Magic Live Update No. 2

 

Day One of the Magic Live is in the books.  It would have to be a big series of books because this was one jam-packed day. 

 

First, let me tell you that it is about 212 degrees Fahrenheit (a 12 degrees Centigrade (I think you just drop the first number to convert from Fahrenheit to Centigrade)) here in Las Vegas.  I am carrying my mobile satellite hook-up so I can update the web when possible and it gets heavy in the mid-day sun.  So, I may seem delirious in my reporting and I hope you will understand.  In an effort to be environmentally aware, I have refused to take any cars or taxis on the 12 mile trek from my hotel on the strip to the home of Magic Live, the Orleans hotel.  

 

Read On . . .

 

My delirium hit an all-time high as I stumbled into the Orleans hotel and made my way up to the conference center and almost ran into Penn Jillette.  I apparently did not expect to see anyone standing directly in front of me and certainly not the seven foot something Penn.  I was shocked into reality and narrowly missed smacking my sweaty head into his stomach.  I am so thankful that I did not have my perspiring skull slap up against his tummy ? I think I would need therapy to stop the screaming during my sleep.  

 

Mac King interviewed Penn & Teller during the 2:30 to 4:30 session and it was an incredible event.  There had been a warning issued that the material might be spicy or could be offensive ? which only brought more folks into the meeting area ? and Penn said he thought the warning was unnecessary, after all, ?it?s not like I am going to say ?F?K!? in my first sentence.?  So that was how it started: salty language, great stories and straight talk.

 

I thought…

 

Day One of the Magic Live is in the books.  It would have to be a big series of books because this was one jam-packed day. 

 

First, let me tell you that it is about 212 degrees Fahrenheit (a 12 degrees Centigrade (I think you just drop the first number to convert from Fahrenheit to Centigrade)) here in Las Vegas.  I am carrying my mobile satellite hook-up so I can update the web when possible and it gets heavy in the mid-day sun.  So, I may seem delirious in my reporting and I hope you will understand.  In an effort to be environmentally aware, I have refused to take any cars or taxis on the 12 mile trek from my hotel on the strip to the home of Magic Live, the Orleans hotel.  

 

Read On . . .

 

My delirium hit an all-time high as I stumbled into the Orleans hotel and made my way up to the conference center and almost ran into Penn Jillette.  I apparently did not expect to see anyone standing directly in front of me and certainly not the seven foot something Penn.  I was shocked into reality and narrowly missed smacking my sweaty head into his stomach.  I am so thankful that I did not have my perspiring skull slap up against his tummy ? I think I would need therapy to stop the screaming during my sleep.  

 

Mac King interviewed Penn & Teller during the 2:30 to 4:30 session and it was an incredible event.  There had been a warning issued that the material might be spicy or could be offensive ? which only brought more folks into the meeting area ? and Penn said he thought the warning was unnecessary, after all, ?it?s not like I am going to say ?F?K!? in my first sentence.?  So that was how it started: salty language, great stories and straight talk.

 

I thought Mr. King did a tremendous job in his interview.  He guided us through the story of Penn& Teller from teenage years to the present.  They have been together for 30 years and point out that while they are now best friends, they never started out to be that close.  Teller said theirs was like a successful arranged marriage in that they both offered something to the team that would make it work and make it commercial ? that they didn?t really know each other that well was not as significant.  

 

Penn did most of the talking ? no surprise there ? and the images he wove were truly inspiring.  He described how he and Teller would drive from gig to gig in their used Datsun B-210 stationwagon, talking about the philosophy of performing magic.  Their thesis: magic can be true and not merely the cheap deception of an audience.  They set some rules to guide their vocation.  They would never take day jobs but would take any performing opportunity available.  This enabled the duo to build their ?flight time? in front of an audience.  They wouldn?t perform for drunks ? although according to Penn, this rule had to be suspended when they appeared at The Magic Castle.  They would never perform something unless both agreed ? fully agreed, no compromise ? that it was the right thing to do.

 

One of the key take-aways from the session was offered by Teller.  He said that they began making a comfortable living from their magic about three years into their partnership.  At that point, they decided that they would live off the live show?s revenues so that no matter whatever else they tried, they would never be desperate.  When the team pitched their current Showtime concept ?Bull Sh-t!? they were able to walk away from the table unless their terms were met because they did not need the show for revenue.    

 

The audience seemed to enjoy listening to the interview.  It was an incredible time; in fact it went over by 35 minutes.  This, I thought, may be the highlight of the nascent convention.

 

There was a break before the evening show.  This allowed us to go eat in one of the fine restaurants that line the Orleans casino.  I chose the highly popular and most touted Prime Rib Loft.  The service was great, the food was, at times, edible and meat tasting.  This has to be one of the worst restaurants in Vegas or maybe I was catching it on a bad night.  If I was a patient and good guy, I would try it again tonight to be fair.  I am not that guy. 

 

The evening show had some very high high points and no low moments.  I wished they had an emcee because there was no identification of the acts other than a murmured name during the ending applause or in the case of Kevin James and Rick Thomas, a sign set up on a side easel.  

 

Because I don?t yet have a list of names of the performers, I can?t tell you the name of the juggler that opened the show.  The man had incredible skills, great timing, superb props and charisma.  He was able to bounce a ball on his head while juggling nine rings and then place each ring around his neck without disturbing the ball.  I don?t know how it is possible and I wish I knew his name.  He was so tremendous that he received a standing ovation.  I have never seen a standing ovation given after the first act, but it was something to behold.  Unbelievable. 

 

Next up was Rick Thomas.  Mr. Thomas, as you know from reading Inside Magic over the years is one of our favorites.  He has style and class and is one heck of a great dancer thanks to his ballroom dancing past.  He blew us all away with his rendition of Asrah.  I don?t want to ruin it for you, but his approach was totally unexpected and truly magical. It was as if he thought, ?how would a magician remove the sheet covering his floating assistant?  Would he have her float down to him or could he just fly up to her??  He chooses the latter approach and the result in incredible.  This earned him a standing ovation as well.

 

Kevin James was up next and performed his bowling ball appearance.  Unfortunately, his angles were bad or my angle was bad and he flashed the ball several times.  The show is performed in a conventional theater so there are no unexpected sight lines but it could have been the depth of the stage.  He had to perform in front of the curtains because his sawing a man in two was being set-up backstage.  He performed this grotesque but incredible illusion to great applause.

 

The last act on the schedule ? I have skipped several acts in between ? was Norm Nielsen performing his classic levitation of a piano, the floating violin and his coin and card productions.  Mr. Nielsen has such class and such affection for our art and, therefore, it is always a pleasure to watch him perform.  He performed exactly as a true magician would perform.  The tremendous ovation he received at the end of the act, confirmed that I was not alone in my appreciation for his talent. 

 

I?m off to the arid roads from the strip to the Orleans so that I can bring you more information as soon as possible.   

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