This week, Laura and Sara are joined by Joey Cranford, co-owner and CEO of Chicago Magic Lounge where the main attraction is the magic and can be experienced at three different spaces throughout the venue: at the front bar, in the 120 seat main cabaret-style theatre, and the more intimate 43 seat-654 Club. Chicago Magic Lounge is located at 5050 N. Clark Street in Andersonville and is open for magic, signature cocktails and small bites seven days a week.
Listen to Episode 20 with Joey Cranford!
Here are some references from Episode 20 that you may want to check out:
- Joey came to Chicago and trained with The Second City, the iO Theatre and The Annoyance Theatre. He has acted in shows like Chicago Fire and Better Call Saul
- Joey was a theatre kid who grew up being in school plays. He went to school for theatre, but he kept transferring to bigger and bigger schools throughout Texas to test his acting abilities against a larger pool of competitors.
- After a brief time in LA, Joey came to Chicago to train in improv. He was excepted into Second City’s conservatory program and viewed it like grad school. He loved improv because he didn’t have to remember a script. He and a few other guys went on tour doing improv for a living for three years.
- Joey then worked as a promotional MC (master of ceremonies) for Ford Motor Company. While that became his living, he searched for other things to occupy his time as a hobby. He found a juggling club based out of the Alternatives space in Uptown, but didn’t feel like juggling was his true calling.
“If your hobby becomes your job, then you need another hobby”
– Joey Crandford
- Joey had never seen a live magician until he was 32 at his friend’s wedding
- Joey got his start in magic through a joke of sorts: Joey and his wife were at Walgreens and there was a Criss Angel magic set that said a $250 value for $29.95. They joked that they could sell its parts wholesale and make a fortune. His wife later gave him that same magic set one Christmas and he ended up enjoying it so much, he wanted to learn real magic. So he read, watched, and learned how to do sleight of hand magic.
- Joey discovered Magic Inc. here in Chicago where he met magicians and worked his way into the magic community, and later on, upon opening Chicago Magic Lounge, Joey’s entertainment director gifted him a signed poster of Criss Angel Mindfreak (framed at Foursided – 5061 N Clark) signed by Criss and wishing Joey good luck with Chicago Magic Lounge!
- Initially, Joey’s magic group performed at Uptown Underground on Thursday nights, but he had a vision while reading Now You See Them, Now You Don’t – My life in the magic bars of Chicago by Bill Weimer to open a dedicated magic lounge. His group eventually grew the programming to several nights a week at Uptown Underground, and then Joey was approached by his current business partner, Don Clark, to start their own lounge.
- Joey has lived in “Andersonville adjacent” for the last 12 years. He had walked by the current location at 5050 N Clark several times when it was a commercial laundry building and found the building to be full of mystique and intrigue.
- Joey and Don decided on a 1930s, post-prohibition feel in the Chicago Magic Lounge, to come out of the Victorian era and into art-deco style. The first magic bar opened in Chicago in 1936, and they also wanted to nod to that.
- Misdirection is the secret behind magic, “Obviously, we don’t live in a Harry Potter universe, but we want you to get as close to that as possible.”
- During an evening at Chicago Magic Lounge, you can engage with the space as much as you want to. It has an “onion peel effect.” Preview the venue here.
“The world we live in right now is full of all kinds of crazy things and we are just aching for a little misdirection”
– Joey Cranford