GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

October 3, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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> DEVOTED DUO Horn (above) and Fischbacher spent more than 35 years performing with their animals on the Strip—and remain inseparable companions today. And how is Roy? "Only Roy can answer this," says Siegfried, who often finishes off sentences or translates Roy's heavily accented verbal bursts. "The news about my death has been greatly exaggerated," says Roy, who never lost his sense of humor. "I feel I am a very good-looking corpse." Roy once spoke of his acute pain, so intense that early in his recovery he became addicted to pain medication, which led to a different sort of recovery. "Pain is my best friend," he says now. "I have to live with it. [But] I am doing pretty well. I am a little bit handicapped, but I'm not an invalid. I can do a lot of things. I can walk, I can go swimming, I can go to the gym, I can go shopping." Is there anything he's unable to do that he wants to do? "No," Roy says. "He does whatever he wants to do," Siegfried adds. Siegfried has been at Roy's side constantly during the intensive rehabilitation workout sessions. For years, the two have been spotted together, along with one or two caregivers, at Las Vegas Athletic Club. Siegfried calls out, "You're doing it!" forcing Roy to finish off a set of repetitions. "He is a slave driver," Roy says. Somehow, as if supplying a syrupy soundtrack to the conversation, Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is" comes on the home's sound system. "He cheers me up," Siegfried says. "He shows me how to live. He tells me how to live. He is not just sitting in a corner. He says to me, 'Do not worry about what you don't have; enjoy everything that you do have.'" "I am very grateful, every day, for every breath I am taking," Roy continues, cutting again into Siegfried's comments. "That is my message to anyone who has had a stroke or a heart attack: Keep moving. Make progress. Pull yourself together, because you can do it." "HE'S MY BROTHER." –Roy Horn, on Montecore O n the night of "the thing," Montecore was introduced as making his first-ever stage appearance in a Siegfried & Roy stage show. But that was just a showbiz moment, stated for effect. Montecore was 6 years old and had performed in dozens of shows at the Mirage. So, what was different on the night of October 3, 2003? What led to Montecore clamping on Roy's neck and dragging him from the stage? "I had high blood pressure at that time, and because of the energy level of the show, I got excited and passed out onstage and fell, unfortunately," Roy says. What does he remember from that night? "Montecore looked at me with his big blue eyes and was confused, and so he picked me up by the neck," Roy says. "He brought me to the side so he could attend to me." He continues, "But we need to rectify—he never attacked me. If a tiger attacks you, you are finished." Siegfried echoes, "When a tiger attacks you, you are finished." When asked about the validity of other reports of that night, such as Steve Wynn's account of a woman in the front row wearing a big hairdo, who drew Montecore to the edge of the stage, Siegfried's voice rises. "We have told this story so many times! You know the media!" he says. "They want to have the blood—which was there, no question about it. This was right in the middle of the audience. Of course, you have the headlines: 'Roy has been attacked by a tiger.' I understand, I was there, and I have lived with the possibility of this happening all of my life, with Roy and the animals. But what happened with Montecore, Roy passed out. This was not an attack. "It was an accident. It was an accident." Putting Montecore down was never considered by Siegfried and Roy, and today the big cat is a senior citizen by white tiger standards, 16 years old and living in Vegas. "He is at Secret Garden sometimes, appearing there," Siegfried says. "He is sometimes at Jungle Palace, and sometimes he comes here." Has there been any change in how the two interact with Montecore? "There has been no change," Siegfried says, "absolutely not." "Montecore is fabulous," Roy says. "He's my brother." "When you see that, when you see Roy's face when he is with Montecore, it brightens," Siegfried says. "It's as if nothing happened, you know?" Roy adds, "I give him love." He recalls a Montecore story, familiar in the Siegfried and Roy circle. When the tiger cub was born, he stopped breathing. Roy cut the umbilical cord and breathed life into the cub that would grow up to be famous around the world for unwittingly halting the Siegfried & Roy show forever. "I remember him starting to breathe again," Roy says. "I was so grateful for that." As Roy speaks, Siegfried nods. "It all stopped so suddenly," Siegfried says. "The stage— that was our thing. It was growing in our show, it was growing up together." How is the fable of Siegfried and Roy anything but a love story? "It is that, yes," Siegfried says. "I never realized I was good until I met Roy. I always just tried to be good, but I never really knew I was good until 18 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM OCTOBER 3–9, 2013 16-22_Feature_20131003.indd 18 10/2/13 5:12 PM

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