Celebrity Interview 

11 Questions for Penn & Teller

They're a couple of eccentrics who flirt with disaster instead of girls. Who'll yank you and tell you, hustle you and laugh because you're the one paying for their fun. Their magic is truth and lies, fact and fiction, image and illusion. And interviews are just another stage for deceit.

1. What is the strangest thing you've ever refrigerated aside from your partner?

We did this thing with the Asparagus Valley Cultural Society. At the time there was a third guy, Chris Wier. We had this very kinetically sadomasochistic relationship, shall we say. Anyway, I have good hand-eye coordination and a good arm. I found I could toss half a lemon into his mouth from the other side of the kitchen. Then I found out I could toss it in his mouth from the living room. The way the house was set up there was a 60- or 70-foot straight shot from one end to the other. So we kept trying it. His face got bloodier and bloodier. So did the lemon. And the citrus made it worse. At that point Teller had to leave. It took us about two and a half hours to get really successful at it. We kept that lemon in Wier's freezer for years. He may still have it.

2. What's the significance of the red nail on your left hand?

It means I killed a woman for asking personal questions. I think it was in Reno.

3. What does Penn stand for?

My full name's Penn Fraser Jillette. My parents wanted and planned for a girl. They were planning on naming their offspring Penny after a great-grandmother. After I was born they were stumped for two days. Then they made up Penn. My mom keeps digging up these stories, like Penny is actually a man's name in Viking lore.

4. Do you like the name?

Tremendously. It wasn't a problem growing up with Penny because by grade school I was already huge; bigger than my teachers. And if someone came up to me and said, "Hey is your name Penny?" I'd go, "Yah." I like distinctive names. We have a road manager named Ken. I told him I couldn't work with anyone named Ken, so I asked him his middle name. He said "Asher." Within 30 minutes Teller had changed that to Crasher.

5. What does Teller stand for?

Teller. Sometimes X equals X.

6. What kind of family do you come from?

An odd family. There are two kids, 23 years apart. My mom was 45 when I was born.

7. Were you ever afraid having an older dad that if you ran him around the yard or played football with him you'd give him a coronary?

No. My dad brought me up to hate sports. And I still don't play any sports. I don't know the rules of football.

8. What does your dad do for a living?

He was a jail guard until he was 50. Now he's dealing coins.

9. If you could perform the ultimate magic trick or illusion what would it be?

To drive an 18-wheel truck over Teller's chest. But we just did. It'll be in our TV show, November 23 on NBC at 10 [EST].

10. You've said you prefer porno to the airbrushed pictures of women, because perfect pictures make people seek perfect mates and with porno the women are more real. Who is your perfect mate?

It used to be Sally Ride. Ride Sally Ride, the first woman astronaut and doctor of physics. She looked great in zero gravity with no bra, just floating around. But then I found out she's a Christian so the dream died. I can't have anything sexually to do with someone who's religious.

11. As skeptics and bunk busters, if you could wipe one myth from the face of the earth, what would it be?

That everyone's opinions are equal. Legally we're all entitled to our opinions. We have the right to call people assholes and we should exercise that right at will. But when it gets into the arenas of say, medicine and science, how can Shirley MacLaine's opinions be equal to the opinions of Einstein, Feynman, or Curie when she's not even fit to eat shit off their shoes? Equal opinions are dangerous. If a woman with cancer is told by a faith healer she'll be saved by a crystal, and she values that opinion equally to her doctor's and stops taking chemotherapy, it'll cost her her life. The speed of light is not subject to opinion. Darwin's opinions had more validity than the cardinals'. There are opinions based on fact and opinions based on opinions. This is a myth that needs to be changed not legally, but socially. The government moves only as fast as the people.

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Agenda Teaser

Performing Arts
Cymbeline The Factory Theater
January 13
Performing Arts
January 18

Tabbed Event Search

Popular Stories

Follow Us

Sign up for newsletters »

 Early Warnings
 Food & Drink
 Reader Recommends
 Reader Events and Offers