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Lance Burton - Billy Topit

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LANCE BURTON
Billy Topit

Lance Burton has been hailed as: 
“The most brilliant magician of the century.” 

He was named “Magician of the Year” twice by The Academy of Magical Arts, and in 1994, he was given the honor of having the “Mantle of Magic” passed to him from Master Magician, Lee Grabel. In 1994, The Monte Carlo Las Vegas built a $27-million theater for him to perform in, and that’s where he continued to astonish fans for 13 years, entertaining over five million people. 

Burton retired in 2010, and has been enjoying his time away from the stage in front and behind the camera—filming a screenplay that he wrote, directed, produced, as well as acted in. The independent comedy that took over five years from conception to theatrical release and has been Lance’s labor of love is titled, “Billy Topit Master Magician”. It will be released to theaters this September 24, 2015—with its World Premiere screening to be hosted at Brendan Theaters at Palms Casino Resort. The film features an enormous celebrity cast, full of many of Lance’s friends making cameo appearances, including: Louie Anderson, Mac King, Robin Leach, Johnny Thompson, Criss Angel, and more—all of whom can be expected to be seen on the premiere’s Red Carpet.

The story is about a struggling Las Vegas magician named Billy, who performs at children’s birthday parties and is excellent at performing magic, but his career has not been very successful. He convinces the woman of his dreams to be his assistant, but when local Mobsters try to make him disappear permanently, he has to call on his best friends to help out. 

We were invited to Lance Burton’s incredible estate, located in a remote area of Henderson, where the legendary magician graciously sat and sincerely discussed his lifelong friendships, his true love for magic and the joys of his moviemaking process.

STRIPLV: After 15,000 shows, have you been enjoying your retirement?

After performing 15,000 shows, I can’t think of any entertainer that had more fun on stage than I did. I had a blast! I did it for 31 years. It was a great way to make a living and a wonderful thing to do. 

While still working at the Monte Carlo in 2009, Michael Goudeau and I wrote the screenplay for Billy Topit Master Magician. We filmed some of the things that I did on stage and incorporated them into the movie. Michael and I met at the Tropicana in the early 1980’s, when we were both performing in the Folies Bergère. When I opened my own show in 1991, Michael became my special guest star and was with me for 19-20 years. He’s also an Emmy Award-winning writer. Michael and I wrote the screenplay as something we could shoot here in Las Vegas. There have been many films and TV shows with magician characters and some were good, but I felt I could bring something that was genuine; something based in reality. Oftentimes, the magic in movies doesn’t come across on screen. They are not using techniques common to magicians. They are using CGI or trick photography. I strongly felt Billy Topit Master Magician needed to be made by someone who understands magic. We didn’t have to do any research for the movie… Michael and I lived it. A lot of it is Billy hanging out with his buddies after work. Basically that’s what we did after work at the Tropicana.

I really enjoyed being involved in the whole process of making Billy Topit Master Magician, because I got to learn more. I’ve done roles where I’d come in and just act in a scene, and that’s great and also fun, but I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind the cameras. In 1985, I played an evil magician who was an assassin on an episode of Knight Rider, and I remember being very interested and looking at the cameras, and the cameramen would let me see what was happening. It was during this filming that I met Mark Wilson, who was the magic advisor on the show, and he encouraged me to continue on with magic in movies. Mark had also been a magic advisor on the Bill Bixby TV series called: The Magician, that I had loved as a kid, so I took his advice to heart. 

STRIPLV: In Billy Topit Master Magician, you have a large cast of your friends, magicians, comedians, and actors. How did you choose them and how did you convince them to do the movie for free? 

Yeah, they did it for free! My friends are all cast in the movie, because I could go to them and say: “We are shooting a movie and I have a part for you,” and they’d go: ‘Oh, great!’ and I said: “And here’s the best part, there’s no pay.” They all knew it was going to be fun. I think every magician in town is in the movie. Criss Angel is very, very funny in the movie. He pops up in a dream sequence and is hilarious. Louie Anderson plays a security guard and he ad-libs some hilarious stuff. I met Louie back in 1985. We were both in a show in Washington, D.C. at the Ford Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Ronald and Nancy Reagan were sitting in the front row. They invited all the entertainers and crew to the White House later for a reception. Louie and I were the only ones who brought in our instamatic cameras. No one was taking pictures, but I said: “Louie, how many times are we going to be in the White House? Take my picture here in front of the painting of Nixon.” He took mine and then hands me his camera to take his. Louie gets this big grin on his face, and goes like this V V with his first two fingers making the peace sign, and we’ve been friends ever since. Michael Goodeau, Michael Holly, Tom Lang and Russ Merlin, all those guys are professional stage performers. They all do comedy and they’re all really creative. You get them all in a room and you start shooting a scene and things are going to happen. Frankie Scinta plays a poker player. Mac King and I have known each other since we were 14 years old. I met Mac at the Louisville Magic Club. I got to Vegas in 1982 and he moved to Los Angeles and had a good career going. I convinced him to come to Vegas, and in a couple of years he had opened his own show and the rest is history. Johnny Thompson has a major role in the movie as the ex old mob guy who’s the father. He’s 81 and still out there working and helping guys with their shows. Jeff McBride, Fielding West and Rory Johnston also make appearances.

STRIPLV: Besides the part you filmed at the Monte Carlo, where did you do the majority of the shooting of the movie? 

We filmed all over Las Vegas. We filmed here at my house, which was Johnny Thompson’s home in the movie. At the Klondike Sunset Casino, owner John Woodrum and his son Mike are friends of mine and they just gave us free rein, and we shot in the coffee shop and in the casino. We shot at Criss Angel’s warehouse and at Magic Magazine’s parking lot. We also used several of the cast member’s houses. The filming took almost five years and some of the cast were concerned that they would look different from the beginning scenes to the end scenes, but nobody changed drastically. I learned the moviemaking process by doing it. You make mistakes and you learn. It was nice to be able to just shoot on weekends. Most of the cast still work, so most of the time it would be a relaxed 4-5 hours. I made sure I had food there for the cast and crew and everyone was happy. The most difficult thing I encountered was when I was acting and directing at the same time. I love acting in scenes and I love directing, but doing them both at the same time is incredibly difficult. You have to be incredibly focused and that is really a hard thing to do. That was the most challenging part of the whole process. The happiest and most fulfilling part of the whole thing was getting something great on camera. You look at it and go: “Wow!” Sometimes you have something in your mind and then you shoot it, and sometimes it meets your expectations and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it’s actually better than what you thought it would be. Usually, that’s because the actors brought something to the scene that you weren’t expecting. It’s a group effort. 

STRIPLV: What are your top five books and top five movies of all time?

The books would have to be: 1) Tarbell Course in Magic by Harlan Tarbell 2) Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice 3) Born Standing Up: A Comics Life by Steve Martin 4) The Wizard of Oz 5) Our Magic by Maskelyne and Devant. The movies would be: 1) Groundhog Day 2) Citizen Kane 3) The Godfather 4) The Godfather II 5) Star Wars. I just got to watch The Godfather series this last year. It came out in 1972, and I was 12 and wasn’t allowed to watch that kind of movie. 

