Capital of the illusion (i.e., film and TV) industry, home to the Magic Castle and more magicians than you can shake a wand at while wearing a tuxedo, Los Angeles is the best city in the world to buy the everyday staples of magic. So it makes sense that there are many magic stores in Southern California, but no better place than the Magic Apple, located in an unassuming Studio City strip mall where an invisible trail of fairy dust leads to the second-floor front door that can be detected only by working magicians. (Not really.)
"It's the best place in L.A., and they knew exactly what I needed," one local magician gushes to a stranger who's perusing the 1926 book Royal Road to Card Magic, a classic containing tricks and theories so remarkable that it's still much in demand. We couldn't see the magician's shopping list, but the store's two best-sellers are the rubber chicken (a gag invented more than 100 years ago; Magic Apple owner Brent Geris says he sells 12 or so per week) and the also popular arrow-through-the-head gag.
But that's kid's stuff. Selling real magic is what Geris is all about: rope, rings, cups, balls, silks, cards, coins — all seemingly normal items, but all hinky in some strange way, holding a secret that only the learned can unlock. And to discover those secrets, the Magic Apple offers some 300 DVD titles (Cheating at Hold 'em and Simple Tricks to Blow Their Minds) and hundreds of new and used books. (Here's the real secret: The DVDs and books contain highly detailed lessons unveiling each and every trick, including how the audience is fooled.) Some encyclopedia-sized series contain several volumes, like Roberto Globbi's famed five-book Card College, and the nine-book Easy to Master Card Miracles, which doesn't look the least bit easy.
And that's the beauty of it. The vast majority of those shopping at the Magic Apple are not flatlanders but professional magicians hoping to improve their craft. "There hasn't been a magician in town who hasn't come through here," Geris says, and you leave his friendly shop believing it.—N. Jenssen