Commentary

Octogenarian tries his hand as hypnotist

CorrespondentFebruary 10, 2014 

Al Marsiglia may be 81, but he isn’t slowing down. Currently you can find him at 6900 Six Forks Road, where he runs Infinity Hypnotherapy, his one-man stop for your hypnosis needs. Need to quit smoking? Come to him. Afraid of flying? One member of the Durham Bulls baseball team was. Marsiglia is pretty sure he helped him. He didn’t hear otherwise, anyway.

“The only people I hear back from are the people it may not have worked well for,” the octogenarian said. Otherwise, no news, as they say, is good news.

Marsiglia began doing hypnotherapy back in 2006. To say it is an odd career move for a man in his 70s would imply that anything about Marsiglia’s career has been normal. It hasn’t been. Not from the start, and probably not to the finish.

In the 1950s he worked in the music library at a radio station in New York. He moved onto television where he played a wacky sideman on The Aldo Aldi Show. It was an Italian-language show, but Marsiglia’s parts were all in English.

“I was kind of a comedian stooge to the talk show host,” he said. “I would talk to him in broken Italian; that was the humor part.”

At various times, he worked for Spencer Turbine, his father-in-law’s company, as a salesman. He’s also opened a pizzeria, worked for a storage company and sold real estate. If you’ve lived around here for a while, you might have even seen him act in a few shows at the Raleigh Little Theatre.

I asked him if he’s had so many different jobs because he gets bored easily.

“I guess that’s part of it,” he said. “Probably some of it is that I didn’t go to college, so I didn’t have a degree. So I kind of jumped around.”

His latest interest is fiction. He’s already written a number of screenplays, which he’s shopped around unsuccessfully for years. But he recently decided to turn one of them into a novel, which he self-published on Amazon.

It’s called “Contract Pending.” I’ll let Marsiglia tell you about it:

“It’s a mob crime novel, and it’s a story of a guy who is recruited into the mob — a shoemaker’s son — to do collections,” he said. “He’s paired with another young fellow coming into the mob, and they’re doing good until the other guy uses the collection money to play the horses and loses it.”

As you can imagine, the mob boss isn’t too happy about that and has it in for both guys. The protagonist comes down to North Carolina to hide out and make a life for himself. Happily ever after? Not yet. The mob boss finds him and comes to exact his vengeance. But, at these things go, there’s a shoot-out in the end, and the protagonist comes out on top.

Now that Marsiglia’s written a novel, it’s onto the next thing. When I talked with him a couple weeks ago, he was attending a workshop on how to break into the voiceover business. He got into hypnosis in a similar fashion.

He was in Southern California, and he took a course offered by a company that teaches hypnosis as a way to get people to stop smoking. He liked it so much that he brought his training back here and opened up shop.

“A usual session is about an hour long,” he said. “It’s so powerful that we like to say, ‘It’s like hitting a walnut with a sledge hammer.’”

I didn’t find out for myself, mostly because I’m worried that my walnut-head might not stand up well to a sledgehammer.

Marsiglia said that he’s probably treated 500 to 600 smokers during the past seven or eight years. Not bad for a real estate broker/pizza man/television sidekick/writer/aspiring voiceover artist.

I told Marsiglia that at his age, most of his peers are probably slowing down. But not him. He credits his diverse interests and enthusiasm with keeping him young.

“I think it keeps your mind active,” he said, adding, “I’m usually told I don’t look my age.”

So there you have it: the renaissance man drinking at the fountain of youth.

Alex Granados writes about people, places and traditions in North Raleigh and beyond. Contact him at agranadoster@gmail.com.

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