What do you get when a magician buys an A-frame house in the desert? A sprawling, brightly colored compound that looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss book. It has hidden rooms, fire poles, and a place where visitors must sign in and have their mugshot taken.
The Slammer is the creation of Penn Jillette. It sits on 10 acres of land in the Las Vegas desert. The residence started out as an A-frame house and grew as the magician, one half of the act Penn and Teller, added on. It has covered parking, a recording studio, a home theater, and a whole wing for his two kids. Eventually, it reached nearly 8,000 square feet. Jillette calls it The Slammer, inspired by the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases: Thanks to a bunch of safety features, the Institute is a place from which nothing can escape (hopefully). Jillette wanted something similar but for privacy and seclusion instead of disease control.
But the remote retreat was built during his bachelors days, and the magician and his family recently moved to a swanky, new, less remote neighborhood. No one wanted to buy the hodgepodge house, so Jillette considered selling it to developers. Instead, the United Church of Bacon — a church founded by atheists with ties to Jillette — wants to buy The Slammer to use as a community center for like-minded individuals.
Since Jillette’s new zip code comes with a hefty price tag, he can’t just outright give the house to the church, which has decided to raise money on Indiegogo for the purchase. Though it says it needs $3 million to buy, fix up, and maintain the place, its current funding goal is $500,000.
Jillette says he’s giving the church a discount on the house; if he were selling the place to developers, he’d charge a lot more. But they would likely bulldoze The Slammer, which would be a real shame. The Scrabble-tile bathroom alone is a treasure.