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A&E

The Interview Issue: In the tub with Piff the Magic Dragon

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So much magic in one tub. Piff the Magic Dragon and his magic Chihuahua sidekick Mr. Piffles in the “socks-only” interview zone with Weekly‘s Erin Ryan. The bribe? Six doughnuts from Ronald’s.
Photo: Adam Shane

Should I take my shoes off? I have dragon-colored socks. Yeah, take ’em off. It’s a socks-only bath.

So, are you technically naked right now? Technically, I am naked, yeah. But magic dragons are used to being naked. That’s how we spend our lives. It’s like Adam and Eve before the fall. It's very Biblical.

During your act in Vegas Nocturne at Rose. Rabbit. Lie., you mention an elder brother, who may or may not frolic in the autumn mist. We don’t really speak anymore. We fell out a long time go, over a princess.

Blonde? Brunette? Redhead? She had a big hat on. Very difficult to tell.

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Piff feeding Piffles one sprinkle. He's a diva, after all.

Going through your Facebook photos, Mr. Piffles doesn't always look the same, and I’m wondering if some of the bullet-catching didn’t go so well ... So there’s Mr. Piffles, who's been with me since the beginning. But then there’s also Australian Mr. Piffles, because regular Mr. Piffles would have to spend six months in quarantine if he went to Australia. ... And you can tell the difference because Australian Mr. Piffles has got a floppy ear.

And you had a Las Vegas Mr. Piffles briefly, right? That was [David Copperfield's executive producer and magic consultant] Chris Kenner’s dog, so that was in 2012, when I came over and did a thing for magicians. Because magicians want to see a real-life magic dragon. Because they use all these, like, fake things, fake methods to do magic, whereas I’m a genuine magic dragon. So for them, it’s like going to the zoo. It’s like their dream zoo.

Among those magicians who are not actually magical like you are, who’s your favorite? I like Penn & Teller. Mac King. I love Copperfield. ... People like Amazing Johnathan and Mac King, I saw them when I was a younger magic dragon, when I was, like, studying the dark arts.

Andrey the Epic Fail Dragon - from YouTube.com

Are there many more of your kind? Did you see the magic dragon who stole my act on Russian television? (busts out phone, shows video of total asshole copying his act, move by move, except with a guinea pig "who can't even levitate")

You are kidding me. Wow. Yeah, and you know what he said about the guinea pig? "This is my assistant, Mr. Piffles. He’s a guinea pig because Chihuahuas are so yesterday." ... He’s from Ukraine, you know, and look what happened to that country. That’s all I’m saying. F*ck with a magic dragon, be prepared to pay the consequences.

I know there's a struggle with intellectual property rights in the magic business. Is making this video all you can do? Unless you’re Teller, who’s got all the money in the world.

So you’re not a rich magical dragon. I got a little bit of gold, but you know, not piles of it.

Do you sleep on it? No! Have you ever tried sleeping on treasure?! Unbelievable! Who needs a chalice—all the little handles sticking out. All I want is some down. I want a good tog rating, a good heavy tog. ... Are you comfy there? Have you got my foot in your ribs?

It's kinda in my ribs, but it’s magically painful. You can just cuddle it. They’re very clean ’cause magic dragons don’t go outside.

I saw photos of you in a saloon, and smoking on a sidewalk. Apart from that we don’t go outside. Not in these feet. ... I’ve got a whole shelf full of replacement feet, so I just cut them off and then put new feet on.

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Piff tries Zoolander's "Blue Steel."

You’re magical. You can do whatever you want. Exactly. I am the law. Now, once I had to go to Sweden, and I needed a dog, and they gave me a big dog, and I put him in my case and he broke my case. I had to do two nights, and the next night I said, "I can’t use that dog again." So they said, "Alright." And they gave me a cat. I don’t know whether you’ve ever put a cat in a dragon outfit, but they do not enjoy it. That cat was very angry, and that cat ruined my show that night. ... At the end, I finished by playing him like the bagpipes, and I blew on his little tail and he shot out of the costume, and I was left just holding the costume onstage.

That’s a very sad tale. In your show here, I've seen you sneeze fire. Do you fart that way? Depends what I have to eat. Mr. Piffles, on a nightly basis. You’ve gotta be really careful where you take him.

Is he allowed in the local bars? Yeah. He’s a service dog.

How does he serve you? He does magic, doesn’t he. He’s a service to everyone.

I don’t know if getting shot counts as magic. What?! Have you not seen him do his card trick?

I’ve seen you do a card trick, involving a dog food can and amazement. That was all Mr. Piffles! Did you not see when he’s in the thing, blindfolded, and he’s throwing all those cards everywhere? I mean, it’s fair enough he might not get the right card, but then he redeems it because he magically makes it appear in dog food.

So you’re not doing that trick? Right, where’s my lawyer ... We’re a double act.

Is he better than you? At some things.

Like what? Sh*tting. He’s much better than me at sh*tting.

Does he play this tiny piano? Not well.

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Mario Lopez and Mr. Piffles, bonding over the bullet catch. Aww.

I heard Mario Lopez pulled the trigger on him the other night. No Saved by the Bell for Mr. Piffles. Shot in the face, by the bell.

He still looks pretty good. Mario Lopez? He's not my type.

No, Mr. Piffles. He’s very handsome. He’s got my nose.

Do dragons get a lot of women? Princesses. Just princesses only.

How many are out there? Seven.

And how many of them have you ... I can’t say that on record. I mean, come on. You’ve gotta respect them. They’ve got kingdoms to run.

You've performed everywhere from Australia's Sydney Opera House to the Magic Castle in LA, but I'm guessing Sweden had the most attractive audiences. I’ve been there as well, and I felt like people really were more beautiful in general. Definitely. But then also, it’s a lot colder there, so any sort of human warmth is more attractive.

