Friday, January 15, 2010 the speed of McDonald's!

Since we all know a magician never tells his secrets--lest he be cast out of The Alliance and universally shunned--I guess it's up to me to spoil a couple for ya.

But first, a little backstory...

Years ago, I spent almost an entire month in Las Vegas, living at the Mandalay Bay Resort and working a huge conference for McDonald's. There were so many restaurant managers coming to town for it they had to be divided into East Coast, Central States, and West Coast (+Australia) sections, and after a week of set-up and rehearsals, we had to repeat the same 3-day conference three times (Wed-Fri, Wed-Fri, Wed-Fri).

One of the entertainers involved in the show was noted Las Vegas magician Rick Thomas. Here is the sell on Mr. Thomas, courtesy of The Sahara's website:
Witness the most intriguing and innovative grand illusions in the world with a style unlike any other magical entertainer. Rick Thomas' show is unmatched as he weaves magic, music, dance and exotic animals into a seamless spectacle. Crowned Stage Magician of the Year at the World Magic Awards, Thomas is described as a triumph of personality and presentation. Majestic is the word that best describes the Bengal Tigers in Rick Thomas' Production. Rick's passion for the wild is demonstrated throughout the wonderful effects in which these animals appear...and vanish! Without doubt, the tiger is one of the most beautiful, regal and intriguing animals in the world. It is magic within itself to be working with these fabulous cats and Rick Thomas is one of the privileged few. Experience this premiere (sic) show at a magical price. This show is a riveting visual delight! An extraordinary Las Vegas entertainment value.
Aside from the atrocious writing, he sounds pretty impressive, eh? Well, let me tell you, from a behind-the-scenes perspective, he was nothing short of laughable.

Each week, his crew required that we provide them with a forklift, a roll of black cloth, and two identical motorcycles. I was curious, so I paid particular attention as to how these would be used.

The forklift was draped in black cloth and used to make Rick Thomas' assistant levitate. That's the secret behind the levitation trick--sorry, illusion--a forklift covered in black cloth, lit just right. That's it. The forklift goes up, a hand is waved above and below her and people clap; it comes down, Mr. Thomas steps onto the forklift, and then he magically levitates them both at the same time!

Yeah. Wow. Hard.

His big trick was even funnier. The rubes in the audience watched Rick Thomas dance around onstage like Gob Bluth at his worst, drive a Harley into a large cage, levitate the cage, cover it with a magic black cloth, and then...the cloth dropped and the cage was empty! Then Mr. Thomas suddenly appeared in the back of the room! Riding the motorcycle!

In reality, the second motorcycle was conspicuously hidden beneath a black cloth by the rear doors the entire time and, during the stupid 'dancing' segment, a helmeted Rick Thomas slyly spun out behind a curtain and was immediately replaced by a totally-different-looking-in-every-way-imaginable 'body double' in matching leather jacket and helmet.

Mr. Thomas then ran through the access hallways around the enormous ballroom, climbed onto the second motorcycle, revved it repeatedly, turned on the headlight, and NOBODY NOTICED until a camera revealed him riding down the aisle from the back of the room.

During the first week's performance, he ran up onstage, victorious, and uttered the following line between frenzied gasps for air:
" McDonald's!"
When it came time for his show during the second and third weeks, we had to supply a golf cart and driver, so that Mr. Thomas could be rocketed down the long access corridor in style. Oddly, he was still out of breath whenever he got to the stage and delivered the same stupid line...

So, the next time you wonder how those magicians do it, stop thinking it's something super complicated--apparently, an audience is so easily duped all you need is another person in the same clothes, a second motorcycle, a forklift, crafty lighting, and some black cloth.

A goddamn hocus-pocus travesty...unlike this, which is hilarious and somewhat related:


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