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June 29, 2016

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The Amazing Johnathan, Psychic Tanya and ‘Mondays Dark’ prove Las Vegas charity knows no bounds

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John Katsilometes

Psychic Tanya, played by Penny Wiggins, and The Amazing Johnathan appear Monday, Jan. 25, 2016, at Baobab Stage at Town Square.

Updated Monday, Feb. 1, 2016 | 12:17 p.m.

The Kats Report Podcast

The Amazing Johnathan

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John Katsilometes and Tricia McCrone talk to The Amazing Johnathan about his life, career and exit from the Las Vegas entertainment scene.

Sometimes you don’t see the busy weeks coming. The week just passed was one of those in VegasVille, a weeklong rollout of parties, performances and events that was almost impossible for even this scribe to chronicle.

Almost. Check my Instagram, Twitter, Periscope and Vine feeds for an in-time account of my movements in the city.

The week kicked off with two charity performances, scheduled simultaneously (and inconveniently) on Monday night. The respective hosts were terrific performers and the causes noble. Neither was on the Strip, not quite, but they drew full houses in each instance.

First was a moment we thought we’d not seen again. The Amazing Johnathan and Psychic Tanya appeared onstage together for the first time since a performance at the Magic Castle in L.A. on July 4, 2014.

This was at a “Shenanigans” performance at Baobab Stage at Town Square as the two co-hosted a benefit for Penny Wiggins, who is A.J.’s longtime sidekick and suffering from serious damage to her right knee and is undergoing knee-replacement surgery this month.

Wiggins says she has been in “incredible pain” for the past six months until the condition had become unbearable. The event started with eight performers and soon grew to 21. That moment coincided with A.J.’s willingness to muscle through another show.

A.J. and Psychic Tanya were a hit act on and off the Strip for more than decade, headlining at the Sahara, Golden Nugget, Harmon Theater and, finally, Bally’s. But by December 2013, A.J.’s heart was deteriorating, and he also said that he was fed up with trying to do business as a performer/producer in Las Vegas.

He publicly announced his retirement in a performance at Andy Walmsley’s “ENTSpeaks” production at Inspire Theater in October 2014, saying his health was so poor he could no longer perform magic tricks onstage.

But on Monday, he was well enough to join his sidekick for what both said would be a final performance. She opened with, “Hey, weren’t you supposed to be dead two years ago?” A.J. took a look at the long list of performers and sniped, “There are 20 acts in this show. At intermission, we’re selling handguns.”

Wiggins rolled out the famous props, including a golf ball and a segment of garden hose, and proudly called to A.J., “Look! I did it!” No explanation forthcoming.

Those taking the stage included dancer and theater proprietor Wassa Coulibaly, Bizzaro Galore, Erica Vanlee and Kristi Taguchi, Troy Tinker, Mon Dre, Steven Lee August and Marie Gara, Veronica Manhattan, Steven Vane, Jhonn Dominguez and Family and their dogs, Les Contortionettes, Castellone, Dave Johnson, Emily England, Banachek, Heidi Thompson and Gene Sironen as Cher and Elton John, Molodi, Pip and Swingshift Sideshow starring Kelvikta Tera and Andrew Stanton.

Luxor headliner Criss Angel and Chloe Crawford, Mike Hammer of Four Queens and Tropicana headliner Jan Rouven were in the audience.

“I hope we raise enough money for you to pay your medical bills,” A.J. said to Wiggins. “We need you back on your knees.” These two kids certainly love each other.

Later that night, “Mondays Dark” again filled Vinyl at the Hard Rock Hotel, in a night themed for the soundtrack to the movie “Anchorman.” The show-closing number, with event founder Mark Shunock of “Rock of Ages” at new home the Rio joining Mo5aic for “Afternoon Delight,” was priceless. Shunock’s wife, Cheryl Daro, performed “Carry On My Wayward Son” by Kansas, and LouLou D’Vil added a striptease number I don’t quite remember from the movie, but still …

This month’s event was a fundraiser for the Injured Police Officers Foundation and brought in more than $10,000 for the organization. Next month, the show turns its philanthropic focus on the Ronald McDonald House, which happens to be the first charity Shunock contacted about hosting a “Mondays Dark” event. After more than two years, Ronald will be under the spotlight.

The next "Mondays Dark" show is Feb. 15 at Vinyl.

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

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