Magic, Music, & Libations at LA’s First Private Club

Los Angeles Athletics Club

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.

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