‘America’s Got Talent’ exclusive: Alfredo Silva from Deadly Games on knife-throwing, danger, making semifinals

On this past results show for “America’s Got Talent,” there was a moment for celebration as we had a chance to see knife-throwing act Deadly Games advance to the next round. However, it surprisingly took the judges voting to get to the point where the act could be put through. We’ve said time and time again that they are the best act of this variety we’ve seen on the show, so we were excited to get some further insight on the performance from Alfredo Silva, who performs the act with his wife Anna.

In our interview below, Silva takes us through his journey to become so skilled at what he does, how much training goes into it, and his own response to advancing through at the very last minute.

CarterMatt – Forgive me if you’ve been asked some of these questions a hundred of times, but I want to start off here at the very beginning. How long precisely have you been doing the act?

Alfredo Silva, Deadly Games – It’s a long story. I’m a sixth-generation performer, so I learned how to throw knives when I was twelve years old. I quit for a while because there were other things that I do; one of them is the globe of death, I love to ride the motorcycle in the globe of death. I stuck with that for a while, and then I decided to do the knife-throwing [again] … Now it’s been exactly six years since I started doing this professionally.

Is there a difference from the standpoint of adrenaline between doing this and the globe of death? Are there different things that you get out of them?

You know what it is? It’s the same thing, but every day is different. That’s what I like about it; that’s my rush. You have the routine, but every day is different. I train a lot; a lot of hours go into training every day, taking care of my body to make sure I’m sharp. But, sometimes you just don’t have the control. That’s what [Anna and I] like, the risk, the adrenaline.

You mention the time, the effort, and I think that gets lost on some people watching this sort of act. How much preparation goes into each individual set? How many hours in a day?

Because of me growing up in the circus, I grew up inside the work, so it’s not like you go to work and you forget everything else. I eat, I drink, I sleep, I breathe my work. It’s very important to us, so basically as much time as I can put into work, that’s what I do. If we have to go somewhere, shopping, we go, we come back, and we train. If we have to take the kid somewhere, we go, we come back, we work. If we [cannot train together], Anna will work on the costumes, and I will train alone. It’s a 24-hour thing; work is always on my mind. Last night I drove back home from LA; I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking about my next audition (laughs).

What’s the process of building the trust between you and Anna? Obviously this is not the sort of thing that can happen overnight for this act.

I’m a very confident guy. Some people, they get me wrong. I have to be confident to do what I do! It’s that simple. I show Anna that I’m confident, that I have the skills, and I’m able to do what I promise. [She did not come into this] a circus person, she was a ballerina all of her life, she’s been doing that since she was four years old. When she saw that I was able to do all of these things, the fact that she trusts me even if I have my eyes closed … She just fell in love with the whole thing.

How much work goes into the visual presentation of what you guys do? Obviously the knife-throwing part is a fantastic skill, but what makes you stand out from some other knife-throwing acts I’ve seen is the presence and the [visuals of it]. What’s the preparation for it?

That’s a good question, because I told some people yesterday about that. We are used to performing for people who know show business. We are our lives’ work, that’s where I came from with the circus, the theater, the geeks. For me, I always want you, people who watch it, review it, like it, and are going to book me, to think about it. We put a lot of work into it, but it’s very technical. Sometimes, with a show like ‘AGT’ we have the background, which helps a lot and is a beautiful thing, but we’re more focused and the technicalities than the visual part of the act. Visually [we don’t concentrate] all that much, but the biggest part of this is stage presence, which I don’t have to worry about much because when she’s on the stage, she’s on it. She there’s with all of the [experience] that she has, she’s confident. It’s not what you do, it’s how you do it, and we chose to do this very classy. Like Simon Cowell said, a world-class act is what we’re aiming for. We’re not aiming for freaky, we’re not aiming for disgusting, and we’re not aiming for scary even though it is a bit scary. Our goal is to be very classy, very modern, and very sophisticated.

When it came around to the time that you guys were doing this show, what went into that? Was there a fear you were not going to have control of the way you were presented on the show?

