In pursuit of magic

AT the tender age of 18, Zlwin Chew wanted to be a magician. Seven years later, he has become a name to be reckoned with in the Malaysian magic scene. His audiences range from the ordinary man on the street to royalties and even former Prime Minister of Malaysia Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

His tricks have even travelled outside Malaysia. He has performed in more than 10 countries including Australia, Hong Kong and India. In fact, two years ago, world famous illusionist David Copperfield saw his videos on YouTube and praised him on Twitter. Indeed, his determination has paid off handsomely.

How did your passion for magic start?

I was only 18 and a friend of mine showed me a magic trick involving cards. He managed to pick the card I had chosen. I was blown away. I kept asking him, what was the secret behind his magic trick? But he said a magician can never reveal his tricks. So I went on YouTube and bought a few magic books to learn the secrets behind the card trick. I got so fascinated with magic so I decided to make a career out of it. At that time I was taking a degree in psychology. I dropped out from the course because I wanted to pursue my career as a full-time magician. Initially, my parents were not happy with my decision. Now, they have come to terms with my choice. They can see that I can make a living through magic.

Why do you like magic so much?

I love interacting with people. Magic can turn total strangers into friends within minutes. When you perform a magic trick in front of a total stranger, it will put a big smile on his face and he will be eager to know the secret behind your trick, and his curiosity will start a conversation between you and him. Magic is indeed a powerful tool to make friends.

Has your magic ever failed you?

If you are a musician and you played a wrong tune, chances are most people will not realise your mistake. But if something goes wrong in your magic tricks, your mistake will stand out like an elephant in a room. So you cannot afford to make mistakes. You need to keep on practicing until you perfect your trick. As far as I can remember, I have only failed once. It happened in the early part of my career. The best thing to do is to learn from the mistake and move on.

What is the biggest misconception people have about magicians in this country?

They think magicians are people with torn jeans with a deck of cards who performed on streets or people with glittering jackets and a magic wand who performed at children parties.

In the past, whenever I tell people that I am a magician, they will immediately say: "Good, you can perform at my children's party." Malaysians do not respect magicians.They are so ignorant about magicians.I have dreams to perform large scale illusions in the near future.

Some people believe black magic is involved in some magic tricks. Do magicians dabble in black magic?

(He laughs) Magic is purely science and trust me, every trick that has ever been performed by magicians can be explained. There is no black magic involved.