King Ink’s performing duo shares a spirit of exploration
Wed, Sep 1, 2010 (5:30 p.m.)
Photo: Bill Hughes
Meet the new faces of Vegas entertainment: Paul the magician and Mike the musician. They don’t have a theater or billboards—who can afford those things nowadays?—but each has a weekly gig at Mirage’s King Ink tattoo parlor. Paul the magician performs on the back porch; Mike the musician performs atop the central sofa island. The venue and performance spaces are unorthodox, but the performers are classically trained and high caliber.
Paul Vigil performs chamber magic in the modern tradition of Johann Nepomuk Hofzinser, Ricky Jay and Steve Cohen. What does that mean? It means Vigil turns $2 bills into $20s and moves cards with his mind ... while quoting Picasso and Plato.
Not exactly what you’d expect to find inside a tattoo parlor. But remember, Vigil doesn’t just perform for bikers and punk rockers waiting for their appointments; he entertains all of the Mirage’s guests, who hail from Japan, China, the Middle East and everywhere else. So Vigil’s illusions must transcend not just the reality barrier, but the language barrier, too.
Are there similarities between his routines and Mike the musician’s performances? “Absolutely,” Vigil says. “We’re both trying to explore alternate spaces with our arts. And as artists, we both have visions we’re trying to refine. We’re both trying to achieve the Platonic ideal—truth, beauty—but we’re going about it in different ways.”
Mike Silverman, the musician, goes by the moniker That 1 Guy. He studied double bass at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, but now performs on a instrument he invented: the Magic Pipe. It’s made from metallic tubing, rigged with electronic triggers, pedals, a red button that says “Don’t Push Button” and strings. The treble string covers three and a half octaves; the bass string goes down to a low C. The triggers activate sounds Silverman sampled—banged trash cans, shattered light bulbs and such. Recently, Silverman found a sound at the Brisbane airport jetway. The noise created when he pounded on a window reminded him of a Star Wars laser, so he pulled out his recorder and captured what he’d heard.
Since moving to Vegas, Mike the musician and Paul the magician have become fast friends. “I’m a big admirer of Paul,” Silverman says. “It’s fun to hang out with somebody who’s as serious about his art as I am. You can learn about your own art from another art.”
And Mike must be serious about learning more about his art: He’s having Paul teach him magic.