STRIPLV: You’ve always been a philanthropist, and now you are going to donate all of the funds raised by the World Premiere and Limited Engagement run of “Billy Topit Master Magician” at Brenden Theaters to three charities close to your heart. 

I am so honored to be able to donate all of the funds to Variety, The Children’s Charity of Southern Nevada, (they have schools and take care of mentally and physically challenged kids, and I have been involved with them for at least 20 years), Las Vegas Shriner’s, (who are raising money for their transportation fund to transport the kids with severe burns and orthopedic problems for treatment from Vegas to the Shriner’s Hospitals in Los Angeles), and finally The Nevada SPCA that runs a no-kill animal shelter here in Las Vegas.

—Lance has settled into the fantastic home he built here in Las Vegas and said that since he retired, he’s become even more of a homebody. He’s never enjoyed traveling and would rather stay home with his TiVo and his animals. He laughingly told us that we’d see him at the World Premiere, smiling and getting his picture taken, and then: “Poof,” we’d never see him again. He loves the city of Las Vegas, and he loves his friends and animals. What more could a man ask for?!

Billy Topit Master Magician World Premiere
A Film by Lance Burton
Brenden Theater at The Palms
Sept. 24th, Red Carpet at 4pm, Premiere at 6pm.

Proceeds benefit:
Variety The Children's Charity, Shriners Hospitals for Children and the Nevada SPCA.

Tickets: $25 / VarietySN.org
BillyTopit.com

ALOHA - A Story about Second Chances at Life

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ALOHA
A Story about Second Chances at Life

In Aloha, a celebrated military contractor (Bradley Cooper) returns to the site of his greatest career triumphs – the U.S. Space program in Honolulu, Hawaii – and reconnects with a love from long ago (Rachel McAdams) while unexpectedly falling for the hard-charging Air Force watchdog (Emma Stone) assigned to him.

After creating a finely tuned signature style as writer-director in such films as Jerry Maguire, Almost Famous, and Say Anything…, Academy Award-winning director, Cameron Crowe, has turned his eye to Hawaii, bringing his unique talent for creating unforgettable characters and his extraordinary ear for dialogue to the story of Brian Gilcrest (Bradley Cooper), a man who finds himself caught between a woman he thought he had moved beyond, and a woman who represents all of the possibilities yet to come. Aloha also stars Bill Murray, John Krasinski, Danny McBride, and Alec Baldwin.

DIRECTOR – CAMERON CROWE

STRIPLV: Tell us about the romantic story behind your new film, Aloha.
CROWE: I wanted to tell the story of the lure of the past and the promise of the future. It’s always easy to look backwards, to remember all of the good moments that happened, and to long for those moments. It’s scarier to look at the future and try to create a future that’s as rich – and even more rich – than the past. I wanted to tell the story of a guy who’s been looking over his shoulder with a certain amount of regret, who learns to look forward. That was the dream of what a story set in Hawaii could be. 

STRIPLV: And will your lead character (Bradley Cooper) choose a happy ending for himself?
CROWE: Gilcrest, played by Bradley Cooper, is a very complex character. He’s gone from being an idealist as a younger man to being a compromised person. In the movie, he receives another chance in life to reclaim the thing that powered all of his original idealism when he was a younger person. The question is: Is he able to take the best of the past and move forward? This movie has a bittersweet quality, but it also has a real kick of hope. Ultimately, this is a film in the continuing story that I’ve always been trying to make: What is it to be an adult? What is it like to grow older? Who are your friends? Who are the people that matter? Who sticks by you, who doesn’t, how do you shape your life as you continue to live it?

Bradley Cooper plays the role of Gilchrest: once the most talented and in-demand military contractor in the business, he’s stinging from a recent failure and only now is getting the opportunity to show that he’s still got what it takes to lead a mission, which happens to bring him back to his old stomping grounds of Hawaii, where he left a few loose ends dangling, namely former girlfriend Tracy (played by Rachel McAdams). Coinciding with a second chance to remake a career that has reached a breaking point, Gilcrest starts to fall for Allison Ng (Emma Stone), the hard-charging Air Force pilot assigned to babysit him. 

BRADLEY COOPER as “BRIAN GILCREST”

STRIPLV: What was one of your favorite things about working on this film with Cameron Crowe’s unique direction?
COOPER: I really love the puzzle-like nature of storytelling through cinema, and capturing all these moments and then putting them together and fulfilling the vision that a writer and director has. Cameron treats all his characters as the stars of the film, so it really felt like each one of their storylines became the epicenter of the story while we were shooting it. So it was almost like all these little stories, all these little movies in one.

STRIPLV: What was it like reconnecting with Rachel McAdams?
COOPER: I knew that we would have a great chemistry, at least I thought we would, based on Wedding Crashers, a movie that I’d done with her ten years ago. I always thought: ‘Wow, she’s just so easy to work with. She’s so present.’ And it only got stronger after ten years. I think she’s the perfect Tracy, and I think it’s a role that people haven’t seen her do hopefully, and will be very excited.

STRIPLV: Did you like working with Danny McBride?
COOPER: I was probably most excited, besides Emma, to work with Danny McBride. I just think he’s unbelievable, ever since The Foot Fist Way, so I really couldn’t wait to work with him, and I was not disappointed. He is really just an incredible human being, number one, which I didn’t know, and just a great actor. 

Emma Stone stars as Senior Captain/Major Select Allison Ng, an overly efficient, no-nonsense Air Force F-22 pilot who, as part of her career broadening, is assigned to be Gilcrest’s official handler during his mission. Known among her fellow airmen as a “fast burner,” Ng (pronounced “Ing”) – who is one-quarter Hawaiian – has a firecracker personality and a fierce spirit for life that quickly makes an impact.

Prior to production, Stone trained with several advisors to execute the multitude of tasks her character has to perform in the film – from hula dancing to guitar playing to learning the proper protocols and cadence of an F-22 pilot. She also trained with a local flight school instructor to learn to manipulate the controls of the twin-engine propeller plane, a Piper PA-44 Seminole, that her character uses to shuttle herself and Gilcrest from Oahu to the Big Island. Playing a fighter pilot offered the actress a unique experience. As a special concession permitted to the filmmakers, Stone became the first person who was not an official pilot or mechanic to be permitted in the cockpit of an F-22. The filmmakers even had to make a special G-suit for Stone to wear since she was smaller than most of the pilots.

EMMA STONE as ALLISON NG

STRIPLV: What was your original attraction to working on this film?
STONE: I’ve loved Cameron’s movies. They’re so infused with authenticity. I trusted his vision and his ability to tell a story, his unique tempo and rhythm. I just wanted to be part of that process. 

