Long, but good, article from Chris Jones in Esquire about Teller (of “Penn and…”), and his attempt to sue a mysterious Dutch magician for stealing Teller’s copyrighted magic trick, Shadows: The honor system.
Penn began his patter. He told the audience that they were about to be given a choice. Teller was going to make good his escape – there was no doubt about that, Penn said. Penn was going to start playing a song on his bass, and Teller was going to finish it on his vibraphone, done deal. The choice for the audience was whether it wanted to be mystified or informed. Keep your eyes open if you want to know the secret, Penn said. Keep your eyes closed if you want to be amazed.
Penn began to finger the strings, and on most nights, most of the people in the crowd kept their eyes open…
[Spoilerific description of the trick deleted.]
But for those members of the audience who kept their eyes closed, Honor System was confounding. One moment Teller was locked inside a pair of boxes, and the next he was playing music beside his partner, Penn. There were people who went to see that show seven or eight times, and they never opened their eyes. It became a test of their personal resolve. Given a choice, they chose mystery. For them, Penn & Teller had turned magic into something more than entertainment. “Magic gives you the gift of a stone in your shoe,” their magician friend Mike Close once said. In that short time between Penn’s first hit on his bass and Teller’s opening note on his vibraphone, magic was also an act of will.