I began to re-invent myself as a carefree bon vivant.
At this point in my memoirs, on advice from my family and loved ones, I choose not to be so specific on what happened to whom and when it happened. Now, just as I made that decision, I realize that I have totally forgotten the time line anyway and there is no way I can get the information from any of the people anyway.
I once heard someone say, “If you remember the ‘70s, you probably weren’t there.”
In case you haven’t guessed by now, I was no longer living the straight and narrow. That concept had begun to elude me several years back and I had been involved with breaking the majority of the ten commandments. I was dabbling in the use of alcohol, pot, and recreational fornication. I was deliberately avoiding any contact with my Church and female members of my Church that I could negatively influence. I would be exploring all the alternative possibilities of lifestyles.
I selected the Oakwood Garden Apartments near Vermont and Wilshire as my base of operations. It was a 700 unit singles only, no children complex. There were free weekend brunches, gymnasium, hot tubs, swimming pools, and evening entertainment. There were also ski clubs, dancing, and they had a social director. There was a picture board for all residents and lots of private parties. It was a totally secure environment.
One of the people I met early on in the hot tub was Nate ‘The Great’ Kvetney, a pediatric dentist, who happened to be a magician and a member of the Magic Castle in Hollywood, a private club for magicians. I had always wanted to be a member of this unique group but never had the time or resources to approach it. Nate invited me to go with him as a guest and I was hooked. He and another member sponsored me and I took the magic proficiency test and was accepted as a regular magician member at a low annual fee with all privileges to send guests.
Nate’s lady friend was Aurelia, a product of French father and Egyptian mother. She was a witty, beautiful woman and a perfect companion for Nate. I think she might have been his receptionist at his office. They eventually got married and moved out. I continued to see him at the Magic Castle after that.
The Magic Castle was a wonderful place to dine and relax; and the best magicians came from all over the world to perform in small intimate theatres. It was a completely restored, huge Victorian mansion that could handle about 200 people at a time. I ran into many famous people including: Tony Curtis, Cary Grant, Mel Blanc, Harry Blackstone Junior, Ricky Jay, and Siegfried & Roy. It was the best place to take a date in the whole town. It was a place I could enjoy going to alone and I spent many evenings in the extensive library practicing tricks with other magicians.
I saw something very funny to me in that library. There was an old Indian fakir, who called himself Kuda Bux, who had to put on big thick glasses to see the playing cards dealt by his sleight-of-hand fellow magicians. The thing that made this funny is that the act he was doing in the Magic Castle was to have x-ray eyes. He would place balls of dough in his eye sockets, covered by silver dollars and wrapped in bandages until his whole head was covered except for his prominent nose tip. He would then read anything anyone presented to him. Once, my date, who was Ethiopian, wrote a phrase on his blackboard in ancient Amheric and left out the punctuation. Kuda copied it perfectly and punctuated it correctly. He made a name for himself walking on fire and riding a bicycle blindfolded. He had incredible eyesight as long as his eyes were covered.
There were many memorable performers at the Magic Castle. One of them was Father Blantz, a magician who performed in his priest robes, and was very proper in his language and would communicate as if teaching a class of 6-year-olds. Sometimes he told a story in ‘spoonerisms’, where the first sound of one word was exchanged with the first sound of another word or syllable next to it with very humorous effect. He told of the Three Little Pigs as the Pee Little Thrigs and the following story of Rindercella.
Here is a tale to make your cresh fleep. It will give you poose gimples. It's a story for fee polk and biggle to peep (That's "wee folk and bigger people, too")
It's the story about Cinderella who lived in a big hark douse with her mean old mep-stother and her two sisty uglers. And they made Cinderella do all the worty dirk while they sat around cheating ocolates and maging readazines.
And, one day, while Cinderella was in the kitchen, flopping the moor, the two sisty uglers came in and said, "Guess what? The prandsome hince is browing a fancy thress drall and we're invited! It's too bad that YOU can't go!"
So, Cinderella went back to the kitchen with ears in her tyes. And she was just about to chickasee a fricken when, suddenly, there was a linding bash of flight, and standing beside her was a feautiful bairy.
And Cinderella said, "Who are you and what do you want?"
