PROVING that it’s true a magician never reveals his secrets, Acker Kwan persistently refuses to disclose the secret of the magic trick he has demonstrated right before my eyes during our interview. To this day, I’m still dumbfounded.
Most magicians became enamoured with magic from a young age, and Kwan was the same. At age 15, he decided that he wanted to pursue magic full-time after attending a magic show. His mind filled with dreams and aspirations that someday he would be standing on the big stage as a magician himself.
Unfortunately, his sceptical parents weren’t as supportive, and even associated magic with the supernatural and dark arts.
The now 24-year-old recalls: “My brother and I would hide in the bathroom just to practise magic tricks.” Eventually, his parents accepted his decision after seeing him perform a magic show in a church, and the rest is history.
What does it mean to be a magician?
“Magic isn’t just about playing with tricks. Many who claim to be magicians, do it for many reasons – some for the money, some out of passion, and others to compete.
“I like to connect with people and through magic, I’m able to make an impression among my spectators, and ideally brighten up their day.”
How long does it take to master magic?
“It depends on the trick. The quickest trick I was able to master was within a couple of days, [another] took me about six months, and another, one-and-a-half years more until I was confident enough to perform before an audience.”
Do you ever get stage fright?
“I do stage shows and walkabouts, also known as street magic, which happens up close and personal with my audience, so it’s a more casual and intimate setting.
“I don’t really get nervous when I do walkabouts, but stage shows still put me on edge. I always feel like I’m under-prepared for every show, [because of] the fear of what could go wrong. However, I think the fear motivates me to be better.”
Does the possibility of your secrets being uncovered play on your mind during a show?
“I did fail a few times when I performed. The audience obviously knew and saw through me. I just had to suck it up and cover up quickly with another trick. Usually, I wouldn’t perform a trick unless I’m really confident, but mistakes still happen.”
Can you describe the most rewarding aspect of performing before an audience?
“One of the reasons [I got] into performing magic was because I was dumped by my first girlfriend in college.
“I needed to find a way to distract myself and ease my mind, hence, I started performing magic literally outside of my college to a bunch of friends and strangers. The fact that magic is able to make them happy, makes me happy.”
What goes through your mind when watching a magician perform?
“After so many years in the trade, I tend to lose my sense of wonder. I don’t get astounded any more, mostly because I know the basics of magic, hence I know how it is done.
“Even after solving the trick, I don’t feel surprised or shocked. Sometimes, I do wonder [what it would be] like to experience that kind of feeling again.”
How does mentalism work?
“Without revealing too much, it’s basically scientific mind-reading, which involves psychological subtleties, body movements and intuition.
“When the audience asks me: ‘Is magic real?’, I don’t want to lie to them to say magic is real, even to a kid. I would tell them magic takes a lot of practice.
“Magic isn’t about the technicality and tricks behind it; magic is [about] the moment, the mind-blowing wonder [of a trick] that your brain cannot comprehend.”