Now you see him, now you don’t
By Danielle Sendou Ringgit
A couple of weeks ago, the Borneo Post SEEDS had the privilege of meeting Sarawakian magician, Klunchai Jinto (or better known by his stage name Fellan Chai) from Serian.
Fellan Chai was kind enough to share his story on his life and experience (not his magic secrets though) as a magician. Funny and bubbly, he was an amusing and fun guy to talk to.
After what seemed to be more than an hour of talking had passed, Fellan Chai decided to get up and get himself a drink while complaining about his old wallet that he bought a long time ago, disdainfully flipping it around as he showed it to me…when suddenly his wallet was on fire.
While Fellan Chai was still looking as casual as you please about the whole situation, I was shocked, thinking ‘What is this sorcery?’
Looking amused at my expression, he said he enjoyed doing what he does best – magic – as it had never failed to inspire a sense of wonder from people.
“I like doing what I do, mainly because I love seeing the smile on their faces,” said Fellan Chai with a laugh.
Novelist Tom Robbins once said ‘Using words to describe magic is like using a screwdriver to cut roast beef’.
And so the only word that I could think of to describe what I felt during that moment was ‘surreal’.
The most memorable performance
“The most memorable performance I gave was a few years back during the opening of Legoland in Johor Bahru where I performed in front of thousands of people,” said Fellan Chai.
He remembered performing a magic trick with a newspaper that he borrowed from one of his audience members and water which he also got from another audience member.
“That is my favourite trick because I can use normal everyday objects to perform that trick,” he said.
In addition to performing in front of a large audience, Fellan Chai also remembered having a close up performance with the Sultan of Johor’s daughter, Tunku Tun Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah during her birthday a few years back.
How the magic begins
Fellan Chai’s fascination with magic tricks started about 20 years ago when he first moved to Johor for work.
It was there that he accidentally found a magic shop and was fascinated with all the cool gadgets and tricks that were sold there.
“At first I bought a few and taught myself how to do the magic tricks” he said.
“Then I came back to buy more. I spent a lot of money buying all sorts of tricks from there,” recalled Fellan Chai with a laugh.
With his newly found interest, Fellan Chai started performing for his friends purely for entertainment. Later, he would perform during his company’s dinner party.
But it was not until the early ’90s after the factory he worked at closed down when he started to get serious with his interest.
In 1995, Fellan Chai met David Stone, a fellow magician from France during a magic competition in Subang and the two became friends. The latter invited him to go to Los Angeles to learn more magic tricks.
“When the factory I worked for closed down, I received a lump sum of money from the company. With that, I invested my money in my interest and used it to go to Los Angeles,” he said.
And with that, he packed his bags and stayed there for two months.
It’s a tricky business
Having been in the business professionally for more than 15 years and performed all around the world in front of thousands, being a magician is not as easy as it seems.
“One thing you have to know about being a magician is that you have to be passionate about what you are doing,” said Fellan Chai.
Mastering the tricks of the trade is not a walk in the park as some magician can take days, weeks or even a year to fully accomplish a single technique, which can be quite frustrating and disheartening, enough to make one give up.
“So, it is important not to give up or be fed up with what you are doing,” he added.
For a magician, while it is important to learn the right techniques and skills, Fellan Chai noted that performing magic tricks is all about the movement of the hand, especially performing a close up trick.
As fascinating and intriguing the art of tricking the eyes is, Fellan Chai lamented that more and more people are losing interest in magic performances since there are now shows on television exposing the secrets of magic.
The magic does not stop here
While it may be a tricky business, Fellan Chai is not discouraged by the whole situation but is determined to do what he does best- perform magic tricks to bring a smile on anybody’s faces.
As of now, he is still actively performing in private functions not only all over Malaysia but would also be invited to perform overseas in Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea.
Having to travel between Sarawak and Johor, Fellan Chai planned on permanently staying in his hometown in the near future as he hoping to expand the magic culture in Sarawak.
Let the magic begin!