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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    October just got a little spookier with Congress’ voodoo show

    Zi Yang Lai

    Magic Kenny Bang Bang performs a sleight of hand trick at Hotel Congress. Hotel Congress will feature “Voodoo & Black Magic” throughout the month of October.

    The black magic of the bayou has come to Tucson. Every Thursday and Friday in October, Hotel Congress will play host to Magic Kenny Bang Bang, Midnight Malanga and their “Voodoo & Black Magic” show.

    I was able to attend an advanced show, and I survived the encounters with the occult to bring you my take.

    We were met in the lobby by a Mr. Delacroix, a tall man outfitted in a red blazer, black flat cap and wooden cane. He looks like he calls Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion his second home, and he served as our guide through Hotel Congress. He fit the role to a tee.

    Following Delacroix up the stairs, the group landed on the second floor. As someone who has only known Hotel Congress as a one-floor establishment that’s packed wall-to-wall with 20-somethings clamoring to get a drink and hear each other over the roaring din of the Thursday-through-Saturday  social scene, it was a slight surprise to actually see the second floor.

    We gathered in an open sitting room, and Delacroix informed us of the hotel’s infamous history in relation to notorious bank robber John Dillinger. 

    For those not in the know, Dillinger and his crew were laying low at Hotel Congress in 1934 when a fire inexplicably broke out. In short, the fire would eventually lead to Dillinger’s capture and destroy the entire third floor, except for one room.

    After the history lesson, Delacroix led us around the second floor, taking us to rooms that were known to have experienced paranormal activity.

    Outside of one of the rooms, Delacroix passed around both a ring and a sample of water from the River Jordan that once belonged to a since-deceased elderly man. One of the members of our group, a woman with a shock of neon-red hair, went and stood in the corner, not wanting to be near the objects, let alone touch them.

    We were led to The Hidden Room on the third floor—the room that was spared from the 1934 fire—where we were met by Magic Kenny Bang Bang and his assistant, Midnight Malanga. 

    Kenny is a consummate showman with a flair for personality and flair for dress, while Malanga is darker and more soft-spoken, wearing a blood-red dress. 

    The room felt like an attic: old, wooden, dark and forgotten. Well, apart from the Voodoo shrine at the front, complete with animal skulls and a doll with needles protruding from it.

    Kenny walked us through some of the Voodoo spirits we would be interacting with, the most important of whom was Papa Legba. He is the one that opens and closes communication between humans and the other spirits.

    “Voodoo & Black Magic” was a fairly typical magic show with Voodoo window dressing. There were some sleight of hand card tricks. There was also the staple of the magician knowing the word that someone had written down on a piece of paper.

    In each case, the prestidigitation was attributed to the spirits that were among us, which felt a little weird, considering that everyone has seen card tricks performed without the aid of Papa Legba and his friends.

    However, there were also some eye-catching feats. The best of which, the finale, saw Kenny and Malanga turn dried snakeskin and fire into an actual snake that Malanga nonchalantly draped around her shoulders and paraded around to the audience.

    There were times when the performance felt unsure of itself, and the transitions between acts were a little uneven at others. I’ll attribute that to the show being one of the very first of its month-long run. 

    In the end, though, Kenny and Malanga successfully performed each illusion without a hitch, even under the keen eye of an inebriated audience member who was not afraid to speak her mind when she thought something didn’t add up.

    Cost of admission is fairly priced, with a ticket costing $15 at the door. The whole event takes roughly a brisk hour. 

    Unfortunately, there is a “21-and-up” age restriction. This is a curious limitation, considering that the content of the show is firmly in PG-13 territory.

    With a price that’s on par with a trip to the movies and a light running time, this show is an economical way to get in the Halloween mood and kick off the night if you plan on carousing about downtown afterward.

    Follow Alex Guyton on Twitter.

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