“Behind every great man, stands a good woman…
This is how Martha Stevens introduced Lynette to the ‘Lady’s Event’ crowd at the World Magic Seminar in Las Vegas this year. Getting to chat with Lynette was a real treat since she doesn’t like to talk about herself and she rarely gives interviews, let alone with two people asking the questions. But, Lynette and her partners have been sponsors of the Desert Magic/World Magic Seminars (founded by Joe and Martha Stevens) since the beginning, 32 years ago. We began by talking about previous seminar parties and antics and laughed for two hours. Being there with Martha and Lynette’s quick wit seemed like a conversation in the living room around the fireplace, complete with slides.
She’s been with Siegfried and Roy for nearly 35 years of the 40 they’ve been in Las Vegas. They met at the Lido de Paris at the Stardust when Roy brought in one of his tiger cubs from Africa. There was an immediate connection. Lynette was born in Kenya (where her father worked as a mining engineer) AND they had a common interest in wild animals. Lynette said she was often late for school due to elephants or other animals blocking the road. And in Africa, animals have the ‘right of way’. Later on, as tribute to their friendship, a Nubian Lion was named in honor of her hometown, Mombasa.
Always into theatrics and dance as a little girl, she showed us a picture of herself in her ‘emerald green bunny suit’ at the age of three. Her very first brush with magic and magicians was when she was chosen by John Calvert to be one of the little girls to jump out of a vase on stage. Growing up, her courage and determination lead her to attend the Royal Ballet School in London. Her talent and discipline lead to the recommendation by Madame Bluebell as the youngest student to be invited to perform at the Lido de Paris in Las Vegas. Lynette remembered needing a yellow Work Visa to travel (good for only 18 months) and being too young to be in the casinos other than in performances on stage. By the way, she never made it back to Blackpool, England which was to be her next job! And those headdresses …weigh up to 10-12 lbs.
Barbra Streisand was the opening act for Liberace.
From the beginning at the Lido de Paris, Lynette went on to share the stages with Siegfried and Roy in “Hallelujah Hollywood” at MGM Grand, “Beyond Belief” at the Frontier, “Masters of the Impossible” at the Mirage, at the Radio City Music Hall, on their Tour of Germany and their Tour of Tokoyo and Osaka (where their last show got an hour and eight minute standing ovation). While history was in the making (like real shows making real money, like friendly shows, like the first to be named on a permanent marquis, like record attendance and sold out performances) the trio were having the time of their lives.
Lynette’s also had the pleasure of holding, naming, being surrogate mother to and sharing the stage with the Royal White Tigers and their offspring and a menagerie of other exotic animals considered as extended family. She told us that the elephant who disappeared nightly on stage also went with them to Japan. No animal was left behind, and there were seven more on the return trip. There were two litters of cubs born on tour. All of the animals have had a pretty good life too. Gildah, the elephant, had her own apartment with a television, and an assistant with a window in between. She lived to be 58 years old and had her own fan club. The newest member of the family is a snow white leopard named ‘Java’ living at the Secret Garden at the Mirage, which has been continuously open since 1997.
Martha asked if they ever took a day off? She said, “No, only the Lord took a day off, but He had a different union!”
Lynette said she was called “The Evil Queen” in her performances in the fantasy production at the Mirage, a title she fully earned. If that’s the case, then she too is “a master of the impossible” to make that characterization so believable while she’s assisted both onstage and off. In truth, she is delightful and witty. Charming and friendly. The only title that truly fits is…. “Queen of our Hearts!”