Siegfried & Roy: Unique in all the world

A typo in an ad in this month’s Genii magazine – Volume 74, No. 3 (Mar 2011) – must have been a bit embarrassing for magazine editor Richard Kaufman:

Genii, Volume 74 #3 (Mar 2011), P. 55

  • ZIMMERMAN, Diana and GOULD, Robert. Siegfried & Roy: Unique in all the world. Los Angeles : Noesis Publishing. 2010. 249 pp. In custom case, with additional materials. Cover | Full Title

By now, you’ve likely read the rave review in Genii.  They are well deserved.  The book is beautiful (and at $695 it had better be).  But surprising to me, is how insightful some of the material is, having fully expected an “authorized biography” along the lines of their past autobiography:

  • [FISCHBACHER], Siegfried and [HORN], Roy, with TAPERT, Annete. Mastering the Impossible. New York : William Morrow and Company, Inc. 1992. 320 pp. Cover | Full Title
  • [FISCHBACHER], Siegfried and [HORN], Roy, with TAPERT, Annete.  Meister der Illusion: Die Geschichte eines Welterfolgs. München: Bruckmann. 1992. 342 pp. Cover | Full Title

With names like David Copperfield, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Lynette Chappell, Lance Burton, and Criss Angel all providing essays about S&R, two individual’s essays stand out  above the others.

The first, by Max Maven, reveals the surprising impact S&R’s had on race relations in Las Vegas.

But, for me, the most touching is the essay “Standing Naked” by Penn Jillette.  It must have been an incredibly difficult essay to write, but stands out as the most touching remembrance of their great show:

The way they dealt with animals on stage was also new. So was the idea of a magic act incorporating that many exotic animals, opposed to just one as the punch line…Frank Buck and all the other animal trainers in the circus made it seem like they were in this adversarial position with the animals: that they were very dangerous, and that the trainer was dominating them. Roy made it feel like he was working with the animals, and that he was doing this with kindness and with their mutual respect which, in my mind , is not true…From a show business perspective, however, there was a purity in that whole idea – the concept of having an apparently cooperative relationship with exotic animals as opposed to an adversarial one. Artistically, the fact that Roy was obsessed with animals and put that on stage is the part that is so beautiful. And the fact that he was willing to be so transparent about it made it great.

For another great remembrance of S&R by Penn, listen to this Penn Says video.

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2 thoughts on “Siegfried & Roy: Unique in all the world

  1. Pingback: The Most Expensive New Book? | Conjuring Books

  2. Pingback: The Best Magic Essays of 2011 | Conjuring Books

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