Aspen Untucked: A Magic Legend Right at Home
The 50th annual Academy of Magical Arts Awards Show took over Hollywood on Sunday night, as magicians from all over the world came to celebrate magic and the people who make it.
For many, a magic show experience may have started — and ended — with a man in a funny suit and extra-large pants pulling a rabbit out of a hat at a kid’s birthday party. However, the craft goes far beyond that. Incredibly talented magicians are still shocking audiences with new tricks and fresh performances that take this kind of work far past child’s play. From the likes of David Copperfield to Penn and Teller, there’s a whole community of magicians teaching and practicing their craft in an exclusive club in Hollywood called The Magic Castle.
The home of the Academy of Magical Arts, The Magic Castle is known as the epicenter of the magic world. It’s incredibly exclusive, but not in the way that it caters to celebrities and other Hollywood-types; it caters to magicians. To get into the castle, one has to be a member or the guest of one.
One of the attendees at the awards ceremony, and one of the headlining magicians performing at the Castle the week prior, came from our small slice of the world. It was none other than magician Doc Eason. For those who don’t know Doc, well, frankly, that’s extremely regrettable and you should introduce yourself as soon as possible. The man is one of the best bar magicians in the world, someone that does close-up bar tricks inches away from the audience members’ faces, and still he’s able to fool them every time.
Doc has lived in the valley for 41 years. Like many, he came to the area on vacation and couldn’t find a good enough reason to leave. One of the biggest draws to the area for him was when he first witnessed bar magic by magician Bob Sheets at the Tower Restaurant in Snowmass. The 30-year-old Doc was immediately hooked and wanted to learn everything. Sheets became his mentor and he learned on the job. He quickly became a staple of the Tower and remained there until its doors closed in 2004. Doc said his magic has evolved a lot over the years since he started performing spectacular oddities in 1977.
“When I got to the Tower, I thought it was all about the magic. Then it became all about the whiskey, about selling drinks to everyone at the bar,” he said. “After the years turn into decades, it’s not about the magic, it’s not about the whiskey, it’s about building connections with people and building memories.”
Even though the Tower is sadly no more, Doc still does a weekly magic appearance in Snowmass during the high season at the Artisan restaurant in the Stonebridge Inn. He still has people coming up to him every night, sharing memories of his shows at the Tower.
The Artisan is where I had the pleasure of seeing Doc perform and meeting him a few years ago. My friend was writing a story for the Snowmass Sun about him, and my boyfriend and I came along. My boyfriend grew up performing magic. When he heard Doc was a regular in Snowmass, he was over the moon. At the time, he was relatively new to the valley, and he had no idea that it housed one of his childhood magic heroes. And, truthfully, my friend and I had no idea what a big deal Doc was in the magic community. Along with his act in Snowmass, Doc performs two to three times a year at The Magic Castle and has for the past quarter of a century. He’s won five awards from the Academy of Magical Arts, including two for Lecturer of the Year, two for close-up magic, and one for Best Bar Magician of the Year.
This past week in Los Angeles, my boyfriend and I had the privilege to go see Doc perform at The Magic Castle. We dressed to the nines (formal attire is required at the castle) and spent the entire evening, and a couple hours of the next morning, at the legendary place. It truly is remarkable, and I can understand why Doc likes it so much. There are five bars on the premises, and he was posted up at the W.C. Fields Magic Bar, which he was partially responsible for turning into a close-up magic venue when he started there 25 years ago.
Although The Magic Castle and the community around it is constantly calling him out west, not to mention his kids and grandkids who live in the Los Angeles area, Doc still has a good reason for staying in the valley: the community. Both locals and visitors constantly make him feel just how thoroughly woven he is into the fabric of Snowmass.
“I’m not going to die a rich man, but I’m going to die having a wealth of friends,” he said. “I’m wealthy in friends and acquaintances and peoples’ lives that I’ve touched.”
Doc will resume his weekly performances at The Artisan sometime in mid-June or beginning of July. Check the StoneBridge Inn’s website or give the restaurant a call for exact times and dates at the beginning of the summer season. Find him before then, if you can, but it may be difficult as he’s traveling the world performing magic and building memories for the offseason.
Barbara Platts thinks The Magic Castle is just about the coolest place she’s ever been. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
Baseball is for everyone; hipsters, gamblers, and drinkers, it doesn’t matter. It brings people together sans the hostility of most sporting events, maybe it’s the calming effect of the greenest possible green that is the field’s grass.