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Stalking David Copperfield

Volume 74: Wed February 28, 2007

A gripping story about your favorite hero and heroine, Ryan and Amanda, helping David Copperfield with a magic trick and other amusing anecdotes.

February 27


The outside of the Performing Arts Center. It was not a dark and stormy night when I took this photo!

It was a dark and stormy night in the sleepy town of San Luis Obispo. The rain came down in sheets, but we were dry, inside the lobby of the Performing Arts Center on the Cal Poly campus. David Copperfield was performing this night, and we were there to watch the show. Or at least, that was our intent. It would not be long before we became part of the show, and this is that story....

Let me introduce you to the characters in this story. There's your usual duo you see in these pages—Amanda and myself. Also in attendance was my mom (Becky), my sister (Tierra), and her husband (Rick—whom you might remember played a starring role in my 2005 Wonderland Trail adventures).

When the doors opened, Amanda and I took our seats dangerously close to the front—the fourth row from the front. My mom, Tierra, and Rick were nowhere to be seen. Loitering in the lobby somewhere, obviously, but who could tell why?

We weren't there for more than a couple of minutes before one of Copperfield's people, dressed in black, walked up to the row in front of us, stooped down, and asked if we were married.

"No."

"Are you dating?"

Amanda and I look at each other, wondering where this going. "Yes."

"Can you two pretend you're married?"

I finally cut to the chase. "Why?"

And she explains. The second illusion of the evening involves David passing through a steel plate, and she needs volunteers who will be on stage to 'test' the steel. But she needs a married couple, because David will ask if we're married, and we have to say yes.

I had my reservations. I don't really like the idea of being the center of attention with hundreds (thousands?) of eyeballs looking directly at me. What if I froze? What if I made a fool out of myself?

I shook my head. "No, I don't think so," I said, turning to Amanda for support. Amanda's eyes positively glowed at the idea of being on stage, though, and she was nodding her head. "Let's do it!"

But.... but....

"You'll be able to shake David Copperfield's hand," the assistant told me.

But....

"And you can write it into a Great Adventure!" Amanda said.

Ooohh.... That's an idea. Shake David Copperfield's hand? *shrug* To write about it? Priceless....

I waffled some more. "You can still back out of using us," I told the assistant.

"You'll do great!" she assured me.

I finally caved and said I'd do it, and the assistant told us more details about what would happen. Just before the first illusion finished, she'd get us to stand by the stairs to the stage, Amanda behind me. We'll walk up directly to David Copperfield, and I'll walk around the steel plate to examine it's really what it claims to be, I'll be given a hammer to bang on it to show it's really solid, and then it'll be lowered so both Amanda and I would jump up and down on it.

What the hell did I get myself into?

"And you can't move seats," the assistant continued. "I'll look for you here.

We nodded in assent.

"And when David asks if you're married, you have to say yes, or I'll lose my job."

Uhh, okay.

The assistant left us. An older guy sitting two seats away commented to us, "Well at least we know you two aren't plants!" True, at least we knew we weren't plants either. =)

Amanda suggested we not tell my mom, Tierra, and Rick. Let it be a surprise when we ended up on stage during the show, so that's what we did. Eventually the rest of them wandered in, and Amanda and I said nothing about our upcoming stage debut. I wondered how I could turn it into a bet. "Hey, mom, how much you want to bet I can make David Copperfield shake my hand before the night is over?" No, better not. She might get suspicious.


This was my view from the stage (minus the people!) of the Performing Arts Center. I highlighted my seat in the audience in red. There are 1,282 seats for those keeping track.

I bounced my leg in nervousness, though, and my mom turned to me asking if I'd stop since I was shaking her chair when I did that. "Sorry." I stopped bouncing my leg, but it didn't stop my nervousness and I rubbed my hands together instead.

The show finally started with a video about David Copperfield, then he came out and everyone applauded. He did a couple of small tricks, then the first big illusion which I don't even remember anymore. I was too nervous to pay too much attention.

The assistant waved us out of our seats, and Amanda and I took our positions at the steps at the bottom of the stage. "When we give you the signal," another assistant whispered to us, "walk directly to Copperfield."

I didn't even look back to see what must have been a stunned shock on the rest of my family's faces.

"Go!" and a small nudge pushed me up the steps. I walked to David, who was saying something, but another assistant was whispering to me. "Now walk around the steel plate" he said, nudging me in the necessary direction.

I walked around, not even really looking at the wall of steel, complete sensory overload. Somehow I ended up with a hammer in my hands. A rubber mallet, actually. Where it came from, I have no idea. Thinking back, I assume David must have given it to me, but I cannot remember how that hammer got in my hands—just a voice whispering in my ear, "Now bang the steel as hard as you can!"

So I walked in front, God knows how many eyeballs directly on me, and took the biggest, hardest whack at the steel plate that I could which rang loudly. Then I took another whack. And another whack. Then the voice was back. "That's good, you can stop now."

The hammer magically disappeared again. I'm not sure if anyone else in the audience noticed, but I have absolutely no idea what happened to the hammer. I had it in my hands one second, and it was gone the next time I looked. In fact, I didn't even have any idea where Amanda was, come to think of it. The assistant nudged me to the front of the stage, off to the side—stage right, as they say in the biz.

