Thursday, December 4, 2008

This Week's LVW col: A real magic trick

Poof! Here's this week's Las Vegas Weekly column.

A real magic trick
David Copperfield and the amazing disappearing allegations

There is a moment during David Copperfield’s performance at the MGM Grand when the magician picks a pretty young woman out of the audience and asks for her help. He borrows her ring, does a few other misdirecting things and then makes the ring reappear tied to something in his back pocket.

To set up the trick, though, the pretty young female audience member must verify early on in the sequence that Copperfield’s back pocket is empty. That means she has to slide her hand into it, cupping his butt ever so briefly.

It is telling that as I gasped, the rest of the adults in the crowd merely tittered at the obvious sexual innuendo and went along for the ride.

Telling, that is, because about a year on from some potentially career-ending allegations of sexual misconduct with pretty young female audience members, Copperfield remains a shockingly popular draw and not by any means a sleazy presence that parents with children or even pretty young female audience members try to avoid.

And there’s a reason for that: He puts on a good show. A very, very good show. A show that, after having slogged though the dregs of Steve Wyrick, Hans Klok and now Criss Angel in recent years, restored my faith in the existence of good magic shows. But more on that later.

First, we need to re-examine the curious case that brought Copperfield so low that he canceled shows last year and has reformed himself from a media yapper into a media recluse.

Copperfield was accused in October 2007 of raping a 21-year-old Seattle woman whom he allegedly picked out of his audience and lured to his Bahamian getaway for a sexual liaison. The Seattle FBI was as leaky as a Circus Circus faucet about the case at the time, tipping off journalists to a raid on the magician’s warehouse near the Strip to seize a computer hard drive, a digital camera system and nearly $2 million in cash. A grand jury was investigating.

That was all so deliberately incriminating; our minds boggle at what could have been on a suspicious computer! The Seattle Times worked its sources at the local FBI office to produce a litany of tidbits. The accuser was an aspiring model who saw Copperfield’s show in the Seattle area and who then began to engage in an e-mail friendship of sorts with the illusionist 30 years her senior. He made good on his promise to whisk her off to his private retreat in Musha Cay, Bahamas, in July 2007, where she claims he struck her, raped her and threatened her to keep quiet.

After the story broke, various other women and former Copperfield stagehands emerged to allege that this was the magician’s modus operandi, that he scouts his audience for hotties to score with.

The thing that happened next is the most important, but completely unnoticed by The Seattle Times or anybody else: nothing.

Read the rest HERE