Tuesday, May 6, 2014 | 11 p.m.
It’s a journey that began 20 years ago, and even though he crisscrossed his native Canada five times, his goal was to always make it to the Las Vegas Strip.
“I’m now living that dream,” comedy hypnotist Anthony Cools told me in advance of Wednesday’s celebration at the Paris to mark exactly two decades in show business. Fellow Strip entertainers and Las Vegas VIPs will turn out in force for his private party and anniversary performance.
Anthony started out studying television and film in college and then worked as a radio DJ and club manager. “It’s been a long journey, but the best journey,” he said. It all began on May 7, 1994, in a small Calgary, Alberta, nightclub he was managing.
Anthony says he was fascinated by hypnosis since he was a teenager but never thought it would become his career. However, he signed himself up to perform in the club and won his own big break.
“I was the beverage manager of the Westgate Hotel, and we had the Dooie Stevens nightclub there. I had the opportunity to perform and grabbed at it,” he recalled.
Anthony’s decision to go with uncensored, adult-themed and outrageous behavior bordering on X-rated topics paid off big time. “I knew then, the very first moment, that this was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life” he said.
“The career took right off from that moment. That was the end of my job of eight years that same night. This was the only one I wanted, and it was the one that brought me to Las Vegas. I never looked back, and I never had another goal except to get here.”
But first there was the long back-and-forth haul playing clubs across Canada to hone the act: “I knew, though, three months into that I had to plan to get to Las Vegas,” he said. By 2003, he made the move and worked at the Stardust for eight months before it was demolished.
He not only has his own theater at the Paris but he also is the brains behind those mobile billboard trucks tourist see rolling along the Strip. His Hootie Pa Tootie graphic design and digital printing company is part of his burgeoning business empire.
He also is in final lease negotiations for the first of his Exposed hair salons and, next up comes his Aerial Media Pros photography and cinematography operation.
Recently, the comedy entertainer saw another longtime dream come true when he became a U.S. citizen and now has dual citizenship. “I love Las Vegas. It’s my home now. I’m here to stay,” he laughed.
Anthony is well known for the wild, raunchy and somewhat erotic situations he helps create for his hypnotic volunteers, sometimes as many as 15 at a time onstage.
“People hump chairs and have orgasms,” he laughed. “These are extreme antics, and I’ve had to create a series of rules to warn people what to expect coming into the show. It gets that extreme! Even I am incredulous about what people will do when they are under.”
On the serious side, he can and has used hypnosis to help people lose weight, overcome phobias and stop smoking. But it’s those outrageous, unscripted and unexpected comical shocks that have kept 250 fans lined up nightly at the Paris and kept him at the top of his game on the Strip.
“I’m still having a blast, and I’m still living my dream,” Anthony said.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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