I am a bit of a prude, and that’s a problem. You see, I work as a voice actor, and recently I was asked to narrate a script that turned out to be very erotic. There were certain words in the story I just couldn’t pronounce. It was too embarrassing. The trouble is: I already committed to the project. What am I to do?
That voice actor could have been me, not so long ago. Do you want to hear the story?
Well, a client from an Eastern-European country approached me because he was looking for someone with a hypnotic voice. Since I’m also a certified trainer of hypnotherapy, I thought this was right up my alley.
The client explained that I would be recording a 5-session audio program that could trance-form a shy wallflower of a man into a confident guy who had no trouble approaching women.
Before I tell you more, there’s something you should know.
THIS IS ME
Many, many moons ago, I was that man: rather nerdy, and terrified of the opposite sex. Every time I liked a girl I got this burning feeling of “move away closer.” It was a strange mix of being fascinated and frightened at the same time. I never dared to take the first step, paralyzed by an intense fear of rejection.
Of course I blamed my parents. They weren’t very touchy-feely people, and they rarely showed their affection in public. When my dad tried to explain the principles of procreation, he did it in a way only a Dutch Reformed minister could illuminate the miracle of life: in technical terms. He might as well have read me the manual of motorcycle maintenance.
Even though Dutch society is often seen as liberal and open, I grew up with the notion that nudity was naughty, and that sex revolved around dirty deeds taking place behind closed bedroom doors. One should stay away from it as long as possible. And that’s exactly what I did. At age 20, the sex life of a missionary might have been more exciting than mine.
We all know that repression leads to rebellion and eventually the hidden hedonist in me won over from the conflicted Calvinist. These days everybody knows me as the uber-confident, outrageously charismatic chick magnet I am; the guy who turned down the lead in Fifty Shades Of Grey. I beat myself up over it, and I must say… it was quite enjoyable.
But seriously, I’m a big believer in the benefits of hypnosis, and I really want to improve the life of my fellow-man. So, when the offer of narrating a self-help program came to me, I said to myself: “Why not?”
THE POWER OF SUGGESTION
If you’re at all familiar with hypnosis, you know that it’s based on the power of suggestion. A simple phrase like “Imagine being in a beautiful place where you can totally relax,” will elicit a certain state in certain people. It’s nothing mysterious. Words have the power to evoke images, sounds, and feelings. Why else would so many people be hooked on audio books?
Most hypnotic scripts begin something like this:
“Sit in a comfortable chair or just lie on a couch or a bed with your hands resting in your lap or by your side. When you are ready, begin.
Draw in three slow deep breaths… and another … still another. Each time you inhale, focus on filling your lungs with clean fresh air. As you exhale feel all the tension leave your lungs and your entire body. You feel so good. Perfectly relaxed.”
Once the listener reaches a deeper state of relaxation, the idea is to bypass all critical thinking which increases the openness to, and acceptance of more direct suggestions. And so the self-help script I was working on continued….
“You can achieve anything when you use your own power of mind. You will find yourself sleeping better. When it’s time to sleep, you’ll dream pleasant guiding dreams about becoming the guy with all the girls around him, and it’s a great dream that you enjoy having regularly. This dream further empowers you to be the Sex God you truly desire to be. That’s because you are now the guy that all the girls love. You possess the qualities that women look for and want to have a sexual relationship with.”
At this point I could see where this was going, and the prude in me started to protest, but the script went on:
“As of this moment, you can successfully flirt a woman into a ‘more’ situation, and then provide the best nights’ entertainment, and an amazing night or weekend of shagging, and she will always beg for more.”
I beg your pardon?
I had to stop the recording, and wondered: “Am I really saying this? I would never use the word shagging. It’s vulgar. Do I really want to go on?
“10… going deeper, deeper and deeper…
9… more and more relaxed…
8… deeper and deeper, than before…”
The temperature in my sound booth began to rise, and I took my sweater off. It felt like there wasn’t enough air in the small space. What on earth had I gotten myself into?
