Filled with dead bats, rusty medical equipment and a glass eye dislodged from its owner’s socket, Misty Lee’s garage is a collection of everything that rattles in the dreams of an overactive mind. Whereas some may feel imaginary insects mottle their skin upon peeking inside the cabinets of Misty Lee’s suburban house, which is situated in a strangely disarming neighbourhood north of downtown LA, for Misty Lee, the words inspiration and disturbing are synonymous.
The history of American magic and mentalism would give you the impression that respected female magicians were as mythical as the spirits conjured inside of crystal orbs. In the 20th century, women pursuing careers in performance magic were assistants, both literally and metaphorically stuffed inside a box that was intentionally built small. So when Misty Lee was offered a residency at the Chateau-style castle of the Academy of Magical Arts, she became the tipping point of a small professional revolution.
Among bookshelves of dusty leather and moth-eaten paper, among the smell of bubbling wax and patrons’ nervous armpits, Misty holds séances courting the dead’s muffled thoughts.The Magic Castle was built in 1963 and has housed magic royalty from David Blaine to David Copperfield to Siegfried and Roy. The only way in is through a talking statue. The resident musician is a piano-playing ghost that takes requests. Basically,it’s the closest thing to Hogwarts reality has to offer.
Since she was ten years old, Misty Lee watched her schizophrenic father pinball from institutions to her childhood home in Detroit. Witnessing her mother’s resilience to verbal abuse first-hand, Misty learned a lesson that many never do—how others viewed her potential had very little to do with what she could achieve. Why did Misty decide to become a magician? Because magic vaults the limitations that society superimposes on reality. Magic is about believing in something bigger than the obvious.
“I don’t want to be [known as] a renowned female magician, I want to be [known as] a renowned magician,” says Misty.