We have a new act and look for any opportunity to try it out. We need to get in some flights to see if it holds together and if it is something we should continue performing.
Friday night at The Magic Castle was buzzing. There were so many people — all in their finest garb — mingling on the first floor as the second dinner setting was about to commence.
For those of us who are not in the big rooms upstairs, we have an opportunity to perform in the basement, just below the main lobby.
We too are dressed to the nines and the folks who venture down from upstairs are dressed as if they just came from a Hollywood premier. Maybe some had; not sure.
We were in the big room (downstairs) known as the Cellar. It seats about 20 people but more folks can stand along the railing in the back of the room.
We had a chance to watch the great Matt Vizio (pictured above) perform first. He is amazing and normally we would avoid being so close to such a model against which to be judged but we had that hunger to get up and show our new stuff.
It is a gnawing hunger that feels like you’re going to burst if you can’t get up there. There are no nerves (at least not that we noticed) but there is excitement. We checked our props carefully, checked them again, and then fastened rubber bands around our decks in special symbolic fashion to allow their quick access without looking.
Mr. Vizio was done with his third standing ovation and we walked down to the pit of the theater to perform.
For those who have seen us perform in the past, say, 35 years, the first part was nothing new. The jokes were the same, the moves were the same, the revelation was the same and even the deck was almost the same.
Now it was time to try our new trick. The little baby bird that needs to experience life outside of the nest and, if possible, fly; nay, soar.
Now we were nervous. It is a tough trick, lots of moving parts and lots of audience management. We’re good with either but not both. Fortunately the audience was great; they required little management. The moves worked without anyone suspecting much. Our memory was intact and thanks to the great, late Bob Cassidy, we were able to memorize a deck of cards to impress our guests.
Oh boy did it feel good. The little bird was soaring. We were soaring. No anxiety, no nerves, just elation.
We wanted to repeat the experience and were scheduled to perform in the Hat and Hair room down the hallway. We checked our back-up props, made sure the rubber bands were in their proper place and strode in to the room.
No one was there. It was dinner time for those going to have dinner at 8:00 pm. They were apparently taking their reservation time seriously — as they should.
Two people entered and took seats near the back of the room. We tried to cajole them to come closer but they said they were Magician Members and just there to see the show.
We practiced our second and bottom deals. The second was working, the bottom deals looked like our left paw was cramped something terrible. The two gentlemen watching offered suggestions and we started talking.
We had stories to swap about Dai Vernon, Larry Jennings, Billy McComb, Pop Haydn and others. It was a great time. All of those gentlemen performed and taught at The Magic Castle and all but Whit / Pop Haydn have passed on.
The discussion took away our gnawing hunger to perform again. That was fortunate because no one else came into the room. We just sat and talked about moves we learned, things we’ve tried, lessons we received and people we met in this very building.
The gnawing gave way to joy. We were involuntarily smiling. Gone was the desire to find a crowd to drag into the room. We could hear laughs coming from the Cellar where Mr. Vizio was entertaining a new group.
And then there was silence. No crowds from down the hall clapping or laughing. No clip-clopping of people walking on the stone pathway between the performing rooms. Just silence.
Without awkwardness, we three parted with a handshake and went our ways. We went upstairs to see the real pros perform and we were sure our two guests did the same. Although, and this is strange, we followed behind them up the stairs, turned our head for a moment to check if our decks of cards were still in a neat row and then looked back, up the stairs, and the two were gone. We made it to the top of the stairs and looked for them, but they were not visible.
We didn’t see them again all night and we went to every show. We know they didn’t exit through the main lobby door, at least when we were there.
It didn’t matter that they vanished. The stories and friendship shared will remain.