Monday, February 24, 2014

The Magic Castle

Last night was an exceptional treat - visiting a place I'd been hearing about since I was a teenager - LA's legendary Magic Castle.  Invitations were wrangled from friends of friends, and Tom Antonellis, Scott Jameson, Greg and I had a beautiful, memorable evening out.

As an elite, private club for magicians and their guests, the Magic Castle has a strict dress code, rules and schedules, pricey cover charges, elegant bars and a dining room.  The club is open every night of the week - we went late night on a Sunday, and it was full of people.  Entrance to the club (through a magically-opening bookcase door, pictured) leads to a labyrinthine old mansion filled with magic memorabilia, beautiful decor, and performances - some on small stages, some close-up, others at bars.

Time for a little history here.  I had a fleeting affair with magic in highschool - it lasted long enough for me to acquire a couple of books and props, visit magic shops and a convention, and make some friends.  (it didn't last long enough for me to acquire any actual sleight-of-hand skills, however!)  Scott and Tom are friends of mine from that era.  They pursued magic more seriously than I did - Tom mainly as a hobbyist, though he did do some shows back in the day - and Scott has been working as a professional magician for almost 20 years now.

My delight as a magic audience member has never waned, and the evening at the Castle was like a sugar rush.  I was on the edge of my seat for the coin tricks, the card tricks, the doves, the scarves, the balls and cups and even the linking rings.  We saw some very traditional magic and some very unusual magic.  Most of all we saw performing artists who are masters at the craft of presentation.

I deeply admire the Magic Castle as an institution.  To take the art form of magic and give it such a luxurious, treasured home!  Magicians are given the highest respect - homage to past practitioners, celebration of current ones.  You can sit a few feet away from a masterful performance in a tiny, velvet-draped theater, and have a conversation with the performer afterwards.  It is a warm atmosphere of appreciative friends, a place to revel in performance art, a fine-dining experience with impeccable service, and a museum and library, all at once.


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