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December 18, 2014

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Photos: Topless ‘Centerfolds of Magic’ morphs into sexy illusionists at Plaza

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Tom Donoghue/DonoghuePhotography.com

Rehearsal for “Centerfolds of Magic” at the Plaza on Tuesday, April 30, 2013.

Rehearsal for 'Centerfolds of Magic' at Plaza

Rehearsal for Launch slideshow »

It’s magic unlike anything you’ve ever seen. There’s no way you’re even going to try to figure out how it’s done because the magician’s art of diversion and slight of hand couldn’t get any better than this. Topless centerfold beauties are the ultimate distraction.

2009 Penthouse Pet of the Year Taya Parker, who is an eight-time cover girl, is the wizard mistress of ceremonies who conjures up 13 of the 19 total illusions and tricks. She wears the traditional tuxedo with tails, but it’s so revealing, you know instantly that this is no wardrobe malfunction. This is an intentional showcase of cleavage maximus.

Our contributing photographer Tom Donoghue, who shot the final “Centerfolds of Magic” dress rehearsal Tuesday ahead of tonight’s opening at the Plaza Downtown, said, “This was a difficult assignment. I had to get all my shots before they kept stripping off their clothes, and lighting for a magic show is not a dream for a photographer. The girls are a dream, but not the lights!”

There are five model magicians, including brown-eyed brunette Taya, who leads the provocative pack measuring in at 32DD. “I have never been a magician’s assistant, so that is one of the reasons I was excited about doing the show because I always try to find really cool and innovative ways to reinvent myself,” she told me in an exclusive interview.

“When I first came to Las Vegas, those were the shows that intrigued me, Penn & Teller, Siegfried & Roy, Criss Angel. They were always so enjoyable. Even though I had never had any experience, John Lewis, our director who has had a lot of luck training female magicians, said if I was willing to put in the work and give it my all, he could teach me. I was really excited to rise to that challenge. It’s really cool to have the opportunity. I have never done it before, but I am doing a really great job so far.

“You could say I’m already casting spells by being topless! I certainly hope to. The cool thing is that people won’t believe right away that pretty girls can pull off magic because it is such a boys club. But every girl in the show has made a true commitment that the magic come first. That was important to the producers so that the audience left with the wow factor. You would think with the name ‘Centerfolds of Magic’ that it’s just hot girls pulling silk flowers out our sleeves, cutesy, girly, silly things more about naked girls. Not so — we have the balance with real big magic tricks, some you know and love, but we do it in a spicy way.

In Photos: Taya Parker

Taya Parker. Launch slideshow »

“We all have our own sex appeal with each illusion that we do. People are going to be blown away that pretty girls can pull off something like this. It’s a cool challenge, but everybody is on the same page.”

Taya is the show’s hostess, and Joe Trammel is the resident comedian, plus, the four other female magicians who are professional dancers too. Taya promised: “The finale is going to be a huge, huge wow factor. I can’t tell you because you have to see it to experience it.

“Obviously, you’ll see us all topless and although not bottomless we go down to pretty tiny G-strings. There are some times where it is pretty close. It is an 11 o’clock show, and we know people want that spice factor, so it has definitely been taken into consideration in the show. We have taken the traditional magic attire but sexed it up a bit.”

Named Penthouse Pet of the Month in January 2008, Taya became Penthouse Pet of the Year in 2009. She previously headlined as the star in the six-month run of “Striptease” at the Sahara before the hotel was closed to prepare for its transformation into the SLS, where construction has started for a 2014 opening.

“I’ve been on tour for 18 months since then trying to get back to Las Vegas,” she continued. “It was my goal, and I had been tormenting and torturing people. It is funny because the one person who I didn’t bombard ended up calling me. When you lose your casino show, the future is not bright, and ‘Striptease’ went down when the casino closed. The cool thing, though, was I met a lot of people. I thought it was going to be cutthroat and competitive, but it turned out to be open arms.

“Every show just embraces everybody else’s show. It really let people know who I was that they may not have ever known. People wonder if centerfolds doing Penthouse have the charisma, the personality or the talent to pull something off on a bigger scale on a Vegas stage. I danced in that show, I sang in that show, and it really gave people exposure to other talents other than just a naked picture they saw. It really helped me coming back.”

The other girls have all done pinup magazine modeling — one was highlighted in the Las Vegas section of February’s Sports Illustrated Swimwear Issue. “I want to give them the opportunity to do Penthouse if they wish, and we can always bring in more girls as the show goes on,” said Taya.

I asked if she gets cut in half or if she cuts one of the other girls in half! “Something strong like that is left to one of the others, but I am involved in the most impressive and probably the most dangerous illusion of the show, which is a water substitution trick.

“The girl that is cut in half is very awesome and she does a fantastic job. I don’t think I could do better, and I don’t say that very often because I usually rise to the challenge. … I go into the water tank, though. We have a twist to it. Most of my fans know I am a huge comic book junkie, so there is a little comic book hero twist to our water substitution trick.

“I’m loving what I’m doing and I love being Downtown. I’d never been Downtown before. Every time I came to Las Vegas, it was for a job where my schedule was so crazy busy that I never had a chance to visit Downtown. I didn’t know what to expect, but the Plaza is absolutely beautiful. I was blown away by it. They spent millions in its renovation. The hospitality has been top notch. Everyone has been so fantastic here; I have nothing but good things to say.

“I walked on Fremont Street for the first time the other day, and it was awesome. There is a lot of life going on down here. It is a little bit different from the Strip, a lot more laidback and much more free spirited. I am really excited to open the show because it’s unique and totally different than any other magic show ever before in Las Vegas. Could you ask for anything better? Gorgeous topless centerfolds, fabulous magic and great comedy.”

“Centerfolds of Magic” opens at the Plaza tonight and plays six nights, dark Thursdays. The Plaza also is home to former Mayor Oscar Goodman’s Steakhouse, and Taya is hoping she can get him up onstage one night for one of the illusions. I’m betting that she’ll pull off that trick, too.

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow VDLX Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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