A Magician's Guide to Travel

by  Elissa Garay | Jan 12, 2012
Waldorf Astoria, NY
Waldorf Astoria, NY / tupungato/iStock

Steve Cohen, dubbed “the Millionaires' Magician,” has been a mainstay at New York City’s legendary Waldorf Astoria for the last decade, entertaining upper-crust crowds (royalty, celebrities, and politicians frequent his audience) with his Chamber Magic show – the longest running solo magic show in NYC – held in a Waldorf penthouse on weekends.

In his latest bag of tricks, he’s taking his show on the road in 2012 with a brand-new, bigger-and-better Theater of Wonder show brimming with new illusory acts designed for a much larger setting – the new traveling show is kicking off tonight with a one-night-only performance at NYC’s Carnegie Hall (where tickets have been sold out for two months). Here, Steve sits down with us to offer up a magician’s guide to travel, with insights on his Waldorf Astoria home base, reflections on his former stomping grounds in Japan, tips for travelers interested in magic, and insight on what to expect on his new road show.

You’ve been a fixture at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel for the last 10 years. How would you describe the hotel to those considering a stay?
The Waldorf Astoria combines old-world luxury and an attentive staff with all the modern conveniences that make you feel like you're staying in contemporary New York. The public spaces are straight out of a picture postcard and the service, from the moment you arrive curbside, is unparalleled. To me, the Waldorf Astoria is like a second home. Throughout the hotel, the staff strives to make all their guests feel that this is their home in Manhattan.

Do you have any insider’s tips for Waldorf-Astoria Hotel guests?
Make sure you see Cole Porter's piano, which is located in the Cocktail Terrace just above the Park Ave Entrance. Decorated with hand paintings, it's the piano on which Cole Porter composed many of his famous songs when he lived in the Waldorf Towers.

Also visit the ballroom on the third floor – it's one of the few full-scale ballrooms in Manhattan. When you step inside, you can imagine being there during an elegant gala surrounded by thousands of New York socialites.

And make sure you contact Michael Romei, the Chef Concierge of the Waldorf Towers. He is one of the most knowledgeable and friendly concierges you'll ever meet and he knows every corner of New York City.

While out globe-trotting, are there any destinations or attractions that you might recommend to travelers interested in magic?
Don't miss the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. It is the mecca of magic where performers from around the globe gather and present world-class magic every night.

I’ve read you spent some time studying and living in Japan. What is the magic scene like there?
In Tokyo, there are over a dozen magic bars. The master of each shop is usually the performer; he stands behind the bar and does a full show for the customers who are drinking there. The entrance fee is usually high, but there may be only 10 seats in the whole bar. Usually the show is interactive so everyone who attends gets to experience the magic up close.

Do you have any favorite destinations or experiences in Japan that you would recommend to our readers?
My favorite store in Japan is called Tokyu Hands. It's like a department store that sells everything except clothes. They sell gadgets, stationery, raw materials, clever housewares, and even some magic tricks. Every time I go into that store, I'm inspired to buy something that will spice up my home.

What will audience members experience in Theater of Wonder that they won’t find in Chamber Magic?
There are new tricks in the show: Some of them are larger in scale so they can be seen from the balcony of a theater. I will also be performing some of my old favorites including Think-a-Drink, but there are many new miracles in store. In one of the routines, I will attempt to send someone back in time over 100 years.

What destinations are you most looking forward to visiting during your upcoming Theater of Wonder tour?
I'm looking forward to returning to Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Boston, among other destinations. Each of these cities has been very supportive of my Chamber Magic shows in the past and I look forward to sharing new wonders with my fans there.

For more information and to book tickets to the Chamber Magic shows at the Waldorf Astoria, visit www.chambermagic.com. Showtimes are 7pm and 9pm, every Friday and Saturday night, and 2pm on Saturday afternoons ($75 general admission, $100 for premium front-row seating). Tour dates and U.S. city locations for the Theater of Wonder tour are pending – check back on the Chamber Magic website shortly for the full announcement.

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