Friday, October 10, 2008

David Blaine: Genius or Joke?

As feats of endurance—from encasing himself in ice to hanging upside down for days—David Blaine's stunts are amazing. But after he was criticized for his recent Dive of Death, has the magician's entertainment value bottomed out?

By Rachel Syme

It's dusk in Central Park, and magician David Blaine is hanging upside down, contemplating a career change: "Maybe I will become a schoolteacher after this." Ten hours into his latest endurance stunt, Dive of Death—for which he committed himself to staying in this inverted position, dangling from cables, for three days—he is already hurting. "You know the feeling when you sit on your leg and you get pins and needles?" he muses. "That's what this is like, except with my entire body, and it doesn't go away." Thanks to a pulley system designed by the team that rigged Tobey Maguire for the Spider-Man movies, David can zoom around the titanium cube—44 feet tall—he had built for the event, but he has spent his first day low to the ground, openly sharing his discomfort with bystanders. "Without any shred of doubt, this is the first time where I actually think I am crazy," the 35-year-old says, his face almost purple from the blood rush. "I would rather do all of my other stunts in a row right now than have to stay up here." He lets his aviator sunglasses slip off slightly, revealing a pair of bloodshot eyes—the first organ to falter should the trick go awry, say his doctors—and smiles a little. "This one," he sighs, "was always going to be…you know, difficult."

Onlookers come close to the magician—this is the first stunt where an audience has been able to talk to him—but quickly retreat, whispering, "That's it?" It's underwhelming, this upside-down trick. Every 30 seconds or so, David hoists himself up by a strap to get his head above his heart, and he is constantly doing yoga leg movements to keep his veins open. Every hour or so, he returns to an upright position on a platform, where doctors test his vitals and he is pumped full of electrolytes and allowed to evacuate his bladder through a catheter. Bystanders and bloggers immediately call him out as a cheater. A crowd of high schoolers in uniform show up to chuckle and hiss. People snap pictures of David's upright breaks, sending the evidence to Web sites like Gawker and Gothamist for ridicule. Later, even Anderson Cooper piled on, devoting part of his CNN show to question the magician's authenticity. If David was hurt by the skeptics, he didn't show it: "I'm not going to piss all over myself just to keep the integrity of the stunt."

The same thing happened in London in 2003, when David fasted for 44 days inside a glass box above the Thames River. Crowds grew bored and started to taunt the magician, hissing, hurling sausages and sending up a remote-control helicopter carrying a hamburger. On the one hand, the stunts of endurance he puts himself through—testing the limits of vertigo or body temperature—are amazing. But watching a hunger strike or a man doing nothing but hanging upside down is not exactly entertaining. David says that's not the point. "People expect to see something crazy—it's like going to a rap concert and expecting a shoot-out. But 99 percent of the time that's not going to happen," he says. "There's nothing flashy. The magic is happening to me. I feel my body change, and it is amazing. I just choose to feel that in public."

David Blaine gets a bad rap these days, but it wasn't always that way. When he first gained notoriety with his Street Magic TV special in 1997, he was considered a throwback to the great magicians of an earlier era. He was only 24, ruggedly handsome and able to blow minds with a simple card trick. A Jewish–Puerto Rican boy from Brooklyn, David wowed crowds by underwhelming, and then shocking. Even the niece of Harry Houdini, Marie Blood, said of David's 1999 Buried Alive stunt, which occurred at Trump Place on the Upper West Side, "My uncle did some amazing things, but he could not have done this." Thousands of people braved a rainy November night in Times Square in 2000 to watch him emerge from a six-ton block of ice. The TV broadcast of that stunt attracted more than 15 million viewers. Suddenly, in addition to performing for famous fans like Bill Clinton and Madonna, David was a celebrity himself, hanging out with Hollywood's so-called Pussy Posse of actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Lukas Haas and Tobey Maguire and dating singer Fiona Apple, actress Daryl Hannah and model Josie Maran.

