Category: Magic Castle News

We’re Back as if by Magic

Picture of Inside Magic EditorIt has been awhile since we posted on this esteemed website and while we could discuss the reasons for our absence, we will leave the details to TMZ’s excellent, though somewhat biased, coverage.  We can say that we find the Royal Family to be a delight and to be honest, we were not aware that the Queen could operate Zoom so well.  We appreciated her kind admonition, “We believe you are still on mute.”

We have been spending much time at The Magic Castle and though it has reduced operating days, it is still the same clubhouse that we love and where our friends and magical family gather.  We never leave without feeling ebullient and informed.

We have seen so many acts that were new to us.  Acts that featured performers we have wanted to see for a long time and thus our wishes were granted.  All of this is on top of the great food.  Not literally on top of the food, that would be a violation of the LA County Health Guidelines and certainly not welcomed by us.

During this break from life as it once was, we have taken to purchasing books to help us learn moves and sleights that we thought we knew well but realized were really just a collection of lazy and bad habits formed over our decades of performances.  We have re-learned Twisting the Aces to try to imitate Dai Vernon’s method.  He worked so naturally and flawlessly.  We have worked on our coins across and cut and restored rope as taught by Pop Haydn.

We have worn and perhaps permanently damaged our relationship with family members with our constant request that they watch or select a card.  They now do so without truly watching or memorizing the card selected.  To the extent they do either – even if only to appease us – is a testament to their love for us.

We look forward to the end of this pandemic and pray for those fighting the virus regardless of their occupation but certainly including medical professionals and front-line workers.

One day we will be back to normal.  Here’s to hoping we do not lose more of our fellow magicians, their family members, their community, our nation and the world.

We will work with our dedicated staff to update this site more frequently now that we have things to relate from The Magic Castle.

Here is to hoping you are all safe, staying safe, and will be with us on the other side of this horrible pandemic.

Magic Castle Bucket List to be Fulfilled

Ticket to the Magic Event of the YearWe thought our Bucket List was complete when we were admitted as a Magician Member of the Academy of Magical Arts and their wonderful clubhouse, The Magic Castle.

But we found more to add to the list we would like to do before we kick the bucket; or, more likely stumble over the bucket in our sleep.

How about a virtual tour of the Historic, L.A. Estate, Brookledge, featuring Penn & Teller, David Copperfield, Neil Patrick Harris, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Reubens & More?

The event is being presented by the the Jack Oakie and Victoria Horne Oakie Charitable Foundation on May 10th to benefit the Dai Vernon Foundation.

What is Brookledge?  Why it is only the forerunner of the Magic Castle.  The cost is $10 per ticket and that money will go to a very worthy cause in the Dai Vernon Foundation.  The foundation is dedicated to providing financial aid to those pursuing an education; launching ambitious performances, researching or undertaking historical projects; and supporting those in difficult circumstances or suffering hardships. It also conducts community outreach via performances at hospitals and other charitable organizations. Over the years, the foundation has provided grants to hundreds of magicians, performers and employees in need, including 165 COVID relief grants over the past year.

As a former member of the Dai Vernon Foundation Board, we can testify that it is a worthy and incredibly dedicated organization that typifies the best in our Magical Arts.

The  star-studded, virtual fundraiser, Brookledge Cares, will be held by the historic Brookledge estate, May 8 at 5 p.m. PT/8 p.m. ET.

This benefit will feature a who’s who of magic and Hollywood, including Neil Patrick Harris, Dick & Arlene Van Dyke, David Copperfield, Penn & Teller, Paul Reubens, Larry Wilmore, Jason Alexander, Michael Carbonaro & Peter Stickles, Puddles Pity Party and Moby.  Special appearances by Rob Zabrecky, Marawa Wamp, Basil Twist & Ken Ard, Shoot Ogawa, Steven Banks, Aaron Grooves, Armen Ksajikian and more.  Hosted by Two-Headed Dog (Jim Turner & Mark Fite) and Liberty Larsen.

The event will also offer a personal tour by Liberty Larsen, a rare glimpse into the location considered the “forerunner” to the AMA’s world-famous clubhouse, The Magic Castle, the historic Brookledge estate, owned by the Larsen family, founders of the Magic Castle.

