Vesper Center City opens magical speakeasy with local talent

Mervant the Deceptionist
John Costello

Philadelphia already transforms to a magical place during the holiday season, but now that takes on a new meaning at Vesper Center City. Recently, the popular club announced the launch of their new speakeasy, Deceptions: A Magical Night of Mystery and Deception — and it features food, drinks and a night full of experiences you can’t quite explain. 

This new event actually gained steam during the pandemic when Mervant the Deceptionist was able to pivot his business and get booked on Airbnb for over 700 virtual performances. He now will be bringing his talents to the Center City establishment with help from Glu Hospitality and producers Smoke and Mirrors for in-person performances.

John Costello

“Deceptions is a brand new entertainment experience that fits exactly with our goal for Vesper and our entire hospitality group,” said Glu Hospitality Partner Tim Lu in a statement. “Glu Hospitality is all about creating unforgettable experiences and moments that bring together great food, quality cocktails, unique spaces and top notch entertainment. Over the pandemic, we have been working hard to perfect new menus, expand use of our space and launch new programming. During that process, I was celebrating my 40th Birthday and hired magician Danny Archer for the event. Danny is one of the partners in Smoke and Mirrors. We enjoyed the show so much, the two companies began talks about how they could work together and Deceptions was born. We are thrilled to bring something new and exciting to Center City that doesn’t currently exist. No one is doing anything like his in Philly, and we are excited to bring something new and different to the market.”

This new show was all made locally as well — Mervant is from the city and started to learn magic in his teens. Since then, he’s been perfecting his craft for over 15 years. What his practice has brought is a unique approach to the world of magic: The Philly born magician blends music with magic while also incorporating comedy, drama and interactive audience participation. It’s done so well that over the past five years, Mervant has become one of the most sought-after entertainers in the area performing around the world for celebrities and corporations like the Philadelphia Eagles, Kesha, Apple, Google, Nike, AirBnb and Sony. 

Like Mervant, Smoke and Mirrors who produces the event is also homegrown. As the release states, Danny Archer, a partner in S + M, is a full-time pro from Philly who has performed in over 35 countries around the world and 49 states. He has lectured and performed at just about every major magic convention in the U.S. He is also the producer of the MINDvention mentalism convention in Las Vegas. His slight of hand skills and performing abilities have been honed through thousands of performances for all kinds of audiences. Marty Martin on the other hand began his lifelong interest in magic at around age 11, and by 14 he was working on the weekends in a magic shop. After being drafted into the Army at 19 and serving in Vietnam, he opened the Philadelphia Magic Company along with Larry Taylor. Larry and Marty were also the house magicians for the High Rollers at Caesars Palace in Atlantic City for more than six years.

John Costello

On top of all of the magic at Vesper, the culinary and beverage team will pair new special cocktails made for Deceptions with new and updated cocktails for fall and winter, plus a lite snack menu. Anyone interested however should note that Deceptions is for audiences 21 and up only.

Deceptions will premiere on Nov. 14 and Nov. 16, and run every Thursday and Saturday this fall and winter. Doors open on Thursdays at 6 p.m. and doors open on Saturdays at 5:30pm. Only 40 tickets are being sold per performance to ensure the intimacy of this unique event, and so that every seat is up close and personal. Tickets are on sale now for $40 and $50 at For group reservations and special event inquiries, email [email protected]

For more information on Vesper Center City (223 S. Sydenham St.), visit

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