But over the past couple of years, public perception of David Blaine has flipped from genius to joke. He's earned a reputation in the media as a womanizer with a quick temper, and just two weeks ago, "Page Six" ran an item claiming that David ditched a bar after staff refused to comp his bottle service. (David says of the gossip: "People can believe what they want about me. The press loves to drum up a good story.") Days later, when he ended his Dive of Death stunt, bystanders actually booed. Viewership of the event's ABC broadcast last week clocked in at just 7.7 million—less than half the number of people who tuned in to see him eight years ago. And then there's the fact that his two recent tricks faltered: He did not break the underwater breath-holding record with 2006's Drowned Alive, and he is unhappy with Dive of Death, even calling his dismount a "full disaster. The whole show was spent promoting my final moment, and then it was so underwhelming." David was supposed to jump off the cube and fly over Central Park attached to balloons. Instead, he had to do a minor bungee jump due to wind conditions and was hoisted up slowly by a crane—a banal end to a much-mocked stunt.

What's worse, members of the magic community feel betrayed by the fact that David focuses more on these endurance stunts than on old-fashioned magic. "He started to go AWOL with all the stunts. It was very off the deep end," says Brad Christian, CEO of Ellusionist, a Web site that trains and supports aspiring street magicians. "To a majority of magicians, he is a bit of a joke now." Critics say it's one thing to see Houdini, one of Blaine's heroes, escape from a straitjacket, and another to see David nearly slipping into catatonic shock or blacking out underwater. His stunts are self-flagellation in a public arena, to the point that you wonder if he has a death wish. But David disagrees: "It's the opposite of that. Doing these things makes me feel more alive." Still, even his producer and president of David Blaine Productions, Denise Albert, admits, "He needs to be reminded sometimes that people want to see the magic," she says. "There are ways to make money without selling out."

It's easy to make fun of David's flair for the dramatic, which can swerve into camp. Promo photos feature him shirtless with devilish cocked eyebrows. He speaks almost in a whisper. He has serious tattoos—among them memoirist Primo Levi's Holocaust number and a crucifixion scene—as well as a penchant for reflective poetry. (While in the glass box in London, he is said to have written lines from Siddhartha.) He commissioned a deck of playing cards that depict him as a king. In the poster for Drowned Alive, two angels watch over David, as if anointing him.

So is he a tortured artist or just a dude who's insecure? David notes that as a boy, he always "wanted to see how long I could hold my breath in the pool—and I would go further than everyone else." In 1994, when David was 21, his mother, Patrice (who raised him on her own until she remarried when he was 10), died after a battle with ovarian cancer, and he says, "Seeing my mother fight inspired me to see what I could endure and made me obsessed with that. I no longer fear death."

David says he got his first deck of cards at age 4, and by 5 he was "standing on tables in restaurants doing tricks for people." Mostly self-taught, he started performing at parties at 13, and earned a cult following by his late teens. "When he first came out, I loved what David did," Brad says. "He reignited magic and took it out of the top hat and bunny cliché. But he doesn't seem to care much about the magic anymore."

David argues that his heart is in the right place and that his stunts are magical. "It's amazing and surprising what can really be endured," he says. "I lose money on every stunt I do. Money has zero motivation for me." Later, a member of David's staff breaks rank and says, nodding to his three motorcycles and many employees, "Look around—do you think that's true?"

Tucked in an alleyway, David's Tribeca office has an otherworldly feeling, like stumbling onto Harry Potter's secret train platform. Inside, three days before Dive of Death, a team of 20 or so assistants, magicians, apprentices, publicists, producers, technicians, doctors and trainers rush around, all part of the Blaine machine. Below, in the basement, David preps for his stunt by hanging from his ankles inside a tiny boiler room. He keeps an apartment within the office, complete with a king-size bed and a Jacuzzi, though his real home is in Chelsea. On the office shelves, David stocks multiple copies of the same books, all in the truth-seeker vein—The Fountainhead, as well as the Holocaust survival memoirs If This Is a Man and Man's Search for Meaning. "I find books I love and then hand them out as gifts," he explains.

