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[Our Metropolis]

Tricks of the trade

Magician Nathan Burton talks about the value of family, creative marketing—and Marie Osmond

This is an excerpt from the radio show Our Metropolis, a half-hour issues and affairs program that airs Tuesdays at 6 p.m. on KUNV 91.5-FM and is hosted by the Greenspun Media Group’s John Katsilometes. Tune in next week to hear the rest of this interview with comic magician Nathan Burton, the new afternoon headliner at Flamingo Las Vegas:

You were on the Fox News business program recently. How does a Las Vegas headliner wind up on that show?

I’m actually a family business. I’ve got my mom [Nancy] and sister [Emily] working for me, and if you can’t trust your mom and sister, who can you trust? We’re doing a corporate thing pretty soon where we’re all going to Mexico, and I’m taking the family and all the showgirls. There are a lot of shows in town—something like 100—a lot of magicians, and productions like Cirque du Soleil that spend millions of dollars on advertising, and we have to compete against that, so we try to be really creative, and that’s what we were talking about on the show. We have a “Do Not Disturb” sign that’s a Nathan Burton sign hanging on 3,000 rooms at the Flamingo.

What do the other Flamingo headliners, like Toni Braxton and George Wallace, have to say about this?

I have not talked to Toni Braxton … George Wallace is a master marketer, and I really look up to George. He sent me two dozen roses when I opened, welcoming me to the Harrah’s family, let me know if there’s anything I can do for you. He is a super-nice guy and is a very aggressive marketer. And I’m very excited, too, because the hotel is going to have a 30,000-square-foot wrap of me, next to Toni Braxton. It’s funny, once I got everything approved—we had legal stuff and lawyers and all this—I was saying, “I just want to put up a picture. I don’t want to buy the Flamingo.”

The Flamingo also has Donny and Marie Osmond coming in as headliners, and you’ve got some history with her, right?

I actually opened for Marie when I was a kid. I have a poster from this show at the Civic Center in Fort Smith, Arkansas, that says, “Marie Osmond, with special guest star Nathan Burton!” And a really small photo of me. I was probably 15. When they open I’m going to bring her the poster and say, “Remember me?” The first show, the reaction was so good that at the second show, her whole band would come out to the orchestra pit in the front of the stage. She’s like, “Where’s my band?” They were watching my show. It was a really fun experience.

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