THE London Wonderground has showcased the talents of many a sensational act. From burlesque to acrobatic artistry, music to magic the glorious spiegeltent has seen its fair share of outrageous and incredible talent.
But now it’s about to host the hilarious and magical antics of a green dragon and his pet Chihuahua.
Yes, the genius that is Piff the Magic Dragon is back and aided by his cute and glamorous, long-standing, long suffering sidekick Mr Piffles.
They are hosting their show Breakfast at Piffany’s at the spiegeltent as part of the London Wonderground season for two nights next week.
The infamous pair fled South London 18 months ago and set up camp Stateside after being spotted by a fancy Las Vegas producer who asked them to relocate to Sin City and do a show at The Cosmopolitan hotel.
Up until that point Piff and Mr Piffles had built up a loyal following of fans and the pair had toured all over the world, appearing at famous venues such as New York’s Radio City Music Hall, London’s O2 and Shakespeare’s Globe, not to mention Sydney Opera House, Soho Theatre and the Adelaide and Edinburgh Fringe Festivals.
But although they were riding the crest of a wave, by his own admission Piff says that the bright lights of Vegas won him over and when the offer came neither he nor Mr Piffles could say no.
“It’s going great out here and we have been having a very nice time,” he tells me. “I got offered to do the show and so we decided to come out. Mr Piffles has been getting shot out of a canon every night since then. He loves it.
“I applied for and got my green card so we decided to stay for a bit. I think Mr Piffles prefers it to home. It’s a bit warmer for a start.”
But now after nearly two years of lounging by the pool and soaking up the 110 degree heat, Piff says he has missed things like the rain, nature, grass and Jaffa Cakes and is about to pack his bags, tuck Mr Piffles under his arm and head back to South London.
Breakfast At Piffany’s, the show they are bringing to London, is a variation on one that has been very successful for them in Vegas.
With guaranteed thrills, spills, mischief and mayhem, it is part magic show, part game show and part comedy show. It sees Piff split the audience into teams to fight for points and prizes, whilst experiencing and enjoying some incredible magic tricks, surprise special guests and “epic thumb wars”.
“It’s totally different every night because it all depends on what the audience chooses from the menu,” he chuckles.
“The menu is my Wheel Of Magic which the audience spins and whatever the arrow points to when it stops will determine what happens.
“I divide everyone into teams and they compete against each other for prizes. It’s a lot of fun of course.
“At the end of each show we auction off a croissant for charity. We did it in Vegas and raised more than $15,000 over the course of 18 months. One night Hollywood star Brad Garrett bought it for $1,000. It got a bit crazy.
“I’m not expecting so much in London though – to be honest I’d settle for raising £15 over the two nights. And we might have to have a bacon sandwich rather than a croissant.”
As well as the food Piff says there will be a “very special guest star” involved in the show but is reluctant to divulge too many details.
“She is someone who has performed all over the world and does some crazy stuff in Las Vegas,” is all he’ll say.
“So that’s pretty exciting to have her in the show. I will also be assisted by Sophie Sunshine – she’s human but we do have Darren Gold who is the first mind reading goldfish. However he’s only going to do his spot if the audience choose him – so they need to choose wisely.”
And he says that Mr Piffles may well get shot out of a canon again.
“He loves it,” Piff assures me. “We might do the canon at some point – we may even open the show with it - it all depends on the audience. As well as some of the old favourites there will be some new tricks too.”
Piff acquired his act almost by accident. He had been a magician for 10 years and was and still is a member of the magic circle, but he wasn’t enjoying the work.
“I had always wanted to be a magician but ended up doing a lot of corporate events which wasn’t very showbiz,” he says. “It was more like I was in the catering industry and I decided I would have to change direction.
“I went to a fancy dress party dressed as a green dragon but unfortunately no one else bothered to dress up. A friend suggested I should wear the outfit as my act and Piff the Magic Dragon was born.”
However, it was during a gig at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival that Piff realised he needed a gimmick.
“I saw an advert on Gumtree for a Chihuahua and I went to rescue him from where he was living in Dundee,” says Piff.
“He was all malnourished and mistreated and it looked as though the family had been kicking him, so I rehabilitated him, worked on some great material with him and gave him a new life in showbiz.”
The pair have been inseparable ever since and have travelled the world together honing their skills to rapt audiences.
“Mr Piffles is an integral part of the act now and he’s grateful of course,” adds Piff. “To be honest most come for the dog. I’m OK about it though.
“He gets to sleep for 23 hours in a day so he’s having the best time. He’s got lots of friends in the UK and will be glad to see people and spend some time back in London but to be honest I think he prefers Vegas to home.
“He sunbathes all the time, gets to walk to work and really doesn’t know how lucky he is.”
Despite living the high life out in the desert, Piff says he at least is looking forward to coming home for a few weeks.
“We are doing the London Wonderground which I’m really excited about before going up to the Edinburgh Fringe for a couple of weeks,” he says.
“We do have a very good life out here in America. I love performing and I have been able to tour the UK, Australia and America, something I have always dreamed of doing.
“However, I am sure we will come back home at some point. My parents still live in Honor Oak Park and I miss London – I miss the grass and nature – Vegas is a desert so we don’t have much of the green stuff. And Jaffa Cakes. I really miss those.”
Breakfast At Piffany's will be at the London Wonderground on July 13 and 14. Tickets £16. Visit www.londonwonderground.co.uk/ for listings and to buy tickets.