Monthly Archives: June 2002

P.T. Barnum is dead, but his spirit lives on

Kreepy KreskinIt isn’t easy getting old, and it must be even harder when you know you’ll never scale the heights of fame and glory you conquered in your younger days. The good old days, before there were 200 channels of cable TV, when the Tonight Show was the only game in town and Johnny ruled late night television. And in those prehistoric days of the 70′s and 80′s, Kreskin was a regular guest, perhaps the best known mentalist in America. But after Johnny left, Kreskin was an act without a TV home, and realization set in that he’d never hit that high water mark again. Today, the man who once headlined at some of the premier casinos in Vegas is headlining at the Silverton Casino, an off-off strip joint popular with those too cheap to splurge for an RV hookup at Sam’s Town. Not an easy room to fill: “Should the wife and I spend $29.95 each to see Kreskin, or invest in one of the Silverton’s nickel slots?” What a mentalist needs is a gimmick, some way to convince people to make the drive from their plush hotels on the strip out to a casino on the road to Parumph. I know…predict that hundreds will see a UFO, and offer to donate $50,000 to charity if the UFOs don’t show!

In the days leading up to the promised UFO sighting, Kreskin was all over the local Las Vegas news. Outside of the Vegas area, his biggest national press came from a series of appearances on Art Bell’s show. After getting the fish hooked, he began reeling them in a couple of days beforehand, insisting that spectators for the UFO event attend his show beforehand so they could be “prepared” for the event. Ka-ching!

During the show, Kreskin called a portion of the audience down to the front of the auditorium and planted a post-hypnotic suggestion regarding the UFO sighting. He then led the entire crowd out of the showroom and out to a vacant lot behind the Silverton’s RV park. Next to the banks of a drainage ditch, directly beneath the flight path for McCarran Airport, a large spotlight shone up into the desert sky. Many onlookers who didn’t attend the show parked along the streets around the field, waiting for the promised sighting. This is the scene Buck Huff came upon after a hell for leather drive up from Phoenix. We drove past the cop directing traffic, took a parking space next to the field, and waited. As it turned out, we didn’t have long to wait…although the window was predicted from 9:50 to Midnight, Kreskin declared the event over around 10:20 and headed back to his suite at the Silverton, presumably to count his money. Sensing the show was over, Buck and I headed back to the strip for some much needed R&R.

After the “event”, Kreskin declared that his intention had been to show what power the enemies of America could wield if they possessed a mentalist of Kreskin’s abilities. God help us if Flip Orley falls into Al-Qaeda’s hands! Kreskin also announced that he would not donate the $50,000 to charity, as some 41 spectators claimed to have seen a green light moving around in the sky. Suprisingly, he had the cojones to make an appearance on Art Bell’s show the following night, and declare the event a success. Art gave him a thourough dressing down, and ended it with the supreme sanction, banning Kreskin from the show for life. Kudos to Art Bell for articulating the thoughts of all but 41 of the spectators who stood in the vacant lot next to the Silverton Thursday night. And here’s a tip for you: the next time Kreskin predicts something like this in Vegas, a few cases of cold beer sold from the trunk of your car should cover the expense of the trip, and perhaps leave a few extra dollars for the slot machines.

UFOs, Kreskin, and Vegas

Kreepy KreskinHow could I NOT say yes to Ed’s invite of doing some investigative reporting? I got my snakeskin boots and headed north over the mexican border to meet up in Phoenix.

The drive was very pleasant despite 107 degree temps and air hazard warnings. The men and women at the security checkpoint just south of the Hoover damn were looking for nothing less than Osama himself in the sweltering conditions, and we glided by without even a full stop ’til we hit the strip and our luxury suite on the 22nd floor of the Aladdin Hotel.

The room was gorgeous and cool, room service was speedy and suprisingly delicious. A corner room that curved around in windows showing a full view of Las Vegas Blvd, even from the huge bathtub. Why did we have to go out? oh yeah, Kreskin. The UFOs. shit.

Tiredly, we forced ourselves back into the heat of a still 107 degrees at 9:30pm and headed off strip. Off, off strip to the Silverton Casino where Kreskin just happened to be wrapping up his engagement. There was alot of traffic and police were there with their flares and flashlights directing about a thousand locals doing burnouts and heaving beer bottles.
Kreskin had said UFOs would appear between 9:50pm and Midnight, and he would take people in busesout to the desert to witness it. “Out in the desert” really was a vacant lot in the back of the Silverton’s RV parking lot. We parked on the other side of the vacant lot by the luxury condos. Oh yeah, way out in the desert.

We turned on Art Bell and were just getting out our equipment for recording when a caller said that Kreskin had declared the event over with. We hadn’t even recorded the big billboard that said “Kreskin” “UFOS TONIGHT 7:30″ “Spagetti Dinner 1.99″ “R Slots R Hot”.

We figured with the surly local crowd being nuts to begin with, we needed to get out of there before they all heard the news of “over” and turned the dusty lot into a tornado. We headed back to the luxury room we didn’t want to leave in the first place. Over, just like that.

Now the thing is, had we any belief whatsoever that UFOs were going to show up we would have been as far away as possible. UFOs are nothing to fool with. Yes, I do believe in them, that’s exactly why I wouldn’t want anything to do with them. But the idea that this has-been quack playing at a RV Casino in Vegas was predicting UFOs was so tempting. He was putting up 50k to charity if there wasn’t the biggest mass sighting of UFOs, so what was the gimmick? We had to see. But we didn’t see anything but a few hundred 21st century beehives and naked girl mudflaps. Oh sure, there were things in the sky. The vacant lot sits under the very busy McCarren Airport’s flight path. Talk about a loaded dice scenario. Well, no need being too disappointed, this was Vegas, surely there was something to occupy us for the next 48 hours.

The Friday night following the “event”, Kreskin was on Art Bell’s show and rambled something about 9-11 and how terrorist deception could be used and he was merely demonstrating how you could hypnotize somebody to see a UFO. Frankly, after listening to the phone call a few times I’m not sure what he was saying, I don’t know what his intention was in the first place. The 50k is not being given to charity because Kreskin claimed people saw UFOs and whether they were real or hallucinated doesn’t matter. Art Bell was quite mad and banned Kreskin from the show.

I’m baffled. Was this stunt done for him personally? Was the Silverton Casino in on it? What did he hope to accomplish past having one sold out show? He had the ear of Art Bell, and love him or hate him the ratings are high, millions of listeners and Kreskin blew that on such a bullshit hoax that even Barnum himself would be ashamed. Banned from Bell (quite a huskter himself) , engagement at the RV park over with…where do you go from there, Mr Mentalist? shouldn’t you know? like really KNOW?

I guess the 50k Kreskin is keeping in his pocket really is going to charity.