STRIPLV: It must be so interesting to work with Cameron Crowe…
STONE: Yeah, it is interesting, because with Cameron, so much is already on the page, because he is such a wordsmith. So many of the lines are perfectly crafted. He’s a perfectionist, and he will admit to that, and I have a tendency towards that, too. He’s a journalist, so he can write, and write and write, and create and create and create! And, a screenwriter, obviously, but that kind of mentality of someone telling you when to stop, and then the article is published. I think he just keeps going unless someone tells him to stop, which is the most amazing gift. So you’re never done mining a line, or an idea, or a feeling or a scene, it can just go and go and go, and that’s something I really appreciate, I could do a jillion takes of anything. I always want more opportunities and more options, and I think he does, too. It was always digging, always exploring, and excavating, and diving deeper and going again and again, and using different music. There’s so much music and there’s so much shouting out and collaboration in his process. So that was very exciting, as I hoped it would be. 

STRIPLV: What exactly was it that intrigued you so much about playing your unique character, Ng?
STONE: Ng is this beautiful, powerful, funny, dynamic character. There are so many facets to what’s happening with her, it was like finding a gold mine. She’s a great example for women – she’s a fighter pilot, she’s sensitive, and is in love for the first time.

STRIPLV: Tell us about your process of becoming the character.
STONE: The single biggest challenge for me was probably not getting too into my head about all the amazingness of Ng. Ng has so many things going for her and so much happening at once. I think if I thought about it too much, I would get overwhelmed by all the magic of Ng, but when I was able to let that go and just really breathe into her, she’s a pretty fantastic woman and character, and that was a lot to live up to every day, but I was so lucky to get to attempt to. 

STRIPLV: You worked closely with members of the military. What was that like?
STONE: They were just so warm and welcoming; they were really excited that we were shooting on their base. I got to know some members of the Air Force and it was incredibly inspiring. They’re also the best people to be in a scene with – they go from zero to sixty in a second and back again. It was incredible to see that kind of discipline.

STRIPLV: Were you given any special privileges when on base?
STONE: I was the first civilian to ever get to sit in an F-22 Raptor plane, which is basically the most stealth and deadly weapon the U.S. military has.

Rachel McAdams plays the part of Tracy Woodside, a complex character who was the long lost love of Bradley Cooper’s Gilcrest. She questions whether she married the right guy; she questions how that relationship with Gilcrest fell apart. She represents a question about the past that needs to be resolved.

RACHEL McADAMS as TRACY WOODSIDE

STRIPLV: What was your first attraction to this film?
McADAMS: I just loved the script. I read the script first, and I just thought it was nothing like I’d ever come across before, and she was a complicated, interesting woman with lots on her plate at a very important time in her life. She’s a very rich and colorful character, and I love how Cameron writes women. It was really exciting and I felt very blessed to get to play her. I know she’s been in his head for a long time, so it was a little bit of pressure to get where he saw her going, but a wonderful challenge at the same time. 

STRIPLV: Tell us what it’s like on the set with Bradley Cooper.
McADAMS: It’s such a wonderful thing to come to work with Bradley everyday, because he has so much passion, for not just his character, but the whole film and the whole process. He approaches every scene like he wants it to be the best scene ever, filmed ever. So he comes at everything with that kind of energy and enthusiasm and generosity. It’s really inspiring to watch and it’s been a lot of fun. He’s very free, I think all the time, but he’s found a freedom with this character that’s beautiful and surprising, and so fresh and something I’ve never seen before.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Games, Gods & Morals

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NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU
Games, Gods and Morals

He’s a star on arguably the biggest show on the planet. But Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays swarthy Jaime Lannister in HBO’s Game of Thrones, will never let success rest easy and fears the day the phone stops calling. “I was an actor for twenty years before I landed Thrones, so I’m under no illusion that I’m safe in my current situation,” he laughs, casually handsome in a navy sweater and jeans while chatting about the monster series phenomenon. “Success in this business rests uneasily on a house of cards, so you better enjoy it while it lasts. And look back fondly when it’s over.”

The rugged 44-year-old, who lives in his native Denmark with wife, former Miss Greenland, Nukaka Motzfeldt, and their young daughters, Saffina (14) and Phillipa (11), was a jobbing actor who landed supporting fare in Black Hawk Down and Wimbledon, and leads in failed U.S. pilots, Virtuality and Fox’s cop drama, New Amsterdam, before finding overnight international fame as the fiendish Lannister.

Based on the novels of George R.R. Martin, the medieval fantasy returned this spring with Season 5 exploding with more action, bloodshed and saucy nudity than ever, as fans scratched their heads wondering, ‘Was that even possible?’

Meanwhile, the great Dane, who starred with Cameron Diaz in last year’s romantic comedy, The Other Woman, and will soon feature opposite Gerard Butler in action/adventure, Gods of Egypt, is clear when he speaks about the show’s future, giving his inside opinion on how much juice is left in the fables of Westeros.

Nikolaj talks secrets of the show’s success, his hopes for Jaime, family commitments, the support of his mother and never caring what anyone thinks. 

