Steve Dacri, a veteran magician whose "close-up" illusions could make foam balls appear in your clenched fist, died Friday after a long bout with colon cancer.
The Boston native moved to Las Vegas in 2003, after years of commuting from Los Angeles to work at Caesars Magical Empire, a bygone attraction that offered a rare stage for close-up magic on the Strip.
Dacri and his wife, Jan, worked for most of the decade to find a workable vehicle for a niche of magic that gave him 38 years in the trade. His close-up genre took root at Hollywood's Magic Castle nightclub and played best with audiences of 50 or less.
His was a sleight of hand utilizing small objects -- playing cards, handkerchiefs and the signature foam balls he called "Martians" -- rather than the large illusions that are the basis of most Las Vegas magic acts.
"When magic can happen in the audience member's hand ... that's the magic they remember," he noted in February of last year.
Dacri's post-Empire work in Las Vegas included shows at The Orleans, O'Shea's, the Imperial Palace and the Four Seasons at Mandalay Bay, where he offered a dinner show so exclusive it was $300 per ticket.
His last Las Vegas run was at the Las Vegas Hilton last year. The February opening was postponed by the discovery of a tumor and removal of a section of his colon. "I was sitting in the hospital going, 'Boy I'm so glad I have a show to look forward to,' " he recalled.
Ever the trouper, Dacri last summer submitted to a promotional stunt that involved a dunking in the Hilton's swimming pool to retrieve two playing cards.
Dacri also maintained the website and digital magazine VegasInsideTips.com.