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Ryn: Magical Tucson couple dances with illusion

Magic isn’t cheesy, freaky or just for kids – especially when it’s presented by Tucsonans Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed.

Susan Eyed and Roland Sarlot/submitted photo
Susan Eyed and Roland Sarlot/submitted photo

Well, the two may make it a little freaky.

But that’s just because Sarlot sticks razor blades in his face and Eyed crouches in a basket while it’s stabbed full of swords.

But their dramatic, mystical and seductive performances are more than just sharp-edged props. And to the dramatic duo, it’s way more than just a job.

“I guess it’s not a job because a job ends after 40 hours,” Sarlot laughed. “This is a lifestyle.”

It’s also a full-time business that has them running willy-nilly to the ends of the earth, or at least the nation.

While they got their start in Tucson six years ago, they have been whirl-winding across the U.S. and are now coming back to roost. They kick of a series of Carnival of Illusion Victorian-style parlour shows this weekend and continue every weekend in September.

It’s not that they were avoiding Tucson – they just kept getting work out of town, from Las Vegas to Coney Island, with lots of New Mexico in between.

“We’re rock stars in Las Cruces,” Eyed laughed. “We even had a billboard.”

But billboard fame is not the reason behind their performances. Sharing the love of magical experiences and illusion is. While they may use some traditional props, their show goes far beyond the traditional.

“It’s not about the trick,” the two said pretty much in unison, “it’s the presentation.”

And boy, do these two know how to present. It could be because they have a common goal of making the impossible look impossible, of making people think. It could be because they are coming up on their 1,000th show together. It could be because they love what they do, not to mention each other.

Or it could be, well, something magical.

Sarlot and Eyed always wow the crowd/submitted photo
Sarlot and Eyed always wow the crowd/submitted photo

From the get-go, theirs has been an equal partnership, although male magicians have long had female assistants.

“Roland said, ‘You’re not the assistant, you’re too strong a woman,’” Eyed explained. “That’s when he created a monster.”

The two had several chance meetings at art galleries before they finally went out for their first drink together: one dry martini and one chocolate malted, please.

“On that fateful evening, they realized they shared the same dream – one with visions of grandeur,” they wrote in response to one of my questions.

In addition to the grandeur, which includes the 2009 Jack Gwynne Award for Excellence in Magic, the lifestyle does have its hazards.

Sarlot has been sliced countless times by his razor sharp blades. Eyed had a bloody encounter with a sword while she was stabbing it down on a dark stage – and nailed it through her foot.

“I was queen of the emergency room,” she laughed. She even beat out a surly, glaring tattooed man who drank something poisonous as the strangest late-night injury. Heck, he even stopped glaring when Eyed glared back at him, then begged to hear about her injury.

He then became completely enchanted. The two are very good at enchanting people. Just ask the audience.

A woman executive, complete with a nine-piece corporate and suit and no-nonsense manner, once approached them after the show with: “I never had a childhood. You made me realize you are never too old to have a childhood.”

A mousy child, so painfully shy she seemed she would be embarrassed to even sneeze, sneakily snatched and ran off with a photo Eyed had been in the midst of autographing for someone else.

A teen gang-banger leader, just doing his job as skeptical leader, came up to Sarlot after a show to tell him it was all bull. Sarlot talked him and his posse into staying for the next performance, where he had the teen write his name on a dollar bill to be used in on stage. The bill ended up in the middle of an uncut grapefruit.

“They examined the money for 20 minutes after that,” Sarlot said. The kids no longer thought the show was bull. “I love putting two worlds together,” he added of the common ground sometimes found with magic. “We clash in the night then keep driving.”

The gorgeous couple has also clearly defined the secret of magic: “The role of the magician is not to fool but to remind us that things are not always as we believe; life is filled with surprise, what we think is impossible may not be, and the world around us is a fabulous mystery.”

Show schedule:

Aug. 28 and 29, 6 and 8:30 p.m. NOTE: This show is nearly sold out, can take chances showing up early at the door

Westin La Paloma, 3800 E. Sunrise Dr.

Tickets: $20 adults; $15 seniors; $10 ages 9 to 16; $5 under 9 – cash at the door

For ticket holders on evenings of performances, the Westin offers “Buy One Dinner Entrée and Get One Free (of equal or lesser value).”

