Due Diligence

If only magician Joshua Jay could conjure up more space in his Chelsea studio

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Joshua Jay, who's been described as one of America’s finest young magicians, performs close-up magic—which involves sleight of hand where the magician is not that far from their audience. The author of Big Magic for Little Hands, Jay won the World Magic Championship at 17 and has traveled the world ever since.  When he's not traveling, he lives in a 750-square-foot studio with his assistant/wife, whom he married two months ago (the couple were featured in the New York Times Style section). Among his prize possessions: Houdini's straitjacket and handcuffs.
What neighborhood do you live in?

I live in Chelsea, on 23rd between Sixth and Seventh. 

Is this your dream neighborhood or is there someplace else in NYC you’d prefer to settle in?

I'm sure there's some bias in this, but I truly can't think of a more convenient area in terms of enjoying the city. In terms of subways, we're five minutes or less from ACE, 1, F &V, and N,R and W. We're a nice 25-minute walk from Times Square, and an even nicer 25-minute walk from the village. We're five-minutes from the original Shake Shack (which is essential), and a breezy five minutes to Billy's Bakery on Ninth (another essential). 

Do you own or rent?


How’d you find it?

My uncle owned and lived in this apartment before we did, so it was an easy choice. 

What’s the one thing you love the most about it?

The biggest strength of the space is also its biggest weakness. It's a studio with high walls and an open layout. It's a big, blank box, so to speak, and we had a blast turning it into a warm space filled with magic. We display huge, vaudeville three-sheet posters from turn-of-the-century magicians, and have props and ephemera from magic's golden age displayed. The downside is that I live here with my wife, and we both do magic full time, so we're here a lot. There is no way to close a door or be alone. So every phone call is a group call, and our Pandora playlists have to be full of songs we both can tolerate. But the apartment ultimately brings us closer together. 

If there’s one thing you could change about your apartment, what would it be?

More closet space! This is the only answer to this question if you live in NYC. 

In three words, describe the first apartment you've ever lived in.

Dirty. College. Apartment. 

Do you prefer old NYC or this NYC?

I moved here seven years ago, and by the time I arrived, everything was already expensive. There were green juice places on every block, and movies were already $14 per ticket. Expensive NYC is the only NYC I know. But I love it. 

Tell us about your favorite apartment you’ve ever had.

This is really the only apartment I've ever had since college. 

Name one NYC service you couldn’t live without.

The only way winter is tolerable in NYC is with Seamless, since we've become increasingly averse to leaving when it's cold out. Writing that last sentence, I realize how lazy that makes us sound. Which is very accurate. 

What's your favorite spot in the city?

We just went to Eleven Madison Park for the first time, and although I don't know if going somewhere once makes it eligible as a favorite place, I can tell you it's the best meal we've had anywhere in the world. We had a blast. Other than that, I'm a homebody. I'm fortunate to be surrounded in my apartment with Houdini's straitjacket, the first book ever written in English on magic, and some of the coolest treasures in magic history. I travel so much the place I'd most like to be is right here, at home. 

Which would you rather: Brooklyn brownstone or a penthouse in a shiny, new condo?

Shiny, new condo in Manhattan. Is that an offer? 

If you could live elsewhere, where would it be?

We do! We just bought a home in Austin, Texas, and we plan to spend the colder months there. I did a tour last year of most major U.S. cities, and Austin was our clear favorite. So after the tour we went back and bought a home we're absolutely crazy about. 

Any advice for a recent New York transplant?

Walk. I'm always surprised by how many people get into the rat race of training to and from the office, when the best part of living here is the long walks through the various areas. We walk—no joke—a couple hours almost every day we're here. We can't get enough of being outside, exploring new areas. 


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