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‘Ampersand Icon’ Penn Jillette honors Siegfried Fischbacher

Updated January 18, 2021 - 9:40 am

Penn & Teller are familiar with performing as ampersand icons. The duo has long shared that strata with Siegfried & Roy. The respective superstar acts have performed magic in hit Las Vegas shows for decades, but were unalike in their styles.

Penn Jillette would dance and spin after performing a routine only as satire. You would never see Teller wearing an oversized codpiece unless performing parody. While Siegfried & Roy presented the Secret Garden at the Mirage, P&T have designed an entirely fictional Secret Pasture at an undisclosed Las Vegas location.

S&R memorably made an elephant disappear. P&T have gone with an African Spotted Pygmy Elephant, which (spoiler alert!) is actually a cow outfitted with fake ears and trunk.

Not irrelevantly, off the stage S&R were certainly life partners. Penn & Teller are business partners.

After Wednesday’s passing of Siegfried Fischbacher of pancreatic cancer at 81, Penn & Teller stand as the city’s pre-eminent living entertainment partnership. In the end, S&R and P&T had more in common than it appeared.

Responding to a request for his thoughts about Siegfried’s death, and also his view of S&R’s legacy, Jillette penned the following comments:

“Siegfried & Roy created the successful business plan of a full-evening Vegas magic show as headliner. If S&R had not done that, there would be no Penn & Teller in Vegas. It’s that simple. Yup, our shows were very different but the business wasn’t. They made us headliners. We were very different but S&R taught us so much about showbiz and I enjoyed every moment I spent with them and I was closest to Siegfried.

“We had more in common than you might imagine. We had everything in common, we both decided to create and perform in a duo.

“I’m going to miss Siegfried so much. Every time I did an appearance where I mentioned S&R, even if my mention was just unkind and rude jokes on Howard Stern, I would get a call the next day from Mr. Fischbacher (I love Siegfried’s full name), thanking me for the mention.

“Never a comment on content, just honest thanks. Any mention was fine with Siegfried, that was showbiz. He was always kind and generous.

“P&T may seem very different from S&R, but we we worked in a longterm artistic partnership, so, we understood things. As Tolstoy might have written all happy showbiz partnerships are the same. Get Tommy Smothers, Keith Richards, and Roy Horn in a room and we all understand each other completely. All the collaboration, all the difficulties and all the joy.

“We’re all the same breed of cats, theirs are just bigger cats.

“I remember Siegfried once said, ‘I’m not gay, I’m not straight — I am Siegfried.’ We should all aspire to that …with our own names in place of “Siegfried,” of course.

“I love you Siegfried and I will miss our talks and your smile and your deep understanding and inspiration. Thanks for our Vegas run!”

Welcome to Terrible’s

What I have learned on my bike rides to the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign is the development of a Terrible Herbst outpost across the street from the sign on Las Vegas Boulevard. The business is just south of the Harley Davidson dealership, same site as the famous Klondike Inn hotel-casino. We can report tall fencing, a glass-enclosed entrance and ample parking.

Your Vegas Moment

A guest singer wearing the gold Vegas Golden Knights third jersey joined Phillip Officer’s 65th birthday performance Saturday night at The Vegas Room. He was Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson joined Ian Ward, Ruby Lewis, Amanda King, Kitty Green and Paula Dione Ingram in the lineup of vocalists.

Golden Pipes arrived after singing the national anthem at T-Mobile Arena. Officer then asked him to wear the glittering-golden jersey to close the show.

But before singing the “Come On Get Happy/Happy Days Are Here Again” with Johnson, he provided a quick play-by-play reenactment of the closing moments of Golden Knights’ 2-1 overtime victory over the Anaheim Ducks. As Johnson dramatically announced the game’s closing moments, pianist Dan Ellis played a theatrical backdrop.

Johnson called out, “The game was tied after three periods, and we’re going to overtime! (DUM-DUM!) And in overtime, it is tense, you’re tight and nervous, waking up like you have a hangover (DUM-DUM!). It’s 3-on-3! (DUM-DUM!) The puck dropped, and in seven seconds later …. (DUM-DUM!) the Golden Knights score! We win! (DUM-DUM-DUM!)”

The announced crowd of like 31 fans cheered.

Great Moments In Social Media

Vegas entertainment and column faves Travis and Jennifer Cloer celebrated their 13th anniversary on Sunday. Travis posted a beautiful black-and-white photo of the couple in full wedding regalia at the aforementioned Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The couple ventured to the sign three years ago to celebrate their 10th anniversary.

In the spirit of shared affection, Cloer is headlining a Valentine’s Day-themed performance Feb. 13 at Chianti Italian Restaurant in Henderson. Chris Lash is on keys and Eric Tewalt on sax (easily recognizable for the VGK sticker on the baritone). Dinner is at 6 p.m., followed by live entertainment. Mask up and live, folks.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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