The Magic Castle
James Bartlett has an excellent article on the Magic Castle in Hollywood, a museum dedicated to magic and magicians, on Fortean Times (free registration required):
The Magic Castle is strictly ‘Members Only’. Potential new Magician Members can’t just get nominated – they have to audition in front of the Castle’s membership committee. Only if they demonstrate sufficient magical prowess to pass muster are they welcomed into the Academy of Magical Arts, an exclusive club for the practitioners and performers of magic and illusions. snip The whole thing is strictly ‘over-21s only’ – except for that most Californian of institutions, the Sunday Brunch – and the dress codes are strict: business attire for men, evening wear for women. But when you’ve jumped through all these hoops and finally find yourself inside the Magic Castle’s front door, it feels as if you’ve stepped back in time. The stained glass windows and chandeliers are Victorian gothic, and you reel like you’re leaving the bustle of 21st-century Hollywood and going somewhere different, and somehow just a little illicit. After handing over an entrance fee of $15, you’ll probably experience a moment of embarrassment before you feel able to say “Open Sesame” to the owl with shining red eyes. A moment later, though, the nearby bookcase slides open – just like in every good horror movie – and you see a red carpet and hear the sound of polite chit-chat.