Last night, during their stage act at the Mirage, Roy Horn of Siegfried and Roy was attacked and dragged off stage by a tiger. The 8 year old tiger was making his first appearance in the show¹.
I have seen their show 3 times and I believe Helaine has seen it 4 times. It was very sad to read, last night, about Roy. At this moment, the possibility looms that his lifetime contract might have a shorter term than anticipated.
To me, and to Helaine as well, Siegfried and Roy represent what Las Vegas is. Glitz – Larger than Life – Spectacular – Mysterious – Over the top. They are to “Vegas 2003” what Wayne Newton was to “Vegas 1973.”
Both Siegfried and Roy would be better recognized without their last names than they would with them. Who, after all, would know Roy Horn?
With a stage act like Siegfried and Roy’s, you never know where the illusion begins and reality ends. After decades of doing this, it was easy to think that these wild animals were really domesticated, or doped up, or toothless, or all of the above. As we now see, nothing could have been farther from the truth.
You have to wonder, how after all these years, S&R could keep from getting a little complacent about their animals. And, it’s possible that ‘bulletproof’ feeling I have written about before, came into play. Someone wrote (and I haven’t seen it confirmed) that Roy might have slipped, making the tiger think he was being attacked.
Siegfried and Roy’s theater snaked the stage into the audience, with part of the stage actually surrounded by audience. A few years ago, Helaine and Steffie sat in one of those fingerlike sections, right at the stage’s edge. Today, it seems they were really less safe than it seemed back then.
Since Siegfried and Roy’s audience is always made up of family’s, out for that one big Vegas experience, there’s no doubt that there were plenty of kids watching. Imagine what they saw. Even the adults will have the scene indelibly etched. Press reports said Roy, after trying to fight off the tiger with his microphone, was tossed about like a rag doll. It boggles the mind.
Hopefully, Roy will recover. Will the show ever recover? That to me seems very much up in the air. Will people be willing to sit in, what has now proved to be, harm’s way? Will authorities still find this show, or others like it, safe? Will Siegfried and Roy decide they’ve dodged the bullet one too many times and just pull their chips off the table.
A few years ago when Helaine and I rode the Vegas.com blimp. On the way back to the hotel the van driver told us he had a special treat. We pulled off the main drag and drove into an older, fading neighborhood where light industry had snuggled right next to older homes. In the middle of all this was a big house behind metal gates with S&R logos prominently featured. It was Siegfried and Roy’s house.
We didn’t see Siegfried and Roy nor did we see any animals. But, the trip to that house is a major part of our collective Vegas memory.
Has an era in Vegas passed in an instant?
¹As it turns out, the line about the tiger’s debut performance was show biz puffery. It was the tiger’s debut every night.