STRIPLV: I’d imagine the weeks running up to your Season 5 premiere of Thrones were like Christmas? Or am I wrong?
COSTER-WALDAU: Ehh, not quite Christmas. [laughs] I like to think of that time as the quiet before the storm.
STRIPLV: Sounds ominous.
COSTER-WALDAU: Because there’s such chaos when it begins, airs on TV. Good chaos. I love the premieres, which are over the top. We have the London one and I loved that, I enjoyed it immensely, especially as you get a chance to meet the whole cast for once. We’re all so spread out all the time, all over the world. You sometimes meet actors for the first time. I met one guy at a premiere last year and said: “What are you doing here?” And he said, ‘I’m on the show.’ That’s how big the cast is. But when it comes to home, I like quiet, and I like to keep the two separate. I can’t mesh the two together, that would be overwhelming to a degree.
STRIPLV: Some of the fans must be crazy to deal with.
COSTER-WALDAU: I just don’t think about it. [laughs] It’s fine. Normally when I’m at home in Denmark it’s fine, but once one person comes over in the restaurant, it’s like [motions another and another] ...and I get it, it’s fine, it’s fine, but it’s weird. Someone asked me earlier: ‘What are the fans like?’ and I say: “I don’t know, because it seems to be everyone.” If you start trying to put people in boxes, if you think you know what a person is like, and define them by the television they watch, then you are mistaken, you know what I mean? Because everybody, so many people, watch our show, or any show for that matter.
STRIPLV: There were some huge shockers in this season. Can you allude to next year’s Season 6? Will there be even bigger shocks in store?
COSTER-WALDAU: [laughs] I can’t tell you what happens. That would be boring for you and for your readers—and totally unfair.
STRIPLV: What would you like to see happen to Jamie?
COSTER-WALDAU: I’d like him to definitely have more dialogue with Tyrion [now in charge of Meereen]. Delve even deeper. I think their dynamic and relationship is fascinating. They engage in a way that’s gripping. It grips me. And I’d like to see more interaction with Brienne [who finally got her revenge], simply because I miss Gwendoline Christie. We spent so much time together, I feel she’s been wrenched from my life.
STRIPLV: I interviewed Kit Harington, and he’s just as secretive as you.
COSTER-WALDAU: We sign contracts... It’s not like I’m having fun not telling anything.
STRIPLV: He told us that this season was going to be bloodier than ever—like a horror movie—and was he ever right!
COSTER-WALDAU: There were certainly some shocks that, you know, you feel like: ‘Whoa, are they really going to go that far?’ But it’s the beauty of the series.
STRIPLV: Are we going to be saying goodbye to even more fan favorites in 2016’s Season 6? Is your own head on the chopping block, so to speak?
COSTER-WALDAU: Everyone’s is. That’s the fun of it.
STRIPLV: Who are you closest with on set?
COSTER-WALDAU: The ones I work with the most: Lena, Peter, Gwendoline. It’s this family, you really are connected to everyone is some way, but some you never meet until the premieres, which is why I’ve always loved those events. You finally get together as one cast, which is a big cast for Game of Thrones.
STRIPLV: Who do you miss from the departed cast members?
COSTER-WALDAU: Jack Gleeson, we got on very well, and it was sad to lose Michelle Fairley, Richard [Madden] and Oona [Chaplin], because we’d worked together for so long. That’s the nature of the show. You lose your friends quite easily, and it’s never pleasant to say goodbye.
STRIPLV: You’ve been on Thrones since the beginning. Could you ever have predicted this success?
COSTER-WALDAU: I kind of felt that from the beginning. Not that this was going to be successful, you can’t ever know that, but from reading the script, from all the characters involved, from the set-ups and dialogue, fundamentally, it was more than just a television show. But why it’s so successful, I don’t know why. I really don’t know why. I don’t think anyone understands why. I remember when I first got the job, friends of mine thought the concept was terrible and now they’re the ones shouting at the screen, shocked by who’s just been killed. [laughs] I can’t believe you killed them off!
STRIPLV: How much longer can we expect to enjoy this show?
COSTER-WALDAU: Probably two more seasons. I think that’s what the writers are working towards. Most shows get seven seasons. The interest might start to peter out at that point.
STRIPLV: You mention talking to your friends about roles. Is there one person in particular you run everything past?
COSTER-WALDAU: My best friend, a writer who’s not in the machinery, not invested in me, I bounce everything off him. And then I have a wonderful wife. I run most things, everything by her. I don’t run scripts with her, I don’t think she’s that interested, but we’ll talk about things because we have a family, so there are considerations, [for instance] you know, ‘this script is shooting where? On the moon?’ I love the script, but is it going to be good for the family, but if I really believe it’s OK, she supports me. She doesn’t want to stop me from doing things, because she knows I never saw acting as a viable career before I started out. So to be getting these opportunities now, you don’t want to say no sometimes.
STRIPLV: Why not?
COSTER-WALDAU: Well, not that it wasn’t a viable career for anyone, just for me, I thought I couldn’t do it.
STRIPLV: Was your family against it?
COSTER-WALDAU: My sweet mother has always supported what me and my sisters do. I mean, they were shocked I wanted to be an actor, because I didn’t tell anyone. I didn’t tell anyone until I was accepted at the National Theatre School. I was very lucky with the mother I got.
STRIPLV: You’ve worked on distinctly different fare from Thrones, like last year’s The Other Woman, and we are looking forward to Gods of Egypt. Is it important for you to play characters a world away from your Thrones role of Jamie?
COSTER-WALDAU: I like to do something so, so different from the last, otherwise I’ll be typecast in medieval roles. If I wanted, I could be running around with the knights and horses for the rest of my career. But that’s how it works in the industry, all the cast have had the same offers. If you’re seen as a success in one genre, why break the wheel? But let’s be honest, some of those scripts are terrible, awful. We see them in the cinema all the time, that’s what it’s based on more than anything.
STRIPLV: What was it like working on The Other Woman for you, juggling three beautiful women like Cameron Diaz, Leslie Mann and Kate Upton?
COSTER-WALDAU: Awful [laughs] as you can imagine. I had so much fun on that film, working with Cameron and Kate and Leslie—a real fantasy. I had a lot of fun shooting that, and when I read the script, I thought: ‘This is ridiculous.’ It’s so out there, but it’s not going to change the world.
STRIPLV: Do you worry whether a script will change the world or not?
COSTER-WALDAU: I never care what people are going to think. And actors can be very consumed by that. It feeds and drains them at the same time. With Game of Thrones, on paper, on first read...

“ I thought: ‘Everybody is going to hate Jaime.’ He sounds like a terrible person in this relationship with his sister. How are people going to relate or even like that? Won’t they be completely turned off? But I thought it was such a cool way to start off a character. Morals… The whole thing about morals is interesting. Everyone has them, there’s always the gap between the morals you have and what did you do? And the morals you have and how you think—it’s never just the same. The way we want to be, the way we are. We’ll do stuff some days, really stupid things, embarrassing things, and the next day, you think: ‘I would never normally do anything like that.’ Like flipping off a guy or screaming at someone who drives dangerously in front of me—I would never do that normally. But you do it.”

STRIPLV: When was the last time you flipped someone off?
COSTER-WALDAU: Probably yesterday. [laughter]

Avengers: Age of Ultron

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MARVEL
AVENGERS - AGE OF ULTRON

The Darker Back Story

Everyone’s favorite Marvel superheroes are back to fight evil, and with the charismatic addition of James Spader as “Ultron”, the intense action sequences are another level up of immensity in the new Marvel Productions film, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Tony Stark and Bruce Banner join up to kick-start a previously dormant peacekeeping program called Ultron, but things go terribly awry, and Earth’s mightiest heroes must come together, including Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow and Hawkeye, in order to save the world from the villainous Ultron’s plans of devastation.

This sequel finds the somewhat dysfunctional team of heroes forced to react globally, making for some outstanding visuals from shooting all over the world at many different locations. Fans will enjoy Marvel’s typical quick-witted one-liners, as always to spice up the action, along a little more back story on both Black Widow and Hawkeye, as well as enjoy a couple of new additions to the team with new characters, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, from the hit comic book series.

