Behind the curtain: How L.A.’s working magicians hone their tricks in private ‘magic jams’
L.A. is a hotbed of magic and theatrical craftspeople. In the city, at least, magic is a highly visible — and profitable — industry. Magic shows are held year-round on the beach; the city has more than one professional magic school; and, more than anything, the L.A. performing magic scene is a tourist attraction.
In the Magic Jams, a magic “meetup” on a Saturday afternoon, magic fans show off their tricks on a big screen in a studio in Hollywood while local magicians perform their tricks. These jams, which started in the mid-1990s as a two-day event, have grown to three months, with about 130 attendees each in 2014. The shows happen from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday or Sunday, at The Magic Garden studio, on Venice Boulevard in Hollywood. The venue, which has had no permanent structure since its remodel in 1997, has now been rented out for other events. But it’s the jam that’s the big draw.
The jam is a showcase for magic artists who want to show off their tricks. But there’s a lot more to the spectacle than just magic: “The magic jam is not about magic,” says organizer Steven Gorman, a professional magician and the L.A.-based founder of Magic Garden Studios. “It is a meeting of the minds of the people in the magic community.”
Magic lovers gather, discuss their craft, and talk shop. The gatherings have all kinds of non-magical functions, as well: They’re a chance for fans to meet their favorite magicians and get tips for their own magic routines. And they’re also a chance for magicians to share and hone their craft and practice their skills.
“It’s like a magic fair in the heart of Hollywood,” Gorman says. “It’s a gathering of people who enjoy entertainment, and magic is entertainment. They talk about music and art and theater and movies, and so it’s not so much about magic.”