Day 3: January 2nd, 2006
The Magic Castle
Jonn and I got all dressed up and headed to the Magic Castle. For those unfamiliar, the
Magic Castle is a private club
for magicians. You can't just waltz in to the place... you have to be a member of the club
or a guest of a member. Through two degrees of magician separation, we managed to get
reservations for dinner. We arrived at the castle, which was just 10 blocks from our hotel. We valet parked the car
and entered the club.
The Magic Castle
If you've never been to the Magic Castle before and want to be surprised if
you do get the chance, do not read any further.
In the lobby, we paid the cover and checked out the small gift shop. To proceed beyond the lobby,
we had to step up to this fake bookcase wall and say "Open Sesame". Jonn stepped up, said the
magic words, and the doors slid open. We then stepped into a small bar area and ordered a few drinks.
The interior of the place was really great. It was early 1900s... ornate fixtures, fabric everywhere,
very plush. Really, everything I expected from a true old-Hollywood institution.
With drinks in hand, we proceeded to a small room behind the bar. In it was a small grand piano with
an "empty" chair in front. Apparently, there is a ghost which haunts the castle which is
musically-inclined. The ghost, Irma, will play any song you ask for. Along with some other
people in the room, we asked for a whole variety of songs... including the Eyes of Texas! Each time,
the piano proceeded to play. It even responded to suggestions or vague generalities. One guy
in the room said that one of his friends wanted to be president... and the piano played Hail to the
Chief! We asked for a few different songs... What'll I Do, Somewhere Out There, Walk On... each time
without skipping a beat. It was simply amazing. I could have spent the whole evening in there just
requesting songs. Totally magical.
After Irma, we went into the "Close-up Gallery" and saw Ari Wind. He, too, was amazing. He started
the show sitting in the audience and being generally annoying... Jonn even made a comment to me about
it. Then he jumped up and performed a really great show. There were only 4 rows of chairs (hence
Close Up Gallery) and all of his tricks were flawless. He was also very funny... just entertaining
all the way around.
We made our way up to the restaurant, which was upstairs. It was VERY swanky. Our waiter, Nicolas,
was very cute and chatted with us throughout the evening. During our meal,
Ari Wind and one other man ended up sitting in the table right next to us. They were talking
business and even signed a contract. A real Hollywood deal! We got our picture taken (since they
don't allow photography in the castle) and went down to the other side of the place for the main show.
In the main theater, we saw a really interesting and funny show. The emcee was Jon Stetson... a very funny
and very gay mentalist. There were so many funny moments that it would be impossible to recount them
here... but probably the funniest was while he was working the crowd. He'd be doing
typical question/answer, heckling things then would suddenly stick out his hand at the nearest person
and yell "Touch Me!". It was a complete riot.
We had a special performance from some famous magician (who's name I can't remember) and two others,
one a balloonist and the other a more traditional magician. Another fantastic show.
After that, we headed into the "Parlour of Prestigitation" for the final show of the night. The performer
was a famous New York magician, Michael Chaut, who was the same guy making the Hollywood deal with Ari during dinner.
Overall, I wasn't too impressed with his act (it was kind of dry whereas the others were very funny) but
my favorite moment was when he asked a guy in the audience for his favorite color... and the guy replied
"Burnt Orange"! Michael didn't even get the significance (New Yorkers don't typically care about
college football) but the rest of the audience cheered... as apparently there were many Longhorn fans
After that last show, Jonn and I headed back to the main room. We went into the bathroom to go... and
Jonn had me step up to the urinal. When I did, music "It's a Small World" started playing! I knew it was
a joke but when Jonn had gone to the restroom earlier in the evening, it totally shocked him as we
both had been singing that insipid song since being at Disneyland the day before... like with Irma,
how did they know?!
On our way out, Jonn asked to see John Armstrong, the magician who sponsored our visit (which was the
connection to Austin magician Ray Anderson). After thanking him, we left...
I just cannot say enough about how cool it was to be there... to have the opportunity to go such
and exclusive club... and to see such great magic shows... I think if I lived in LA I might have to
join myself. Even if only to sit with Irma all night!