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Racism, Sexual Misconduct Rampant at LA’s Famous Magic Castle, Says LA Times

The historic Hollywood property faces multiple accusations from a dozen people

Card tricks inside the Magic Castle
The Magic Castle
Wonho Frank Lee
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

A staggering new set of allegations has hit one of LA’s busiest (and most exclusive) restaurant and entertainment centers: Hollywood’s Magic Castle. The LA Times published a bombshell report late last week that outlined multiple instances of alleged sexual misconduct and racism at the historic property spanning years.

The Times piece chronicles a dozen interviews (some on the record, others not) from former employees and Magic Castle guests, “including a handful who have sued the academy,” saying that “when they voiced complaints to management, their concerns were not addressed or they suffered retaliatory actions, including loss of employment.”

The Magic Castle, ostensibly a private club for magicians and other entertainers — though long a favorite stop for tourists and locals who could get in to see shows via reservations at the on-site restaurant — denied allegations of management failures via board of directors president Randy Sinnott Jr. “All claims brought to the attention of the Board or management are treated seriously and professionally,” Sinnott told the Times, though the board otherwise declined to address any of the allegations directly.

Among them, one Korean magician says that he was repeatedly subjected to racially-motivated abuse during his time there, a sentiment echoed by former diners and staff, including a Black former cook named Brian Turner who told the Times that racist language in the kitchen was a daily occurrence — though not when former executive chef Jason Fullilove was around. Fullilove, who is Black, briefly ran the expansive restaurant at the Magic Castle and even earned a NY Times review while there, though he departed suddenly back in January.

A glowing downstairs bar at the Magic Castle, complete with an American Flag and old carpeting.
The downstairs bar at the Magic Castle
Wonho Frank Lee

In another incident, former restaurant employee Stephanie Carpentieri says that she was repeatedly groped by a busboy while on the job, and was fired after bringing the issue to management. Carpentieri filed a lawsuit in 2019, telling the Times that the Magic Castle continues to suffer from a culture of “not believing women.” The busboy and the Magic Castle’s board of directors denied wrongdoing in the lawsuit.

Go read the entire expansive Times piece for a broader look into the culture of the compound above Hollywood and Highland, and for multiple other reports of racism, discrimination, and abuse.

Magic Castle Hotel

7025 Franklin Avenue, , CA 90028 (323) 851-0800 Visit Website