I like Vegas’ secret things, because around here secrets tend to mean there’s some kind of a deal. Of course, some secrets are more secret than others. There’s Siegfried & Roy’s Secret Garden & Dolphin Habitat, for example. How secret can that be? The secret pizza place at the Cosmopolitan was pretty secretive for about a week … until everyone wrote about it. Now anyone can find it. There are some cool off-the-menu secrets in a few restaurants, but outside of the gambling world, the best secret plays tend to be in entertainment.
A good lounge act, an unknown rock bar, a weekly open-mic with talented regulars—they’re all good finds. But I like the ones that you walk into and wonder how the heck they stayed under the radar for so long. One of those is “Vegas Wonderground.”
Wonderground is about magic. Overseen and emceed by Jeff McBride, it’s a gathering place for magicians, pro and amateur, who come out in droves every third Thursday of the month to see the show and mingle. It takes place at Olive, a restaurant and hookah lounge at 3850 E. Sunset Road, and runs about three hours. Admission is just $10, though they “pass the hat” at the end of the night, so you might get nicked for a little more.
The evening is divided into three hourlong segments, starting with the first of two stage shows that bracket a close-up-magic segment. (Hint: As soon as the first show ends, make your way into the back room to get a good spot for the close-up.) The next show is on January 17, and if you want a seat, you need to arrive around 7:30. Olive has good Mediterranean food, so you can order up some mezza plates and have dinner while you wait for the show (the sampler for $15.95 is a good play that feeds three or four). Beers are $5. If you get bored, you can take a break on one of the Valley’s few foosball tables.
The entertainment is hit-and-miss, depending on who’s on the card that night, but rest assured that the segment with the best talent will be the third, when McBride performs. He’s world-class—and even if he were the only performer, he’d still make the visit worthwhile. A few years ago he had his own show at Palace Station, and he’s famous for his sleight-of-hand and ridiculous card-throwing skills, both of which are on display here.
Since the room is 90 percent full of magicians, the self-congratulatory stuff gets a bit tiring. But all in all, this is pretty cool Vegas-insider entertainment. For more information and a video, visit VegasWonderground.com.