You can both donate & buy tickets at:  http://www.DaiVernonFoundation.org/Brookledge

Although on hiatus during the pandemic, The Brookledge Follies, an invitation-only, “contemporary Vaudeville,” variety-and-magic show, is performed once a month (April-November) in the estate’s small theater. The free show has become one of the hottest tickets in town and is frequently attended by such Hollywood elite as Sophia Vergara, Joe Manganiello, Ryan Gosling, Jason Alexander, Christina Hendricks, Jason Sudukis, Danny Elfman, Matthew Gubler, Randy Newman, Paul Reubens and director John Landis, to name a few.

That is precisely why it is on our Bucket List.  We long to see it.

Launched with a bequest from the estate of renowned close-up magician Dai Vernon—the only magician to ever fool Harry Houdini—upon his death in 1992, the Dai Vernon Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, aides, elevates and recognizes practitioners and supporters of the art of magic at all levels and in all walks of life.

More information about the famous Brookledge estate:

The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen (formerly a writer for the 1956-77 television show Truth or Consequences); his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr. (a former producer of the Danny Kaye and Jonathan Winters variety shows); and Bill’s wife, Irene, who remained the Castle’s ever-gracious hostess until her death in February 2016.

Members of the Larsen family have been performing magic continuously since the mid ’20s, with the fourth generation now on stage. Milt and Bill’s parents, Geraldine (“Geri”) and William Larsen, Sr., both performed as professional magicians and are noted pioneers in the art. Beginning during the Depression in the late ’30s (the Vaudeville era), the family—now including Bill, Jr., and Milt—began touring as the “Larsen Family of Magicians,” playing upscale, resort hotels in southern California.

A stage constructed at their historic Brookledge estate—built in 1933 in L.A.’s Hancock Park and purchased by the Larsens in 1942 from the founder of the Thayer Magic Company, which they also acquired—became an informal gathering place for the magic community of the day. Virtually every famous name in illusion visited and performed at the estate, often referred to as the “forerunner to the Magic Castle.” Retired from life on the road and managing the magic apparatus company, Bill, Sr., dreamed of opening an elegant, private clubhouse for magicians, but died at just 48.

In 2009, Erika Larsen (Bill, Jr.’s daughter), who resides at the estate, created The Brookledge Follies, a “contemporary Vaudeville” variety-and-magic show performed once a month (April-November) in the small theater, which holds just 60 people. Although currently on hiatus due to the COVID pandemic, attendance is by invitation only, but the free show has become one of the hottest tickets in town and is frequently attended by a who’s who of Hollywood like Moby, Sophia Vergara, Joe Manganiello, Ryan Gosling, Jason Alexander, Christina Hendricks, Matthew Gubler, Randy Newman, Paul Reubens and director John Landis, to name a few.

About her childhood, Erika recalls magic’s most famed faces around the Larsen home and laughs, “We did see the best of the best in magic, but I grew up in a bubble. My siblings and I just thought that’s what people did—Make things disappear and carry a deck of cards everywhere.”

The elder Larsens launched Genii magazine in 1952 (its circulation considered a loose affiliation of magicians that later became the AMA’s initial membership), which is the longest, continually published magic magazine in the world.

The Magic Castle was originally constructed as the Rollin B. Lane residence (a wealthy banker and his socialite wife), built among Los Angeles’ orange groves in 1909-10. Externally, the Gothic Renaissance chateau is the mirror image of the Kimberly Crest house and gardens in Redlands, Calif. The Hollywood mansion had fallen into disrepair by the late ’40s (even serving for a time as a boarding house).  In 1962, Milt Larsen approached his brother about reviving their father’s dream of a private club for magicians and, after securing a lease from the owner of Hollywood’s Yamashiro restaurant (next door) with a handshake, began restoring the landmark mansion to its former opulence.

The Magic Castle intertwines illusion and mystery with the history of the Los Angeles area. Much of the ornate décor was rescued from the wrecking ball on construction sites or from Hollywood studio sets before being dumped into the trash (long before the practice of salvaging became chic). John Shrum, former art director for NBC and The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson, was also an avid Castle enthusiast. (Look for the famous talk show’s original “cityscape” backdrop in the Owl Bar.)  Many other AMA members, also well positioned within the entertainment industry, have left their personal imprints on the Magic Castle as well.

We don’t know the order of your bucket list and are pretty sure we don’t want to know some of the must-do activities you’ve scheduled — that’s your business — but this evening should already be on it.  This is truly an once in a lifetime chance to see a seldom seen birthplace of our beloved Magic Castle and help the incredible Dai Vernon Foundation.

