A Perfect Hair Interlude
In 1990 I met the captain of David Copperfield’s dance team while I was working at a Sam Goody store in Las Vegas’ Fashion Show Mall. She was shopping for “atmospheric and exotic” music to back up the boss’ vanishing-widget shtick, and I volunteered my help – even offering to make a few tapes from my personal stash.
That bit of generosity earned me a pair of free tickets. The following night, my girlfriend and I went to Caesars Palace to enjoy an evening of magic and immaculate hair from the former David Seth Kotkin.
“Why are you doing this again?” my girlfriend asked as we were seated in Caesars’ soon-to-be-closed Circus Maximus showroom, flush against center stage.
“Copperfield’s dance captain wants me to get a better idea of his musical needs,” I said. “I guess he’s been hitting the Pet Shop Boys and Bon Jovi pretty hard, and his loved ones are concerned.”
Before we knew it, the lights dimmed and Copperfield took the stage, flanked by dancers and staring with resolve at the lighting booth. His 1990 show was pretty much what you’d expect: he decapitated and restored pretty girls, vanished at will, and performed overwrought card tricks. (“I’ll take this gun and shoot your card out of the deck, while Jon Bon Jovi serenades us.”) It’s not for nothing that Copperfield is an industry; he is to magic as Michael Jackson was to pop music, and just because you see every one of his tricks coming from a mile away doesn’t mean you don’t enjoy watching them happen.
But his music selections were kind of trite.
For the grand finale, Copperfield literally flew over the audience, scooping up an obvious plant in the process. We joined the standing ovation, properly amazed; we honestly had no idea how he performed the flying illusion, or how he kept his hair from looking windblown. He never broke a sweat, either.
Fifteen minutes after the show ended, the dance captain met deposited us in the Circus Maximus’ green room, where we waited another half-hour for Copperfield to materialize. When he did finally appear — still garbed in his all-black stage outfit — he had a white towel thrown around his neck, probably for contrast. As I said earlier, David Copperfield has no pores.
“David, this is Geoff Carter,” the dance captain said. “He’s compiling some music for you.”
“So pleased to meet you! It’s a wonderful thing you’re doing,” he said, as if I were working to discover a cure for something. And before I could introduce my girlfriend, he turned his back on us to hug someone else who had gotten free tickets.
The next day, I gave the dance captain two tapes loaded up with Bill Nelson, Dead Can Dance, Colourbox and Youssou N’Dour. She never called me back, but when I ran into her four years later she told me that Copperfield had hated the music, and continued on his hair rock/foofie disco tack.
“At least you got a handshake,” the dance captain said.
True. And now I can rewrite the opening paragraph of book of my life, in the style of the author who inspired the magician’s stage name: I was born. I grew up. I took a series of underpaying jobs. I made a mix tape for David Copperfield, the magician with perfect hair and no sweat glands. And he hated it.