Jen Kramer conjures family fun
If there’s one thing everyone in magic can agree on, according to no less an authority than Penn Jillette, it’s that women are the future of magic. “All the great magicians of the future are going to be women,” he said on the season four finale of CW Network series Penn & Teller: Fool Us, as Teller nodded in agreement. Jillette then introduced Jen Kramer and AmberLynn Walker, who proceeded to literally turn a handful of classic close-magic tricks upside down in homage to a classic Penn & Teller routine.
For Kramer, greatness was established but she had yet to know her first career height was just around the corner. The Magic of Jen Kramer opened in May at the Westgate Las Vegas, minutes away from Penn & Teller’s residency on the other side of the Strip at the Rio. She now practices magic, mentalism and misdirection mischief from the stage of the Westgate Cabaret. While not the first woman to have a headlining illusionist act in Las Vegas—predecessors include Ariann Black and Melinda Saxe—Kramer currently has the city’s most prestigious prestidigitation engagement for a female magician.
And she earned it. Kramer’s interest in magic was stoked by an uncle while growing up in Great Neck, a village on Long Island’s North Shore. Reading magic books led to performing wherever she could, a principle that magician Lance Burton would reinforce in her when she heard him describe the value of “flight time,” or getting in as many magical hours as possible. Kramer’s natural ambition, effortless effervescence and intelligence served her well as she studied theater at Yale, where she started a magic society that continues to thrive at the campus.
Kramer served summer internships in Las Vegas with established magician Nathan Burton, and began putting out feelers for gigs in her junior and senior years. “I moved out here after I graduated in 2014 knowing that I wanted to pursue magic,” she says.
“I didn’t go in with the expectation of like, ‘Oh, yes, it’s going to happen.’ I went in very much with the expectation of like, ‘Hey, if I’m persistent about this, if I’m proactive and persistent, all I need is one yes. Doesn’t matter if I get 30 noes, 40 noes, 50 noes. If I get one yes, it’s a win.’”
She got a yes from Wyndham Grand Desert resort, where she refined her act and sharpened her business and promotion skills. Weekly performances at Las Vegas Marriott came next, and she became in demand for college and corporate gigs. Appearances on Penn & Teller: Fool Us and CW series Masters of Illusion exposed her to national audiences, and by the time a friend introduced her to Westgate she was a seasoned pro worthy of marquee status. Kramer’s 6 p.m. family-friendly show is a perfect preview to a dinner reservation, as well as a place for aspiring magicians, both female and male, to acquire the sense of wonder that led Kramer to Vegas.
Westgate Las Vegas, 6 p.m. Wed.-Sat., $19.99-$29.99 plus tax and fee. 800.222.5361