Emily J. Sullivan
The magician on stage looked out into the audience, scanned each row and stopped when he landed on me. He asked me my name and handed me a pad of paper and a pen and instructed me to write down a number.
I wrote down 29, for my 29 years.
He then unfolded a large sheet of paper he retrieved from his suit jacket, with four rows and four columns of numbers. Each row added up to 29, each column, each of the four corners and the four numbers that made a square in the center, all added up to 29.
Up to that point, I was sure each audience member he’d chosen was in on the act, but after this I realized, it was magic.
I was a guest at the Magic Castle, which sits perched atop a Hollywood hill off of Franklin Avenue. The ornate mansion is an exclusive hideaway for members of the magical arts. It is like a country club for magicians, where they can swap secrets and talk shop.
The members all wear a special gold pin on their blazer lapelles and hang around the castle like any other patron.
To gain entry into the castle, you must know a member or be invited by one of the magicians. I was able to track down a magician on social media and plead my case for admission, he was kind enough to email over a pass.
The dress code is strict; only elegant attire is permitted for women and the men must wear suits with ties.
When I arrived, everyone was exiting their cars at valet, dressed to the nines.
Patrons must check in twice, once outside the mansion doors and once inside the foyer. To get past the foyer, you must tell a decorative owl in the bookcase, “open sesame.” The bookcase opens up, and the entrance into the castle is revealed.
There are staircases throughout the mansion that lead to various nooks and crannies, a basement where seances are performed, a long dimly lit stone hallway that leads to small rooms where magic is performed intimately with guests.
At the top of the main staircase is an old, glamorous bar with ornate bar stools.
There are women in long lace gowns and sparkling cocktail dresses, men in suits and ties, dapper as can be, sipping on whiskey sours.
Around the corner are the rooms where dinner is served. Romantic and secluded booths, longer tables for larger parties, small two tops adorned with beautiful place settings and personalized dinner china.
The crab curry bisque was spicy and savory, the calamari was breaded to perfection.
The lobster that arrived was gargantuan and the beef wellington, a dish rarely seen on California menus was tender, flavorful and everything I had hoped it would be.
The Magic Castle was an experience I’ll never forget.
This is the place where magicians turned water into wine, performed card tricks that blew my mind no matter how closely I watched and used their storytelling and humor to compliment their tricks – and the food and ambiance was impeccable.
It was truly a magical night.
Emily J. Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.