Las Vegas gets into Halloween spirit

Creepy things float in the air. Objects move across a table. Spoons bend.

This is either the worst bed spins ever after an all-night binge on the Strip, or the one time of year Las Vegas goes deliberately mental.

As in, three mentalists crowding in on the already-established Gerry McCambridge: Lior Suchard at the Palms, Alain Nu at the Clarion starting Saturday, and grand old master Kreskin pulling into the Riviera on Nov. 3.

Must be something in the ectoplasm. Mentalists usually aren’t splashy enough for Vegas. “It’s about a seed of thought and creating a very large experience in the audience’s mind using that seed,” Nu explains. “It’s really not about huge production; bringing in the elephants or tigers or Ferraris.”

Now a seance? That’s another story.

“The modern spirit mediums are comparatively dull. They don’t do all the good, old-fashioned physical effects that made those spooky amusements so compelling,” says Teller, of Penn & Teller, who is attempting just that in New York with the off-Broadway “Play Dead. “They don’t make tables float around the room, and they don’t produce ectoplasm.”

But you don’t have to go to New York for all that good stuff. All month, magician Dixie Dooley has been at the helm of a seance room in “The 13th Floor Experience” at Circus Circus. And there on Halloween, his 25th Houdini seance, his annual attempt to make contact with his late, great inspiration.

Dooley’s seances outlasted the Bourbon Street, where he started them. He’s staged them for five people and for 3,000 at a Beaux Arts Ball.

“I displayed to everyone my tenacity,” he says with a laugh. “The first two years maybe it was to draw attention to the show I was in, but after that it was like, ‘We’ve got to do that again, it was so much fun.’ ”

There’s a thin line of distinction between the Circus Circus spook shows and the Houdini seance, where something may or may not happen. Last year’s was perhaps the most eventful: The power blew just as he summoned Houdini. It wasn’t staged, he insists, and perhaps not coincidental that fire inspectors later had issues with his now-closed lounge at the Royal Nevada.

Teller and Dooley continue Houdini’s work to demonstrate how fake psychics exploit the bereaved. Nu says he “doesn’t necessarily plan on contacting dead relatives.” When Halloween is over, he would rather “spread warmth and good vibes.”

“I don’t think I need to prove scientifically to anybody that they can be fooled or they can be gullible,” he says. “I’m more interested in what we can’t totally prove quite yet. What’s on the outside that (might) inspire us toward future ideas and future concepts.”

Contact reporter Mike Weatherford at or 702-383-0288.

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