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Penn and Teller FAQ

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Last modified: Nov 3 11:31:24 EST 1997

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Presenting the Penn and Teller FAQ.





This section highlights what's new or modified in the FAQ since the
previous release.  Changes made since the last release are marked with a
vertical line "|" in column 1.



This section should answer most of the questions of anyone reading this
group for the first time.

Q) What is the purpose of this group?
A) This group is for the discussion of Penn Jillette and Teller, otherwise
   known as Penn and Teller, the Bad Boys of Magic, and "that tall loud guy
   with the short silent guy."

Q) Where can I see Penn and Teller?
February 3-15: Shubert Theater, Boston, MA
March 7: Museum of TV & Radio-William S. Pauly Festival, Los Angeles, CA
Mar. 24-Apr. 5: Wilshire Theater, Los Angeles, CA
April 17-18: Hawaii Theater, Honolulu, HI
June 2-14: Schubert Theater, Chicago, IL

Q) Anybody have the telephone number for Bally's box office?
A) The Bally's box office number is: 1 (800) 237-SHOW or (702) 739-4567

Q) Is it just me or is it really true that Teller never speaks?
A1) From: (Brian Zaugg)
    For those who haven't seen The Invisible Thread cable special, Teller
    was the subject of an intensive and gruelling army experiment and as a
    result cannot speak.  Before being a guinea pig for the military, he
    was a polyglot (spoke over 23 languages if I remember correctly).  A
    literal linguistic genius.
A2) From: (Mike Schwartz) quoting Teller at a lecture
    at the Smithsonian Institute
    Teller: I liked the idea-- He asked why don't I talk, a question I've
    never been asked before.  [Laughter] Since about junior high school, I
    have been intrigued by the act of lying without speaking.  [Laughter]
    Quite sincerely.  The element of our show that you see, that you
    absorb, and that you then lie to yourself about, fascinates me.  I
    started off getting interested in it for that, and then, later on, I
    started to do performances at, like, frat parties.  And when you do a
    performance at a frat party, merely getting the attention of the
    audience is the entire show.  So, I found that if I went into a frat
    party and talked, I got just got heckled to death and thrown out.  If I
    went in and I shut up, and I did things that set people's teeth on
    edge, momentarily, the frat boys would set down their cups of beer,
    remove their hands from their girlfriends' breasts, and pay attention
    to me.  That's how it started.  And when Penn and I started to work
    together, it was sort of the obvious choice, because Penn had dealt
    with rough audiences in the exact opposite way, as you can probably
    divine. And so there's never a traffic problem between us, and it's a
    really wonderful division of labor.

Q) What does his [Teller's] voice sound like?
A) From: (Edmund C. Hack)
   He has a pleasant, tenor voice (tending to the lower end) and little
   noticeable accent. He appeared in the HBO movie "Long Gone" as a minor
   league baseball team owner, where he had a S'uthern accent.

Q) Do Penn and Teller know about this group?
A) From: (Craig)
   They've known about it for days.
   Remember: "Mofo Knows".

Q) What does MOFO mean?
A) Let's see...
   1) It was the name of the monkey (psychic gorilla).
   2) "   "   "   "   "  a tour.
   3) "   "   "   "   "  their BBS.
   4) "   "   "  password to the above BBS.
   5) "   "   "  sobriquet of Colin, their personal hacker.

Q) Are Penn and Teller really revealing the truth/secrets of their trade?
A1) From: (Mike Russell)
    The short answer (mine anyway) is no - they are not really revealing
    secrets, just pretending to.
A2) From: (Bruce Barnett)
    Actually that wasn't always true. In the PBS special, they exposed the
    pass, the pinky break, and the force. At one point they did the cups
    and balls using transparent cups, so people could see how it worked.
A3) From: (Mike Hutchinson)
    Quoting David Berglas, President of the Magic Circle
    'Not as much as people have thought. They did a spoof on it.  Some of
    it is absolutely great and wonderful to watch. They invented an
    illusion where they have a glass cabinet and apparently (sic) you can
    see what's going on inside. But it's not based on any real magical
    stuff and it was exaggerated, but they were funny, they were a bit
    gruesome.  The only thing we didn't like about them because they were a
    bit distasteful and we'd like magic to be a good entertainment.'

