Why Did Esther's Follies' Ray Anderson Go to L.A.?

To get a career-defining award from the Magic Castle, of course

Fact: You don’t have to walk through a mirror to get to the storied Magic Castle in Los Angeles. But if you did have to do that, to walk right through a full-length looking glass to attend the 50th annual Academy of Magical Arts awards presented by L.A.’s historic lodge of legerdemain, then Ray Anderson would still have no problem at all.

Actually, it’s because the longtime Esther’s Follies phenom has so often done such things as, WTF, walking through the haunted mirror from Austin’s Driskill Hotel – and has done so with his uniquely charming style and panache – that he was awarded a Performing Fellowship from the wizardly Academy just a week ago.

[Technical note: As if part of some large-scale David Copperfield switch, the awards fete wasn’t held at the Castle itself, but at L.A.’s nearby Orpheum Theatre.]

[Addendum: The abovementioned Copperfield also received an award from the AMA that night; but we’re talking about the hometown boy here, tyvm.]

You know, when we featured Esther’s Follies in these pages a while back, the Follies folks we interviewed, much of what they talked about was that Ray Anderson. And whenever we chat with locals or visiting tourists who’ve recently been to Esther’s comedy powerhouse on Sixth Street, they may regale us with delighted reports of the array of clever sketches and songs they’ve witnessed … but they’ll inevitably rave about “That magician they have? That Ray Anderson? Holy shit, he was hilarious, and – how? I mean, what the hell, how does he do those impossible things? Because they are impossible, right? It’s some sort of trick? Because … people can’t actually do that kind of thing, right?”

Well, of course Ray Anderson does the impossible. And he does it so well that he does the improbable, too: It’s not every good-lookin’ human, no matter how tricky, who gets such an award from the Academy of Magical Arts.

As magician Nick Lewin noted in Vanish magazine, the trade’s premiere publication, "Ray Anderson has blended illusion, comedy, and audience participation into one of the most carefully constructed performances in the magic world. There isn't a dull moment when Anderson is onstage. Performing immaculate and inventive large-scale illusions or parodying the genre, it is truly an object lesson in performing skills to watch as Anderson does his thing."

Ray Anderson (r) at the Academy of Magical Arts awards with his partner Steven Michael Miller

Hell, word on the street is that Esther’s star performer will be featured on the cover of Vanish later this year.

And you can watch Anderson doing his thing every weekend at Esther’s Follies. That’s right in the heart of Downtown Austin, where the magician’s mind-boggling mirror illusion – using that supposedly haunted one from the Driskill, yes – is just the newest of his innovative spectacles.

[Recently justified flourish: His innovative, award-winning spectacles.]

And, look, citizen: Nothing up our journalistic sleeve, but – presto!you can get tickets right here.

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Ray Anderson, Esther's Follies, Magic Castle, Performing Fellowship

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