GMG - Las Vegas Weekly

October 3, 2013

Las Vegas Weekly

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PHOTOGRAPH BY LEILA NAVIDI we became a team. The way I grew up, I really had no confidence in what I was doing. "The first time I showed a magic trick to my father, it was the first time he noticed me, it seemed like," Siegfried says. "He said, 'How did you do that?' These five words from my father—he finally noticed me!" Roy cuts in, "We share the same mistress, magic." The pair accepts due credit for changing the trajectory of entertainment in Las Vegas, where the concept of a production show starring magicians was scoffed at until they started dazzling audiences on the Strip in the late 1960s. "When we started at Lido de Paris [at the Stardust], we were a team. We were one," Roy says. "We have changed a lot in Vegas." "It's family entertainment. That's what we started," Siegfried says, picking up the thought. "These are big production shows now, but yeah, we came from nowhere. And when the Mirage became such a success, Steve Wynn knew how important entertainment was, and he knew how important Siegfried & Roy were. The show was sold out every night from the first night to the last." Soon Las Vegas wanted "similar shows" in size and spectacle to match what Siegfried & Roy were rolling out at the Mirage. "Cirque du Soleil came in, you know, and Steve Wynn started that concept of Cirque in Las Vegas," Siegfried says. "The same thing that we inspired, Cirque du Soleil, inspired him. It was a real business decision, because he knew Siegfried & Roy, the moment we hit the Strip …" "We were always No. 1," Roy finishes. "WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH ALL OF THIS TOGETHER." –Roy Horn S iegfried and Roy do indulge in a bit of pre-Vegas nostalgia. Siegfried had left home as a teenager to work in a small resort hotel in Lago di Garda, Italy. First he was a dishwasher, then a bartender and soon a host who entertained guests with close-up magic. He was hired as a steward on the TS Bremen luxury liner and performed magic for the crew. When the captain of the vessel found out, he told Siegfried to start performing for the passengers, too. Roy was a waiter on the ship who had developed an affection for animals, which he used to develop a keen understanding of the most exotic creatures on the planet. He joined Siegfried as a partner, on and off the stage. The two would never headline or operate as soloists. It was always Siegfried & Roy. "I asked Roy—and this is part of our story from a hundred years ago—if he would help me out on the ship, and the audience loved it and was very happy," Siegfried says. Roy adds, "Everyone in Europe knew us. People in Switzerland, France, everywhere … and you were seasick, every day." "Huh?" Siegfried asks, startled. "Every day, you were seasick." "Oh, of course I was. Right," Siegfried says. "I was seasick a lot, and he helped me out. But the real change was, we one day had a passenger on our ship—Frau Fritz, who had a nightclub in Breman, Germany. She said, 'You know, Siegfried, I saw you and Roy last night, I liked that very much. I have this nightclub. Why don't you do it in my nightclub?" "It was a new gig," Roy says. "At the Astoria Theater." Fritz told the pair she couldn't pay much, but they saw an irresistible opportunity. "We knew the nightclub, there were professional entertainers there, and we could be part of it," Siegfried says. "That changed everything for us." When asked if they've ever considered performing solo, Siegfried answers quickly. "No," he says. "We have been through all of this together," Roy adds. Soon, the two split up to head over to the giant Little Bavaria warehouse for a quick photo shoot with Cruella, the sinister, smoking dragon inspired by Cruella de Vil from 101 Dalmatians and used in the stage show. Roy takes the golf cart, but Siegfried wants to walk. He takes Little Bavaria's scenic route, too. It's a rare moment to talk to Siegfried at length without Roy at his side. Would he and Roy ever return to producing or presenting rising magicians or a production show? "We have had [magician] Darren Romeo in the past," he says. Romeo was an afternoon headliner at the Mirage for a time and is now performing in Branson, Missouri. "We had the show Havana Nights, at the Stardust, that was a Siegfried & Roy Presents show. But this does not interest me now." One idea that has been floated, mostly as a titillating concept, is for the 74-year-old Siegfried to join the cast of a contest show, like Dancing With the Stars. Siegfried is a graceful dancer. Would he consider such a move? "You would not believe how many offers I have had to do these shows in Germany," he says. "You are either judging, or being judged. It is not for me." He says he is happier than ever, including the years when the Siegfried & Roy act was pulling in nearly $60 million a year and selling out the Mirage. "I was once asked if I was happy, with all of the success we have had, and I said, 'I am happy when I am onstage,'" Siegfried says. Then he stops walking. "Yes. Okay. But that is only three hours of a day, when we were onstage. The day has 24 hours. Now, I have to work and am working still to be 24 hours happy. It has worked, because I am with Roy. You know, even when we signed a contract, it was always 'Siegfried & Roy,' like a marriage." Though the night of October 3, 2003 marked the permanent end OCTOBER 3–9, 2013 LASVEGASWEEKLY.COM 16-22_Feature_20131003.indd 19 19 10/2/13 5:11 PM

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