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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, October 19, 2001

Magic Scene
'Monty's Magic' goes public

By Will Hoover
Advertiser Staff Writer

Monty Witt, known professionally by his first name only, calls his brand of hocus-pocus a "right-in-your-face kind of magic." Monty's Magic Theater opened to the public for the first time last night.

Richard Ambo • The Honolulu Advertiser

Monty's Magic Theater

Close-up and parlor magic featuring master magician Monty, Harvey "Mr. O" Ouchi and magic storyteller Yona Chock

7:30 p.m. today and Saturday

Queen Emma Building, 1270 Queen Emma St., Suite 612

$12 general, $8 children; because seating is limited to 20, reservations are required.


In a small, dim room at the end of a long corridor on the sixth floor of the Queen Emma building in downtown Honolulu, bodies bound in chains dangle upside down from the ceiling. Manacles adorn the walls, along with portraits of world-renowned deceivers: Houdini, Blackstone and Thurston. Swords, along with something called a "penetration box" (big enough to hold a human), sit ominously in a corner.

A sign on the door to Room 612 reads "Monty's Magic Theater."

Beyond the door, laws of gravity are violated at will. Solid matter materializes from air pockets. Fantastic is the norm. A small cluster of chairs faces a black-draped alcove where masters of levitation, illusion and legerdemain apply their craft.

The penetration box and dangling mannequin bodies are decorative props from the world of stage magic — that large and flashy domain of David Copperfield. But the prestidigitation practiced here is of another sort. Monty's Magic Theater is that rare haven of close-up and parlor magic, a la early Houdini or modern practitioner Ricky Jay.

The theater is intimate. Seating accommodates 20.

"This is right-in-your-face kind of magic," says the tall, blond-haired magician sitting at a table sprinkled with various and sundry implements of sleight of hand. "Very few people get to see this kind of magic. Matter of fact, very few people know about us up here."

This is theater proprietor Monty Witt. Known professionally by his first name only, he is president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians in Hawai'i. Monty's Magic Theater opened a year ago, but until now was strictly the hangout of local and international conjurers.

Last night Monty's Magic Theater opened to the public for the first time. It will be open again tonight and tomorrow.

"In the past, we have only opened the shows up to magicians," explains Monty, taking a break from setting up the tiny stage area. "Our intention is to do public shows once a month, with new performers each time. We'll be doing a lot of original close-up material — vanishes and things of that nature. We get the audience involved. There's a lot of participation.

"Here, I'll show you."

Monty picks up a couple of red sponge rubber balls from the table and hands them to a wide-eyed stranger.

"Here, you take that one — hold on to it tight — and I'll take this one."

In an instant, Monty's hands are empty and the visitor opens his fist and both balls spring out. In rapid-fire succession, Monty goes through a series of moves as balls fly through the air, evaporate, appear and disappear again from the visitor's hands.

The trick ends with Monty making two dozen balls vanish one by one, only to have them all spill from his hands at once and bounce across the table and floor.

To the rear of the theater is Monty's Magic Shop, open weekday afternoons. But off to the side is a mysterious room Monty calls the library, which is more like a miniature magic museum. Visitors are welcome to look through a glass window at these articles, says Monty, but unless they're card-carrying magicians, they are allowed no further.

"There's a lot of secrets in there," says the expert at the table. "People can peek in and look and be amazed by it. Otherwise, though, it's not open to the public. You have to be a member of one of the magic clubs to look around in there."

However, for those whose curiosity gets the better of them, just say the word — abracadabra! — and Monty can make a magic club membership form appear out of thin air.