Seven Questions for Vegas Nocturne’s Piff the Magic Dragon

The newest Strip entertainer on his show at Rose.Rabbit.Lie, his Mount Rushmore of magicians and why Chihuahuas are easily replaceable in Las Vegas

Photo by Jim K. Decker

Piff (right) and his sidekick, Mr. Piffles | Photo by Jim K. Decker

How would you describe your show?

A magic dragon. With a Chihuahua. Doing magic tricks. Attempting to attract princesses. It’s a niche. A market of one. Unless I meet the right princess, it’s going to die out.

Most magicians project slick confidence onstage. You, not so much. Are you more of a magician or a comedian?

That’s because they’re compensating for something. I am an actual magic dragon. A special skill of magic dragons is that they’re as funny as they’re magical. We get you from both angles.

Do you miss home?

The patron saint of England is King George, and he’s famous for killing dragons. So really, that’s not the country for me. I’ve left that land of ingratitude. I wanted to come to a more open place for magical dragons, and Las Vegas is the capital for magic.

Also, Las Vegas is a big Chihuahua town. A lot of them here. A lot of abandoned ones, but at least Las Vegans love them enough to get them in the first place. And that means there are a lot of duplicates, so if [my sidekick] Mr. Piffles ever gets sick, I can just drive out to the I-15 and get a barrelful.

So Mr. Piffles is easily replaceable?

See, here’s the thing: When you rescue a dog, what I found was that they’re so beaten down by life that anything else is a good option. So when I told him I wanted him to do card tricks, he said “no problem.” He ran out and read some books. Studied with the greats. That’s what I respect about him. He puts in the work.

In the last two years you’ve gone from fringe festival appearances in England to a steady gig at Rose.Rabbit.Lie at the Cosmopolitan. Any drawbacks to that?

There was this Russian who ripped off my act. He came out in a dragon costume—it was a costume, obviously, because he wasn’t really a magic dragon, like me—and the only difference was that he had a guinea pig. He even named it Mr. Piffles. He said Chihuahuas were so yesterday. That’s kind of funny, but all of his props were shit. It was my act, but really shitty.
I found out about it the day before I flew to Las Vegas [to negotiate the show here]. I got off the plane and bumped into Lance Burton. He said, “Oh I just saw someone ripped off your act on YouTube.” That’s how fast it spread.

We made a video where we cut up both acts side by side. And then that turned into some stories on me. So I guess I should thank him for doing a really shitty job of ripping me off. All publicity is good publicity, I suppose. Although maybe you’ll prove me wrong.

Who are your favorite magicians?

Penn & Teller, not only because they are good, but they gave me my career. [Piff appeared on the BBC show Penn & Teller: Fool Us.] Mac King, because he’s the funniest magician on the Strip. Copperfield, because there’s nobody more magical. And the Amazing Johnathan, because when I was growing up, he inspired me to become a magical dragon. Otherwise I could have been an accountant-dragon.

Is there a magic trick you can’t do that you wish you could?
Getting a princess to love me just for who I am: a magic dragon. Also, I want to make gold out of nothing. That’d be a good one. Also, I’d quite like to make biscuits whenever I want—Jaffa cakes. You call them cookies, but they’re biscuits.

You mentioned attempting to attract princesses. Is there a special one in your life?
Dragons don’t commit. We like kidnapping them, but don’t know what to do with them once we’ve got them.

Piff the Magic Dragon performs Thursday-Sunday as part of the 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. cantos of Vegas Nocturne at Rose.Rabbit.Lie in the Cosmopolitan. He also performs “Breakfast at Piffany’s” at midnight daily in the Study, 698-7440,