"David has thousands of books, and he's read them all. You go to his apartment and he has really dog-eared the pages," says his assistant, Bridget Davidson, a beauty with raven hair, whom David met at a Chelsea gym. She describes her job as "intense." "I do everything down to hard-boil his eggs at home and make sure he has toilet paper. He'll ask me if his shirts look OK. But he is also always telling me to trust no one."

It's hard to imagine how someone who trusts no one can function in a relationship, and David says the Dive of Death is the first stunt he has done "without a girlfriend. It's difficult for them to be supportive because they feel like nothing will resonate"—in other words, that they'll never be able to talk him out of anything. He has been single for more than a year now, but he says that he "is not really looking for anyone. I have no one who I am accountable to or who accounts for me."

Without a family or a girlfriend, he has no one to warn him against failure either, and that's the way he likes it. "When you work for David, you can't be the [person] that tells him no," says Denise. "So you have to be an enabler. It's scary! I mean, when he was holding his breath for the world record on Oprah last year, I was thinking, 'I'm either going to be the one that pushed him to die on Oprah or fail on Oprah, and either way, it's going to be bad.' "

In a lot of ways, David takes failure harder than he might take injury. "I'm always upset after the stunts end, because I only see what I could have done better," he says. "I'm not really proud of anything I've ever done." After he missed the record on Drowned Alive, he "got pretty depressed. I'll never consider myself great. But I know I am working toward something."

His main focus now: a handful of stunts, and when he completes them, he will be done. What drives him, he says, is the chance to inspire audiences to look at suffering in a different way. "What I do is about finding the beauty in simplicity," he says. "When you take away comforts and extravagance, you're left with the truth of what is. I show that we as humans have so much, especially in America, and we can endure. You break a leg, you adjust."

The results of David's 44-day U.K. fast ended up in The New England Journal of Medicine. He was happy to be a specimen of human survival. And that's at the heart of the genius-or-joke conflict: While he sees his work as a serious, scientific endeavor, audiences want to be entertained. But whether crowds are cheering him or booing him, people are still talking about David Blaine. And there's some magic in that.

Criss Angel believes that you will too

The enigmatic, temperamental illusionist realizes a longtime dream with 'Believe,' his show with Cirque du Soleil at Las Vegas' Luxor.

By Chris Lee

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — Criss Angel seemed at once exhausted and totally keyed up, happy but sad, frustrated yet full of characteristic bluster, and more than anything else, mad.

Minutes after the curtain had fallen on the debut performance last month of "Criss Angel: Believe," his Cirque du Soleil-produced multimedia magic extravaganza that is scheduled to run for the next 10 years at the Luxor Hotel & Casino, the magician settled into a sofa in his Olde English-meets-goth-decorated dressing room and tried to make sense of his jumble of emotions.

The show's "soft opening" had been intended to help fine-tune "Believe" in the buildup to its official unveiling on Halloween. And by rights it should have been the end of the rainbow for Angel, the fruition of a passion project for the rock-star-famous bad boy illusionist and master escape artist -- a celebrity-canoodling tabloid mainstay who also directs, co-produces and stars in the "street magic" series "Mindfreak" on A&E. But with the night's performance marred by technical glitches and the omission of two significant illusions, he felt it had not been all it could be. (Especially contrasted against Angel's 2007 press conference to announce "Believe," when he said it would redefine "what magic is and can be.")

"The audience was obviously entertained by it," he said, matter of factly. "They experienced something we're offering that no other show is offering. But from a technical standpoint, because of the way I am, a perfectionist. . .

"I think we've got a lot of work ahead of us," he said.

A slow-developing routine

BY ANGEL'S estimation, he spent 15 years prepping the show, innovating groundbreaking "demonstrations" (he never refers to his illusions as "magic tricks"), suffering setbacks and myriad sour deals before making good on his original idea. The highly technical show features a surrealistic mash-up of death-defying stunts, animatronic rabbits, dancers in macabre costumes, dizzying filmic special effects, aerial acrobatics and, of course, magic.