Q) Would they be considered as outcasts among other professional magicians?
A1) From: (Mike Russell)
    The biggest reaction is from the amateur magicians.  I think many if
    not most professionals appreciate the new prominence that P&T are
    bringing to magic.
A2) From: (Mike Hutchinson)
    quoting Walt Lees, editor of 'Club 71' published by Repromagic:
    "Except for a small hard-core minority, who seem to feel an obligation
    to vociferously resist anything which is not one hundred percent
    mainstream, most of the magicians to whom I have spoken are amused by
    the series."
A3) From: (Mike Hutchinson)
    Some magicians were VERY upset by Penn and Teller.  One of these was
    David Berglas, President of the Magic Circle.  Berglas said, "Penn and
    Teller wants (sic) to be successful at magic and couldn't make it so
    they found another vehicle, they're out to shock...Penn & Teller take
    the mystery out of magic and make it look as if it's easy, er, some of
    it is some is very complicated. We'd rather keep our secrets and not
    have them exposed."
    The 'Guardian' newspaper for January 19, 1994 reported Berglas as
    "We dissociate ourselves from them. They are not members of any
    organization and they run down magicians for publicity. They won't
    However, on Talkback Radio March 16, 1995 he said:
    "A lot of our younger members think they're absolutely great, in fact a
    lot of us think they're great in what they do if you like alternative
    comedy, you don't mind swearing, you don't mind distasteful things, and
    if you don't mind that in magic then everyone will enjoy Penn and
    Teller....I believe that one of them is a very good magician and if he
    applied he would certainly be able to become a member."



This section discusses Penn and Teller movies, books, television, etc.

Q) What movies/videos feature Penn and Teller?
A) Here's a partial list:
   1) Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends (available on VHS)
      The Tricks are different than those in the book.  You actually use
      portions of the video to play the pranks.
   2) Don't Try this at Home (Not available???)
      Including Teller getting run over by a semi, and lots of bear traps
      for sandwich making.
   3) Invisible Thread (Showtime short)
      Penn and Teller are called in by the government to save the world
      from aliens.
   4) Penn and Teller Get Killed (available on VHS and laser disc)
      Penn and Teller guest star on a talk show.  Penn mentions how
      exciting he thinks life would be if someone were trying to kill him.
      You guessed it.  Someone takes him seriously!  Some good magic and
      lots of humor.
   5) Penn and Teller Go Public (PBS special, available on VHS)
      They do some of their classic bits like the handstab and Teller's
      Straight-jacket escape. A mini-concert if you will.
   6) From: (Callis4773)
      "My Chauffeur" (available on VHS)
      It has a few short scenes with P&T in it.  Penn is a swindler and
      Teller is a rich Arab who is bored and doesn't talk.  Penn entertains
      him.  They are the best thing about this movie.
   7) From: (Edmund C. Hack) and (Don Gladden)
      "Long Gone" is a made for cable movie starring William Petersen ("To
      Live and Die in LA", "Manhunter") and Virginia Madsen ("Dune",
      "Creator"), co-starring Teller. The story is about a minor league
      baseball team (Tampa Stogies) in the 50s that is managed by Petersen
      and owned by Henry Gibson and Teller.  Teller played the spoiled
      rotten son.  It's kinda out of character for Teller to even TALK, let
      alone with a deep Southern accent, with a spoiled attitude!
   8) From: (Rich Trott) and
      Miami Vice:  The Prodigal Son (available on VHS)
      This just has Penn in it and he's in it a lot.  He played a really
      big drug dealer who gets his come uppance in the end.
   9) From: bonbar@MIT.EDU (Bonnie Barber)
      Penn was in the 1987 movie, "Tough Guys Don't Dance," which starred
      Ryan O'Neal and Isabella Rossellini. He played "The Big Stoop," a
      Southern preacher/wife swapping devotee.  Writer Norman Mailer, who
      directed the movie, saw Penn & Teller perform off-Broadway and
      thought Penn would be perfect for the role. And the rest, as they
      say, is movie history!
  10) "Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King" is a 1993 documentary
      about the band Half Japanese.  It features Penn.
  11) "Off Beat" is a 1986 film featuring Penn.
  12) From:
      Penn and Teller had a small part as weapons dealers in the film
      version of "Car 54, Where Are You?".  Penn stated he and Teller were
      a team known as "Luther", then proceeded to show varied firearms to
      the two main characters.  The bit was excellent. A delightful gem in
      a mediocre film.
  13) From: Robert Gidley
      In "Toy Story" Penn is the voice in the "Buzz Lightyear" commercial
      that appears on the TV set.  On the Special Edition Toy Story
      laserdisc, one of the creators said they wanted somebody loud and
      obnoxious and they immediately thought of Penn.
  14) Derek Miner <>
      Penn and Teller were in a video for the band Too Much Joy. The song 
      was called "Donna Everywhere," and the video came out around
      September 1992.  The gimmick in the video is that a clock in the
      bottom corner of the screen counts down the money spent from the
      video's budget as we watch.  When Penn and Teller appear, the amount
      goes into free fall!  The video aired on MTV, and is now available on
      a video compilation being sold by the band themselves.
      Actually, Penn directed this video, and is a great friend/fan of the
      band.  He has interviewed them in the past, and mentions their music
      often in his writings.

