Backstage secrets of a Vegas illusionist

LAS VEGAS Mon Aug 27, 2007 7:52am EDT

Dutch magician and illusionist Hans Klok performs on stage during a press preview before the start of his world tour in Cologne October 30, 2006. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

Dutch magician and illusionist Hans Klok performs on stage during a press preview before the start of his world tour in Cologne October 30, 2006.

Credit: Reuters/Michael Dalder

LAS VEGAS (Reuters Life!) - Dutch magician Hans Klok makes his assistant, actress Pamela Anderson, vanish and reappear with ease in their Las Vegas show, but behind the scenes, he says a lot of work goes in creating such illusions.

"It's more complex than being a singer. A magician has to have his skills, his slight of hand and he is an actor who pretends to be a magician and a wizard. It's a lot, you know," he said in a recent late-night interview in his dressing room.

After 17 years of performing in his native Netherlands and elsewhere, Klok, 38, a high school drop out, realized his long-time dream in June of launching a show on the Las Vegas Strip, considered by many the pinnacle for illusionists.

His show, "The Beauty of Magic," is one of 13 major magic shows being staged in Vegas but getting former "Baywatch" star and Playboy model Anderson, 40, to act as his assistant, won Klok extra publicity.

"There is a lot of competition today, you know, magic is very hot," said Klok who is billed as the world's fastest magician. "It has to do with the success of the big Hollywood movies such as the 'Prestige' and 'Illusionist.'"

The blond Dutchman carries around a notebook to sketch new ideas and is constantly dreaming up new tricks to keep his act fresh.

"Normally as a magician, you have to do a lot. You have to think about your tricks, which means reading books all day long, books of Houdini combining all the secrets," he said. "It's great if you can build some of your own props.

"Then you need to know something about how to move, how to present yourself, not that you play a character but it is like your ego."

His show tells a story about how he was inspired by his father's love of magic and then went professional. In the course of the narrative he performs illusions in which people disappear from boxes, others are chopped up and a lightbulb floats into the audience.

"You're always thinking about creating the most original magic, which is hard to do. There are just a few things: you can levitate somebody, you can cut somebody in pieces, you can be invisible, you can escape," he said.

"There are just a few items which are really possible to do and everything you are doing is based on that."

Anderson has just agreed to extend her run in the show.

"Love this job so much I've re-signed till December," she says on her Web site. "I can't leave Hans ... Hans is a superstar."

Such enthusiasm has given rise to speculation that their relationship is not just an act.

"We have the right chemistry, but you know, she has a family. These things are not going overnight. But if it happens it would be great," Klok said.

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