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9th Annual Soapy Smith Night Photos


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The 9th Annual Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle, held on July 8, 2012, was a great success! We had 420 attendees, and raised $2,520 for the Vernon Fund!

Thanks, everyone!

For nine years, the Magic Castle has celebrated the famous gunfight on the wharf at Skagway, Alaska on July 8, 1898, when the great Soapy Smith, the King of the Frontier Conmen, and the finest exponent of the Shell Game thet ever lived, was gunned down and his gang of 100 con men who had ruled the entry to the Gold Rush from its inception were arrested or scattered.

At the Magic Castle, we have a wonderful party each year to celebrate the memory of this clever bad man. We turn the place into a Gold Rush era saloon, with antique gambling tables for Chuck a Luck, Faro, Black Jack, and Roulette, along with all sorts of other games like the Shell Game, Three-Card Monte and Fast and Loose. There are prizes for the best dealer and most successful player. We have a costume contest as well. Everyone dresses up in 1890’s attire, and there are prizes for the most authentic, funniest, and sexiest costumes. We have a toast to Soapy’s ghost, and live Old Time music provided by Professor Dave Bourne and the Medicine Show Band.  Chef Anton, the two-time national trick shot champion at pool, presents his incredible demonstration of billiards wizardry. We have a live auction, presided over by professional auctioneer and wonderful magician/vaudevillian, Rob Zabrecky.

It is one of the most fun nights  of the year at the Magic Castle.

Photos of Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle


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Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle in Hollywood this year will be on Sunday, July 8th, beginning at 6:00 pm.

It is a costume party celebrating the gunfight at the wharf in Skagway, Alaska on July 8, 1898 during the height of the Gold Rush in which Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith was killed.

Soapy Smith was the con man and gangster that ran the town of Skagway with his gang of 100 trained con men and hustlers. He had the fix in with the law and the government of Alaska, and stripped almost everyone going into or out of Skagway with some kind of scheme or other. He had previously controlled Denver and then Creede, Colorado during the Silver Rush of the 1880’s.

After his death, members of his gang later scattered around the country, and included famous playwright and aphorist Wilson Mizner, Alexander Pantages who founded the Pantages theater chain, and Alexander “The Man Who Knows” Conlin who made over twenty million dollars as a fake psychic in vaudeville.

We have live Old Time Music by Dave Bourne and the Medicine Show band, a trickshot demonstration by 2 time world champion Chef Anton, a toast by great-grandson Jeff Smith and family, and gambling at old time gambling games like Faro and Chuck a Luck on antique equipment provided by Phil Gessert of Tombstone, Arizona. Nick Lewin will demonstrate his amazing linking finger ring routine, and John Reynolds will demonstrate bi-labial fricatation.

There will also be three-card monte, shell game, lotteries and other swindles designed to take your Soapy Money all around the Castle.

People dress up in Gay Nineties, Old West, Gold Rush and Steampunk attire for the event. There are prizes for most authentic, sexiest, and funniest costumes.

Proceeds of the event go to the Vernon Fund.

Silver Shells go to winner on Soapy Night at the Magic Castle!


On Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle, coming up on July 8th, the dealer who wins the most Soapy Money wins a set of School for Scoundrels Colorado Silver Shells.
These are made of solid sterling silver by Jurgen Maerz of the Platinum Guild, and the set weighs almost four ounces.
Dealers can work at one of our Faro or dice tables, or set up their own game. They must pay $20 to register as a dealer, and in return they each get $1000 dollars in Soapy money to start their game. They can purchase more money during the evening, but at the regular price–$5 US for 100 Soapy dollars.
The dealer with the most Soapy money by 9:30 pm wins the Silver Shells.
One year it was won by a shell game man, the next by a guy selling tickets to a non-existant lottery.
These beautiful shells are designed by Pop Haydn, and are our “top of the line” shells for the shell game at www.ScoundrelsStore.com. They sell for $450 a set.
These were inspired by the story of Nutshell Jim who won so much money from the silver miners of Creede, Colorado during the 1880’s that he had his favorite shell game shells cast in silver.
The sheen of the silver shells gliding across the table inflamed the avarice of the miners and cowboys who lost everything they had trying to “follow the little pea.”
The player who wins the most Soapy money will also win a great prize.
Players get 100 Soapy Dollars for five dollars US, and can buy more at the same price.
If you are not a member of the Magic Castle, and would like to come, you should private message me, and I will set you up if I can.
There is twenty-five dollar door charge for non-members, and a five dollar charge for members and the guests who are with them. The five dollars gives you $100 in Soapy Money to play with, and goes completely to the Vernon Fund.
People dress up in Gold Rush finery, Old West and Steampunk styles.
The normal Magic Castle dress codes do not apply to costumes, though if you are not in an obvious 19th Century costume, the standard dress code will apply.
Check any guns at the door.

Soapy Smith Night at the Magic Castle July 8th


“Ya’ wanna’ see Fitzhugh Lee — Soapy Smith’s famous eagle?”


Fitzhugh Eagle

My dear friend Jeff Smith sent me this wonderful photograph of the Eagle that was given to Soapy Smith and displayed in back of Jeff Smith’s Parlor. It was the origin of the Alaskan phrases “I’m goin’ to see the eagle” and “I’m goin’ to show him the eagle” the former meaning I am going to relieve myself, and the latter meaning “I’m going to mug this stupid Cheechawko.” Both referred to the space out back where men went to pee behind the saloon, and also to where Soapy’s men would supposedly mug folk with a poke. Probably not true, since Soapy wouldn’t allow much of any disrepute, including gambling in his “headquarters.”

Here is what Jeff says:

“The photograph was taken by Rev. John Sinclair on July 4, 1898 just before the parade.

“The float, a freight wagon, holds a large wire cage containing the live American bald eagle given to Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith.

Behind the wagon a man holding a large American flag will be followed by Soapy’s private army, the Skaguay Military Company, in which Soapy is Captain. The small boy dressed as “Uncle Sam” is the 9-y…ear-old son of Soapy’s business partner John Clancy. The wagon rests in front of Soapy’s saloon, Jeff Smith’s Parlor (far right). The white and grey horse between the Parlor and the wagon is Soapy’s. He will be riding the same as the fourth division marshal of the parade, but Soapy manages to force his way to the front of the parade, becoming the unofficial grand marshal.”

–Jeff Smith

You can find out much more about Soapy Smith, the “King of the Frontier Con Men” by the website of his great-grandson and biographer, Jeff Smith at http://www.soapysmith.net/

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