The interview was featured in the July 2008 issue of TQR, just prior to Ning's successful 'The Impalement Cage" Mega Escape.
By John Teo
"Everyone knows “Magic Babe” Ning, as she is being featured recently in numerous local presses and magazines as the hottest and sexiest and the only professional lady magician in Singapore."Ning is one of our Ring 115 members. We seldom see her in our month meetings because of her tight working schedule.
Enjoy, and get to know her better!"
my wife is involved in
the performance of magic, to me, lady magicians are few and far
What makes you love magic enough to want to do it as a career?
always been a flaming passion and I fell in love with illusions
when I first saw Copperfield on TV when I was a little girl. Princess
became a lucid inspiration when I realized it was actually possible for
woman to hold her own on stage as well! I performed magic for various
(Sharity Elephant, Children’s Cancer Foundation, etc.) and
private parties in
my late teens, and did well because I was such a novelty! However, it
after graduating with my RMIT Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication,
decided to seriously consider J C Sum’s offer of having me
fulltime in his
out my options, I realized doing magic fulltime as a
professional commercial entertainer was really now or never…
speaking, with my prior industry experience, track records,
university degree, getting back into Marcom wasn’t a big
issue. More so really
when I had several contacts who comfortingly informed me at that point
that they’d truly love to have me on board their creative
agencies if “my
magic stint didn’t work out” since as you know, a
full time female magician
was unheard of here. Hah!
around me was completely astonished with my unorthodox decision
to take on such an ‘alternative’ career but I
recognized the need to follow
my heart. Close friends who understand me know that I don’t
believe in regrets
and I honestly don’t want to be a 80 year old wondering what
it could have
been, should I have had the guts to walk the path less
traveled… so I did what
I had to do. Carpe diem!
It would be interesting to know how you actually got started in magic.
& Tenko were on TV, which led me to significantly
realize that magic could be far more spectacular than what the kids
performed at my kindergarten presented. I wanted to learn how
all those amazing feats like flying and all, but the library books my
borrowed for me, never revealed such big secrets. However, through the
of those huge books, I learnt how to perform simple magic effects using
every day objects that I could easily find around the house.
favorite uncle eventually bought me my first magic set
(Marvin’s Magic!) when I was in Primary 1 and I was hooked.
It became a secret
hobby but I wasn’t allowed to showcase my magic or perform in
MGS was a Christian school and predominantly discouraged magic as a
interest because it was ‘ungodly’. Sad but true!
late teens, a friend invited me to help out at various charities
and that’s when I started to use magic again… to
cheer up the little kiddies
who were recovering from chemotherapy treatments and all. I
an online magic shop owner (www.MagicBoutique.sg)
as well as, a founding member of Singapore Magic Circle where as a
strongly advocated forum members to use their magic skills and
positive things too, like making others happy, instead of it just being
trip to impress girls. Haha!
yes… There’s been absolutely no looking back since!
What categories of magic do you like, and do?
love is for
illusions really, which I only got to do in late 2006. Most
illusions are performed with J C, who is my magic
producer and onstage
partner. Last October, during my Triple Actz stage performance at
Francaise theatre, I did a presentation of the traditional sword basket
but with a big theatrical twist. I graduated with a diploma from film
studies and being an avid reader since I was young, I was inspired by
Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, so my opener essentially had a
dark, mythical and
performers do the sword basket illusion in a pretty standard way where
assistant goes into the basket under the cover of a large cloth before
whisked away and the magician starts stabbing swords in. My version saw
the stage under dim lights and smoke, cloaked in red velvet with
setting the mood. As the mists cleared, I revealed my face and
magically lit my
candle before throwing up a fireball. A precious pouch is produced and
as I show
the contents, 2 armed and evil ogres suddenly loomed up from behind
with a trap.
upon, I’m trapped by their dark colored cover and with their
weapons, they jab
me into being a prisoner inside the basket. The lid is closed and they
stabbing their ugly swords in. To show the fatality, one of the ogres
and shoves his spear all the way down the lid and the end goes through
basket. All the shaking within stops and the ogres celebrate by howling
laughter. They remove their weapons and advance towards my fallen pouch.
they are distracted, they are unaware of the sudden movement from the
behind them. The lid is thrown off and I immerge in my Magic Babe
Costume change!) complete with my twin Japanese sais! I flourish the
daggers and point it at them, swiftly engaging in a swordfight with
they back off, defeated. I claim my pouch and the lights fully come on
signify the end of the dramatic opener.
admire Jim Steinmeyer because he’s a great illusion designer,
and so is Mark
Parker from the UK. My favorite illusions to perform are J
Metamorphosis, Full Throttle and Light & Space because they
never cease to
garner reactions from the crowd.
be honest, I’m also crazy about mentalism because
it’s just so intelligent,
and I’ve been told that I do it well. Boon writers are so
handy, I never leave
home without one in my purse! I recently purchased Jason
Messina’s Tube, which
is a modern-day book test prediction effect that is revealed on
nice! Currently, I also include a localized version of Andrew
Point in my professional close-up repertoire and have received nothing
reactions because people can identify with the pictures displayed
it’s quite amazing
but I still have magicians who still remember my 2006 stage magic
act in Heartland Mall, where I was 2nd runner up
in the Open
Category. They still vividly recall my unusual closer that saw me
combust an audience-selected page of the morning’s newspaper.
