Thursday, July 3, 2008

Magic Castle

The Magic Castle is the famous landmark for magicians that sits perched above Franklin Avenue in Hollywood. If you love watching magic or are a magician, this is your Mecca; a pilgrimage here at least once in your life should be on your bucket list. Even from the outside, this Gothic castle with turrets and overgrown ivy, beckons you to enter and explore the mysteries inside its' member's only door. If you know a magician or are a magician, or simply love to entertain yourself and your friends or associates with magic, you can become a member by paying a yearly membership.

I was lucky to have had the doors opened for me by friends who are members (you must also know the magic words to actually open the elevator to the club); once inside, I did not want to leave. There is a strict formal dress code, so entry also requires men to wear jackets and ties (they have some to lend you if you forget), and you must be 21 or over. There are always three shows with different types of magic, each with several show times, so you can see all of them if you stay long enough. There is the main showroom, a small up close room (my favorite), and a secondary showroom where the magician actually used me as part of his act! Get there early enough to explore the castle before the shows, and get in line for the smaller shows early or you may have to wait until the next show time. On busy nights there are sometimes magicians who work in the foyer to the main showroom showing off their card tricks. They serve a full dinner, and have a bar that has the famous invisible Irma playing your requests (only if you tip her). It's a complete night out in one unique and very fun place, after all, where else can you go out all night and spend it in a castle? They are sometimes closed for private events or parties, so make a reservation before you go there.

If you want to go and experience the Magic Castle but are not a magician or member (and don't know anyone who is), there is still a way to get invited. Spend a night at the Magic Castle Hotel just down the road. It's a convenient (but steep) jaunt up to the Castle (the hotel provides a shuttle for ladies in high heels and their escorts). The hotel staff is wonderful, providing sodas during the day and a buffet continental breakfast in the lobby in the morning. The pool area is small, but comfortable and inviting. They go out of their way to make guests feel special, from arranging welcome drinks, to welcome pastries in the suites. The decor is updated retro; everything is clean and the amenities are nice; I stayed in the fully equipped 2 bedroom suite complete with glassware and dishes, CD player, and wonderful orange blossom bath products in the 2 bathrooms. The only problem in the hotel was the water pressure in an old hotel is weak and fluctuates when other people are using their showers, but that is to be expected in a building built in the golden days of Hollywood.

If you manage to see all the shows and want to see a bit more magic, go up to Yamashiro's, built as an exact replica of a place in Kyoto, Japan and have a drink overlooking the lights of Los Angeles before going to bed. Make a wish before you go to sleep to enjoy more magic in life and you may wake to your wish come true.

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