ROBERT DOWNEY JR. – “IRON MAN”
STRIPLV: What were your first thoughts about your character in this second film?
DOWNEY JR.: I was kinda like: “Where can you go?” with the first Avengers of him having to become a team player, and with Iron Man 3 him transcending his dependency, on the tech that’s keeping him alive… I thought: “Okay, now what?” But there’s all this unfinished business. There’s the matter of a certain wormhole that opened over in New York, and the imminent threat that still implies. So Tony’s turned his attentions toward a bit of a post Reagan-era, Star Wars-type notion, and he likes to call it “Ultron.”
STRIPLV: What’s it like getting back together with the team?
DOWNEY JR.: I love the love/hate. I love the people. This time around I felt like I really got, honestly, a bunch closer with the cast members, and Joss and I are pals. Meanwhile, there’s always that part of it that you never forget your first time. From Iron Man 2 into Avengers and Iron Man 3, there’s always this… I think it’s like life, you’re like: “You know, why isn’t it like it was in college, now?” You know? But more than any other of the Marvel movies since Iron Man 1 for me, I feel like it’s the ending of an era and the beginning of another—obviously some of that is informed by the new blood coming through—with Elizabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson—and I welcome it!
STRIPLV: Tell us about reuniting with acting pal, James Spader.
DOWNEY JR.: Well, there’s a lot of full circles going on, and probably the most personal one is James Spader playing Ultron. He was the first person I saw kinda “off-the-boat” when I got to L.A., and took me under his wings. He’s just a couple of years older. I think again it was a very inspired casting choice, not just because he’s on everyone’s lips and minds, again for reasons obvious with his show, but also that he’s really a bit of an American treasure, and I’ve certainly borrowed from his style more than a few times over the years.
STRIPLV: How do you feel about the franchise reaching across the world?
DOWNEY JR.: It’s a global property really, and the responsible thing to do was to branch out and do stuff. There’s also something much more authentic about when it’s not just a felt sense of somewhere, but: “Okay, they’re there.” And I’m certainly glad it happened. It seems like it’s really adding to the overall scope of the thing.

STRIPLV: Your feelings on Director – Joss Whedon?
DOWNEY JR.: He’s just really smart—and he thinks stuff through. I remember sometimes the joy of things was we were kind of creating things as we went along or within the context of the story, and we were really figuring out: “What frequency should this scene be?” and Joss tends to already be a couple of steps along in that process, which occasionally can make you feel like: “Oh, well, what am I bringing?” But there’s always other steps that can go, and so it makes it easier to get to the best version of something, because he’s practically there already most of the time.

MARK RUFFALO – “BRUCE BANNER / THE HULK”
STRIPLV: What a wonderful team of actors you have in this film.
RUFFALO: Yeah, it’s a great group of people—we have a lot of fun. There’s not a boring one in the bunch. We’ve all gone off and had families—all of us, except Chris Evans (chuckles). But I’m sure he’s somewhere. (looking around) He’s coming up the back somewhere. We’re having a good time—it’s great. It’s fantastic.
STRIPLV: Do you enjoy the hollering of so many fans?
RUFFALO: Yeah, they’re great! They’re tough to please, but when you do, there’s no one who loves you more, you know. They really do show up. They love this stuff—and it’s way better than a lot of other things they could be doing with their time.
STRIPLV: So where do the Avengers pick up as they return for this sequel?
RUFFALO: We covered a lot of ground of establishing who these guys were in the first one, so we were able to really dig down much deeper to who they are when they’re relaxed, you know—when they’re familiar with each other—that’s when people really start to sparkle. They let down their guards. They’re vulnerable…
STRIPLV: And where do we find Hulk in this film?
RUFFALO: A lot of it is just his feeling of wellbeing within the group. He’s never quite felt so at home and part of a group before, and he really buys the idea that he has like made a leap—and especially the work that is happening with him and Black Widow—this sort of taming of Hulk, and being able to use her as a partner in this. I think they’re experimenting with Hulk, and how to control him. But I think it’s mostly he’s in a great point in his life—and because of that, he feels more able to join the world.
STRIPLV: What’s it been like working with Director – Joss Whedon?
RUFFALO: With Joss, it starts with the writing. And the fact that each character sort of has their moment is a tip of the hat to him, because the story that he is telling—he knows it so well—and—at the same time he knows the characters so well, that he knows when those two things should and must intersect so that you get the perfect balance of character. You feel like you’re being satisfied about who these people are, while at the same time pushing the story forward.
STRIPLV: What should all of us fans expect out of Age of Ultron?
RUFFALO: I just think it’s gonna be a great ride. It just takes you to a lot of places, each one visually pleasing, and emotionally pleasing, but together they’re epic!

SCARLETT JOHANSSON – “NATASHA ROMANOFF / “BLACK WIDOW”
STRIPLV: So what has changed for Black Widow this time around?
JOHANSSON: It’s a very different movie this time around. We’ve been able to kinda get the introductions over—and we’ve actually assembled some kind of dysfunctional family—but a family nonetheless—and before everything goes awry, as it has to. But you know, it couldn’t be any easier—we’ve known each other for years… We’re very hard to wrangle. I just feel sorry for Joss—that’s all.
STRIPLV: You’ve added some new faces to your team…
JOHANSSON: Yes, we have Aaron and Lizzie, which is very exciting. They’re such team players already—they came in, wanted to know if we had any advice for them, and I was like: “Um, you guys don’t need any advice! You’re doing way better than us—we’re falling apart.” So yeah, a little bit of fresh blood.
STRIPLV: And how was it working with James Spader?
JOHANSSON: I was so thrilled with the casting of James Spader as Ultron. James is playing the kind of impossible role that when you read that script you go: “I’m so glad I don’t have to like try to put this together, because it’s all over the place.” He’s just so seamless with it. I think he has this sort of Shakespearean quality to him. He plays it like [King] Lear or something like that. It’s really, really effective. I really think it’s so fitting, because Ultron is everywhere and everything, and has these almost Shakespearean soliloquies at times that are very theatrical—and I think in most actor’s hands would probably be totally over the top, and impossible to juggle or make any kind sense out of. You know, you really have to own the phrasing—and because this character is psychotic—you have to kind of own the many faces of Ultron. The film is only as strong as the villain, and I think James is just a formidable one.
STRIPLV: You seem especially excited for this movie release.
JOHANSSON: I mean of course, because I don’t think I’ve ever made a movie that kids could even see before—so I have a whole new fan base, which is really exciting. And the fans are awesome! They’re so dedicated and so supportive. And knowing you have a film coming that people are rooting for, and that they want to see—is amazing!

STRIPLV: What have been some of the most difficult areas of playing Black Widow?
JOHANSSON: The most important aspect of my job—you know, as an actor that’s been carrying this character through, not only Avengers, but from Captain [America], and then also starting in Iron Man, is to keep a thorough, steady consistency with the character’s arc, I think—and have the character’s evolution be one that is cohesive. And you know, you kind of want to feel like the character is growing, as opposed to just staying the same—making decisions based on the person that we know her to be, from the films that we’ve seen her in, and the time we’ve spent with her on screen.
STRIPLV: What’s different for your character, Natasha, in this film?
JOHANSSON: I think Natasha, or the Avengers in general, had this kind of stealthy approach, and S.H.I.E.L.D. certainly had that. Now we’re being judged in a different way. Everybody is watching us. It’s just a different playing field.
STRIPLV: What’s one of the best parts, for you, in this film?
JOHANSSON: I think the really exciting part, for me anyway, you know bringing Avengers to the table this time is around is that we all get our opportunities to delve deeper into the back story of each one of these characters. Every one of the Avengers comes to the table with a lot of baggage. None of us really chose this job. It’s the kind of the job that chose us. That kind of reluctance to wear the superhero hat makes for very interesting back-stories. We have our sordid history, and we get to explore a little bit of that. And I think the audience is going to absolutely love that.

