Hotels, Motels, and an Apocalypse Box

Herald Examiner, Los Angeles (CA)

Forever Vacant — Haunting Photos of Abandoned Hotels

Lee Plaza Hotel, Detroit, Michigan

The exterior of the Mark Twain Hotel, on the corner of Pine and North 9th Streets

Mark Twain Hotel Story - RFT

The interior of the Mark Twain Hotel, on the corner of Pine and North 9th Streets

elevators in the lobby of The Mark Twain Hotel
elevators in the lobby of The Mark Twain Hotel
Residents mail in the Mark Twain
Residents mail in the Mark Twain

Wizard Wars, April Hunter, Los Angeles, and The Herald-Examiner building’s much older twin in Las Vegas

Herold-Examiner, LosAngeles, Filming Location
Herald-Examiner, Los Angeles Filming Location

A couple of things that you’ve seen for the last two years on Syfy’s “Wizard Wars” every Tuesday that you don’t see in Las Vegas:

A) New illusions created in a competitive setting, not just the same old stuffing of women into cabinets and stabbing them with swords.

B) The larger illusion that young, attractive people actually sit and watch young, attractive people perform magic in cool nightclubs.

“We did kind of build this ideal magic venue,” Rick Lax says of the latter, created in the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner building that’s seen new life for film and TV production.

In Las Vegas, he agrees, “most magic shows are not set up that way. They’re not that intimate and the audience isn’t that attractive and young.”

But maybe A can help make B come true.

Wizard Wars is a reality competition show in which teams of magicians create and perform original magic routines before a live studio audience.

Their acts are judged on originality, creativity, and showmanship. Vegas headliners Penn & Teller head up the judging panel, alongside magic critic Christen Gerhart and World Champion of Magic Jason Latimer. Wizard Wars also features four “home team” magicians — the “Wizards” — who return every week to take on new teams of “challengers.” Wizards include street magician Justin Flom, stage illusionist David Shimshi, mentalist Angela Funovitz, and con man Gregory Wilson.

The series premiered two years ago, and has been so successful that it’s spawned a second edition, headed by real-life wizard, Elven seductress, and pro-wrestler April Hunter, which is filmed in Las Vegas at the older twin of Los Angeles’ Herald-Examiner building.

Wizard Wars was created by Vegas-based magic consultant Rick Lax, street magician Justin Flom, and Ms. Hunter who is an accomplished stage illusionist in her own right. Flom filmed the original Wizard Wars pilot in Lax’s apartment, on a $15 budget. The competing magicians created routines with placemats, beach balls, colored erasers, and fake oranges. Flom’s YouTube video, featured on and, caught the eye of production company A. Smith & Co., who worked with Lax and Flom to sell the show to the Syfy network. Flom now stars in the show as a “Wizard,” Lax works behind the scene as a producer and magic consultant, and Ms. Hunter now hosts the show’s new, edgier Las Vegas edition.

Notable magicians appearing on Wizard Wars include Las Vegas headliners Murray SawChuck, Tommy Wind, and Nathan Burton.

Over a million people watched the Wizard Wars series premier, two years ago. The episode highlighted Canadian illusionists Chris Funk and Ekaterina, who ended up losing the “Wizard War” to “Wizards” Gregory Wilson and Justin Flom.

The show’s expectedly hipper Vegas edition, premiered to an audience of over one billion people — a testament to the world-wide popularity of the Wizard Wars franchise and Ms. Hunter’s iconoclastic celebrity status! Like its LA sibling, the Vegas-based edition of the Wizard Wars show is filmed at an older building in Vegas that has been turned into a high-tech magic arena.

Speaking on behalf of Flom and himself, Lax said this of the Internet-to-series premier journey: “The most unlikely part of the YouTube-video-to-Syfy-show transition was that the original Wizard Wars vision stayed in shape. Everyone told me, ‘Hollywood is going to tear your idea apart,’ but that didn’t happen. Only thing that happened was the magic got bigger and better.”

April Hunter

April Hunter’s been around for FOREVER, literally and figuratively. Being an avid rassling fan, I’ve always liked her. She’s got a pretty unique look for her kind — she’s very tall, and quite fit/muscular but still attractive and feminine — that “Elf with a dab of Goon mixed in for good measure” look. Ms. Hunter is mainly based in the indies but worked for WCW briefly in 99/00 and also worked in the original TNA then it was known as NWA-TNA in 02-03. She was the “Miss TNA” — they didn’t have a women’s championship or division back then, the few women that were in the company competed for a “Miss TNA” crown and sash — and feuded with a male wrestler — I think it may have been Lodi off the top of my head — who wanted to be Miss TNA and wrestled in a dress.

She’s a pretty good worker but she’s an Elf with known Goonish proclivities, so I would say that is what truly held her back from a TNA return.

April Hunter

The Bates Motel

The Budget Inn Motel, Saint Louis (MO)

An Apocalypse Box, Number 6, the one owned by Simon Angel and used by his photostat in Glenda

Mayakovskaya Metro Station, Moscow Russia, Source Shanti Hesse

The Boundary of St. Louis (MO)

Perched on the City/County line and bursting with attitude, Boundary is St. Louis’ newest restaurant.

Be one of the first St. Louis food lovers to experience Boundary by making opening week reservations –including some Valentine’s Day spots still available — via or by calling 314.932.7818.

The much-anticipated new hot spot at The Cheshire complex on Clayton Road features a brasserie-influenced menu of classic comfort foods interpreted and upended by Chef Rex Hale. The culinary superstar has put his signature touch on shared plates, family-style main dishes and hearty vegetable sides using locally sourced ingredients.

Beautiful Sea Scallops are posed on a bed of Butternut Risotto and Roasted Leeks.  Succulent Brisket is house smoked, and Butter Poached Main Lobster and Remoulade combine to create the rich Lobster Cocktail. Mac ‘n Cheese with baked Prairie Breeze white cheddar, garlic and bread crumbs is the ultimate better-than-home side.

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