Look through the halls of the Magic Castle, and there will be posters of storied magicians. Skyler Jade, 17, hopes to one day join them. She’s one of just three female magicians enrolled in the Magic Castle Junior Society
“My friends and I always joke about looking at it, and then who’s going to be the next junior who’s in this case,” Jade said, looking at photos of Junior Society alumni.
Jade is from Pacific Palisades and said she really got into magic about five years ago.
“My grandpa would show me little card tricks that he learned,” she said.
In October 2020, at the suggestion of a friend, Jade auditioned for the Magic Castle Junior Society, an exclusive group for young up-and-coming magicians. She remembers the moment she found out she was accepted.
“I woke up the next morning to my dad shaking me awake because he saw the email where it just said, ‘Congratulations, you got into the program,’ and it was such an amazing feeling,” Jade said.
Jade performs at restaurants and other private events and said the biggest thrill is watching the reactions from people in disbelief.
“I love when magic feels really natural and kind of feels like organic and less set up,” she said.
Jade recently performed for Ericka Larsen, a descendant of magic royalty and president of Magic Castle Enterprises.
“My grandmother, my grandfather, my uncle and my dad used to tour as the Larsen family of magicians,” Larsen said.
Larsen’s family founded the Magic Castle 60 years ago, which was her grandfather’s vision, but he died before it could become a reality.
“My grandmother, Geri Larsen, was known as the ‘Magic Lady’ on television,” Ericka Larsen said.
And Geri Larsen was the first female magician to perform on TV in 1939 before launching her own show, “The Magic Lady,“ on ABC 10 years later.
“The reason my grandmother ended up becoming a magician is because she was at a local competition and saw, very rare, another women performing and thought, ‘Wow, I could do that,’” Ericka Larsen said. “I think the more women see other women performing magic, the more they think, ‘Oh wow, that’s something I can do.’”
But there also was a darker side to what has long been considered an old boy’s club.
In 2020, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed allegations from guests and former employees of sexual misconduct and racism by management, staff, performers and academy members.
“I feel that all these magicians got painted with the same broad brush stroke, and it hurt me personally because they are my friends, and I know they would never do that,” Ericka Larsen said.
She noted that the whole situation showed the castle needed a shakeup.
“It brought the conversation to the forefront, and magic will certainly survive,” she said.
Only about 10% of the members in the Academy of Magical Arts are women, but Jade said she’s felt supported.
“If you really believe in where you want to go, then there should be no obstacle for you, even if you have people who aren’t entirely supportive,” she said.
The cultural shift is helping to clear the way for more female magicians like her to be dealt a better hand.