For decades, Los Angeles’ iconic Magic Castle has been a private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts, some 5000 magicians, and enthusiasts dedicated to the celebration of the performing art.
Some, however, have said the beloved venue may not be quite what it appears to be.
What You Need To Know
- For decades, LA’s iconic Magic Castle has been a private clubhouse for the Academy of Magical Arts, some 5000 magicians, and enthusiasts dedicated to the celebration of the performing art
- The Times spoke with 12 people about their allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination
- A former waitress of the Magic Castle, Stephanie Carpentieri, alleged in a lawsuit that she filed last year that she experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault
- The Times asked the Academy more than 40 detailed questions about the reporting in their article, but many were left unanswered
The LA Times spoke with 12 people about their allegations of sexual misconduct and discrimination.
The Times spoke with Ed Kwon, who dreamed of performing at the Magic Castle.
“Ed Kwon grew up in Seoul, South Korea, dreaming of becoming a magician. He collected books on magic, and so many of those books mentioned the Magic Castle. Eventually, he made his way to Los Angeles and got to perform at the Castle, which was a dream come true. But, one day, another member accosted him during brunch and shouted racist invective at him. And for Ed, this was a defining moment; it led to his disillusionment and eventually returned to Korea unsure about his relationship with this place he loved his whole life,” said Miller.
The Times also spoke with female employees, and one of them was Stephanie Carpentieri, who attributes her experience at the Magic Castle to a “corrosive corporate culture” there.
“In the course of our reporting, we interviewed Stephanie Carpentieri. She is a former waitress at the Magic Castle’s restaurant. She has alleged in a lawsuit that she filed last year that she experienced sexual harassment and sexual assault at the Magic Castle as a waitress. She alleged that a busboy groped her on multiple occasions, and she alleged that when she went to management to discuss this, nothing was done, and eventually, she was fired,” added Miller.
Female magicians at the Magic Castle have also painted a dark picture of their time at the Castle.
“According to one member’s study, in 2019, female magician membership made up just 12% of the overall magician membership. We heard from one female magician member who told us about an alleged incident in which a man came up to her after she had been working on a trick and touched her inappropriately. There are other examples throughout our story that suggest they have a very problematic culture at the Castle that has to be addressed,” said Miller.
Along with employees and magicians, guests have made complaints too.
“As part of our reporting, I interviewed a woman named Andrea Kemp, who went to the Magic Castle a few years ago for a holiday office party. While she has at the Magic Castle, she alleges that she agreed to participate in a magician’s act but once on stage, the magician suggested that she rub a playing on her chest, and she did not do so. She said that ultimately this man allegedly invaded her personal space, and she eventually left the act in tears. Now, this magician has disputed those allegations, but some might suggest it points to a larger culture at the Castle that requires some examination,” added Miller.
The Times asked the Academy detailed questions about the reporting in their article.
“We went to the Academy of Magical Art’s president of the board of directors and presented him and another executive of the Academy with more than 40 questions. In those questions, we outlined the allegations that came up in our reporting. In response, the president of the Academy of Magical Arts did not respond to the substance of the allegations that were raised in our questions. He did provide us with a statement that talked about how seriously the Academy takes allegations of wrongdoing and that it looks into things when they are brought forward, and that it is working hard to improve the culture at the Magic Castle. But, many of our questions were left unanswered,” said Miller.