Q) Do Penn and Teller have videos which aren't "mass marketed"?
A1) From: (James J. Lippard)
    The Skeptics Society sells a tape of a performance by James Randi and
    Penn & Teller for $19.95 plus $3 p&h ($6 p&h outside of the U.S.).  See
    the Skeptics Society Web for more info.  (
A2) From: (Harry Renquist)
    Penn and Teller videos are available through Society of American
    Magicians. Contact: Jay Gorham, Film and tape librarian,
    5 Mayfair Rd., Wynantskill, NY 12198-8017

Q) What books have Penn and Teller written?
A) They have three books:
   1) Penn and Teller's How to Play in Traffic, (ISBN 1-57297-293-9)
   2) Penn & Teller's How to Play with Your Food,  Random House, Inc. 1992.
      From: Mike Welch (
      Published in the UK as: The Unpleasant Book of Penn and Teller: Or
      How To Play With Your Food, Pavillion (ISBN 1-85793-413-X)
   3) Penn & Teller's Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends (ISBN 0-679-74311-1)
      Random House, Inc. 1991.
      From: (Sunita Kumari Bhatia)
      Penn and Teller's directions for making your dearest friends look
      like total idiots by publicly embarrassing them and generally making
      them look like fools.  (no violence or torture in these gags)

Q) What's this about How to Play with Your Food having some kind of noxious
   chemical in it?
A) The short answer is that one could open the sugar packet which couldn't
    be torn, and the contents of the packet were inedible.

Q) Have Penn and Teller ever done a TV series?
A1) From: (Thomas McGinnis)
    As a matter of fact, they have, though it is not their usual sort of
    fare.  They "host" a PBS series called "Behind the Scenes" which
    appears to be about various artists (and media) and how they create
    their works. This seems to be geared toward kids (junior high would be
    my guess) but it is still (a) entertaining and (b) a weekly dose of
    Penn and Teller. Don't count on any cut-&-restored-snakes, fire eating
    or other geek tricks (but you never know). I'm not positive, but I
    believe the series is produced at the NYC PBS affiliate (WNET?).
A2) From: (Alison Scott)
    There has recently been a 6-part series in the UK called _The
    Unpleasant World of Penn & Teller_ which was billed as being reprises
    of many of their best known tricks, along with various special guests
    etc.  I can't remember all the tricks, but Teller was variously maimed
    and killed on a number of occasions and there was rather a lot of stage

Q) What TV shows have either Penn or Teller appeared on as guests?
A1) From: (Mike Shawaluk) and
 (Paul E. Nielsen)
    This is a partial list:
          SHOW                                               WHO
    Late Night With David Letterman                       Penn and Teller
    The Tonight Show                                      Penn and Teller
    Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman              Penn
    Miami Vice                                                Penn
    Saturday Night Live                                   Penn and Teller
    The Steven Banks Show                                 Penn and Teller
    Sabrina the Teenage Witch                             Penn and Teller
    The Drew Carey Show                                   Penn and Teller
A2) There's an index in the back of "How to play with your food" that gives
    a pretty complete chronology of their TV appearances (as well as their
    tours & show dates), through the publication date of the book.
A3) There's a more recent version of this list on their web site

Q) What are some other Penn & Teller appearances?
A1) Penn and Teller can be seen on Comic Relief 3 and they have done two TV
    specials for CBS.  Penn does the voice over for Comedy Central cable
    network, and has written a Newsweek article about computers and Un*x.
A2) From: (Margaret Ragaisis)
    Penn's just all over cable, it seems.  Anyone else caught him doing the
    voice of "the flea" on the Cartoon Network's "The Moxy Show?"  Moxy is
    a computer animated dog that hosts cartoons on Sundays 8pm EST.
A3) From: Marc 'Ricochet' Iturriaga (
    Sighted in the Run DMC video "Tricky" where the two play street
    hustlers, playing the old three card monte.

