It can’t be overstated how important Roy Horn, who died at 75 of COVID-19 complications on May 8, was to Las Vegas. Before Siegfried & Roy, magicians would have a spot on a variety show. You’d never have 90 minutes of magic, and they had to fight really hard to get there.
Although our tastes seem polar opposite–Siegfried & Roy did operatic shows full of glitter and wild animals, and Penn & Teller is kind of a chamber-music show–the idea of partnership is a big connection. I once did an interview and said rather goofily that I was the Roy of Penn & Teller. Later, I was in New York City, and all of a sudden I heard this German accent yelling, “You are the Roy of Penn & Teller!” I turned around, and there’s Roy with his entourage and yakskin jacket: “I’m the Penn of Siegfried & Roy!“–and then this huge hug and this laughing and this little dance.
Roy’s legacy is all of Vegas. When you’re talking about the taste of Vegas, you’re talking about Roy. Whether you’re being kind or unkind, your view of this city is informed by him.
This appears in the May 25, 2020 issue of TIME.