If it weren’t for Teller, Penn Jillette would have never understood the appeal of magic


Penn Jillette, one half of the famous magician duo, Penn and Teller, admits that he hated magic as a teenager. The magician, producer, actor and author joined “Salon Talks” to discuss the latest season of the show “Penn and Teller: Fool Us” on The CW, which challenges magicians across the world to fool the expert illusionists.

When SalonTV’s Alli Joseph asked Jillette about his first experiences with magic, he admitted that he wasn’t too interested. “My first relationship with magic was very, very bad. It was a mentalist, Kreskin, on TV, claiming to be doing science, but actually doing tricks. I was so upset by that,” Jillette said. Jillette has always been fascinated with the intellectual, from his interest in the Libertarian political ideology to his Showtime show, “Penn & Teller: Bullsh*t!,” which debunks everything from creationism to gun control. But he never saw magic as being “intellectual,” until he met Teller.

“My relationship to magic is my relationship to Teller,” he explained. The duo have been performing together for over 40 years and headlining a show in Las Vegas for over 15. Jillette said that Teller made the argument for the intellectual nature of magic. “With magic, you have to make a map of the way the world works and compare what you're seeing. That is a very high level intellectual event. Deciding how we ascertain what's true is also an intellectual event.” Jillette admits, “That was an amazing thing to say.”

Watch the full episode to hear why Jillette thinks the magic world will have its reckoning with sexism.


About “Salon Talks”

Hosted by Salon journalists, “Salon Talks” episodes offer a fresh take on the long-form interview format, and a much-needed break from the partisan political talking heads that have come to dominate the genre. “Salon Talks” is a destination for information through conversation. Viewers can expect discussions with A-list actors, artists, authors, thinkers, and newsmakers as we explore the full range of the human condition. The show streams live on Facebook and Twitter and each episode is published in full on Salon.com.


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