World-Famous Magic Castle to Reopen on May 21st

Exterior Image of the Magic CastleExcited? Heck yeah we are!

We just received news from the Academy of Magical Arts (“AMA”) that the world-famous home for all who love magic, The Magic Castle, will re-open on May 21st.  It has been closed since the ides of March last year.  We have been in audience withdrawals since.

According to the AMA, the very private club will initially operate at reduced capacity—open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings—welcoming its members and their invited guests for fine dining and entertainment, strictly observing COVID-19 compliant guidelines. To allow members adequate opportunity to access the Magic Castle, guest passes will not be accepted during the initial phase of this reopening.

Magic shows will initially be broadcast in showrooms via recorded video broadcast, with plans to expand to live entertainment options outdoors and an eventual return to live entertainment indoors as quickly as COVID-19 guidelines permit.

The popular Dine & Delight to-go dining program—launched during pandemic restrictions—will continue to operate for the time being on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Orders may be placed at www.MagicCastle.com

Randy Sinnott, Jr., president of the AMA’s Board of Directors, said, “We are thrilled to take the initial step of re-opening our doors and welcoming our members back to their magical clubhouse. As COVID restrictions decrease in the coming weeks and months, the club will continue to carefully and responsibly expand operations to the extent possible and begin to accept guest passes as we bring magic back to the lives of Angelenos.”

During the pandemic, the AMA continued to strive to share its magic with its members and the community, hosting dozens of virtual shows, each attracting hundreds of viewers; offering attractively priced meals from Executive Chef Alex Arrietta thru the Dine & Delight program; hosting outdoor dinners for members; teaching magic classes online; sponsoring virtual lectures and events for members; and lending its parking lot for Magic Asphalt, in-car comedy performances/dining.

About the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.

The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) is a unique non-profit. The AMA’s membership – including the world’s most pre-eminent and celebrated magicians and illusionists – lives by the “Magic First” creed, devoted to the advancement of the art of magic and preserving its history.  Its headquarters and private clubhouse, the Magic Castle, has been an internationally revered gathering place for the magic brotherhood since opening its doors in 1963. Located in historic Hollywood in an elegant, Victorian-era mansion, the Castle is an experience within itself—a remarkable meeting spot that captures a lost era and is timeless in its appeal, having hosted generations of magic enthusiasts from around the globe, as well as show biz elite from Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander (all performing members) to Katy Perry and Johnny Depp. The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen and his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr.  Visit us online at: www.MagicCastle.com

Magic Castle Honors Armed Services and Families with May 7th Show

The Beautiful Magic CastleWe received this great piece of news from the World Famous Academy of Magical Arts and The Magic Castle.  A very special program for active military, veterans and their families on May 7th.   Lance Burton, The Evansons, Suzanne, and Brandon Scott will appear.  Any one of these acts would be more than enough.  All four makes this a show not to be missed for any reason!  We thank the Magic Castle for keeping us up-to-date on their breaking news and upcoming opportunities.  

In honor of U.S. veterans across the country, the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) and its world-famous clubhouse The Magic Castle is presenting a star-studded, virtual magic show, Saturday, May 7, 3 p.m. PT/6 p.m. ET in honor of members of the Armed Forces, veterans and their families.

Appearing are such globally recognized magicians as Lance BurtonThe EvasonsSuzanne and Brandon Scott. Select Zoom participants will have the opportunity to interact with talent and participate in the magic.

Veterans can register for complimentary tickets at:

http://www.MagicCastle.com/AmericanLegion

 NOTE:  If Zoom registration is full, a live, streaming link will also be available at this site.

Said event organizer, magician Brandon Scott, also serving as Master of Ceremonies, “The mission of the non-profit Academy of Magical Arts is to advance and preserve the art of magic. As part of our community outreach, it is our honor to share the wonder of magic with veterans and others who serve our country and to organizations that serve children who are underprivileged, hospitalized or have special needs … Which meant going virtual during the pandemic, a time when people need a smile most.”

On the Marquee …

Lance Burton (from Kentucky) — A master magician, Burton has appeared on The Tonight Show and numerous TV specials. For The Lance Burton Show in Las Vegas, he won “Best Magician” for 11 years in a row from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and has performed15,000 shows over the past 30 years. The AMA has twice awarded him “Magician of the Year” and a Masters Fellowship “Hall of Fame.”

