My Week at Hollywood's Famed Magic Castle

After a 17 year absence since my last appearance at Hollywood's famed Magic Castle, I decided it was time to return. In retrospect, I don't know what took me so long. I had forgotten how much fun it was: audiences that are excited to see magic, a chance to see old friends, time to spend quality time with those friends plus meet new people, too.

My magical mystery tour of California began with a flight from Houston to Los Angeles, renting a car, the obligatory stop by In-N-Out burger, then a long seven hour drive up the coast to Oakland to visit my childhood friend, Walter Turner. We toured some wineries in Napa Valley and did the tourist thing in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf.  My wife and I drove back to Los Angeles on Monday June 10th to check in to the Nirvana Apartments which is just across the street from the Magic Castle. The Castle provided accommodations for me in the newly remodeled and redecorated Don Lawton suite. Very nice. When I arrived for my performance in the Close-Up Gallery, I was surprised with the nice gifts that awaited me in the dressing room: a bottle of wine, a Magic Castle wine opener, some chocolates, and a deck of Magic  Castle playing cards. Also, one of the nice touches throughout the week is the "butler" that is assigned to each performer who looks after our every need for food and drink. They are at our beckoned command. it was an awesome touch.

One of the things I love about LA is the robust magic activity in and around the area and the many accomplished magicians who reside there. On Wednesday afternoon I took advantage of my long locks and took my head to Dean's Barbershop in nearby Glendale. Unaware as I was, apparently Wednesdays are magic days at Dean Dill's shop. So while only planning to get a haircut, I stayed to over two hours and had a chance to meet some of the local guys and learn a few tips from Dean. What a great guy and what a great place. Be sure to visit there when you are in the area. 

On Thursday afternoon, I traveled to Venice to visit with Chris Korn who was working the early evening shows with me in the Close-Up Gallery. Since it was Magic & Martinis Thursday, we enjoyed a special martini at his favorite bar, Hal's Bar & Grill. We then went for lunch at Gjelina's which was exquisite. The Marinated Beets, Avocado, Citrus, Hazelnuts & Sherry salad was one of the best things I had all week including my visit to Napa and my dinner Tra Vigne. We then went back to Chris' apartment where Paul Vigil had just checked in as an overnight visitor. We got to enjoy a very nice chat.

I performed at the member's lunch on Friday and enjoyed seeing Peter Fryer, another long time friend who was transplanted from Texas to Los Angeles.

Saturday afternoon I drove to Vista, CA (outside San Diego) to present my lecture "Alternate Streams of Revenue in Magic".  I started off with lunch upon my arrival with Jeff Pearson and his wife, Laurie, There was a good turnout at 3 Generations of Magic who sponsored my lecture. BTW, I recommend that if you are anywhere near San Diego that you stop by this shop. It is fully stocked with all the new stuff and James will be glad to help you out. Great place.

 On Sunday I was joined by Cameron Ramsay who was a fellow podcaster on Dodd Vickers' "The Magic Newswire" for our weekly "This Week in Magic" podcasts. Cameron was in town for a few weeks while working on a film project.  Cameron helped me load in my lecture notes and stuff for my afternoon lecture at the Castle. There was a healthy turnout despite the occasion of it being Father's Day. I appreciate all those who attended and especially those fathers (and their families) who sacrificed the afternoon to be with me and listen to my lecture.

And all to soon, it was all over and I woke up from the dream as I winged my way home to Houston early Monday morning. What a great time and memorable experience. I was fortunate to have been given the time of many friends who spoke with me for the podcast that you can enjoy here. 

On the red carpet in front of the Magic Castle. 

This is the Golden Anniversary (50 years) of the Magic Castle and I was glad to have been one of the performers in this most prestigious year. I also want to thank all those who came out to say hello, see my performance and attend my lectures. Here are the time stamps for the chats I had during my week at the Castle:

00:02:15 - Walter Turner, a childhood friend who inspired me to find an interest in magic

00:13:37 - Dean Dill talks about his barber shop, his creative process, and a story about his association with Johnny Carson

00:29:00 - Mark Wilson and Nani Darnell discuss their magic class for adults that they teach at the Magic Castle. Mark also talks about the popularity of the Mark Wilson Course on Magic. They also talked about their experiences of performing in China for the first time. For information on signing up for the Student Pass, then please contact Nani at or call 661-257-6070

00:55:35 - Paul Green talks about his long association with the Magic Castle

01:08:12 - Howard Hamburg tells us a few interesting stories about some of the legends of the Castle including Dai Vernon, Larry Jennings, Charlie Miller and others.  

01:24:51 - We sit down with Chris Korn for Thursday's "Magic and Martinis" but begin with a quick story about seeing Mac King in Las Vegas. Chris chats about the Magic Castle and some of his television projects.

01:38:23 - We moved from the bar to Chris's home where we were joined by Paul Vigil who, along with Chris, shared his philosophy of creative process. Please forgive the quality of this section of the podcast as we had some severe technical difficulties. But I felt that the quality of the content was too important to lose just because of the audio quality.

02:03:22 - Darren Romeo, the "Voice of Magic", talks about his association with Siegfried & Roy and where he was and how he handled the tragic end to their run at the Mirage.

02:16:00 - Cameron Ramsay, my friend from our days of podcasting together on the Magic Newswire, talked about what he's been up to over the past few years.

02:25:35 - Jack Goldfinger, Entertainment Director for the Magic Castle, and Doc Eason talk about the Magic Castle. Lots of great stuff in this chat. I suggest that when listening to this one you might want to have a pad and paper to jot down some of the "gems of wisdom" that Jack dropped on us.

02:57:00 - Shoot Ogawa talks about moving to the U.S. and in particular his move directly to Los Angeles just to be near the Magic Castle. 

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