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Magic for the Masses

Penn & Teller offer not just the art of illusion, but illusions as art

"Those themes," Penn adds, "are absolutely built into magic. It just so happens that the other people in magic are too retarded to realize it." He despises, for instance, Doug Henning's lisping invitation to enter "the magical world of illusion." "You don't want people to put aside their disbelief," Penn snorts, "you want them to jerk off to it. The point is, we are going to have the visceral and the intellectual collide at 100 miles per hour."

At the end of their shows, Penn & Teller reveal almost all, playing on the idea that if you know how you've been fooled, it makes the fooling not less but more impressive. This custom will be continued at their Jones Hall shows. Teller says, "Afterwards, we'll be in the lobby covered with blood. We'll be the two guys naked except for knee-length T-shirts drenched in red Karo syrup and food coloring. Actually, I think we're using the Roscoe amalgam of the stuff, which is corn syrup, shampoo and water with red food coloring, which comes out of most fabrics, which is kind of nice. But the great thing is, we stand there and little kids come up and they go, 'Can I have some blood on my program please?' They get it."

Penn & Teller perform to benefit the Rainard School at 8 p.m. April 15 and 16 in Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 629-3700. $20-$40.

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