The Evasons (from Maryland) — One of very few couples in history who have mastered the rare and mysterious art of two-person telepathy, they have appeared in more than 40 countries and on such hit TV shows as Penn & Teller: Fool Us, Masters of Illusion and The World’s Greatest Magic. In their live, interactive, online display of Virtual Telepathy and Remote Viewing, The Evasons appear to reach through the screen and seize your thoughts.

Suzanne (from Minnesota) — You may have seen Suzanne on Penn & Teller Fool Us with an engaging style that makes the audience an essential participant in her performance that other magicians call “flawless” and “amazing.” She is a favorite at Hollywood’s famous Magic Castle and has been awarded “Close Up Magician of the Year” by the AMA.

Brandon Scott (from California) — Scott comes from a family of American Veterans and received two first-place medals as winner of the American Legion Oratory Contest on the American Constitution. He has appeared in numerous television shows, films and commercials, as well as live performances at such places as Caesars Palace-Las Vegas, The Hollywood Bowl, Disneyland and in Milt Larsen’s It’s Magic. He is a headliner magician at the Renaissance Pleasure Faire and has delighted corporate executives, international nobility, prominent political figures and some of the world’s most famous movie stars.

[Talent subject to change.]

About the Academy of Magical Arts, Inc.

The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) is a unique non-profit. The AMA’s membership—including the world’s most pre-eminent and celebrated magicians and illusionists—lives by the “Magic First” creed, devoted to the advancement of the art of magic and preserving its history.  Its headquarters and private clubhouse, the Magic Castle, has been an internationally revered gathering place for the magic brotherhood since opening its doors in 1963.  Located in historic Hollywood in an elegant, Victorian-era mansion, the Castle is an experience within itself—a remarkable meeting spot that captures a lost era and is timeless in its appeal, having hosted generations of magic enthusiasts from around the globe, as well as show biz elite from Cary Grant, Tony Curtis, Johnny Carson, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Alexander (all performing members) to Katy Perry and Johnny Depp. The Magic Castle was founded by writer, actor, magician and entrepreneur Milt Larsen and his late brother, Bill Larsen, Jr.  Visit us online at: www.MagicCastle.com.

 

The Magic Castle Appoints Executive Chef, Alejandro

Chef Alex ArrietaWe just heard some tasty news and thought we should share.  Something we would never do with our desserts.  To be clear: we’ll share news about desserts and meals but will not share desserts ever and meals only sometimes.  In many ways we are like a dog.  Kind and loveable and loyal but don’t mess with our food.

Especially now that the Magic Castle has a new Executive Chef, Alejandro (Alex) Arrieta,
who will begin Feb. 7.

Chef Arrieta comes to the Magic Castle from The Culver Hotel, Culver City, where he served as Executive Chef from July 2018 until accepting the position.

Joe Furlow, General Manager of the Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) and the Magic Castle said, “We are very excited to welcome Alex into the Academy family and look forward to sharing his spectacular culinary creations with our members and their guests.”

Chef Arrieta previously served as Executive Chef/Partner at The Hook and Plow, Hermosa Beach; Executive Chef of 208 Rodeo, Beverly Hills; Chef De Partie at The Bazaar by Jose Andres, Los Angeles; Chef De Partie at Bouchon Restaurant Thomas Keller, Los Angeles; Executive Sous Chef at Ocean Avenue Seafood, Santa Monica; and Sous Chef/Banquet Chef at Hotel Bel Air, Los Angeles. He has been working in Los Angeles since 2003.

Arrieta has been awarded a guest chef appearance at Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa; developed new food concepts for the Radisson Hotel in Cancun, Mexico; and catered for such renowned companies as Louis Vuitton, Channel and Cartier. He had extensive knowledge of vegan and vegetarian menus, as well as items that are gluten free.

Originally from Bogota, Columbia, Arrieta spent much of his youth in Miami, Florida, where his father worked in the hotel industry. He began working at a hotel in the kitchen and immediately fell in love.

Over the years, he rose through the ranks, eventually relocating to Southern California, where he earned a Bachelor of Science/Culinary Management from the Art Institute of California.

Magician Matt Vizio is Different

Matt VizioFirst published in 2018 but still accurate.  Matt is amazing.

How is magician Matt Vizio different than other magicians?

We watched him tonight at the Peller Theatre at the Magic Castle and sensed something was different than others we had seen in the same venue over the years.  Somehow, he was different, better than those we have seen before.

We learned more about what made him different after the show when we discovered the front row consisted of people who did not speak English all that well.  Actually, it appeared they did not speak English beyond a few polite phrases.

