The Dream of Becoming a Magician: Billy Kong
By Liam Klenk
I first met Billy Kong in 2018 when we both worked backstage for a vehicle stunt show in Macau. Even back then it was clear that Billy was a gifted entertainer. He had a quiet dignity and charisma about him and he persisted in finding the time to do magic tricks no matter how busy we got. Billy’s dream was to one day work full-time as a magician. Now, two years later, his persistence and hard work have led him on stage…
Hello Billy, tell us a bit about where you are from and what you did so far?
I am from Macau, China.
Magic always had me in its spell. Even as a kid in high school, I already took any chance I could get to perform as a magician. I also did a special performance after graduating from university.
Macau is a small place, and for locals it is harder than it looks to set foot in the entertainment industry.
My first chance to work for a magic show was a few years ago backstage. Back then, I was hired as stage hand and assistant stage manager for a magic show at the Studio City casino complex in Macau, called House of Magic by Franz Harary.
After that, I became part of the stage crew for a stunt show called Elekron in the same casino complex.
Now, I have found my way on stage and have been given the opportunity to work as stage illusion manager and swing magician for a new magic show in Sanya, Hainan, called Superstars of Magic.
What sparked your love for magic?
When I was in high school, I saw a magic shop on my way home. I was curious and went inside. The owner was very kind and showed me a simple, yet amazing magic trick. Then after, he shared with me how to do it.
I bought a small set and then went home and immediately began practicing what he had shown me. Then, I performed the trick for my family and friends.
They were so enthusiastic which in turn brought me happiness as well. The feeling of success made me want to learn more.
Over time, I went back again and again to ask the shop owner to show me more tricks. I bought a lot more equipment and began to learn more about magic.
How did your magic journey continue after that?
One day, the owner of the magic shop asked me all of a sudden, “Are you interested in working in my shop?”
I was very excited and of course I said “yes.”
He taught me how to do tricks with all the props in our shop. I learned how to sell these props and how to show the customers which tricks they can do with them. And I learned how to teach them these tricks, so they could recreate them successfully at home.
This is how I started my life in magic.
How often do you practice? How do you find new tricks? Do you develop your own?
I practice every day.
New tricks, I find through online magic dealerships, books, and DVDs. Every now and then, I also join lectures in magic conventions.
These lectures then inspire me to create a new trick myself.
How did you get the opportunity to do magic on stage? How did this develop over time?
About one year after I began working for the magic shop, the owner of said shop gave me the opportunity to do a promotion show on the streets of Macau.
I ended up having an audience of almost 200 people which made me very nervous. Until then I had only ever performed for a few people at a time.
The experience was very valuable, because it made me realize that I needed to learn a lot more about showmanship, audience management, and stage magic.
There was so much I still needed to learn.
I began to make myself available for bookings, and during the next 10 years got booked more and more often as a magician for birthday parties, wedding dinners, and annual dinners. Sometimes restaurants would book me as well.
Every gig helped to make me more experienced. I slowly grew as a close-up and stage magician.
What do you do at your show in Hainan at the moment? Tell us a bit about the show?
I am working on Frank Harary’s show Superstars of Magic in Sanya. Our theatre is quite large and has 2’000 seats.
Superstars of Magic is a show with big illusion props. It features one illusionist and three guest magician acts.
My main work is to be the illusion manager for the show. But, I am also working as an understudy and am covering all four magicians in the show. When I am not needed to fill in for one of them to do a performance, I work as stage manager backstage during the performances.
Do you want to work in Macau? Or all over the world?
Yes, I really want to work in Macau, because it is my home. That way, I can see my family easily. But Macau is so small. The magic show business is also relatively small. If I get a chance to work all over the world, I will definitely say yes, too.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
My greatest dream for the future is to be able to tour all over the world with my own magic show.