Wonderground: Magic Castle without walls is back to enchant Vegas

Posted by on Dec 14th, 2009 and filed under Featured, Nightlife. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Wonderground takes place at 8 p.m. the third Thursday of the month at The Olive, 3850 East Sunset. There is no cover charge, but there is a two drink minimum.

wonderground-players

The Wonderground players include: Top row, left to right — Paul Draper, William Reymond as “FooDog,” Zamora. Middle row, left to right — George Millward, John Thompson, Scott Hitchcock, Jeff McBride, Erin Doleshall, Christian Doleshall, Tony Lizzio, Chris Randall. Bottom row, left to right — Buster Balloon, Jordan Wright, DJ Leo Diaz and Tommy Wind. Photo by Richard Faverty.

Having grown up in Las Vegas, there really isn’t much that surprises me. That ship pretty much sailed when I was 6 years old and I saw a man dressed like Cookie Monster chain smoking and playing video poker at 7-11.

But one evening about a year ago, I stood in awe as a man with silver streaks in his hair quietly dragged his personal bed of nails across a busy casino floor. Later in the evening, that same man plunged a sharp skewer through his bicep right before my eyes, while nearby a painter created live art, a magician twisted a spoon and go-go dancers … well, go-go danced.

This was far from the typical Las Vegas nightclub experience. This was Wonderground, a magical nightlife experience. And yes, it was full of surprises.

A stomping ground for sideshow acts, performance artists and close-up magicians, Wonderground is the brainchild of longtime Las Vegas magician Jeff McBride. McBride, who has dazzled audiences at Caesars Palace, Las Vegas Hilton and around the world, has been promising the return of Wonderground since his show “Magic at the Edge” ended its run at Palace Station in 2008. Now it is back and better than ever on the third Thursday of every month at Olive Mediterranean Grill, 3850 E. Sunset Road in Las Vegas.

“There are many, many magic shows in this town, but there is only one Wonderground,” says McBride. ”We’re going to have more magic per square inch than anywhere in Vegas. We’re going to have more magical celebrities per square inch than anywhere in Vegas. Were going to have more creativity per square inch than anywhere in Vegas.”

Wonderground Draper

Magician Paul Draper entertains the crowd.

Wonderground has been described as an edgier version of the famous, invite-only magic club in Hollywood, the Magic Castle. Past Wondergrounds have attracted famous Vegas illusionists including Criss Angel and Lance Burton. This time around, McBride fully expects to see even more well known magicians mingling among the crowd including Teller, Mac King and the Amazing Johnathan.

But Wonderground is also a place to see the underground heroes of magic and some of the best sleight-of-hand magicians from around the world.

wonderground-wright

Magician Jordan Wright (right) performs an illusion for a Wonderground attendee as Wonderground Player Erin Doleshall (left) looks on.

“We want to give people something they can see, magic in their hands,” says McBride. “Usually you sit 20 rows back in a big theater staring at a magician that’s way down there.”

Just whatever you do, don’t tell the guy doing card tricks that you’re going to “bust him” unless you want to be the butt of a cleavage joke – these guys aren’t only quick with their hands … they’re also quick with their tongues. (Wait, that didn’t sound right).

December’s Wonderground lineup includes Rudy Coby, Joshua Levin and Deborah Nervig, Scott Hitchcock , Jordan Wright, Bizarro, Sophie Evans and Buster Balloon. There will also be belly dancers, go-go dancers, a DJ, a psychic sideshow, live painting and more. Installations, magic shows and performances will take place throughout multiple rooms in Olive’s club space. Food and drink is available for purchase, and admission is free. The entire evening will be broadcast live on the internet on StreetofCards.tv.

“The experience changes every month,” says McBride. “Either you’re there, or you miss something extraordinary.”

Aleza Freeman

A Las Vegas native, Aleza grew up totally oblivious to the plethora of slot machines just about everywhere she went. Her earliest works of art were doodled on the backs of buffet placemats with Keno crayons. An award-winning writer, Aleza has a background in journalism and copywriting. Her works have appeared in publications globally, including the Los Angeles Times and the Jerusalem Post. She covers attractions, tours, art, spas and shopping for Vegas.com and loves every minute of it! Follow Aleza on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter.

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