Mr. Vizio is an accomplished magician and stand-up comedian and one of those two talent sets require the ability to communicate effectively with the audience generally and with the volunteers specifically.  So what would he do?  How do you do a Confabulation routine if your volunteer doesn’t speak the language of the routine?

If it had been us, we would have just plowed along hoping to get some words we could use.  But then again, we are not Mr. Vizio.

He was able to change his act immediately and present a parlor show using volunteers from the audience (2 out of 3) who didn’t use English as a primary language. He did it with class and kindness and though he knew they could not understand him, he performed with them as perfect partners in a very entertaining act.

It was an act different in content than what he had planned but no one noticed.  Not even our trained eyes saw that he was changing his presentation to meet the situation.

We supposed that all true professionals of our Art could do the same.  But the fact that we have seen it so rarely happen demonstrated how few true professionals there are in our Art.

We have seen alleged professionals lose their temper, curse, and call the audience volunteer a liar as a trick goes wrong. And these performers are the putative top of our pack.

But Mr. Vizio didn’t need to attack the volunteers. He worked with them, silently when necessary, to perform effects he thought or hoped might work in that situation.  And last night, at one particular show, he was correct.  It is a small sample size – one show – but we bet he would succeed in a similar situation virtually every time.  He is focused, polite and clearly involved with his audience.

Mr. Vizio is professional to the core, never embarrassing his volunteers specifically or the audience generally, but always ready to craft the show to meet the audience on their terms.

We could talk about the tricks he performed but they may be different from those you see when you visit the Peller Theatre this week. The magic you will see is all Mr. Vizio.

Inside Magic Rating: Five out of Five. Our Highest.

Check out Mr. Vizio’s website herehttp://mattvizio.com

Magician Matt Vizio Performs this Week

Magicians Matt Vizio and Tom Frank are performing in the Peller Theatre this week at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California.

One of the questions we are almost never asked is, “Is there really such a person as Matt Vizio?”

We are reluctant to answer questions about true legends for fear that we will leave out a detail or embellish unfairly.  (For an example of this tendency and the reason for our trepidation see our horribly reviewed book Wyatt Earp: The World’s Best Short-Order Cook in the West (1978 Simon and Schuster) – although it was made into a very successful movie franchise (or so we and our lawyers currently claim in a soon to be filed lawsuit) called Guardians of the Galaxy.

We have known Mr. Vizio for going on a long time and have even had the honor of performing with him in a stand-up setting.  He is what we hope to become one day: young, handsome, funny and talented.  Actually, we don’t care about the talented as much as the first three qualities. The ladies love him, the men want to be like him, the dogs sniff him and wonder where he has been.

Mr. Vizio used to perform one or two tricks in his set downstairs in the amateur room wherein performers of our ilk are allowed to work.  But he graduated to upstairs at the Castle – ironically, the “Upstairs at the Castle” was the name of our least successful BBC melodrama Series not featuring human actors.  He has been seen in the Close-Up Gallery and this week will be in the Peller.  His act has expanded dramatically and he performs effects the way they should be performed.  For instance, his Cups and Balls is one of the best we have seen in years.  It is in keeping with Dai Vernon’s school of making all actions appear normal, relaxed and fair.

Matt is not just a great magician in all of the classical realms of Close-Up, Parlor and Stage; but he is also a talented stand-up comedian with the adlib instincts of a veteran.

He was responsible for introducing us to performing stand-up comedy and audiences across the San Fernando Valley damn him daily for this.  Interestingly, “Damn Him Daily” was the name of our 1960s daily puppet show that we pitched to PBS – they went with Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood because of some reason we don’t recall because we were in tears explaining it to the puppets and formed a mental block surrounding that time.

If you have a chance, check out Mr. Vizio this evening through the weekend at the Peller Theatre at the Magic Castle.  He will be performing with Tom Frank.  We have not seen Tom Frank perform before but we know that if he is performing with Mr. Vizio, you will be entertained, amazed and leave laughing.

Mr. Vizio and Mr. Frank will have shows at 8:00, 10:00 and 11:30 Wednesday through Sunday.

Check out Mr. Vizio’s website, Honest Deception here.

The Magic Castle – No Crutch

Joan DuKoreThe Magic Castle should not be a crutch.

These famous words were uttered by Winston Churchill but they were about an actual crutch and his lack of need for them after a car crash whilst touring America.  But it still fits.

