There's a special place in Hollywood called The Magic Castle. I hadn't heard of it til a few months ago--and quickly became obsessed.
We happened to pass by it while driving around. It was a castle set on a hill, lit up and shimmering. Immediately, I asked Ben, "What is that?"
He told me all about it. It's an exclusive club for magicians. It's tough to get in to, unless you know someone, and primarly open in the evenings for shows. The dress code is stringent--cocktail and formal wear only!--and it's notoriously mysterious and fun.
Ben has been in Los Angeles for ten years, and I was surprised to learn that he had never gone to The Magic Castle. Really, Mr. L.A.? It was hard to believe that the dude who's done everything hadn't done that.
I became fixated. With Ben's birthday coming up. I knew I had to find a way to get us in.
And I did.
Asking questions pays off! One of Ben's friends was related to a Castle member, and kindly hooked us up. She put up with all of my questions (yeah--this is what happens when I'm totally excited), and because of her generosity I was able to make a dinner reservation for four. Score!
I didn't tell Ben where we were going on his birthday, but I did let his best friend, Chuck, know, as he was going to be in on the game plan. When Chuck came by to pick us up, we were dressed--thrift store Calvin Klein evening gown and tuxedo blazer for me, and a Levi's Action Suit for Ben--and ready to go.
It was monsoon raining, and we hoofed it to the car, and drove off to get Mediterranean food. After stuffing ourselves with hummus and falafel, chicken and rice, we finally made it over to Hollywood.
I was so excited about Ben seeing where we were going that I was nearly bursting at the seams. Seeing his face light up when he saw which driveway we were taking when we got to that hill just about made me cry. Success! I love a good surprise!
There was a little confusion while checking in, but nothing the maitre d' couldn't set straight. We ended up getting in without a cover or a show charge. Certainly, the fates were aligning for us.
I'm certain that we looked overwhelmed, because one of the members offered to give us a tour of the place straightaway. He was patient while we got our drinks and then proceeded to tell us the history of the place while stepping through staircase and hallway and bar and theatre. The place is loaded with anecdotes and you can hear people laughing.
The energy was so positive and electric that it really did seem, well, magical.
(You aren't allowed to take pictures at The Magic Castle, so these were what I could put together: our outfits from the evening.)
We ended up seeing a total of three shows. During the first one I was asked to assist, and I think the magician ended up regretting it ("Do you watch soap operas?" "...No..." What's your favorite movie?" "Clueless"). Imagine my surprise, when, during the second show, Shari Lewis' daughter Mallory and freakin' LAMB CHOP came out onto the stage. I'll spare you the theatrics of my fangirldom, but let's just say I was quietly melting in my seat, thanking the universe over and over for letting this work out.
I don't know if we'll ever have the opportunity to go back, but I'm so glad we got to go. It's definitely a uniquely Los Angeles experience, and that's what we really love.