Category: Magic of Asia

Magic TV Series Set for Ho Chi Minh City

Inside Magic Image of Iranian magician Mahdi MoudinIranian magician Mahdi Moudini intends to cause buildings to disappear from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam this month.

World-famous illusionist Tony Hassini and Mr. Moudini held a press conference in the heart of the Mekong Delta earlier this week to detail their plans to film a 13 episode series in Ho Chi Minh City or HCMC as it is known by those in the know.

Mr. Moudini has almost 30 years of experience as a magician and will need that background to pull off the planned stunts. He told reporters he will cause buildings to vanish, walk on water and perform a dangerous underwater escape.

The magic will be performed in, around and on HCMC’s historic locations and filmed to make up the first Vietnamese television program about our art. Mr. Moudini will host all 13 episodes to be broadcast in September.

More than 70 percent of the show will be filmed in the city and the remainder will use other famous locations to promote Vietnam’s tourism industry.

Mr. Hassini is no stranger to Vietnam or its unique approach to magic. “This is my fifth time visiting Vietnam. I know about 20 magicians of Vietnamese ancestry living around the world.”

We will keep tabs on the project and bring video when it is available.

Dean Gunnarson’s Frigid and Fiery Chinese Escape Attempt

Inside Magic Image of Escape Artist Dean GunnarsonUPDATE:  According to CJOB 68: Manitoba's Information Superstation, Dean Gunnarson survived and succeeded just minutes ago.

Escape Artist and Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson is back in China and freezing.

His latest escape attempt defies both belief and the naturally imprinted sense of self-preservation.  Mr. Gunnarson's had him miles high in the frigid mountains of  Xining, China.  (Think Superman's crystal home or Wolverine's den).

He intended to be locked and chained by the Chinese military inside a tomb of ice on a frozen lake high in the mountains. His goal: to escape within 100 seconds before a bus explodes and drops on him. 

From the press release:

Locked and chained by the Chinese military inside of a tomb of ice on a frozen lake high in the mountains in China. A ten ton bus loaded with explosives will be raised above him by a crane and then, Gunnarson will have exactly 100 seconds (an important number in China) before the bus will explode and drop on him from a timer, crushing the ice tomb and him if he  is inside. Dean will attempt this escape on a frozen lake that is the largest in all of China.  It is located about 100 kilometers (about 62 miles)  west of the provincial capital of Xining at 3,205 m (10,515 feet) above sea level in a depression of the Tibetan Plateau in the traditional Tibetan province of Amdo, located between Tibet and Mongolia.  This escape is extremely dangerous because of the cold but even more so from the high evaluation and lack of oxygen this high up.

Mr. Gunnarson told Inside Magic that he has been training in the thin air but it brought on altitude sickness.  “The lack of air and trying to do even small things just leaves me grasping for breath. This is like nothing I have ever encountered before.”

If he lives, the Chinese government will award him  the title "World's Greatest Escape Artist."   If he fails, he will likely not be given the title of World's Greatest Escape Artist.  We're just guessing about this.  The Chinese press did not discuss what happens if the bus explodes and lands on him whilst still chained.

As loyal readers of Inside Magic know, Mr. Gunnarson is a very scary man.  He seems so nice and gentlemanly but there's a crazy side to him.  He does stunts that are anything but sure-fire or fixed.  Check out his mistiming while trying to escape from a roller coaster track.   That escape (sort of) was in China as well.  We hope he has correctly converted the 100 seconds into the metric equivalent and escapes unharmed.  The roller coaster collision shattered his ankle and fibia.

Continue reading “Dean Gunnarson’s Frigid and Fiery Chinese Escape Attempt”

Magician Liu Chien in Vegas for Two Shows

Inside Magic Image of Liu Chien and Report on His US American Debut at the Wynn Casino in Las VegasWe feel like we know Liu Chien from our magic marathon sessions watching our fellow artists on YouTube. He probably does not know us, though. It is funny how you feel you know someone because you see them on television or YouTube but when you finally meet them, they stare blankly at you without a hint of recognition. As we wrote in that essay we had to hand into the judge, “we must remember, seeing them is not the same thing as them seeing you.”

