I realize that I, all too often, leave you feeling jealous and unfulfilled after reading my blogs. You learn about my glamorous, jet-set, Hollywood lifestyle and come away asking yourself:
“Why can’t my life be more like Job’s?”
“How come the Gyllenhaals always attend his Scrabble night, but never mine?”
“What’s that claw-like black thing headed towards my face?”
IT’S A MONKEY’S PAW AND IT’S CURSED SO DUCK!!!
Phew! Well, now that I’ve saved your life from an eternal damnation of sorts, maybe now you’ll be a little forgiving that I once again have a story of rad proportions to share with you.
One of my fellow Amoebites* – we’ll call him Erik Estrada from the TV show Chips in order to protect his identity – is currently a pupil at the world-famous Magic Castle, located in the heart of Hollywood.
For those of you who’ve never heard of the Magic Castle, here’s a brief history lesson. (If you already know this material, feel free to skip ahead to the part where Courtney Love threatens to slit my throat open with a ventriloquist dummy.)
The Magic Castle opened as a private club for magicians in January of 1963, after an extensive renovation of what was once a glorious mansion at the turn of the century, but had since then become a dilapidated apartment complex. Today it hosts a nightly variety of magic acts for guests to enjoy in-between drinks at one of its plush bars or restaurant.
It is not open to the public – one must either be a member or a guest of one. Formal attire is required and you cannot bring in burning tires (or, for those in the United Kingdom, burning tyres).
Thanks to Erik Estrada from the TV show Chips, I gained entrance into the illustrious Magic Castle, along with the boyfriend, and another co-worker and friend, Smithy.
We arrived in our fancy dress and waited to be met by Erik Estrada from the TV show Chips. Smithy and I eagerly discussed what cocktails we would first order. She settled on a sidecar (see above) while I opted for my new love, Campari with a splash of soda. The boyfriend stuck to his standard, slightly dirty Grey Goose martini.
Great. Now I’m thirsty. Is 11:30 AM too early for a mint julep?
LOL! Alcoholism is funny. Anyway…
Upon first entering the Magic Castle, you are faced with a lobby of walls filled with books, but no doors. Perched atop a [noun TK] is a stuffed owl, for whom you must recite the correct “magic words.” I won’t tell you what they are and spoil it for you, but I will say I got it right the first time! (Hint: it’s not “Houdini deserved it.”)
Next, you are led into the first lounge. In the course of our evening, there were often magicians sitting at tables, casually performing card tricks for on-lookers. This casualness made for a chummy atmosphere, and I loved the magicians’ passion for their craft. We got our drinks. The booze made for a chummy atmosphere, and I loved the bartender’s passion for their craft.
In one lounge sits a piano, next to a huge framed painting of a Victorian girl-child. This painting is said to be Irma, the ghost which haunts and plays the piano. For a tip, Irma will take requests. The delightful but awkward ritual goes like this:
Step up to the piano, insert a bill into the golden birdcage, and say something like, “Hi, Irma. Would you play ‘Every Time We Say Goodbye’ for me, please?”
And the piano starts playing your request!
That is, unless you’re me. I did, in fact, request the above mentioned jazz standard by Cole Porter. For the boyfriend and I, it’s “our song." Hardly an obscure number, it’s been played and sung by hundreds of musicians and singers, so we were shocked and – yes, I’ll say it – miffed, when Irma didn’t play “Every Time We Say Goodbye” and instead began performing “Every Time You Go Away,” the one-hit wonder, circa 1985.
Now, I love Paul Young as much as the next guy – which is to say, I hate Paul Young with a passion beyond my years. Smithy and I desperately explained to Irma in heightened tones that she was playing the wrong song and to please, please stop!
She finally did and we patiently tried to educate her on what song I wanted, which must have made for a funny scene: Two people emphatically detailing the history of a song to a vacant piano.
But Irma remained silent and we became disheartened. Corey returned with a round of drinks and blithely asked Irma to play “Total Eclipse of the Heart” – without even tipping Irma – and she started performing it!
At this point, Smithy and I lost our cool and outright shouted at Irma to STOP and to NOT PLAY ANY MORE HITS FROM THE 80’S! The boyfriend didn’t understand what the fuss was about, but then, he actually likes to listen to music that was recorded by people who are still alive. Gross.
It wasn’t losing the dollar that bothered me so much as it was that this Victorian ghost seemed well-versed in all things VH-1 but remained ignorant of ditties more appropriate for the environment we were enjoying. I mean, we’re sitting in a well-appointed lounge plucked from the time of great-grandparents; meanwhile, this cheeky spook seems to be just waiting for an excuse to break-out into a perky rendition of “The Safety Dance.” Irma my ass – this piano was obviously haunted by Ferrante & Teicher!
Irma’s short-comings notwithstanding, the three of us went on to have a lovely time. We saw two shows, each in different but equally charming performance spaces, and Erik Estrada from the TV show Chips gave us a tour of the mansion, which winds seemingly endlessly, constantly revealing another lounge, another hallway, another treasure trove of spooky artifacts (we’re talking W.C. Fields’ pool table, kids!). The atmosphere was sumptuous and kick-ass, and Smithy and I frequently remarked that it was a shame we couldn’t make the Magic Castle our regular hang-out.
It came time to go. So we went. Not much story there.
If you ever get the chance to go to The Magic Castle, be the opposite of a dork-faced loser and go. And try a sidecar – Smithy’s right about them – they’re delicious!
(For those of you who just wasted their time looking for the sensational Courtney Love drama, shame on you for 'skipping ahead'! I spend days... well, okay - not days... I spend minutes writing these blogs for you. The least you can do is read them in their entirety.)
*This is what we at Amoeba call co-workers. It’s cute, it’s affectionate, and it’s a lot easier to say than “Co-moeba-ccupationalists.”