There’s magic happening at the Boulevard Mall and here’s how you can find it.
Park your car in the lot behind the mall, the one with the direct entrance to the food court, Walk through the glass doors and look to your right. You’ll see the stage. Ten more steps and you’ve arrived at the first row of chairs. It’s that close.
A disembodied voice announces that Dixie Dooley’s free magic show is about to start. The short but engaging show takes place every Sunday at 2 pm and 4 pm. It’s located at the end of the food court, nestled between PDub’s Barbecue and Chinese Kitchen. Think of it as offering its own entrée – food for thought.
Flanking the small but intriguing stage are large banners that bid Welcome (left) and Peace on Earth (right). White smoke rises from the stage at intervals. The black backdrop features two large, colorful vintage posters highlighting acclaimed magicians from the past.
A mike stand adorned with a scarf sits center stage. Behind it is a tiny table holding a black top hat, and behind that is a table that seems made for reclining (you’ll see). A black box sits upon another table, off to the side, oozing its own white smoke. Mysterious, indeed.
A disembodied voice announces an upcoming free magic show and offers one-dollar bags of popcorn for purchase inside the magic shop. Audience members flock inside. With inflation running rampant, getting popcorn for that price could be considered the first magic trick of the show!
Mystical music swells as Dixie Dooley takes the stage.
Dixie Dooley and the Magic Coloring Book
Starting with card tricks, Dooley makes them appear, disappear, shrink, and instantly attach to the points of a metal star. He wears no long sleeves to hide the cards, only a leather wrist band. It is a classic trick that still baffles when seen right in front of your eyes.
Pandora’s Box spews multicolored smoke from its black box, and offers a dancing white cloth, which Dooley expertly maneuvers through thin air, ending with a toss towards the audience. We flinch, but the cloth returns to its inanimate form. Next, a black cloth produces a golden orb that levitates and travels across Dooley’s arm and appears between his knees. Between the music and the visuals, the audience becomes transfixed, and applause is enthusiastic.
Next, Dooley announces a trick entitled Mystery of the Rings that dates all the way back to ancient Egyptian. You’ve seen it before, but probably not from 5-10 feet away. The six silver hoops are linked and unlinked in multiple configurations effortlessly, a testament to Dooley’s skill.
Rings and Other Mysterious Things
Illusions may vary by show to include a magic, animated rope and disappearing liquid poured into a paper cone. If a child can participate in any way, Dooley, or sometimes his assistant, Tim Cridland, (co-author of the book, Weird Las Vegas and Nevada; Your Alternative Travel Guide to Sin City and the Silver State) will incorporate them into the act.
When Dooley’s at the helm, he enlists the aid of a young volunteer for the showstopping levitation trick. Remember that table that seemed made for reclining? The child lies upon it, wrists and ankles crossed, and semi-covered with an ornate blanket. Dooley will make them float in mid-air. He’s done at least 1153 levitations so far, and counting.
The crowd-pleasing finale at the shows your humble correspondent visited, always included the blue metal cylinder housed within a cube. Dooley demonstrated how both structures are empty by looking at the audience through the. So, how in the world does a live white rabbit appear? Resident Magic Shop bunny, Mr. Whiskers is a chubby bundle of delight that enchants the entire audience, including the most-likely-to-be skeptical adults.
It is an enthusiastic end to the show, but not before Dooley demonstrates a magic coloring book that can be purchased in the Magic Shop. The audience is invited to explore the little shop, where they can get up close and personal with the soft, fluffy, and agreeable Mr. Whiskers.
Dixie Dooley and Mr. Whiskers
A Furry Co-star
The Magic Shop is comparable to a time machine, an homage to artists of the past, especially the renowned Harry Houdini. Both the exterior and the interior feature Houdini’s history in artifacts, pins, posters, and books. An exterior book and novelty rack offers subjects such as juggling, magic tricks, origami, and the history of magic. Novelties include decks of cards, balls, and kits. Criss Angel and David Blaine hold your gaze from various merchandise. Gargoyles stare down from elevated perches.
Gargoyles Guard the Magic Shop
Magic For Sale
Build Your Own Magician
But the most engaging item of interest is Dixie Dooley, the Master Mystifier himself.
(Everyone, take a deep breath and hold it)
Dooley has decades of experience, played out on a global stage. He has appeared on national television shows like: "Door Knock Dinners" on The Food Network With Paula Dean, as well as "The World's Most Haunted Places" On The History Channel. He’s performed around the world, from the Magic Castle in Hollywood to the Magic Circle in London.
He first performed in Las Vegas in1978 at the Sahara, but made his home here in 1985. He’s produced long-running shows and appeared in hundreds of Vegas productions. He conducts an annual Houdini séance that changes locations each year. He was Harrah’s magician in residence.
He spent over a year touring with his magic show to entertain and bring support to U.S. troops. Sound familiar? Yes, Bob Hope was there.
He has replicated Houdini with strait jacket and underwater stunts, nerve-wracking to watch – absolutely baffling to try to explain. He was personal friends for years with Houdini’s niece, Marie Blood. How’s that for Houdini cred? Wayne Newton is also a friend. How’s that for Vegas cred?
He has sliced and sawed women in half, and has cut open his own arm in a flourish of blood spurts that cause the audience to gasp. He is an escape artist (rope, handcuffs). And he makes it all look easy, which is perhaps his greatest skill.
Your humble correspondent could not possibly list all of the shows Dixie Dooley’s been in, the places he’s gone, the celebrities he knows. The good news is that he magically appears every Sunday at the Boulevard Mall, bringing the classic illusions of the past to future generations.
One last thing…
Dixie is his real name. It’s a family name he shares with several older relatives and the story of its origin goes like this: Dix is the French word for “ten” and was stamped on currency in the 1800’s to prove authenticity. The notes were known as Dixies by Southerners, and eventually the South became known as Dixieland. Since the Master Mystifier was born in West Virginia but raised in Augusta Georgia, it is also a testament to his heritage.
Authentic? Most certainly.
Mr. Whiskers Home in the Magic Shop
Books and Novelties
Cards and The Hand That Dealt Them