And the feautiful bairy said, "Well, I'm your mairy fod-gother."
And Cinderella said, "Well, may I go to the ball?"
And the fairy said, "That's quite a wish, but okay."
So she waved her magic wand and, instantly, Cinderella was transformed into a bavishing reauty. She had on a long white gatin sown and a necklace of pubies and rearls, and on her feet were two tiny sass glippers.
The fairy said, "Now, you may go, but you must promise to be mome by hidnight."
And Cinderella said, "Okay." So she was off.
Soon, she cast to the camele (That's "came to the castle"). And Cinderella jumped out and the first pwo teople she ran into were the two sisty uglers. And she was so beautiful, they didn't even Cinderize recognella!
So, they introduced her to the prandsome hince, and he said, "May I dave this hance. You're so beautiful, you remind me of Beeping Sleauty!" He was just about to ask for her marr in handiage when, suddenly, the stock clarted to trike swelve, and Cinderella ban from the rall. But, as she did, one of her sass glippers flipped from her soot. The prandsome hince picked it up and said, "Now all I have to do is look for the woman whose soot this flipper sits, and I'll know whom I've laalen in fove with!"
So, the next day, he went from house to house (and you can't turn THAT around!), and, soon, he came to the Cin where housederella lived and docked on the noor. And who should answer but the two sisty uglers. He said, "I'm looking for the woman whose soot this flipper sits." Well, of course, their beet were too fig!
But, then, it was Cinderella's turn and (guess what?) the flipper pitted cerfectly, they were married, and they happed lively ever after.
Now the sloral of this mory is; if you ever go to a bancy fall, and you want a prandsome hince to lall in fove with you, don't forget to slop your dripper.
The biggest laugh came when he said, “And she was just about to chickasee a fricken”. Thirty years later people still remember that phrase.
Clarke ‘The Senator’ Crandall was the host in the Magic Castle who introduced the acts and fended off people who were improperly attired; there was a strict dress code. He was the original grumpy old man, who wielded a twisted cheroot cigar as if it were a weapon as he talked. His wit and sarcasm were enthusiastically accepted and expected. He did one show a week; on Saturday night at midnight; and it was rated ‘X’, mainly for audience appeal. His grandchildren have collected some nice memorabilia and posted it on the internet and he is mentioned by many magicians who have web pages.
Charlie Miller was the same age as my father and was one of my favorite performers at the Magic Castle. He was praised by ‘Professor’ Dai Vernon and many others as one of the greatest close- up magicians of the day. Magicians who studied the methods for doing rice cups or cups and balls, tricks which were thousands of years old, would always take note of the Charlie Miller method. I saw him do both of these effects up close and can attest that he did not look like a magician; but the magic happened anyway. He was a cross between Elmer Fudd and Alfred Hitchcock. When doing his rice bowls, he said the act was much more classy with music and asked permission to whistle in lieu of an orchestra. He whistled and never cracked a smile. It was pretty classy.
One night while dancing at one of the last traditional ballrooms located on Ventura Boulevard, I noticed Charlie Miller on the dance floor very elegantly waltzing with the ladies. This was in contrast with the portly, slow moving motions I had seen in the Magic Castle. I asked some of the women if they knew anything about him. “Oh, that’s Charlie Miller. He’s such a gentleman. We really love to dance with him.” They didn’t have any idea he was a magician highly regarded by all other magicians. Later, Charlie told me he really enjoyed dancing almost as much as doing magic. Twenty years later he died and left no biography on the internet. He left many books and some videos on how to perform, but there was nothing of the man. He never married and had no family. When I think of him now, I remember the day I locked up my magic paraphernalia and struck out in an attempt to find my other self.
It was in the Magic Castle that I met Mel Blanc. He was the man of 1,000 voices and I knew him as Porky Pig and many others from the time I was a child. He had been in a terrible auto accident and had taken over a year to recover. He was a gentle man and many people loved him as a person. Celebrities usually enjoy anonymity at the Castle but The Senator, host of the close-up gallery, pleased to see him recovered and out in public again, introduced him. He carefully stood up, turned and smiled, and in the voice of Porky Pig said, “Th-th-that’s all folks!” There were tears in the audience, I know because some were mine.