Q) I was wondering if the voice over spokesman for Comedy Central is Penn.
   The voice sure sounds like him.
A) "It's me, always.  I have a better voice."  Penn

Q) Are Penn and Teller just an American phenomena?
A) From: John Houdi (
   TV4 (a swedish commercial TV-station) aired several shows with Penn &
   Teller here in Sweden a couple of month ago.  As a professional
   magician/comedian I found out that P&T are universal: The Swedish
   people loved their show and all shows had high viewing ratings!  Doesn't
   that say it all about P&T universal approach?



This sections discusses their involvement with computers.

Q) Do Penn and Teller appear in any computer games?
A1) Steven Spielbers's Director's Chair was recently released starring:
    Jennifer Aniston, Quentin Tarantino, Penn and Teller, and Steven
A2) The company which produced Penn and Teller's Smoke and Mirrors went
    out of business before it had wide release.  If you manage to find a
    pre-release copy, send it to the author of this FAQ, and in return
    I'll mention your name here!  (So far no one has taken me up on this
    generous offer.)

Q) Is there a World-Wide Web site for Penn & Teller?
A1) The official Web site for Penn and Teller is:
    There you'll find pictures, tricks, a photo history of Penn's house,
    and a whole bunch of stuff that's hard to describe.
A2) There is a Mofo chat site at
A3) Penn writes a column for eXcite which may be found at:
A4) Penn and Teller did a guest rant for the Netly News which may be found
    This is no longer maintained, but it's kept as a tribute to Barry
    Marx.  You can read about Barry Marx at:

Q) How can I e-mail Penn and Teller?

Q) Is P&T's BBS still in operation?
A1) From: Penn and Teller
    We had a BBS really early in 86- 87, with all kinds of cool stuff. We
    became overwhelmed in a short period of time. We're still looking for
    new homes on the net somewhere, where we can do something like the BBS
    but won't be forced to pay for 100 phone lines.
A2) There is a BBS which Penn and Teller post to called the "Jungle" which
    you might hear about as you read this newsgroup.  Access to this BBS is
    by invitation only.

Q) What happened to Penn and Teller's Delphi connection?
A) From: (Mark Zanger, Delphi senior editor)
   Penn & Teller have "escaped" from their contract with Delphi Internet
   Services by mutual agreement. Delphi will continue its Penn & Teller
   group as a fan club, and it still offers the smoothest gateway to
   alt.magic and

Q) What's Penn's involvement with computers?
A1) From: (Richard Trott)
    Penn writes (wrote) a column for PC Computing.  It can (could) be found
    on the last page before the back cover.
A2) From: Penn Jillette
    You can say, "If you subscribed to PCC for me, you should sure as hell
    demand your money back because I'm not there any more.  I was not
    treated well.  I'll tell the whole story later but it won't be in the
    pages of PCC."    Penn
A3) From: Penn Jillette
    "They wanted to start telling me how to write.  It was a bit late for
    that and I told them that using an awful lot of obscenity."

Q) I see Penn appear quite often in the computing industry but I have never
   seen Teller's name appear anywhere.  Is Penn the only one interested, or
   is it just that Penn is the only that makes his presence known?
A) From: (Margaret Ragaisis)
   Teller uses computers and is into them, too, but not nearly as much as
   Penn is.  Penn is a techno freak.



This sections discusses their involvement with music.

Q) Who is Captain Howdy?
A) Penn and Kramer.  Their albumn is called "Tatoo of Blood", and you can
   hear samples of it on the P&T web site.

Q) What is Penn's favorite group?
A) From: Malcolm Humes (
   Penn has long been a fanatical Velvet Underground nut - proclaiming
   himself as their number 1 fan.  This has even led him to perform and
   record with the Velvet's Mo Tucker. He's also been associated with a
   record label, 50Skadillion Watts, which I think was co-run with the head
   of the Velvet Undeground Fan Club. The label has released one record of
   Bongos, Bass & Bob, a band featuring Penn. I think they also did other
   stuff with Half-Japanese and maybe Mo Tucker or other bands.

Q) I have noticed that Penn-N-Teller are closely associated with the
   multi-media group the Residents.  Does anyone know if Penn-N-Teller are
   actually creative members of the group?
A1) From: (Peter K Schulz)
    Although it would waste a lot of bandwidth to explain, suffice it to
    say that neither Penn nor Teller are involved with the Residents except
    as big fans.  Penn even played the part of narrator on the Residents'
    tour in 1982.
A2) From: Malcolm Humes (
    Penn Jillette did an double lp for Ralph Records (the Residents old
    label) circa 1982. Penn was supposedly locked in a motel across from
    Ralph's office and was given a stack of new records from the label to
    listen to each day, as part of a 10th Anniversary gimmick for the
    label. As the days progress Penn starts going nuts over the weird
    content of the records, offering brief reviews. This was way before
    Penn & Teller had achieved the prominent success they have now.