CHRIS EVANS – “STEVE ROGERS / CAPTAIN AMERICA”
STRIPLV: Where do we find the Avengers in this film?
EVANS: S.H.I.E.L.D. has fallen since the last Captain America. So now we’re all kind of relying on one another. There’s really no one to report to. So it’s kind of this loose hierarchy there. They’re kinda just leaning on one another as soldiers. There’s no one person giving commands. But we’re kind of operating as a true group now.
STRIPLV: Where do we find Captain America as this film unfolds?
EVANS: He’s trying to still figure out where he belongs. He’s always been a soldier. He’s always kind of fit in that format. He enjoys structure, and he enjoys having orders, and a plan. Without that, he does feel a bit aimless. But he is still searching for whether or not he can have a life outside of being Captain America. He’s been of service for so long, trying to figure out what he would do without his uniform and shield is a bit of a puzzle.
STRIPLV: What has it been like working with Director – Joss Whedon?
EVANS: With Joss, he’s not just our director, he’s our writer, so that level of involvement that he has with these characters and this material is incredibly beneficial. If you’re struggling with a scene or with a line, he’s not only phenomenal at coming up with things on the spot—he’s very witty. He has wonderful banter and repartee, so he can always make adjustments. But he’s a comic book fan. One of the main demographics you’re trying to please are the “fan” boys, and since he is one, it’s a very safe exchange, knowing that anything he suggests will be met with approval.
STRIPLV: What are your feelings about the back story in this film?
EVANS: I thought it was great. I mean, they’re a unit now, so it’s not growing pains anymore. It’s now just kind of internal conflict, trying to operate as a team—as opposed to how to form one.
STRIPLV: And what exactly is Cap’s role?
EVANS: I think he’s certainly giving the orders, but it’s not the type of hierarchy where he gives commands and people have to do it. This is purely in the sense of when battle breaks out and we need structure, Cap has no problems kind of organizing a team approach. In terms of how they behave when they’re not fighting a foe, there still is a loose chain of command. No one is technically in charge. But Cap does lean toward the side of structure and hierarchy, so when they’re on the battlefield, I think that’s when he feels most comfortable.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH – “THOR”
STRIPLV: So what part does Thor play in the team in this film?
HEMSWORTH: He’s a central part of the team now. He’s established, and they’re certainly a unity that they’ve all formed now and solid. Thor, I think, sees a bigger picture of the current conflict that’s going on. There’s the initial battle, which they’re involved in, but Thor sort of uses his Asgardian knowledge and starts to tap into some other worldly possibilities and threats that he thinks are coming.
STRIPLV: Have Thor’s perspectives evolved regarding humans and the planet Earth?
HEMSWORTH: I think in each film he has grown a great affection for earth and humans, you know, than the first time we saw him, when he was arrogant (smiling) and what have you. So yeah, this time around his biggest concern is the wellbeing of this world and he very much is sort of looking out further into the universe to make sure that threat doesn’t consume this world as well.
STRIPLV: What was it like working with James Spader for the first time?
HEMSWORTH: It was one of the first times on any set where I had really no idea what that character was gonna be and how that performance was gonna be played out. And the first time James did it, it just all made sense—because the writing is tricky in his pitch. But the way he does it, everything has a sort of sarcasm and irony, yet highly intelligent, and it’s a beautiful mix. I remember the first time he came on set and did this big monologue for all of us, basically. We all just sort of applauded and forgot our lines, because we were captivated in what he was doing.

STRIPLV: And what about working with Joss Whedon?
HEMSWORTH: Anytime you have a director who has also written the script, it’s a huge benefit, because they can articulate exactly what it is that they’re intentions were when they wrote that character. And so you have the source of that information right in front of you. He’s just such a smart guy, to be able to bring this many characters together and to give them all a purpose and a focus, and then have this huge, complicated story around it with tons of action, tons of humor, and also a part. That’s the balance that a lot of these films miss, and he’s a genius when it comes to kind of melding those things together.
STRIPLV: How does this sequel differ from the first film?
HEMSWORTH: We’ve gone to far more locations than ever before, and covered more ground. So aesthetically, it’s gonna be a mashup of different locations and styles and images. But everything has just been dialed up, and even the complexity of the story has gone deeper. We’ve seen all these characters evolve in the individual films, and now to see them come together for the second time—I think is pretty exciting.

JAMES SPADER – “ULTRON”
STRIPLV: What’s it like for you, here on the red carpet tonight?
SPADER: I’m so excited, because I’m seeing the film for the first time tonight. We’ve been working for a year on it—because I had Principal of Photography—shooting all the stuff on the set, and a lot of motion capture after that, and then of course, lots of sessions doing voice work (smiling) to clean things up a bit! So I’ve seen sort of little swabs of footage, but I’m just so excited.
STRIPLV: You have very excited fans that are eagerly anticipating this film’s release.
SPADER: We saw it at the Comic Con, and no one is better than Marvel at creating anticipation and being incredibly respectful of their fans. The fans appreciate it, and those of us that work on the films really appreciate it as well. It’s all very well constructed. It’s not an “us and them” environment at all.

JEREMY RENNER – “CLINT BARTON / HAWKEYE”
STRIPLV: What really appealed to you about your character, Hawkeye?
RENNER: It was really cool to be able to explore the human side and that was my attraction to doing Hawkeye in the first place, because he’s a character that is human, and he’s flawed and his limitations—and to explore that humanity in him, the human side of him, instead of the superhero side of him, was really exciting for me.
STRIPLV: What was it like to work together again on this film?
RENNER: In this one we’re together a lot—which is great for us—terrible for Joss, because it’s tough to wrangle ten crazy actors that love each other and just want to talk. It’s like a Kindergarten class. He literally has to whistle to get our attention.
STRIPLV: How do you feel about James Spader as Ultron?
RENNER: He brings a lot of weight and character, a lot of humanity, and sort of a 14-year-old boy temper-tantrum-ish kind of thing. His “regal-ness” counterbalances that. It’s really, really great to humanize something that’s really not human.
STRIPLV: What’s it like working again with the direction of Joss?
RENNER: I think he’s the man with the answers, the plan. And I try not to rock the boat. He’s got it all figured out, and I trust that. The only thing I’ll ever raise my hand to say is if I can help make a stunt better or something else. I’m gonna help him tell the story—I’m not gonna tell him how to tell his story. All I know is if I get a smile on Joss’ face coming out of that tent where he’s watching… you know—job well done.
STRIPLV: Can you compare the first and second film?
RENNER: I think that everything that worked in the first movie is just exponentially better in this one. The relationships are, not better in a sense, they’re just deeper. There’s more to go—the bad guys…again, not better, just different. The stunts are crazy, the hero shot of the spinner—not that it’s mimicked—but it’s just different, and I think it’s better. We’re all learning and growing.

