Smiling on a Harley

With the throttle down, Jesper Grønkjær rode his red Harley Davidson through Nevada’s hot desert headed to Las Vegas.

In one of the most impressive hotels in the world, Grønkjær participated in a magician conference with 300 of the best magicians in the world. 


The sorcerer's apprentice – Jesper Grønkjær in Las Vegas

When I got my first magician set as an adolescent, not many thought that magic one day would lead me to Las Vegas. But so far I have experienced two stays in this insane city in the middle of the Nevada Desert.

The first time I visited the city after attending a get-together in Los Angeles with entertainers from all over the world. We were three Danish participants, and for several days we lived in Disneyland, where we did tricks, entertained, danced, sang and played. Because entertainment is at the same time a mix of seriousness and fun and games. If anyone thinks, that a present magician lives like Harry Potter with secret formulas and potions, owls and really wizards learning tricks at an ancient castle, they can think again!     

We were 300 entertainers from all over the planet. On one side we were completely different with different backgrounds and cultures – there were great Texans with cowboy hats, there were dark people from South Africa, little yellow people from China, Taiwan and Japan, short-tempered Europeans, boasting Russians, excitable Americans and us five, pale Scandinavians. But all in all we were alike in the field of entertainment, and especially within this exact genre that tied us together. 

With the rest of the “Magic School” we received education from some of the best instructors in USA, and we participated on stage by showing tricks and telling about experiences. 

Our education took place in Disneyland in LA, and when we were not on stage, we went to see our “co-workers” Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse and Pluto among others. The park was one huge money-making machine, but nevertheless it was nothing compared to what was to come.


Las Vegas

After the course we – the three Danes – drove on to Hollywood, Beverly Hills, and ended up in Las Vegas.

In the middle of the neon-orgy, we swept ourselves in this over-the-top-chaos. Everything took place in a pace, that was far faster, than anything, we had ever experienced. Millions of dollars changed hands every hour in the casinos, grand shows rocked the hotels, lights from the giant buildings and the grand commercials lighted the city, giant limousines drove down the streets with people, who for one night wanted to taste life as a star. 

Everything took place in the middle of the Nevada-desert, where a giant city suddenly appeared out of nowhere, when one drove along the long, endless highways. A lot of the hotels on the main street “The Strip” in Las Vegas had their own themes. We looked out the window with our heads as far back as we could at the the most famous buildings and skyscrapers in New York and Manhattan, while others resembled Egypt with copies of the pyramids and the sphinx, Venice with real canals in the middle of Vegas, Rome with a huge copy of the Colosseum, Sahara with tents and camels, Paris with a 140 meter copy of the Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe. Another place in the street was the background for a great fight between pirates, who fought bloody duels with cannonballs flying about the street.

In the centre of all this the biggest tower in USA is placed. From the top of Stratosphere you have a clear view of the giant circus. And off course you could try a few rides on top of the tower, which meant, that you could shoot yourself directly up into the air from the 400 meter top of the tower. Or you could try an insane carousel spinning you around and around above the giant casinos below.  The street was so far below, that the cars resembled ants. Me and a co-worker tried the “shoot”, and when we were waiting for the ride to begin, I could feel my heart hammering in my chest, and I was afraid I might s*** my pants!

Faster than lightning we flew into the air, and the loud screams from the other daredevils reached our ears. We had the chance to see all of Vegas from an even better view – if we had had the courage to keep our eyes open.        

I come from a small town in Denmark with about 4500 inhabitants. My hotel was one of the biggest in the world with the capacity to house 10.000 guest. This is more than twice as many as in my home town!

The first time I visited Vegas was after the course in Disneyland. Since then I have participated in similar courses in the city itself. My first visit didn't leave me with a great impression. I didn't like the city. It was to big, to wild, to American. Now that I have been there more than once, I can tell that the city should not be taken to seriously. It is all a show, just as my work, and now I look forward to getting back and enjoy that it is okay to have fun even though you're all grown up.       


Jesper Grønkjær travels in Nevada

Since I had travelled thousands of kilometres across tha Atlantic Ocean and the final show was over in Las Vegas, I decided to continue the adventure somewhere else. So we each rented a motorcycle and drove through the heat of the Nevada Desert and some way into Arizona to get to Grand Canyon. But when you are in God's own country this journey must be done on a Harley Davidson-Bike, which is the essence of the American biker-culture. This should be a fun alternative way of travelling like my expedition down the Amazon River on a raft. 

Even though it had been years since I had last steered a two-wheeler in traffic, I was boasting with confidence, but it didn't take long before I realized, that there is a difference between wishes and reality. On the 12-track highway with rapid traffic on both sides in the large city Las Vegas I felt quite unprotected and close to the asphalt, when large trucks and limousines roamed by. And in between all of them we tenaciously tried to orientate and follow traffic. I felt I might had gambled a bit more than money this time.   

The neon lit hotels and casinos of the gambling city were quickly replaced with a plane view of the desert, which extended as far as the eye could see. Along the endless highways we first crossed the Hoover Dam, which crosses the Lake Mead – one of the largest human-made lakes in the world. From there we went through the desert of Nevada to the state of Arizona, where we reached the legendary Route 66, which was one of the most preferred roads of the Easy Riders in the 60s. In the desert the temperatures could easily hit 60 degrees and it would turn  equally cold in the mountains. But nevertheless it was amazing to ride through the breathtaking landscape at top speed all by yourself – the only company was the bugs, I had swallowed.

On one hand it was rough nature at it's toughest, but on the other hand it was incredibly beautiful, especially when we reached the rear of the gigantic Grand Canyon. The canyon is part of a gigantic formation of mountains. Through millions of years the Colorado River has created a canyon, that is more than 2 kilometres deep. We drove on our Harley's through the Grand Canyon National Park , but we chose to rent a helicopter to really get a sense of this miracle of nature, and for a moment  we lost our breath, when we flew over the steep edge of the canyon, hanging like a small marble in the middle of the giant mountains.          

Seeing the great canyon from above made me realize, that magic truly exist. It is not the kind of magic which unfolds on stage, but the kind of magic that happens, when we seek it in nature.



The Smiling Fairytale Society