The guys shared
that they were greatly impressed because apparently no one had ever
anything like that before!
What, in your opinion, is a successful magician?
a full-time professional commercial entertainer, I would have to say
general market and media classify as successful. The recent Forbes list
100 powerful celebrities in the world ranked the entries by money
& TV exposure and website hits. So, I would use similar
quantifiable benchmarks. It is also by these benchmarks that
sponsors, event organizers and media content producers will seek these
individuals because they bring tangible value, brand power and
their products or events. Of course, within the magic community, the
awards or convention appearances might be the benchmark but this does
necessarily translate into commercial value outside of the magic circle.
is my 2 cents worth.
In magic, based on the above criteria, we can identify a number of
have been successful: Cyril Takayama in Japan, Criss Angel &
David Blaine in
the US, Derren Brown in the UK. In this part of the world, our IBM Ring
member J C Sum is in good contention to be considered
successful…. And soon
yours truly! :-)
unofficial guide to
see how successful a magician is, that I have come to learn, is how
you are by other magicians. The more a magician is disliked (due to
peers, the more successful that magician tends to be. Just look at the
magicians who hate Criss Angel. Haha!
What contributed to your being such a successful magician thus far?
for the compliment! But, I’m really at the dawn of my career
and I have been
lucky that I have had a modest amount of success and able to elevate
the art in
Singapore in such a short period of 3 years. Some may snipe that
I’m just a
pretty face, but they’re also the ones who’d also
that a girl driving an expensive sports car would have gotten the
vehicle from a
sugar daddy or has a rich parent, etc instead of her very own success.
I’m a professional commercial entertainer with a strong USP
who creates value
for clients, sponsors and advertisers that choose to work with me.
Babe’ is a strong, sexy, Asian woman who brings sex appeal
and glamour to the
local entertainment and events industries. And, there has never been
defined female character in local magic before, at least not in recent
background in PR and
degree in Mass Communications have also helped me understand how a good
should be publicized and promoted. As a commercial magician, you are in
business… you know, show + business. You absolutely need a
good balance of
both to be successful, along with some luck! Many times, magicians
focus on only
I also honestly feel that I’ve worked very hard to get to
where I am right now
(12 – 16 hour days are the norm and just last week
I’ve lost 2 toe nails but
no one would know such unglamorous details!) and those I’ve
obviously recognize my unique package that encompasses skill, talent,
and distinctive image. There’s absolutely no way anyone can
superficially with just ‘looks’ in showbiz. I
suppose they may have a
novelty factor at the beginning but that would all fizzle out if they
have anything else to back them up.
There is an ongoing discussion on who makes a better magician: one doing technically demanding sleight-of-hand tricks or one doing tricks without much sleight-of-hand? What is your take on this?
it is how the magic is designed. If you have tremendous sleight of hand
use it to your advantage. The magic should be designed to the
advantage to give the best possible result. The method is the means to
I also think it should be more about the audience than all about the magician really. At the end of the day, the better magician is the one who successfully entertains the crowd, leaving them wanting more. Period.
What is your ambition as a lady magician? How far have you already accomplished?
stage alter-ego, Magic Babe, is reflective of the modern cosmopolitan
who’s confident and empowered. I’m not a feminist
but I simply hope to
inspire more women in believing it is possible to break into a male
industry. After all, we now have an increase of female doctors,
politicians and professionals as compared to 50 years ago. Magic wise,
striving for interesting, ground-breaking projects, I also hope to set
example that women in magic do not have to portray cutesy roles or be
on stage. If you’re a self-assured sassy girl, show it!
also see myself in a position to elevate the art of magic in Singapore
projects I’m currently working on. I personally believe the
best way to
elevate the art is by raising the public profile of magic into
entertainment. While I honestly respect many magicians who cultivate
talent through “sessioning” and workshops, I think
the most effective way
truly, is to have the local media and entertainment industry here
magic as a mainstream pop culture entertainment form and not just
kids. Looking into history, it is David Copperfield, Criss Angel and
Blaine who elevated the art by drawing mass interest at a mainstream
interestingly, they’re the ones who’ve received the
most flack from other
magicians). Obviously, the greatest challenge is to be able to be in a
to showcase magic at that mainstream level.
far, I’ve had a very
good run of things. 2008 is a huge year for me and I have a good
feeling that it
will have a resulting positive impact on the local magic scene.
