Larry Wilson


Larry Wilson doesn’t take magic seriously. That’s no surprise to anyone who’s seen him starring in his psychedelic extravaganza, “Wonderland,” at Harrah’s Hotel & Casino in Reno. The debate over whether he is a comedian or magician leaves him unconcerned. Audiences are laughing so hard they don’t seem to realize that the astounding and freaky visuals taking place all around them are actually magic. “I don’t want to fool you,” Wilson candidly admits, “I just want to blow your mind a little.” That’s why Jimmy Kimmel and Ford came to Larry for the roll out of Ford’s 2017 Escape. They had heard about “Wonderland” and they knew Larry would bring something… unique to the proceedings. His high-energy performance combined with a penchant for lightningfast ad-libs makes it hard to tell what’s planned and what’s simply a spontaneous happening. And that’s what “Wonderland” is all about. As Larry explains, “Wonderland’s not a place; it’s a state of mind.” How did this self-professed refugee from the Summer of Love wind up producing his own theatrical spectacles? Larry is the first to admit it’s been an unusual career. He began his performing career at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, a private club for magicians. He was somewhat apprehensive about presenting his mix of comedy and magic because of the Castle’s reputation as a reserved and dignified forum for magicians. Fortunately, his satirical advertising pitch for the “Famous Magicians School” was an immediate success and even the most diehard magicians were delighted with his spoofing of the art. In no time at all Larry found himself in places like Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe performing with the likes of Sammy Davis, Jr., Ann-Margret, and The Pointer Sisters. This, in turn, led to a long string of television appearances with his zany assistants, the Flying Cavettis, and it was an appearance with this stage troupe which garnered Larry his first Emmy nomination as a performer. Larry is also in high demand as a technical consultant for magic and special effects in movies and T.V. He’s taught sleight of hand to a host of famous actors including Timothy Hutton (Leverage), Patrick Dempsey (Gray’s Anatomy) and Brooke Shields (Ugly Betty.) He was hand-chosen to create the now famous comedy-magic sequence that Leslie Nielsen performed in the classic comedy hit “Airplane!” Larry has displayed his sleight of hand skills on Hard Copy, on ABC’s Line of Fire as a crooked casino dealer and on the A&E special, Stealth Technology, where he demonstrated how the military uses many of the same principles of illusion in modern warfare. Most recently, “Auction Hunters” hired him as the foremost authority on magic ephemera to appraise their unexpected acquisition of illusions from storage sites. Last year marked another first for Larry. One of the most prestigious universities in the world, the Massachussets Instutute of Technology, invited him to lecture on the nature of communication and its relation to perception and persuasion beyond the world of magic. His lecture, “The Illusion of Choice,” had previously been nominated as Lecture of the Year by the Academy of Magical Arts and Sciences, but it had never been presented to the lay public before its historic debut at M.I.T. “I did a little inventory on myself and realized that the things I have such great fondness for all came from the 60’s—the music, the clothes, the lifestyle. All at once, it seemed so clear, the perfect theatrical framework to combine these fantastic cultural influences was just ready and waiting for me—“Alice in Wonderland.” It’s the trippiest, most surreal, otherworldly tale. And everybody knows all about it. Or, at least, they think they do.” That was the jumping off point for “Wonderland.” “I was as surprised as anyone by the enormous success of “Wonderland,” he says, “So I tried to identify what I’d done differently, in my thinking and my actions, to get a better understanding of it.” This led to his creation of a nonprofit organization, Education Renaissance of Nevada Initiative, to bring arts and education to Northern Nevada. Their premier fundraising event, SPELLBINDERS, is a week long international festival of magic that is unlike any other magic event in the world because every performance is free to the public.

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