"Vietnam magician conjures up dim prospect for prestidigitation
A 71-year-old magician, the first Vietnamese to join a global magic association, has been silently contributing to his homeland for over half a century with unfitting rewards and unfulfilled wishes.
Born in southern Long An province, Huynh Huu Quang or Tony Quang went to France to study when he was only 10 years old. The relative who financed his study later sent him back as the boy was not much into studies, and only engrossed himself in magic tricks.
Once in Vietnam, the passion for magic once inflamed in him could not be extinguished.
Through self-study and experiments, Quang could perform simple and gradually complex tricks.
In 1954, he took his stage name as Tony Quang, in homage to his youth idol, Tony Jaccoulott, a popular magician when Quang was in France.
In 1969, he made a startling performance earning him enormous commendation and respect in Saigon [now Ho Chi Minh City]. His elaborate show included cutting a woman into three parts and making her whole again.
Fueled by initial success, Quang indulged in more studies and contacted magic societies overseas. Now, he received documents on magic sent from abroad every month which he voraciously studied and adjusted to Vietnamese tastes.
“Swords through man”, “Man splitting through belly”, “Motor blade cutting through woman” “Hypnosis and bodily levitation” are his adapted versions.
In 2000, the International Brotherhood of Magicians in New York admitted him as a full member. Thus he has become the first Vietnamese to join the global and prestigious organization.
“Compared to other arts, magic has not found a major audience in Vietnam,” he said.
Quang added he was sad when he had to share his magic show with other music or circus shows.
“Magic has so far been viewed as a secondary or back-up show”
With over half a century contributing to his hometown, Quang has yet to receive any formal title granted by the state.
Last year, he applied for the “meritorious artiste” title at the Ho Chi Minh City’s culture department but was turned down.
The official in charge said he was not qualified as he had not won two national gold medals.
“Where can I get those gold medals?” as Vietnam has rarely, if ever, organized a magic contest.
In 2002, Quang did win a silver medal for his magic show at an Acrobatic Festival held in Hanoi. His silver medal is the highest for any magician ever.
His membership in the aforementioned international organization, curiously doesn’t count."