Enter Keith Jozsef, a local magician who promises his audience an evening of "Bizarre Magic" at 8 and 11 p.m. on Friday, October 31, at DeWeese Photography Studio (2101 Locust Street), provided they pay the $20 admission fee (but you get two drinks with that, so the appearance of spirits is guaranteed; call 314-752-9882 for tickets). Jozsef is good-natured and charming on the phone, and he seems fairly grounded for someone who goes gallivanting off to this other realm for fun and profit, and not at all inclined to hooded robes or strange chanting under blood-red moons. What gives?
"Frankly, I'm as skeptical as anyone out there. I'm the magician; I know how all the tricks are done. But obviously, what I'm doing is in the context of entertainment. If not, I wouldn't be charging admission, I'd be starting a cult," Jozsef laughs, and not in a villainous way. All right, our "Cthulu and Jozsef in '04" T-shirts go back into the closet. Jozsef further clarifies the nature of his act: "It's important that people understand it is what it is; I make no claims as to what the forces are, I'm not saying there are spirits, I'm not saying that the studio is haunted or anything like that. People can draw their own conclusions based on what happens."
But what will happen? What are these "mysterious forces" Jozsef claims he will manipulate?
Here the tape recording of Keith Jozsef's explanation goes blank, leaving only cold silence and the nagging feeling that the talented Mr. Jozsef (or his unseen minions) is messing with us. When the tape picks up again, Jozsef is explaining that Bizarre Magic "involves the element of theatricality, not just 'performing tricks.' It puts the magic in some sort of context, so that people can relate to it. I mean, nobody dreams about pulling a rabbit out of a hat. A lot of [the act] is based on a lot of historical mythologies of different cultures." Jozsef is well aware of the dangers of associating a modern magic act with That Old Tyme Religion: "When you start associating with a historical context," he says, "the fundamentalists will look and say, 'Oh, that's black magic.' You have to reassure people that it's just to provide a release, it's mystery entertainment."
Jozsef's evening of mystery entertainment will involve "mental mysteries, tests of ESP, experiments in clairvoyance, telepathy, stuff like that. Then I segue into something BIZARRE." He's keeping mum on the exact nature of his bizarreness, but when prodded, he doesn't rule out Penn & Teller-type geek tricks involving blood or gore.
"Hopefully," he says, "we'll give them a couple of drinks, they'll relax and have a sense of fun, and we'll all have a good time and forget about the world for 90 minutes."
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