Not the kind of thing you'd necessarily associate with a guy who created his brand identity dangling, impaled by giant fishhooks from a helicopter; getting run over by a steamroller in a bed of broken glass; and surviving a detonated crate of C-4 explosive.

After he tried to develop the show for a Broadway run and with various other casinos, "Believe" finally took shape when he entered into a partnership with Cirque du Soleil and the Luxor's parent company, MGM Mirage Resorts, which sunk a reported $100 million into the production. The Long Island-born magician is credited as its "co-writer, illusions creator and designer, original concept creator and star."

"This show is about my life," Angel said. "It's 'Alice in Wonderland.' It's 'The Wizard of Oz.' 'Mindfreak.' It's about the demons in my head, the good that's out there, the angels and love and lust -- all that stuff mixed up."

Empirically speaking, "Believe" also exists as the merger of two high-profile brands: the man considered the most forward face of modern magic, a burgeoning entertainment mogul in his own right (he is developing a quintet of new TV shows, a movie and recently launched a streetwear line) and the cultural juggernaut of Cirque, whose Las Vegas-based productions have come to dominate nongambling entertainment in Sin City.

Cirque has never put its clout behind an individual performer this way before. And the troupe made a counterintuitive choice in hiring "Believe's" co-writer and director Serge Denoncourt to bring it to the stage. "I'm well known in Quebec to be stubborn and hands-on and a control freak," Denoncourt said. "As well, everybody knows I hate magic. I'm trying to direct a show for people who love it but also for people like me who hate magic."

Yet with just days until the show's grand opening, with more than $5 million in advance tickets sold, there still seems to be a fundamental disconnect between Angel and Cirque's top brass about precisely what the show is supposed to be -- and, more important, who deserves credit. Gilles Ste-Croix, Cirque du Soleil's senior vice president for creation, sounded determined to put a different spin on Angel's achievements.

"It's a Cirque show where he is the main character," Ste-Croix said by phone from Montreal last month. "We used this man who has the following of a star, but in our scenario. It's not MGM with Criss Angel, it's MGM with Cirque du Soleil. Because he is the main artist, we had him participate with input."

To underscore his Cirque-centric viewpoint, Ste-Croix added: "Maybe, you know, if Lance Burton or David Copperfield had said, 'We want to do a show,' we would have considered it. We thought about the opportunity with Criss and said, 'We can do this.' It's as simple as that, how we ended up with Criss on the marquee."

Never mind that until Ste-Croix began suggesting otherwise, Angel -- not Cirque -- had been positioned as the show's headlining draw. To wit, a 43,000-square-foot billboard of the "Mindfreak" star's face stares up from a side of the pyramid-shaped Luxor.

Backstage, Angel bristled at the characterization. Turns out Ste-Croix made similar remarks to a local newspaper that happened to be unfolded in the magician's lap.

"That's not the case," he said, looking to a coterie of managers, publicists, lawyers and illusion specialists in his room for confirmation.

"We need to have a conversation with Mr. Gilles Ste-Croix."

The elusive illusionist

TO THE extent Angel is famous beyond his core fans (who call themselves "The Loyal"), he remains a mystery wrapped inside a nu-metal-loving, motorcycle-riding, distressed-denim-wearing enigma. As someone whose business is "lying to people," as he explains, the magician is very con- trolling of his image. And there are scores of YouTube videos that attempt to debunk Angel's ability to freak minds.

Peering out from behind his curtain of emo hair, he routinely levitates between buildings and makes Lamborghinis and elephants disappear on "Mindfreak." But it's his more brutal illusions that seem to win hearts and minds: being smashed through a brick wall by a muscle car, regurgitating razor blades and dental floss to make a necklace, impaling himself on a spike-tipped fence.

