Saturday, June 2, 2012

Blank Like Me: The Invisible Man Looks Back

"This'll kill ya. We're workin' up a Beatle medley for the act."

Well, naturally, the act has evolved over the years. For business reasons, mainly. I mean, you've gotta change with the times or the crowds... well, the crowds go elsewhere. And in a town like Vegas, there's plenty of elsewhere for them to go, if you get my drift. So you've gotta keep adding new gimmicks to the act, new twists, new cast members. When I started, it was just me. That was enough for 'em in the beginning. Hell, half the act was Q&A with the audience. Now we've got, what, forty people in the cast -- dancers, backup singers, et cetera. Not to mention the pyrotechnics, the lighting. It's quite a production now. A circus. And, of course, all of this costs money. I should know that better than anyone, since it comes outta my bottom line. But my manager, Gary, keeps giving me the old "spend money to make money" routine.

Where is that bastard, anyway? He's never around when I need him. I'm the Invisible Man, and he's the Invisible Manager. Heh. Probably off snorting more of my money up that big Hebrew schnoz of his. Don't print that.

Listen, while you're up, pour me a drink, will ya? Scotch and soda. Thanks. Woah, easy! Easy! I gotta show to do in 20 minutes. There you go. You can take your hand away. I got it. No, really. I got it. Thanks again, kid. You're aces. Of course, eating and drinking has been a part of my act since the beginning. It still gets 'em -- watchin' the food float in the air and then magically disappear into nothingness. It's very simple, but very effective. Through trial and error, we've found that brightly-colored stuff tends to "read" best from the audience's perspective. You'll see me onstage, drinking what looks like blue Kool-Aid or somethin'. Lemme tell ya, that used to be vodka with food coloring. But I was a younger man then, and eventually my doc told me I had to cool it or my liver was going to file for divorce, citing spousal abuse. So now it's just water. Heh. Killjoy. I guess it was for the best. I used to get pretty hammered onstage back then, but now, what with all the fireworks and crap I gotta stay relatively sober. I usually have a drink before the show, but it's just one. I could really get hurt up there, y'know? One false step and BLAMMO! I'm the Invisible Dead Man!

Anyway, where were we? Oh, yeah, the beginning. It's 1970 now, so that was, let's see here, fifteen years ago. Fifteen years! Cheeses Aitch Christmas! When I started, there was nothing on the Strip like it. I was the first of the old time movie monsters to come to Vegas, and I emphasize the F-I-R-S-T. Now, of course, ya got Dracula doing three shows a night at the Torquemada. Godzilla's packin' 'em in at the Sunspot. Even the Creature from the Black Lagoon has put together some kinda act at the, uh... at the...


That's right! The Cucaracha Club. Poor Creach, playin' a dive like that. No wonder he drinks like the fish he is. Don't print that either. Nice guy once you get to know him, though I'm not sure what his "act" consists of. He's like Esther Williams. Wet, he's a star. Dry, he ain't much. Maybe he brings a tank with him onstage. I dunno. I haven't made time to catch his act. Maybe I should.

But, anyway, getting back to my point. There are a lot of monsters in town these days. Frankie, Wolfie, they're ALL here 'cause that's where the dinero is! And THOSE bastards you can see! I gotta convince some dumb tourist from Bumblefuck, Iowa that he should spend his dime and his time on me instead a' them. Hence the lighting and the effects and the songs. You know, I still do an hour a day of vocal training and an hour a day of dance rehearsal. STILL! At my age yet! That's in addition to the million and one other things I gotta do during the course of a day.

Right now -- this'll kill ya -- we're workin' up a Beatle medley for the act. I crap thee negative. Get this. We open with "Nowhere Man" then segue into "I'm Looking Through You" and finish with "You Won't See Me." Nah, it ain't ready yet. We gotta have costumes -- at least the gals do. I, of course, do the whole show au natural, except maybe for a top hat and tap shoes. And if you think THAT didn't take some gettin' used to... Brother, you don't know from stage fright until you've appeared in front of a packed house with your invisible dong flapping in the breeze. Sorry, I don't mean to be so vulgar. Don't mind me, kid. That formula's done screwy things to my brain.

Totie Fields almost crushed him.
Anyhow, for a new number like the Beatle thing, we gotta have costumes, choreography, the whole schmear. The whole thing is storyboarded. Plus we gotta secure the rights to the songs. Gary handles that shit, thank Christ. Or at least he would if he'd keep the spoon outta his nose for five seconds.

No, no. I bust Gary's chops, but he's a good guy. Saved my life once. Totie Fields almost sat on me one night at the Trocadero, but Gary knew where I was and tackled her to the ground. He was like a Secret Service agent. I tell ya, if Gary'd been in Dallas with JFK in '63... well, who knows? The whole world might've been different.

Retire? Me? With three ex-wives and six semi-visible kids to support? No, sir, it'll be a long time before this Invisible Man fades from view.

Well, you know what I mean.

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