One of the most popular attractions in Sydney, Australia, is not in most of the travel literature. The Magician’s Cabaret is at 91 Riley Street in Darlinghurst. The Magician’s Cabaret has performances only on Friday and Saturday nights. The Saturday night show, La Fortuna, is in its 5th year and contains dinner, showgirls, magic tricks, and lots of razzmatazz. Book a long time ahead. If you can get in like Ruth and I did, Magician James Karp gives Saturday afternoon tours of the cabaret during which he talks about the most common magic tricks. It’s lots of fun and attracts many young couples and multi-generational families. Our group of 20 included 7 children. Book by phone or, even better, on-line at themagicianscabaret.com; and don’t show up until the tour’s scheduled time, 1:30 pm.
After Karp gave his career history and talked about the upcoming show, he took his tour guests backstage, engaged a child to act as his assistant, and began talking about magic. My favorite of his performance-centered quips was, “Magic happens when you feel, not when you think.” He talked about the time he regretfully wore a pirate shirt to perform in instead of traditional magician’s attire, often addressed the importance of his assistant, and said that he succeeds when the ears in his audience lie to their owners’ brains. He told us that a good magician keeps that audience in front and below him. He said the most dangerous magic trick is “the bullet catch”. This was no surprise, but a lot of what he did say was. For example, he showed us a photo of Jerry Lewis and told us that this famous comedian wrote a book about magic during his long lifetime.
When Karp told us that he had learned magic in the traditional way, I was reminded of one of my favorite high school teachers who was also a professional magician. When we were very, very good, he’d perform some card tricks, so he had no trouble getting and keeping our attention during classes. One of my main regrets of this trip is that we ran out of time and had to decline Karp’s invitation to attend an evening show.