SAMUEL L. JACKSON – “NICK FURY”
STRIPLV: What’s it like joining the Avengers team on the red carpet?
JACKSON: It’s fun to be on the red carpet with them. I didn’t see them that much when we made the movie. I just kinda walked by, and said hello, and ran away. It’s all about people with superpowers…and I don’t have any. But I’m really, really pleased to still be a part of this whole thing and to be here tonight.
STRIPLV: What do you think about all the hoopla for this event?
JACKSON: It’s all about summer. It’s all about these event movies. It’s all about people being excited to see what new things are being done cinematically, stunt-wise… and when you have superheroes… Everybody’s got a favorite superhero. They kinda come out and they cheer for us and they go home and imagine themselves as these people, and it’s healthy and great for the imagination, and great for the movie business. It’s a business of big imagination.

PAUL BETTANY – “JARVIS / VISION”
STRIPLV: What was it like to join the crew as Jarvis finally?
BETTANY: Well, it was strange, because I’ve been involved with Marvel since the first Iron Man, and you know, it was just nice to get on set with a bunch people that I’d supposedly been working with for ten years, but had never met. Jarvis’ superhero power was to solve any issues there were with clarity, so I was brought in, in like the last two hours before the premiere. And everybody was really welcoming. It was just lovely to be on the set with such a bunch of creative, intelligent and funny people who are playing at the top of their game. And I don’t just mean the cast… I mean Kevin Feige, Jeremy Latcham, Joss Whedon, and an incredible crew back in England.
STRIPLV: What’s it like to be here with these adoring fans?
BETTANY: It’s totally and utterly amazing, and sometimes a little odd, (smiling) you know? I was thinking… it was about a year ago, we were at Comic Con. I’d been to Comic Con about four times, and I had never heard such noise… it’s like a hurricane.

STELLAN SKARSGÅRD – “ERIK SELVIG”
STRIPLV: What was your first reaction to the script?
SKARSGÅRD: When I read the script, I thought it was an enormous, brilliant achievement, because Joss had managed to write a story with about maybe 10 leading characters, and still keep the story together. So already there, it was fantastic. But when you read the script, you don’t see it, because there’s so much special effects and fantastic visual stuff coming, added to it. But after a while, you get used to reading the Marvel scripts. You know that a lot of magic would be added later. So what you really read for is to see the characters, how they’re working.
STRIPLV: What’s one of the best parts about working with Joss Whedon’s direction?
SKARSGÅRD: He knows what he wants. And he knows that the most important thing for a director is to know when it’s good, when it’s not good… when it’s truthful, when it’s not truthful. And also he’s extremely familiar with the universe he’s working with.

AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON – “PIETRO MAXIMOFF / “QUICKSILVER”
STRIPLV: What was it like on set with the original members of the Avengers?
TAYLOR-JOHNSON: It was definitely a daunting feeling to come on set with all of the Avengers, because for the majority of the cast, it’s their third or fourth film, you know. So they’re very comfortable with the way that they want to portray their characters and with each other. But that was taken away pretty quickly. When you meet the guys, everyone’s super friendly and down-to-earth, and it’s a very friendly kind of set.
STRIPLV: Tell us a little about your character.
TAYLOR-JOHNSON: Quicksilver’s been really fun to portray as a superhero. Not only do I see his superpower being like as fast as the speed of sound, but he’s quick at everything. He’s quick-tempered, which means he’s so frustrated with everything. He’s already there. Everyone goes so slow for him. He’s fast to react in everything.
STRIPLV: What’s your relationship with your twin like?
TAYLOR-JOHNSON: They can’t do without each other, which is nice. And this is also a sort of ying and yang thing. I’m very kind of fatherly, and physical, and protective over her and she’s that sort of motherly kind of nurturing and caring, and more sort of emotional and thoughtful. So they sort of balance each other.

ELIZABETH OLSEN – “WANDA MAXIMOFF / “SCARLET WITCH”
STRIPLV: What type of research did you do on your character, Scarlet Witch?
OLSEN: I asked Marvel to compile, like a bible, of all comics that were centered around her. It’s just unbelievable the amount of material that she has to draw from.
STRIPLV: What was it like when you first joined the cast on set?
OLSEN: When I started, it was just Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Jeremy Renner, and I in Italy, and then all of a sudden everyone was added—or everyone else had been there, and I had taken a break, and they were all there. And I was really intimidated that it was gonna be like a lot of improvisational banter.
STRIPLV: Tell us a little about your character, Scarlet Witch.
OLSEN: Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, basically, they’re like vagabonds. They are gypsies in Eastern Europe and have just had to use their own resources to get on. And the way we thought of Scarlet Witch’s costume is that she would just kind of grab things on the go, or he would maybe swipe things for her. They became sort of an amalgamation of not trying to put outfits together, but using the resources they have.
STRIPLV: Does Scarlet have a strong role in this film?
OLSEN: Joss, from the first Avengers, gets to inherit characters from all the different franchises, but he got to create us. And I know he was really interested in also creating in a female character that was strong, and like, a different silhouette was important to him, than everyone being in pants. It was fun to see our characters grow, because in the first script, it felt like we knew what the journey was, and what the arcs were, but it wasn’t fully created yet. And then as Joss… I don’t know if it was through conversation or just how… this just might be his process, but we started to grow and to expand and to become increasingly more relevant, which was really cool to see.

Puppetry of the Penis

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PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS

…or as it’s called in Australia—
Australian Genital Origami:
The amazing flexibility of the human penis, testicles and scrotum

By Marla Santos

“The penis is the most beautiful part of the anatomy and there’s too much shame attached to it. This show makes a mockery of that, as it should.”—Simon Morley (brainchild of “PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS”)

So you’re all geeked about seeing some penises! Hilarious, but true. PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS is a jaw-dropping, comedic event that will make for polite (and sometimes not so perfectly polite) conversation on your ride home.

The ideal opening act, Kristeen Von Hagen, is a female comedian who is the warm-up act for the show, revving up the audience in preparation to open their minds and get ready for even more laughter to come. Her wonderfully twisted look from the female perspective helped in opening the Toronto show, as well, and aptly sets the pace for the night.

Okay, ready, set…penis! The show starts—Fitchy and Rich, the penis puppeteers, appear on stage with blue velvet spangled capes, big smiles and no pants. The audience is ready, and without further ado, off come the capes revealing the two men in their birthday suits. After a short warm-up of jumping jacks, Rich reveals the first “Dick Trick”: the “Woman.” The audience roars nervously, but by the second “Dick Trick” with comedy interspersed, people are roaring with laughter. The Jewel Box Theater makes for a wonderfully intimate showroom, so that the audience can get relatively close-up to the tricks. But did we forget to mention all the while during each limberly stretched dick trick, the penises are getting their “close-ups” on a giant video screen just behind them. “IMAX penis!” is what Simon Morley calls it. So each and every twisting trick can be seen up-close-and-personal on the giant high-quality video screen.

