Monday, July 28, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Beyond the Sun
Female magicians still form an exclusive club.
Even in the age of gender enlightenment and equal opportunity, men dominate the world of illusion.
A few women have broken the magic barrier: Luna Shimada of Australia, Ava Do of Vietnam and Arian Black, a Canadian who has lived in Las Vegas for several years.
“I feel there’s some bias against women in the business,” says Scarlett, a 22-year-old, one-named magician who’s about to debut on the Strip. “But I’ve been lucky. Everyone I’ve spoken to has been very receptive, although I feel a lot of established magicians like the male dominance of it.”
Scarlett, Princess of Magic, opens Friday at the V Theater inside the Miracle Mile at Planet Hollywood. She replaces magician Nathan Burton, who recently moved his show to the Flamingo.
Scarlett will be the first female magician to perform in a Strip showroom since Melinda, First Lady of Magic, left the Venetian in 2006.
Scarlett, who was born and raised in Reno, is a newcomer to magic.
Two years ago magician John Lewis — stage name Jon Andrew — called Reno dance studios looking for an assistant for his act. Scarlett, adept at everything from fox trot to Irish folk, responded. After she worked a few months as his assistant, Lewis recognized her talent for magic.
“She learned effects very fast. She has lots of pizazz because of her dance background,” Lewis says. “I thought she was special right away.”
He was so impressed that he became her mentor and eventually put away his own magic to manage her career. It helps that he has a degree in business and economics from UNLV.
They moved to Vegas a year ago. In addition to working on her act, Scarlett studies international business at UNLV.
She got gigs at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, Calif., and in “The World’s Greatest Magic Show” at the Greek Isles. Before joining the cast of the Dick Feeney production at the Greek Isles, Scarlett auditioned for David Saxe, who produces six shows at the V Theater. He’s also the brother of Melinda, First Lady of Magic.
“David told us he was looking for the next Melinda,” Lewis says. “But he said Scarlett needed some seasoning.”
After Burton left the V Theater, Saxe took another look at Scarlett.
“She totally reminds me of my sister,” says Saxe, who produced Melinda for 16 years as well as the all-female “Showgirls of Magic” at the San Remo (now Hooters hotel). “She has a presence I like.”
Saxe was impressed with her eagerness to learn and to get her career going, not taking the usual path of becoming a specialty act.
“It was a little aggressive of her to start off with a full show, but that’s the way Melinda did it in 1987,” Saxe says.
Scarlett’s 70-minute production includes plenty of magic — linking rings with her special twist; a hypnotized rabbit; Houdini’s torture chamber and Harry Blackstone Jr’s Topsy Turvy Box. “There are only two Topsy Turvy boxes in the world, and we have one of them,” Lewis says.
Scarlett brings something a little different to the magic table — lots of dancing (she has four assistants who are also dancers) and lots of characters.
“Scarlett does characters like Betty Boop, Betty Boop doing magic,” Lewis says. “Or she will be a mad scientist.”
Scarlett says, “I want this to be an entertainment experience. I don’t want people walking out thinking they saw a magic show, but a show.”