Magicians told to produce more details

Illusions bar asks for live entertainment license

May 25, 2010|By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun

The city's zoning board told a father-and-son team of magicians Tuesday to produce more details on the acts they plan to offer at their bar before deciding whether to approve their application for a live entertainment license.

Ken and Spencer Horsman, the owners of Illusions Magic Bar, are the first Federal Hill business owners to appear before the board to request the license under a program recently created by Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake to invigorate the city's nightlife.

Spencer Horsman wriggles out of a straitjacket and performs card tricks at the South Charles Street bar, which previously housed his father's magic store for two decades. The Horsmans are seeking permission to host vaudeville-style acts, such as jugglers and comedians.

Ten bars have applied for a live entertainment license since the program — a signature Rawlings-Blake initiative — was signed into law late last year, said the city zoning director, David Tanner. Four licenses have been awarded.

Federal Hill Neighborhood Association president Paul Robinson, armed with a sheaf of letters from city officials including Council President Bernard C. "Jack" Young and Council Vice President Edward Reisinger, testified in opposition to the bar's receiving the license. Robinson, a vocal opponent of the live entertainment program, claimed that the Horsmans had not adequately notified the community group about their plans.

But several residents who accompanied the Horsmans said that the magic bar is a far cry from the rowdy pubs near Cross Street that have drawn complaints for excessively intoxicated patrons.

Illusions attracts a "more sophisticated crowd" who do not trouble most residents, said Kathy McClesky, a former member of the Federal Hill Neighborhood Association who lives near the bar.

The Horsmans, who brought letters of support from three dozen business owners and a petition signed by 200 residents, said that they had extensively discussed their plans with Robinson. The bar has no liquor board violations, they said.

Zoning board chairwoman Michelle Lipkowitz asked the Horsmans to write a more detailed explanation of their plans and share it with Robinson. Another hearing will be scheduled within a few weeks, she said.

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