Singapore’s Magic Stars on World tour

The secret to reading 100 minds in 5 minutes (known as The Mind Heist) and besting the fictional Jean Grey, from the famed Marvel Comics SuperHero herself, is wordplay.

This was one of many revelations divulged on Apr 7 at Sinema Old School by world-class illusionist, J C Sum and SouthEast Asia’s first professional female magician, ‘Magic Babe’ Ning, who performed that very stunt when every single one of their hundred predictions came true on Jan 7, 2012.

J C and Ning were sharing their professional secrets on, stop number 2 of their world lecture series.

The newly signed FLY Entertainment artistes are two-time record world holders, as verified by International Brotherhood of Magicians, for The Impossible Record. Beating the previous record of 10 tricks in under 5 min, they’ve performed a whopping 15 mind-blowing illusions in the same amount of time.

This January, they successfully predicted the national lottery on TV and teleported cars over great distances in front of 16,000 pairs of eyes on Aug 22, 2009. Performing mega illusions like these is certainly no walk in a park. J C tells UrbanWire, “We are only limited by our imagination,” before jokingly adding, “As well as our budget and logistics.”

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Although they’ve been performing their jaw-dropping stunts around the world for years, the opportunity to embark on this unprecedented world lecture tour covering 25 European cities, another 4 North American ones and 3 in Indonesia came from another source. They were spotted appearing on the prestigious TV show Le Plus Grand Cabaret du Monde in France.

They’ve taken on the challenge to deliver these lessons to reveal the secrets behind some of their best-loved tricks to magicians or beginners, as well as to share how to choose material for close-ups, mentalism and stage, hence the name 3 Sides of Magic.

In hometown Singapore their lecture was so enjoyable the 3 hours flew by. Besides being entertaining, it was also educational. J C engaged the crowd, explaining the mechanics of his tricks so that his magic wasn’t just something one could watch, but also something one can feel.

One example he demonstrated was The Olive Cups, a simple trick you can use to impress your drinking mates with just a couple of olives and 2 cups.

Ning put smiles on the faces of those present with her Teddy Bear Box – a little something to spring the perfect surprise during a birthday party.

Other ways to keep you the life of the party included a brilliant icebreaker Eye Drops, and The Invisible Bookmark, that’s certain to have your friends begging for an encore.

Part of the performer’s mystique and impact is also built up in his/her personal image and a clever choice of words, and the duo selflessly shared about these as well.

As complete as the lecture was, given the time, the 2 were well prepared with sets of magic kits- lecture notes, books and DVDs to satisfy curious minds still hungry for more. J C, himself is the author of 6 magic books. Illusionary Departures 2012, which was released in 2004, is his best-selling work.

Photos Courtesy of Weili Chua.


Bringing the Magic Home

Ning feels it’s important to give back to the country where their careers took off. “One thing we’ve always tried to do is to put Singapore on the World Magic Map… in the past 5, 6 years and I’m very happy that we have a chance to bring our brand of Singapore magic to different places.”

In fact, it means even more to her to be an inspiration to her countrymen than to many others around the world. And what they’ve found out over the years is that Singaporeans really can make it big outside. “ As cliché as it sounds, the world is your oyster,” she adds.

Far from being threatened by other Singaporeans turning pro, which is why they are sharing their secrets, the pair looks forward to a more vibrant local magic community. J C confidently told UrbanWire, “Competition is good, it pushes us forward. It also allows for comparison because if Singapore has no world-class magicians, you have no standards to judge by.”

According to J C, Singapore’s magic scene has seen rapid growth since 2007 and this is probably due to Singaporean’s exposure to a combination of the Western as well as the Eastern schools of magic. Lu Chen, China’s top magician, has given Singapore’s magic scene more room for expansion. There are “no glass ceilings because more people are booking shows and you see bigger and bigger illusion shows. So there was a standard to local magic, and it drew more people out.”

That said, there are some kinds of people who just can’t make the cut practising magic. JC lists them as: “People who want to know how magic is done, I don’t think magicians entertain them. Another bunch would be the people who think they can just use magic to pick up girls. That doesn’t really promote the art.”


How the “Magic Factory” Runs

Ranked among the world’s top innovative illusionists, JC was asked by UrbanWire if he was afraid that one day the ideas for new tricks might just stop coming to him. To that he says, “You must believe that you always have new ideas.”

He recalled for us his first stage show, when he was certain that that was the best he could deliver. However, his next performance was a great hit too and the following ones just kept beating his “best performance”. Having gained the assurance that he will never run out of ideas as long he keeps trying, he’s positive that the standard of his shows can only improve.

Ning also had words of wisdom for aspiring magicians. “I think it’s about being positive, never ever limit yourself, never ever think that this is the best I can ever be already. It’s not true. You put these self-limiting things, you’ll never be able to grow fully.”


These Magicians’ Magician- Michael Bay

Apart from their work, they were thrilled to share their hobbies and interests. Ning could barely contain her excitement as she talked about her wish to star in Michael Bay’s remake of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles given her love for weapons. “I do love weapons and I collect katanas. I also train myself with nunchucks.” She wants to be the Asian version of April O’Neil, the human alongside the turtles in the fight against evil.

J C widened his eyes too when telling UrbanWire about his fascination with another of Michael Bay’s works, the Transformers. His custom Optimus Prime was recently exhibited at the CyberTron Con at Resorts World Sentosa from  Mar 11 to 14.

“I did come up with some effects where I would have Optimus Prime truck covered in a cloth and then it transforms by itself but then the problem was the copyright issues.”


To The Future On Their Magical Carpet

Apart from the world lecture tour, J C and Ning have been up their necks in work. The sleep-deprived duo and their team have been working on a new illusion that they hope to release by July.

At the end of next week they’ll continue their globetrotting starting with Italy, and this will probably keep them busy till the end of the year.

Being great partners with amazing chemistry on stage, the 2 have prompted speculation about their becoming an item. J C cheekily remarked, “Wait around and see, maybe after we’ve completed the world tour many times over.”


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