On July 6, owners Milt and Arlene Larsen hosted the second of a few intimate Show & Tell Preview Parties at the Magic Castle Cabaret to give members a sneak peek of the magnificent new private club. Located on the site of the former Café Sol across from the Andrée Clark Bird Refuge, the club is tentatively set to officially open next month.
Milt founded the Magic Castle in Hollywood in 1963, and 55 years later, his and Arlene’s dream of having a club here has come to fruition. While the Magic Castle is known as the Mecca for magicians worldwide and boasts a membership of 5,000, half of whom are magicians, the Magic Castle Cabaret will be a different animal. It will feature the same award-winning magicians as the Hollywood venue, along with other variety performers, but the Magic Castle Cabaret will be a social club with an intimate setting. Membership will be capped at 200. Already there are 131 members and the club hasn’t even opened.
During the casual sneak peek event, Milt and Arlene personally greeted each member, many of whom are their friends, and Arlene gave tours of the venue. A master magician, Andrew Goldenhersh, performed tricks table side while another magician, Captain S. Rokk, donned a pirate outfit and played soft classical guitar music.
The interior décor is based on what the Larsens imagine the fictional Palace of Gold in Northern Spain, where a Count and Countess entertained magicians, would look like. The space exudes old world elegance and extravagance, yet its intimate size and Milt and Arlene’s warmth and friendliness make it also completely comfortable and relaxing. Arlene shared how they view the Magic Castle Cabaret as their home and everyone coming in as a friend. The club format is modeled after an old style European cabaret, where performers entertained for their friends.
The Larsens assembled antique and other rare furniture from various sources. According to Milt, guests will find themselves seated on furniture that might have come from a castle in Spain or a local thrift store. Some items of décor came from the Magic Castle, like stunning stained glass windows for a divider in the bar area. Gold and deep red accents are at every turn. While elaborate chandeliers and sconces permeate the space, the lighting is kept dim and the music soft, all part of the effort to create an inviting atmosphere for friends to socialize and be entertained. Arlene’s fine, luxurious taste and attention to detail is evident throughout the space, including in the ladies room, which features rhinestone-embedded pink and platinum ceiling tiles and a row of crystal pieces suspended above the three-dimensional mirrored walls.
Through a monthly newsletter over the past several months, Milt and Arlene have shared with members the “magic trick of turning an old building into a magical palace,” a process which began with the purchase in May 2016 and has involved unexpected major expenses and delays. Tentative plans are to open in August on Thursday and Friday nights, where guests will enjoy cocktails, nibbles, and walk-around magicians. From 5 to 7 p.m., there will be no dress code or reservations; after 7 p.m., cocktail attire and reservations will be a must. At a later date, impromptu variety entertainment will be added.
Among the celebrity members who have joined so far are Steve Martin, Leonard Maltin, Ron Masak, Penn (Penn & Teller), Paul Rubin, Siegfried & Roy, Fred Willard, Jo Anne Worley, Lance Burton, and David Copperfield. For info on membership, contact Allison at (805) 845-0555.
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By Gail Arnold