LA Weekly profiles one of the Magic Castle’s more unique gigs: ‘Houdini Séance manager’

September 27, 2017

You may think your job is strange, but at least you’re not trying to communicate with the dead on a regular basis. That’s what Josh Stern is in charge of at the Magic Castle, whose official job title is ‘Houdini Séance and special events manager’, and was recently profiled in a feature on LA Weekly about some of the city’s more interesting jobs.

Houdini was long a skeptic of paranormal activity, but made a pact with his wife Bess that if one of them were to die first, the other would attempt to communicate with them for one final message. The legend goes that Bess tried to contact Houdini ten times, and was unsuccessful until the very last attempt, when rain fell on the hotel where the séance was conducted, leaving the surrounding buildings dry.

The séances that Stern hosts try to replicate that experience for a chance to communicate with Houdini. “We have a dedicated room called the Houdini Chamber, and the séance experience starts with a Victorian-style four-course meal,” Stern told LA Weekly. The group of about a dozen people are then joined by a handful of spirit mediums, who then perform an hour-long séance.

As you can imagine, séances are kind of spooky for those who don’t know what to expect. Stern explains to LA Weekly how some of his guests have reacted:

Most people come to a séance not really knowing what they are going to get. We have people who have to leave because they get creeped out, we have religious people who get uncomfortable. We’ve had people break down the door and bolt because they get so frightened. It usually has to do with if they are religious or if there is a language barrier; people don’t know what they’re getting themselves into.

For the full interview, be sure to check out the article on LA Weekly. And if this sounds like something you’re interested in booking for yourself, visit the Magic Castle’s website for more info.