Magic isn’t cheesy, freaky or just for kids – especially when it’s presented by Tucsonans Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed.
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.
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.”
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:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the best magic trick you ever saw? The worst?
What was the most magical experience you ever had?