Borrowed Time LA

Anoth­er sug­ges­tion of Siegfried’s from his mag­ic show at the LA Ath­let­ics Club was to check out his friend Helder Guimarães’s show, Bor­rowed Time LA. The show gar­nered some rave reviews, but the lim­it­ed run has end­ed, so I will be post­ing some spoil­ers!

Borrowed Time

Unlike most mag­ic shows, Bor­rowed Time was not set in a the­ater — this was more of a “pop-up” per­for­mance. When you reserve your tick­ets online, you are only told the gen­er­al neigh­bor­hood where the event will be held. The night before, you get a mys­te­ri­ous note giv­ing you the exact address and some help­ful tips regard­ing logis­tics.

I showed up may­be 15 min­utes ear­ly and park down the street at a free meter, then wan­der on foot to find that the address given is… a lit­tle bode­ga? Con­fused, I ask the shop­keeps for help. They told me that I had the wrong address, I was on East 2nd Street when I want­ed West 2nd Street. I was pret­ty sure I had punched in the address cor­rect­ly into my GPS, but start­ed to dou­ble-check. They asked that since I was already there, may­be I would con­sid­er buy­ing a soda from their bro­ken fridge or tak­ing a pic­ture in their pho­to booth again­st the back wall to help them out since the store was not doing too well. I oblig­ed, and stepped into the pho­to booth.

Just as the final flash went off, a pan­el on the wall pulled away, and a young man in a tuxe­do

Borrowed Time Host

invit­ed me into a hid­den pho­to-pro­cess­ing dark room. He was com­plete­ly mute, but used silent-movie era dia­logue cards to prompt me to turn off my phone and inquire if I would like to check my coat. I com­plied with the request and declined the offer, since I had no coat any­way.

He then walked me back into a cham­ber which is impos­si­ble for me to paint an ade­quate word pic­ture for. If you have been to any Hendrick’s Gin events with me, that is what the décor was like… some­thing along the lines of a Vic­to­ri­an muse­um of curiosi­ties set inside of a botan­i­cal gar­den. There was a dis­play case of neat­ly indexed mag­i­cal arti­facts, a pro­jec­tor play­ing a silent sepia-tone film of a masked man explain­ing a card trick, a detailed mod­el train set, a dresser with hun­dreds of tiny pull-draw­ers, and more.

As I stood there dumb­found­ed, the love­ly (but also mute) hostess, dressed in very fash­ion­able steam­punk (com­plete with gog­gles!), slipped me a piece of paper with a rid­dle on it. I found out that there were small cards hid­den around the entire room with one word answers, and endeav­ored to find the answer to my par­tic­u­lar rid­dle. I com­pared notes with a few oth­er guests who had arrived before me, and appar­ent­ly we all had dif­fer­ent ques­tions! My sense of won­der grew as I saw more and more detail through­out the room on my quest. When I found what I thought was an appro­pri­ate answer card, I brought it and the ques­tion back to the hostess, who seemed to be busy writ­ing more at her impromp­tu stand made of stacked steam­er trunks and a hur­ri­cane lamp.

She took my ques­tion and my answer, quick­ly checked for accu­ra­cy, and then filed them away and hand­ed me a new rid­dle. After a few cycles of this, instead of get­ting a new rid­dle, she hand­ed me a tiny wood­en puz­zle box. When I man­aged to solve that, she hand­ed me an old-fash­ioned skele­ton key. I eager­ly looked around the room for an appro­pri­ate lock, but the young host came back and spoke! He ush­ered us through a hid­den door in a wall of plants to a new room with a large round table, and that is where Helder made his appear­ance and the main show began!

Helder Guimarães

I do not want to give away too much about this por­tion of things just in case Helder does this show again in the future, but for me, one of the most mem­o­rable moments was when he asked for an audi­ence mem­ber to let him bor­row a wed­ding ring. A young lady’s hand shot up, and Helder told us how shocked he was because it was always men vol­un­teer­ing, and asked if she want­ed to recon­sid­er. She turned to her hus­band and asked him if it was OK, but the hus­band deferred to her. She hand­ed the ring over to Helder, who prompt­ly put it into a tiny mani­la envelope and ran it through a hand-cranked shred­der!

The entire show was, to use a term per­haps overused for mag­ic, “mind-blow­ing.” And the pro­duc­tion val­ue was off the charts, as I inad­e­quate­ly tried to con­vey to you here. I would high­ly rec­om­mend Bor­rowed Time or any fol­low-up show by Helder. Oh, and as we left, the shop­keeps gave us our pho­to booth pic­tures as a memen­to of the show.

Borrowed Time Photobooth

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