before we ask Monica to make her choice, let's find out what you think. By round of applause, who is the most macho?
“Is it Hector?” A healthy chunk of the audience seemed to think so. They clapped and shouted their support for him.
“Is it Barry?” Nope – a few isolated cheers came from a side table was all he got.
“Is it Eugene?” Lots of men seemed to think so. Overall, though, he didn’t get as much support as Hector had.
“Or is it Lou?” He also got a lot of support. There’s something about a pudgy guy willing to put himself out there that gets people on his side. In the end, though, the choice was obvious.
“Monica,” I announced, “our audience has spoken. They say that the most macho of the men on stage is Hector. But the final say is yours: whom will you choose to be yours for the night?”
She accepted the mic from my hand. “The audience is mistaken,” she said. “These men all have macho qualities. So do many of the others who did not participate. But there is one man who is so strong, so poised, and so passionate that he has every one else dancing to his tune, including me.” Monica moved close and put an arm around my neck. “You are el mas macho, Jack. I choose you.” And before I could respond she planted a kiss on me that short-circuited my brain for a moment.
The cardinal rule of improvisation says that when your fellow actor hands you an offer, you take it. So I put my arm around Monica's waist, shifted my weight just a little and maneuvered her into a dip. A loud chorus of approving whistles and cries accompanied us as we kissed and kissed. Then I retrieved the microphone and held it close to our mouths. “Everyone, sleep.”
I carried Monica back to her seat and settled her into it. Then, while the audience was applauding, I turned aside and got the attention of one of the techies. She came out, we had a very fast exchange, and she headed back to the wings to relay my plan to Rudi in the booth. During the macho competition I’d had an idea.
While my talented people in black made their moves I moved over to Traci and put a hand on her shoulder. “This next suggestion is for Traci only. Traci, I'd like you to open your eyes now, stand up, and come with me to the front of the stage. You can leave on the seat any clothing you're not wearing because you won't need it just yet. Come with me now.”
Traci's pretty blue eyes opened. She stood up, took my hand, and came forward with me as instructed. She was perfect for what I had in mind, and not just because she was almost naked.
Two techies came running on stage with a pair of tall wooden barstools. They placed them at upstage center, about four feet apart, and retreated to the wings. “Close your eyes now, Traci,” I told her. I faced her directly toward the audience and stood behind her. The handheld mic went into my pocket so I'd have both hands free. With a hand on each of Traci's shoulders, I continued. “For Traci and only Traci, right now, stand up straight and tall for me, please. Straight and tall, arms at your sides, feet together. That's right. Traci only, I want you to imagine right now that your body has become absolutely stiff and rigid, muscles locked in this position, completely rigid and unmovable, as if your whole body were suddenly made of hard plastic, like a mannequin. Completely stiff, completely rigid, completely unmoving, until I tell you otherwise.”
I used my hands to gently rock her back and forth, side to side, to make sure she was nice and rigid. “Very good,” I told her. “You can stay perfectly stiff like that, and I promise to keep you safe. Now, this next suggestion is for Eugene only: Eugene, please open your eyes and come join me at the front of the stage now.”
When Eugene reached my side I turned Traci to face him and tilted her backward until she tipped over. I still had a grip on her shoulders and used that to keep her from falling, then shifted my grip to allow me to lift. I had Eugene lift her feet and we laid her out across the two barstools, her feet on one and her neck and shoulders squarely over the other. There were some scattered Ooohs from the audience.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is what we call the Bridge. Notice that despite having absolutely nothing to hold her back straight or her arms at her sides, Traci is able to maintain this position and, in fact, is quite comfortable.” I took out the hand mic and held it to her face. “Traci, tell our audience how you feel right now.”
“Dreamy,” she said in a soft, spacey voice.
“How comfortable are you right now?”
“Very comfortable. I feel like I'm floating.”
“Thank you, Traci. Let your mind drift deeper as your body remains perfectly stiff and rigid.”
From up in the booth a green light flashed. Rudi was ready.
“The Bridge,” I explained to the audience, “is a very popular demonstration because it's just about impossible to fake. Anyone trying to do this in a waking state will find it very difficult to achieve this position and it would require extensive practice and conditioning to be able to hold it for any length of time. But here at Uninhibited, we've discovered another very convenient use for this technique. Hector, and only Hector, please open your eyes and join me at the front of the stage now.”
I placed Hector at Traci's head and Eugene at her feet and had them lift her off the barstools to shoulder level. “Hector and Eugene, I want you to feel the muscles in your arms and shoulders locking in place, fixed and unmoving, absolutely locked in that position so that Traci remains safely suspended in your grip. Only when I ask you to change position will your arms and shoulders move.” The techies cleared away the barstools and I had the Hector-Traci-Eugene assembly turn slightly.
“Now, for everyone else on stage except Traci, Hector, and Eugene: it's limbo time!”
The sound system came to life and the familiar limbo music filled the room. “Everyone still seated on stage, we're going to conclude tonight's show with a limbo competition. If you wish to play, you can open your eyes and form a line to your right. Traci is the limbo pole; if you can go under her without touching the floor with anything but your feet, you can keep going. If you touch the floor you can still continue, but you have to remove an item of clothing first. If you run out of clothing you're out and have to sit down. If any of you are wearing high heels I strongly recommend you simply take those off now before you join the line. Anyone who does not wish to play can remain seated and sleep, but those who do want to play can begin now.”
