I remember the day I first laid eyes on The Magic Castle in Hollywood, CA. But it wasn’t The Magic Castle that stands out in my memory that day. It was what happened after seeing it.
On my quest – my pilgrimage – to become a member of this exclusive club for magicians, my friend Tim and I had Tim’s dad drive us to Hollywood (we were both 15 at the time). Tim had joined me in pursuing magic as a hobby and we were to perform that evening at a senior center near our home. Unfortunately, we needed some vital supplies and the only immediate source was Hollywood Magic, a store located right on Hollywood Boulevard.
Since we were so close, we asked Tim’s dad to drive by the outside of The Magic Castle, only a few blocks north of Hollywood Boulevard.
And there it was. A stately former Victorian house overlooking the heart of Hollywood. So close, and yet so far away. Seeing it only from the outside was like being served a gourmet meal but being told you could only look at it. The sight teased us and resolved my desire to one day visit its interior.
Tim’s dad then dropped us off at Hollywood Magic and arranged to pick us up in a few hours. Hours, you ask? We didn’t want to rush an opportunity to see all the other tricks they had there.
After purchasing our needed items, at the scheduled time we wandered down to the appointed corner on Hollywood Boulevard.
We weren’t alone.
As we stood waiting on the north side of the corner, a woman emerged from a car (which quickly drove off) on the west side. She stood there talking to herself, but it was her attire that most attracted our attention.
Moving from the ground up, we noted that she wore a set of nosebleed heels. We stood amazed that she stood – I use the term loosely. Rather, she remained upright in a fluid sort of way, swaying in those heels like a first-time sailor on deck during a high swell. Her dress, what there was of it, was a combination of various animal patterns. But it was her hair that startled us most.
Here she was, an African-American female, with the brightest blonde hair (or wig) I’d ever seen. Passing motorists probably had to lower their sun visors as they drove by to avoid possible injury.
The word “subtle” didn’t seem to register in her fashion vocabulary. Nor did it apply to the way Tim stared at her. Clearly, this was a sight we didn’t see out in the suburbs. Still, on the streets of Hollywood, you don’t want to gawk the way Tim was.
He quickly found out why.