Magic in Las Vegas
Last month I had the pleasure of visiting Las Vegas for a short period of time. Because my time was limited, I had to be sure the trip was well planned to make the best of the time there. I managed to pack in six magic shows, a visit to two magic stores, a couple hours of busking on Fremont Street, and a little bit of sightseeing, all within two and a half days.
It all started Late November after finishing a morning show for Inphi Canada Ltd. here in Ottawa. After that, it was a four hour drive to Oshawa where I performed my evening stage show for the employees of MacDonald's Restaurant at the Jubilee Pavilion Banquet & Conference Centre. The timing worked out great. My flight to Las Vegas was booked from the Toronto Airport on the following morning so I spent the night in Toronto and flew out first thing the next day.
Here is a panoramic view of my audience at the Jubilee Pavilion Banquet & Conference Centre in Oshawa.
I instantly welcomed the warmer weather in Vegas. It wasn't hot, but it sure wasn't below freezing like Ottawa. The first show planned was to see Piff The Magic Dragon on the same day I arrived. I had heard about him before, but I had no idea what his show would be like. His character on stage was sarcastic and cynical, but in a very humorous way. As you can see from the picture below, he performs magic dressed in a dragon costume, while using his Chihuahua, also dressed as a dragon, and an assistant for some of the tricks. This was a show I highly recommend, as my cheeks were a bit sore after from all the laughter.
First thing the next day was the Mac King Show. This was the first of four magic shows planned for my second day in Vegas. I saw his show about 5 years ago at the Centrepointe Theatre in Ottawa, so I knew a little of what to expect. Although, he did have some new material which was nice to see. I was fortunate to be called up on stage for one of his routines. I never told him I was magician, but he figured it out pretty quick after a short talk with him after the show. Again, a fantastic show. You may think twice about camping after seeing it.
After Mac King, I saw Frederic Da Silva's Paranormal Mind Reading Magic Show. This was some fast paced mentalism that you had to pay very close attention to. I was impressed at how there were many layers to each routine as he pulled bits of information out everyone he had on stage.
From there, it was a rush to Fremont street where I saw Mike Hammer's "Get Hammered" comedic magic show. He was quick with his one liner responses to almost any situation that came at him and had the audience laughing the whole show. During the show, I recognized a face I had seen before sitting in the audience. It was the professional magician, Dan Sperry. He was on tour with the Illusionists back in 2016. I had seen them perform in Toronto during that year. He knew Mike personally, so I asked for a picture with both of them as it was a pleasure to meet him as well.
The fourth and final show on my second day there was the legendary Penn and Teller. Now this is a show not to be missed if you are ever in Vegas. These magicians became my favorite after watching their show "Fool Us" on Netflix. Finding their personal theatre in Vegas really wasn't that hard to do, as you can see from the picture below.
A professional pianist played live music while the audience was waiting for the show to start. On stage there were two boxes in full view. One was made of clear plexiglass with small holes throughout (I assumed for breathing), and a removable lid. The other was a wooden crate with a hinged door. It was on wheels so you could see below it. Before the show started, a loud voice through the speakers invited the audience to come on stage and inspect the boxes, and letting us know that if we didn't, we may regret not doing so later.
I didn't hesitate for a second.
I won't spoil what happens at the beginning of the show, but after giving the boxes a thorough inspection, they still fooled my pants off right from the start!
For me, the highlight of the show was when Penn Jillette invited me to come on stage for one of his routines. My task was to sort half of a shuffled deck of cards into numeric order as quickly as possible, while he was talking to the audience about what was going to happen next. For a magician this is a very simple task. But, being on stage standing next to one of the world's most respected magicians, in front of a huge audience, it was a bit more nerve wrecking than you might think. Thankfully, I got the job done quickly.
Their finale was equally as mysterious as it was humorous. They had a live cow wearing an elephant costume, so they referred to it as an elephant, and not a cow. The plan was to turn the elephant into a "different animal", and of course, the audience was thinking it will be a cow. Penn invited volunteers to come on stage to surround the elephant to eliminate any possibilities of something suspicious happening back stage. The curtains around the structure went up only for a few seconds, and when they came down, there was definitely a different animal there, and it sure wasn't a cow!
These statues of Penn, Teller, and an elephant made a lot more sense after seeing the show.
As much as I prefer to know how tricks are done, it was refreshing to be fooled as much as I was after watching their show. As a magician, getting fooled doesn't happen as often. But, these two magicians brought back the feeling of what got me started with magic in the first place. Thank you Penn and Teller!
On my third and final day, I had one more show booked for the evening. I decided this was a good day to visit a magic store and to visit Fremont Street for some busking. Vegas has more magic shops than any city I've ever visited. The one I chose to visit was called Las Vegas Magic Shop and they had an impressive selection of magic. I had only planned to be there for an hour, but that quickly turned into three. I think the clerk was satisfied with the sale, as he closed the doors as soon as I left!
After the magic store, I went to Fremont Street for a couple hours of busking. It wasn't the best time of day for it, but it was the only time I had available, so I made the best of it. Fortunately, the tips were better than expected.
There were many buskers on Fremont, as it is the most popular place to busk in Vegas. There were all different types of performers. Some were very talented, and some were... different. In Vegas, anything goes (I did not take this picture below, but it is the perfect example of what you'll see on Fremont Street).
I ran into some other magicians busking on Fremont Street. My favorite was the gentleman in the picture below. He had many more years of experience with card magic than myself and performed some sleights that I had never seen before.