That was the reason we almost didn’t do the show. I’m a 34-year old, and I’ve performed everywhere. We travel overseas all of the time. We’ve never performed in the US before, because we had that offer to go overseas. I was already on a certain level, so I wondered ‘what if there’s a judge on the show who doesn’t know anything about show business, and gives me a bad review?’ It could destroy my career, and it could be horrible for me and my family. So Anna and I thought about it, and since I’m confident in what I do, we said ‘we got to take the risk. It may pay off.’ It is paying off, and I’m glad we took that chance.

What are some of the biggest hardships you face preparing your act for just 90 seconds or two minutes for the show? It’s a very short time to show something like knife-throwing, where there is only so much you can put it?

People don’t realize that 90 seconds to throw knives at people is not good, because you gotta rush! Rushing is not good for my business; it’s not good for Anna. Thankfully, the producers and ‘AGT,’ they gave me two minutes. So I have a little bit more time. They told me ‘safety first, you do what you have to do, don’t hurry. Have a routine so we know how long it’s going to be, but safety is everything so take your time, even if you have to take a few extra seconds, you do it.’ I’m so happy for them.

I’ve been trying to think about the results and you guys getting through [at the tail end of the results show]. In this age of special effects and so many action sequences, do you think audiences take something like what you do for granted? I think there’s a certain part of [people’s brains] that is predisposed to think that what you guys do is not real, even though it is. 

I do have people asking me all the time ‘do you really throw the knives’ … I think people refuse to believe because the level you put into the act is unbelievable when you think about the chances of me hitting Anna. I’ve [had some people ask] ‘why did she duck under the knife,’ but that’s the whole point. That’s the idea. People don’t get that Anna is the queen, and I am the huntsman. She’s daring me, and she’s daring herself. When you do something like throwing the ax from fifteen steps away from the board, Anna waits until the ax is halfway through the air, daring herself, and then she ducks. It’s either she ducks or it will hit her. Some people refuse to believe that, and think it was a mistake. They think that I almost killed her, which it would, but it is all part of the act.

It’s hard to understand the way that America sees our act, but I hope that people see the connection that we have, the love that we have, and the  most important thing is that we’re very, very safe. We’re not crazy people. Do we like the risk? Yes. Do we like the danger? Yes, but I love my wife more than anything else. So, safety first.

You guys have a couple of weeks now until the next round, so are you starting to think of ways to change things up and deliver something new?

Yeah, that [time off] helps. We have something in mind that we want to do; we gotta talk to the producers actually and figure it out 100%. We have an idea of where we’re going to go. Of course, we’re going to keep our style and our fast pace. We are going to work on the visuals as well, but we will let the skills speak for themselves.

It’s difficult for us because every time we step up on stage, we do something different. If you look back we are the most consistent act in terms of every time we step in, we’re doing something better and different. Yet, every time people say we’re doing the same thing again. We’ve read the comments, and I know you shouldn’t do that because it can affect you sometimes, but I was reading some comments saying it’s ‘so repetitive.’ What do you mean repetitive? A singer sings. They sing another song. An acrobat, they do another flip. I don’t understand the criteria here to do something different. I spoke to Anna about that, and we’re going to bring a new technique in. I cannot tell you what it is yet, but we’re going to try to mix three different techniques in one act.

What’s the ultimate goal for the two of you? Is it to be a little more permanently located in Vegas and not have to travel so much, or do you enjoy touring?

I was born traveling, and I love traveling. I’ve seen the world since I was a little baby. I love it; don’t get me wrong. But now, it’s time to settle down. We would love to have our own show in Vegas. It was never about the money, it’s not about the million dollars. If you love what you do and are good at what you do, money will come. It’s not about money. Having our show in Vegas would mean the world to us. I hope we can make it happen.

Have you already received a lot of offers from people since doing the show?

Since the first [performance], I’ve always been busy, but things have been crazy. After the second one, every day people offered us things. After the [last performance], it was really huge. I had no idea that the semifinals was the semifinals. From last Tuesday until the next one, people are talking about [the seven acts who advance]. They are calling, trying to contact us, trying to offer us stuff. They are offering us shows, Anna would love to model because she’s gorgeous. We are hoping for a lot of things. Right now the best thing is to wait, not rush too much, and see what the best option is.

Thanks to Alfredo for the time!

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