Phases and Stages (my magical journey) part three.

Pre-Castle 1962My second night performing at the Magic Castle will always remain vivid and clear in my memory. It was late 1974 in the old Palace of Mysteries situated in the wine cellar of the Castle performing and I was performing with the great Johnny Platt. I know it was my second night because it was a Tuesday night or the set up the story better—the night that the Board of Directors met.

Immediately prior to showtime Don Lawton joined us backstage to introduce the show and asked me if I wanted to know who was out front. He then said something that made me sag slightly at the knees: Cary Grant was sitting at stage left with David Niven, Ingrid Bergman was seated with a group at stage right and Goldie Hawn was standing with a group at the back of the room! That was a spectacular audience even by Castle standards.

The Castle wasn’t as fancy or elaborate back then as it is now, but it certainly was a lot more star-studded and fun. For about the next five years the Scan 3Castle was my home from home and the source of a great deal of my income. It was also home to almost all my friends. Those 21 show weeks in the various showrooms seasoned me in a spectacularly efficient manner. There could not have been any better education.

You could go into a showroom with the idea for a trick and come out 7 nights later with a very polished routine. I enjoyed creating different characters and letting them loose with my show. Most of these shows were based on musical genres; there was Nick Costello—the punk magician, ‘New Wave’ Nick Cosmos, my reggae shows with ‘The Conjurettes’ and a few others. It was a lot of fun and very liberating to be able to work in this manner and I enjoyed myself immensely.

From 1978 I also began performing in various other LA clubs where I would often ‘four-wall’ one-man shows and try some very experimental shows. On Halloween in 1978 I presented the first of my ‘Celebrity Séances’ when I brought Buddy Holly back from the dead during a dark séance. Over the years I presented many of these events; my favorite was in Las Vegas in the mid ‘80s when Ross Johnson and I brought the pioneering comedian Lenny Bruce back to life at Bally’s Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. This event was a career highlight.

519iGE8c7BLDuring the ‘80s I was also quite a fixture on American TV both as a variety performer on the various talk shows and also as an actor on classic shows such as; ‘Dynasty,’ ‘Amazing Stories,’ ’Perfect Strangers’ ‘Misfits of Science,’ ‘Kung Fu- the Legend Continues’ and a bunch of others. It was also a time when I was starting to make very regular appearances in showrooms in Las Vegas, Reno and Lake Tahoe.

I was also producing and performing a lot of corporate events both in America and internationally in the ‘80s. I counted some of the very largest corporations amongst my clients and packaged rather spectacular magic shows for them. Initially I worked with my friend Piet Paulo but later started to perform illusions on my own. I once produced a 38-foot diesel truck for a client during a show. These were wild and wonderful times.

The ‘80s were also the era of the Comedy Club and for a decade a headlined in comedy clubs across the country. It was IMG_7254another whole education and one that taught me a huge amount about the reality of comedy and not just comedy-magic. I learned how to write stand-up material and deliver it successfully. That was a wonderful skill to learn and I am extremely glad that I took the opportunity to do so. It allowed me to approach my work with an entirely different set of eyes and ears.

After my two daughters Natasha and Katrina were born I began to realize that I needed to find a way to stop spending so much time on the road and be in one place to help them as they were growing up. I decided that the easiest place to make a comfortable living was in Las Vegas and began to think about creating a show that could run there for an extended duration.

There were no day shows playing in Las Vegas at that time and I decided to hone in on that market. I put together ‘Comedy Magic’ a one-man show based on my nightclub performance, and booked it for a two month run in Las Vegas in the cozy 150-seat theatre within the Maxim Hotel and Casino.

The show by was given very little chance of succeeding by Vegas veterans, but happily I took the plunge anyhow. We defied the odds and I spent the next five-years performing it to sold-out audiences, and only leaving when the Hotel was scheduled to close. I will tell you more about the show and why it succeeded in my next blog.

~ by Nick Lewin on December 5, 2013.

2 Responses to “Phases and Stages (my magical journey) part three.”

  1. I remember seeing so many truly amazing performances in the old palace of mystery. From kuda bux to Doug henning
    I am so inspired and enjoy your stories. I thank you.
    Is any if the Lenny Bruce show on tape ? A deAr friend of mine performed with him and another managed him !

    Enjoy Austin.

  2. There is a little chunk of the seance on tape somewhere! It was absolutely a live event type of thing though due to its very nature…..

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