Arts Listings

Magic Circle Hosts Annual Banquet

By Ken Bullock, Special to the Planet
Friday February 01, 2008

The Oakland Magic Circle, the oldest independent magic club in the United States west of the Mississippi, is hosting its annual Installation Banquet and Show this coming Tuesday at the Bjornson Hall at 2258 MacArthur Blvd. 

“It’ll be a very international show,” said Scott Alcalay, new president of the Oakland Magic Circle. “Our headliners, Goldfinger and Dove, have played the Crazy Horse in Paris and have twice won the best of the year award at The Magic Castle in Hollywood. They’re true ambassadors of magic. Their act is fast-paced, with music and dance—all kinds of surprises from a repertoire so large,”  

Other performers include Patrick Martin of Palo Alto, who’s played the Easter Egg Roll on the White House Lawn “for two or three presidents,” Benny Benedini and his silent, quick-change act that was called “150 faces under a hat” in 1920s vaudeville—and KTVU Channel 2’s Bob McKenzie, member of The Circle “for decades,” performing his mentalism act, “The Mysteries of Mind.” 

Spectators at Magic Circle events will recognize Alcalay as the usual M.C., genial and witty. On Tuesday, he’ll be inducted as president, along with vice president Mark Tarses of Berkeley, secretary Byron Walker of San Leandro, treasurer Monya Casto of Walnut Creek, sergeant-at-arms Dagmar Thielson of Berkeley and librarian David Sament of San Francisco. Walker, a longtime Circle member, is an antiquarian magic book dealer with the largest independent collection on the West Coast. 

The Circle meets at 6:30 p.m. on the first Wednesday of every month.  

“We’re always welcoming new members,” said Alcalay, “And at all meetings, members always have an audience, so they can stand up and perform, practice their skills, show us what they’re working on. We also have magic teach-ins.Magic enthusiasts who don’t perform are also welcome.”  

This April’s meeting will feature The Circle’s annual magic swap meet and flea market, the largest in Northern California. “You’ll find selections of how-to DVDs, illusions, packet tricks, books, great presentation books, parlor tricks, close-up and stage magic,” he said. 

If the banqueters come early (doors open at 6:30 p.m.), they’ll see close-up magicians circulating through the tables. “It’ll be one of the best shows ever,” said Alcalay. “They seem to get better and better every year.” 

The Magic Circle was founded in 1925 by Arthur Bullo, who performed as El Tap. 






Tuesday, Feb. 5, Bjornson Hall, 2258 MacArthur Blvd. (near Fruitvale Boulevard). 

$20 for adult dinner and show, $10 for kids dinner and show, and $10 show only. Only tickets for the show (without dinner) will be sold at the door. For more information and to buy tickets, see