McMaster of Magic this Weekend

We've got Shawn McMaster this weekend... Are you excited? We sure are! McMaster is a Cal Magic crowd favorite, and it's a huge pleasure to see him this weekend -- especially Valentine's Day weekend! We're swooning already, can you tell? He's a no rules kind of guy with a style all his own. No gadgets, no fluff. From performing for the Walt Disney Company to magic clubs all over the country, his sophisticated talents always reach new heights -- he's the superman of magic, but don't take our word for it! See him for yourself. Check out this great video clip of him on "Masters of Illusion" the television series. Click here to get tickets for this weekend.


Q&A with Magician Michael Peterson

Get to know club favorite Michael Peterson! This magician has a great story to tell, and will be performing at the club on February 4th and 5th this month. Get your tickets online now.

Q: Tell us about yourself as a magician.

A: I have been doing magic for about eleven years now. In the beginning, I immersed myself in all things magic. Books, videos, websites, anything that had to do with magic. Not too long after, I was lucky enough to meet a magician who became my mentor, and best friend. He pointed me in the right direction, and introduced me to a lot of great magicians who helped me learn (thanks Steve).

Over the next couple years, I continued to learn and practice magic. I  practiced so much that my hands would cramp up. I performed all I could, and did a lot of street magic and shared magic with the kids in the group homes where I worked. In 2002, I got an amazing offer to go to Turkey as a guest of the Turkish government and perform at the Izmir Illusion Festival. It was an amazing experience, getting  to go there and share magic.

I continued learning and performing magic, and started getting paid magic shows at schools, banquets, birthdays, and even doing shows in bars as well as doing a lot of street magic. A few years later, I went to England. I did not take the exchange rate in to account, and ran out of money pretty quick (lucky I was staying with my sister). I started performing in pubs to earn money, making tips, as well as people buying me meals and drinks. Met a lot of great people and I was treated like a celebrity because of magic.

About a year after that, I moved back to the bay area, and eventually, magic lead me to performing at California Magic Dinner Theatre, which has allowed me to perform with some of the greatest magicians in the world. A magician told me when I first started doing magic to "enjoy the ride" -- I certainly have so far.

Q: What started your interest in magic?

A:When I was about five or six, I saw a commercial for something called “TV Magic cards” -- This guy named Marshall Brodien was doing all this crazy stuff with a deck of cards, saying how easy it was. My Mom got them for me, but it wasn't as easy as it looked on TV. Even though I wasn't good at doing magic then, I absolutely loved watching it.

Q: Tell us about your first performance as a magician.

A: I was twenty-nine, working as a youth counselor in a group home when I was told that we were taking the kids to a motivational weekend retreat, and that all the kids and staff had to do something in a talent show. I had been into magic for only a few months at most, but ended up doing a magic show in front of more than 200 people. I was pretty nervous, but the show went over quite well and everyone liked it. The most important thing I learned from that first performance is to always check your zipper before performing.

Q: Name a magician that has inspired you the most and why?

A: It sounds corny, but I would have to say Harry Houdini. I found a little book about him in the class library when I was about twelve (I still have it). I was absolutely amazed at everything Houdini did; it all seemed so impossible. Harry died more than 80 years ago, but his fame never faded away. He was an amazing man.

Q: What is favorite style of magic to perform?

A: I am a comedy-close-up kind of guy! I love the intimate interaction that makes it seem so impossible that these amazing things can happen right in front of you while having a good laugh. I love experiencing it as much as doing it.

Q: What is your favorite magic memory to date?

A:It's a toss up between a girl who literally jumped out of her shoes and performing in Izmir Turkey for more than 1,000 people.

Q: What's the most important thing about magic to you that you'd like the public to know?

A: I want people to experience magic, not just watch it. Something I absolutely love is seeing someone in absolute disbelief of something they experienced. I have worked very hard to be able to do what I do and want nothing more than to entertain people, giving them a special memory that they will recall and tell their friends through their life. Pretty much everyone has a story about something amazing they experienced, I want to be the person in the story.


