Sunday, April 10, 2005

The Sigfried & Roy Threat

A former NFL placekicker named Cole Ford was arrested recently for shooting at Sigfried & Roy's Las Vegas compound. A court-appointed psychiatrist recently concluded that he was mentally incompetent and unfit to stand trial based, in part, on this summary Ford's views: "While watching Siegfried and Roy, he had a sudden realization that what was wrong with the world was linked to the illusionists' treatment, dominance and unhealthy intimacy he saw them having with their animals."

The psychiatrist is clearly wrong. Ford is clearly compentent. And, right. I know. I've been to a Sigfried & Roy show.

My Sigfried & Roy story is really long, but I'll get to the key part of it that supports Ford's comments. My friend J and I were the good kind of drunk laughing our way through the troubling and incomprehensibly weird show, when the big finale came. It involved making this enormous elephant disappear.

The elephant seemed confused and unhappy. I remember downing the last of my Long Island Ice Tea and sensing trouble. I wanted it all to be over. So, the elephant disappears, and we thought, ok, its over.

But, then, someone in the audience starts pleading, "Bring it back!" It turned out to be one of the many Sigfried & Roy dancers (as I said, its a long story and I'll describe the experience in further detail in future posts). Sigfried egged on the person on,"You vant to zee the elevant? Hmmm?"

Suddenly, fireworks and smoke, and the elephant is back on stage. The place exploded with music and a manic energy. The Sigfried & Roy dancers are doing a convulsive twist-like dance. Flashing lights and a song with unoriginal lyrics. About bringing back an elephant.

J and I were sitting in the orchestra section right next to the stage, and the dancers' sweat was practically dripping on us. But, it wouldn't be the only thing that would threaten to drip on us.

When the elephant had reappeared, Roy was sitting on top. Roy wears a massive cod piece that is never explained. The elephant's eyes spoke to me. They said that he didn't want to be in a casino auditorium with some weird guy's enormous cod piece rubbing against his back. With manic dancers taunting him.

The elephant started walking around the stage, slowly and mournfully. It was probably remembering its freewheeling youth, where he roamed freely in Indian jungles. Eating vegetation, being existentialist. He didn't want to be shuttled around a stage revealed, hidden, sung about. And, I think that night, he decided that it had it.

Just as the elephant was next to J and I, it unloaded a stream of piss. J and I were sitting next to some senior citizens, and we looked at each other and silently came up with a Darwinian escape plan. If that piss came any closer, we would dive over the old folks and let them take the brunt of the elephant piss. They had lived their life, and the subsequent shame was more appropriately borne by them.

We were all saved, however, when one of the elephant handlers started hitting the elephant with a stick. The elephant shifted its weight to the other side of the stage, pissing on the folks sitting there. It was appropriate, because those patrons seemed to think the magic was all real and not give a shit that the elephant was being exploited. Now, they knew what the elephant thought about that.

The handlers beat the elephant with sticks more forcefully, nudging it offstage, and the show was quickly ended. As the lights came up, the Sigfried & Roy theme song came blaring across the sound system. I was affected by the events of that day, forever afraid to stand underneath an elephant. J was affected too. I've caught her singing that damn Sigfried & Roy theme song now and then.

I want to be clear: I don't condone shooting at anyone for any reason. My point is that the guy is not crazy about how the exploitation of these animals for our shallow entertainment is wrong. Maybe not reflective of "all that is wrong with this world," but wrong nonetheless. Ford should probably be in jail, not in some mental insitution, because of his beliefs. If I'd been Ford, I would not have shot at Sigfried & Roy's house. Instead, I would have thrown an infected ham at it, and say "train this, boys."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

What about that tiger that got his revenge by attacking Roy last year during one of the shows? By the way, is Roy alive or dead?

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good times, Joseph K. Great times. But, I can't decide whether getting splashed by copious elephant urine, or laughing through 2.5 hours of Rick Springfield's FX musical extravaganza (did you or I win the "Jesse's Girl" bet??), was more entertaining... J

4:23 PM  
Blogger Joseph K said...

J, Yeah...who would have thought Rick Springfield would have been drunker than us. And we were pretty drunk too. And not only a drunk Rick Springfield, but a drunk older Rick Springfield hitting on young teen girls in the audience.

To this day, I have the first line to the show's theme song stuck in my mind: "Listen to the rhythm of the music in your head" -- what a cumbersome line...and gibberish at that.

7:22 PM  

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