For those of you unfamiliar with my overpriced night at the Mirage, may I present...
A Little Reich Music
It’s in the morning on the Vegas Strip. Do you know where your money is?
In my case, $101.50 is now in the hands of two chiseled Aryan fashion victims named Siegfried and Roy. I should have played blackjack. Maybe the drinks would have been less watered down.
Of course, it could be that I’m just horribly jaded. The majority of the audience packed into the well-chilled auditorium at the Mirage (“See Siegfried and
Maybe the $0.50 in the ticket price was for the red, glittery heart sticker attached to my face. It was placed there by the masked, black-robed Minion o’Roy (it just sounds right) who silently skulked through the audience, a dark, foreboding figure armed with rolls of cuddly tiger and warm heart stickers that seemed to have more in common with Smurfs on Ice than the dark magical arts. Perky co-worker and I were stickered upon arrival at our cabaret table, which was already filled with cranky Italian tourists who had already stolen our copies of the glossy souvenir programs from our seats.
Finally, one dour tourist snaked a hand into a large shopping bag and disdainfully offered us a program to share. Although I let Perky keep ours, I should have held on to it for the humor value. Along with hilarious philosophical statements from Siegfried, the booklet features pictures of the campy duo with an odd variety of celebrities, from Michael Jackson and other fashion-impairment support-group buddies like Bill Cosby and Robin Williams, to, rather perversely, the Pope.
The boys would like to think of themselves as heirs apparent to Liberace, but they fall short on all counts. Liberace had genuine presence. He had style – albeit the bizarrely flashy style of The Man Who Would Be Queen. He could carry off a hot pink feathered and diamond-encrusted cape like no other man (or woman, for that matter.) Liberace captivated audiences with his talent, and then charmed them with his self-deprecating humor and conspiratorial asides. (And, for god’s sake – how could he play so brilliantly with his hands weighed down with so much gold???)
Siegfried and Roy, on the other hand, rely on smoke and mirrors – literally – to make an impression. A public service announcement as the house lights dim informs the audience that the mist filling the room is harmless theatrical smoke. Harmless? Perhaps. But that doesn’t stop it from smelling like shit. I think I’m still coughing up the “harmless theatrical smoke.” I found myself sucking down my two complimentary cocktails – gin and tonics, where the gin was clearly added with an eyedropper – before the first dancer hit the stage.
No magic occurs for the first twenty minutes of the show (unless you count the empty spot in your wallet.) Instead you are treated with some of the lamest choreography this side of the all-paraplegic staging of Cats. There are butterflies, vaguely Turkic people, an evil queen (no, no - not Siegfried) and music that makes Yanni look like a fucking genius. You hear “Seeeeeeegfreeeeeed! Royeeeeeeee!” whispered through the music all evening, plus the odd word “SARMOTI” which is the acronym for Siegfried And Roy – Masters Of The Impossible. (Personally, I think of them as the Masters of the Craptastic, but that’s merely my opinion.) There’s a mechanical dragon, several women cut in two or three pieces (these guys really like table saws), and enough ass to keep the eyes of the straight men in the audience on the stage.
Das dynamische Duo have at least five or six costume changes in the course of two hours, with each ensemble more laughable than the last. Most of the outfits make them look like rejects from a Renaissance faire or extras from that awful ‘80’s film version of The Pirates of Penzance. There are capes and scepters and things best left in a big, locked closet. When Siegfried makes his awkward attempt at rapport with the audience, he’s dressed like a
Actually, all the male dancers have overstuffed codpieces, too. Perhaps
That’s the best description I can offer. Really.
Imagine five thong-wearing women, clad with chest plates, helmets and the boots of a Roman soldier, each shouldering a scaffolding of puppetry that multiplies her into a pyramid of ghost centurians. I suppose the effect was pretty cool, from a technical design perspective. I imagine for most of the guys in the audience, the thongs were the attention-grabbers, but I was more taken with the whole
While the union grunts set up a big cat tableau beyond a black drape, Siegfried whips a microphone out from one billowing pantleg and addresses the audience just like Bill Murray’s old SNL lounge singer. “Vere you from? Visconsin, ja? Oh, zats very nice. Und you?
With a flourish, Siegfried turns to the audience. “Are zere any Germans here tonight?” he asks, scanning the crowd. Scattered applause and some hoots elicit a smile on Siggi’s tight-skinned face. “Ja?” He says, raising his glass. “Ein Prosit zum deutschen Heimat!” A toast to the German homeland! “Ja,” Siegfried smiles. “Ve Germans are everyvere. Ve are taking over ze vorld again!” It’s amazing how empty a large room seems when there is only the sound of random uncomfortable laughter to fill it. Recognizing a potential public relations faux pas, Siegfried quickly says, “Well, ha ha, on vith ze show!” and skedaddles backstage. I kept expecting the next trick to be accompanied by the strains of an electronic version of “Tomorrow Belongs To Me.”
Rumor has long had it that one of the boys sleeps with the tigers. Clearly, that’s
Of course, with the torrent of cash flowing through the box office, one would hope the dancers have decent benefits. I did the mental math on this. The specially-built theater seats 1,504 people. The boys do 500 shows a year @ $101.50 a head… that’s an annual income of $76,328,000 for Siegfried, Roy, and the Love Is A Battlefield Dancers. That’s a fuckload of Tiger Chow. Hell, I’d wear pirate shirts and spandex for a piece of that. Tell me where to sign away my eternal soul.
When the lights come up, the theater is filled with the sounds of Michael Jackson, singing a song he wrote especially for the boys. Yeah, that’s a surprise. I wonder how many times Michael has asked to “adopt” one of the white tigers. Grudgingly, I have to admit, the illusions were good. I couldn’t figure them out and I was a mere five feet from some of them. I appreciate the boys’ work for wildlife preservation (and I admire their own skin preservation – I have to find out what moisturizer they use!) And
In virtually every hotel, gas station, and convenience store in Vegas there are free booklets advertising all the shows in town. I took one to the airport, just to entertain me while I waited to board the cattlecar to DC. Flipping through, I found an old picture of Siegfried and Roy, clad in silver jumpsuits, as they looked when they first hit Vegas in 1983. Siegfried looked shark-ish even then, but
Siegfried and Roy: the before time.