    Following that, Penn toured on the Mole Show tour as narrator. And on
    the 13th Anniversary Residents tour (at least for some San Francisco
    shows) Penn & Teller opened for the Residents and did an act that was
    completely integrated into the concert, where Teller agreed to sing a
    Residents song in exchange for one of the Residents un-masking to show
    their true identity.  (For non-Residents buffs, the band is anonymous
    and always performs with Eyeball masks on). The trick was performed
    with Teller singing behind a  screen, and afterwards the unmasking
    exposed the "Resident" unmasked to actually be Teller - a classic
    switch. Penn & Teller also performed some great noise "art" music as
    part of their act.

    Yet another link occurs in a documentary on the Residents, The Eyes
    Scream, which features Penn & Teller as hosts, which I was released in
A3) From: James HG Redekop (
    A bit of a correction:  Ralph is once more the Rez's label.  It has
    been swallowed up by Tec Tones for a few years, but the extracted it
    recently and it's now it's own again.  You can write them at

    Penn appears on the Residents' Freak Show CD-ROM, describing his part
    in the Mole Show tour.  He also profides a promo blurb along the lines
    of, "This CD-ROM is *excellent*.  After all, I'm *in* it."

Q) Before the shows began they played some weird album.  Who was singing
   that crazy music?
A1) From: (Adrienne Brown)
    Yma Sumac.
A2) From: Penn
    It's called "Miracles" and it was done in 1972 - it's her pop album.
    As far as I know it's NOT on CD.
    The one in the show is my personal copy.
    It's on the London lable.
A3) From: (Don Pierson)
    It was (made into a CD) a 'Private Pressing' was made a couple of years
    ago (1000 only made).  It's hard to find but it exists.
    A legitimate CD reissue is in the works and is to contain some
    previously unreleased cuts.  Negotiations are still underway with
    Polygram but there shouldn't be a problem with the reissue since Yma is
    touring and performing again.

Q) Can you tell us what ever happened to "The Othmar Schoeck Memorial
   Society for the Preservation of Unusual and Disgusting Music"?  I have a
   card listing Penn Jillette as a Kineticist with this presumably august
A) From: (Margaret Ragaisis)
   Wier Chrisemer, Teller and Penn were The Othmar Schoeck Memorial Society
   for the Preservation of Unusual and Disgusting Music, which later became
   Asparagus Valley.

Q) What instruments did Penn and Teller play in Asparagus Valley?
A) From: Penn Jillette
   I played bass.  Teller played pipe organ (at that time Fender Rhodes
   piano), and Wier Chrisemer (the third member) played xylophone.

Q) Does anybody know what happened to Weir Chrisemer (the third member of
   Asparagus Valley)?
A) According to Penn he's no longer in showbiz.  He works for AT&T in
   customer relations in New Jersey.

Q) How do I get a Bongoes Bass & Bob CD?
A) From: (What Illuminatus?)
   Telnet to
   Wade through the menus until you get to their database search. Look for
   Here's what I got from them:
    BoC3       BONGOS BASS & BOB        NEVER MIND THE SEX PISTOLS       10/1
    $12.58    &BONGOS BASS & BOB  10/92
   The bongos are Dean J. Seal, the bass is by Penn Jillette, and the Bob
   (and guitarist) is Rob "Running" Elk. All three take turns at lead
   vocals, and they're helped out now and again by various beatnik musician
   types like Fred Frith on violin or Kramer on fake accordion, phony
   horns, etc. Fact is that those bongos do lend a certain hipness to the
   proceedings, and although the musical styles are wide-ranging (punk to
   calypso to doo-wop) and the arrangements fuller than you might expect,
   all this stuff retains a kind of bohemian charm. Lyrically, BB&B are
   absolutely hilarious, very insightful, and function in the tradition of
   the Fugs. As singers, all three slip easily into different characters,
   Penn Jillette being the standout, with a vocal approach somewhere
   between Captain Beefheart and a pro wrestler. And like many of the Fugs'
   releases, this is a music-comedy record that holds up to repeated
   listenings.  Rev. Bryan Sale, Option
   From: CALLISTO@VM.TEMPLE.EDU (Miriam Banash)
   Don't forget to listen for Teller's backing vocals on Clearly Unhealthy
   and Girl With a Gun!!