My Friends The Flying Calamari Brothers

Let me tell you about two of the most interesting fellows I've ever had the good fortune to know. Rich and Mark, the Flying Calamari Brothers.  They wandered into my magic shop sometime back in the 90s.  Their very presence alone grabbed my attention.  Picture this -- it's Oliver Hardy teamed up with a cross between Curly Howard from The Three Stooges and Jackie Gleason (I'll let you figure out who is who).  These two guys are forces to be reckoned with, and it's a blast when they are on stage.
Mark is a multi-talented person who has been a professional wrestler, drummer and woodworker, and Rich has one of the most creative magical minds around -- and together, it's all fun and games.
The brothers played an important role in the grand opening of the California Magic Dinner Theatre back in 2004 as premiere performers, and it's such a pleasure to have them on stage this coming weekend.
One of my fondest memories (fond in retrospect, nerve racking at the time) was during a Saturday night when, two hours before showtime, our headliner could not stay.  His wife had just gone into labor and he had to leave. Who was going to take the stage?! On a moments notice The Flying Calamari Brothers jumped right in and headlined the show.  This was one of the most exciting and memorable evenings we've ever had, and I'll never forget.

Here's an Oakland Tribune [ article ] by Chad Jones written awhile ago. He writes, "Also high on the laugh meter were the Flying Calamari Brothers (Mark Cassettari and Rich Stewman), whose motto is "it's a crime what they do to magic." Their finale trick involves a card trick, but the twist is that the volunteer's card is found folded up in the middle of a juicy orange selected at random."

Read the whole article [ here ]

Come meet two of my favorite magicians this weekend. We will be celebrating our 600th dinner show.

Get your tickets [ here ]


We've Got News! Celebrating Our 600th Show!

We are very excited to announce that our 600th show is coming up! Alex Ramon and The Flying Calamari Brothers will be stirring up one heck of a celebration on Friday, January 28th and Saturday January 29th! Get a copy of our latest [ press release ]

Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Ringmaster of Zing, Zang, Zoom headlines the event

Martinez, CA – January 19, 2010 – California Magic Dinner Theatre announced today that this month marks the 600th dinner show since it's grand opening more than six years ago, and to headline the special event is Alex Ramon, the ringmaster of Zing, Zang, Zoom by Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey Circus. After more than two years on the road, he's returned home, back to his magic roots.

“California Magic Dinner Theatre is one of my favorite places to perform, and I've been all over the world,” said Ramon.

For more than ten years, club owner Gerry Griffin has watched Ramon evolve into the world-class performer he is today. Back when California Magic Dinner Theatre was just a retail store, Ramon and his mother would frequent for new tricks and advice.

“This young man is the real deal,” said Griffin. “It's such a pleasure to have him headline such an important weekend in our theater's history – he represents what hard work, focus and staying true to a dream can do for a person. He is everything a great entertainer should be.”

Being able to continue to bring such wonderful performers to the San Francisco Bay Area during these tough economic times means a lot to Griffin.

“The theater was always my dream, and right after we opened for business, the economy took a nose dive,” he said. “We are very proud to have weathered the troubling times, and we are thankful for having such a loyal fan base.”

As part of the celebration, Griffin and his team have created a new website for the theater that will feature a blog roll of articles by local magicians, photographs and videos.

“Our new website has a new look and feel that will put the spark of magic right at their fingertips.”

The 600th dinner show featuring Ramon and The Flying Calamari Brothers is Friday, January 28th and Saturday, January 29th. For more information on California Magic Dinner Theatre and ticket sales, check out www.calmagic.com or call 925-374-0056. #####


Q&A with Magician Hank Morfin

Get to know club favorite Hank Morfin!
This magician will be performing at the club on January 21st and 22nd this month. Get your tickets now! Click here to visit Hank's website.

Q: Tell us about yourself as a magician.

A:  I’m not “Mr. Sleight of Hand”-- don’t get me wrong, I have studied and practice the mechanics of magic, but I’m not a magician who does a lot of manipulation acts.  For me, it’s about performing and making that connection with the audience.  The person I am as a performer is me, and I think that’s important.  Yes, you have to amp up and “be bigger” when you perform, but I believe that who you are as a performer has to come from who you are for real.  For me, that is very much the case.  I believe that an audience will like you if they feel they are getting the “real you”.  If you come off phony, it will put them off and they will not be receptive to you.  If they feel like you are being sincere with them, being yourself, they will relax and enjoy what you have to offer.  Gerry Griffin, one of my mentors, always tells me, “You can be the greatest magician in the world but if they don’t like you, they don’t care.”  So for me, it’s about having a storyline that is based on my real experiences and being myself and making that special connection with my audience.

