Your car is making a dreadful sound, but this time it isn't your kid's Mariah Carey Christmas CD. That sinking feeling of having to spend hours at the auto repair shop makes your day even worse, right? Well, not anymore, because Jeffrey Lockett has transformed the hassle of repair shop visits into an entertaining outing. Jeff is the friendly neighborhood "Magic Mechanic", and this happy gentleman just wants to make your day a little better.
I met Jeff Lockett for the first time at a recent performance of LATE NIGHT MAGIC (see my review of the Alexis Park award-winner here). It was clear in a matter of seconds that 1) this is no ordinary guy, and 2) his love for the magical arts flows through his veins like motor oil in a well-tuned engine. We exchanged pleasantries and Lockett told me that he owned and operated a mechanic's shop. But what makes Express Lube & Auto Repair so unique is that it's also where Lockett performs magic. My reaction was an immediate "Oh, that's an article. Let's set it up!".
Five days later I was pulling into the lot at 5400 East Tropicana Avenue. Running a bit late thanks to Adele (don't ask), I overlooked one of the glorious signs across the facade - "Magician On Duty". Jeff told me that people often come inside and say that the word "mechanic" is misspelled...then they notice the rows of tricks, illusions, awards, and memorabilia that highlight this very unusual service station.
All smiles and bouncy excitement, Jeff gave me a tour of the work bays, sub-level "pit", and of course the lobby, which doubles as a waiting area and performance venue. Just knowing this, don't you already wish that you brought your car here? Of course, you do! Nothing's more boring than sitting in an auto repair center, watching game shows on the TV, drinking bad coffee, and texting "I'm bored to death" to your significant other.
As you can tell from his perpetual grin, Mr. Lockett is indeed a happy guy. Every word and gesture is grand, theatrical, and brimming with positivity. During our short tour, he expressed his understanding of the frustrations that people feel when their vehicle isn't working. Their day has been interrupted, the stress level climbs higher, and there's always concern about the expense. That's why Jeff dissolved his franchise relationship with Texaco and struck out as an independent operator...so he could continue to keep his own costs to a minimum and pass the savings on to his patrons.
The Magic Mechanic didn't set out to practice either of those skills...they just kind of happened. As a young man from a small California town, he envisioned becoming something more white-collar, perhaps a physician or attorney. But life often leaves a trail of breadcrumbs. and Lockett followed his to the military, where he learned to work on machinery. As he told me, it was a trial by fire, where he received minimal training before being thrust into circumstances that forced him to self-educate.
His stint in the military left Jeff with a career-worthy ability...but a few emotional scars. For quite some time, a much-heavier Jeff participated in the Las Vegas Scottish Highlands Games, a competition that requires great strength and bodyweight...but also causes physical discomfort with lasting effects, Magic became an invaluable tool in the healing process. The mental training, body mechanics, audience interaction, and opportunity to create smiles allowed Jeff to find his inner peace...and a way to share the joy with others. Before you could say "abracadabra", The Magic Mechanic was ready to service your auto and boggle your mind.
Both auto repair and magical performance require expert attention to detail, continuous education, and a reputation that fosters trust. Lockett and his team are fully certified by A.S.E. (Auto Service Excellence), and they were awarded as "Best Auto Repair Shop" by EXPERTISE in 2016. As a magician and businessman, Lockett has ingratiated himself to the neighborhood, so it's not unusual for families and the local kids to pop in for a trick and a laugh.
Even tourists know that Sin City is a hotbed for magic acts, large and small. There are well over two dozen performing at any given time, and Lockett has become entrenched in their close-knit community Of course, none of them performs in a venue quite like this. Jeff uses nuts, bolts, and shop stories to give a unique spin on the wand and top hat schtick. He hopes to someday reach a large audience, perhaps on television via shows like America's Got Talent. One of his proudest moments was when he was able to fool legendary performer Lance Burton with a very special card trick.
Whether or not The Magic Magician becomes a household name, Jeff Lockett will continue to bring trusted service and a great big smile to the people of Las Vegas. You can schedule a service appointment by calling 702-433-5823, or visiting their website. Drop by anytime to check out Jeff's memorabilia, purchase your own magic set, and see a live trick or two.
Express Lube & Auto Repair is located at 5400 East Tropicana Avenue. Hours of service are daily from 9 am to 5 pm.