Nasty Seance at the Magic Castle

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Let’s start off by clarifying: we were total seance virgins. We didn’t even really know what a seance was. Obviously it involved calling on the dead–we knew that–but… then what? Frenetic flickering lights? Chairs launching across the room in some terrifying Poltergeist rage? Would spirits possess a body and start speaking crazy extinct languages? We had no idea (and weren’t totally sure we wanted to find out). But when we heard about Misty Lee, the feminista magician and seance medium who’s been breaking glass ceilings over at the Magic Castle, L.A.’s invite-only magic club (with a guest list that’s practically illuminati-level exclusive), we knew we had to find out.

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Nasty Gal Mesh Betch Top

Freaky ghosts or no, the one thing we’re always down with is a badass babe slaying her game–and Misty is most definitely that. In a dude-dominated industry (when’s the last time you saw a woman sawing her male assistant in half?), Misty is the only full-time female magician at the Magic Castle, headlining shows in the venue’s most legendary (and coveted) rooms. Like the Houdini Room, which is where she led us on October 13th (total coincidence), single file, scared as shit, and asked us to sit at a round, black table. Actual Houdini paraphernalia stared back at us from their mounts on the wall–a picture of his wife, Bess; the magic wand he used to cast spells; and maybe creepiest of all, the yellowing straight jacket he was famous for escaping from again and again.

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Geisha Girl Lace Dress

Once she’d given us all a chance to send trans-table WTF-did-we-just-sign-up-for eye messages to each other, she went to work weeding out “the mischief,” spirits she compared to annoying weirdos yapping at you in an elevator or on a bus. Through the help of quartz crystals, a golden dagger, and what appeared to be some medieval suction cup/ninja weapon, she stood above us inaudibly whispering a spell (magic like whoa), and booted those pesty specters.

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Tie Hard Lattice Dress

That’s when shit got real. We’d decided ahead of time to call on our muse Amy Winehouse–if only to make contact for a second. Misty asked us to create the “psychic circle,” each of us placing our right hands on the wrist of the person next to us. She told us she’d read that Amy, being English, was a tea aficionado and had loved serving tea to the paparazzi. “I thought it would be nice to offer her a cup of tea to welcome her,” she said, pouring cold water into an antique teacup. “Amy, if you are here in the room with us today, please give us a physical sign” she implored, holding the cup and saucer over the table. “Amy please make your tea steam.” Not to get dramatic, but the silence in this moment was seriously palpable–we didn’t know whether to be stoked or pissing ourselves. When after a good 20 seconds, no steam was rising, we all began to to give each other some serious side eye. Misty looked worried. But when she peered over into the cup, a sly smile crept into the corner of her mouth. “It appears that cold is just the way Amy likes it.” She turned the tea cup upside down, and nothing–not a drop–fell out.

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It just got eerier from there. We’d also asked if we could meet Janis Joplin, and in preparation, Misty had brought in ashes. She reasoned that they’d make a successful conduit since Janis was an avid smoker. Ashes? Ok, that’s cool. But then she explained that these were a combination of cigar ashes and cremation ashes of one of the Magic Castle’s magicians, which she thought that would help intensify our connection to Janis, who’d died at the Landmark Hotel–just two doors down from the Magic Castle. Holy shit. Holy shit to all of that. She asked one of us–Geena–to pick a card from a deck, and with her back turned, had Geena show everyone at the table. It was the ten of hearts. Turning back to face us, she called on Janis and asked her to explain to Geena why she’d chosen that card. After a silence, Misty’s eyes squinted closed and she blurted, “She says it’s a question of love. Says it’s beginning to resolve. She wants you to know that whatever it is, it will be the way it’s supposed to be.” Misty looked at Geena, whose eyes were tearing up. “I have no idea what that means, does that make sense to you?” Geena nodded, wiping her eyes. “Janis, please tell me, what was that card?” She reached into the bowl of ashes and began rubbing them across her forearm. As she did, the number ten and a heart shape emerged in the cinders.

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WYLDR Sophie Jumpsuit

To end, Misty asked if any of us had a relative we’d like to reach out to. We were all still a little dizzy from the moment before, so no one was jumping to volunteer. When there were still no hands after a solid silence, I spoke up. My Aunt Traci had passed a few years before, and if anyone would have been down for a creepy AF seance, it was her–she was always my favorite: crazy funny, a little wild, but incredibly kind. She was a singer in a Tex-Mex band in Austin, and played a mean accordion. Not long before her time came, we’d gotten stoned on the way to a Das Racist concert in Oakland–that was a few hours after we’d crashed a wedding reception in a cantina in the Mission, salsa-ing with some tall-dark-and-handsomes till our feet were killing us and we had to call it quits. Misty asked me to write her name on a square of paper, and for everyone else to write the name of someone living, whose energy was vibrant and positive. When we’d done that, we folded the squares twice to conceal the names, and she came around with a wooden cigar box to collect them.

“Behind you is a wine glass,” she motioned to Unique, “would you retrieve it?” Unique reached behind and placed the glass in front of her. “What I want you to do is open that box,” she said, sliding the cigar box across the table, “and retrieve one piece of paper.” Unique did as she was told. “Hmmm… that’s an interesting person. That person… is alive. Please place that paper in the wine glass.” This went on four or five times before Misty realized she needed to change directions. “This time I want you to wiggle your fingers over the box–one of those pieces of paper is going to feel different. Don’t question yourself–it might get hotter, it might get colder, your fingers might tingle–whatever it is, just trust it.” Unique wiggled her fingers over the box, and reached back in to pull out a folded square of paper. Misty got quiet. “This is a girl. It’s a female. There’s a wisdom–she has a young, youthful energy–but there’s a wisdom there, too. There’s tremendous beauty and kindness here. There’s also an artistic bent–I’m not sure what it is, it might be music. She’s fun, she’s funny. There’s a “c” in her name… Spirit from the beyond, what I want is your name–please whisper your name.” I held my breath. Time slowed way down. “Traci? That’s the name I’m getting.” Unique unfolded the paper, and there was my handwriting spelling out my aunt’s name.

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I basically couldn’t talk for about five minutes after that. But the freak factor just kept comin’. A couple hours later, I got a text from our photographer with a screen shot from her computer–without realizing it, she’d taken exactly 666 photos… during the seance that we’d unwittingly scheduled on the 13th.

No joke, y’all. When it comes to the power of the seance–be afraid. Be very afraid.

Photos by Brittney Christie

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