We love the Magic Castle and we love reporting on the latest acts that appear in the various rooms but we also fear that we may bore audiences of Inside Magic by reporting only on magic seen there.

Our solution is to talk about the food we had and then work our way into the magic on stage.

We went with a delicious Beef Wellington (speaking of Churchill) and our beloved had the manicotti.  Both meals were expertly cooked and good enough to eat – as we proved.

We performed downstairs in the amateur rooms as permitted by the Man, Matt Vizio.  He runs the joint and if he says you can perform, you’re good to go.  He let us do two shows and we are in his debt for the honor of performing for such wonderful audiences.

The beauty of performing at the Magic Castle is that people are coming to see magic.  They are not hoping for a tribute to Queen or a demonstration of weaving from indigenous folk.  Although, ironically, we do wear a Freddy Mercury leotard woven by indigenous weavers from Scotland.  We chafe and we sweat but we feel we do both sources justice.  We no longer sing because of requests from virtually everyone we have ever met. The New York Times said of our act, “It makes you long for Freddy Mercury in his prime or at any age and true indigenous weavers.” Notably, the review got our name wrong; calling us Tom Quinine, so the review has not hurt our career.

Dana Daniels and Richard Allen brought their world-famous “The No Show” to the Palace of Mystery.  We laughed so hard that we feared we would pass-out.  Seriously.  We could not stop laughing as Mr. Daniels did his escape routine that the air was not getting to our lungs, brain or heart.  We tried to think of unfunny things but it would not work.  We tried to breathe deeply, but our lungs were laughing too hard.  It was a funny situation for our body and we didn’t mind.

Audiences had a chance to see the new Luigi.  His predecessor worked with Mr. Daniels for almost three decades before passing on.  The new Luigi is just as beautiful parrot with a penchant for cheating at mentalism.

The No Show should not be missed.  Let’s assume you have something else to do for some reason, you should not do it.  You should go see The No Show instead.  Water skiing, mountain climbing, any form of fungal removal?  None are sufficient reasons to miss The No Show.  Although if the fungal removal has been delayed for, say, years, it might be a good time to see a specialist and avoid crowds.  Nay, not a single reason can justify missing this show.

Well, except for one reason.

In the Close-Up Gallery, the lovely Ms. Joan DuKore is performing the early shows (7:00 • 7:45 • 8:30 • 9:15) and puts on a great show.  If we had talent, grace and could perform, we would be Ms. DuKore.  She hails from Las Vegas and relates much of her performance to Sin City.  Her card handling is great, she works with bunnies and she performs effects that you have likely never seen before in your sheltered, protected life – but in a good way, not like you were in prison.

The bottom line: Eat the Beef Wellington, Watch The No Show and enjoy Joan DuKore.  Don’t worry about passing out due to hypoxia, it’s a myth.

Magicians Jade and Levit Take the Peller

Inside Magic Image of JadeMagicians Jade and Jonathan Levit take over Pellar Theatre at the Magic Castle this weekend.  They have been friends and colleagues for 30 years – so that means, Mr. Levit first became aware of Jade while she was in utero – and that’s fine by us.

It is no secret that Jade is not only an Inside Magic Favorite but also one of our personal favorite performers.  We have watched her perform in venues across the United States and have always hoped that one day we would be selected to assist in one of her fantastic routines.  Our hope was not rewarded this evening but again, that is fine by us.

In fact there is virtually nothing Jade could do that would not be fine by us.  We consider her three ring routine one of the best we have seen – and we have seen a bunch.  It is truly magic to watch.  Her grace and poise match the beauty of this historical effect.  We also saw a side of Jade we haven’t seen before.  She was working with Mr. Levit to perform “Simultaneous Mentalism™.”  We just made up that term and may seek trademark protection so do not go throwing it around too loosely.

We do not want to spoil the effect and may have already done so by saying the words “simultaneous” and “mentalism” so forget we said those words.  Our point is, Jade and Mr. Levit performed at the same time and did an effect that was truly startling and exciting.

Mr. Levit has a wonderful on-stage personality.  We assume his off-stage is just as wonderful but we did not have a chance to talk to him post-performance.  He is likeable and talented and nimble in thought, words, and deeds.  His twist – see what we did there? – on the now very popular Rubik’s Cube effect was truly original and so well done.  He told a wonderful story to surround what in the hands of other performers is merely a stunt and a short stunt at that.  A stunted stunt.