"I consider myself a general practitioner," Angel explained of his magic this past summer, before a taping in Hollywood. "I'm not the most talented person in the world. But what I pride myself on is being creative. I'm pretty good at coming up with new concepts. Just dreaming. Trying to think like a kid with no boundaries. I try to think visually about what I want to accomplish and then work backwards to think what methods could make that happen."

Considered another way, if David Blaine represents a streetwise indie rock approach to magic and David Copperfield is a mainstream, blue-chip brand, Angel, 40, must be the milieu's Marilyn Manson: A performer both beloved and reviled who never triggered a visceral reaction he didn't like.

"He's very cutting-edge, he wants to take you to a different place in magic," said Dale Hindman, former president of the Academy of Magical Arts. "He's using some of the same techniques as traditional magic but dresses them up differently and sometimes for shock value. Some people want 'pure' magic and don't like [Angel's] while some have great admiration and respect for him. Our view in the community is that he's got the name of magic out there. It's a positive thing."

"He's reenergized magic," said Jeff McBride, a friend of Angel's who was named Magician of the Year by the Magic Castle. "Many people see his success as a boon for all of us."

As the aphorism goes, you can tell a lot about a man from the company he keeps. Angel's the designated BFF to a number of raffish rock stars -- Tommy Lee of Mötley Crüe and Korn singer Jonathan Davis among them -- the blinged-out, bandanna-wearing figure flashing cryptic hand signs in paparazzi photos. And the magician's supposed romantic exploits, as recorded in the tabloid press, have had him variously linked with Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears and Pamela Anderson. (Lately, innuendo has him hooked up with Holly Madison, one of Hugh Hefner's Playmate harem of girlfriends on the E! network show "The Girls Next Door" -- a rumor she has discredited.) Whether any of them have been touched by an Angel or not, his reputation as a celeb lothario persists. "You can't believe any of that," he said, inadvertently evoking the name of his show.

Then there's the Miss USA incident. In April, after Angel's then girlfriend, Miss Nevada Veronica Grabowski, did not win the nationally televised beauty pageant in Las Vegas, the "Mindfreak" star reportedly leapt up and made an obscene gesture to the camera. Afterward, in a widely cited exchange, he threatened local Las Vegas columnist Norm Clarke (who wears an eye patch): "Don't ever write another word about me or you'll need an eye patch over your other eye."

Angel vigorously denies both encounters (although Clarke and other sources have confirmed Angel threatened him). "People perpetuate things because it brings the spotlight to them," he said at the Luxor in July. "There is so much that is unbelievable that I see on so many levels. But what happens is, if I say, 'It's not fair,' you give it more fuel and it gets blown out of proportion."

About his social life, Angel framed the debate around depth of perception. "Pamela Anderson is a friend of mine. I went to her birthday party, I was there for maybe an hour. And I'm dating her now? This is what happened: I was sitting there talking to her, someone takes a picture from here and it looks like we're kissing. A good friend of mine is Tommy Lee! He has kids with her! Morally, I would never do that."

Still, Angel's uneasy peace with the media is a featured component of "Believe." There's a sequence involving a horde of paparazzi that surrounds Angel, invasively photographing him until he busts out some magic to clear the scene. "That's a moment where we try to talk about his life," said Denoncourt. "It's a dreamy, nightmare kind of thing."

A magician with ambition

"CRISS ANGEL: Believe" is the crystallization of two long-held dreams. In 1993, the guy on the marquee was basically nobody, a wannabe rock star-cum-magician named Christopher Sarantakos. Living with his parents, performing a hybrid rock-magic act at children's birthday parties and corporate events, the future Criss Angel began collating his ideas about a show featuring magic as something other than "hokey novelty about shoving girls in boxes" and maneuvered to "catapult it into the 21st century so that magic garners the same respect as cinema and music."

Long on ambition and short on cash, he began building mock-ups for his future illusions out of cardboard, duct tape and plastic bags. In 2001, Angel finally hit it big with his hit off-Broadway show "Mindfreak," a professional Hail Mary his mother mortgaged the family home to pay for. Around the same time, Cirque du Soleil's founder, Guy Laliberté, decided to branch the French-Canadian performance troupe out from its core identity as a circus to encompass magic.

