Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor
Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

Don't lose the magic: Checking out the Chicago Magic Lounge
by Karen Topham
2019-10-01

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


When Joey Cranford's wife jokingly bought him a magic kit as a Christmas present, she had no idea what she had unleashed.

"There was an especially good trick in there," he said, one that spurred the research-oriented Cranford to begin exploring and eventually led him to discover what he calls the Golden Age of Chicago-style magic, when magicians moved from table to table doing card and coin illusions, which thrived at various bars and clubs throughout the city during the 20th century.

Sadly, by the 1980s, these clubs were closing down. Cranford theorizes that the rise of stand-up comedy displaced it, but he also wonders if "bad magic" killed it. With so many venues, he opines, there were bound to be second-rate performers who would turn people off to the scene. People who witnessed these poorly trained practitioners may have given up on magic for good. "When the contract is there for you to fool me and I see everything," Cranford said, "you're wasting my time."

His vision of a new home base for magic began in 2015, when a friend was opening Uptown Underground and offered him one night to organize a magic show. Cranford made the decision to "tell the story" of Chicago magic in every show.

It didn't take long before the shows became so successful that they needed their own space, and Cranford's concept became the Chicago Magic Lounge, whose unusual Andersonville theatre opened in February 2018, a club especially designed to give customers a true taste of Chicago-style magic as well as a cabaret where they can see headline magicians.

The lounge itself is hidden behind what appears to be a laundromat at 5050 N. Clark St, which is intended as both an homage to the building's past ( history is everything ) and a way that people will feel the pull of something unusual from the moment they walk through the door. But once they figure out how to get past the false front, many more surprises await that are not limited to sliding or hidden wall panels.

The entertainment begins at the fully stocked bar ( a light food menu is also available ), at which veteran Chicago magicians draw audiences in with their banter and their illusions. Once inside the art deco cabaret itself, patrons are treated to magic performed at their tables by a band of roving and personable magicians before the main show even starts.

"Our job is to expose people to how rich magic is as a creative form and then to give them variety," said Entertainment Director Benjamin Barnes. In selecting magicians for the club, he realizes that the profession of magic has long been a male-dominated one, but he strives to change that. "You'll see yourself" reflected on the stage," he assures. "Every night at Chicago Magic Lounge there will be at least one woman, one Person of Color; all are bad-ass magicians."

One of these women is Jan Rose, a longtime veteran of the Chicago and national magic scenes who told Windy City Times that, when she got into magic, "I was so excited about the job that I didn't even notice that it was a male-dominated industry." Still, she said that, even after she started to understand that, "I was embraced by the magic ( community ); I never felt any kind of discrimination at all."

Neither has Paige Thompson, who was given a magic kit by her grandmother when she was just 6 years old and became obsessed. She said, "I started doing birthday parties. I was making money in high school and started wondering, why can't I do this forever?" She acknowledged that most magicians are men, but felt it is because "girls just don't see other girls doing it."

Everyone agreed that what Cranford has created is essentially a family. Thompson loved the fact that she has been able to learn from so many other magicians. Rose quoted her husband, magician Danny Ocean, as saying, "All of the magicians [at the lounge], stand on each other's shoulders."

Perhaps it is this atmosphere as much as anything else that draws the customers. Cranford noted that he does very little advertising, but the place is packed most nights. People are "moved by the story we tell," he said. "Word of mouth works best if you make your customer the hero of the journey, if you give them a story that is worthy of saying, 'listen to this.'"

"What makes people come," said Barnes, "is curiosity. People love magic, but they don't know until they see it. The thrill for me is that I love watching audiences watch magic."

For Cranford, who said he believes that "the Silver Age of bar magic is this next generation," the joy is found every time he watches a new trick. "I love being fooled," he said. "I don't want to know how it's done," adding, "truly, the secrets of magic are stupid, but the effect is amazing."

The Chicago Magic Lounge is at 5050 N. Clark St. Performances are nightly with a family-friendly matinee on Sunday. Visit ChicagoMagicLounge.com or call 312-366-4500.


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Artemis Singers workshop Oct. 30 2019-10-21 - As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, Artemis Singers will hold a free workshop at the Harold Washington Library, 400 S. State St., ...


Gay News

Ravinia president/CEO leaving post in 2020 2019-10-19 - Ravinia President and CEO Well Kauffman announced Oct. 19 that he will depart the festival upon completing his 20th anniversary year at its ...


Gay News

Story Jam features local celebs in a show to raise money for immigrant youth 2019-10-18 - Chicago, IL November 17th, 2019—Story Jam, a show that is part live-lit and part music concert combining storytellers and songwriters with a rocking ...


Gay News

Karen Mason to perform Nov. 14 2019-10-17 - Singer and Chicago native Karen Mason—star of musicals Love Never Dies, Mamma Mia!, Hairspray!, Wonderland and Sunset Boulevard—will perform Thursday, Nov. 14,, at ...


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Transparent,' Tyler Perry, 'Drag Race,' singer Halsey 2019-10-15 - The soundtrack to Amazon Prime Video's The Transparent Musicale Finale—the movie musical fantasia of Jill Soloway's series Transparent—is available for streaming and digital ...


Gay News

Mixtape coincides with Warhol exhibit 2019-10-08 - As the Warhol exhibit comes to the Art Institute of Chicago this October, DJ Heaven Malone is releasing a mixtape, Factory Girls, honoring ...


Gay News

Oct. 21 benefit for homeless at Metro 2019-10-05 - More than 40 Chicago punk, prog, noise, rock and surf musicians—including current and former members of PiL, Naked Raygun and Local H—will perform ...


Gay News

'Activists and Icons' to end Oct. 27 2019-10-05 - "Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro," an exhibit at Skokie's Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center, will close Sunday, Oct. 27. ...


Gay News

Simply Sensational Benefit to salute Music Director Robert Ollis Nov. 4 2019-10-02 - Pride Films and Plays' annual fall benefit, SIMPLY SENSATIONAL, celebrates theater artists who have had a tremendous impact on all they work with. ...


Gay News

Chicago's queer hip-hop scene: Visibility, evolution and culture 2019-10-02 - Chicago has long been known as a mecca for hip-hop culture. Within recent years, however, there's been a rise in queer and gender ...


 



Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.