What instigated your move from Australia to Vietnam?
I had a friend I studied with at QUT (Queensland University of Technology) who had already moved here to work. He said, “Mate, why don’t you come over and check out Saigon and see how it goes?” That was where it all started.
How have you handled the difference in culture?
Growing up and being Australian, I have a different work ethic. In Australia, it’s all in or nothing once you decide to do something. There are different expectations regarding communication and following up on work here.
How have you had to adapt your shows to Vietnam?
I have to be able to communicate differently — I can’t be casual when I’m on stage or when I’m emceeing a gig. I’ve got to be more formal and use the right Vietnamese communication etiquette when it comes to presentation. I also have to keep in mind that there’s a younger audience. I still do some of the tricks the same as in Australia, but I change the presentation to suit that audience.
You became interested in magic at the age of 13. What it was that got you interested?
I grew up loving magic but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that Australia was introduced to David Blaine street magic. All he did was walk around on the street with a pack of cards doing brand new tricks with cards, coins, money, all that sort of stuff to random people with a handy cam. People just flipped out. The reaction to that was natural and real, and that’s what got me into it.
Who do you respect as magicians?
My top three would be David Blaine, because he pioneered street magic. Number two is Cyril Takayama, a Japanese guy, who has made magic more practical. When you go onto the streets, you’re not going to bring props with you. You use exactly what’s around you. Number three is Criss Angel. He tapped into an area of magic we call geek magic.
Keeping the reveal to yourself is integral to your livelihood as a magician. What kind of offers have you had to reveal any of your tricks?
I am a magician on a Vietnamese gameshow called Ky Tai Thach Dau Tap. I have a small segment where I come out and perform a magic trick to about seven to eight people. I wow them and then afterwards I do another trick I can actually teach them. They have to try and perform it back.
Do you have any horror stories to share about when a trick went terribly wrong?
I had this trick which used this special kind of powder called Slush Powder. It sits at the bottom of a cup. When you pour water into it, it thickens, hardens to a gel and sticks inside the cup. Once when I was performing at a wedding, I asked the bride to tip a cup of water with the powder in it over her husband. Once when I was performing at a wedding, I asked the bride tip a cup of water with the powder in it over her husband. She was so excited that she decided to throw it in his face instead. The gel came out and hit him in the face and bounced onto the floor and she was like, “Huh??” and the wedding guests were like, “Whaaa?” I was performing with a beatboxer and we sort of looked at each other and we went, “Amazing, the water turned into gel ladies and gentlemen!” and everyone clapped.
What advice do you have for aspiring magicians out there?
Never give up on your dream of being a great magician, and never stop practising. There are a lot of hard moves and there are other magicians who can get these moves before you do, but there is no time limit. It’s not a race, always focus on going out there and performing.
Aside from magic, what else do you do?
I’m also an actor, I’ve got eight films to date. At this moment, three of them are cameos and in five of them I’ve played main roles, all local films except for one movie which was a Hong Kong film called Girls 2. I got to play this cheesy magician. Mike Tyson is in the movie, too.
What ideas do you have in mind for future projects in Vietnam?
I want to do some sort of travel show like an Australian version of Getaway for Vietnam. I’m working closely with another Australian here who’s done a lot of work in television. We’re in the midst of working on something new for 2017.