There are days when we will actually stop playing Trisk™ to open our laptop and watch YouTube magicians.  Some are good, most are not.  Liu Chien is one of the very good ones.

As we have admitted on these pages before and have thusly testified before certain international tribunals that the United States may or may not recognize as having jurisdiction over its putative citizens, we do not speak Chinese.

It is not that we speak it sort of good but our syntax is not the best.  We know about three things in Chinese and one of them is actually Vietnamese but is apparently a comment that is accepted with the same meaning in China, Japan and South Korea.  And even then, we can say it (but we wouldn’t if there there is a chance that anyone from the Asian Rim is within earshot) but we have no idea how to write it.

Trisk™, by the way, is a favorite winter game here in Mystic Hollow.  It is essentially Risk® but instead of conquering armies taking over the world in long drawn-out fashion and endless turn-taking; you have a small cadre of well-connected magicians who have access to armies they can summon to do their conquering if necessary.  Some have suggested it is the strategy game Risk® but with fewer pieces and twenty or so pewter top hats taken from Monopoly® sets.

They’re probably right.  While we don’t know the game’s origins, it has been an essential part of our lives since we were Little Shavers.

Thanks to do-gooders and socially aware voting blocks, Mystic Hollow no longer permits children under the age of seven to shave with a straight-razor or any disposable shaving system.  As a consequence, the next generation of young magicians growing up in this hamlet of magic will not learn Trisk™ or Risk®.  Their parents won’t have a need to distract their curious attention and less coordinated hands away from sharp blades and mature smelling shaving cream.

Some blame our close proximity to the Straight-Razor Capital of the World, New Finito, Michigan.  Kids start out as unofficial “Little Shavers” even before they attend pre-school and get their first box of second blades.  Most of the blades are dull — quality control at the factory usually culls the bad blades before they get to the sharpening section — but kids can still find a way to carelessly handle the products and someone always ends up getting hurt.

There are few in Mystic Hollow without a good scar or two on their hands, upper thighs, or cheeks (of their face).  Your first scar is a rite of passage; and if not properly handled can require Last Rites.  “What does not kill us makes us less attractive,” is the unofficial motto.

We suppose this quirk is similar to other towns adjacent to some factory or service center.  The young magicians of Deerfield, Illinois take tremendous pride in their first episode of hypoglycemic shock fostered by the cubic yards of Sara Lee Bakery Seconds and Rejects.

Continue reading “Magician Liu Chien in Vegas for Two Shows”

Magic Babe Ning: The Inside Magic Celebrity Interview

Inside Magic Image of Magic Babe Ning in the Impalement CageMagic Seen – Europe’s largest magic magazine – called her “The sexiest woman in magic.” In October 2009, she was FHM Singapore Cover Girl, ‘Magic Babe’ Ning is Asia’s new star in magic!’

In 2009. Magic Babe Ning received the coveted Merlin Award for “Most Original Female Illusionist of the Year” from the International Magicians Society.

She somehow finds the time to serve as an ambassador for the Power Over Cervical Cancer campaign and Coke Zero’s “Wild at Heart, Fit in Body” campaign.

Inside Magic named her “The Smoldering Siren of Illusion.”

Ning is in great demand and so it we are appreciative of her willingness to undergo the Celebrity Magic Interview.

How did you become interested in Magic?

When I was 5, my kindergarten had a funny Chinese-speaking magician perform for us during Children’s’ Day. My friends and I were amazed at the things he could do – sure, he used comical looking stage props but it was the funniest moment we’d ever experience our entire lifetimes.

Later, when I first saw Copperfield on TV, he simply exuded steady sexiness and an air of deep sophistication with his illusions. He was the first illusionist I saw on TV and I was so smitten with the man, I even had his sexy GOT MILK? poster proudly stuck on my bedroom wall, instead of teenage boy bands like my other girl friends.

(I suppose it’s reasonable to hold DC responsible for my innate attraction towards older men 😉 )

DC inspired me to take up magic as a hobby.

So instead of playing with Barbie dolls, I picked up magic books at the local library and learnt easy magic effects that I could follow in the instructional pictures provided. The plush toys and stuffed animals on my bed would be my unblinking audience.

