Friday, December 16, 2016

Magic at the Castle

"Long John LaFeat, Jay Johnson and
Kirk Thatcher creator of "Long John LaFeat"
I have not felt like writing for some time.  The only thing people want to talk about these days is the current state of the Executive Branch of Congress.  I am talked out. I have never felt more strongly that we have elected a deceitful and dangerous President who apparently is the puppet of Russia.  My opinion is shared by many but that narrative seems to be soundly rejected by a base of voters who do not seem to be affected by facts.
However, life goes on.  Finally I have something that excites me and makes me very happy. I want to write about it.
This week I have been performing at the Magic Castle in Hollywood,  It is a gig I do maybe once or twice a year and I am having a blast.  This is a picture taken in my dressing room with my friend and creative genius Kirk Thatcher who happened to stop by my second night. I happened to have "Long John LaFeat" (who was featured in my Tony Award© winning show Jay Johnson: The Two and Only). Kirk created this character for me decades ago and had not seen him up close in a very long time.  That is real magic. Kirk happens to drop by on one of the only two nights that Long John performed.
Although I have been a lifetime member of the Magic Castle for a very long time I have never really felt like I belong.  I was told that I could never headline a show at the Magic Castle because I am not a magician.  I am referred to as the practitioner of one of the "allied" arts of Magic.  Until this point I have felt like an adopted child at the Castle.  No more. I now feel like an anointed son with a legacy involving the Magic Castle.
It was the fourth night of the run at the Palace of Mystery. I was walking outside the entrance to the theater when I saw a man cutting silhouettes near the bar.  He is very good and fast and I was impressed at this talents, so I watched him create the profile of one of the guests.  He saw me and nodded. As soon as he finished he excitedly called me over.
"I built something just for you," He said.
I thought it was a silhouette but it was much more than that.  He pointed to a new cocktail bar that had been installed. It is a beautiful mahogany shelf about 12 inches wide extending from the Castle wall where people can set  a drink while waiting to get into the show.  At the wall end of the mini bar is a shadow box with a skull inside.  It is a great addition to the ambiance but I did not see how it related to me.  Also I did not realize that this man was not only a silhouette cutter but also one of the master carpenters for the Magic Castle.  He continued to explain.
"I saw your show the last time you were here with Mike Caveny" (one of the magician elite of the Castle).  He said, "And so I built this for you."
What he proceeded to show me was something that filled my heart with joy and excitement.  Like a magician teaching a new trick to a novice, he showed me where to stand and how to tap on the shadow box just right.  With just the right technique,  the mouth on the skull began to open and close Magically under his control. I instantly knew what this meant;  I had been given one of the golden secrets of the Magic Castle.
Now in keeping with the Magicians code of silence I can not reveal how this effect happens, but with my talent as a ventriloquist it becomes a puppet under my control.  I can make the skull talk from behind the glass of the shadow box.  The man said, "I built this just for you to use, whenever you are here." And with that he went back to his job cutting silhouettes.
I was left alone for a few minutes with a new magic trick that only I could perform the way it was intended.  If you are not a ventriloquist there is no way to describe the thrill of having a new character to play with.  I worked out a glass muffled voice for the guy and practiced the secret activation until I had them both down.  Then I waited.
My Goddaughter, younger son and his date were at the Palace for the next show.  After wards I took them over to the mini bar to have an after show drink.  There were others there as well so it was time to perform my new toy.
I told everyone that this was the skull of a famous psychic and even after death he could tell fortunes.  I had one of the female guests ask the skull a question.  I tapped on the glass and stood in just the right place and to the gasp of those watching, the skull answered her question and called her by name.  It was awesome.  It was a complete success.  As I walked away with my family I heard the lady continue to ask questions but the skull remained silent.   It was magic.
I don't know how many people know the secret to this illusion nor do I know if they are aware it even exists.  At this point I believe it 's only me and the man who built it who know the truth.  It doesn't really matter because I am the only one that can complete the effect with my "allied "art.
The secret is mine to keep, and since it can only be performed at the Magic Castle and there is no photography nor video allowed to be shot inside the Magic Castle, odds are it will be a special treat for only a few.  If you are ever there and see me... ask me to take you to the fortune teller, I promise it will be a Magic trick you will see no other time.
So, I may not ever headline at the Magic Castle, and I may not be one of the legendary magic members, but I don't know how many of those magicians have their own special "installation" to play with.  I have never felt more honored, nor more appreciated for what I can do than to have this Magic Castle secret in my arsenal.
Art is Art and it can't be separated by "allied" and non "allied" artists.  We all just do what we do for the amazement of others.  I am a very lucky and blessed man on so many levels.
By the way I asked the fortune teller what was in store for us in the next 4 years of this government... He did not reply.
As you were,


Phil Nichols said...

This is so COOL!! YAY!

P. Grecian said...

I'll wager there isn't a magic headliner there who has earned a Tony.

Chip Keyes said...

Excellent. One of the best show bidness stories I've heard in some time.