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LA’s famed Magic Castle hit with allegations of sexual misconduct, racism

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L.A.’s legendary Magic Castle — known as the world’s most exclusive clubhouse for magicians —  is a hotbed of abuse, racism and sexual harassment, according to a bombshell report published Friday.

At least 12 people have accused management and staffers at the historic Hollywood mansion — which stages breathtaking magic shows with star-studded audiences — of subjecting workers and customers to everything from racial comments to sexual assault, according to an investigation by the L.A. times

One of the accusers, former waitress Stephanie Carpentieri, said the Magic Castle failed take action after she reported a busboy who repeatedly groped her breasts and grabbed her vagina on the job, the paper reported.

“I worked there for six years — I did my job well. And when I needed to be protected by them, they created a hostile environment for me,” Carpentieri, 38, said. “I just felt betrayed.”

Carpentieri, who sued Magic Castle last year, said the business — which is the official home to the Academy of Magical Arts —  is plagued by a good-old-boy mentality and a culture of “not believing women.”

In another case, magic performer Ed Kwon said he was repeatedly harassed because he’s Korean, including during a brunch with a longtime magician member.

“He used his hands to make slanted eyes and [said] the stereotypical Chinese — something along the lines of, ‘Ching hong chong,’” said Kwon, 24, according to the paper. “What he did and said was so out of place, it hit me at a surreal level.”

Racist comments played a role in him leaving the Castle, and the country — and soured him on the magic trade entirely, he said.

Voters cast their ballots at The Magic Castle clubhouse polling location in Hollywood, California during election day.
Voters cast their ballots at The Magic Castle clubhouse polling location in Hollywood, California during election day.
ETIENNE LAURENT/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

A third accuser, former bartender Terry Lee Lamair, claims the Castle ignored complaints that a co-worker had sexually harassed her, according to the paper, which notes she sued the Castle in 2013.

Instead of doing anything to stop the abuse, she said, a supervisor joined in — by repeatedly referring to her vagina as the “Grand Canyon.”

“I do have hope that shining a light on this stuff will make a change, because the Magic Castle . . . should not be tarnished by this atmosphere of violence and harassment,” Carpentieri said.

Other allegations include a customer who “stormed out, mid-act” because a magician allegedly pressured her to “rub [a] card on my boobs” in 2018, according to the customer, Andrea Kemp.

“He leaned into me and tried to smell my chest and . . . I pushed him off me,” she said. “I went back to my seat and . . . stormed out mid-act. I immediately started crying,” she said.

Between 2011 and 2019, the academy was sued four times by former employees for allegedly violating the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which protects against sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation, according to the report. Settlements were reached in three of the cases and Carpentieri’s suit is ongoing.

After an investigation into some of the allegations, the The Academy of Magical Arts and its Board sent a statement to members on Oct. 14 stressing the need for improvement.

“The findings were serious and broad-spanning, covering management, culture, human resources, operational systems and processes, and the need for systemic change,” the statement notes, according to the L.A. Times.

Randy Sinnott Jr., the president of the organization’s board of directors, didn’t immediately respond to the Post’s request for comment Friday.

Magic Castle co-founder Milt Larsen declined to comment to the L.A. Times through a spokeswoman.

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