Mister’s Sister and her Hubby were here recently, and we all went out for a spectacular evening at L.A.’s Magic Castle. I’m telling you now – nothing I write in this post will adequately describe how awesome it was.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, The Magic Castle is the headquarters of the Academy of Magical Arts. This group works to promote and preserve the ancient art of magic. It is a private club, with over 5000 members. Because it’s private, non-members can only visit if invited by an active member. Mister and I had reached out to a magician (quite a while back) and asked for an invite. That lovely man obliged and, well, life sort of tumbled all around and we just didn’t get around to using the pass. Cut to Mister’s Sister’s visit, and it seemed like a grand time to dig out that invite. A reservation was made and we were off.
Here’s how it works: you must pay a cover charge. There’s no getting around it and it isn’t cheap ($25 per person). Once inside, you must purchase dinner (which means 1 entree per person). There’s no getting around that and it isn’t cheap, either. Oh! I almost forgot – you also must dress to the nines or the powers that be will turn you away at the front door, without so much as a glimpse inside. They’re quite serious about this, and I’ve known folks who’ve been stopped in their tracks because their shoes weren’t quite dressy enough. The Magic Castle’s website does explain all of this in detail, so we weren’t too worried about not making the cut.
Thank goodness we did! From the time we entered, we were smitten kittens. The Victorian structure was built in 1909 and houses multiple rooms, bars and theaters. Aside from a dinner reservation, visitors are on their own schedules and free to wander around the various public areas. Certain magic presentations occur at scheduled times. Others, such as the magicians performing in the bar areas, are ongoing and one can walk up to those performers whenever they choose.
We attended 3 different theater shows over the course of the evening, as well as a couple of bar demonstrations. Each was flippin’ awesome. Before dinner, we had cocktails and listened to “Invisible Irma” as she played the grand piano adjacent to The Grand Salon. We then headed upstairs for dinner, after which we took our seats at The Parlour of Prestidigitation for our first magic show of the night. The show was a great beginning. There was one trick involving a sword and a rope that boggled the mind. As our seats were in the very back of the theater, we wondered if perhaps the guy brought up on stage to assist had been a plant. Once the show finished, we stopped wondering and instead wandered to the next theater (The Palace of Mystery), where we sat in the front row. We thought we’d be able to figure out everything from the close-up vantage, but that just wasn’t the way it went down. We saw 3 acts in this theater. I’m sorry to say I don’t remember the first magician’s name, but his act was great. Tom Ogden emceed the show and performed between acts. He was not only a stellar magician, he was also hilarious. The final act in The Palace of Mystery was Victor and Diamond. This act was quite entertaining and included the use of various animals. When Victor held out a rabbit and pulled it apart, revealing two rabbits (versus a single slaughtered specimen), I was stymied. I mean, he was right in front of us, and we just didn’t have a clue how he pulled if off.
After that show, we all felt a bit parched. At the Upstairs Bar, we sat at a table with Mr. Bill Joslin. He’s been performing magic for almost 60 years and worked with Frank Sinatra in Vegas. He told stories about the Rat Pack and those golden days, and absolutely blew our minds. Mister’s Sister was recruited to assist in a trick involving a pencil, a paper napkin and rope. Mr. Joslin somehow managed to pull that rope through the pencil, without breaking it, and through the napkin, tearing it in two, while Mister’s Sister securely held both ends of the pencil in her fists. I was gobsmacked, truly. And I thought I couldn’t be more amazed by magic, but I was wrong.
Our last show of the evening took place in The Close-Up Gallery. This small theater (22 people max) was about as intimate as it could be. And as our hostess led us in, she asked me to sit next to the magician’s table. I was hesitant, but took the seat. (I mean really, when else might I have the opportunity to be that close to a magician?) Mister, his Sister and her Hubby sat in the front row, then the hostess asked another gal to sit opposite me at the magician’s table. With the room at capacity, the hostess introduced Fernando Keops and he entered through a velvet curtain with majestic flourish. He took his seat at the table and the show began.
Y’all, I won’t even try to go through all I witnessed. Mr. Keops is a master of sleight-of-hand magic. I saw that up-close and personal. At one point, he placed 3 coins in my hand. He asked me to count them and to verify that they were indeed only 3 coins. He then asked me to close my fist tightly around the coins. I was intent on holding on to those coins and to not being distracted from my task. He spoke for a few seconds, while holding a 4th coin. He then barely moved his hand, and the 4th coin was gone. He asked me to open my clenched fist. When I did, there were 4 coins in my hand, not 3. I could barely speak. Really. I watched and watched that man, but I couldn’t tell you anything about his methods. I can only say this: Fernando Keops is magic.
When we exited The Close-Up Gallery, we were all pretty tired. We decided to call it a night and we bid farewell to The Magic Castle. As photos weren’t allowed, I was unable to document the evening outside of memory. But wow! It was so amazing and I would go back in a heartbeat. If you’re ever coming to L.A., please try to procure a Magic Castle pass before your visit. It is a unique, fun, spectacular experience. I cannot recommend it more highly. And really, don’t we all want to believe in magic? I’m clicking my heels together right now, and I feel the possibility…