weather icon Cloudy
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

Spiegelworld to turn California desert town into ‘circus village’

Updated January 5, 2023 - 7:35 pm

Vegas bought into Spiegelworld a decade ago. The company has now bought a town of its own.

In this exercise in circus Monopoly, producers of “Absinthe,” “Opium” (and operators of the adjoining restaurant Superfrico) and “Atomic Saloon Show” have purchased the tiny desert town of Nipton, California, for $2.5 million.

The company announced plans to resurrect the town as a “circus village,” where performers will conceive and create their artistic adventures. Visitors also can have a unique tourist experience while interacting with the Spiegelworld community.

Spiegelworld founder and “Impressario Extraordinaire” Ross Mollison said in a release announcing the venture the vision brings to mind a “Schitt’s Creek” spinoff.

“When we visited as guests a few years back, we fell in love with the peacefulness, the vast desert vistas, and the fireside chats with freight train drivers, miners and workers,” Mollison said. “Jim Eslinger, self-proclaimed mayor of Nipton, warned me that you need to have respect for the Mojave, and the desert will tell you if it is happy or unhappy with what you’re doing.”

Mollison said Nipton was an appropriate stage in Spiegelworld’s ongoing evolution as a premier artistic company.

“Spiegelworld performers and artists are already embracing the potential of Nipton and are excited to get involved in the creative direction of the town, the restaurant, accommodation, artist retreats and small festivals we plan to present,” Mollison said.

Nipton is actually an 80-acre plot, which is about 10 acres less than Resorts World Las Vegas’ parcel on the Strip. Nipton is an unincorporated community in San Bernardino County, about an hour drive from Las Vegas on the Nevada-California border along Route 164.

As reported this week by the Wall Street Journal, original owners Jerry Freeman and Roxanne Lang bought the Nipton property in the 1980s for $200,000. The California couple were the landlords until Freeman died in 2016.

Lang sold to a cannabis company, financing the deal, but that partnership cratered as the company stopped paying Lang. She put the land back on the market in November 2020.

About 25 inhabitants live in Nipton, residing in the town’s RV park. Hotel California is the primary hospitality destination. There are also artworks from Burning Man, where Mollison and Spiegelworld have produced shows specifically for the event.

At the 2018 festival, Spiegelworld produced“Untitled IV,” under The Falzone Family Circus umbrella. Spiegelworld characters Evgeny “Alfonso” Falzone-Buzukhov and Beverley Rossina Falzone-Buzukhov — from “Vegas Nocturne” at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas — participated. This is the vibe we can expect for Nipton adventure.

Mollison also told the Wall Street Journal that among his ideas are a sculpture park, a skydiving club, Hula-Hoop performances, a bunker built for performances and a performance venue in a grove of Eucalyptus trees.

Mollison is ready to create more Spiegelworld magic, saying, “Nipton will showcase the beauty of our circus family and I simply can’t wait to share that community under the magical desert stars.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.