By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
This Internet first date isn’t going so well. On her Nerve.com profile under “What Celebrity Do I Most Closely Resemble” it says “Catherine Zeta-Jones.” Suffice to say, she doesn’t — at all. But then mine says “David Blaine.”
Eventually, she offers to drive me home — her black Lexus is just around the corner on Hollywood Boulevard. As we head up Orange toward Franklin, the Magic Castle is lit up like a jewel in front of us. Natasha tells me that she has always wanted to go to the Magic Castle. Me too, I say, and then point out that she’s in the wrong lane to turn into my place. Natasha says she wants to go to the Magic Castle. I remind her that one must be a magician to get in. She looks at me and says, “But you’re David Blaine.”
Who can argue with a Russian litigator at 1:30 a.m. after eight beers? She drives the Lexus up the Magic Castle’s steep driveway.
The front doors are locked. I can see past the front greeting area, lights on and people inside, but no one comes to see what we want. I have been living in the shadow of the Magic Castle for nearly a year and have never been up here, so I take this opportunity to look around. A couple minutes later, I come back to Natasha still at the front door. She’s adamant — she wants to go in.
I pull an otherwise useless credit card from my wallet and attempt to jimmy the lock. Right when I feel that I may just have it, the doors open and the tuxedo-clad night manager, Kurt, steps outside. Kurt asks if he can help us. I say we’d like to come in. Kurt politely informs us that the Magic Castle is closed, that the Magic Castle is a private club and, looking at my Sammy’s Romanian T-shirt, that the Magic Castle has a dress code.
“Maybe I could fit into yourtux,” I say. Kurt is a good four inches shorter than I.
Kurt smiles. “Maybe some other time, sir,” he says.
“Maybe some other time,” I agree, then turn back to the Lexus.
Suddenly, Natasha says to Kurt, “This is David Blaine.”
Kurt turns and looks at me in the dim light, and I am thinking that there is no way in holy hell, when Kurt extends his hand to shake mine. Abracadabra. Open sesame. The doors to the Magic Castle swing wide and, with furious beating heart, I step inside. Somehow, my voice doesn’t crack as I agree when Kurt says he’d like to introduce me to some people. We pass through the first bar and I receive nods from the dozen or so guests in tuxedos and evening dress. At the bar’s backside, Kurt introduces me to the owner of the Magic Castle, Milt Larsen, and an older magician. They both shake my hand. They tell me it’s a pleasure to make my acquaintance. I am struck dumb. I expect to be sawed in half any second now. The owner and the magician congratulate me on being “Magician of the Year.” I am nothing if not humble in graciously accepting their felicitations.
Kurt tells the owner that I’d like to take a look around, then leads me out of the bar area. I am expecting to be thrown into a room, the doors locked and the police called at any time. But with warm welcomes and well wishes, I am taken on a tour of the back rooms of the Magic Castle. As Kurt guides me, illuminating the way with his Mag-Lite, Natasha and I make eye contact. Neither of us can believe that we are getting away with this illusion. Kurt recounts his life story as a magician and tells me what an honor it is to meet me — that I have revitalized magic. I begin to get comfortable. Then I start to get all shticky. I act like I have a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder that I imagine would work with the Blaine character. I rearrange chairs in one room. I feel doorways for their structural soundness. When I touch one item in a display with my eyes hooded to near closing, I feel Kurt’s eyes on me. He asks if I am getting vibrations from the object. My nearly imperceptible nod assures him that I am indeed. Kurt tells me that if I am into vibrations, has he got something for me. He leads Natasha and me to a door that is locked from the inside and excuses himself. From the other side, I hear what sound like numerous locks and chains being undone. The door swings open and Kurt stands with pride inside a small room dominated by a huge séance table. I pay that no mind, but immediately move toward a metal item about waist high in one corner. I lay my right hand, fingers splayed, on the round top and close my eyes tightly. Kurt whispers, asking if I am getting some serious vibrations from the object. I mumble that I am. With a hushed voice, Kurt tells me that I am touching Houdini’s milk can. Holy fucking shit. Kurt points out Houdini’s trunk on the other side of the room. I crouch in front of it as I hear Kurt telling Natasha that every magician who comes to the Magic Castle is just dying to touch Houdini’s things.
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