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In late November of last year, Professor Duncan Gilbert, also known as Doran George, died suddenly while undergoing consensual “recreational mummification bondage,” at the hands of Hollywood executive and Magic Castle regular, Skip Chasey, also known as Master Skip. The case went unreported until last week, when celebrity crime muckraker, Mark Ebner, discussed the case report on his podcast (Note: The podcast is most definitely not a sensitive discussion of the event, nor a nuanced look at S&M culture).

Chasey’s entry on S&M resource, Leatherpedia, describes him as “a performing member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood,” and Genii Online owner, Randy Pitchford, has informed us that Chasey made an unsuccessful bid to join the Academy of Magical Arts Board of Directors during the last election.

Gilbert’s cause of death was listed simply as, “sudden death during recreational bondage.” The British-born UCLA professor, dancer, and choreographer presumably suffocated after he was wrapped in plastic wrap and gaffer tape in Chasey’s well-equipped “dungeon.” The strange manner of Gilbert’s death, as well as the presence of Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB) in his system has lead some to suggest his death may have been due to foul play. Both mummification and the recreational use of GHB are not uncommon in the bondage community. No criminal charges were filed in connection with the case. 

Chasey currently works for Hollywood agency, William Morris Endeavour, but was previously employed at Imagine Television, where he had a hand in negotiating deals for shows like 24, Arrested Development and Parenthood. He’s been a well-known figure in the world of bondage and sadomasochism for decades. He’s a regular keynote speaker, a former core instructor for the Butchmann’s Experience, and is the co-founder of People of Leather Among You (PLAY). His personal motto is said to be: “Blood may be thicker than water, but leather is thicker than blood.”

“Pop Haydn is not originally from this century, himself,” reads Pop Haydn’s website. “He is a Victorian gentleman who was suddenly transported into the 21st Century by accident–not entirely his fault–along with a bunch of other maroons stranded here from that time.”

Watching him perform in the video above, I’m almost inclined to believe that claim. Looking like he just wandered in from a saloon, possibly after taking part in a gunfight, Haydn entertained an audience at the Magic Castle with an absolutely immaculate take on All Backs, a routine popularised by Dai Vernon. Presented with easy patter throughout, the trick is an obvious hit with the crowd and especially the two volunteers Haydn has at the table. But of course it is – the trick is apparently irresistible to women, according to a slightly dubious passage in Expert Card Technique (1950):

“Magicians know only too well that women, generally speaking, are allergic to card tricks. This trick is an exception to the rule. Mr. Vernon has used it before all kinds of audiences, even those comprised exclusively of women and with complete success. The women are intrigued by it. It is one trick that they remember and talk about and invariably when another occasion arises it is the one trick they request to see again.” 

At least the trick has aged incredibly well.

The Magic Castle has long been a fixture of the Los Angeles magic community, as well as a place where illusionists from all over the world come to show off their skills. For the first time in its decades-long existence, the Magic Castle will be spreading its roots and opening up a second location in China, according to a report from Variety.

The new location will be built in conjunction with Chinese tech and entertainment firm The Novaex Group and team led by magician Andrew Goldenhersch. Novaex has exclusive rights to the Magic Castle brand and intellectual property for use in hotels, restaurants, and other entertainment venues in Hong Kong, China, Macau, and Taiwan, and, according to the report, “will create a new style of magic experience, with state of the art technology playing a major part in the development.” 

“We are looking forward to the creation of this first project together with NOVAEX that will showcase the over 55-year legacy of The Magic Castle and the long history of magic in China,” said Magic Castle founder Milt Larsen at the launch event on Friday.

This is huge news for the Chinese and international magic community, especially considering that the biggest show in the country (seen by over 270 million viewers) is a variety show titled The Amazing Magicians.

There’s always a wealth of comedy magic at the Magic Castle any given week, but this week you can go check out John Carney’s inventive blend of comedy and sleight of hand in the Palace of Mystery, alongside Jay Johnson and Miss Katalin.

Performances take place every evening from May 21 – May 27 unless otherwise noted, and include:

Close-up Gallery

Norman Beck: 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15

Toto: 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:30

David Stryker: 5:00 – 7:00 (Thursday – Sunday)

Parlour of Prestidigitation

Martin Lewis: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15

Wes Mathison: 10:15, 11:15, 12:30

Palace of Mystery

John Carney: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Jay Johnson: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Miss Katalin: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

W.C. Fields Bar

Ron Bell: 7:30 – 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Peller Theatre

Greg Otto: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

J. Neal: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Members Only Friday Lunch

Norman Beck: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00

Saturday & Sunday Brunch

Parlour Kids’ Shows by The Amazing Geebo: 11:30a, 12:15, 1:00, 2:15

For more information on what’s in store at the Magic Castle this week, as well as details on how to become a member, be sure to visit the official site for the Academy of Magical Arts.

