Thanks for the post. I just bought a VIP to Nothing to Hide yesterday. Now I'm looking forward to it even more!
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Still, many audience members, especially nonmagicians, might chalk up the duo's artsy talk to the narcissism of small differences. To them, Nothing to Hide at the Geffen may simply be a damn good magic show.
But even that is no small feat. As much as they ponder the bigger philosophical questions, the pair cares deeply about perfecting the mechanics.
"I think they're the two greatest young sleight-of-hand magicians working today," Penn Jillette says in an email, "not because they do unbelievable tricks, which they do, and not just because their technique is better than anyone else's, which it is, but because they are charming and not saccharine, funny but not cute, artistic but not pretentious.
"Most importantly, they are trying to say that what they do is important."
On Halloween in 2011, the Magic Castle caught fire when a repairman's blowtorch hit a wall in the attic. The fire burned a hole in the roof and spread to the administrative offices, and water from firehoses and sprinklers gushed through the dining room and the lobby.
DelGaudio and Guimarães' show at the Geffen has its roots in that near-disaster. After he began his self-imposed exile from the Castle, DelGaudio performed there only once over the next year — which was still enough to win the Academy's Close-Up Magician of the Year award for 2011. (Guimarães won Parlor Magician of the Year.)
A friend who works at the Castle asked DelGaudio to help with the grand reopening in January by performing with another magician. That magician dropped out, and DelGaudio's fiancée, Vanessa, suggested he partner with Guimarães.
They had five days to prepare. At first they considered performing selections from their separate repertoires. But they collaborated on one routine, and then kept going, creating five in total. Most magicians are lucky if they can create two a year.
They were eating at Brazilian restaurant Bossa Nova when they came up with the routine that opens the show, which they call "chess." It's a card routine that has them face off against each other, without any sound, aside from the audience's cheers.
If entertainment requires a willing suspension of disbelief, magic brings an unwilling suspension of disbelief — audience members are on guard against being tricked. "We immediately eliminate the adversarial relationship between the magician and the audience," DelGaudio says. It "allows them to just enjoy without the defense system that is naturally in place."
"That's all of life in that piece," he adds. "It's our lives. It's reality. It's dreams, in the sense of what people dream we do, brought to life."
They never imagined they'd perform beyond that one weekend in January — but audiences wanted them back. Harris says the show's success encouraged other magicians to raise their game.
But, inevitably, some jealousies seeped through. Zabrecky recalls one night, while DelGaudio and Guimarães were performing, one of their peers approached him, saying, " 'No one cares what I'm doing in the Palace of Mystery. Everyone's here to see Derek and Helder. What's the big deal about Derek and Helder?' It's such a sad moment. He's a cruise-ship magician and works so hard at what he does. The respect and adulation that Derek and Helder get — he'll never get it."
And the Geffen is a whole different context. The only other magician to perform there has been Ricky Jay, a burly, bearded man best known for his show Ricky Jay and His 52 Assistants, also directed by a celebrity multihyphenate (David Mamet) whose name gave the show a promotional boost.
Nothing to Hide isn't flashy. There aren't many props — a deck of cards here, a wineglass there. It's profound and dramatic at times but also playful. "We talk like jackasses and we're normal dudes," DelGaudio says.
Harris has helped shepherd the show since the summer, assisting as it's expanded from 40 minutes to 70. The actor has done magic since he was a kid growing up in New Mexico.
Now, in addition to starring on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, he's hosted the Tonys and the Emmys and overseen experiences like the theatrical scavenger-hunt event Accomplice in Hollywood and Guy Hollingworth's magic show The Expert at the Card Table in Santa Monica last year. Promoting DelGaudio and Guimarães helps further his own aspiration of becoming a contemporary version of his hero, Ed Sullivan.
"The rehearsal ends up being more of a brainstorming session," he says. "My job is to fill them with confidence and encouragement — authentically. Not to blow smoke up their asses and say it's going to be great but to point them in the right direction."
For most of their rehearsals, DelGaudio and Guimarães walk from their homes to their shared Hollywood studio. There are a table and chairs, and the stage area taped off on the floor. It's strewn with playing cards, magic reference books, books by magic-realism author Jorge Luis Borges and the philosopher Michel Foucault, and other inspirational props, like maps, watches and compasses. DelGaudio likes to put little pictures of their routines onto large Post-it notes and move them around. One will say "chess" with two stick figures sitting at a table. Guimarães chides him because every time he writes a new Post-it note that says "chess," he draws those two stick figures sitting at a table. He has to visualize it.