Making magic

ONE of the stand-out acts in the first episode of Asia's Got Talent Season 2 on Oct 12 (before the Adem Dance Crew from Kyrgyz Republic blew everyone away) was Malaysian magician Andrew Lee with his amazing card tricks.

The 31-year-old said in a recent interview that he is self-taught, learning magic tricks from books and also from cousins who came down from the UK.

Lee said: "I was 16 when I first started. It was when the David Blaine: Street Magic series came out. Before that, I did magic tricks as a hobby because I was amazed by the art form."

It was Blaine's fascinating slight-of-hand tricks that got Lee interested.

"I was interested in music and sport, but magic got the better of me," he said.

His early tricks were confined to making small things like coins vanish and re-appear.

"It was not about the tricks, but the experience you get out of sharing it, like seeing people smile when they see what you do," said Lee, who enjoys the child-like amazement that people display when they watch him perform.

His early audience were his family members, then his friends, and later, he performed at corporate events.

"My largest audience was 10,000 people in Hyderabad, India, in 2010," said Lee.

At that time, he was working as a sales manager and nutritionist in a gym. He was tired from the long hours and needed a break.

So when he was invited to perform in India, he thought why not take a break from work and take his hobby there.

Getting 10,000 people to attend a magic show featuring an unknown was all due to the 'magic' of Facebook and YouTube, which helped sell his skills to an audience who wanted to watch him live.

After that gig, Lee went on to perform in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, the Philippines and Australia.

Describing his style, Lee said: "I do a bit of magic, illusion and mentalism. Tricks are just tricks [but] magic is not just about tricks.

"Magic is not about fooling someone; it is about entertaining. If I made you smile, then I have done my job."

Lee believes that magic is achieving something you never thought could be achieved.

He said even music can be magic, especially when it makes one feels good in a particular way.

Asia's Got Talent judge David Foster told theSun in an interview in July before the new season began recording, that he wanted to see a great magic trick from a contestant in season two.

Well, Foster got his wish when Lee took to the stage.

Given a minute and 45 seconds to perform his act, Lee admitted he felt "rushed".

He was aware that his act dragged a little longer than the stipulated time, but added that he was happy he managed to execute it well and earn the approval of all three judges – Foster, Anggun and Jay Park.

"It was the first time, I had done this trick on stage and on television," said Lee, though he had performed it off camera several times before.

For those who missed his act on Asia's Got Talent, Lee had asked co-host Alan Wong to pick a card from a deck. Lee then tore a corner of the card to mark it before putting it back in the deck and asking co-host Justin Bratton to shuffle it.

He then made Wong wear a padded dartboard over his torso, and got ready a throwing knife, much to Wong's consternation and the audience's amusement.

For added tension, Lee placed an eyeshield over his face, and asked Bratton to toss the deck in the air.

The moment that happened, Lee expertly threw the knife at the dartboard, pinning the ripped card to it, and stunning everyone.

When asked what made him pick this trick, Lee said that most magicians would have tried a card trick, but he knew he needed to do something different to get noticed.

He initially wanted to use one of the judges in his act, but due to health and safety issues, he was not allowed to.

Lee is not sure when the next round of the competition will be, and he is not allowed to tell us even if he knows. However, he promises his best is yet to come.

While he may not have a mentor to show him the ropes, Lee is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, and has magician friends from all over the world, some of whom have even worked with his idol, David Copperfield.

"Ultimately, I hope to have my own show in Las Vegas and meet Copperfield himself."

Catch Asia's Got Talent Season 2 every Thursday at 9pm on AXN (Astro channel 701/ 721).