“7… deeper still…”
After taking a deep breath, my inner voice started reading the words in front of me:
“Imagine that you are with a lover, in a hot tub, and you are still making love and feeling her pleasure because you are very sensitive, caring… slow when she needs slow, fast when she needs fast, deep when she needs deep, just stimulating the first 1” of the entrance near the G-spot, and sometimes throbbing and contracting to bring her greater pleasure, and you KNOW that being a gentle and caring lover is more important, and by practicing what you are doing with care and gentle warmth you enhance your own sexual talents, enhance your penis’ awareness of how to make love, and she can feel it and it thrills her.”
Here’s where I completely lost it. This wasn’t a hypnotic self-help induction. This was pure, unadulterated porn, and my awareness of it didn’t need to be enhanced. It made me utterly uncomfortable, and I had to ask myself one question:
“Do I want to be known as the Ron Jeremy of voice-overs?”
Of course not!
MIND OVER BODY
To make matters worse, my mind decided to convey this message to my muscles, and my lips responded appropriately by refusing to say the p-word. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pronounce it.
It was as if I had regressed. That sometimes occurs when people are under hypnosis. My prude, Protestant self was penalizing me for what I was doing. I’ve had this happen once before, when I had to read a short story filled with brutal, gratuitous violence. It was too graphic. I just couldn’t do it.
The problem with this job was that I was working on session five. I had recorded the previous four, and the illustrious Uncle Roy Yokelson had already added hypnotic music, and mixed and mastered the audio. The finish line was in sight. I’d also signed a contract, and it would be silly of me to back down because of a stupid two-syllable word.
TAKING A BREAK
I decided to leave my studio and walk around the block. Once I had cooled down a bit, I zoomed in on the heart of the matter:
I was taking this way too personally.
These weren’t my words. This wasn’t my script. I was just an unidentified voice, whispering in someone’s horny ear.
“Get yourself out of the way,” I said. “Be a man, and do the job you were hired to do. You’re a voice actor. You get paid because you’re good at pretending. Now, get in front of that microphone, and finish what you started!”
These were almost self-hypnotic suggestions, and they did the trick. I was only a few pages away from completing this project, when I spoke the following words:
“Your subconscious now hears these special suggestions deeply and profoundly: I am sure and confident about myself. I know what a woman wants and I have the skills to deliver it. So, hold that image of successfully flirting with her in your mind. No Fear – No Intimidation. You walk tall and proud, shoulders back with total and complete self-confidence and purposely walk up to this woman who is everything you have always wanted and here she is in body and soul. You visualize being her lover, and her going absolutely wild with you and for you.
Your own mind reaffirms: I am a wild sexual tiger. Hear me roar.”
LATER THAT DAY
A few minutes after I was done recording, my wonderful, gorgeous wife came home.
“How was your day, honey?” she asked.
“Fine,” I said with a smile. “Totally fine.”
She stared at me for a moment.
“What’s that look in your eyes,” she wanted to know. “Is there something on your mind?”
“Sweetie, you look absolutely amazing,” I said. “Let’s go upstairs.”
“Right now?” she asked.
“Right now!” I roared.
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
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Matt Forrest Esenwine says
It’s funny, I was just telling my wife two nights ago that VO jobs come in a variety of forms – including this sort of thing. I told her, hey, SOMEONE’S going to get the gig…why shouldn’t it be me?
Paul Strikwerda says
Children’s books during the day. Porn at night. A typical day in the life of a voice-over!
Paul J Stefano says
Very Funny. Next time refer them to me. Uncle Roy will approve!
Paul Strikwerda says
Don’t be coy, Roy!
T Diaz says
This has to be one of my favorite blogs of yours, ever, Paul!
Paul Strikwerda says
I’m tickled to hear that!
Rick Lance says
Wow.. are you still roaring?
So sorry you had to go through that torturous experience, Paul! Yet, it still sounds better than the 1-900 phone “service” producer who contacted me to make recordings for his “network”.
Well, I have fun with my work but… I have my limits!
Ok, so.. back to that heavy equipment TV spot I was working
And uh… hang in there, Paul!
Paul Strikwerda says
If you don’t test your limits, you won’t grow as a person and as a professional. It was definitely a learning experience!
Leesha S says
Glad it worked out for you. I recently learned that if the project is against your values, you should know about it early. Gotta read the whole story first.
Paul Strikwerda says
My motto: never take on a project you can’t be proud of.