A Midnight Visit to David Copperfield’s Lair…….
I had a wonderful opportunity a few years ago to visit David Copperfield’s warehouse/office/museum complex in Las Vegas. It was a delightful experience and one that I will long treasure, and I want to share some aspects of it in this column. There were also a couple of neat surprises included that I won’t spoil, in case you get the chance to do the tour yourself.
I was spending the evening in the company of my old buddy Mike Weatherford who is the reviewer and entertainment columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal. The evening started on a high note when we attended a concert at the Planet Hollywood Performing Arts Centre. The show featured Bob Dylan and Merle Haggard in concert and both of these legendary performers were at the top of their game. Not much gets better than that for me…….
We were set to meet David at exactly midnight in the entrance to his impressive facility in the industrial section of Las Vegas, which runs parallel to the infinitely more glitzy Las Vegas strip. In a golden afterglow from a near perfect concert, Mike and I joined a small group for the tour. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a very carefully conducted and constructed ex
When we arrived inside the building we were seated in front of a spectacularly large ‘big screen’ TV and watched a short film about the singular career andachievements of Mr Copperfield. I knew the details about most of what I saw on the screen, but it was still highly impressive to see the information gathered in one presentation. After the video had finished David arrived in person and began the actual tour.
Let me say immediately, that if you wanted a lesson in charm and grace then you need look no further than the way David handled the tour. He made it personal and friendly and although you realized intellectually that he must have done hundreds of similar tours it didn’t feel that way for a single minute. He had performed at least two shows that day at the Hollywood Theatre at the MGM Grand, however you would never have guessed it by his energy level.
The largest element of the facilities contents were the stacks of travel cases containing the illusions that have been featured in David’s television and live performance career. To a performer like myself, it was astounding just to imagine the contents of the neatly stacked cases. It was so amazingly tidy and immaculately lined up that I suspect if one item had been out of place it would have been noticeable. I felt just a little guilty about the haphazard manner in which my tiny collection of props were stored.
The library and museum sections of the tour were as fascinating as anything I’ve ever witnessed in the magic world. Though Norm and Lupe Nielsen’s home and art gallery deserves a special shout out. Copperfield’s collection of posters and books was mind blowing and to a book freak like myself called out for a full exploration–which needless to say was not forthcoming. David commented that he owned half of Houdini’s library and you really don’t want anyone thumbing through that kind of memorabilia! I half jokingly asked David why he just owned half of the Houdini collection, I believe I noted just a hint of chagrin in his response that the Library of Congress owned the rest!
The magic props on display were fascinating, especially intriguing were the collection of automatons—many of which dated back to Robert Houdin. There were many items that I was only familiar with from books and was not aware that they still existed in person. The magic props were arranged in artistic tableaus based around various themes. There were items of huge historical interest and some of intensely personal meaning to David. I particularly loved the collection of magic sets that occupied one display area.
One of the exhibitions was devoted to magical memorabilia connected to the late Orson Welles. It was apparent that Mr Welles had a special place in David’s heart as he had been the host of his very first television special. In another blog I will tell you about a neat way that I was able to make my own mark on this remarkable collection and the Orson Welles segment in particular.
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