An Amazing Las Vegas Weekly Cover Story

A comic magician who admits he was high on ecstasy for a performance at the 1986 Statue of Liberty Birthday Celebration is facing imminent death

Comic magician The Amazing Johnathan first went public with his terminal heart condition last July via a WTF podcast with Marc Maron. He spoke even more emotionally about his situation in October at the inaugural edition of the Las Vegas conversation series #ENTSpeaks. And most recently, he was on the cover of Ls Vegas Weekly, for a January piece that article author (and veteran magazine journalist) Julie Seabaugh has described as “unlike anything I’ve written on a guy unlike any I’ve met.”

For her feature, Seabaugh attended the final taping in December of Burn Unit, Johnathan’s two-year-old Web series. Embedded above and below, this is a different kind of farewell for the man born Johnathan Szeles. One that allowed the one-time Vegas superstar to honor and thank ‘the people who helped me with the show in Vegas and traveled the world with the show. We tell great stories remembered by all and have MANY laughs together while saying goodbye to the special people I’ve had the honor of knowing.’ (Criss Angel for example introduces Part 2 of the extended finale.)

From Seabaugh’s cover story:

These days, Szeles gets winded ascending a flight of stairs. His eyesight has started to go, forcing him to print in wide fonts and constantly enlarge his phone screen. He’s rarely able to fall asleep before daybreak, and once he does, it’s for no more than four to six hours. Gone, too, are his notorious practical jokes, the kind that could make even Jillette shudder. “People who scare me, that list is very, very short,” Jillette says. “In fact, it may contain no one but Johnathan.”

… “It’s hard to get out of bed now,” Johnathan says. “I guess most people, the last year of their life they would be traveling around the world, but I’ve already done all that.” He pauses. “It’s really hard for me to focus on any one thing. I start a project that I leave unfinished, I start another project… I just don’t have motivation anymore, because why bother?”

… He’s considering making a documentary or writing a book, or finally trying heroin.

Johnathan was diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, a degenerative weakening of the heart muscle, in 2009. Because he has Type 2 diabetes, a heart transplant was never an option.