"And today on Las Vegas Tonight, we have a stage magician, Simon the Magnificent."
"Simon the Magnificent!" Simon corrected, striking a dramatic pose.
"Simon the Magnificent!" Simon repeated, hitting the same pose, and smiling. "There's an exclamation point. It's part of my contract. You need to say it with oomph."
She laughs. "My apologies. Tonight, we have Simon the Magnificent!" She hit the pose, too. "Better?"
"Much, thank you."
"So, Simon the Magnificent!" The pose. "How did you come into this line of work?"
"Just Simon is fine," Simon invited, "The whole thing gets exhausting after a while. Truthfully, I started out trying to break into the folk music scene. I play a really mean banjo. That didn't work out so well, though, and I found almost by accident that I had something of a talent for stage magic."
"How did that happen?"
"When I did manage a banjo gig – hey, don't laugh, those were big deals for me – I liked to do little tricks between songs, just showmanship flourishes, really, like an unexpected puff of smoke, or making my set list vanish and doing a little skit trying to find it, then making it appear somewhere in the audience, that kind of thing, and sometimes I'd get called back to the venue and the people running it would ask for more tricks because they'd gotten a lot of good reviews about those and at some point I realized that was more than half my act, so I looked into the possibility of dropping the music altogether, and actually started getting more and bigger gigs for just the magic."
"Have you ever put the banjo into your magic act?"
Simon laughed and shook his head, "I make one disappear in the Tuesday Matinee, but no, I haven't played it on stage at all since landing my show at the Golden Goose."
"How did you learn to do magic?"
"I'm going to credit my Auntie Gina for this one. She wasn't in show business at all – I got that from my Dad, he's the best banjo player in California – but she used to get us kids to stop crying by pulling coins out of our ears. She also used to threaten to turn us into frogs when we were bad, and none of us were entirely certain that that she couldn't, so we never risked it. But thanks to her, I always had a strong respect for magic, so that's what led me to try to pick it up myself." Which was all mostly true, but he did not expect most viewers of the show to pick up that she was a White Council wizard who had taken him in as her apprentice, even those few who had actually heard of the White Council, or even those who knew of Regina Pierce (she only ever went by Regina so most people probably wouldn't even associate a 'Gina' with the same woman). Those few who had met her personally and knew Simon had been her apprentice were probably writing condolence letters to his mom and dad. But Simon was her favorite. He could get away with calling her Auntie Gina on public television. Mostly because he was certain she didn't watch it.
"Can you turn bad kids into frogs?"
"I haven't figured that trick out yet, but I'll put it in the show just as soon as I do." This was a lie on all counts, but witty banter was more important than accuracy. Or rather, he hadn't figured out the precise thaumaturgical requirements, but he was pretty sure Regina owned a book that would tell him, if he ever wanted to do that, which he couldn't foresee doing because it was against the Laws of Magic and he really didn't want to get beheaded.
"I look forward to it. Speaking of your show, you were up for an award this week, weren't you?"
"Yes, Las Vegas puts on an award ceremony for local talents who live here in the city. My act was one of the ones nominated for Best Magic Act."
"Did you win?"
"There was a fire emergency and the auditorium was evacuated before we got to that category. It's been rescheduled to this Saturday." Fire emergency, zombie attack, close enough. "We'll find out then."
"Best of luck then," she offered.
"Thanks. As long as we don't get sprinklered on again in our fancy duds, I'll count it as a win."
She laughed. "Anything else you want to say before our commercial break?"
Simon turned directly toward the camera and put out the obvious advertisement. "Golden Goose Hotel and Casino. I have a show every night except Mondays and Thursdays at 9pm. Tuesdays and Saturdays, I also have matinee performances at 1pm." If he didn't plug the show, his boss Tony would have his head, and Simon's aversion to beheadings hadn't changed in the last few minutes.