My first few tricks utilized crushed paper balls, Styrofoam cups, rubber bands and other typical items you could easily find around the house. But my family was nevertheless impressed by the precocious child that I was… am… and they’d always encourage me to perform to visiting relatives or friends, so they were mighty supportive about my love for magic – though it’s supposed to be only something boys did.

Then again, being the only girl in the extended family clan, I only had boys to play with so I’d be roughing it out with my cousins, playing soccer or wrestling. I was a real tomboy!

Though I was very young, I still felt the glee knowing magic secrets that could amaze and entertain others. I stuck to the Magician’s Code and with love and support from folks around me (the elders all found me strange – but in an endearingly geeky sort of way), I continued my journey simply because magic found me.

What does your family think of your career, success, and considerable publicity as Magic Babe?

Nope, I’m the “black sheep” of the family. It may have been easier perhaps if I had a mentor that way, but everyone else chose to be brainy engineers, medical professionals, busy bankers, successful business owners and there was absolutely no one in show business. My family is a respectable one and still rather traditional.

Everyone expected me to be some sort of corporate raider, since I spent my entire primary and secondary school education in a very strict all-girls Christian school (imagine – 10 years of sheer deprivation!), one of the very best academic institutions in the country.

In fact, it’s a known fact that most graduates of the school (Methodist Girls’ School) grew up to become politicians’ wives, just like Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew (the late wife of Singapore’s highly respected Minster Mentor) or high-profile lawyers or limelight-hogging socialites.

Hmmm… So that pretty much makes me the black sheep of the school too! Hahahaha.

Continue reading “Magic Babe Ning: The Inside Magic Celebrity Interview”

Asia’s Celebrity Magic Duo: We’ll Vanish Five Two Stories Up

Inside Magic Favorites J C Sum & ‘Magic Babe’ Ning have been rumored to be working on something special – really special.

The Straits Times bestowed upon the charismatic duo the title “Asia’s most famous illusionists.”

What they have planned will certainly send The Times back to the thesaurus for new adjectives.

Because we are special here at Inside Magic, we received word from ‘Magic Babe’ Ning confirming the rumors and providing essential details.

Maybe we’re not really special to Ning and J.C. but getting word of the event made us feel special and that is good enough for our self-esteem.

‘Magic Babe’ Ning said five lay folks will be invited to participate as a committee and actual participants in the Mega Illusion.

In what they are calling The Aerial Exit, as a live audience looks on, the five presumably anxious volunteers are lifted two stories straight up.

On command, the five volunteers will vanish.  Gone.  Poof.

If you would like to be one of the five to be lifted above the beautiful Singapore River on your way to the place where vanished things go, submit your name (or perhaps the name of someone you would like to vanish) at for a chance to be one of the five. The closing date for submission is Nov 28, 2010.

As Inside Magic readers know, the young couple of magic have been busy over the last five years. It is not clear when they sleep.

Their talent and willingness to try the dangerous, untried, but spectacular keeps them on the top of the Asian Illusionist pecking order.

Continue reading “Asia’s Celebrity Magic Duo: We’ll Vanish Five Two Stories Up”

Walter Blaney’s Open Letter to the Chinese Magic Community

knock off hoopWe received the following open letter to the Chinese Magic Community from Inside Magic Favorite Walter “Zaney” Blaney.

We debated whether to include the domain name for the offending web site.  We did not want to give the pirates more traffic.  We can attest, however, the site is as Mr. Blaney describes.  They do indeed have David Copperfield performing Mr. Blaney’s world-famous Ladder Levitation.   The image to the left is from the listing for the knock-off hoop.  We pixelated the domain name the pirates used to prevent folks from copying their images.  Ironies abound.

We fully support Mr. Blaney in his crusade against those who steal, knock-off, copy, or even “improve” on the inventions of our best magical minds.  Mr. Blaney has always fought on behalf of all magic inventors — not just himself.

Some would suggest it is a losing cause.  We think it is one of the most important causes in our craft and well worth fighting.

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J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning Break Record

The Impossible Record - J C Sum and Ning "Magic Babe"They did it!

