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Penn & Teller's Sin City Spectacular was a weekly American television variety show hosted by Penn and Teller that appeared on the FX Networks from August 10, 1998 - June 30, 1999. The show's aim was to revive the genuine variety shows from the past, such as The Ed Sullivan Show, where, as Penn put it, you could see Pavarotti singing an aria, followed by a man with trained performing housecats. Although Pavarotti never performed, the housecats were featured.



Sin City Spectacular (SCS) was an hour long program that featured many acts on the program that were bizarre, sideshow-type performances. These type of performances included Katzen, the tattooed lady who ate bugs, and her husband, the Enigma (also covered with tattoos), who swallowed swords and lightbulbs, and had two horns surgically implanted into his forehead. Although the content of the show was sometimes purposely shocking and outlandish, its varied format ensured that eventually something would come along to interest the viewer and keep him watching. Often celebrities appeared performing previously unknown talents, such as actor French Stewart singing and dancing Hooray Pornography, Andy Dick tap-dancing, or Jerry Springer singing while the dancers fight behind him a la The Jerry Springer Show.

Musical highlights were Fred, an old-time barbershop quartet, singing I Want To Be Sedated, Michael McKean as a distraught Edgar Allan Poe who breaks into a disco extravaganza with the Eight Deadly Sin Dancers, and comedian Carlos Alazraqui transforming the tradition of Irish River Dancing into a bizarre S&M spanking fantasy, the brainchilds of writer Martin Olson. Outstanding straight musical acts like Dr. John and John Popper also appeared. In one impressive performance, Popper jammed on the harmonica while Penn narrated a story and Teller illustrated it with brilliant card tricks. Other off-beat performers included comedians Kevin Meaney, Don Novello, Otto and George, Bobcat Goldthwait, Eric Idle,and Martin Mull.

Each show opened with a solo Penn and Teller performance, many of which were classics and among the best television performances they ever produced. Some of their pieces, like "Cuffed to a Creep" where Penn finds himself handcuffed to a bizarre stranger (Teller) on a park bench, and "Balloon of Blood" in which Penn eloquently describes the strength and vulnerability of humanity, were borrowed from their stage show, while others, like Teller's unforgettable Hitchcockian "zippo lighter" piece, were written especially for the TV show.

Each episode was also guaranteed to have something, somewhere that would offend conservative viewers. As the season went on, however, the hosts became more careful about warning people in advance when controversial subject matter was about to appear, so the chances of being unfairly ambushed by lewd material and Christian-slamming diminished.

The FX network chose not to renew the show after the first season.


  • Bruce Gowers, Kent Weed, Ron de Moraes, Directors
  • Michael L. Weinberg, Supervising Producer
  • Paul Buccieri, executive producer
  • Robert Weiss, executive producer
  • Carole Propp, coordinating producer
  • Penn & Teller, co-executive producer / writers
  • Martin Olson, producer / writer
  • Colman deKay, writing supervisor
  • Jamy Ian Swiss, writer
  • Michael Goudeau, writer
  • Gary Stockdale, Composer, Music Director
  • Bruce Ryan, production design
  • Birgitte Mann, costume design
  • Tiger Martina, choreographer
  • Skip Burrows, property master, special effects
  • John Monarch, Production Manager
  • Veronica Garrison, Las Vegas Production Coordinator
  • Mark Mc Quown, construction coordinator
  • Kieran Healy, lighting
  • Laurie D. Muslow, talent executive


  • Sin City Spectacular was nominated for Emmy for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for the 1999 Emmy Awards.

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