"It's been a dream of Guy to do a magic show for the last 20 years," said Denoncourt, co-writer and director of "Believe," a veteran of more than 80 productions in his native Quebec, including classics by Chekhov, Shakespeare and Bertolt Brecht.

"We had tried in '96 to build a magic show in Montreal," Ste-Croix pointed out. "We had a magician from France -- I can't remember his name. His tricks were good. But it's not only about tricks. Magic has to be carried by someone you can believe has the power to do these incredible things. Criss Angel is a character that can carry a show."

Backstage after the debut "Believe" performance, Denoncourt took issue with Ste-Croix, heaping credit on Angel for concocting the show's overall narrative premise, characters and illusions.

"You are not an employee of Cirque du Soleil, I am," Denoncourt said, looking directly at Angel. "I did that show with Criss Angel. He wrote it, I rewrote it with him. I didn't impose anything on him. It was teamwork."

Angel's trailblazing within the prescribed infrastructure of Cirque du Soleil is hardly a sure bet. Early buzz from preview shows -- which Cirque productions rely upon to diagnose problems and implement sweeping changes right up until the grand opening -- has been withering.

On Sept. 29, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Doug Elfman published a story quoting audience members who had flown in from as far away as London to see a preview performance of "Believe." "The verdict by many?" Elfman wrote. "Creatively, 'Believe' is a possibly unsalvageable 'waste of time' and a 'dead end' that literally bored some audience members to sleep."

Even before the early negative fan commentary started, Jeff McBride pointed out expectations on the Vegas Strip were sky high for "Believe." "This must deliver the greatest magic show that's ever been. It's built up to this," McBride said. "The last big show in the showbiz capital of the world was Siegfried & Roy" -- whose run was cut short when a white tiger mauled Roy Horn in 2003. "It either tops that [show] or it fails," the magician continued.

Would you 'Believe'?

SCHEDULED TO be performed 4,600 times in the Luxor's 1,600-capacity theater (which has been revamped with a gilded steampunk aesthetic), "Believe" begins with a set piece involving "Mindfreak" before switching gears. It follows a Victorian gentleman (Angel) who must navigate surrealistic, sometimes sexually aggressive tableaux vivant peopled by monsters and dolls, lovers and killing machines. As he searches for love and cheats death, the magician finds time to escape a straitjacket while suspended dozens of feet above the audience, appears to allow a dancer to crawl directly through his torso, get cut in half by a giant buzz saw and even be pulled out of a giant top hat by the show's comedic leitmotif, a rabbit.

Dance is a central component of the spectacle, choreographed by Wade Robson, the Emmy-winning pop-dance wunderkind who's best known for choreographing segments on several seasons of "So You Think You Can Dance" and Britney Spears' "I'm a Slave 4 U" video. Over a year-and-a-half-long process, he vetted "Believe's" hundreds of hopefuls down to the final 14 who appear onstage.

However, Robson had cold feet about the project initially, until Denoncourt flew to New York to personally assure him there would be "nothing 'cute' about this show."

"I knew it was Criss Angel. I'm thinking, 'Magic? Dance? This coud be really cheesy,' " Robson said. "When you think of a magic show with dance, you think, 'Ta-da!' and the magician leaves and a couple of dancers come on and do a number. But none of the illusions happens just for the sake of the 'wow' factor. They happen to move the story along."

In July, Denoncourt summed up a certain battle of showbiz wills surrounding the production that seems prophetic in light of Ste-Croix's jabs about Angel. "There's a lot of ego in the building," Denoncourt said. "But we managed to be kind and respectful to each other. The biggest challenge on a day-to-day basis was that."

But "Believe" -- for which tickets are between $59 and $160 -- is up against other storm fronts as well. There's Angel's workload: performing two shows a day, five days a week for a decade in addition to conceiving and performing illusions for "Mindfreak." ("I'm a workaholic," he said.) And concerns persist that the economic crisis will continue to wither Las Vegas' economy even as Cirque moves forward on developing a new production based around Elvis that is scheduled to open at the Aria Hotel next year.

