Visit to Hollywood

When my daughter came back from Afghanistan we went to California to welcome her home. Her unit HMLA 367 had arrived at Marine Corps base Camp Pendleton in San Diego.

During our visit we made sure to take her around Southern California for some sightseeing: Hollywood Walk of Fame, Magic Castle (of course), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Show taping, Seaworld, and homes of the stars.

Here are a few pictures from the trip

Lots of fun at the taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Saw Sarah McLachlan perform, interview with Chelsea Handler, and Howie Mandel.

Sarah McLachlan

Seaworld, of course tons of fun at a time when animal training acts and killer whales in captivity were not politically incorrect.

The real Shamu

So many stars, so many homes…

After the lengthy tour bus ride, we hopped off to stroll down the Walk of Fame and see our favorite Hollywood stars!

My favorite star is that of Orson Wells. I’ll explain in a minute….

The Magic Castle

Highlight of the trip for me was The Magic Castle. This is the USA Mecca of Magic for Magicians. A private club for members only, jacket and tie required, a visit to “the castle” is a very special experience. Besides the five star dining experience, you get to see a close up show, a stage show, and hang out in various magical environments, some of them know only to magicians.

The Houdini Seance Room Dining Experience
We dined in this room

The meal and service was excellent as expected. I performed an effect called “Perfect Time” for the guests at my table. This trick was a favorite of Orson Welles (a magician himself). So, I guess you could say I performed at The Magic Castle.

We had lots of fun in the entrance magic bar and lounge where Irma, the ghost piano played played any song we requested, including songs we were mentioning in our private conversations!

The Castle is loaded with magic history’s treasures and artifacts- collected over the decades, and it shows in all of the individual bars and rooms throughout. There is a Houdini Seance Room where seances are performed to contact the ghost of Houdini.

Houdini Seance Room

Upstairs from there is the owl bar, which is so named thanks to a prognosticating (and once very real) owl who lords over the bar. He answers yes or no questions with ease, while the far wall of the tucked-in enclave off the staircase is actually an original backdrop from the Tonight Show.

The Owl Bar

A little known staircase at the far end of the hall leads to a well-lit blue-backed bar for magic shows that involve the bartender directly. The big, open room is otherwise surrounded by artifacts and memorabilia, from trick pool cues to straightjackets. At the opposite end of the big, open space there are a few classrooms for aspiring magicians, and the Academy of Magical Arts’s own private library. That area is off-limits for guests though, and comes officially staffed with a librarian.

Downstairs Bar

And if there were not enough places to enjoy a drink between the stage show and close-up parlor, there is the Hat and Hare Pub. This is a low, dim British-style bar, this is the place for in-the-know folks to catch a close-up show from bartender/magician Mike Pisciotta, who has been a part of the place for years. Bar limes disappear, real drinks are poured, and everyone has a great time.

Alas, our fun at The Magic Castle came to an end, and we were back outside waiting for the valet to bring our rented car around. It seemed as if it were all a dream.

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