Fun things to know for those playing along at home.

Q) What was Teller's full name?
A1) From: galileo@MIT.EDU (Eric)
    Raymond Joseph Teller.  The source for that is a Boston Globe article
    about them, on Feb. 17, 1991.
A2) Teller denies the above;  but then, he also said he would deny it even
    if it were true.

Q) What's Penn's full name?
A) Penn Fraser Jillette

Q) What's the deal with Penn's one red fingernail?
A1) From: (Tony Shepps)
    Way back in the mid-80s, Penn came into the audience, and a lady asked
    him why he paints the fingernail.  His answer: "For the same reason you
A2) From: (Susan Ramirez) and
 (Rich Trott)
    Penn said, "It means I once killed a man for asking personal
    questions."  (From the movie _Penn and Teller Get Killed_)
A3) From: (Don Gladden)
    The first rule any magician has to know is to keep the audiences
    attention AWAY from anything he may be doing as a "trick", so they tend
    to distract you by calling attention to something else in some way. Penn
    uses the fingernail.

Q) How difficult is it to get their autographs?
A) From: (Don Gladden)
   Buy their books, and don't forget to take them, they WILL autograph
   them, or just about anything else for you!  Don't worry about missing
   them, they are REAL people, and wait for EVERYONE to get out of the
   theater before leaving.  You can't help but walk by them!  If you duck
   and run, you MIGHT be able to avoid getting autographed and "bloody hand
   printed", but you'll have to be fast! :)

Q) Can anyone please confirm or deny that Penn & Teller have taken up
   interest in the political philosophy of libertarianism?
A) From: (Susan Ramirez)
   From an article by Glenn Collins called "Up To New Tricks" in the
   12-4-88 New York Times Magazine.
   "Penn describes himself as a 'practicing skeptic', making the
   distinction between that and a cynic, 'who lacks the feeling of lust
   for life, and a sense of wonder.'  His politics?  'I'm optimistic and
   idealistic enough to go to anarchist if you're willing to push it --
   but I could pull it down a notch to libertarian.'  But he says he is
   also 'as conservative as you can find on the Protestant work ethic,
   drugs and drinking and gambling.'"

Q) We know that Teller swallowed goldfish.  What did Penn do before he
   joined Teller?
A1) From: (Dave Ward)
    Penn's original job was a street-performing juggler in Trenton, NJ.
A2) From: (Phil Paxton)
    Penn was Michael Moschen's partner on Boardwalk (NJ) in their teens.

Q) Out of sheer curiosity, how old are they?  Also, about when did they
   start their act?
A1) There's a time-line in the back of _How To Play With Your Food_ which
    answers these sort of questions.
A2) There's an updated version of this time-line on their Web site.

Q) When's Penn's birthday?
A) March 5

Q) When it Teller's birthday?
A) Feburary 14

Q) Do you have any Penn and Teller drug related stories?
A) From: (Margaret Ragaisis)
   P&T are *strongly* against the use of drugs/alcohol.  Never touched 'em,
   never will.  And they don't have much respect for people who abuse them

Q) What does Penn think of Siegfried and Roy?
A) "S&R is a glitsy tractor pull and as such, I like it.  I'm the "Roy" of
   P&T  and don't you forget it!"  Penn

Q) You guys hears about this guy on fox, Rudy Cody I think his name is, who
   claims to be the coolest magician on Earth? Don't P&T have anything to
   say about that?
A) From: (Maggie Ragaisis)
   Not too likely there'd be a duel.  According to Penn, Rudy really likes
   the guys a lot and Penn thinks Rudy is kind of like Devo.
   Whatever that means; I'm not sure.

Q) Did either Penn or Teller attend Harvard?  I saw something about them in
   the Harvard Lampoon.
A) From: Penn Jillette
   Neither Teller nor I went to Harvard.  We were given some sort of
   honorary membership in the Harvard Lampoon a few years ago, but that's
   as close as we've come.  I don't know about this book, I've never seen
   it but it comes up now and again.  I think they asked our permission and
   we just forgot.  Teller went to Amherst College and I went no further
   than Greenfield Public High School and even that was by the skin of my
   teeth.  We are now "Visiting Scholars" at MIT and that's way cooler than