Q: What started your interest in magic?

A: When I was nine-years-old, I received a magic set as a gift. My parents used to host foreign exchange students, and a young man named Kirin from Kenya, Africa gave me the magic set as a farewell gift when he left to go home.  I remember the set exactly; it was a “Marshal Brodine Magic Set”.  That was it, I fell in love with magic and it’s been a part of my life ever since.

Q: Tell us about your first performance as a magician?

A:  The first time I put on an actual magic show was for my parents, sisters and my Grandma when I was around ten-years-old.  I had spent all my money, allowance, birthday money, etc. on magic equipment and books.  My Dad had a rolling work table he had built; I covered it with a beach towel and put a close-up mat on the top of it to make it into my performance table.  It had shelves underneath to store my props and to ditch the effects after I performed them.  I performed in my parent’s living room, and my grandmother almost fainted because two of the effects I did in the show were swallowing razor blades and putting a big knitting needle through my arm!  I remember how great it felt to be there performing and seeing my family react.  That feeling stayed with me and eventually led me to begin performing professionally many years later.

Q: Name a magician that has inspired you the most and why?

A: Wayne Houchin. I don’t know if he inspired me the most, but I think he was the most significant.  If it was not for him, I might not be a professional magician at this point in time.  Magic has always been a part of my life, but since my childhood performances in my parent’s living room, I had never performed publicly.  Life happens, and I spent most of my time focused on my job or my personal situations, family and everything else that came with life.   My involvement with magic would weave in and out of my life. There were times that I spent little time with it and times when I would get inspired and dive back into it.  About five years or so ago, I saw that Chris Angel had a new show starting up on A&E.  I watched it and on one episode, he performed “Sinful: Signed Coin to Soda Can”, an effect created by Wayne Houchin.  Seeing that effect reminded me why I loved magic and I had to learn how to do it.  I searched online, found the effect from an online magic dealer and I bought it.  When I learned the method I loved it even more.  It’s one of those effects that the method is almost more fun than performing it.  I went to Gerry’s magic shop in Pleasant Hill, a shop I had gone to for many years off and on, but he was gone!  I had an old business card and tried the number which still worked.  Gerry told me about the California Magic Dinner Theatre he had started in Martinez, California, and I started going to shows there.  Needless to say, I never strayed from magic again and today I am a professional magician with hundreds of hours of performing under my belt.  I believe Wayne Houchin played a key part in that happening.

Q: What is favorite style of magic to perform?

A: I love performing both close-up and on stage.  For me, it’s all about making that connection with your audience and sharing those few moments to create a great memory for both your spectators and yourself.  That’s the real magic of it all.

Q: What is your favorite magic memory to date?

A: I’d have to say the first time my stage set really “clicked”.  Anyone who performs will understand what I mean by that.  You put together an act, you try out effects, change some out that don’t fit or just don’t go over well with an audience.  Then one time in this process, you put together just the right combination of effects and you perform them really well.  The audience connects with you and goes along for the ride, and your show just kills.  That is a fantastic feeling!

Q: What's the most important thing about magic to you that you'd like the public to know?

A: We (magicians) always talk about the negative perception that a lot of people have about magic.  Everyone has that uncle who does that bad card trick over and over to friends and family.  Most people have seen cheesy or poorly performed magic on television at one point or another.  Worse yet, with the creation of YouTube and the internet, people have seen magic performed by people who have absolutely no business performing it for anyone.  I guess what I’d like people to know is that they need to see magic done the right way, live and in person, right before their eyes and possibly right in their hands by people who have done the work and who know how to perform.  Once they do that, they understand what a unique and special form of entertainment magic can be.  That’s why I love California Magic, because that what Gerry strives to bring to people each and every week, and I consider myself lucky to be a part of it.

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