12/04/17 THERE'S A STORY TO BE TOLD..taking friends to see the boyz.
In the many years I've been friends with Penn and Teller, I've always been happy to share the experience of meeting them with friends. When the opportunity arises, and there are seats, I can usually bring my friends along to the shows. So, I thought I'd just write about the experiences, the generosity of their office to get me tickets, and about watching my fellows share with me what I have. Plus, Penn always said that if his fans paid for dinner, he'd go out with us after. Since he's lost the 110 lbs. I don't think that happens much anymore.
I wrote about the first time I shared the shows with somoen last year. It was when I took my friend Pat Prosser to Louisville. He wore a beautiful red tux and I wore a red evening gown. That was the night I also met Howard Bone, the man who could not be hung. It was one of the best nights ever.
There was the time that I had 2 extra tickets for Cincinnati and Deb and the other one I'd gotten them for couldn't make it. So, I took a fellow magician, Bill, and his wife. They had no idea I was going to be in a black, skin tight dress, and sat down next to me without recognizing me. When I said, "Hi Bill!" he nearly jumped out of the seat and his wife cracked up. Then when I told them to follow me to the dressing room, I think they were amazed even more.
Teller went, "Oh, there you are."
I introduced him to my friends and then Penn came in and said, "How the hell are you? You look better than my date last night."
I took Lydia Burris and David Alusik with Deb and I backstage before the show at a Casino in Gary. Lydia sketched the entire conversation. That was a great time. Both were stunned to hear him talk that long.
Now, before I go any further, I wish to thank their manager, Glenn Alai for his wonderful friendship, and to Laura in their office for always accommodating me with requests. And also, Bert, their stage manager, for always being there for a hug, and then running off to do something else to keep things running smoothly.
Yet, my favorite sharing experience was with my dear friend, Victoria St. James, one of the great performers of the "drag" stage, anywhere. We've spent many hours together, whether it was when I was dressing her at Talbott St. or when we were at Portia's house enjoying QVS together. She was the hostess at Ruth Ellen's Restaurant, just before Talbott St. reopened in the late 90s. She was one of the Ladies of Legends and I drove her to work a lot of nights. I would sort of slap her across the face to get her out of the car.
"No, no, don't hit me, I don't wanna go. No No, you can't.." whack across the nose, always missing by about 2". "OK, thanks Mer." And off we'd go to work. I'd drive her home, usually after 2:30 AM and we'd stop by "taco hell" or "slider heaven" for something to eat.
In 2002, it was announced that Penn and Teller were going to appear at Ball State in Muncie. And since I had told Teller about Vicki, I asked her if she'd like to come with me to the show. Since it was a weeknight show, it was going to be on a night that she wasn't performing. "Awe right, Merlyn, let's go see your friends." I got the confirmation for the tickets and everything was set.
I got all prettied up and Vicki was dressing comfortably. We jumped in my Sentra and zipped up to Muncie. Of course, not being familiar with all the roads that split off in odd directions, we got lost, but eventually found ourselves to the Emens Auditorium. There, we found will call, got our tickets, and headed to the seats. I was fascinated by the hall and later found out how great the acoustics were. Musical artists love playing that place because of the sound.
At 8 PM, promptly, the curtain went up and there they were. They were opening with "Honor System" then, which is a box escape by Teller, from an examined crate, and the audience is told that if they don't want to know how it was done, to close their eyes. Most don't, of course. And they went into their full 2 hour show, plus intermission.
I could see Vicki's face and everything they did amazed her. It always amazes me, even to this day. MOFO the Psychic Gorilla, Shadows, Penn's Juggling Broken Bottles, etc, all kept putting a smile on her face. And after 2 hours, it was over, they took their bow, and went into the lobby to greet everyone who came. They still do that to this day. They don't hawk t-shirts or any of their swag, they just smile for pictures and give autographs. When Teller saw me, a big smile came over his face. I motioned we'd catch up after the crowd died down. Then we went over to Penn and as usual he says, "Good to see you, boss" to everyone, takes a picture, and gives an autograph, then onto the next one. country western wedding dresses
As his line died down, I introduced him to Vicki. "That's Miss Gay Indiana? She's a knockout."
"You should see her in full face."
And so, as the crowd thinned out, a few of the other local magicians found me. They wondered if we were doing anything afterward. Teller overheard them. "I haven't eaten. Want to go somewhere after?" One of the magicians from Muncie said there was a new Mexican place that had just opened and he wondered if that would be OK? "Sure." And we were off.
I don't thing Teller rode with us. Penn had something to do in Las Vegas so he was heading to a plane. So, about 4 of us, Teller and one of his managers, and Vicki and I followed the locals to the new place.
As we arrived, there were only a couple of others in the place. The hostess greeted us and made an apology that they'd not gotten their liquor license yet so there wasn't any alcohol for sale. That was fine with us.
So around 7 or 8 of us sat around a 10 top and ordered food and talked about life and magic. Teller asked me how my colonial shows were going and I went roight into me Cockney accent. "Theys doin' well, me lad."
One of the others at the table blurted out, "How does he do that?"
I asked, "What?"
"Doing those voices just off the top of his head?"
Then Teller responded, "Well, that's his job. That's what he does." And needless to say, I smiled. So did Vicki.
I guess it was that it was a recognition by him that made me realize that doing voices, accents, and sound effects aren't able to be done by everyone. To me, I've been making strange sounds for so long it is second nature for me.
The food arrived and it was glorious. The wait staff recognized Teller and asked for autographs. It must have been very cool for a celebrity to be in their restaurant the first week it was open. We talked about magic history, what performing is for each of us, and about life as magic and doing drag in nightclubs. I raised a glass, remembering Teller's toast from all those years before.
"Here's to magic; for without it this diverse group of people would have never met." And as we all toasted with sodas and water, and whatever we had, I looked at Vicki, my dear friend. And she was smiling.
As we drove back to Indy, we didn't talk too much. We were both pretty satisfied with the evening. And as I dropped her off at her house, I had a great feeling. I had gotten 2 of my closest friends together for a few minutes. The Queen of Magic, The Queen of the Catwalk, and one of the The Kings of Magic all at one place at one time? Oh, yeah..
Yeah, life's been good to me, so far.