Every Friday and Saturday in September (except Sept. 12), 6 and 8:30 p.m.

Bonus show Sunday, Sept. 6 at 6 p.m.

Doubletree at Reid Park, 445 S. Alvernon Way

Tickets: $15 adults; $10 seniors and ages 9 to 16; $5 under 9 – cash at the door or in advance at gift shop, call 323-5252.

Show guests will also receive “Half-Off Appetizers OR Buy One Dinner Entrée and Get One Free (of equal or lesser value).”

More info on Sarlot and Eyed:

CarnivalofIllusion.com

DanceofIllusion.com

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and TucsonCitizen.com Ryngmaster whose only attempt at magic included trying to escape from Chinese handcuffs only to shred them in half when they would not budge.  Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail rynski@tucsoncitizen.com.
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What is the best magic trick you ever saw? The worst?

What was the most magical experience you ever had?

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Odd Pueblo: Snappy or crappy?

This fun Odd Pueblo feature asks the audience to rate a trend, topic or sighting of something around town: is it snappy or crappy?

The last snappy or crappy, a gorgeous T-Rex, was a giant snappy.

The latest snappy or crappy can go either way – vanity license plates. I became addicted to looking at license plates after years of playing the alphabet game on road trips, where you need to find letters of the alphabet in their correct order all over the road.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski
Photos Ryn Gargulinski

Some vanity plates, like ICUFFEM can be snappy and fun, perhaps proclaiming an occupation as a police officer or shirt maker.

Photo Ryn Gargulinski

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Others, like MAMMERS or METLIKA, are not immediately apparent in their meaning.

snaplic21
snaplic41

Still others are simply good ole fun.

snaplic1

snaplic51

What do you think?
Snappy. It’s great that folks can extend their personalities to their license plates.
Crappy. They are called vanity plates because people who get them must be vain.
Snappy – but I wouldn’t pay extra for one.
Crappy. I don’t even notice them because I’m too busy cutting off the people in front of me and driving 22 miles over the speed limit.

wb-logolil10What would your vanity plate say if you had one?

What’s the dumbest/coolest vanity plate you’ve seen.

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Return of UA students creates living hell for some

The throng of thousands of University of Arizona students that descend on Tucson every August is a mixed blessing.

Students terrorizing neighborhood?/Ryn Gargulinski
Students terrorizing neighborhood?/Ryn Gargulinski

It’s great for the overall economy, the university, and campus-area clothing shops that charge $50-plus for a T-shirt.

But it’s not so great for at least one Tucson neighborhood, according to one longtime Feldman’s resident who would rather her name not be used.

She said Feldman’s Neighborhood has become a menagerie of “mini-dorm ghettos” with students “acting like a pack of wolves.” The pack, she said, comes complete with loud late-night parties, gallons of booze and now, even destruction.

She lodged a complaint with the police against one of those loud parties, at Fourth Avenue and Adams Street, at about 1 a.m. Wednesday (today), she said, only to meet retaliation.

The partiers got her name and address and she suspects took it upon themselves to smash two windows of her tenant’s van out front.

She said another Feldman’s resident has also been terrorized by this pack while the resident’s husband was not home.

“The students threw beer bottles through every window in her home while she was trapped inside. They have been terrorizing her for loud party complaints to the point where she is afraid to answer the door or talk to anyone,” the woman wrote in a Wednesday morning letter to President Robert Shelton.

“From what I can see, the kids in the mini-dorms have no ethics or interest in a higher education,” she wrote. “They are here to party out-of-state and let their parents just pay all the bills.”

Illustration Ryn Gargulinski
Illustration Ryn Gargulinski

While I have not lived in Feldman’s, I have had the opportunity to live next to one of these types of students. Yes, he had rich parents who paid the rent on the property’s main residence while I scraped together my rent for the property’s guest house.

He also had no regard for others.

This kid’s parties would snake deep into the night and I would often be greeted the next morning with beer cans lining the outside of my living room windowsill.

Thankfully, no violence ever erupted – but then again, I never called the cops on him, at least not for his parties. I was also able to drown out most of the noise with triple-pane windows and a bedroom far from his side of the yard.

But that doesn’t seem to be happening in Feldman’s.