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I could listen to Hannibal talk about anything. If you’re going to the Magic Castle this week, you’ll be able to watch him work his “unique inspirational theater” in the W.C. Fields Bar. 

Performances take place every evening from May 14 – May 20 unless otherwise noted, and include:

Close-up Gallery

TC Tahoe: 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15

Jimmy Ichihana: 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:30

Kayla Drescher: 5:00 – 7:00 (Thursday – Sunday)

Parlour of Prestidigitation

Dale Hindman: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15

Derek Hughes: 10:15, 11:15, 12:30

Palace of Mystery

The Evasons: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Mondre: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

John Ferrentino: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

W.C. Fields Bar

Hannibal: 7:30 – 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Peller Theatre

Steve Hamilton: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Alfonso: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Members Only Friday Lunch

TC Tahoe: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00

Saturday & Sunday Brunch

Parlour Kids’ Shows by Steve Hamilton: 11:30a, 12:15, 1:00, 2:15

For more information on what’s in store at the Magic Castle this week, as well as details on how to become a member, be sure to visit the official site for the Academy of Magical Arts.

Back in 2015, Horret Wu and Shin Lim both took home first prize for their respective card magic routines, and you’ll be able to see Wu perform a the Magic Castle this week in the Close-up Gallery. Check out the video below for his incredible prize-winning routine:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYnmFWIK6AQ

Performances take place every evening from May 7 – May 13 unless otherwise noted, and include:

Close-up Gallery

Gianfranco Preverino: 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15

Horret Wu: 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:30

Mark Furey: 5:00 – 7:00 (Thursday – Sunday)

Parlour of Prestidigitation

Aurelio Paviato: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15

Frank Deville: 10:15, 11:15, 12:30

Palace of Mystery

Joseph Gabriel: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Anson Lee: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

W.C. Fields Bar

Danny Magic: 7:30 – 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Peller Theatre

Joseph Tran: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Scot Nery: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Members Only Friday Lunch

Gianfranco Preverino: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00

Saturday & Sunday Brunch

Parlour Kids’ Shows by Scott Green: 11:30a, 12:15, 1:00, 2:15

For more information on what’s in store at the Magic Castle this week, as well as details on how to become a member, be sure to visit the official site for the Academy of Magical Arts.

There’s a duo of great card magicians coming to the Magic Castle this week all the way from Germany. In the Close-Up Gallery, Denis Behr brings some of the magic that’s found its way into his recent instructional DVD set, Magic On Tap:

Pit Hartling is also stopping by the Parlour of Prestidigitation, and his incredible card magic has to be seen to be believed:

Performances take place every evening from April 30 – May 6 unless otherwise noted, and include:

Close-up Gallery

Denis Behr: 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15

John Accardo: 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:30

Tyler Rabbit: 5:00 – 7:00 (Thursday – Sunday)

Parlour of Prestidigitation

Pit Hartling: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15

Henok Negash: 10:15, 11:15, 12:30

Palace of Mystery

Scott & Puck: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Denny Haney: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

W.C. Fields Bar

Robert Ramirez: 7:30 – 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Peller Theatre

Dave Cox: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

The Bornsteins: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Members Only Friday Lunch

Denis Behr: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00

Saturday & Sunday Brunch

Parlour Kids’ Shows: 11:30a, 12:15, 1:00, 2:15

For more information on what’s in store at the Magic Castle this week, as well as details on how to become a member, be sure to visit the official site for the Academy of Magical Arts.

The Palace of Mystery is being taken over this week by four of the best magic acts out of Japan. On Monday and Tuesday, you can see the operatic stylings of recent Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Shimada:

Joining him in the Palace (and performing the rest of the week) are the comedy duo Caramel Machine:

The AMA’s 2003 Close-up Magician of the Year and 2018 Stage Magician of the Year, Shoot Ogawa:

And the high-flying, acrobatic juggling of Tempei:

Performances take place every evening from April 23 – April 29 unless otherwise noted, and include:

Close-up gallery

Paul Green: 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 9:15

John Steiner: 10:00, 10:45, 11:30, 12:30

Frankie Foti: 5:00 – 7:00 (Thursday – Sunday)

Parlour of Prestidigitation

Oscar Munoz: 7:15, 8:15, 9:15

Tim Shegitz: 10:15, 11:15, 12:30

Palace of Mystery

Shimada: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Monday – Tuesday)

Shoot Ogawa: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Caramel Machine: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

Tempei: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30

W.C. Fields Bar

Doc Eason: 7:30 – 11:30 (Wednesday – Saturday)

Chris Korn: 7:30 – 11:30 (Sunday)

The Peller Theatre

Richard Raven: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

MIGZ: 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 (Thursday – Sunday)

Members Only Friday Lunch

Paul Green: 12:00, 1:00, 2:00

Saturday & Sunday Brunch

Parlour Kids’ Shows: 11:30a, 12:15, 1:00, 2:15

For more information on what’s in store at the Magic Castle this week, as well as details on how to become a member, be sure to visit the official site for the Academy of Magical Arts.