Fitchy and Rich headline the Vegas show, which recently opened inside The Jewel Box Theater inside the Erotic Heritage Museum, and they entertain the audience with more than 40 hilarious origami installations, including the “Pelican” the “Loch Ness Monster” and “The Kardashian”. The reaction on people’s faces in the audience, as they see two penises enlarged on a large screen are ridiculously funny, and even the people who are somewhat shocked, can’t contain their laughter.

PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS is the brainchild of Simon Morley, an Australian mate who decided that playing with your penis could be “Art”. The oldest of four very competitive brothers, his youngest sibling showed him his first genital trick. The rivalry to compete ended up with a healthy repertoire of genital configurations now known as “Dick Tricks”. In 1996, Simon decided he wanted to document the Dick Tricks, and thought it would be perfect on a highbrow art calendar showcasing 12 of his favorite penis installations. In 1997, with a garage full of calendars titled “Puppetry of the Penis”, and mounting requests for live appearances, Simon finally decided to unleash his talent, or legendary Dick Tricks, on the world. Along with David “Friendly” Friend, also from Australia, the two became partners and performed over 20,000 penis tricks to over 1,525,000 people in 35 different countries and in five different languages.

We met up with puppeteer Fitchy, (pictured on the right) after the show. Fitchy is another Australian mate who has been performing in the show for over 12 years. He was friendly, open, and happy to answer our very pertinent questions.

STRIPLV: Do your friends and family back in Melbourne know what you do?
FITCHY: Yeah, yeah—yeah, oh yeah! They all know what I do. I’ve toured around Australia with the show, done it around Europe, the U.K., Scandinavia, as well.
STRIPLV: You’ve been in the show for quite a while. What year did you start?
FITCHY: I started the show in 2003.
STRIPLV: Tell me how that came about.
FITCHY: I knew about the show and I knew they were looking for puppeteers. I was in-between jobs at the time, and went to the audition. They seemed to like me and asked me to do a recall audition and I that’s where I met Friendly, the other originator of the show. He and the other producers thought I was okay, and shortly afterwards, I did a couple of week’s rehearsals, and have been doing the show on and off since then.
STRIPLV: Had you been doing any of these Dick Tricks before you went to the audition?
FITCHY: I’d messed around and done a couple of silly things, like stretching the scrotum, doing the “woman”, but nothing particular from the ones in the show. Yeah, I’d shuffled a few tricks before, but I’d never shown them to too many people though. I didn’t have a problem with nudity or performing on stage.
STRIPLV: What was that first time on stage like for you?
FITCHY: It was great. I’m a performer anyway, so it was fun being up there. It was in the U.K. and we had two sellout shows in one day. Unfortunately, the camera went down at the beginning of the show, the technician was running up and down the aisles and the girls were getting all excited, and I was less nervous about being naked than getting the tricks right. I wanted to perform the tricks accurately enough that they would enjoy them. I bantered with the girls to calm down, they got the camera fixed and then it was fine. It was a good show in front of 800 people, then we did a second one for another 800 people, and that was my introduction to Penis Puppetry.
STRIPLV: Your fellow puppeteer, Rich, is circumcised, but you are not. Does not being circumcised make it easier to perform some of the tricks?
FITCHY: Yes, being uncircumcised does. It allows me to do things like “The Eiffel Tower” and “The Baby Bird” when you use more foreskin—depending on how much you do and how much you have on your shaft, as well. Simon Morley is circumcised and yet he can do some of those tricks. Friendly, as well, can do them. Doing the show so often stretches things slightly, so you can do more. But yes, it’s easier for me to do those certain tricks than it is for Rich. Everyone’s equipment varies slightly, so everyone can do a couple of the tricks. It’s not necessarily down to the size, the length or whatever. 

STRIPLV: Has handling your penis every night caused you to become less sensitive?
FITCHY: No! (laughing) it hasn’t decreased sensitivity. And, if it did slightly, it helps with holding during sex, so it might benefit a woman. Everything works absolutely fine! We get that question: “Does it still work?” almost every night.
STRIPLV: Are you straight or gay and what are most of the men who come to audition?
FITCHY: I am straight. I think it’s a mixture of people [the audiences] here in Vegas. Generally most places in the world, there are more women. In Europe it’s a bit more balanced, and in the U.K. far more women, Australia has more women. Here in Vegas there’s been a nice mixture of men and women and gay and straight men. Men aren’t sure what to expect, but they’re enjoying it—when they get there and it’s not really puppets, just a naked man. Gay men get to see a lot of cocks, so it’s not as much of a surprise to them, but women haven’t seen as many and haven’t seen them stretched so much and many straight men haven’t thought to do it either. Audition-wise, more straight men audition, as far as I’m aware. I can’t speak for everywhere, but I’ve helped with auditions and it’s not a gay show for gay people, but for everyone. We don’t want just women coming to the show. We want everyone to come and see the crazy things we do with our genitals. Come and have a laugh. It doesn’t matter if you’re gay, straight, or bi, it’s for everyone. Don’t be offended—just have an open mind. We’re not sexual, just pure fun, just two guys on stage making shapes out of our genitals.
STRIPLV: Do both women and men proposition you after the show?
FITCHY: Occasionally. It doesn’t happen all that often. There’s a bit of banter, a bit of flirting, but not especially. I’ve met a few ladies after the show, but I wouldn’t say that a lot of people that come to the show flirt with us. We had some strippers in last week. We come out after the show and they can check us out and see what we look like.
STRIPLV: What advice would you give someone who is coming to audition for the show?
FITCHY: Be brave, be open and warm up and stretch. Hopefully you can practice some tricks beforehand or you’ll be taught some at the audition. Get comfortable with what you’ve got. Look online and try to do the “Hamburger”. Just have fun with it and enjoy it.
STRIPLV: Is the “Hamburger” one of the more difficult tricks?
FITCHY: It’s not that tricky. It’s just one of the better known ones. It was one of the first ones created by the Morley brothers in Simon’s family. It’s just the twisting part to the 90 degree, but it doesn’t hurt.
STRIPLV: Vegas is a great city for the show. What reactions are you getting?
FITCHY: We’re getting some great reactions. They’ve told us that their jaws are aching from laughing, or they’re going to practice with their husbands. We had a guy last night who bought the book with instructions on how to do the tricks, and he couldn’t wait to give it to the boys and letting them start to play.
STRIPLV: What’s your favorite thing to do in your free time?
FITCHY: I enjoy theater, movies, comedy in general, exercise, and trying to keep fit.
STRIPLV: What turns you on?
FITCHY: A good sense of humor, an attractive body and a smile is a wonderful thing.
STRIPLV: What turns you off?
FITCHY: Arrogant, disrespectful people.

PUPPETRY OF THE PENIS performs Wednesdays through Mondays at 8:00pm at The Jewel Box Theater inside The Erotic Heritage Museum located at 3275 Industrial Road, Las Vegas, 89109 • PuppetryOfThePenis.com

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