Siegfried & Roy, Masters of the Impossible. - Day 52
Siegfried joined Roy today.
Siegfried & Roy, Masters of the Impossible.
I wanted to meet them, hoping their magic would rub off on me.
This was taken in 2011 at the World Magic Awards in Las Vegas.
This is the story behind the picture.
From Spun Into Gold - The Secret Life of a Female Magician
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Where Nothing Is Impossible, Nothing Is Wonderful
Now what? I’d won two major magic competitions and I had gigs coming in, but I still didn’t have a world-class act that international variety show producers were banging on my door to book. How would I find the key? I had a little think. And when I’d had a little think, I remembered Siegfried and Roy. Siegfried and Roy had been heroes of mine since I saw the movie of their transformation from two young German boys in post-war Germany to mega stars of Vegas with their own spectacular show featuring lions, elephants and amazing theatrical illusions. In the last show that they would ever do, Roy’s tiger dragged him off-stage by the neck, severing an artery, causing Roy to have a massive stroke. Their show was cancelled that night and never re-opened.
I’d always had the feeling that if I could only meet them, some of their magic would rub off on me. But how?
Every year in Vegas, Siegfried and Roy held a competition called the World Magic Seminar. Each year, one magician won the highly respected Golden Lion Award and a cheque for five thousand dollars. If I entered the competition, I would be sure to meet them backstage. I wrote to the organiser asking whether there was still time to enter.
“You can have the last of seven places and we’ll give you $500 travel expenses,” the organiser replied. What? Seven places? Travel expenses? I’d assumed that there would be at least thirty entrants. I Googled the list of competitors. Each one was a hotshot magic technician and top award winner of his country. Technically, I was a British award winner too, but I felt I’d won my titles with comedy, not magic.
What I needed was real magic. What did all the past winners have in common? More Googling. Photos of the winners smiled at me holding a giant cheque sandwiched between Siegfried and Roy. I photoshopped my face over the previous winners and pinned the images around my studio. Each afternoon while I walked Bongo in the forest, I whipped up the exultant feeling that I’d actually won. Winner of the Las Vegas World Magic Seminar! Me! I walked along pretending to hold the oversized cheque in my hands, Siegfried and Roy on each side, posing for the cameras.
“I know! I can’t believe it! I won!” I told the trees. Bongo turned to look at me with surprise. With my flight to Vegas paid for, my hotel room booked and my competition place confirmed, I put my head down and rehearsed.
The competition was in February. By January, the act wasn’t looking too bad. But two weeks before the competition, I got an email from the organiser.
“Due to changes concerning the use of pyrotechnics, no fire of any sort is permitted,” it declared. What? I was doing an eight-minute act and three of those minutes used fire. I wrote back desperately, pleading my case.
“We understand if you want to pull out,” the organiser replied. Pull out? I’ve bought my flight, I’ve booked my hotel. I have to meet Siegfried and Roy.
“What am I going to do?” I asked my magician friends in a panic.
“Do your comedy coin routine. We like that.” This coin routine was the first trick I ever learnt and not something to impress one thousand magicians in a prestigious Vegas magic competition.
“I can’t do that!” I wailed.
“What else are you going to do?” they pointed out. Fair point.
Backstage in the theatre, the competitors nervously put on make-up, checked props, checked again and re-checked. One thousand magicians waited eagerly in the auditorium of the Las Vegas showroom, each clutching their voting paper. The atmosphere was intense.
It was time.
I was first on after the interval. I walked out onto the huge stage into the spotlights. I performed my opening routine: silk scarves fluttering to reveal a suddenly appearing birdcage, plumes of cerise feathers materialising from nothing, a large diamond necklace held in my hand which I had shown empty seconds before. So far, so good. Now for my coin routine. I chose two men from the audience. Both men jumped up as instructed and followed me to the front of the auditorium and up four steps to the stage. One chap bounded up the stairs energetically. But when the other reached the stage, he collapsed on all fours, breathing heavily. Over the music I could hear him wheezing, gasping for breath. Something was wrong. The sound technician cut the track and now the rasp of his laboured breathing filled the auditorium. It was a big stage, and before I could get to him, six men from the audience jumped from their seats and crouched around him, looking worried. He continued to gasp, still on all fours, his back humped. A thousand pairs of eyes were fixed on him—a thousand and one including mine. There was nothing I could do. I stood there thinking, Oh God, I’ve killed him.
Finally, his breathing quietened and, taking the arms of the men around him, he slowly struggled to his feet. The six men stayed, watching him warily, ready to catch him if he fell again. I approached and, in character, said sternly, “Young man—” He wasn’t young. “This show isn’t all about you, you know.” My stage character has a certain way of thinking and speaking. In her world, if someone is going to have a heart attack on stage, they should do it quickly and quietly so she can get on with her act. “The choice is yours. Are you going to stay or are you going to go?”
A long pause. He took a deep breath and wheezed, “I’ll stay.” A great cheer went up. Everything from that point on was comedy gold. You couldn’t have written it better: the tension, the relief, the characters. My act was much funnier than it had ever been before. As I walked off stage I knew I’d won, I just knew.
To say I was relieved would be an understatement. I was pleased that the technical magic in my act went as planned, but I was really amazed with the success of the comedy adventure in the middle. I walked back down the long hotel corridor to my room, fell on my bed and gazed at the ceiling. It was all so very strange. There seemed to be too many coincidences happening. Was Sekhmet still spinning her magic and answering my wishes?
While I was lying on my Las Vegas hotel bed lost in my thoughts, the magicians back in the theatre were voting for the act they liked best. One magician, one vote. One thousand votes. The results would be announced tomorrow afternoon.
The next day, I put on my hot-pink, full-length satin gown and diamond necklace for the awards ceremony and walked past the flashing slot machines in the lobby of the hotel to the showroom theatre. It was still afternoon, everyone else was wearing jeans, but I had a funny feeling that I might have won. And if I was going to get that photograph with Siegfried and Roy, I was damn well going to be dressed for it. No one seemed to notice I was overdressed. In Vegas—no one is ever surprised at anything.
I took a seat at the back.
“And the winner is—"
That pause. Anything could happen.
“Romany—Diva of Magic!” Wow. Hard to get out of my seat. Hard to take it in. I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. The auditorium was full of applause. I forced myself to get up and floated on cheers and applause to the stage and up the steps. At the top, I pretended to trip and collapse on all fours as my volunteer had done, my bum facing the audience, and a great laugh went up. On stage I stood between Siegfried and Roy holding the cheque, just like in the forest with Bongo.
Except this time, it was real.
Magic is strange. It swirls, lifts and blows on currents of thought and feeling. You can hold it in your hands and mould it this way or that. You can say, “I will this to be so,” or in magical language, “Abracadabra”; then you have to inhabit the will, as if it is, as if it is already. When you really, truly feel as if it is, then it IS. When you decide and commit, believe and act as it if is already, all sorts of things you couldn’t have dreamed possible come into play.
Goethe had it right. He said:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Because anything is possible.
Love love love
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