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VALLEY WEEKEND : OUTINGS : Magic Electrifies the Air at CityWalk's Wizardz : Changing acts for children include manipulation, comedy and illusionism; for adults, the special treat is close-up performers.

October 12, 1995|PATRICIA WARD BIEDERMAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wizardz is very different from the legendary Magic Castle in Hollywood, America's mecca for serious magicians from around the world. That is a private club, Wood points out. Wizardz is a public venue. Lowell describes the Magic Castle as an institution "by magicians for magicians." Wizardz aspires to be something far less exclusive.

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For people who love magic, the real fun begins in the bar at 6 each evening. Forget the illusionists and the psychic readers. In the evening you can nurse a drink, look down at the City Walk crowd and, if you are lucky, a close-up magician will come to your table and knock your socks off.

Illusionists use smoke and mirrors and expensive equipment to wow the audience. Close-up magicians such as Wizardz regular Paul David of Chino Hills use a pack of cards, a few simple props and a shrewd understanding of human psychology.

"Magic doesn't happen on the table," says David. "It happens in the hearts and minds of the people who watch it."

David declines to say anything negative about David Copperfield and the other millionaire illusionists. But as a close-up magician he practices the form of the art that is most admired within the profession, the form that requires real talent and never-ending practice, the form that pays bupkis --nothing. "I just walk out with my suit on," he says. "I don't need a lot of boxes or animals."

Chris Mitchell, who also does table magic in the bar and sometimes emcees the shows at Wizardz, says it's a great venue for magicians because it provides the rare steady job and gives them exposure that leads to other gigs, including lucrative private parties.

The Studio City man was recently able to quit his day job as a graphic designer to do magic full time. Producing aces of spades in unlikely places hardly seems like a job, Mitchell says.

"If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life."

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