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Magic Circle celebrates 25 years of women members

Katherine Mills, one of the headliners in the new West End magic show Impossible, says that ‘for a long time the Magic Circle was seen as an elite gentleman’s club, inaccessible to women’, but she believes times are changing. Photo: James Layton

The Magic Circle is celebrating 25 years since it began allowing women to be members.

The secretive membership organisation, which was founded in 1905 and whose members hail from across the globe, has allowed female magicians to become members since 1991.

At the time, 75% of members voted to include women in the membership.

As a celebration of the quarter-centenary of female membership, the Magic Circle is staging an all-female gala, hosted by Debbie McGee, who was one of the women to join the organisation.

In total, the Magic Circle now counts more than 1,500 magicians as members, but only 68 of these are women.

Magician Katherine Mills, who performed in the 2015 West End production Impossible, said the magic profession had improved since it began accepting women members but added that there was still an “old boys’ club” element to the industry.

“It certainly is considered a man’s game still, but I think that is changing… Because it’s such an old art, for hundreds of years it has been the man that is considered the magician and you’d have glamorous assistants on the sideline. It has that reputation but it’s changing,” Mills said.

She added that things had moved on since she began performing a decade ago, and the increasing presence of magic on television and in the media was banishing its “old-fashioned” reputation.

Mills, who has her own show on TV channel W, said that she still gets comments on her gender, but that she was seeing more and more women join the profession.

“It’s not such a rarity anymore. I think women bring something really different to the art. The more the merrier,” she said.

The Magic Circle’s celebratory gala, on October 9 at its headquarters in Euston, will feature performances from Mills alongside other magicians including Mandy Muden, Romany and Fay Presto.