November 22, 2009 - 8:22 am
Illusionists Siegfried and Roy recalled a special bond they had with superstar entertainer Michael Jackson.
During a recent hour-long interview at their Jungle Palace home near Vegas Drive to discuss the 20th anniversary of The Mirage, the now retired pair said Jackson, who died in June, was a good friend.
In 1989, when the illusionists were preparing their Mirage performances that ran for 13 years, Jackson loved to watch the rehearsals.
Siegfried asked Jackson if he would come up with a theme song to be used for the show.
“As I was talking to him, I noticed he was tapping out a tune with his fingers,” Siegfried said.
Jackson often attended their shows at The Mirage. Siegfried would introduce him to the audience.
“People would applaud and he would stand up and wave,” Siegfried said.
It was in Japan, where Siegfried and Roy performed for a year while The Mirage was being built, that the introduction of Jackson caused a near riot.
“I introduced Michael and the fans went crazy,” Siegfried said. “People were jumping over barriers. We had to stop the show.”
It’s apparent that Siegfried and Roy miss the stage. Their show ended in 2003 after Roy was severely injured in an on stage incident. The pair is dedicated to each other and Roy’s recovery. But they are also still dedicated to their animals and the conservation effort they have under taken for more than three decades.
The pair spend several days a week at the Siegfried and Roy’s Secret Garden, where many of the animals that appeared in their act now reside. Roy recalled that they had to convince then-Mirage owner Steve Wynn to build the attraction.
“It was a parking lot and we made it special,” Roy said
Prior to the interview, Siegfried and Roy showed off a liter of five, 14-month-old tigers, playing in a backyard enclosure that was similar to the now closed white tiger habitat that occupied space near The Mirage’s south entrance for almost 19 years.
When Roy arrived, he signaled the animals through several toots on a referee’s whistle to get their attention.
Siegfried and Roy talked about The Mirage while sitting at the same kitchen table where Steve Wynn sat more than two decades earlier and pitched them on the idea of leaving the Frontier and coming to The Mirage. The multi-year, $50 million contract they signed was unheard of in the late 1980s.
They were enamored with the idea of changing the face and image of Las Vegas entertainment.
Some of their ideas were met with some skepticism. They had to convince Wynn and other Mirage officials to implement reserved-seat ticket sales for their performances, a first on the Strip. They had grown tired of the age-old Strip tradition where customers made a reservation and then tipped the maître d’ for a better seat.
Siegfried and Roy also wanted families to be able to attend the performances. They asked that the topless showgirls be covered. At first, one show a week became family friendly. By the end of their run, families could attend any Siegfried and Roy show.
After they retired, their showroom was renovated to house the Cirque du Soleil “Love” show, which is based on the music of The Beatles.
Siegfried said one of the key props from their show is still around. The fire-spewing mechanical dragon is kept at their 100-acre estate named “Little Bavaria,” which is about 45 minutes from Las Vegas.