But you can make your own, right? Yup. Big fireball. It’s like Street Fighter II. I’m like the Dhalsim of the magic world.

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Might as well not sleep on treasure unless there's a massive pile. The creepy Elvis bust will do.

You must turn heads on the street. I get mistaken for a lot of things. Like, I went to New York recently, and everyone was running around screaming, “Oh no, he’s back and now he’s really small!”

Are you and Godzilla bros? You want to be able to invite your friends to dinner parties. Ever seen Godzilla at a dinner party? Forget it. He’s got no manners. Just goes straight for the dessert.

I can respect that. So if I invite you to a dinner party, you’d knock over the tables, eat the guests and then start spooning ice cream into your mouth?

I’d like to. You can’t come to any parties with me.

I’m sad. I have a silent cry of misery going on. I can hear it. It’s the same pitch as Mr. Piffles'. ... You know he's originally a rescue dog. I was in the Edinburgh Festival, and a Chihuahua was in my show and it was so funny, the next day I went out and rescued Mr. Piffles from Dundee. And when I saw him I didn’t really think he was gonna make much of a stage dog. He was all scrawny, and he had all this sh*t around his eyes; it was terrible. And I was like, “We’ll get him, and then even if we have to get rid of him we can just give him to somebody nice." ’Cause, you know, you still gotta earn your place. I don’t need your sob story. You’ve got to be up to the job. Fortunately, after about two months he came out of his shell. And, irreplaceable. Even though we’ve replaced him on numerous occasions.

So he’s a Scottish Chihuahua. Yeah, if you listen to his bark there’s definitely a Scottish twang there.

(opening Slim Jim jerky snack, generously offered by Piff on $19 worth of credit) Hmm, "Original Flavor." I haven’t consumed a Slim Jim for probably 20 years. The aftertaste will stay with you for the next 20 years, so good luck with that. It’s the sort of thing that’s been near an animal. Or at least through an animal.

There are coffee beans that are pooped out of, I think it’s weasels? No, it’s monkeys. It could be weasels as well. I don’t think you can get weasels near coffee, though. You don’t get weasels in the jungle, do you? (asks attendant for “Fish Angel and the croissant”)

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Getting important quotes about world events, and coffee beans flavored with monkey poo.

Did you just ask for a croissant? I auction it every night at Breakfast at Piffany’s. It’s the breakfast, at Piffany’s. There’s only one, and at the end of the night it goes to the highest bidder, and three weeks ago we got $1,000 for it. One croissant.

Who paid that much?! Was it Mario Lopez? No. It was Jeff.

Who’s Jeff? I don't know. Whoever he is, he’s Jeff. Thousand-dollar Jeff. (attendant brings goldfish in cocktail glass) This is Fish Angel. He can read minds like a book, but he just can’t remember what he read ’cause he’s only got a three-second memory. Less telepathy and more telepathetic.

Can he read my mind? He’s not on the clock. We can only afford him for, like, 10 minutes. As you can see he’s quite a thinker.

Does the name have anything to do with a certain Angel-named person who wears eyeliner? Yeah, we had to remove the eyeliner for copyright purposes, which is difficult, because we’d Sharpied it on.

You Sharpied eyeliner onto a fish? You are magic. I once ate an entire block of feta cheese. I heard if you eat 15 bananas you die. And I’ve told people and they’ve doubted it, and I’m like, “Alright, prove me wrong,” and no one’s ever doubted it enough to prove me wrong. Fourteen, you might feel fine. Fifteen, dead.

Do you know how many pickles I once ate in four minutes? Seven.

You’re right! Bang. I’m a magic dragon. Deal with it.

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Piff, always above the fray.

I’m a fan of it, that’s why I’m in a bathtub with you after just meeting you. It’s pretty easy to get you in the bath, as long as there’s no water and there are doughnuts involved.

Do you have a belly button? (Piff points) Good lord, you do. It’s an outie. We’ve also got 27 pockets. (pulls Cinderella Pez dispenser out of one) Do you want a Pez? Oh, I’m all out. Awkward.

So what kind of music do you listen to? We toured with Mumford & Sons, me and Mr. Piffles. So we ended up listening to a lot of Mumford & Sons. It was a contractual agreement. They were like, “You can come on tour with us as long as you only listen to us for the rest of your life.”

Are you headed back to England after your Vegas run? We’ve got no plans to leave soon. We love Vegas. Big fan.

You must feel so inspired being around all the acts in Vegas Nocturne. The girl with the palm stalks—that's one of the most stunning things I’ve ever seen. I think that’s actually how she does her cleaning at home. She just walks ’round picking up rubbish with her feet.

Is Santa Claus among your magical friends? He never returns your calls. I think it’s because he always gets me confused with the Grinch who stole Christmas. So he’s like, “F*ck you; I’m not having you stealing my season!” I’m like, “Dude, I just wanted to invite you ’round for a nice cup of tea and a milkshake.”

Try throwing in a cocktail. Dragons don’t drink.

You're lying. I'm not. We combust.

I've actually seen regular people combust here in Vegas from drinking. When you pose with them for fan photos after the show, does anyone smell? I have had a few stinkers, but you know, everyone’s got their problems. Why should they not get a little embrace from a magical dragon?

Commune with Piff and Piffles on Facebook, or see them up close at Breakfast at Piffany's every Wednesday-Saturday, midnight-1 a.m., in the Study at Rose. Rabbit. Lie. Just don't forget to make a reservation through RSVPiff@RoseRabbitLie.com.

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Erin got her first newspaper job in 2002 thanks to a campfire story about Bigfoot. In her award-winning work for ...

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