According to J C Sum’s web site, he and the lovely “Magic Babe” Ning set the record for “most number of grand illusions performed in five minutes.”

The record was set on Saturday, June 27, 2009 at 9:40 pm.

Turn-out was great. And why wouldn’t it be?

J C Sum and Magic Babe Ning have taken the country by storm with well-timed and publicised stunts and apperances.

Plus, where else can one see 15 big-time illusions in five minutes?

We understand more than 3000 people witnessed the blur of illusions in the beautiful Central Promenade adjacent to Singapore River.

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Magic Babe Ning’s Controversial Escape Stunt Teases World Record Illusion Act

Magic Babe Ning Risks Life in Daring Straight Jacket EscapeInside Magic Favorite ‘Magic Babe’ Ning Cai literally elevated the risk level of her renown straight jacket escape last weekend.

Miss Ning is famous for her signature Straight Jacket Striptease routine.  She describes the act as “Harry Houdini meets the Pussy Cat Dolls.”

Her most recent presentation, however, moved from tease to terrifying. 

Inversion saw her completely restrained by a regulation straight jacket, blindfolded, and held upside down over a very real and very sharp bed of spikes.

Magic Seen calls Miss Ning “the sexiest woman in Magic” but this latest stunt could easily have ended in a decidedly less-than-sexy manner.

Honestly, we don’t know why they (escape artists) do this type of thing (risk their lives).

If our fellow performers risk their lives for our entertainment, they can skip it because we cannot handle it.

While we admire their skill, we tend to worry.

Inside Magic Favorite Dean Gunnarson sent us a video of an insane escape that took us a couple of hours to watch.

We kept stopping the video, visited our “happy place,” recalled that we were watching an event that happened in the past, and because Mr. Gunnarson sent us DVD himself,  there was every reason to think he was not killed in the footage we were viewing.

Like Miss Ning, Mr. Gunnarson performed an inverted straight jacket escape.

Miss Ning was over very sharp and sturdy steel spikes.

Similarly, Mr. Gunnarson was high above The Hoover Dam while hanging from a free-swinging bar using only his feet; no tether, no strap to hold the top of his shoes in place as he contorted his body.

Yes it was an amazing feat, but it also brought us nightmares and an additional five weeks of therapy.  And as many know, most insurance policies refuse to cover so-called “Puppet Psycho Therapy” beyond two weeks of visits.   Our recovery was costly and left emotional scars.

Continue reading “Magic Babe Ning’s Controversial Escape Stunt Teases World Record Illusion Act”

J C Sum and “The Magic Babe” Ning try Impossible

The Impossible Record - J C Sum and Ning "Magic Babe"We wrote about this amazing duo a couple of weeks ago.  The article previewed their upcoming appearance on Asia Uncut.   It was impressive.  We don’t get the network on which J C Sum and “Magic Babe” Ning  appeared here in Mystic Hollow – even with our hacked-up satellite antennae.

We do, however, get and were able to see the Asia Uncut show in high definition.

Ning does one heck of a great straight-jacket escape — very clever and entertaining.

Well, the magic couple have returned with a new event to promote.

On June 27, 2009, J C Sum and  “Magic Babe” Ning will attempt “The Impossible Record.”

What is “The Impossible Record,” you ask.

We will let J C Sum explain:

Set to a countdown timer in front of an expected audience of 5000 people, Ning & I will attempt to perform a world record-setting 15 grand illusions in 5 minutes.

Grand illusions are defined as large-scale stage magic acts that involve physicality and usually utilize, but not limited to, large props. Sleight of hand acts, card tricks, magic with birds or handkerchiefs do not constitute as grand illusion.

The record attempt will be adjudicated by the Singapore Book of Records and the International Brotherhood of Magicians. The record is the first ever magic record of any kind to be adjudicated by the Singapore Book of Records and is also being submitted to Guinness World Records.

For this mega event, we will be making ourselves appear, vanish, teleport, exchange places, dissect their bodies, pass through solid objects, making a motorcycle appear, and much more in this physically and mentally challenging feat of attempting 15 grand illusions in 5 minutes.

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