Last evening, The Orpheum Theatre in Downtown L.A. was host to The Academy of Magical Arts’ 50th Anniversary Awards ShowThe Magic Castle’s official Twitter account live-tweeted the event, the results of which I’ve compiled into the blow-by-blow summary you see below. Enjoy.

  • The show kicks off at 7:10pm with a short introduction by host, Larry Wilmore, followed by an appearance from Magic Castle founder, Milt Larsen.  
  • A video montage of the last 50 years of AMA award shows plays, accompanied by Liberty Larsen singing It’s Magic.  

  • Wilmore presents a slideshow called The Afro Years, showing famous magicians who sported afros at some point during their careers.
  • Academy of Magical Arts president, Jim Steinmeyer, presented a Performing Fellowship to Ray Anderson.
  • Johnny Thompson presents the Close-Up Magician of the Year award and a $1,000 prize (donated by the Dai Vernon Foundation) to Richard Turner. 
  • Max Maven presents an Award of Merit to Denis Behr. 
  • Andrew Evans arrives on stage, raps throughout the entirety of his performance. That is not a joke.

  • Traditionalist magician, Michael Weber, presents a Performing Fellowship to sleight-of-hand wizard, Eric Mead.
  • John Lovick presents a Creative Fellowship to veteran magician and producer, Chris Kenner. 
  • John Gaughan presents the special fellowship to Ken Klosterman for his work in collecting and conserving magic antiquities. 
  • Marawa the Amazing impresses the audience with her superb hula hoop performance.  

  • Genii Magazine Editor in Chief Richard Kaufman presents a Special Fellowship award to fellow man of letters, Peter Lane. Lane is the executive Librarian of the Magic Circle in London. 
  • GeniiOnline and Genii Magazine owner, Randy Pitchford, presents the Lecturer of the Year award and a $1,000 prize (in honor of Don Lawton and Carl Ballantine) to John Carney. 
  • Joan Lawton presents a Media Fellowship Award to David Ginn. 
  • Liberty Larsen presents an In Memoriam video that contains far too many names for just one year. 

  • FISM Manipulation World Champion, Yo Kato, entertains the audience.
  • Siegfried and (Marvin) Roy present the Lifetime Achievement award to Haruo Shimada, a venerable Japanese magician who once performed for Emperor Hirohito. 
  • Steve Valentine  presents the third and final Award of Merit to Wayne Dobson. His acceptance speech is very well received.

  • Larry Wilmore returns to the stage to perform some magic. It ends badly. 

  • Goldfinger and Dove announce that Shoot Ogawa is the 2018 Stage Magician of the Year. Ogawa also recieves a $1000 prize in honor of Sam Fehrenz and Judith Spohr. 
  • French “black art” performers,  Les Chapeaux Blanc, perform the final show of the night. It goes down well.    

Michael Carbonaro presents the first ever Magician of the Decade award to, who else, David Copperfield. 

  • But Copperfield can’t get away with just one award. Dick Van Dyke turns up out of nowhere and presents him with the Masters Fellowship award (and they even dance a little jig!).

And there ends a truly magical evening. Congratulations to all those who walked away with an award or an award nomination, and thank you to whoever is running the Magic Castle’s Twitter account for the timely and tireless coverage.  

As noted in the text, Randy Pitchford is the owner of Genii Magazine and GeniiOnline. 

The Academy of Magical Arts is hosting its yearly bash to honor the best of the business in the magic world this weekend. The 50th annual AMA Awards Show is happening on Sunday, April 22 at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles. There will be an after-party at, where else, the Magic Castle following the ceremony. Although the event is open to the public, those tickets have already disappeared like a palmed coin. AMA members can still contact the Magic Castle for their tickets.

Larry Wilmore, who is a magician in addition to an actor, comedian, writer, and producer, will host the ceremony at the Orpheum. David Copperfield will be honored as Magician of the Decade in addition to receiving the AMA Masters Fellowship. David Williamson has been selected as Magician of the Year. Other awards for the best close-up magician, parlour magician, stage magician, and lecturer of the year will be announced at the event, and the nominees are quite the who’s who of contemporary performers:

Close-Up Magician of the Year Nominees:
Eric Jones
Armando Lucero
Garrett Thomas
Richard Turner
Andrew Goldenhersh
Bill Goodwin

Parlour Magician of the Year Nominees:
Woody Aragon
Chris Capehart
Handsome Jack
Johnny Ace Palmer
Arthur Trace

Stage Magician of the Year Nominees:
The Clairvoyants
Derek Hughes
Tina Lenert
Shoot Ogawa
Voronin

Lecturer of the Year Nominees:
John Carney
Pop Haydn
Joshua Jay
Eric Jones
Rob Zabrecky