It was 1991, and The Orlando Magic as one of the newest teams is the league had the opportunity to host the NBA ALL STAR GAME. We had established The Sports Magic Team as a regular fixture of each home game’s entertainment with our interactive performers playing with the crowd during intermissions and timeouts throughout the arena, on court, in the stands and as well as performing close up magic in the skyboxes.
This was our first and my most memorable All Star Game. It’s a crazy week of events leading up to the game, The Fanfest is a four day festival that takes up the entire convention center before the event. The night before we had a packed house for the Slam Dunk Competition and then to top it off is the All Star Game itself. Needless to say we brought the entire troop out for the game, I had teams of two all throughout the stands so we got as much exposure as possible as the arena was packed with celebrities and everyone from the league would be there. Meanwhile I spent most of my time doing close up magic in the skyboxes and parties that surrounded the action on the court. During the half time break I was in one of the skyboxes in the middle of a card routine for the group when one of my players came in, leaned over and quietly whispered in my ear, Jimmy Buffett wants to meet you. ‘CLICK’!
I have to say that was one of the quickest card tricks I’ve ever finished in my life! I had 4 or 5 cards that had been selected and was supposed to make them reappear in various ways. What I ended up doing was looking at the spectators and saying “OK, here’s your card, your card, your card and your card. I’ll be back in a little bit!” I rushed back down to ground level and when I got just outside of our dressing room, there was Jimmy Buffett standing in the tunnel. Now I was a huge fan of Jimmy Buffett and when I had heard a list of the celebrities that were in the crowd earlier I had in my mind if there was one in particular that I would love to meet it would be him. Now here he was! He saw our performers with all of their antics in the stands and thought there was some way he could put this to use during his shows.
He was sitting next to a promoter friend of mine from Orlando who gave him a brief history and told him that I was the guy to contact. He asked me if I had ever been to one of his concerts and I had to admit that although I loved his music I had never been to a live show. He went on to explain “I’ve got these fans out in the parking lot and up on the lawn and they are just wild!” The parking lot opens at noon for an 8 o’clock show and the party begins there, Parrot Heads as his fans are known had taken tailgating to a whole new level. They were not just cooking out in the parking lot before the show; they came as groups in full costume, (the more outrageous the better), brought along their own hot tubs, and built their own beaches, volcanoes and just about anything else you could imagine. Jimmy Buffett was always a firm believer that “the show begins in the parking lot!” And he thought the there was some way we could fit into this craziness. To wrap things up he said, “Put something together for me”, and he was off! Now I was too excited just meeting and talking with him that I have to admit I was not in my most businesslike frame of mind, I let him run back off to the game without asking him how to get back in touch and if I ‘put something together for him’, where would I send it? The following week I started doing my research on Jimmy, (of course this is before the days when you can just google anything), put together some thoughts and a proposal but didn’t know how to get it in his hands. So my search for Jimmy Buffett was on!
What are you waiting for… on to part 2!