Ordinary Joes without a wizardly bone in their body are perfectly capable of making coins vanish or cards move from a deck into onlookers' wallets.
During the basic magic class at Hollywood's Magic Castle, students perform both of these tricks the very first night, the first of 15 acts they'll learn involving cards, coins and rope.
"It gives you a very strong sense of ego being able to fool someone else," said David Thorsen, 75, the master magician who teaches the course.
Students who take the class get a special perk: free admission to the Magic Castle during the six weeks they are enrolled. That's quite a bonus given that ordinarily only members and their guests are admitted.
So, students can attend any of the performances in the castle's three theaters and hang out for drinks at the spooky bar.
Students can continue with Magic 2, 3 and 4 -- also taught by Thorsen -- eventually trying out to become Castle members themselves.
Magic classes. 7:45-9:45 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 8 - Feb. 12; same time Thursdays, Jan. 9-Feb. 13. Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave., Hollywood. $285. 21 and over. Women must skirts or dresses; men, coats and ties. (213) 630-3149.
-- Susan Carpenter