For years, there was only the Amazing Kreskin. In a casino-entertainment world full of magicians, crooners and topless dancers, psychics were rarely embraced as performers likely to pull in the gambling crowd.
Kreskin blazed the way and casinos opened up to a wider range of attractions. It's been shown that a good psychic or mentalist can draw as well as any comedian, and at this point there is nobody who draws as well as Sylvia Browne, making two appearances at Thunder Valley, on Thursday, Jan. 17, and Friday, Jan. 18.
Browne does not spend her time saying she can find hidden money. She does not pick up on thoughts sent from the audience. She sits calmly on stage and talks about what she sees happening and about to happen in the world. Her topics can range from dietary advice to Mideast policy. Then she spends time with individual members of the audience who line up to ask her personal questions. Her responses are brief and to the point.
Whatever Browne is, there is no doubt she is bold. She is unafraid to tell people they will suffer or even die with an illness, she is not reluctant to tell people to leave their spouses, and all her pronouncements are given with utmost conviction. Her following is huge. Her website offers private sessions, a newsletter, and 45 books. She is an industry. (8 p.m.; $39.50, $49.50; thundervalleycasino. com).
Out and about
When Billy Gardell had his first Reno appearance at John Ascuaga's Nugget over the holidays, he proved that he is one of the best stand-ups out there. In 75 minutes he covered topics with scathing criticism and sharpshooting timing, coming off as a combination of Lewis Black and Bill Cosby, reminiscing and going off on tearing tirades at the same time. Cache Creek visitors have the chance to hear Gardell, who stars in the No. 4-ranked show on television, "Mike and Molly," Saturday (8 p.m.; $32.50, $42.50; cachecreek.com).
"Fluffy" comedy returns to the Silver Legacy on Saturday as Gabriel Iglesias dons his trademark Hawaiian shirt (8 p.m.; $73.50, $83.50; silverlegacy.com or Ticketmaster).
Boomtown, Reno Events Center: Lee Rocker of the Stray Cats, Pat Travers, Jan. 26; Al Stewart, Feb. 23. (800) 648-3790.
Cal Neva Resort Frank Sinatra Showroom: Kottonmouth Kings, Jan. 19; Roach Gigz, Jan. 24; Andre Nickatina + Smoov-E, Feb. 16. (800) 233-5551.
Carson Valley Inn Valley Ballroom: Bobby Hendricks Drifters, Jan. 25. Cabaret Lounge: Elvis Week with Brian Andrews, today-Saturday; Joe Buonanno, Sunday-Wednesday. (775) 782-9711.
Eldorado, Reno Showroom: "Aladdin and His Lamp," through Sunday; "Magique," Tuesdays- Sundays, Jan. 22-April 14. (800) 648-5966.
Harrah's Lake Tahoe South Shore Room: Jonny Lang, Saturday; Gregg Allman, Jan. 19. (800) 427-7247.
Harrah's Reno Sammy's Showroom: The Magic of Eli Kerr, Fridays-Saturdays, through Feb. 23. The Stage @ the Zone: Maxx Cabello Jr., today-Saturday; Tragically White, Jan. 18-19. (800) 427-7247.
Horizon, Lake Tahoe Illusion Fusion starring Alex Ramon, Thursdays-Tuesdays. (775) 588-6211.
Silver Legacy, Reno Grand Exposition Hall: Gabriel Iglesias, Saturday; Jay Leno, Jan. 25; Styx, Feb. 1. (800) 687-8733.
Editor's note: This story was changed Jan. 14 to clarify the dates Sylvia Browne is appearing at Thunder Valley.