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September 2, 2014

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Surgery doesn’t put Criss Angel in straitjacket; Terry Fator returns to Letterman in media blitz

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Criss Angel’s “Magic Jam” at Luxor.

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Terry Fator.

Here’s something we were reminded of on the scene this week: An effective way to draw the attention, if not ire, of a team of hotel-casino security officers is to dance atop a bar, grab a bottle of wine behind that bar and pour from that bottle into the glasses of patrons seated at that bar.

We witnessed this at an undisclosed location the other night. The dancing was great. But the impromptu bartending, while energetic and even charitable, was viewed dimly by the hotel’s “muscle.”

Regardless, no harm befell anybody. More good times in VegasVille, right?

With that, we press onward with the latest raking:

• After undergoing major shoulder surgery Jan. 9, Criss Angel was told to take it easy for six months.

But “six months” in Angel’s lexicon means “three weeks.” He’s back onstage as the host of “Magic Jam” at the Luxor, which debuted Feb. 4, less than a month after surgery.

Famous internationally for his high-risk illusions, Angel was injured in a stunt at Times Square (and really, who among us hasn’t been?) where he was suspended in a pair of straitjackets several hundred feet before a rapt crowd.

Angel had already suffered from some minor damage to his right shoulder, and hanging above Times Square by a hoist only exacerbated that injury. He severed muscles and tendons in his right rotator cuff, and in January he underwent an invasive surgery most common among injured major league pitchers.

Happily, a clip of this surgery is played during “Magic Jam,” which is not only effectively suspenseful entertainment but invaluable for reporting purposes.

Angel is spending 45 minutes onstage in “Magic Jam,” which is to be a placeholder show until he returns full force in “Believe” by the end of April. But the theater requires animation in the interim, so Angel continues to work, work, work.

In “Magic Jam,” the hotel headliner is joined by such performing friends as longtime Flamingo afternoon comic magician Nathan Burton, the unnervingly penetrating mentalist Banacheck, the dependably hilarious Russ Merlin of “V — The Ultimate Variety Show” at Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood, and 22-year-old Krystyn Lambert (a fixture on Angel’s Spike TV show, also titled “Believe”). Also in the solid lineup of performers are manipulators Jason Byrne and Tony Clark and close-up artist Armando Vera. At the front, joining Angel, is a personal favorite: Matteo “Maestro” Bellavista, also a highlight in “Believe.”

This show was constructed in a mad dash and actually does require some for-real speeding around town. Merlin hustles over after his appearances in “V,” something the ever-hustling Burton knows all about, as he also is pulling double duty. Angel is glad to have permission from producer David Saxe to use both performers in a competing venue.

Given all the moving parts, human and otherwise, the show is paced crisply and balanced effectively between the comic stylings of Merlin and Maestro and the daring routines of Krystyn (who performs Angel’s single-straitjacket routine over the audience) and Angel’s own sawing-a-woman-in-half routine, using a contraption about the size of a sausage factory.

Last Saturday night, when I met up with Angel after the show, he was exhausted. He wore a leather sling over his right arm and shoulder and was obviously not feeling well. When I suggested that he take some time off, he laughed and said, “Me? Never.” And that work ethic, kids, is how you become a star on the Strip.

• It’s easy to take Terry Fator’s show at Mirage for granted. On March 7, his team of puppets and he celebrate their fifth anniversary at the theater named for him. Fator taped a segment with Fox News' Sean Hannity on Tuesday, and Thursday night he is to appear for the third time on “The Late Show With David Letterman.” These TV appearances are to promote Fator’s latest DVD, “Terry Fator: Live in Concert,” released four years after his first DVD from the Mirage.

The national exposure has become fairly commonplace for Fator, who is so insular in his craft that he rarely steps back to think, “Wow, I am famous!”

“I just keep working and developing my act,” he said during a phone interview Tuesday afternoon from New York. “I think people have just become comfortable with the fact that I am in Las Vegas and know I am there. But I am so focused on writing and keeping the show fresh that I am unaware of pretty much anything else going on around me.”

Fator promises a new wrinkle in the show and says he has been motivated by such fellow Strip headliners as Penn & Teller and Carrot Top in his tireless development of his show.

“These guys are successful, but they are always updating their shows,” Fator said. “Every time I see Penn & Teller or Carrot Top, there is something new added to the show. What a remarkable feat that is … you just have to keep the priorities in order, and that is making people have a good time.”

• Killian’s Angels is the Terminator of Las Vegas bands, if the Terminator were to play rock-and-roll tuba and shout “slainte!” while toasting pints of ale. The Angels are back at Brendan’s Irish Pub at the Orleans on Friday and Saturday from 9:30 p.m.-1 a.m.

This crew has quite a history. The five-piece, all-female Celtic and classic-rock band fronted by the esteemed Beth Mullaney was formed in 2001 and started performing at Brendan’s in 2004. They were in regular weekend rotation there for about five years, then lost the gig, then were invited back for intermittent appearances in 2010 and 2012.

They are so worth a look-see. There is dancing, drinking and bubbly banter, and once in a while you’ll be at the bar and a woman playing a tuba will request an ale.

Give it to her, or suffer the consequences.

• Franky Perez is fizzing out! Not exactly!

The flame-throwing showman and prolific songwriter is fronting a new, evidently rollicking music experience at Fizz at Caesars Palace beginning at 11 p.m. Thursday. It’s called The Dirty, and it’s a soul band with horns and keyboards that just lays it down, mah bruthah (as Perez would say anyway). The band puts a “retro soul spin on modern hits,” channeling J.T. (Justin Timberlake), R.T. (Robin Thicke), S-Dub (Stevie Wonder) and R.C. (Ray Charles).

I would link to The Dirty’s website, but gosh, there are boobs shown. They’re all dirty, too.

All I can say is … meet me at Fizz at 11.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at Twitter.com/JohnnyKats. Also, follow “Kats With the Dish” at Twitter.com/KatsWiththeDish.

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