C & I secured our own permanent illusion show,
“Ultimate Magic” at The
Arena, a club in Clarke Quay. This is slated for a 16-month run till
shows 6 days a week, 2 times a day. This is really a landmark project
as it is
Singapore’s first Las Vegas-style regular illusion show. It
is a S$1 million
dollar project and The Arena has been really great and has retrofitted
entire stage facilities to accommodate our show. This show will allow
showcase good quality local magic to international visitors as the show
targeted at tourists. The local tourism industry has already been
this new attraction and The Arena has already tied up with multiple
agencies for advanced ticket sales. This is also the first time magic
Singapore has penetrated into the tourism market, so it is also a
the business aspects of the show.
To kick off “Ultimate Magic” I will be attempting a mega escape called “The Impalement Cage” on 5 July 2008, 9pm at Clarke Quay fountain. This is the first of its kind escape performed by a female magician. I’m doing this because I believe it’s all about women empowerment. I sincerely hope it inspires confidence to women in Asia, driving across the strident statement of being brave and chasing your dreams, even if that means breaking gender stereotypes. It is also the first full-view spike escape of its kind in the world (as far as we know). The more familiar spike escapes like Andre Kole’s “Table of Death” and other variations always have the magician hidden from sight by a cover or behind a translucent curtain that just shows a silhouette of the magician trying to escape. But this type of escape, while good, is just too common.
you know, for the last 20 years, it has been seen in just about every
illusion show all over the world. Also being one to push the envelope,
to do something different; to show an improved evolution of such an
escape. J C
designed the final design (based originally on Gerry
Frenette’s Spike Escape
but has since been completely redesigned and rebuilt) and the local
picked up on these unique differentiating points and has been
NewPaper did a two-page spread and we are firming things up with TODAY
interview. Media like Channel NewsAsia, Stuff, FiRST, FHM, Time Out, IS
Magazine, 8 Days, I-Weekly, Her World, OMY.sg, STOMP and others are
mega escape. I think it is the most media-covered magic event in
history. J C’s landmark 50-storey teleportation from last
year really helped
pave the way for this mega escape to attain such mainstream attention
largest project to date and the one that will showcase local magic at a
never been done before will be for the Singapore F1 Grand Prix Season
2008. J C & I were approached by Singapore Tourism Board (STB)
something spectacular for the Singapore River Festival that is a major
during the F1 season. As recently announced, on 24 Sept, we will
random people across the Singapore River in full view of the expected
crowd for this one off spectacular!
press conferences we’ve been pulled to attend have been
overwhelming. But, we
made such a positive impact at the first press conference that our mega
was singled out on the Channel NewsAsia report that called it
Asia’s Biggest Magic Event”. We were on the cover
of Lianhe Zaobao and also
featured in TODAY, The NewPaper and My Paper. Glenn Ong and Flying
Class 95FM also talked about us on their hugely popular morning show!
the first and only time STB has ever commissioned a singular magic
they rightfully chose Singapore magicians to pull it off. On the day
there will also be foreign media invited by the government, so you can
the excruciating pressure! But this will showcase local magic once
again to the
international media, because they will be in town for the F1
next January also sees me traveling up to England as the very first
in history to actually headline a UK magic convention! This will be for
South England Magic Convention, which is the very first UK magic event
starts the new year. I got the phone call after the organizers saw my
exclusive interview with MagicSeen, UK’s largest magic
magazine! It is great
because I will be able to see magicians I’ve been in contact
with like Graham
Hey, Mark Leveridge, Collin Richardson, Geoff Pescud, as well as hang
England’s brilliant illusion designer Mark Parker.
been a crazy ride but
it’s all good and very, very exciting!
What are your future plans?
will be committed to
The Arena till 2010, some interested parties have already approached J
C & I
to work on a new project after our contract with The Arena is over.
we will still be taking on special projects and corporate shows on top
daily shows at The Arena.
also been approached
to do some media projects too; a personal offer from Eric Khoo to be
lead in his upcoming film seems fun but we’ll see how things
go since our
schedules are just so hectic!
I’m only 25
and though I’m young, I see myself working hard for the next
5 years before I
allow myself a nice break and a long vacation. I look forward to visit
Batsaikhan Gunbileg, my adopted ‘son’ from World
Vision Mongolia. For the
longest time, the adorable boy’s been bugging me to fly up to
final words do you have for our members?
I’m really thankful
to members of IBM Ring 115 who have done so much for the art &
club. It’s because of wonderful people like you
who’ve contributed and given
so much that it truly makes this a better place. It’s good to
know there are
kindred spirits here who are protective and concerned about my
truly appreciate that.
you may know that
since I started getting more obvious commercial success, I’ve
been the target
of unfair rumors and hearsay but such is life I suppose. Never believe
everything unless you know the other side of the story ;-)
approachable and actually really goofy and easy-going in real life,
aloof ‘Magic Babe’ persona. So please, feel free to
drop me an email or tap
me on the shoulder to say HI in person.
truly love to see you
at my upcoming Mega Escape feat this 5 July @ Clarke Quay, 9PM!