My first Atlas Obscura event in LA was a magic show at the Los Angeles Athletics Club, a historic building in downtown LA. Steeped in history and tradition, this gorgeous Beaux-Arts style clubhouse was once home to Charlie Chaplin and served as the meeting place of The Uplifters. The star-studded membership of this invitation-only social club included Clark Gable, Walt Disney, and Will Rogers.
When I got there, I was treated to Say Jay Hynes on the violin and Siegfried Tieber was mingling with the guests who had shown up before me. Erin, the host from Atlas Obscura warmly greeted me and walked me through the check-in process, which involved me getting a envelope and a drink token.
The envelope opened into two parts — a smaller enveloped marked not to be opened until later and a fancy handwritten note welcoming me and telling me check out the various parts of the room. There was a box where Siegfried had written a bunch of personal secrets and offered to exchange one for one of yours if you chose to write one down. There were multiple stacks of books on magic, and we were invited to peruse the “little-” “medium-” and “big- secret” piles, but warned to avoid the “forbidden secrets” pile. The books were apparently from Siegfried’s personal library and included lots of handwritten notes in the margins, a very cool little peek behind the curtain.
After all the guests had arrived and gotten our complimentary drinks, we settled down for the first half of the show. He has a very entertaining introduction spiel:
How many of you have heard of Siegfried and Roy? My name is Siegfried, too. It’s my real name, I promise! My father is from Austria, that explains the name. My mother is from Colombia, that explains the hair. I was born in Ecuador, that explains the accent.
This first part was set up in stage format for Siegfried to perform parlor magic, which is the form I think most of us are more familiar with. (This is the style we see when there are magic specials on television. The magician is at the front of an audience and performs large-format illusions, often with larger props.)
Then there was an intermission where Say Jay played some more beautiful pieces and we all got to drink and mingle more as the room was reset.
The second half of the show was in a circle around a table as Siegfried did some amazing close-up magic, which is is his specialty. This involves cards, coins, bills, and such, with much more audience participation — in the form of verbal suggestions, shuffling of cards, holding props, or checking his sleeves and pockets.
I do not want to give too much away, since they have a repeat performance coming up soon. If you are going to be in the area, I highly recommend you check it out! My only complaint is that I wish we could have seen more of the building. The room was very nice, but I would welcome a chance to do a more complete tour.