In the hot-seat: Sherman Wong.
We regularly feature members of the DirectAsia.com team to give you a peek into the lives of the people who make it all happen.
Here we feature our call centre champ Sherman Wong who tells us about his time spent working as a magician…
When did you become interested in magic?
When I was about 4 years old. One of my dad’s friend’s was fiddling around with a coin in his hand. I was curious and before I knew it he pulled a second coin out, apparently from behind my ear. That was the very start of my love for magic.
Did you perform tricks at school? Did your tricks ever get you into trouble?
One of the cool things about magic is its practicality. Practical in a sense that you can do tricks with almost anything, anywhere and at anytime. Being someone who knew something that my classmates didn’t, you bet I was always there to show off whenever I had the opportunity!
Trouble? Well, there were times when I just simply refused to divulge my secrets. I used to think that these were the very secrets that made me into a star, so why should I share them? And of course, not everyone agreed to that…so I was sometimes pushed around a bit.
Did you ever work professionally as a magician?
I worked semi-professionally. I performed a lot during my polytechnic days. I was given a lot of opportunities by nice people I had met over the years. Opportunities that not only paid me well, but also gave me a lot of street experience and exposure.
Where did you work? What venues and what type of audience?
My audience consisted mainly of teenagers and adults. I rarely performed for kids, as that requires a lot of very colourful props. I am more of a small-group/close-up performer because I started off learning the skills with my hands, performing with everyday objects, rather than having the luxury of buying lots of magic toys or props. I performed mostly in clubs, restaurants, dinner and dance events and cocktail parties.
Do you have any interesting stories regarding your time on the road?
A: Almost 10 years ago, I was performing at a golfing event at a country club. There was this 12 year-old girl in the audience and wherever I went she was there. She wanted to hold my hands and as I was leaning over halfway through one of my tricks she suddenly kissed me on my lips. Everyone in the audience started clapping and blowing wolf-whistles and I was so embarrassed that I practically froze for a good 20 seconds! She was telling everyone she wanted to marry me. Her father started laughing and shouted, ‘Welcome to the family’. My wife had a good laugh when I told her the story!
What is your favourite trick and why?
A: I have this one trick that requires an American Half Dollar coin. It can’t be done with local coins because of their size. I create the illusion that the coin defies gravity and floats vertically up from my right to my left hand.
Few reasons why I really love this trick:
My audience is always mesmerized when they see it.
My half dollar coin is always with me, so I can practically do it anytime and anywhere.
As simple as it looks, this particular trick requires a lot of practice. So even if someone knows how it’s done, it doesn’t mean they can actually do it!
What attracts you to doing tricks?
Magic appeals to the young and old, male and female, people who know it and people who don’t.
Whenever I teach magic at the under privileged shelter homes in Singapore, especially to the mentally challenged friends of mine, they are learning to do something even regular people can’t do.
This not only makes them feel extraordinary and special, it also improves their hand eye coordination.
And like I always say, you can do tricks practically anytime, anywhere. As compared to another hobby, say soccer, it’s impossible to always take a ball around, kicking it whilst showing people how good you are at it.
When someone talks about soccer, those who have no interest find it difficult to be part of the conversation.
But when you say you are a magician, out of 10 replies, 9 will be: “Really? Can you show me a trick?”
Are you still performing?
Once in a while, I still perform for my friends and family, but probably not as often as I used to.
I stopped learning new tricks years ago, only showing the few that were used in my repertoire. They are audience tested, so why not?
But at the end of the day, magic is always in me. I’ve spent years practising, performing and mastering the art, so should you see me around, just ask and I will be glad to show a trick or two!
What makes you a good magician?
A lot of practising magicians or hobbyists make the common mistake of thinking that the more skillful you are, the better you become. There are a thousand and one ways to make a coin disappear. There are easy and difficult methods, fancy, flashy or just short and sweet. But at the end of the day, what your audience sees is just a coin vanishing into thin air. They have no idea what goes on behind the scenes. Hence, they concentrate too much on the hardware(skills), rather than the software, which is the entertainment value for your audience.
Who is your favourite magician?
A: There are a few street magicians who have garnered millions of fans around the world because of their TV specials. However, there is only 1 magician who is defined as the best in my heart. David Copperfield. He changed the way we all looked at magic. In the past, magicians were seen as tuxedo donning gentlemen on stage, with a top hat and a rabbit waiting to pop out anytime. David added the element of theatre in magic. Watching him perform is like watching a movie. You get laughter, fear, mystery, sadness and even a sense of love in his performances.
David truly does magic with our emotions.
Do your colleagues know about your talent? Do you get asked to perform tricks often?
Yes they do! But they are nice enough not to be bugging me for tricks. I get asked sometimes, and when I do, I’m more than happy to oblige.
Does being a magician impress the ladies?!
Haha, I get asked that a lot. The answer is yes! Magic by itself is an extremely good ice-breaker. Whatever situation you are in, magic is always useful in making others feel warm and comfortable. And of course, when I say whatever situation that includes the ones with the ladies.
My wife and I met online. I even showed her my tricks via the webcam and she loved them! So magic played a huge part in our relationship. But it was the magic of love that brought us to where we are now, and hopefully, our future as well.
Does your experience working with people help you in your job with DirectAsia.com?
It gives me a certain edge to have my experience as a magician when I’m with DirectAsia.com. Customers are like my audience. Whenever I communicate with them, I treat them with a due level of respect. No doubt I’m here assisting them with their enquiries, they are taking their personal time to come to us. It takes 2 hands to clap. If you show your care and concern towards them, letting them know that we are always here for them, we will earn their trust. When we accomplish that, they will know that we are the company they can come back to anytime and anywhere, just like magic…