Q) Who's sexier, Penn or Teller?
   [Ed note: Not realizing how important this subject is, I started
    collecting this thread in the middle.  The response seems to be evenly
A1) From: (S)
    Just to set the record straight, Teller is at least as sexy as Gossamer,
    that great hairy molar in tennis shoes ("Monsters must lead such
    innnnnteresting lives") and much cuter than Elmer Fudd (and if you don't
    get that in-joke, look in the first book), so any favoritism will be
    actively resisted - play fair now.
A2) From: (J)
    When Penn and Teller played Chicago (technically Merrilville IN) after
    the show, when they were signing autographs, for quite a while after
    the crowd died out around Penn there was still quite a crowd of ladies
    around Teller.  Penn's response, "Yeah, well you can see which of us is
    more popular with the women."  I think that this might have had
    something to do with the fact that most of the young ladies were
    frightened off when he lifted his T-shirt to show someone that he was
    indeed as naked under it as he claimed to be, then gave her a rather
    personal bloody print to take home on her program.

    Me?  I think Penn is one hot babe... I wouldn't throw him out of bed
    for eating crackers, heck, I wouldn't throw him out of bed for
    breathing fire!

Q) What are their "Kevin Bacon" ratings?
A1) From: sandor weisz <>
    Both Penn & Teller were obviously in "Penn & Teller Get Killed." A woman
    by the name of Camille Saviola played the airport security
    guard. Ms. Saviola was in "Queens Logic" as Madamme Rosa.  Kevin Bacon
    was in "Queens Logic."  That's 2 degrees for the both of them.
A2) From: (Maggie Ragaisis)
    Penn and Teller both have a Bacon rating of "2."  They were both in
    "Car 54 Where are You" with  Eliza Roberts who was in "Animal House"
    with Kevin Bacon.

Q) Where can I order a Team Satan 666 shirt?
A) From: Penn Jillette
   A woman that I know bought it for me at her friend's shop in LA. I loved
   it, I flipped over it.  I thought it was great at making fun of xtians.
   The only downside is some people think that a scoffing atheist is a
   satanist and that's just stupid.
   I loved it so much, that I bought all the "Team Satan 666" shirts that
   her friend had.  Then, her source in Texas stopped making them (or
   something, I may have this wrong, our office did the work).  We thought
   about how easy it would be to make our own (it's just red plain letters
   on black), but that's wrong.  I feel very strongly about intellectual
   property. So, we kept bugging the people in Texas until they made some
   more and then I bought a couple dozen.  I love them.
   I was walking in Frisco wearing the shirt and a traditional punk was
   walking the other way wearing a matching shirt.  We made eye contact,
   and smiled a little as we passed. It's a good shirt.



Q) Would it be possible to set up some kind of "Is this your card" server
   to send back an ascii three of clubs via e-mail?
A1) From: (Otto J. Makela)
    I'll do it for you: Is this your card?
   | 3       _         |
   | C     _( )_       |
   |      (_) (_)      |
   |        _|_        |
   |         _         |
   |       _( )_       |
   |      (_) (_)      |
   |        _|_        |
   |        _ _        |
   |       _ | _       |
   |      (_) (_)    C |
   |        (_)      3 |
A2) From: Robb Miles (
    In an inspired (and I do use the term loosely) moment after their
    Pittsburgh stop, a co-worker and I set up this World-Wide Web page:
    There's also an ASCII 3C under the GIF for non-graphic based Web
    viewers.  Same URL.

Q) I've got a lot of spare time and a pickle.  What can I do with it?
A1) From: (Edwin Hoogerbeets)
    A bunch of friends of mine tried the pickle thing from How to Play With
    Your Food. It actually works! Made a great St. Paddy's Day trick, being
    green and all.

    The procedure: get a 1 to 10000 volt transformer. Plug the 10000 end of
    it into a pickle.  Plug the low end into the wall. Make sure you are in
    a well ventilated, non fire hazard place, with a fire extinguisher
    available just in case. It glows a cool eerie green.

    But wait! There's more! We extended this procedure to something that
    wasn't in the book. Unplug the transformer from the wall. Plug one wire
    from the 10000 end into one pickle, and the other wire into a different
    pickle. Line the pickles up in a V shape with a slight gap at the bottom
    of the V. Plug the transformer in again, et voila: Jacob's pickle.
A2) From: ignatz topo (
    Discovered a good, cheap and (somewhat) safe way to do the glowing
    pickle trick.  Most thrift stores have hot dog cookers, which are
    little more than electrified plastic trays with lids, and evil looking
    prongs which are set apart at weiner (and therefore, pickle) length.
    On the model I bought, the current won't flow unless the lid is on.
    Only one end of the pickle glows, but what do you want for cheap?
    Bonus: a typical brand name is "Presto".

