By The KAERU KID
If you live in Hollywood, you are either an actor or wannabe actor. In Las Vegas many want to be a magician. There are more magicians per capita here than anywhere else. Almost every revue will include a magician in the program and if a magician becomes well known, they get to star in their own show.
Here is a list of magicians and what I thought about their performance, in ascending order:
Hans Klok: Resembles a younger Siegfried (in more ways than one) but has a long way to go to equal the level Siegried achieved. Hans used Pamela Anderson in his act to successfully attract an audience but his performance was not up to Vegas standards. He is no longer playing here but mostly likely will try a comeback.
Todd Paul: Mixes comedy with magic with more adult oriented material. Enjoyable but so far only has material for an hour show and would be a good lounge act. He had a very very short run but can advertise he performed in Las Vegas.
Dixie Dooley: He has a musical name and is a journeyman magician. Might be OK if the show is free and you have time to spare. Michael Jackson loved him and had him give a private performance as a birthday present for one of his children.
Steve Wyrick: He has his own theater so someone must think he is good. He has or had a Nikkei manager. I was not impressed with his show.
Magic Is A Drag, starring Cashetta: Described as a mix of Bette Midler, Dolly Parton, combined with David Cooperfield’s talent but I wouldn’t go that far. Suffice it to say he has an enjoyable show for adults and only has a few routines but milks them to the maximum.
Scarlett-Princess of Magic: She won the 2008 Merlin award for best female magician but I wonder who the other nominees might have been since there is a dearth of good female magicians. She was hired in Reno as a magician’s assistant and was such a quick study he encouraged her to perform and became her manager. She is a lovely girl and we had lunch together. She is constantly improving.
Nathan Burton: Mixes comedy with magic in an afternoon show. Tries hard to entertain. Not a top contender.
Arian Black: She opens for Amazing Jonathan and also has an act in Madame Meg’s all female show. Winner of the 2004 Merlin female magician of the year. Very attractive girl who deserves more exposure, er, better opportunities. It is difficult to just watch her hands.
Jeff Hobson: I call him the Liberace of Magicians. His act is hilarious over the top comedy with some magic. He makes sporadic appearances at different venues.
Criss Angel: Include me among his many fans of the Mind Freak TV show. We all eagerly awaited the pairing of Criss and Cirque du Soleil in the show called “Believe.” It was a major disappointment and especially for such high priced tickets. The best parts were snippets of his TV show stunts. The Cirque performers detracted rather than complemented him and the many dark themed acts were not entertaining. There is a reason successful magic acts include comedy. Hopefully, a major overhaul may be in the works. Both Criss and Cirque are too talented not to improve this show and become successful.
Siegfried and Roy: No longer performing after the tragic accident when Roy was bitten by one of the tigers. Not likely to ever return for shows to the general public. They were extremely popular but I always felt their show was overpriced.
Rick Thomas: He had an afternoon show featuring large wild animals and was a good value show. Rumor has it that he will soon make a re-appearance.
Dirk Arthur (Xtreme Magic): Has two afternoon shows that feature tigers, leopards and rare cats like completely white tigers and a liger (half lion and tiger.) It is a mystery why he isn’t as popular as Siegfried and Roy were since his illusions are just as good. He does not have the flamboyant appearance of Siegfried and is not backed by as glitzy stage setting but this show is a bargain that families will enjoy.
Ensembles: Shows such as the Greatest Magicians and World Stars of Magic give a group of very talented magicians a showcase opportunity to warrant becoming a strip headliner. It illustrates how difficult and competitive the market can be. Among the creative magicians seen in this venue have been Mike Michaels who crafts his own unique props; Kevin James with his sawing-in-half body act like no other magician; Tony Chapek with a very original act using a TV screen that he cleverly enters; David Darkstone is the youngest magician to appear on the strip; husband and wife team, the Dymonds, have some original routines. Bill Robinson has good presentation but unfortunately has a distracting “tic.” I actually love the multi-magician format and am puzzled why it is not more popular. These have been very low-priced and a great bargain.
David Copperfield: He only makes short sporadic appearances but is very popular and features spectacular stage effects. His handsome features lure in many female fans. Ticket prices for his show will be very expensive.
Jeff McBride: His show recently closed but with his abundant talent he will no doubt be popping up somewhere soon. He spent some time in Japan and incorporates Kabuki masks and other Asian effects in his routine. He is so talented he runs a school to train other magicians.
Gerry McCambridge (The Mentalist): He will amaze you and leave you laughing, too. He is trying to build a large fan base and offers frequent specials that requires only buying a drink to get free admission. See his website: www.mentalist.com. Once he reaches a critical mass of support, you will be sorry not to have been an early fan.
Amazing Jonathan: His bizarre illusions may not appeal to everyone but he and his hilarious ditzy blonde assistant, Psychic Tanya, had me laughing, rolling in the aisles with illusions that capitalized on surprise twists.
Mac King: He and Lance Burton were childhood friends. Mac’s show is the most entertaining afternoon show on the strip. I send all my visiting guests to his show and everyone (especially children) thank me profusely.
Lance Burton: When I first saw his show, his energy level did not match the illusions and he seemed bored or exhausted from so many performances. His publicist said Lance was “under the weather” for the show I attended and to give Lance another opportunity. The next time it was outstanding from beginning to end and proves that one poor performance may be due to an unknown problem. He just ended rumors about his possible retirement by signing a new contract extension for 3 more years but cutting his performances from daily to 5 days a week.
Penn & Teller: Outstanding duo. Some people think Penn is too loud and Teller is strange but they appeal to me and some of their illusions are classic. Even though they are marquee headliners, they still appreciate their fans and do a meet and greet after the show so be sure to bring your camera. I knew them when they were just starting out in small Westwood nightclubs in the 70’s.
LAS VEGAS TIDBIT: In many of the casino malls and also attached to magic shows are shops selling magic tricks but they can be quite expensive. My friend, Peter Jah, who is originally from Hawaii, has Booth F49 at Fantastic Indoor Swap Meet, 1717 S. Decatur Blvd, Las Vegas, that is only opened on Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10-6. He sells magic tricks for a reasonable rate. Mention my name and he is likely to give you a kama`aina discount.
Gary Darwin lures a gathering of magicians every Wednesday, 10 p.m. to Boomers After Hours Club (back room,) 3200 Sirius Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89102, ph: (702) 368-1863.
Mention my name and Gary will welcome you. Gary collects magic equipment and has so many that his home is a museum. You can buy a DVD that includes a tour of his home museum and how to do many magic tricks.