You don’t need to be high to enjoy Ben Zabin’s weed-themed magic show, Smokus Pocus, but if you do arrive baked, rest assured you won’t be alone.
“There’s definitely a lot of people there that are high … [but] I’ve worked really hard to make the show just as much fun for somebody who’s never smoked weed,” says Zabin, a magician of 20 years who began performing publicly at age 10. “That’s really important to me, doing the best magic show I can, not just the best weed magic show I can.”
The “dank and debaucherous” show, which runs nine times a week at Area15, features optical bong illusions, flashy sleight of hand card tricks that work most of the time—“What did you expect from a stoner magician?” Zabin laughs—and enough tongue-in-cheek toking jokes to keep the sober-minded giggling like the gummy just kicked in.
“It was always an idea on the back burner,” Zabin says of Smokus Pocus, which launched in 2021 and has toured around the country. “To me, magic and weed have always seemed to go so great together. It was always fun doing tricks with friends while we were high.”
The marijuana magician (and ex-weed dealer, as he frankly reveals to audiences) previously performed on cruise ships and Naval bases overseas, but when the pandemic dried up business, he leapt at the chance to produce Smokus Pocus.
“Vegas is going to be a really good home for this type of show,” Zabin says. “People want to be entertained, they want to see something amazing and there’s a lot of people getting excited about weed. It’s becoming more and more mainstream.”
Transitioning from cruise line culture to a roomful of stoned spectators has definitely been an adjustment, Zabin says, “but I’ve never had as much fun doing magic as I am now.”
It shows. If you aren’t already under the influence of something when you enter, you’ll leave under Zabin’s charismatic sway. The magician’s rapid-fire wit injects life and laughs into the show, and he’s wholly capable of adapting to his unpredictable audience.
“It’s been an interesting process, because everybody that’s high is at different levels of highness. You have some people that are full-on tripping and other people that are paranoid because they took too many edibles,” Zabin says. “It’s all about getting everybody to the point where they’re comfortable and they can relax.”
Smoking isn’t permitted during Smokus Pocus, but guests are offered “Hello, I’m Stoned” name tags upon entry, so you can easily spot your baked brethren. And as you might expect, crowd participation tends to be fairly chill. Sometimes folks “ooh,” sometimes they “ahh” and sometimes Zabin does something so radical—like hammering a vape pen up his nose—that the collective response is just a baffled whisper of “what the f*ck?”
The party even continues after the show, when Smokus Pocus offers a Dank and Stormy cocktail at Oddwood, complete with a magic aftershow at that bar.
Zabin says he’s hopeful the show can make Las Vegas its permanent home—a longtime goal for his lifelong passion. “It’s the only real job I’ve had,” he says. “It’s always just been magic.”
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