The line formed stage right. I was pleased to see that only a few people opted out, and mildly surprised that Monica was not one of them. We'd get her out of that dress yet, it seemed.
The first pass through was easy. With Traci's body at shoulder level and no clothes hanging below to interfere, everybody made it under with ease. Working first with Hector and then with Eugene, I repositioned Traci to chest level and made sure they had a firm grip before locking their muscles in place again. This time Jim, the tallest of the gang, failed to make it under without putting a hand on the floor. He tossed off the Hawaiian shirt and rejoined the line.
The third pass involved another grip change that put Traci at lower chest level, and that's when things got interesting. Everyone but Yvonne and Bianca slipped up and had to lose a piece of clothing, which kept the techies hopping to collect the items and take them out of the way. The teacher made a point of telling everyone that they could choose to quit any time they wanted, but Monica kicked off her sensible flat shoes and continued. The user applauded her bravado.
With Traci at gut level Jim gave up while he still had his shorts and his dignity. Barry and Lacey, both down to underwear, kept going. Yvonne lost her dress and continued in nothing but a sheer black teddy. Monica almost made it, but lost her balance at the last second and landed rump first on the floor. She bowed to the cheering crowd, spread the dress open and stood up without it. When she returned to her seat instead of the line I could almost feel the disappointment from my fellow straight men.
The real star was turning out to be Bianca. She had started topless, having finished the soap opera that way, but had yet to lose anything else. She led the way in the next pass, which had Traci at hip height, and again managed to snake through without faulting. Barry took one look at the height and sat down without trying. Lacey was game, but fell and lost her bra. Yvonne and Jordan also slipped and became the first ones eliminated by running out of clothing.
I had Hector and Eugene kneel and raise Traci back to mid chest level, which was now a few inches lower than the last round. Only Lacey and Bianca remained. Bianca went first, knees bent sharply, focused intently on keeping her weight balanced. She almost made it, but when she ducked her head to clear Traci she tipped backward and landed on her bottom. Still, she was laughing as she peeled off the tight black pants to reveal a baby blue G-string.
Lacey gave it a solid try, but she clearly lacked Bianca's experience. Half way under her feet flew out and she flopped on her back. With more grace than one might expect in that situation Lacey picked herself up, slipped off her panties, and tucked them into my pocket on her way back to her seat. I tossed them to a waiting techie and approached Bianca.
“You seem to be the last one standing,” I observed, “but I'm not sure I can give you the prize when you fell on your last attempt. Do you think you can do it if I give you one more try?”
Bianca gently pushed the mic aside. “Watch me.”
Damned if she didn't do it, too. She approached slowly and deliberately, inching her way underneath Traci's still body. This time she managed the head tuck without losing balance and came through triumphant.
The limbo music faded away to the audience's loud cheers. I had Hector and Eugene set Traci down on the floor and let them take a bow for their help with the stunt. Then I returned to Bianca's side. “And how about a round of applause for our limbo champion?”
Bianca leaned into the mic. “What do I win, Jack?”
Oops. I hadn't given any thought to a prize. From out in the crowd, I heard a female voice shout, “Give her an orgasm!” It sounded like Claire.
“Would you like that?” I asked Bianca. She nodded. “Okay, then. Bianca, in a moment I'm going to have the audience count from one to ten. With each number they count, you'll feel yourself becoming increasingly aroused so that when they reach ten you have a tremendous, uncontrollable, absolutely wonderful orgasm that lasts as long as the audience continues to applaud. Audience, count with me: one ... two ... “
Bianca laughed at first, but by the time the audience reached five her hands began to roam all over her almost-naked body. Between seven and eight she dropped to her knees panting and moaning. At nine she nearly fell over but caught herself with her arms, and at ten she collapsed on the floor into a writhing, gasping fit of overwhelming pleasure. The audience clapped and cheered, fueling Bianca's continued bliss.
While they were doing that I restored Traci to normal mobility. “Ladies and gentlemen,” I asked, “should we give the same reward to our limbo pole?”
The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I did. Traci's eyes popped open at the count of ten and she joined Bianca in writhing around on the stage floor. Eventually the applause and the orgasms subsided. I helped both exhausted women to their seats and got everyone another round of applause.
To end the show I gave the group my usual suggestions for well-being, remembering everything with a good sense of humor, being proud and happy at their creativity and willingness to have fun ... basically to make them feel good about what they'd done and thank them for their help. Since they were all in varying states of undress, I then had them come forward one at a time, take a bow, and retire to the wings to dress. The women's clothing was in the right wing, the men's in the left. Once everyone was dressed they got one last group bow and returned to their seats. The audience cheered and clapped for every one of them and then gave me a standing ovation.
Redman left me out there in the spotlight while the audience cheered and I thanked them every way I could think of. Finally, after I'd lost count of the thank-yous and acknowledged the crew and the audience a dozen times, the lights went out and the working part of my holiday was over.