The dancing girls in Lolita’s Cantina and Tequila bar may look real enough, but in reality they’re conjured out of thin air using holographic technology. The entertainment in the bar, owned by veteran nightclub developer Eric DeBiasi, is created using the same technology used by Damon Albarn’s virtual band the Gorillaz and Live Earth Tokyo to project former US vice President Al Gore onto the stage.
No more dressing rooms, stench of flop-sweat, or real-world salaries. The performer appears real but can be brought to the stage whenever the whim hits.
Digital Illusions, the company behind the technology, says that the DJ will have total control over both the music and the dancing, creating a seamless audiovisual performance that will look totally realistic to the audience.
“Imagine having a library of hundreds or thousands of clips of entertainers, magicians, comedians, dancers,” asked one of the Digital Illusions folks in a rhetorical fashion.
“Each one is ready to perform at a moment’s notice. Each one is surrounded by special effects and magical appearances and disappearances. But most importantly, each one looks totally real.”
Why the possibilities abound. You could do six or seven birthday parties at one time. Magic Club lectures could happen over and over and over — if such was the desire of the club.
Yes, the equipment to build a holographic stage is expensive but the price will drop. Remember when calculators cost $17,200.00 and took up an entire room? Remember how back in those days, you would have to literally turn the entire room of computer equipment upside down to show friends that the letters 9009 was a secret word produced by the calculator?
Now a days, kids have the processing power twice that necessary to get man to the moon in their hand-held gaming devices. In fact, Neal Armstrong was recently quoted as saying if the Nintendo DS was around when he was a kid, he never would have made it to the moon. He would have set his sights on mastering the dual-screen DS classic Mario Kart. “We never dreamed we could control cartoon monkey race car drivers to throw banana peels in the way of Italian plumbers or fair anime princesses.”
Surprisingly, it was Skylab that demonstrated 45 days of weightless living has the same atrophying effect as being addicted to video games. “But,” says Bob Grayson, “and this is a big but; the men and women in Skylab were still involved in a pursuit of knowledge and experienced things beyond our terrestrial dreams.”
Mr. Grayson knows that’s a big but and he wants to keep kids from learning the hard way.
We asked Mr. Grayson what he thought of the virtual nightclub idea. Would it hurt society in the same manner as video games or celebrity survival shows?
“No. Society will reject a virtual magician without much question. How would the audience know if any of the effects performed are real or camera tricks.”
Good point. It would have the same impact as watching a televised street magician perform.
So once again, we learn that what is good for the strip-tease industry doesn’t necessarily help advance the cause of Magic. Just like when Li’l Tom Hardy tried to steal Sally Rand’s feathered fan as an emergency replacement for his damaged Super Botania, the needs of strippers and magicians diverge at the intersection of concealment and exposure.
It sounded much better when we heard that last statement in our mind. Of course when we heard it echoing in our noggin, it was in the voice of Jim Nabors of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and Mayberry R.F.D. and preceded by the trademarked phrase, “Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!”
What are your thoughts on this important development in theater?