"Look down." It was that voice again. "Remember where you're at. You're going to go over to the steel plate and tap on it, then you'll come right back here where you are now. Okay?"

"Okay..."

"Now walk over to the steel plate, and pat her," he pointed to Amanda, "on the butt."

I didn't hear that right. I must have misheard something. "Huh?!"

"Pat her on the butt—now!"

I pat Amanda on the butt in front of who knows how many people, and I heard bunch of people behind me laughing. Why was it so funny? I had no idea, but later Amanda would tell me that David was saying something about checking the 'back side' of the piece of metal really well. Ha ha.

I tapped the top of the steel plate.

"Now step up onto it and jump up and down." The voice kept following me.

Amanda and I got up on the steel plate and jumped up and down, but Copperfield stopped me. "That's good. No need to dance." or something like that. I was dancing?

I walked back to where I was told to go before, and I assume Amanda went back to her place as well, then an assistant took me towards the back of the stage to watch the illusion.

David laid down under the steel plate, then a thin sheet was laid out over the steel. Almost immediately, you could see what looked like fingers poking into the cloth, as if he pushed his fingers through the steel. Then it got higher, like he had pushed his entire arm through the steel.

Now that the spotlight wasn't directly on me, I started relaxing a bit more, and I whispered to the assistant standing next to me, "So, can you tell me how he does it?"

The assistant laughed and said no, they can't do that.

Which was the answer I expected, but I figured it didn't hurt to ask.

Copperfield threw the thin sheet off and was standing on the steel plate. I'll admit, I wasn't as observant as I usually like to be, but I do know one thing for certain—that steel plate was rock solid. Very impressive trick.

The assistant nudged me towards Copperfield, who thanked Amanda and myself for our help and shook our hands before another assistant nudged us back down the stairs and to our seats.

And I didn't pass out the entire time, so I considered that a success.

Naturally, the rest of my family had some questions for us, but since the show was continuing, they saved the questions for later.

That was going to be the end of this adventure, but David had other ideas in mind. Near the end of the show, he threw balls out into the audience for people to catch. He did these types of things several times during the show—throwing out frisbees, balls, and even a couple of pickles and those who caught them ended up becoming part of the show. These volunteers didn't know they'd be on stage with any advanced warning.

One small ball David threw in our general direction, but the guy next to my mom—the same guy who said at least he knew we weren't plants in the audience— fumbled the catch and the ball fell to the ground. My mom got down on the ground to get the ball for him, but when she handed it to the guy, David told the man to give the ball back to my mom. I guess she earned it after retrieving the ball from the ground! And then he asked her to come up on stage.

The look of pure fear crossed her face. The deer in the headlight syndrome that I knew so well.

"Go, Mom! Go!" I encouraged her. =)

She stumbled over us in the seats and eventually made it onto the stage where David asked her to pick two letters. She picked S and A, and he pulled up a sleeve and asked her to write those letters on his arm, which she did.

Then she was directed over to several other enlisted volunteers to stand for a bit. That was pretty much the end my mom's role on stage. She stood on the stage for the rest of this particular illusion, a rather drawn out one where David tried to convince us he disappeared into thin air and magically ended up in Perth, Australia. He was shown on a large screen on the stage, in sunny Australia, running his hands through the sand on the beach. Then he showed us 'proof' that he really was there, by showing the letters written on his arm (among other things he had already seeded us with to establish his proof). Amanda whispered to me how easy that was. He just pre-filmed himself on the beach with every combination of two letters on his arm then played the correct clip of the letters my mom chose. Seems kind of obvious, doesn't it? I would have expected better from David Copperfield!


An autographed picture of David Copperfield

After they got all of the volunteers off stage, they gave each of them a large black and white photo of David Copperfield that he'd sign at the end of the show. My mom came back to her seat and told the rest of us to stay after the end of the show since we were her 'guests'. Amanda and I protested that we did much more work than she did on stage, but WE didn't get a photo or an offer to stay behind at the end of the show. How unfair! Then my mom pointed out that we were staying after the end of the show, which she had a point, but it's the principle of the thing.

The show finally ended and we kept our seats. An assistant—the same woman who asked us to be volunteers—told us we'd get to meet David Copperfield again and if I was nervous. "Heck no! There's no audience with hundreds of people watching this time!"

She gathered up all the people with photos who were directed out one of the doors. My mom came back a few minutes later with her photo of David Copperfield autographed, then he came out to shake hands with each of the 'guests' thanking us for coming.

After the last hand was shook, he left. And that was the last I ever saw of David Copperfield. So far as I can tell, Amanda and I were the only two people in the audience who shook his hand twice, which might not be a record, but I think of as an accomplishment in some odd way. =) I was kind of disappointed that Copperfield didn't at least *pretend* to be interested in us, but he's probably done it so many times he just doesn't care anymore. Oh, well.

Then we discussed all our parts in the show. Amanda had no clue I was to pat her butt until I did so. Heck, I didn't even know I was supposed to do that until about five seconds before I did. I joked with mom about how she managed to arrange to get the three of us on stage, who swears she had nothing to do with it. I asked my mom if she'd like me to sell that autographed picture of David Copperfield on eBay, but alas, she wants to keep it. After she dies, though, and I inherit it, look for it on eBay. ;o)

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