ABRACADABRA: He is only 25, but Zlwin Chew is making waves as a magician on board cruise ships, writes Yeoh Onn Chuan
HIS name is Zlwin Chew and it's a name that many who have met him will never forget.
Last year, this young and dynamic magician from Klang was one of the entertainment attractions on cruise ships, enthralling audiences both on stage and off with his magic performances.
It was five years ago in April 2009 when, as an amateur and armed with only a deck of cards and minimal magic skills, Chew proposed to the Zouk entertainment outlet in Kuala Lumpur the idea of him being their resident magician.
It was an audacious move, to say the least, and one that was motivated simply by a passion for this particular form of art.
"If you have a passion for something noble, go for it. Chase that dream and don't let anyone tell you that you are not good enough," says Chew.
To his surprise, he got the job and for three years, was Zouk's one and only resident magician. During his stint there, he met influential people who were to give him bigger platforms for bigger shows.
Chew has now been performing magic in public for four years, and he was Star Cruises's first Asian magician.
He promotes himself as a mentalist rather than an illusionist. He is happy being a mentalist for now, amazing audiences with sleight of hand and mind tricks.
"An illusionist would be performing with big props in a complicated production," he explains adding, "that may be me some day."
On board the cruise liner, Chew performs on stage three nights a week. But even during the daytime, he continues to perform.
This is when he takes his performance to a more intimate level, the street magician way. This could take place on deck or even in the pool.
He also conducts workshops for those interested in learning the art of being a mentalist.
To Chew, being employed on board a cruise ship is like getting a paid holiday.
He also finds the ship to be a place where he is inspired and is an inspiration to others as well.
"One day, after seeing me perform, a boy came up to me and with all innocence, asked 'Can I do magic as well?'
"I looked at him and responded, 'Do you have a coin on you?'
"He then took out a coin from his pocket and I told him to hold it in his hand, close his eyes and believe.
"I asked him to imagine the coin bending in his hand and to believe that happening.
"When he opened his eyes and looked at the coin, it was bent, and his face lit up with a glow of such astonishment as I've never seen before. I left him with these words, 'Let this remind you that nothing is impossible if you believe'."
This and other equally exhilarating encounters are what fuel Chew's passion for magic.
"I cannot begin to explain how much I love what I do," he says.
"Nothing can compare with seeing your audience light up like a child and being so excited in witnessing something they never thought was possible. Magic is the suspension of belief exchanged for a brief moment of ecstasy.
"The kind of magic I do transcends human belief and emotion. It seeks to suspend logic in the search to enlighten the heart.
"The kind of magic I do has an end goal of elevating my audience and giving them a moment of childlike wonder they'd never forget."
Interestingly, Chew met his stage assistant, Desmond Ng, and his girlfriend, Josephine, from Kuala Lumpur, through the Internet.
Both are fans of his magic. Ng was 19 when he picked up magic from Chew.
"More than a year later and after much hard work and discipline, he started his first show with me on board the SuperStar Virgo," says Chew.
"He went from being my student to being my assistant on stage. Then, when he was 21, he began performing alongside me as a trustworthy partner."
When he is not on the high seas, Chew has taken his magic to Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, India, Oman and Turkey, and wowed audiences there.
He is serving as resident magician at the Palace of the Golden Horses in Kuala Lumpur.