A Considerable Town: Not So Blaine

 This Internet first date isn’t going so well. On her profile under “What Celebrity Do I Most  Closely Resemble” it says, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Suffice to say, she doesn’t  at all. But then mine  says “ David Blaine.”

 Eventually, she offers to drive me home  her black  Lexus is just around the corner on Hollywood  Boulevard. As we head up Orange toward Franklin, the  Magic Castle is lit up like a jewel in front of us.

 Natasha tells me that she has always wanted to go to  the Magic Castle. Me too, I say, and then point out  that she’s in the wrong lane to turn into my place.

 Natasha says she wants to go to the Magic Castle. I  remind her that one must be a magician to get in. She  looks at me and says, “But you’re David Blaine.”

 Who can argue with a Russian litigator at 1:30 a.m.

 after eight beers? She drives the Lexus up the Magic  Castle’s steep driveway.

 The front doors are locked. I can see past the front  greeting area, lights on and people inside, but no one  comes to see what we want. I have been living in the  shadow of the Magic Castle for nearly a year and have  never been up here, so I take this opportunity to look  around. A couple minutes later, I come back to Natasha  still at the front door. She’s adamant  she wants to  go in.

 I pull an otherwise useless credit card from my wallet  and attempt to jimmy the lock. Right when I feel that  I may just have it, the doors open and the tuxedo-clad  night manager, Kurt, steps outside. Kurt asks if he  can help us. I say we’d like to come in. Kurt politely  informs us that the Magic Castle is closed, that the  Magic Castle is a private club and, looking at my  Sammys Romanian T-shirt, that the Magic Castle has a  dress code.

 “Maybe I could fit into your tux,” I say. Kurt is a  good four inches shorter than I.

 Kurt smiles. “Maybe some other time, sir,” he says.

 “Maybe some other time,” I agree, then turn back to  the Lexus.

 Suddenly, Natasha says to Kurt, “This is David  Blaine.”

 Kurt turns and looks at me in the dim light, and I am  thinking that there is no way in holy hell, when Kurt  extends his hand to shake mine. Abracadabra. Open  sesame. The doors to the Magic Castle swing wide and,  with furious beating heart, I step inside. Somehow, my  voice doesnt crack as I agree when Kurt says he’d  like to introduce me to some people. We pass through  the first bar and I receive nods from the dozen or so  guests in tuxedos and evening dress. At the bar’s  backside, Kurt introduces me to the owner of the Magic  Castle, Milt Larsen, and an older magician. They both  shake my hand. They tell me it’s a pleasure to make my  acquaintance. I am struck dumb. I expect to be sawed  in half any second now. The owner and the magician  congratulate me on being “Magician of the Year.” I am  nothing if not humble in graciously accepting their  felicitations.

 Kurt tells the owner that Id like to take a look  around, then leads me out of the bar area. I am  expecting to be thrown into a room, the doors locked  and the police called at any time. But with warm  welcomes and well wishes, I am taken on a tour of the  back rooms of the Magic Castle. As Kurt guides me,  illuminating the way with his Mag-Lite, Natasha and I  make eye contact. Neither of us can believe that we  are getting away with this illusion. Kurt recounts his  life story as a magician and tells me what an honor it  is to meet me  that I have revitalized magic. I begin  to get comfortable. Then I start to get all shticky.

I act like I have a form of obsessive-compulsive  disorder that I imagine would work with the Blaine  character. I rearrange chairs in one room. I feel  doorways for their structural soundness. When I touch  one item in a display with my eyes hooded to near  closing, I feel Kurts eyes on me. He asks if I am  getting vibrations from the object. My nearly  imperceptible nod assures him that I am indeed. Kurt  tells me that if I am into vibrations, has he got  something for me. He leads Natasha and me to a door  that is locked from the inside and excuses himself.

 From the other side, I hear what sound like numerous  locks and chains being undone. The door swings open  and Kurt stands with pride inside a small room  dominated by a huge siance table. I pay that no mind,  but immediately move toward a metal item about waist  high in one corner. I lay my right hand, fingers  splayed, on the round top and close my eyes tightly.

 Kurt whispers, asking if I am getting some serious  vibrations from the object. I mumble that I am. With a  hushed voice, Kurt tells me that I am touching  Houdinis milk can. Holy fucking shit. Kurt points out  Houdinis trunk on the other side of the room. I  crouch in front of it as I hear Kurt telling Natasha  that every magician who comes to the Magic Castle is  just dying to touch Houdinis things.

 By now its 3 a.m. and we have seen every nook and  cranny of the Castle. Back in the main bar, the owner  shakes my hand again and tells me that I am welcome  anytime  to perform or just hang out. Then Kurt asks  me what brought me to Los Angeles. I say the first  thing that pops into my head  that I came to hear  some men read some words. I had been to a book  reading earlier in the evening at the Beverly Hills  Library. They get big grins on their faces. They  exchange looks and then ask how that worked out for  me. “Wonderfully, I say.”

 Kurt opens the front door. I can see the window of my  tiny studio apartment, basically across the street.

 Natasha and I hop in her car, roll down the steep  driveway and hope that Kurt doesn’t watch as we drive  across the street to the parking lot of the Hollywood  Celebrity Hotel, where Natasha lets me out. I give  Natasha a quick peck, enter my building and go to bed.

 Brian Mazo

 Manager James Williams says Mazo did indeed show up as  Blaine, but Kurt and Larsen weren’t fooled. An  incident report is on file with the Magic Castle’s  security.

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