Jade and Mr. Levit work together so well on stage that it appears they have been doing just that for years.  And yet, we learned this was their first time working together.

The Peller Theatre is always a wonderful venue for great magic just due to the sightlines and proximity to the performers but when the performers are as wonderful as Jade and Mr. Levit, it is truly a magic venue.  If you have a chance to visit the Magic Castle this weekend, be sure to check out the Peller.

But it is late now and time for us to start our night job.  We’ll tell you more about that in later entries.  It’s like Uber or Lyft but with a bicycle.

Inside Magic Review – Five out of Five – Our Highest!

Magicians Laura London and Boris Wild Hurt Our Brain But in a Good Way

Laura LondonMagicians Laura London and Boris Wild are at The Magic Castle this week and are not to be missed.  They both play the Close-Up Gallery (although not at the same time which is easier to understand because they both have beautiful accents, the subtlety and pure lilt of which would be missed if they were shouting over each other).  Some of us old folks recall the close-up rooms of yesteryear’s’ conventions where there would be four or five close-up performers circulating among crowds to perform.  The quiet performers were overwhelmed by the naturally loud and the naturally loud were even more unnaturally louder for fear they would be difficult to hear in the hallow expanse of the local gymnasium library.

Yet, digress we do.

Let us start with Laura London.

She is a daring woman who takes risks in front of crowds not seen since the days of Harry Houdini or any bullet catcher. We are not saying “darling” woman – although we are quite confident she is.  We are saying “daring” woman.

Like the Honey Badger, she don’t care.  By the way, there is allegedly a video on the YouTube showing a honey badger dealing thirds and middles from a volunteer’s deck.  It don’t care.  We haven’t seen it but can imagine it.

We had the distinct pleasure of sitting in the front of the newly refurbished and filled to the rafters Close-Up Gallery.  Because of our vantage point, we could see some of the backstage work that goes into Ms. London’s act and it betrayed no secrets.  We were so close to the action that we thought for sure we could see her work but because her performance is based on turn of the 20th century (the 1900s) card cheats, it made sense that even being close enough to worry about the expiration of our counterfeit breath strips, we saw nothing.  Because of our almost passing understanding of how magic works – especially card magic and especially card magic with a Bee deck, we thought we would be able to pick up something.  Pero, nada, siempre nada.

Ms. London is from England and has appeared on Penn & Teller’s Fool Us.  She is calm, educational and mystifying.  She reads wonderful excerpts from a diary of a female card sharp as she performs.  Understand, she his performing very difficult card magic with both left and right hands; whilst reading a diary.  We can do one of those things at once and it is only the diary part.  Her Ace Location is something to see and puzzle over for days – we know.

Her effects were beautiful to watch for magicians and non-magicians alike.  We cannot wait to see her perform again.  We were hoping the show would last longer but, alas, like all good things, it needed to end so others could see how great a truly imaginative card performance could be.

We began our review with Ms. London under the theory that “Ladies First.”  But also because she performs the first part of the evening and then comes Boris Wild.

The Incredible Boris WildWe need to come clean about Mr. Wild.  We have read his books, bought his tricks, performed with his decks on a regular basis and yet, truthfully, have almost no idea how he performed his magic.  It is not as if we had an inkling.  It is not like we would guess the Kentucky Derby has something to do with horses and betting.  We know there were cards involved in some way but we don’t know nothing more than that.  He used cards in ways we have not seen done as effectively.

We loved being fooled – almost all the time, or at least when watching magic shows at The Magic Castle.  Mr. Wild fooled us with tricks we own or know of.  Howsabout that, now?!

My great, great-grandfather (allegedly – it is tough to tell through Ouija communications) once said, “It is what you know that fools.”  So true.  We think.

His Kiss routine is a classic and we have seen it before and loved it.   We still love it.  It is emotional – and we are not afraid to say that – and it is beautiful.  His effect before the Kiss routine is one we cannot describe without ruining it.  So we won’t.  If you have a chance to see his act this week, take it.  Get in line every early so you can see Laura London – a rising star in our book (an Inner Circle Member to boot) who should have her own show in Vegas immediately.  We need more women in magicians as magicians.  We need more magicians who love card sharping and so she is the perfect combination.

Now after Laura’s last show of the evening, get in line for Boris Wild.  We leave with a smile on your face and a renewed faith in our wonderful craft.

God bless Ms. London and Mr. Wild.  This is a wonderful time to be alive.