Q) Can you tell me how all of the tricks work?
A1) You probably won't see revelations of any sort here since
    1) It ruins the magic;
    2) Even if it was exposed by Penn and Teller, it ruins the punch line.
    Sometimes, however, people will explain the workings via e-mail if you
    ask them.
A2) From: (Chris)
    Contrary to  popular belief (it seems that folks really _want_ to
    believe it, too) P&T _don't_ just give away tricks.

Q) Does the telephone trick in Cruel Tricks for Dear Friends still work?
A) From: Nikolai Tolstoy (
   The telephone trick that came with Penn and Teller's Cruel Tricks for
   Dear Friends is out of order.

Q) Where can I get a brain mold for the "Bleeding Heart Jello" trick?
A) From:
   From the Johnson Smith Company, called "Things You Never Knew Existed...
   and other items you can't POSSIBLY live without".  It's on page 23,
   "Gelatin Brain Mold" Real food for thought.



Q) How does one join the Penn & Teller fan club?
A) Membership cost is $6 U.S., which includes a subscription to Mofo Knows,
   their newsletter.  Write them at:
        4132 South Rainbow Blvd.
        Suite 377
        Las Vegas, NV 89103
   The check can be made out to "Mofo."  That psychic gorilla has his own
   bank account.  Don't you just love America?



Q) Who's responsible?
A1) This is the text of the first article to appear on
    at my site:
    From: (David C. 'Davy Baby' Brogden)
    About a couple of weeks ago, someone proposed on
    alt.config.  It was then suggested that this get changed to
    penn-n-teller so that it would comply with the mystic Fourteen Letter
    rule.  After a period of non-objection on alt.config, I decided to send
    out the message and put Penn & Teller in the limelight of Usenet.
    I personally find Penn & Teller to be very cool.
A2) After tireless searching, here's the control message which started it:
    From Sun Mar 27 15:47:45 1994
    From: (David C. 'Davy Baby' Brogden)
    Newsgroups: alt.config
    Subject: cmsg newgroup
    Control: newgroup
    Date: 24 Mar 1994 05:46:39 GMT
    Summary: for discussion of Penn & Teller
    Keywords: newgroup message

    This is a "Booster Newgroup" message for

    Penn Jillette and Teller are popular magicians and performers who have
    written two books, starred in a major motion picture, have appeared in
    numerous television specials, appear regularly on Late Show with David
    Letterman, and tour regularly.

    Please consider carrying this group at your site.  Thanks for reading

    For your newsgroups file:           The magicians Penn Jillette & Teller

Q) What was the first flame?
A) Curiously enough the first flame didn't arrive until article 3.  It was
   From: ([DELBOY])
   Penn-n-Teller are the biggest load of Gock I've ever seen.
            You're mothers arse is more exiting.

Q) Is there a FAQ?
A) You're reading it!  It was created March 29, 1994, by Paul E. Nielsen

Q) How often is the FAQ posted?
A) It's posted once a month, on or about the first business day of the
   month.  It's also available from the World Wide Web at:

Q) Have Penn or Teller ever posted here?
A) Not directly, but they often forward material to be posted here.

Q) Do any of the Penn and Teller "insiders" post here?
A1) Colin Summers aka Mofo (personal hacker to the stars) has turned up a
    few times.
A2) Nate Santucci, the "P&T Magic Geek" posts here regularly.

Q) I keep seeing great articles from Margaret Ragaisis.  What's her
   involvement?  Does she work for the guys?
A) From: (Margaret Ragaisis)
   I'd just like to set the record straight about what I'm doing here on the

   A few years ago, Penn asked if I would post a message to alt.magic
   asking for ideas people might have for the _Play with your Food_ book.
   I did so, very gladly and we also agreed that if people had questions or
   wanted to send e-mail to the guys, that I would pass it or try to get
   the answers and write back to people.

   And if it ever became "too much", the guys would understand and I
   wouldn't be asked to do it anymore.

   In the past year, I started posting show schedules for the guys, just
   because it seemed like a lot of people asked for them often and the
   person running their office was more than happy to oblige the fans on
   the Net.

   But I'm not the official fan anything for the guys.  I do this as a
   favor for them and that's it.  I know a lot of people what to get the
   latest and most interesting news regarding the boys, but that's not why
   I'm here.



*** Copyright:
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