Zombie Joe’s Underground Theater, is known for the weird and the wonderful, the morbid and the macabre. A prime example is their current smash hit: Joe Russo‘s world premiere play Blood Water about love, lust, and betrayal in Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.
Kind of a recap of Ms. Go Go’s Mardi Gras 2012…but I digress.
ZJU continues the tradition of delightfully grim entertainment on Friday, February 24th, with a one-night-only-benefit for the Red Cross. Haunted House Callsby magician and mentalist Micah Cover blends history, theater, magic, and mentalism into a uniquely compelling — and unsettling — mix.
Ms. Go Go was lucky to snag Micah for an email interview but don’t count on luck to get tix for Haunted House Calls. Reserve NOW at (818) 202-4120.
Ms. Go Go:Haunted House Calls seems very different from other magic shows. Can you tell Go Go’ers what to expect?
Micah Cover/Haunted House Calls: First, let me thank you, Ms. Go Go, for the opportunity to talk about my show. I’m really flattered!
You’re right – Haunted House Calls is very different from other magic shows. For one thing, it’s one of the only magic shows in existence that tells an actual story from beginning to middle to end, and every magical effect is organic to the story. Also, it’s one of the most (if not the most!) interactive magic shows out there. The audience gets to participate in the magic and even control many of the outcomes. Many of those outcomes will have something to do with the audience themselves – the name of their best friend will appear in a surprising way, their own memories will play a part in the effects and more. And in some cases, the magic will literally happen in their own hands.
MGG: The post World War II era is unusual to see in a magic show. Does that era hold a special attraction for you and if so, why?
MC/HHC: Yes, that era certainly does hold an attraction for me. The majority of the story takes place at the tail end of World War II, which was a fascinating and very mysterious time in American history. Countless planes vanished over the Bermuda Triangle during that time. American General Henry Arnold told the public that the military had developed “secret weapons” so powerful that there “may not be any more wars.” Twelve days after Hiroshima and nine days after Nagasaki, he apparently was referring to something other than atomic weapons (true story)! Finally, it marked the 100th anniversary of the publication of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Haunted House Calls weaves all of these elements and more together and makes the argument – through magic – that everything is connected.
MGG: Your bio indicates that you’ve trained as a mentalist as well as a magician. Can you talk about the differences between the two and why mentalism is an integral part of Haunted House Calls?
MC/HHC: Sure! While there’s often an overlap with general magic, mentalism is a specific branch of magic where the magician attempts to make magic happen with the power of his or her mind. This can include reading the audience’s minds, accurately predicting outcomes despite impossible conditions, telekinesis, clairvoyance and more. Mentalism often feels more supernatural and mysterious than sleight of hand or big stage illusions because it’s often harder to explain. Since Haunted House Calls is the story about two people who disappeared years ago under very mysterious circumstances, the use of mentalism seemed a natural fit. In the show, the audience gets to play the part of The Bermuda Triangle, participates in predictions, witness telekinesis, pulse control, levitations and more.
MGG: Friday night’s show at Zombie Joe’s Underground is a rare public performance ofHaunted House Calls, which seems like a very intimate experience. How do you keep the intimacy with a larger group?
MC/HCC: Yeah, usually I do this show in people’s living rooms with a small group. ZJU gives me the opportunity to perform for a wider range of people. But I do make sure everyone in the audience feels like it’s an intimate experience. It’s highly interactive, and I communicate with the audience a lot more than most magicians. This creates a much more informal and (hopefully!) conversational atmosphere. And since the audience plays such an important role in the story and the show, the format relies heavily on improvisation anyway, so I continue to improvise with the audience even between effects. And there is no fourth wall in Haunted House Calls. The audience is ALWAYS a part of it.
MGG: I’ve read testimonials that indicate audience members are not just entertained but quite spooked! Is there an age limit for the performance? Should people with heart conditions avoid the show?!
MC/HCC: Ha! Thanks! Yeah, some people do have a genuine visceral reaction to what happens. In general, since it’s a sophisticated and sometimes spooky show, I prefer to do it for teenagers and up. But I’m sure people with heart conditions will still be okay! While I’d love the audience to be freaked out, my goal is to leave them with a magical story that will haunt them long after the show is over.
MGG: Finally, can you talk about why you chose the Red Cross as your charity?
MC/HHC: Sure. Zombie Joe and I decided that Haunted House Calls created a unique opportunity to give back to people in need. And if the “benefit” angle increased ticket sales, it would be a win-win anyway. I do a lot of charity work already, whether performing for the Shriner’s Hospital each month, or the VA each month or producing my annual benefit at the Magic Castle called The Night of the Raven. I had toyed with the idea of sending Haunted House Calls proceeds to a charity, and when the Red Cross asked for help with the victims of the recent disasters in Japan, I knew who should get the money. Haunted House Calls has been a benefit for the Red Cross ever since.
I’m so grateful to any GoGo’ers who have read this, and I’d LOVE to see you at the show on Friday, 2/24/12 @ 8:30 PM @ ZJU Theatre @ 4850 Lankershim in NoHo. Thank you!