“In order to justify the destruction of this historic, diverse, downtown, quiet neighborhood, Mr. Michael Goodman (minidorm developer) has argued that the kids need to be near the university,” the upset resident wrote. “The university has also tried to brand itself as having ‘sustainable’ features and culture. These mini-dorm kids, however, always drive to campus in their BMWs despite the fact that they are a 10-minute walk away from Park and Speedway.

“The creation of a ghetto full of undergrad adult male child boarders from out of state with no supervision and lots of money to burn is not only short sighted and negligent in a number of ways, it is dangerous.”

wb-logolil8
What do you think?

Have you ever had similar problems?

What should be done to correct situations like this?

What about the landlords who rent to these kids – what role do they play?

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Don’t buy used underwear and other thrift shop tips

Tucson’s yard sales may often be mediocre and its garbage picking slim, but we have tons of fun stuff hanging out at thrift shops.

BeautyBoy was a glorious find at Desert Dust on South Alvernon Way/Ryn Gargulinski
BeautyBoy was a glorious find at Desert Dust on South Alvernon Way/Ryn Gargulinski

Cheap prices are just one of the thrills of frequenting these places. Others include unique items, vintage finds and a lamp we now call BeautyBoy.

This ornate and garishly delightful gold cupid lamp stands about 5 feet tall atop a heavy gold stand and features a 2-foot gold lampshade.

It has become the centerpiece of my living room and I can no longer imagine the room without it. BeautyBoy was also a special gift from a special person, making it even more enchanting.

Thrift store tips:

Don’t buy:

* Used underwear, used socks or dentures
* Things that have non-working zippers – c’mon, no matter how well meaning you are, you know you’re never going to get it fixed.
* Stuff that doesn’t fit – a case in point was a pair of size 4 antique buckle shoes, which were technically purchased at a mondo garage sale in Michigan, that I tried to wear on my size 8 feet. Never again.

Look for:

* Daily deals many shops offer where a certain color tag will be discounted 50 percent
* Really cheap sheets, pillowcases and tablecloths for fabric crafts, outdoor furniture and creating Lucky Voodoo Dolls
* Items no one else would dare wear
* Jeans and leather jackets that come already broken in
* Underarm stains

My fave Tucson thrift shops:

Savers – various locations around town
Why it rocks: One of the biggest and constantly updated selection of clothes you can find – beats out any department store by a gazillion.
Any warnings:
So much stuff you are going to spend, spend, spend.
Best buy: So many – this is my favorite clothing shop, for sure.

Goodwill – various locations around town
Why it rocks: Biggest variety of items, from clothing to shelves, belts to a brand-new sheepskin rug I nabbed for a mere $60.
Any warnings: Employees get to put dibs on items as soon as they come in, but have to wait a day or two until they are allowed to purchase them. If you pick an item everyone wants, like the sheepskin rug, you’re going to piss off a lot of employees. Sorry!
Best buy: Toss up between embellished hippie-type blouse I wore to Woodstock tribute concert and molded dinosaur head I painted pink and stuck in the gravel of my backyard, as if he’s emerging from the depths of hell to feast on someone.

Desert Dust – 1475 S. Alvernon Way
Why it rocks: That’s where BeautyBoy came from. Best tchotchke shop in the West for those seeking kitschy, creepy and very unusual décor.
Any warnings: Not your clothing shop, although I did score a pair of low-waist, flare bottom suede pants that appear they were worn by someone in the Manson Family.
Best buy: In addition to BeautyBoy, this place always has an expansive owl collection to fuel my own menagerie of them.

Buffalo Exchange – various locations around town
Why it rocks: This place can be a bit pricey, but it’s also a goldmine for vintage and crazy finds. Good shopping on the clearance racks.
Any warnings:
They buy back clothing but rarely pick anything I bring them, making me feel like I have a closet full of very unfashionable clothing (which I probably do).
Best buy: Velvet vampire shirt with bell sleeves as wide as Alaska; awesome find for less than $10 on the Halloween clearance rack although I intend to wear it for daily use.

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Goodwill dinosaur head/Ryn Gargulinski
Goodwill dinosaur head/Ryn Gargulinski

What’s your favorite Tucson thrift shop and why?

Do you ever think you’ll get lice from the hats?

Does it freak you out that the clothing could have come from dead people?

What’s your best and worst thrift store find?

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