"Believe's" grand opening has been pushed back twice because of "technical difficulties," and Angel and Denoncourt have repeatedly shot down rumors about their infighting, but the magician seemed constitutionally incapable of voicing apprehension about failure.

"I don't fear death. So anything that happens is just something you learn from," he said. "We want this show to be a celebration of life: its ups, its downs and in betweens. The spectrum. That's what we're putting into it. We want that 90 minutes to be deep, poetic and beautiful."

In my "In Box"

heard about you

I moved to seattle about 4 months ago. being a magician for the last 23 years, i wanted to check out the scene. your name has come up more than a few times. i've read your blog spot, watched several of your videos, i'm a fan. i just wanted to send you a hello, and a thank you for being as spirited as you seem to be to me. i love your presentation of the linking rings.i have heard stories from other people such as tony comito about the famous "back room magic" down in pioneer square. i think that is just awesome. i've done some work around the area a few times so far, but am looking to break into the scene on a larger scale. i hope to hear back from you.

*The Magic of Gauge*

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

, originally uploaded by JULIAN MICHAEL.

What have I got to complain about?

What have I got to complain about? I was feeling pretty shitty about things an hour ago, then I hit the reset button. Something about going out back with a cold drink, a properly humidified cigar and "Live Rust" blaring through my headphones. Take off all my clothes and catch up on some neglected nude sunbathing. Ahhhhh, I say it again. . . What have I got to complain about?

Business continues to tank playing hell on my emotions. What am I doing wrong? All questions for another day, as for today, I'm gonna surf the waves of good vibrations. . . . California style. . . baby. Not on the CityWalk schedule this evening, think I'll hit Santa Monica for a change of pace, if nothing else, a nice walk on the beach will do me good.

What have I got to complain about? I went to the Castle twice on Friday, once to see Aaron's lunch show for three elderly women and myself; then came back after work to watch his 10PM show. Always a pleasure to see my friend explore his craft. OK I admit it, I'm an Aaron Fisher fan. His expert card magic and easy going personality, make for a very entertaining and mystifying show. While hanging with Aaron at the upstairs Owl bar, a group of excited laymen all but demanded a performance before their dinner reservations in 20 minutes. Aaron bought me my first double, these folks my 2nd and the show was underway. I can't tell you how reinvigorating it was to perform for excited and truly engaged people. Besides my normal opening card routine and a demonstration of coin manipulation, I took them off road for a little experiment in intuition. I performed my 3 Card Mental Problem and followed it with the Zingone Mental Problem, both to amazed and appreciative responses. I finished with chinese coin penetrating a cord. They were off to dinner and gave me one of those cash swapping handshakes as they left. Nice.

What have I got to complain about? Sunday night Polly and I attended a Jackson Browne Concert at the Orpheum Theater. Nice show by one of my favorite artists. Time to hit the gym hard before heading out see If I can make buck on the Santa Monica Promenade.

Jackson Browne - Lives in the balance - 1986

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Confessions of a Superhero

Confessions of a Superhero is a feature length documentary chronicling the lives of three mortal men and one woman who make their living working as superhero characters on the sidewalks of Hollywood Boulevard. This deeply personal view into their daily routines reveals their hardships, and triumphs, as they pursue and achieve their own kind of fame. The Hulk sold his Super Nintendo for a bus ticket to L.A.; Wonder Woman was a mid-western homecoming queen; Batman struggles with his anger, while Superman’s psyche is consumed by the Man of Steel. Although the Walk of Fame is right beneath their feet, their own paths to stardom prove to be a long, hard climbs. Confessions of a Superhero explores the fascination, obsession, and allure of fame through the eyes of some very unique people struggling to make it in Tinseltown.

Interesting flick. If I ever wanted to see a movie that would make me feel better about what I do. . . this might be it! Worth putting on your NetFlix list.